Norfolk to Bermuda


Sailing From Norfolk on the Chesapeake to St. Georges in Bermuda

I like so many, I dream of crossing oceans in a small boat. But I had never sailed far from land and I began to wonder, was I really cut out for Blue Water sailing? Would I like it? What was it like to be in a small boat on a big ocean? How would I feel when land was days away? Would I be sea sick?

So I began to think and plan. Should I spend the money to make Sea Dragon ready for an ocean voyage? Should I join a delivery crew? A little research and a passing conversation with a fellow Pearson owner lead me to The Maryland School of Sailing & Seamanship. After studying their Website, in particular the Ocean Reports, and talking with a people that had taken one or more Ocean Training Courses from The Maryland School of Sailing & Seamanship I was ready to sign up. So in the fall of 2003 I was accepted in the Offshore Passagemaking  course sailing from Norfolk to Bermuda in the spring of 2004. The winter was spent reading and preparing for the adventure.

On June 26th 2004 I arrived at Little Creek Marina
 to meet the crew of Halimeda and prepare for
departure.The crew consisted of Captain Tom Tursi,
First Mate Lew Jalbert and student
crewmembers Rod Bowen, Garner Bennett,
Daniel Harding and Christopher Simpson.

Over the next two days we thoroughly inspected the entire boat from stem to stern and to the masthead and below decks. We went over every piece of equipment, all tools and spare parts; all procedures, both routine and emergency. We rigged the storm trisail, boom crutch, sea anchor, whisker pole, mainsail, genoa and staysail. We did a complete walkthrough of abandon ship and man overboard procedures.


By the end of the second day, we thoroughly knew the boat, equipment, procedures and, importantly, each other. Assignments were made; Christopher Engineer; Dan and Rod as Bosn's; and I was assigned the task of Emergency Coordinator. Watches were set at 4 hours on and 8 hours off.


12-4   Garner & Chris (noon & midnight)
  4-8   Tom & Rod (early morning & afternoon)
  8-12 Lew & Dan (morning & night)

At end of each watch the crew coming off watch was responsible for preparing the meal, Tom & Rod prepared breakfast each day, Lew & Dan lunch and Chris & I dinner.




On the morning of May 28th we pulled out of Little Creek on our way to Bermuda


Life on board is filled with sail changes, weather tracking, route selecting, food prep, ....

  ...steering, sun sightings, course plotting, .....



........ great stories and most of all, good company.








We sailed much of the trip Wing-on-Wing.
As we crossed the Gulf Stream we surfed down nice waves  ...And the trip took it toll on the boat and its equipment. A day and a half from Bermuda the stove broke its mounts. During the final days we went with out hot food, but more importantly, NO hot chocolate on the mid-night watch.

We arrived St. George Bermuda late on the afternoon of June 2, 2004, a beautiful day after a wonderful trip.

The crew after a well deserved shower, hot meal, and cold beer.

After almost 7 days and 680 NM, we arrived Bernuda. We had been  forced out of our way by the wind direction for two days, making the trip longer than the rhumbline distance of 620 NM, but that's not unusual for an ocean cruise.

Generally, when the wind blows against you for a couple of days, it will usually shift and eventually blow favorably... 


Now for the answers to my questions.

Would I be sea sick? I was a little the first day out... But I quickly got over the feeling as we fell into our routine.

Would I like it? Yes !!!

What was it like to be in a small boat on a big ocean? I expected to feel very small and a little scared but I did not. Instead I was very much at ease on board a small boat in a big ocean.

How would I feel when land was days away? Once again I expected a little fear, but not the case. Once again, I was very much at ease far from land.

Was I really cut out for Blue Water sailing?  I think so.

While our trip was without any major problems not everyone is as luck as us.

Sailor Friendly places to stay:

While traveling to and from Bermuda, I have found that not all hotels and guest houses are appropriate for sailors flying into Bermuda and sailing out or sailing into Bermuda and flying home.  Working with friends at the St. George's Dinghy and Sports Club, I pulled together a list of guest houses in St. George that are sailor friendly.

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Copyright 2006 Garner Bennett. All Rights Reserved