Blister Pops

The morning started a bit noisily with the sounds of luffing sails and splashing water. Topsides Dave and John had watched two downpours connect and blast the boat with torrential rain, confused seas, and lots of wind. Quickly the mainsail was doused and reasonable order restored. The skies were still cloudy by the time the sun rose but soon the clouds burned off and another lovely days was upon us.
The wind was moderate and from a friendly direction and we steamed towards the Gulf Stream 12 hours away. First we shook out the mainsail reefs and eventually put up the gennaker (AKA blister)to make good speed. The winds gradually increased and just before we decided it was too much wind for the gennaker, the sail decided for us and ripped right up the middle. Procrastination never pays.
The genny was soon out and we continued on on this beautiful day. As we entered the Gulf Stream the wind was brisk and seas fairly flat. Sunset was spectacular and greeted by our cameras. As Dan served up his Amish meatloaf a pod of dolphins paid us a brief visit. Now we are pulling in the fishing gear, knowing all the fish are still safe, and heading into the darkness towards the cooler waters on the other side of the Stream.

We are not on autopilot

A beautiful sunrise followed the amazing star gazing night and we continued our way up north under gennaker. Like yesterday it quickly became hot and we rigged the sunshade again.
A pod of dolphins visited us briefly and we were still surprised to see so many Portuguese Men of War all around us. We again resisted the temptation to catch one of the very poisonous buggars.
Anyways, we needed another distraction and started to play with the Aries windvane. Step one was to get the rudder in the water, which at 6kn speed is a quite interesting undertaking. Josh put his harness on and climbed over the rail onto the windvane and under the solar panel. Quite a move in itself. It became more interesting when he slipped and fell in the water. You can read if he made back on board in tomorrow’s post…..

Just kidding, of course he was able to climb back onto the windvane after we had slowed Tioga down and we moved on from there. Unfortunately, the two hours that Josh and John invested did not result in much success as we are still hand steering the boat.

In the afternoon the wind picked up as expected. We dropped the gennaker, unfurled the genoa and finally found the eddy that pushed us north with about 1kn of current.
Another perfect sailing day went buy and we are now enjoying the strong phosphoresence (the sparks of the ocean-going rocketship) and more stars. With 7-8kn speed over ground we expect to get to Gulf stream tomorrow afternoon.

Day 1 – the formal way to check out of country

We had a few items to do in the morning, checking out of customs, breakfast, last minute shopping, and retrieving the genoa from the sail repair shop. When we stopped to get breakfast the place was pretty crowded and we were seated with a local cricket legend, Leroy “Tubby” Richardson. Mr. Richardson will soon celebrate his 96th birthday. He filled us in on all the people in his small pocket photo album. When we mentioned how we are sailing back to the US, Mr. Richardson just said, “I’m a land rover”. Our errands complete we left the safe confines of St George’s Harbor around 11:30am to clear skys and gentle winds. The crew and boat are well prepared. We set the gennker and main and sailed lazily along. The sun became pretty hot and we set the fly to keep us our of the sun. Some of the crew took naps to get prepared for the upcoming night watches. An afternoon rain shower didn’t do much to cool us down. Dan prepared a delicious meal of salmon and steak with rice and salad
. We opened a nice bottle of Riojas to wash it down. The sun is setting, lifejackets are on, watch schedule has been reviewed and the Tioga crew is set for the first of the overnight sails. The sky is clear and we anticipate a carpet of stars to keep the crew busy looking for constellations and possible satellites.
As for our title, during our first sail to Bermuda in 2008 we were greeted by 2 young friendly customs agents. That added with a little rum set Dave to ask a simple request to have the official stamp “Entrance by Sea”stamped on his bald head. So to formally check out today, no rum needed, Dave once again stuck his head through the hole in the glass at the customs office and had his head stamped “Departure By Sea”!

The Majestic J-Class boats and a peculiar smell

Today half the crew went ashore early to get some actual work done. The remaining grew became concerned with a smell in the aft cabin. Was it hydrogen sulfide, plain old hydrogen, or hygiene. We were concerned that the batteries was giving off some gases that could mean we have faulty batteries. There was also a smell from the bilde pump out – were the two associated or just coincidence? A call to Don and Wally (McMackin Engineering’s finest) and the Balmar company put on the right track. After some testing and calibration we were satisfied we corrected any issues. Our new scent was more on
the lines of mountain fresh!
We left the comfortable confines of Grotto Bay and sailed out to catch the majestic J Boat races. The classics raced outside the harbor, but inside the reef. The classics are every bit as beautiful as when the robber barons and captains of industry raced them in the 1930s. This is thought to be the first time that 7 J class boats raced together. We sailed along the course and were able to see them round a mark and set their colorful spinnackers for the down wind leg. After the race we sailed for St. Georges Harbor where will make final preparations for the sail north to Nahant. Coral heads and shallows made for an interesting beat up the narrow channel.
We settled in for a few cold drinks and a swim then headed into town for a last great meal on terra firma. The wait for a table was long but was well worth the wait as we indulged in Wahoo and black grouper. We discuss our plans for the following morning with separate teams collecting the genoa at the sail repair shop, final groceries, and checking out at the customs office. The weather window looks promising and the crew is eager to cast off tomorrow.

Moments aboard Tioga on Father’s Day

What do six friends talk about while eating dinner in the cockpit of a sailboat floating in Bermuda?
We would tell you exactly the subject of those discussions, however, this is a family blog.

By the way, our crew is now complete. Pete and Dave arrived three days ago to start getting the boat ready, followed by Philip and John, then Dan and as of tonight Josh. We all know each other well so the barbs fly. It’s one of those welcome situations when you’d feel left out if nobody busted your chops.

For the first time in three days, we have more than two cubes of ice, which we know will make James Devereaux jealous back in Nahant. We’re drinking Dark and Stormies and there’s nobody here to keep track of how many rums we’ve had.
Besides, we’re not going anywhere. We’re livin’ the pirate life right now.Bathing in the salty sea, carrying jugs of water to the boat, buying groceries for our trip back to Nahant later this week.

All joking aside, it’s a lucky moment that we’ve landed here aboard Tioga, the elegant 44-foot Alden sloop that has carried crews all over the world.
Today was the second day of the America’s Cup races where America’s Oracle racing team got slammed by the Emirates New Zealand team.Some of us watched the action televised at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, where the action on the water was easier to see and understand because watching the race from the waterfront was simply too distant.

Today is also Father’s Day, and we’re six fathers all with children. So it’s odd that we’re not with our families, but this kind of adventure is important to us. It makes us brothers.We’ll always have this time to share and remember.
Luckily we also have more one thing in common: we all miss our families and appreciate their support of our thirst for high seas adventure.

The Kiwis Take Two

The Tioga Sailors get a front row seat to the greatest sailing spectacle.

Last night, Peter and Dave enjoyed a fabulous night of watching the sunset waiting for Captain Philip and John to arrive. Many flight delays in Boston and NY had the Captain and Johns arrival at sunrise this morning. Thanks to a friendly customs officer showing her true Bermudian hospitality- their hitchhiking to Grotto Bay was short lived. Dave left early to catch the photo/press boat and the rest tried to catch up on sleep. We got up and had a quick swim and left for the race. We arrived at the Hamilton Ferry dock only to find the next ferry would not get us to the race in time. Our luck changed when we approached a few Royal Bermuda Yacht Club sailing instructors who were heading to the race in their boat. They grabbed three extra life jackets and we were on our way. The spectator boats lined the course, copters flying over head, giant jumbotrons, and thousands of well healed, semi-sober, Rolex wearing, race fans were everywhere. We arrived just a few minutes before the start, and the major mis-queue by Team Oracle crossing the start line early. The day didn’t get much better for Team Oracle as they lost both match races. After the races we headed for Bone Fish for drinks and to find Uncle Dan – who was entertaining a group of US Coast Guardsman by telling old GI Stories – thankfully it didn’t include the Goat Joke. We then headed to the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club for a cold drink! We were awed by their silver trophies and half hull models. We retired to the Cedar Bar in the Club that was relocated from their original location about 85 years ago. Only True sailors would relocate a bar! The Club manager provided us with a little RBYC history. We headed back to Grotto Bay and the waiting Tioga. John was able to get his luggage that was presumed lost at some unknown airport between Boston and Bermuda. Cheese and salami nicely aged on the tarmac. Dave arrived at the dock shortly after and we are now settling in for a cool peaceful nights sleep. Tomorrow we’ll see if Team Oracle can post some sort of comeback.

The crew from Antigua to Bermuda

A few more photos of our crew that sailed from Antigua to Bermuda.

We started our journey with an immediate highlight, hiking up to Shirley Heights, and overcoming our first challenges, recovering Ellen’s bracelet and installing the alternator, before sailing around Antigua to Jolly Harbor.
All were extremely happy with the decision to stop over in Barbuda with one of the nicest beaches we know.
St Barth’s also did not disappoint although we barely had enough time to see it.

The easterly tradewinds carried us far north before they calmed down (we sailed 514nm in 3 days), gave us a chance to swim in 13000ft deep water and then forced us to run the engine for a while. The silver lining of the now full batteries was the fact that we did not have to use our hydro generator and therefore went fishing.
The yellow-fin tuna was another highlight of this roughly 950nm sail.

Of course, arriving in Bermuda is always a highlight. With the America’s Cup in town, this visit was even more special. The fact that we lived a resort life just because we were mooring next to Grotto Bay Resort put the icing on the cake.

We should do ┬áthis more often…