Bermuda We Love You, But…

…We’re ready to go. How many rum swizzles does it take!? After an unplanned arrival in darkness through a treacherous coral entrance nine days ago, we are making preparations for the departure from Bermuda by an easier route. This time we’ll pass outward through the reefed gateway during daylight, and it will be on our terms. We’ll have full tanks of fuel, water and enthusiasm.

Coral reefs surround Bermuda. We entered at the far eastern end (right) at St George’s Harbor.

Preparations for this next 1000 nautical mile passage to Antigua involve mostly undoing a few things we did while here: deflating and re-stowing KoryKory (inflatable dinghy), repacking various tools, books, clothes, etc. Fayaway is in good shape so is ready for the trip. We will make a final walk to the grocery store, laundromat and to The Dinghy Club, where a rejuvenating hot shower costs $3 for ten luscious minutes.

Overlooking Tobacco Bay

We’ll pre-prepare meals to have while underway, as cooking can be challenging. Mostly pasta or bean dishes. While we still have ample stores of most dry goods, this last grocery run will be for fresh fruits, vegetables and bread. Maybe also some meat to have in the first few days.

Captain actually reading instructions for the Hydrovane self-steering.

Fayaway has a new piece of gear to try out – Hydrovane self-steering. This strange-looking gizmo has its own rudder that is guided and powered by wind. In other words, it steers Fayaway at any specific angle to that which the wind is blowing. It does this without electricity or one of us. Thereby it’s like having an extra person aboard to steer. During our passage from Virginia, we had some trouble with our electronic autopilot, and so this new unit will add redundancy should anything happen to our main steering system.

Kelly with just-installed hydrovane steering system

How do we know when it’s time to go? Primarily we watch weather patterns and forecasts. As a participant of the Salty Dawg Rally, we also have the advice of a professional weather forecaster. We have been closely monitoring, as well as comparing notes with fellow sailors, who are also waiting for the right conditions.

Most of us have some decent prediction tools, but they can’t make the weather work in our favor. Take the picture below from our software… it shows Bermuda in the cusp between a neo-tropical low to the east (still watching this one carefully), and a frontal trough to our West (coming from US). This is a good prediction for two days from now, but we will keep checking every 6-12 hours, and make sure conditions continue to develop in our favor. If the weather-stars align and continue to look like the picture below, then we’re off! Otherwise, can you say “Thanksgiving in Bermuda”?

Cold front to our West, sandwiches Bermuda (green flag) against a developing low (strong southerlies) to our East – will probably make our departure in the next 12-18 hours of the time shown.

You’ll know we’ve left when you see our tracking page pointing us south. Not to mention you’ll stop seeing our Instagram… and these posts for a while! Don’t worry folks, we aren’t in a hurry; yes we are ready to go now, but we can wait for it to be right. How long will it take to get to Antigua? Our guess is about 9-11 days. It should take about five days of sailing south to reach easterly trade winds, which should be fairly settled by the time we get there.

In the meantime we meet many new friendly people every day here in Bermuda, where it is considered rude not to return a good afternoon greeting. This afternoon, as we sat in the cockpit enjoying a glass of wine, whilst the sun faded, we met Tio, one of the medical technicians required to be available on the pilot boat St David docked adjacent to Fayaway. Tio told us stories and answered every question we could think to ask about how Bermuda pilot boats operate. We’ll remember Tio and all the other interesting people here far longer than the rum drinks.

Rescue/Pilot Vessel St David docked behind Fayaway.

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