Friday, June 9, 2017

May 2017: Last Few Days in Bermuda

The Crew of Relish: Silvio, Gary, Chelle & Rick
At around 0800 all boats departed their Med-Moorings and headed to the long concrete Penno wharf to meet the fuel truck.  With the longest leg of the crossing coming up, and with fuel priced at $0.81 per liter (about $3.07 per gallon), each boat topped off their tanks.  Relish took on 4,045 liters, or roughly 1,068 gallons of diesel.  Given that we’d traveled a total of 1400+ nautical miles since the last fill-up, that calculated to an average of 1.3 NMPG, a fairly efficient burn rate given we were also running the 20KW genset a good portion of the time.

Cap'n Bernie, Gary, Chelle & Rick on Relish
All that took half a day, and then we headed just across the harbor to drop the hook and wait out the approaching weather. 

Aleoli took the opportunity to have a diver clean its running gear, and Relish was hunting down a plumber to help with reconnecting its ice maker.  (We were tiring of using egg cartons and muffin pans to make ice cubes.)  But even with all that going on some crews launched a dinghy and got some more quality time in St. George and Hamilton.

Relish at Anchor in St. George's Harbor
This was to be our departure date for the leg to the Azores, but we delayed to avoid the nasty sea conditions that the coming weather system would be churning up.  The front and associated precipitation rolled in right on schedule (early evening); we saw gusts to 30, but the major TRW activity stayed south of us.  The south end of the anchorage provided excellent protection and good holding.  The only disturbing thing was seeing a couple of sailboats who were also seeking refuge drop their anchors a bit too close to us for comfort.  Thankfully we all swung together as the winds changed.  Rain was light and intermittent for the most part, so all folks had ample opportunity to dinghy into town for additional provisioning and souvenir shopping.
Angela & Aleoli at Anchor

We also finally found a plumber who was willing to tackle our fresh water reconfiguration under the galley sink.  With the time it took to dinghy him back and forth to find parts that turned out to be an all day job.  While he attempted and failed to restore flow to the filtered water faucet (his patch hose leaked like a sieve), we were able to restore water flow to the ice maker.  Hoorah….time for a scotch on the rocks.

St. George Town Square Actors Put on
a Show for Us
Still in Bermuda…and staying for another day.  N52 Aleoli had discovered a significant bottom fouling issue since our arrival (along with the growth all over its running gear), and yesterday also determined it had hardened to something resembling concrete.  The suspicion is that it has a type of bottom paint that doesn’t take too well to being dry, and it had been shipped to its new owner (Stefan) quite recently.  Basically that meant another full day of trying to clean the hull below the waterline, and in waters that were getting uncomfortably cool for staying submerged for very long, even with its hookah breathing contraption.  Bottom line (pun intended) was that she would need to be cleaned if she hoped to have enough fuel to make it to Horta in the Azores.
Chelle and Silvio Take the Dinghy to Shore

Stefan was willing to go it solo so as not to delay the other boats, but as Bernie put it, “We came here together and we’ll depart here together.”  So we had another down day of mostly relaxing activities – and the weather was very pleasant.  Skies had cleared, winds were down in the 15K range, and morning temps were in the upper 60’s.

White Roofs of Bermuda
We had shut down the 20KW genset the night before and run on batteries all night to conserve some runtime hours for the 10+ day trip to Horta without tripping the oil change clock.  By 0700 the house battery bank had depleted to around 65%. We wanted to test out the second, smaller (6KW) genset for battery charging and other light loads, so after starting up that unit Silvio and Rick spent some time gingerly testing how much charger load it could handle.  It turned out to be quite capable of running two chargers at 50% output, and within a few hours the house battery back was back to 100%.

The Famous Swizzle Inn
Michelle and Rick took the afternoon off and dinghied into St. George’s to catch a bus to the other (east) end of the island.  We toured the Crystal Cave with its visually stunning subterranean stalagmites and stalactites, lunched at the famous Swizzle Inn, and took a short spin into Hamilton to see what the “big city” looked like.

Swiizzle Rum for Chelle
Bermuda isn’t a big island – it is the remnants of a volcanic seamount, occupying only 21 square miles with a population of around 61,000.  It has a very mild climate with temperatures rarely moving outside a range of 65F to 85F.  One almost startling visual impact is that nearly every structure on the island has a white roof, each of which are designed to funnel rainfall into the building’s cistern – there is no other naturally occurring source of fresh water here.  (You can buy water from a desalinization plant if needed, but by the time transport is figured into the cost, the price is around $100 per 1000 gallons.)
Downtown Hamilton

It was time to get moving again.  The early morning weather forecast from Commanders looked quite good for the coming week, but they did recommend an initial leg that presented a slightly more southerly path to avoid some lumpier water to the north.

Crystal Cave
We took the tender over to Customs around 0800 for outprocessing – waiting in line again for about an hour – and then started getting the boat ready for departure.  It had been almost 2 weeks since the last time we had gone through that procedure, so Rick made certain to verify all preparatory steps against our checklists so as not to skip anything important – this particular N60 is a complex beast.  Raising the anchor turned out to be quite a lengthy chore….with nearly 200 feet of rode out, that by itself is enough. But we also encountered some of the worst anchor snot we’d seen in a long time – heavy gray clay that stuck like glue and which required considerable time to wash off.  By the time we got Relish free and clear it was just after 1000.  Each of the boats hailed Bermuda Radio with our required departure calls, and thanked them for allowing us to enjoy their beautiful island and hospitality.  Then we sortied out the St. George’s channel in single file and aimed the pointy ends in the general direction of the Azores.

Departing Bermuda
The remainder of the day was totally uneventful – clear skies, pleasant air temps in the 70’s, sea surface temp of 75F, with light SSE winds and gentle rolling 3-4 foot swells.  The five boat fleet assumed a pentagon formation with one mile spacing, and we did our best to match Aeoli’s speed at which she was getting an acceptable fuel burn rate.  As the smallest boat with the least fuel (even with a 300 gallon bladder in her cockpit), this long leg could present a challenge if her fuel wasn’t managed carefully.  In such cases – and this isn’t a totally unusual challenge for ocean crossers – the protocol is to set your throttle to a burn rate that will assure arrival with a 15% reserve; that inevitably will be a very slow speed, but at various intervals along the way you always recalculate and adjust as required:  as you burn fuel and reduce weight the boat gets more efficient; and you may get more favorable currents and sea conditions along the way (or not).  Either way, you can control your range with your throttle.
The Big Lugger That Rick Likes to Hug

It’s often said that it doesn’t take long for Nordhavn owners and crew to fall in love with their Lugger engine, and that was true aboard Relish.  That engine just kept on humming.  For the mechanically inclined:  a “Lugger” engine is the brand that Northern Lights gives the John Deere diesel engine after they marinize it to the point of being nearly indestructible.  That beefiness makes it a continuous duty motor – e.g., you can run it 24 hours a day at its max throttle setting (100% load) and have no fear of abusing the thing.  It is the ideal powerplant for a passagemaker. Ours was the L1276A model, which is a 6 cylinder 12.5 liter displacement block (766 cubic inches) producing 340 horsepower at a loping 1800 RPM.  It may sound like a coffee can full of rocks down in the engine room, but elsewhere in the boat it’s just a reassuring and throaty background burble that is music to the ears.
Another Gorgeous Sunset Underway

With that lovely Lugger purring away, it was another beautiful sunset on our stern as we continued to motor eastward in fair conditions, and readied ourselves for our night shift routines.


  1. Wow ! Happy to hear you are safely in the Azores...cant wait till the next installment! Love to you all!
    Cher & Dan

  2. Thanks Dan! I can tell you that 8 contiguous hours of sleep never felt so good. Several of the boats just dispatched a gaggle of folks to go on a provisioning run. And I’m gonna work on the next blog entry.