Tuesday July 25
Planning a sailing voyage that’s going to take weeks is a funny thing to do. We won’t be meeting any schedules (by setting minimum speeds and such, which some people do, and they have to accept carrying and possibly burning weeks’ worth of fuel, which we don’t). We will be taking advantage of all the wind we can get but also reefing anytime we want for an easier ride.
Usually, we’re factoring tides and currents, wind and waves forecasts. For a day trip, or even a couple days, we try to arrange things so that we’ll arrive in whatever unfamiliar place during daylight.
This trip is unlikely to take as few as 19 days (averaging about 4 knots) or as many as 38 days (a 2 knot average), but it could. Do either. See that enormous difference in time to travel, when the speed only went from a leisurely walk to a power walk?
It doesn’t really matter where in between those extremes we end up. There’s no making firm plans on the water, and it does even less good to try over 1800 nautical miles.
So we slept in. Got more eggs and hardboiled 6 of them. (The bagger at the grocery store hugged us goodbye.) Checked out of Bermuda with customs and immigration, no hassle whatsoever, and the officer sent us off with “Have a safe journey, my beloveds.” We returned to the boat, loaded the dinghy and weighed anchor.
1:40 pm: First watch Convicts Bay, Bermuda. I (James) hauled anchor and Dena took us out to the Ocean…I don’t know if I will ever have a reason to go back to Bermuda…it’s a nice place to stop in the middle of the Ocean but it’s even better to leave in our wake.
I (Dena) always get anxious as we get underway after a while at anchor. Conditions are good (8-10 knots on the beam, not much chop to the rolling seas), but it still just takes time to settle into the yes, this is my home kind of feeling.
The sea can feel foreign, strange, uncommunicative and dangerous. I’m putting all that on a body of water that means me no harm. It won’t reach out a helping hand either, though, and it’s astounding how much I have that possibility in mind among people. Both, really, the good and the bad.
Kate did an amazing redwood voyage and had some similar discovery moments. How much the structure of society makes her not just feel but be safer. How profound that helping hand is when someone goes out of their way.
There’s not many people out here and we are definitely not on the way. If we ever have to pop the security tab on our EPIRB and trigger that thing, it’ll cause consternation and, most likely, awful amounts of labor for any vessel within hundreds of miles. We believe in our vessel and ourselves, and we choose to be here. Believe me, we will not trigger that thing and put other people to task on our behalf unless it’s our only hope of survival.
But see? We’re still within sight of Bermuda (small enough to pinch between my fingers, though) and my mind is on immensity and risk.
Oh, and flying fish! More of that, please oh World Ocean.
James’ 9-midnight watch
I (Dena) tweaked my shoulder trying to stretch earlier and if you think that makes me feel vulnerable you are right. I have to be strong and careful out here. I didn’t realize it was a problem until I was trying to sleep and couldn’t get comfortable. I got up early for my next shift and took some ibuprofen.
Beluga is settling in faster this time. We all are. I think tomorrow is going to be a very good day.
Wednesday, July 26
Dena’s midnight-3 watch
The moon set not long after I (still Dena) came on watch and the stars are brilliant. We’re sailing strongly with single-reefed main, staysail and yankee over what are really very kindly seas.
There are sparkles in our bow wave and I’m deeply happy to be here contemplating the intricate simplicity of sailing, the complex physics of lift and lee and the utterly comprehensible concept of throwing some fabric up in a breeze.
Dena’s 6-9 am watch
The wind died a bit on James’ watch, while I was asleep. We’re broad reaching at around 2.5 knots, the wind just a tad aft of the beam, and he furled the staysail to keep the yankee full. I’ve messed with Lovebot a little but otherwise so far this watch is just watching.
A couple of the long tailed Bermudian birds gave us a thorough inspection. I don’t know whether we passed or failed but they left without attempting to land or shitting on any solar panels.
8:22 am: Okay, there are now 5 of them and they’re both entertaining and maddening. I’ve taken so many pictures and videos, but they only come really close when I don’t have the camera pointing at them. I mean, I’ve gotten really good looks at the two boldest. I’m not sure whether they’re playing some game with our rig, wind generators, and solar panels or whether they’re trying to scare me off or what. Beluga is not inclined to investigate and maybe that’s for the best.
James’ 9-10 am watch: The night was long and a little on the wet side but the sky was incredible! Lots of meteor action but very little wildlife. The Bermuda longtails are following us again…randomly…very aggressive animals! We’re in about 13,400ft of water…meaning if we sank here…no one would ever find us.