Oh I do love Bermuda and what better way to travel to it than by boat. So much for my few coastal adventures, I'm now quite enamored of leaving the shoreline behind and heading out into the blue. After arrival, during dinner, I was asked if I was cured of my affliction to sail in the ocean. My very short and simple answer was, "no". Had I the time from work, I'd loved to have been aboard for the next passage to Gaudeloupe, the final destination.
I'm no stranger to having to get up for my watch in the middle of the night, so that part was easy. It's the hardest though for that first day when you're getting into the flow of it all. To make it easier, it certainly was a nice touch to have a lovely dinner every night with a refreshing glass of wine. So for the most part, the only thing different for me for being out in the ocean like this, really out there, was seeing the truest blue of blues that I could never have imagined existed. There is no explaining that blue, you can only experience it.
Our sail down the Bay took about 16 hours and was uneventful. I noted that my first Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel crossing was much more exciting via water than if it had been by car. We didn't have a lot of wind so it was mostly a motor sail for the first day out of the Bay. Nice and sunny. Our weather forecasting and assistance had said that we should not enter the Gulf Stream at night which of course is exactly what we did. I mean really, as if there was any way around it. The weather of course became noticeably warmer and now we were in to shorts and sun tan lotion.
On Saturday morning, quite early during my watch which overlapped with Brad's for two hours, we finally started picking up some wind. By 0700 we had shaken out the reef in the main and rolled out the full jib and joyously turned off the motor. We were rocking along with 15 knots of breeze and 8 knots of speed. Glorious. Well, of course, all good things come to an end and later that night the wind was gusting solidly in the 20s and up to 30 with the seas getting bigger and more confused. It was difficult to sleep. There were now also small rain storms coming along making things wetter than they already were with waves breaking over the bow.
The fun stuff always happens at night. I was a little freaked out at first and definitely nervous about my watch and being able to handle the boat. I knew I would be able to do it, but maneuvering a 51 foot boat through stormy waters was not something I'd done before. I figured it was time to channel my "fear" and drive TONIC like a pro. By the next day when it was my watch again and in bright sunny, very windy daylight, I learned that TONIC was pretty darned good at guiding herself and that she only needed a little touch on some of the bigger waves to manage a nice ride.
The wind did diminish eventually and by early Monday morning we had about 12 knots at most and were closing in on Bermuda. It was pretty awesome to have it be my watch and work with the skipper to navigate into St. Georges. Mark took the wheel for the entry into Town Cut and about 30 minutes later we were bathed in morning sunlight, through Immigration and enjoying a celebratory shot of nice aged rum. Welcome to Bermuda.
The only thing left to do is get my own boat and do it aboard CALIX II. I think that I was undoubtedly spoiled by doing my first ocean passage like this aboard a Swan, but it solidified my dream of owning one and so now the search begins (continues) in earnest for my 46 Swan Mark II. It may take a while to find the right one, but in due time CALIX II will see the shores of Bermuda with me at her wheel.