Sunday, January 27, 2008

SSCA Discussion Thread: Caribbean via Bermuda or Outer Banks?

Here is a transcript of a thread I started on to determine the plusses and minuses of going via Bermuda instead of via the outer banks.

SeawaterJoined: 26 Nov 2007Posts: 21Posted: Thu Jan 17, 2008 9:44 pm Post subject: New Engand to BVIs via BURMUDA or Norfolk?

In planning my trip next fall, I have tended toward taking the boat down to Norfolk and heading south to Tortola from there. This was based primarily on the Caribbean 1500, and the logic that you cross the stream in the first ~36 hours and therefore will have predictable weather. The more I read and think about it, the more I am thinking that I should head down via Bermuda. Since many boats pass fairly near Bermuda on the way from Norfolk, it seems to add several days to the passage. I would like to stop at the outer banks to go kiteboarding, but I have never been to Bermuda either, and would enjoy a stop there. (And my wife will be happy, because she wants to go to Bermuda, and I refuse to arrive in Bermuda in an conveyance other than private boat) Any thoughts or comments? Has anyone done both_________________Walter S/V Madness Pearson 424 Hull#1

mlc101Joined: 25 Jun 2006Posts: 667Location: PanamaPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:29 am Post subject: IMHO, Bermuda, from either Norfolk or Chesapeake, is a fair ways offshore. If you are not really into cruising yet, its a pretty aggressive run. Certainly lots of folks do it in the 1500. But running down to Florida, then the Bahamas, then the thorny path doesn't have any long offshore passages. Thoughts?_________________Life is a journey. Enjoy it. You only get one. Peace and fair winds.

Mark Cain sv "Magic Dragon"Back to top ');//--> SeawaterJoined: 26 Nov 2007Posts: 21Posted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:46 pm Post subject: I agree, mic101, it is a stretch - The most I have done offshore is Cape May to Block Island, and Buzzard's Bay to Maine. Neither took us that far offshore. I have been sailing on my own boats about 12 years, and my normal cruising grounds are Buzzard's Bay, the Cape (Cod) and the Islands. Lots of wind, current, hazards, and fog. I have been fortunate never to have encountered severe weather, just a few passing fronts and an unpredicted day of short handed sailing in up to 38 kts. The Cape May - BI trip gave us some experience; we were hard on the wind in a Pearson P30 in winds over 15kts in the rain overnight. In the morning, the wind began to freshen as we arrived BI. The run from BI to Martha's Vineyard the day after was in 10-12 foot seas and 25+, but on the quarter. The Maine trip barely counts, other than watchkeeping. We motored the ENTIRE way north, and most of the way back south. I will have one or two experienced crew on board (several Bermuda races each), so that would be a plus... It did not seem to me that either trip (via Bermuda or Norfolk)represented a significantly more dangerous trip that the other, both are beyond assured rescue. I put it to the membership - given that level of experience and assuming a sound 42' boat (it is a Pearson 424), does either trip represent a significant difference in risk? And are they both too agressive given the experience onboard? Thanks in advance for your thoughts._________________Walter S/V Madness Pearson 424 Hull#1

);//--> AuspiciousJoined: 29 Jun 2006Posts: 196Location: Chesapeake BayPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 2:41 pm Post subject: Based on your description I would think that a route from Buzzard's Bay to Bermuda to Tortola is very reasonable and achievable. It will also give you significantly more time to actually be in the islands. On the way back you could come up the US East Coast to visit the Outer Banks. From a risk point of view, going offshore means watching for other traffic and keeping an eye on the weather. Inshore/coastal you also have to watch for rocks, shoals, and other assorted nastiness. I prefer offshore. Some time has to be your first time, and you might want to consider taking advantage of having experienced crew. In St Georges there is a medium-sized grocery a couple of blocks from the Customs House. The officers can direct you to it. Their wasn't a sign when I was there, but apparently they will deliver to the docks for provisioning yachts._________________dave S/V Auspicious

//--> John StevensonJoined: 19 Jun 2006Posts: 174Location: Patuxent River, MDPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 3:45 pm Post subject: Walter, I agree with Dave that if you want to go cruising you have to do a long off-shore passage sometime so you might as well start out with a well beaten path like that from NE to Bermuda. It will give you a solid 650 nm passage. Long enough to test your preparations, but short enough not to be an endurance test should things not go as well as you expected. You will likely have a lot of windward sailing on that first leg to Bermuda, so you will have a good measure of how efficiently you will be able to sail the much longer leg to the VI. Bermuda doesn't have the nice steady sea breezes of the outer banks, so kite boarding may not be an option there. However I think you will find it a very interesting and pleasant stopover. As Dave points out there is no problem re-provisioning in Bermuda (other than $$$). In addition to the Somers Market in St. Georges, which Dave described, there is White's Supermarket on St. Davids. It is possible to arrange for duty-free fuel for your departure. John John

//--> DefJefJoined: 24 Jun 2006Posts: 186Location: NYCPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 4:04 pm Post subject: I've done the NE to Carib via Bermuda perhaps 10 or more times and it is a nice passage and stopping in Bermuda makes for a nice respite if you have has a tough going on the first leg. Bermuda is welcoming and expensive. Enter her at daylight and mind the reefs which extend way offshore. BHR monitors everything floating around Bermuda so you need to hail them when you are approaching. Set aside 5+ days to get there from NE. Plan your stream crossing with a weather router such as SouthBoundII as you don't want to sail against the wrong side of a huge eddy or hit the stream with the winds from the northern quadrant (steep and icky waves). Usually as you sail south of Bermuda it get better and better (sailing) and you can reach your destination in about a week.

;//--> spencersmithJoined: 15 Jul 2007Posts: 23Posted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 4:21 pm Post subject: I think the NE-Bermuda trip is one of the most difficult (midlattitude) passages there is. Chesapeake-Bermuda is somewhat easier as you're farther off the wind and not going from the cold NE water to very warm water south of Gulf Stream. If we're talking about a first ocean passage make sure the boat and crew are ready. Think about six days close reaching in 20+ knots apparent and dealing with Gulf Stream squalls . . . but it's all worth it to get to Bermuda.

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