Saturday, June 10, 2017

Bermuda to Norfolk Virginia Ocean Training Cruise, June 7-15, 2017

S/V NAVIGATOR, our Island Packet 40 departed Bermuda bound Norfolk Virginia at 9:30 AM EDT on June 10th.  The student crew arrived on the evening of June 6th, and June 7th and 8th were spent in preparation for the voyage.  The planned departure date was June 9th, but was delayed due to high wind and seas. The crew members are: Captain Tom Tursi of Pennsylvania (Skipper), Captain Jerry Nigro of New York (First Mate), and student crew members Adrian Ciuperca (New York), Joe Jacobs (New York), Matt Emerick (Mississippi) and Steve Thorup (California). NAVIGATOR will make the passage to Norfolk via a non-stop ocean route. The cruise has an estimated distance of 670 nautical miles, and will take approximately 6 days, sailing both day and night.  We will discuss the route, weather and actual progress here on our blog as it happens, so please join us! To follow the discussion, see the COMMENTS to this blog post. To follow their actual progress on via SPOT, click HERE.

20 comments:

Rita Hanson said...

Hello all! Be sure to click on the spot link above to follow the progress of NAVIGATOR and her crew. One note on the SPOT transmissions… The SPOT is far from infallible and a loss of signal is quite common. There have been times where we had no position update for more than a day. Reasons can range from a weak satellite signal, a sail bag inadvertently shifted and blocking a clear "view" of the sky, or SPOT batteries getting weak. The crew checks in with me electronically at intervals, and we will address such issues. Also, sailboat tracks are affected by wind direction, current, etc. and rarely result in a straight-line course. I’ll post updates here which will include position reports from the crew. ~ Rita

Rita Hanson said...

Bradley Mabe, a Maryland School graduate and weather expert is providing weather guidance to the crew. I'll include his reports to the crew here on the blog, beginning with the following just after departure:

From: Bradley Mabe
Subject: WX 6/10 - 12
Date: June 10, 2017 at 12:20:48 PM EDT
To: S/V NAVIGATOR

Saturday ( 6/10 ) winds WSW 10 - 15 chance of showers & T-storms
overnight - surface high pressure to your NW causes wind shift from NE at 10 - 12

Sunday ( 6/11 ) winds ENE 10 - 15 veering E during the day.
overnight ENE to E winds 10 - 12

Monday Morning - winds continue E 10 - 12 veering ESE through the day

Chance of rain decreases over the period. No tropical activity noted.

Rita Hanson said...

From: S/V Navigator
Date: June 10, 2017 at 10:23:02 AM EDT
To: Rita Hanson
Subject: 6/10/17 Status

As you know, the crew arrived on the evening of June 6th. We started pre-departure training immediately. The following crew assignments were in place during the preparation days:

Captain: Joe
Mate: Matt
Navigator: Steve
Weather Communicator: Adrian

As of noon today, Saturday June 10, the crew will rotate down one spot so that Adrian is now Captain, Joe is Mate, Matt is Navigator and Steve is Weather Communicator. We will rotate down the list each day at noon.

During our pre-departure training, there was a lot of wind. The low pressure system that has been passing off to the north of us has been causing havoc here. We had 40 knots of wind on June 7 and 8 while we were doing training but we got through it all just fine. We were planning on departing on the 9th but we delayed one day because they had reported that the wave conditions near Bermuda were in the 9-15 foot range with 30 knot winds. So we held off for one day and we departed Bermuda at 0915 today through Town Cut Channel.

We have training assignments on our weather communications equipment. Pre-departure, we had Joe operating the NAVTEX equipment and receiving the single side band e-mails from Brad as they were available. We had Matt doing the VHF radio on Bermuda Forecast and the single side band USCG voice forecast over that radio. Then we had Steve doing single side band sailmail graphics and text forecast. Adrian was assigned to download from the internet information on the Bermuda forecast graphic and text and the NOAA high speed graphics and texts that predict wind speed and passage weather. Once underway, everyone is doing the same assignments with the exception of the information that Adrian was downloading from the internet since we can't get that underway.

We just exited Town Cut Channel about 20 minutes ago and we immediate had a rain squall come up and we all got soaked, since we did not have our foulies on yet. We are out of that now. We are now motoring around the east end of the Bermuda reefs and pretty soon we will be turning toward the north west to get on our initial track toward Norfolk.

We're supposed to have light air for the next couple of days, but from the southwest, which will be a good direction for us so maybe we'll be able to do some sailing or motor-sailing. The forecast for today was 15-18 knots. We're not seeing it now with the squall that came through but after the squall clears that wind will probably come back, and if it's from the southwest then that would be good.


Captain Tom Tursi
aboard S/V NAVIGATOR

Pete Tursi said...

Have a great sail and may the wind be kind to you on your journey.

Unknown said...

Have a great trip guys! Be safe but remember "a smooth sea never made a skillful sailor!" -Freya

Rita Hanson said...

From: Bradley Mabe
Subject: WX 6/11 - 13
Date: June 11, 2017 at 5:55:07 PM EDT
To: S/V NAVIGATOR

Sunday 6/11 evening: Winds becoming NE 10 - 12 difficult to project wind shift from your present position. surface high to your N and NW make winds variable from SW to NE. Winds should be light 5 to 12
overnight - winds NE to ENE at 5 to 10 West of 68W

Monday 6/12 - winds continue ENE to E at 10 - 12 through the day. Becoming SE 5 - 10 in the late afternoon and evening.

Tuesday 6/13 - winds light and variable mainly ESE to S at 5 to 7. Surface high pressure continues to dominate the wind pattern.

Rita Hanson said...

From: S/V Navigator
Date: June 11, 2017 at 7:43:32 PM EDT
To: Rita Hanson
Subject: 6/11/17 Status

We had light winds yesterday and were motor sailing or sailing most of the afternoon and evening, then by 8:00 PM or so we started having rain and lightening and we had that on and off through the night. There was a big low pressure system north of Bermuda, quite a ways up in the North Atlantic, and that thing just hung around and didn't move, and it really had the Bermuda weather screwed up for the past week.

So today we were still getting the effects of it. Bermuda weather called it a "quasi high pressure system" and I have never, ever heard that term. Last night we had lightening, thunder and rain all night long. Then this morning when Adrian and I were on the 4-8 watch it was threatening for most of that shift. About 6:00 AM we starting getting squalls and heavier rain than I ever recall seeing for about an hour and a half. We were both drenched after all of that. So we came off our watch at 8:00 AM and Jerry and Joe came on. Naturally it started clearing up for them!

We had some on and off showers during the day today and about 5:00 the cold front finally came through and clarified itself and we have nice cool, crisp, dry air coming from the north now. We've been sailing very nicely for the last several hours. We are sailing along on a course of 300 degrees magnetic and making about 5-6 knots. It looks like it will be a nice evening. We're getting ready to go into the overnight hours and Jerry and Joe are about to come on watch.

Last night we had Dinty Moore stew augmented with vegetables and tonight we had spaghetti with turkey meatballs and pasta sauce. Adrian and I are on watch during the dinner hour. Steve and Matt are doing the cooking and Jerry and Joe are doing the evening dinner dishes. Jerry scoops up a bucket of sea water and fills up some other buckets on board and then they wash the dishes and we dry them off with a towel and they stay salty for the next meal. But it's sea salt. It's good salt, right?

We have 405 miles to go to our next waypoint which we set at about 30 miles south of diamond shoal which is right off of Cape Hatteras. When we get to that point we will be in the Gulf Stream and then we'll have another 130 miles or so to go from there.

We are on 4-hour watches. 12:00 to 4:00 is Steve and Matt (Midnight to 4:00 AM and Noon to 4:00 PM), 4:00 to 8:00 is myself and Adrian, and 8:00 to 12:00 is Jerry and Joe. That is working out and everyone is getting along very well.

We also did some celestial work today. Both Matt and Steve got really good shots with high accuracy. Adrian has taken a shot but we haven't yet calculated his accuracy. Matt got within a tenth of a mile and Steve got within three tenths of a mile. Pretty good for beginners!

That's all for tonight.

Tom




Rita Hanson said...

From: Bradley Mabe
Subject: WX 6/12 - 14
Date: June 12, 2017 at 6:44:49 PM EDT
To: S/V NAVIGATOR

It's usually referred to as a quasi-stationary high pressure. The Bermuda high is trying to assert itself.

Monday (6/12) evening - it is tough to predict a wind direction with that surface high almost on top of you. I'll call it SE 5 to 10 early tonight veering S 5 - 7 overnight. A degree North of your position, winds are from the WSW at 10.

Tuesday (6/13) -winds SSE at 5 in the morning. becoming SW at 5 in the afternoon and WSW in the evening. Backing SW overnight.

Wednesday (6/14) - winds W to WSW at 5 - 10

Rita Hanson said...

From: S/V Navigator
Date: June 12, 2017 at 3:46:34 PM EDT
To: Rita Hanson
Subject: 6/12/17 Status

We have again a beautiful sunny day today. We're about 330 miles from the waypoint in the Gulf Stream which I talked about yesterday. We're on a course of about 300 degrees. We're motoring right now and making about 4 or 4-1/2 knots under motor alone. Overnight it was beautiful. We had clear skies with visible stars and moon and comfortable temperatures. This morning we had a nice wind come in from the north so we had maybe 8-10 knots of wind and we were sailing along very nicely and making 5-6 knots. At other times the wind disappeared and we were motor sailing. So it's been on and off. So right now it is virtually no wind. Forecast for tomorrow is for little or no wind. The forecast from Bermuda yesterday was that a mesolow would form north of Bermuda and would cause clouds, rain and thunderstorms but we were far enough west of that it was not a problem.

The conditions have been very nice for getting celestial shots and there have been numerous celestial shots taken on the sun. Steve actually got some shots on planet Venus and on the moon as well as the sun. Others have gotten additional shots on the sun. We are still in the accuracy perfection mode right now. We're taking more and more shots to get accuracy and methods up. Once we get that we will be applying lines of position to our plotting sheets. Actually Steve has plotted two lines of position on there because he had a pretty good sun shot earlier today. He has a second shot he'll apply to get a running fix.

Today we also did the compass calibration using the polaris. We had tried in St George's Harbor and we had very nice conditions there for the sea surface, but we kept losing the sun in the clouds. Today we had beautiful sun but we had rolling conditions so that was taking the boat back and forth. We completed it but we have some very spurious answers. We went through the whole process so it was instructional and we'll try again if we get some good conditions.

Tom

Rita Hanson said...

From: Bradley Mabe
Subject: WX 6/13 - 15
Date: June 13, 2017 at 6:21:50 PM EDT
To: S/V NAVIGATOR

Tuesday (6/13) evening and overnight - winds S at 5 - 10 becoming WSW 5 - 10 overnight.

Wednesday (6/14) winds WSW 10 - 12

Thursday (6/15) winds WSW to SW at 10 to 12 - chance of showers increase.

Nearer the coast, the winds become more consistent.

Rita Hanson said...

From: S/V Navigator
Date: June 13, 2017 at 7:09:00 PM EDT
To: Rita Hanson
Subject: 6/13/17 Status

We had another beautiful day today. Sunny all day with light winds. We're sailing along now very nicely at about 5-6 knots in an 8-10 knot breeze, headed towards our waypoint near Diamond Shoal. Our course is about 285 degrees magnetic and we have about 200 miles to go to the waypoint.

We did a lot of celestial shots today. Some guys got running fixes. We're checking off a lot of the ASA 108 requirements as we go. Since the weather has been so good and the seas smooth, we've been able to work on the 108 tasks so we're making progress on that

Last night we saw the green flash with the setting sun. Both Jerry and I saw it. The green flash is when the top of the sun dips below the horizon. Under certain atmospheric conditions you get a bright green flash for about a second. It has to do with the refraction of the light coming from the sun through the atmosphere and it actually breaks the suns rays into all of the colors of the rainbow but for some reason it's only the green that the eye sees. I've seen it several times and last night Jerry and I saw it together. (See https://www.livescience.com/26376-green-flash.html)

For dinner we had baked beans and hot dogs with sauteed cabbage and carrots, and fresh cucumbers as a side dish. A little embellishment tonight!

Tom



Rita Hanson said...

From: Bradley Mabe
Subject: WX 6/14 - 16
Date: June 14, 2017 at 6:23:14 PM EDT
To: S/V Navigator


Wednesday (6/14) evening & overnight - winds WSW to SW at 5 to 10

Thursday (6/15) - winds WSW 10 - 12 becoming SW 10 - 12 in the afternoon - turning S to SE above the NC / VA line.

Winds SW at 10 - 12 in the afternoon and overnight. Chance of showers and T-storms increase.

Friday (6/16) - winds SW at 10 becoming S in the late morning and afternoon

A tropical wave just off the Cape Verde Islands approx 5N 25W poses no immediate danger. 10% chance of tropical storm formation in the next 24 hours.

Rita Hanson said...

From: S/V Navigator
Date: June 14, 2017 at 7:18:00 PM EDT
To: Rita Hanson
Subject: 6/14/17 Status

It was another sunny, beautiful day. We are sailing on a course now of 295 degrees M and we're still heading towards our Diamond Shoal waypoint which is near the western edge of the Gulf Steam with about 95 miles to go to that point. We're probably about 35 miles from the edge of the Gulf Stream. We're reefed down now. We have a full genoa and a double reefed mainsail and no staysail flying right now. During the day we had everything up, full main, staysail and genoa, but when the winds came up into the upper teens, we took the staysail down. The wind speed has dropped now to about 13-14 knots and we're sailing along at about 5-1/2 knots. We're prepped with our sails reefed down for overnight. Right now we have an opposing current of about a knot and a half so that slows our speed over ground a bit.

You may notice on the spot track that we made a left turn and sailed on that tack for a few hours. We were trying to put ourselves in a better angle on the Gulf Stream. I think we have a good angle now on the gulf stream. We have prevailing southwesterly winds and if there is no weather system coming through, then the further south we get the less chance there is that we will need to sail close hauled in opposing wave conditions. The winds this afternoon went from SW to SSW to W and back to SW and that has caused us to change headings and sail combinations in order to maintain a direction towards that destination waypoint. So after we went south that was to improve that angle and then we were happy to see that when we tacked we were able to make a heading directly to our waypoint. We sailed on that heading for awhile but it was a little rough because the waves came up, so we fell off a little bit to starboard and had a softer entry to the waves. We were hitting them at an angle instead of square on.

No ETA yet. So much will depend on what the Gulf Stream does to us. I won't really have a good idea until tomorrow after we have cleared the Gulf Stream.

We had chili and rice for dinner. Cucumbers and carrots. Everybody is kind of relaxing now and Adrian and I are on watch until 8:00.

Tom

Rita Hanson said...

From: Bradley Mabe
Subject: WX 6/15 - 16
Date: June 15, 2017 at 8:17:42 PM EDT
To: S/V Navigator

Thursday (6/15) overnight - winds light and variable - SE to NW 5 - 7

Friday (6/16) morning - winds generally WSW but could swing from Northward - continued light and variable 5 - 8.

Becoming S to SW in the afternoon and evening.
Continued S to SW at 5 - 7 overnight.

Rita Hanson said...

S/V NAVIGATOR entered Chesapeake Bay at 8:09 AM Friday June 16.

Rita Hanson said...

S/V NAVIGATOR arrived in Norfolk at 1:20 PM Friday June 16, 2017. Congratulations crew!

Rita Hanson said...

Just a quick comment... early in the comments above, Captain Tursi talked about using a pelorus. I misspelled it in the transcribing as polaris. Please note the correct spelling is pelorus!

Rita

Captain Tom Tursi said...

Well, we wanted to get to our waypoint located about 30 miles WSW of the Diamond Shoal buoy to enable us to cross the Gulf Stream close to the shoal where the Stream crossing would be its shortest, but conditions prevailed against us in that regard. We were too far north to allow achieving that waypoint due to the prevailing westerlies that we encountered during the previous few days during which we would have needed to sail hard on the wind close hauled against winds and bow-on waves. Also, we were full-on into the Stream for the past two days since the morning of June 14, and the NE flowing Stream had pushed us in that direction making our Diamond Shoal waypoint all but impossible to reach. So, we bit the bullet and, and on the early morning of June 15, we set a new waypoint about 50 miles to the northeast of the Diamond Shoal buoy bearing 335 degrees magnetic from our current position, a course that we could achieve in the prevailing westerlies. However, even on this course we could clearly see the effects of the Gulf Stream flow, which set us to the right of our desired track by a mile and a half per hour.

Captain Tom Tursi said...

On the afternoon of June 15 we popped out of the Gulf Stream as confirmed by lower seawater temperatures, reduced current effects and the Gulf Stream images appearing on our Sirius XM weather screen. A few hours later seawater depth reduced to less than 600 feet as we mounted the continental shelf from the high seas depths in excess of 15,000 feet indicated by the ocean charts. Shortly thereafter we ran into dense fog, which persisted the remainder of the day and overnight until we reached Norfolk and entered the Chesapeake Bay. Also, the wind disappeared completely and we proceeded under motor directly toward our next waypoint near the Traffic Separation Zone, which leads shipping into and out of the Chesapeake Bay. The fog was an interesting challenge, as we had a close encounter with a cargo ship passing one mile ahead of us (and we could not see the ship at that close range so dense was the fog) after two-way VHF voice communications with the ship and an agreed on passing strategy. Our AIS system identified the ship as it approached more than five miles distant on our port side, but he did not see us on radar or AIS until we were within 3.5 miles.

After the ship passing we maintained a very rigid deck watch including radar, AIS, sight and sound throughout the overnight hours and the morning of June 16 until we reached Norfolk. At 0600 we had reached the south entry point of the Traffic Separation Zone, but we opted to proceed outside of the zone and parallel to it toward Cape Henry the southern entrance to Chesapeake Bay. As we arrived there, we radioed the Virginia Pilots to advise them of our entry into the Precautionary Zone, where Pilots embark entering cargo ships for their routes into Chesapeake Bay, and of our planned route to the inbound Auxiliary Channel on the north side of Thimble Shoal Channel. From there we proceeded over the southern tunnel of the Chesapeake Bay bridge-tunnel and into Little Creek harbor where the US Navy maintains the Little Creek Amphibious Base and on to our slip at Cobbs Marina. We also phoned the US Customs office and arranged for entry clearance arriving from a foreign port, and they said they would meet us at Cobbs Marina a noon. We also phoned Cobbs Marina to receive slip number and docking instructions, and by noon we were safely tucked into our slip having completed an ocean cruise from Bermuda of 816 nautical miles in six days and two hours, for an average of 134 nautical miles per day.

US Customs and Immigration officers arrived by 1300 hours and cleared us in after inspecting all passports and advising us of the rules for disposal of our trash, which we followed meticulously. Shortly after that, our four student crewmembers packed their gear and proceeded to homeward destinations, but not until we ceremoniously presented them with Maryland School of Sailing & Seamanship Certificates of Completion of this ocean training cruise...

Farewell my shipmates... May you forever remain in the good graces of King Neptune!!

v/r
Captain Tom Tursi

Unknown said...

I departed Norfolk on Saturday morning (6/17/2017), arriving home in Huntington, NY (via Atlanta, GA) around 2:00 PM EDST. As always it was a pleasure to participate in an off-shore voyage with The Maryland School of Sailing and Seamanship. The vessel (Navigator), the two student crews and Captain Tom Tursi were more than up to the task of heading into the North Atlantic to travel to and from Bermuda. At times we were challenged and at times we had some of the best sailing that could be imagined, all part of the Ocean experience. Thanks to all for allowing me to come along on the journey that we all experienced together!
Jerry