Bermuda to St. Martin – From Debbie’s point of view.

On Nov 13, 2012, at 5:30 AM, “Deb Gregory” <> wrote:

This is for my family and friends who won't panic with the true (to me) version of our last passage.

Whenever I have reservations about my life style for the last 2 years, Jim always says, “Don't lose your sense of adventure!” Well, after this trip I think I can say that I am not loosing my sense of adventure, just for parts of his adventures. I think that was the last passage I'll do. I'm flying from now on. Unfortunately the last 2 days were great, so, like child birth, it makes the first 5 days hard to remember.

This trip was supposed to take 4 to 5 days. It took 8. I never thought we were going to die, I knew the boat would make it. I wasn't scared, (except when driving at night, downwind, in big waves, but that's a personal issue) but there was a lot of time when I couldn't tell you if life was going to get better or worse.

Start with the day before we leave Bermuda. That will be day -1:

Day -1: Fire in the Galley oven. Get it out by simply turning off gas. Figure out Broiler is toast and by extension the oven as well. But after testing, the rest is ok. Crew shows up. We have 3 friends joining us. 1 we sail with all the time. 1 sailing friend from college, one a San Francisco sailing friend.

Day 1: Nice day sailing. We forgot to pick up our case of duty free rum when we checked out. (Bad Omen) Almost turned around, but no. Should have.

Later we have a squall from 10 to 35 knots in 60 seconds. No damage but you mentally go from 0-60 in 5 seconds! If you are asleep, all of a sudden you are up and running. Adrenalin surge! Rain and squalls all night*.

(This means that you are sailing at night, no moon until late, and rain clouds blow up with big wind (20 knots) and TORRENTIAL RAIN in front of them, then 2 knots behind. This leaves you wallowing in the waves with the waves slapping for 1-3 hours. It's worse than nails on a chalk board. Seriously a bummer. You go from cool and groovy, to all hands on deck in less than 1 minute, then try to get the boat moving again while wet and clammy.)

Day 2: Engine Fire at dusk, fire extinguisher and fire blanket called into play. Starter motor burned out. No engine, so no electricity except for what solar panels could produce. (Solar panels are great!)

No electricity officially sucks. Enough for instruments and computer updates twice a day, nothing else. No auto pilot, so we go to 1 hour on watch hand steering, 4 hours off. In theory this is not too bad (if all can steer and stuff doesn't go wrong in the middle of he night). Jim doesn't get 3 hours of sleep in a row for the rest of the trip. I'm trying to restructure the menu since I can't bake bread and the stove is seriously questionable .

Jim's sterilized version published via a post to the blog – “We had a problem with the ignition system of the engine. Now can't start it. No other issues and solar will keep us powered enough to get to St. Martin. So rare updates from here.”

Ya think?

Rain and squalls all night*.

Day 3: Instruments spontaneously go out. We still have the “old fashioned” compass, but nothing else. We each hand steer a 1 hour watch all night At 2 am I have serious thoughts about the Bermuda Triangle, which we are definitely not in, and aliens coming down from outer space and taking us off the boat, leaving Ita all by her self. No shit. Seriously! Rain and squalls all night*

Day 4: Jim fixed instruments!! Turns out it was 1 loose wire. Jim debugged. He's da man! Then, another galley stove fire. The clamp that connects the supply valve for the oven to the main gas line was cheap metal and corroded all to pieces allowing gas to escape. Jim removed the oven valve and plugged the hole with … you guessed it – Duct Tape! This left us with only 1 burner for the rest of the trip. Rain and squalls all night*. Too much wind for me to steer.

Day 5: Wind during day, no wind at night and 3 hour waterfall at night. We did soaking wet sails slapping back and forth circles for 3 hours. Rain and squalls all night*. Too much wind or too little for me to steer.

Day 6: Light wind most of the day, then a Huge Squall, (2 hours w/ 25 to 30 knots) then nice wind 12-15. Finally into the trades. Nice night with some rain. Beautiful stars. Big Dipper to the north and southern cross to the south, moon rises to port.

Day 7: Mostly good wind. Some squalls at night. Sometimes no wind at night for periods, resulting in slapping sails, yuck.

Day 8: Drop anchor at 7:30 am under sail 30 seconds before a 23 knot squall arrives with torrential downpour. What a finish! Clear customs, buy a new starter and Jim has engine running by 5pm. YEAH!!!! New stove tomorrow!! DOUBLE YEAH!!!

Jim's Comments: Well, most of what Debbie describes is generally correct, although it does seem to be flavored a bit via her point of view. Which is understandable. I actually think there was some really great sailing involved along the way, and having to turn off the electronics etc. and just go sailing was a good reminder of how easy we do have it most times. Plus, she downplays her skills when it comes to driving the boat. She did really well and could have continued. She just didn't like it.


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  1. Ooookay….

    We're still in Ethiopia, and the internet – or lack thereof – kept me from really following this passage in detail, so thanks for the succinct update Deb.

    I kinda suspect that my point of view on these things would be closer to Debs than Jims… but without the actual – you know – skills.

    So – I guess I should be happy you got all this stuff sorted out before we do the sail across the pond in the spring. I am just going to assume that all the problems are now worked out and everything that might break is now repaired. Good to know.

    And good to know you all made it into port safe and sound and still married.


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