Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sea Scout sails again - from Bermuda to Jost Van Dyke in 8 days

Sea Scout left Bermuda on November 25 with Astrid, Jennifer and Geert on board, heading south to the British Virgin Islands. With over 800 nm to go, they should get there in 10-12 days, if the winds are favorable.

On November 28 at 5 pm EST Sea Scout was at 26 degrees 10'N and 62 degrees 35'W, half-way between Bermuda and the Virgin Islands, where they should arrive in about 5 days. The winds were strong but favorable; without the Navik self-steering vane, keeping Sea Scout on course had the crew working hard. They caught and ate a mahi-mahi!

UPDATE: On December 2 afternoon, Sea Scout reached Jost Van Dyke (the "barefoot island") in the British Virgin Islands. Jennifer, Astrid, and Geert are glad to be on land again!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Pictures - from Galesville to Bermuda

Astrid in the mast checking the navigation lights.
Geert navigating in the storm. Where are we going? How fast? Oops - 2 to 7 knots, but to the wrong direction!
Our course - or where we were supposed to be. When we were hove too in the storm we drifted north, about 100 miles away from our courseline:
Nov. 9th 05:30 36 30 N, 69 57 W
Leo enjoys a great sailing day after the storm
Finally we arrived! Geert hoisting the Bermuda flag at customs.
Royal Naval Dockyard. One of the clocks shows the time of the high tide, the other one the normal time.
Astrid and Jennifer in Crystal Caves

Everything is pretty here in Bermuda, even the restrooms!
Rock formations at Tobacco Bay
Tobacco Bay - a romantic place!
Fort St. Catherine near the town of St. George
Approaching Bermuda, entering through the Town Cut. We did it at night, interesting to see how narrow it is!
Colorful Bermuda!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Weather window

It has been blowing 20 to 30 konts out of the South for three days, but tomorrow we may finally get a break. The wind is supposed to go West and moderate. We need several days of fair weather to reach the trade winds, about 300 miles South of Bermuda.

Monday, November 20, 2006

From Galesville to Bermuda - Sea Scout, the storm and Bermuda - by Astrid

Wed., Nov. 1st - Mon., Nov. 13th "The Storm"
After a great sail out from Chesapeake Bay and a good crossing of the Gulf Stream (finally warm water to do the dishes!) we had to heave too in the storm. It was announced on the short wave radio, by a beautiful halo around the moon, by fascinating yellowish clouds around the sun and by the barometer, of course ... . We used the time to catch up some sleep, one of us was still on watch, inside now as we were drifting, partly with 7 knots ... away from our coursline, unfortunately. We decided to send a SECURITE every hour as we were really unable to manoever the boat. Finally a big sailing boat answered us, with great news - the wind will become stronger, gusts up to 60 knots, waves up to 20 ft. I don't know if it was that much and that high ... but certainly high enough. On the radio we could follow the rescueing action of another sailing vessel - coast guard helicopter, ... and they were much bigger than we are. The wind increased, all the knifes and everything that could fly around if we would roll over was already stored safely in the lockers. The life raft was ready, although we would never leave the boat if it wouldn't have a big hole in the hull. We put our foul weather gear on, the harnesses and the life vests, we had some bottles of water ready near the compaignonway ... and waited. We discussed who would cut the wires and who would cut the ropes if the mast would break, we talked about our time in Greenland and about three bottles of rum waiting for us in Bermuda who was playing really hard to get. Then the wind calmed down, as it was very hot in the completely closed boat we were happy to wear normal clothes again ... and finally sleep. Brave Sea Scout, she did it, but we lost the cover of our anchor cover (Leo and Geert made a great improvisation) and the rudder of our most important crew member Navik, the self steering vane. We went on sailing a bit, hove too again in the gale and finally tacked towards Bermuda where we arrived on Nov. 14th at 21:30. Jennifer was already waiting for us, a great welcome commitee together with Bernhard at the customs. After checking in there Bernhard offered us a great present - a hike in his car to the next shower - wow, clean again, what a feeling. Bernhard is the former harbour master, now retired, but still somehow in charge of everything, very helpfull and perfectly informed about whatever we needed. Fortunately we were allowed to stay at the customs dock over night, we were to tired to move the boat to any other space anyway. First dinner on land after 14 days, wobbling to a restaurant to get a Hamburger and a beer - no difference, still wobbeling ... .
No light - white light - where is green and red? Is it the sun reflecting in the glass or real electricity. While Astrid is tries to find out on the top of the mast Leo and Geert have a rest from grinding her up.
Excellent sailing conditions in Chesapeake Bay and the first part of the Atlantic, making great progress!
Astrids night watch at Chesapeake Bay - still a long way to go to the warmer Gulf Stream and the subtropics.
The blow starts, certainly enough wind to sail and not time to heave too yet. Sorry, there are no pictures of the real storm, no one of us wanted to go out ... and i was worried to destroy my camera as the water was flying.
Peaceful sailing after the storm, a wonderful sunrise!
"Laundry Boat"
Claude welcoming us for the steak party

While Geert and Astrid take the dinghy to visit the neighbours in the bay Jennifer takes care of Sea Scout

Wed., Nov 15th

After Leo's big shock on the phone - more than 2000 $ for a ticket back home to the Netherlands (he was supposed to fly out on Sun) he and Geert went to theairport where they could finally change the ticket for free and Leo left a short time later. Leo moved out of Sea Scout, Jennifer moved in.
Our boat looked like a laundry boat, while Jennifer and me were cleaning the boat, getting more water, doing inventory on our food stock (we discovered a broken can with disintegrating peaches ... hmmm) and drying everything on deck, Geert was looking for a carpenter to fix the cover of our anchor locker.

Thur., Nov. 16th

Geert still spent his time fixing things on the boat while Jennifer and me took a day off. We took the bus to Somerset to go diving there. While she went to discover a crashed plane with other experienced divers I got an introduction from the Tschech diving instructor Andre. On the next dive to the wreck Darlington, a sturdy iron hulled steamer that sunk 1886, I could join them - a great experience!

We spent the afternoon at the Royal Naval Dockyard to discover the former fortress and the Clocktower Mall. The former administration building hosts two 100 ft high clock towers reading differently: one shows the actual time, the other the time of high tide!

Fri., Nov. 17th

Another great day to discover the wonderful but incredibly expensive island. After we had moved the boat to carpenter Mickey's dock Jennifer and me went to visit Crystal Caves, a fantastic subterranean cavern with thousands of crystal-like stalactites hanging above a greenish-blue pond. We spent the afternoon looking for non existing parts for Sea Scout in most of Hamilton's sailing and hardware stores (the marine police marked all of them on a tourist map for us, very helpful!).
In the evening we had a wonderful steak party at Claude's Bohemia II. We got to know the French Canadian solo sailor at the free dock in front of a restaurant on Wed. where he told us his story about his broken fridge and all the steakes in it - what a pity! ... a steak party seemed to be the only solution to that problem. As his boat was on land for some repairs we enjoyed a great evening "at high elevation" with him and Petra, a Dutch lady from another boat.

Sat., Nov. 18th & Sun. - Thur. 23th

After fixing the sunbrella in the morning I did a great afternoon walk along the shore of St. George's passing the abandonned church, Tobacco Bay, Fort St. Cathrine, Alexandra's Battery and the Town Cut. Due to the weather forcast predicting stronger winds over night we went to anchor out in the bay over night, visiting the fancy boat Aria in the evening. Sunday was as relaxing as it can be, returning to Mickey's dock in the evening.
Wind from south again, we moved to the Dinghy Club to get some protection and to be able to walk to town, we can't row the Diinghy in 30 knots! St. George is a fantastic historical town, some beautiful walks and beaches around it!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Storm damage - by Geert

The storm tore the cover of the anchor locker off the foredeck. We clamped on a piece of plywood to keep the water out and the anchors in. A Bermuda carpenter is now making a new cover out of teak.
The gooseneck fitting at the mast was bent out of shape, and the boom came flying off. We managed to get it on deck, and made a new fitting.
The most serious damage is to the self steering vane. The entire underwwater section broke off. This can not be easily and quickly repaired. We'll have to hand steer the boat to the Virgin Islands. With three people this is quite possible. We steered the last three hundred miles to Bermuda as well.

Bermuda is loveley, sunny, warm and breezy. We cleaned and dried out everything on the boat and Astrid made a new inventory of food supplies (plenty). Today she and Jennifer went Scuba diving in Somerset Parish.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Sea Scout landed in Bermuda !

Earlier this evening, Astrid, Leo and Geert met up with Jennifer on the dock in St. George's Harbor. The Navik self-steering vane and other equipment suffered some damage in a major storm, with 24 hours of 50 mph winds. The Royal Gazette published harrowing tales about the fate of other sailboats headlined Crew plucked to safety after 24-hour ordeal , Crew stranded as gale pounds yacht, and Fierce storm tests mettle of yachtsmen.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Sea Scout should reach Bermuda in two or three days

Mark Stapley and the crew of SY Cyclos e-mailed that they have been in radio contact with Sea Scout. Sea Scout's position Saturday night was 34 36.1 N 068 17.2 W, leaving them with around 215 nm to go. Sea Scout had been delayed by unfavorable winds and should reach Bermuda on Tuesday, November 14.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Sea Scout left this morning

Sea Scout sailed out of Galesville, MD on Wednesday morning, November 1, at 7 am, with Astrid, Leo, and Geert on board. Also on board are many cans of chicken, tuna, vegetables, fruit, juice, evaporated milk ... stuff EVERYONE should have at home for the inevitable flu pandemic! The weather was great, with a high of about 70 degrees, wind from the southwest, then from the west. Sea Scout should reach the Atlantic tomorrow morning. The destination is Bermuda, with arrival there in about 10-14 days.