Saturday, April 30, 2016

Reflection on my sail from Florida to Bermuda

I had wanted to sail somewhere challenging, exciting and rewarding and the sail from Florida to Bermuda seemed like a good idea. I had heard stories both good and bad, and in particular, a friend Bill who 2 years ago, encountered 40' waves and abandoned his sailboat just short of Bermuda. They don't call it the Bermuda triangle for nothing. So I set about tackling this journey methodically, with that background in mind. My biggest fears were the three S's! Seasickness, sleeplessness and storm tactics. So in preparation I spent a couple of weeks in Florida before I left, going over the boat from stern to bow making sure everything was working OK. I also added 6 jugs of diesel to my starboard side because I had heard of lots of windless days at this time of the year. And in fact I ended up having to motor for 3 days. The other thing about this, was that I was paying just $2.20 a gallon in the USA, whereas here in Bermuda, it is 3 times that price. 
So firstly seasickness; even though it is said that everybody gets seasickness, I thought I was pretty much bullet proof. WRONG! I found out that I get it it too and it is not pretty. Even after day 4 of my trip i was still feeling queasy. Headaches are my sore point, and the gut wrenching doesn't help. I use this stuff called zofrans for spot help and I don't take it unless I am desperate. I think I took about 3 of them for the entire trip. I have a scopoline patch but at $45, I am saving that up for a rainy day.
Secondly storm tactics; in my mind, there are 3 ways to tackle this. One have a well found boat with bullet proof rigging. I replaced all my rigging a couple of years ago and the Westsail boat is as safe as they come. Secondly, my ability as a sailor. I have been trying to get experience and in fact had done an 8 day sail up the east coast last year. Thirdly weather; I needed to be able to get the weather while offshore. Enter the Inreach Delorme, that sends and receives text messages anywhere in the world. My son Christopher, was invaluable in that he kindly tracked me and let me know what to expect in the way of winds etc. I also paid $35 to Commanders Weather to help me select a weather window and get routing information.  They also sent me a text message last Saturday warning of the approaching squall line showing up on satellite imagery. I actually got hit by 4 different squalls after that including one where there were white out conditions for about an hour. It was ugly at the time outside, but because I had prepared for it by reducing sail, because of what Christopher had told me and also from Tom at Commanders Weather, I was tucked up down below, where I felt safe and cosy even.
Lastly sleeplessness; this one is a biggie, because your decision making process gets all messed up when you are sleep deprived. I don't know any easy way to fix this one except that I try and get as much sleep as I can and if I don't get enough, I try not to let it bother me. I find that if I get a big enough chunk, say a couple of uninterrupted hours, that no matter how yucky I feel in the wee hours, once that sun comes up, and I get a jolt of caffeine, I seem to be okay.
I also want to point out that what you read here and in fact on any blog is filtered so don't get carried away thinking this is just peaches and cream. You get to read what I think might interest you and particularly, my family and friends. I try to keep it about sailing and not about my personal life although that can get tricky sometimes. For instance I had a terrible problem with my sanitation system last Friday, but I didn't mention it and don't intend to. Ugly! You want to hear about white sandy beaches and dolphins, right? Same with my personal life. You don't want to hear about how lonely life can be sailing by yourself in the middle of nowhere or for that matter moored in the middle of a city. So what I am trying to convey is that this sort of trip is not for the faint of heart, mind, body or soul. Some people would even say it was foolhardy.
So summing up, I had a great, great sail here and wouldn't swap it for anything and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
Hey a video of my trip