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Monday, May 3, 2010
Sail Bahamas to Bermuda 27 April to 3 May 2010
After at least 6 months pottering down the USA coast and in the Bahamas, we have converted Dutch Link back from pottering to passage mode.
Everything stowed away, food bought refuelled and water tanks filled. With the Windpilot self steering gear installed on the stern and the dinghies stowed on the aft deck.
We left Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas at 0800hrs Tuesday 27 April for the 760 nMile passage to Bermuda. course 061 degrees true. For the first 12 hours we were broad reaching in a WSW 4/5 Bft with 2 reefs in main and full yankee. We crossed the forecast cold front (we are in daily HF conact with Chris Parker for weather routing advice) in the early hours of Wednesday with the wind rapidly shifting to the NW and gusting over 35 knots. We partly furled the yankee and had an amazing sleigh ride for the next 12 hours making 8 to over 9 knots in confused 12 foot breaking waves. Luckily we had started taking our sea sickness pills from the beginning of the trip otherwise we would have both been sick - as it was , no problem except felt like sleeping most of time.
By midday Wed, winds dropped off to a WNW 4/5 Bft and the seas moderated.
By midday Thursday wind disappeared altogether as we entered a ridge of high pressure and had to motor for next 24 hours to cross it. Then had a frustrating few hours trying various sail combinations in light variable following winds with rolly sea.
Finally decided to install Twistle around midday Friday and have since been twistling effortlessly along, mainly between 5 and 6 knots in light westerly wind - no other sail configuration can match the Twistle in these conditions. It took almost 3 hours to rig the Twistle (Had to drop yankee to install extra halyard to hoist second yankee and re-remember how to rig it all). It took longer than it should partly because the knot on the rope to secure one of the poles came loose requiring Mike to do so gymnastics to retie it.
However,it has been more than worth the effort.
A large pod of dolphins came to greet us playing just in front of the bow as we were about to rig the Twistle.
Although the wind was light ( 6 to 12 knots true) the Twistle did its job perfectly giving us a relaxing 40 hour hassle free passage making a SOG of 4 to 6 knots in the right direction. The skies were almost cloudless and with a full moon on 29 April, amazingly light nights.
Unfortunately, by 0800 on Sunday 2 May, the wind had dropped to less than 6 Knots true and SOG dropped to less than 3 knots so reluctantly started the engine.
However, 2200hrs Sunday night, enough wind appeared so that engine could be shut off and Twistle once more unfurled.
We are still Twistling along at 1000 hrs this morning 3 May just a few miles off the Bermuda coast making 2.5 to 3.5 knots with just 15 miles to go to the harbour of St George - put out the Alpha Awus Wifi antenna and low and behold we have internet 4 miles offshore - amazing.
Most of the off watch periods are spent sleeping in the saloon.