fuzzy sheep slippers in front of the waste-oil reservoir

Watching Don from Bermuda

We are officially waiting. Tropical storm Don is circling (WTF!?!) between Bermuda and the Azores. If we were to leave today (which we strongly considered), we would run into the headwinds (easterlies) off the storm several days out. Instead, we’re chill’n in Bermuda. AYFKM!? There’s always something to do. Cleaning (because we got some serious salt) and painting, little things here and there. The weird and wonderful thing? There aren’t any crucial projects because, amazingly, we didn’t break anything on the way here! We blew in here on 18-22 knot winds and rowed hard (one way) in order to check out the town of St George. As soon as it laid down, though, we rowed over to check out the dramatic bones of a wreck right off the small craft mooring area. After the scorching heat and dead calm of the middle-part of the voyage, Bermuda’s fresh breeze and pleasurable warmth have felt reassuring, welcoming. We are getting to know the tangled streets and alleys of St George. The laundromat is just uphill from the dinghy dock on Shinbone Alley. Google maps doesn’t encourage the pedestrian path between the two, but we figured it out on the way back. Every single towel aboard had been pressed into service for sopping up some kinda thing. All those rain storms plus that one rogue wave that inundated even Beluga Greyfinger where he swayed down below in the main saloon…Whew. Lotta work for towels. Buying and adding value to the laundry card has been the one and only transaction that required Bermudian cash. Everyone else accepts BM or US dollars. James circled the neighborhood for the correct BM bills in sufficient quantities for the machine while I (Dena) pretended to understand the nice elderly gentleman who wanted to tell me all about his[…]

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A sail across an ocean in the Verse

999.9 nautical miles in 13 days, 3 hours and 30 minutes and just like that, we’re in Bermuda. The End! Kidding! We did it. We sailed to Bermuda from Fk. Lauderdale, Florida. And like all offshore excursions it was an incredible adventure. I (James) remember after we sailed to Hawaii in 2006, I would tell that story and people would always respond with, “Wow, how was that?!” At first all I could do with that question was scoff. I mean, what?! I just told you I sailed 2040 nautical miles across the largest body of water on the planet Earth and all you got is, “how was that?” THAT was absolutely everything…THAT was life at the pace of the multiverse… THAT is the adverse environment that no monkey-brain could possibly comprehend…And That is the way we choose to live in this world. It is amazing in every way! Sometimes it’s so perfect that it draws you into places in your mind that you couldn’t reach before but at the same time it can be so physically taxing that there’s no way to prepare yourself for that kind of thing. In other words: you’re not going to work this shit out in the gym. Our planet’s Ocean is a body of life so incomprehensible to our puny human receptors that, when it kicks up, all most of us can do is lay down and quiver. I mean, we came out of the sea as sloppy, wet primordial lizardish things and evolved on land, so going back to our true home is a long, long way to go. For those rare few of us who get to dwell within its incredible intensity, well, lucky us. The Earth’s Ocean is a vast expanse of this planet that can lull her sailors to hypnosis[…]

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To Bermuda, Day 14

S/V SN-E Cetacea Log Day 14 – 67.2 NM 7/10/2023 James’ 6-7 pm watch 6:13 pm: Just got off the VHF after a second attempt to communicate with Bermuda Radio on channel 27 went poorly. It’s a low-power station and we’re still too far away. There’s a pre-arrival conversation we need to have and it could have been done online. Seems pretty shocking that we wouldn’t take that option, but we weren’t sure of this stop when we left. I’d hate to end up as an overdue boat if the weather had pushed us to pass by Bermuda! 10:09 pm: Bermuda glows in the dark under careless Cassiopeia. A lighthouse is valiantly proclaiming civilization alongside the light pollution. A cruise ship is in, but they can’t enter St George harbor, where we’re heading. Ha! 7/11/2023 We shortened sail to make sure we didn’t arrive in the dark and succeeded just fine. Town Cut is incredibly narrow after the 12-mile horizons of the past two weeks. If we have a day, we’re going to hike over to this place… James landed us on the customs quay and I braved the lion’s den. Clearing in went more than just smoothly…it was a few forms, about a third as much money as I’d expected to pay, and a happy crew leaving the quay to anchor nice and close to the dinghy dock.

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To Bermuda, Day 13

S/V SN-E Cetacea Log Day 13 – 79.2 NM 7/9/2023 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. 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[…]

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To Bermuda, Day 12

S/V SN-E Cetacea Log Day 12 – 102.3 NM 7/8/2023 Dena’s 1-2 pm watch The rambunctious seas are foam-streaked but the foam slides down the far side. I (Dena) remember that there’s a difference, when it comes to the Beaufort scale, in foam that is left behind by the kinetic energy in the waves and foam that is blown down the forward face of the waves. Next step is breaking wave tops and I’m glad we’re not watching those come up our asses. I just applied my first bandaid. I was on the windward side in the cockpit, braced down low on the footwell grate instead of higher on the edge of the seat. James was sitting on that side and we were sharing a cold lunch because cooking seemed way too hard. My hands were full of tortilla and a sort of dip-slash-burrito filling when a bigun’ swept under us. It tipped me towards James on the low side and my butt started sliding on the cushion. I planted my foot but it slipped too and my fourth toe dipped into the square void meant for water.  Ouch owowow. I pursed my lips against the pain and annoyance. James asked if I was okay and of course I said yes. I told him what happened and we both looked. Ugh. Bleeding.  After cleanup it was clear that I’d torn the cuticle. Not badly, just a scrape really. Another wakeup call, though. No getting sloppy out here. The light winds from before are long gone, so the flat seas are too. We have to sail the ocean we’re on, moment to moment. James’ 6-7 pm watch I look abaft and the world is a churning angry mess but to forward the his of the waves leaves only a memory of[…]

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To Bermuda, Day 11

S/V SN-E Cetacea Log Day 11 – 83.2 NM 7/7/2023 Dena’s 2-3 pm watch 2:14 pm Two rounds of rain and I gave up on the kurta and churidar pants I was wearing. They’re draped on the lifelines (thanks, James!) to dry and I’m in bathing trunks and my adventurer’s long-sleeved button down. I do appreciate skyshowering, though! The afternoon calm has descended. We have to make water, so we are. It’s reasonably sunny for a rainy day and power is less of a problem because we aren’t keeping the chartplotter running all the time. I hope we can again soon…I really like having that information at my fingertips. We did the whole trip to Hawaii without second by second info. We turned the gps on every 4 hours and plotted that location on the paper chart. We corrected our heading based on how far off we’d gotten in the meantime. Now I’m used to constantly tuning the heading based on what the chartplotter says our course over the ground (COG) is. Saves a little wandering around but it can distract from just being here.  Speaking of, that’s what I am going to do right now. Be here. 2:41 pm We’d been marveling at how few bruises and such we’ve dealt ourselves on this trip so far. Yesterday was the end of that. I  bruised the ball of my foot somehow and banged my elbow in boring-story style. James has banged around more too. I don’t know if it’s us getting slack because we’re too tired or too comfortable, or if it’s the extra swell that’s running at an awkward angle. I imagine the answer is “yes”. James’ 7-8 pm There’s an intensity to the sky that we haven’t noticed before on this trip…it’s not breaking up like the other[…]

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To Bermuda, Day 10

S/V SN-E Cetacea Log Day 10 – 87.5 NM 7/6/2023 James’ 2-3 pm watch: The world reflects itself…ten days at sea and I’m just now starting to understand where we are in our local universe…yeah, yeah we’re a few hundred miles away from where we came from and a few hundred miles away from the place we’re pointing the boat but this place is truly a place I’ve never been to before…it’s Earth, Solar system, local group…and on and on through the endless blue above and below where we do the Free Ride on the daily…everything is so hot to the touch that every part of my body has to be protected, covered…long sleeves, long pants, socks and a big dumb floppy hat and I’m good. I (James) do believe I will nap on this next down-watch. It’s not out of character for me (Dena) to have a hard time ranking things, so don’t be surprised when I say I can’t decide which is better…no wind, hot, swell against wind waves…or rainstorm after rainstorm with wildly variable winds ending in a double-reefed mainsail just because it slats too much in the light wind otherwise. I hope we get the wind again tonight. James’ 4-5 pm watch When I felt even the slightest breath on the back of my head I jumped to set the headsails and shake a reef! The wind freshened and veered south. We were able to gybe and reach a comfortable position for deploying the yankee. Even the big dominant swell is easier to take at this angle, and Lovebot prefers the boat’s balance with a headsail. Dena’s 7-8 pm watch You know you’re really sailing when your phone keeps coming on like you just picked it up. The waves are at least 4-6 feet at 5[…]

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