The passage from the BVIs to Bermuda is about 850 nautical miles, and the pilot book advises that for the first few hundred miles, the south east Trades should help you along. As you near Bermuda, however, you are liable to meet calms. And so it transpired – 4 days of steady winds between 14 and 22 knots just behind the beam, followed by a brief gennaker run as the winds lightened, followed by 24 hours driven by Mr Yanmar. We arrived after a 5 day, 8 hour passage averaging 6.5 knots. Crew for this trip were Neil and François.
My stay in the BVIs had been made greatly more enjoyable by the team from Penn’s Landing, the little 12-dock marina which made me feel very welcome and which provided Spellbinder with an excellent base. Thanks to the marine manager Justin and Rick in particular, who were great. We left Penn’s and headed over to Virgin Gorda to check out of the BVIs, before raising the sails and starting our passage.
François and myself preparing to leave Penn’s Landing
Farewell to the BVIs
The winds were strong enough to push us along well, but also kicked up moderate seas which gave my crew early bouts of seasickness, from which they thankfully recovered after a couple of days. This was a trip which proved perfect for two bits of kit which had yet to come into their own. I had used the Hydrovane a little during the Atlantic crossing, but directly downwind the Raymarine autopilot proved more accurate and faster. Across the wind, however, the Hydrovane came into its own and steered us straight and fast for 4 whole days, keeping the wind just behind the beam and on track, without using a single amp. The other bit of kit which proved useful was the Aqua4Gen – a towed propeller generator which put in a steady 5 or 6 amps. I had used it when crossing the Atlantic but lost the propeller due to metal fatigue after the first day. Luckily I had a spare, and having repaired the generator in Martinique I found that in conjunction with the solar panels the two kept on top of the electrical demands, meaning that I only ran the engine every 3 days, mainly to get hot water.
Hydrovane and Aqua4Gen in action
The passage was full of delightful sunsets and sunrises, a few flying fish and the odd squall, but few other yachts.
The Raymarine Quantum radar, when switched to weather mode, proved adept at picking up squally showers
The skipper catching up on his sleep…
Neil surveying the scene
A somewhat recovered François…
…who provided saucisson with the apéro – a Spellbinder specialty
Coming back up into the yacht after clearing the Sargasso weed from the Hydrovane rudder – the weed proved a real impediment, and precluded fishing as the lure would always catch it. I estimate 5% of the seas’s surface was covered in the stuff
As the winds died we enjoyed our gennaker for a few hours
After our 24 hours of motoring, we were called up by Bermuda Radio as we approached, and they guided us via the ‘Town Cut’ into St George’s Harbour. It’s a great entrance and landfall. One in we tied up at the Customs and Immigration dock, where we went through the formalities required and were dealt with very efficiently. We spent the night across the way tied to the quay, and with the ‘Q’ flag down (formalities complete) we were able to go into town and enjoy a couple of drinks. It was a fun passage, not without its challenges, but with a great sense of accomplishment.
Entering the Town Cut at sunset – good timing!
Docked the next morning opposite Customs and Immigration, Ordnance Island, St George’s
Arrival drinks. Thank you to Neil and François for your crewing duties!
We are currently exploring the wonderful island of Bermuda, and another blog will follow shortly.