We left Dominica on Sunday at 10:30am having finished up a few minor chores. David and Leanne on Perigee were planning to leave about the same time, but in the end had some hassles and didn’t get going until 3:00pm. We were actually sailing as a part of the Salty Dawg Spring Rally – though the bulk of the fleet was leaving from the British Virgin Islands and headed towards Virginia, however, 5 boats (including us) were planning to go to Bermuda.
Our plan was to head up the windward (east) side of Guadeloupe, but when we tried to sail across the top of Dominica, the wind was way too strong and in our face, so we took the easier route on the leeward side of the island. Now that we were out of the shadow of Dominica, the wind had come up to 25 knots – so we crossed to Guadeloupe with 2 reefs in the main and our small jib – still making over 8 knots of speed! The feared wind shadow of Guadeloupe didn’t materialize until half way up the island – and only lasted for a couple of hours, so motoring in calms was reduced to a minimum. With this success, we decided to make a B-Line for Bermuda – not divert to the windward side of any of the islands, so instead went between Monserrat and Antigua and cleared Barbuda within 24 hours of leaving Dominica. We were flying with an average speed in the first 24 hours of 7.0 knots!
The rest of the passage went really well – we had a predicted trof with no wind which lasted rather longer than we’d hoped for, but we managed to keep everything going for quite a while, using our code zero and our spinnaker (no, not at the same time!). The nights were very dark until the moon came up (not until past midnight) so for the most part, I took the night shift and Laurie took over once the moon had risen. (Got to be able to see those sea serpents coming!)
On the last day, the winds again dropped and it appeared that we would have little chance to get into Bermuda in the light, so we decided to sail – at about 3 knots! This slowed us to a morning arrival, but then the wind collapsed all together, leaving us either doing about 1 knot by sail, with sails slatting around all over the place, or taking down the sails and motoring with the engine hardly above idle – not good for the engine. So, in the end we decided to just go for it with the engine, and we ended up arriving in St. George’s at 10:40pm (11:40pm Bermuda time) on Saturday night and we actually cleared in at customs just after midnight.
The arrival into Bermuda was not simple – I had heard that it was easy, but it really wasn’t… Still, we managed to avoid all the unlit buoys and anchored boats and after clearing in, found ourselves a spot to anchor ourselves in the boondocks of the large bay. 6 and a half days – 1040 miles, average speed 6.67 knots. Not bad! Slept well! And now looking forward to discovering Bermuda properly. The last time we were here was 10 years ago – our first major passage aboard the Crealock… it’s good to be back – this time with much more time available. To make matters even more interesting, we’re here with a bunch of familiar boats – who arrived with the Salty Dawg rally. The 5 boats turned into 11 or 12 as several boats diverted away from the American coast due to bad weather in the gulf stream. It’s therefore shaping up to be an enjoyable stop!!
Unfortunately, we didn’t see a single green flash on the trip, though there were several beautiful sunsets. I have forgotten to mention in a previous post that when we sailed up from Grenada to Dominica, we watched a beautiful sunset which turned into a magnificent green flash – John Galpin should have been there to enjoy it!