To Bermuda, Day 13

S/V SN-E Cetacea Log Day 13 – 79.2 NM


James’ 3-4 pm watch

I (Dena) pushed back when James said, at the end of his 1-3 pm watch, that he thought maybe we should do the sail swap we’d discussed.

Since we don’t have a third reef (and I still have no real understanding of why the sailmaker pushed back when we requested one), to shorten sail from a double-reefed mainsail is to switch sails. It seemed early to do such a big production based on my short time in the weather, having just come out.

Within 20 minutes, I realized James was right. The right sail 80% of the time is still 20% the wrong sail. When I got some of the behavior he’d seen…8 knots down a wave, burying the leeward caprail on the offset swell…I called for help.

Beluga Greyfinger coping with rough seas
Beluga Greyfinger has great coping mechanisms

We talked through the plan, agonized over whether we really needed to, and finally committed.

Figuring that the person who made the call should take the hard part and also that the person off watch is less sharp (James had been napping), it’s our way to divide the labor so that the off-watch person stays in the cockpit while the on-watch person does the deck work.

I clipped my tether to the lifeline, eased onto the port, lee side deck, and removed the preventer from the boom. James had been preparing and was ready to deploy the staysail when I got back. With just a hanky flying, I went to the windward, starboard side deck and forward to the mast.

The second batten down concerned me, but James sheeted in as I dropped the sail and voila! We were happily depowered. Lashing the sail to the boom had me using one of my favorite safety techniques: put my butt down. Ah, stability.

Then James went back down below and I fiddled with exactly how much staysail I wanted to fly. This is the easiest of our sails to manipulate so no stress there.

Storm stress still, though, mmmhhhm. I’m fucking over the doldrum/storm dichotomy. I knew, intellectually, that Bermuda isn’t on a tradewinds path, but wow. All this way for weather forecasts…and they probably won’t even be that good!

Good in this case is making a clear case for what’s next. We want the Azores but the last forecasts we saw said they were engulfed in easterly winds. We’re not going to beat across the Atlantic. No thanks.

So. Did that weather leave? Is the high far enough south that we can get some real sailing in?

Or is the direct path to Ireland a better option?

The Azores are 1800 nautical miles from Bermuda and Ireland is roughly 1300 NM from there. A three-ish week trip and a two-ish week trip sounds pretty good. (For scale, this trip is 900 NM beeline, but we’re going to have spent 15 days covering about 1000 NM by the time we arrive).

In contrast, Bermuda to Ireland is about 2700 NM. That’s less distance, sure, but it’s all in one go at a very uncertain 4-5 weeks. We’ve only been underway 12 days on this one and we’re out of fresh food, let alone weather forecasts.

Anyway, if Bermuda doesn’t have a clear answer to the question of what next, I’m going to be Put Out.


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