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Old 27-12-2012, 13:13   #1
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New York to Bermuda

I am thinking of doing the New York to Bermuda and back passage in 2014 in my Beneteau 323. Has anyone done this trip, any pointers as far as weather routing, timing etc?
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Old 01-01-2013, 22:01   #2
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Re: New York to Bermuda

Strongly recommend Bermuda Cruising Rally
Sailed with them in 2009.
Planing to repeat this year.
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Old 01-01-2013, 22:26   #3
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Re: New York to Bermuda

Spring or early summer, say May or June, should be a milder ride than in Fall. Rallies can cause more trouble than safety IMHO. Once you start, there is very little benefit from a rally. A Bene 323 should be capable of the trip. Make sure your boat is ready and sails are serviceable. Have an EPIRB and all safety gear. There is nothing like making landfall in Bermuda. You will grow a bunch as a sailor.
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Old 02-01-2013, 00:49   #4
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Re: New York to Bermuda

Quote:
Originally Posted by swabbmob View Post
Rallies can cause more trouble than safety IMHO. Once you start, there is very little benefit from a rally.
Why so?
To the contrary, this rally is usually assembled with few boats, they are providing weather routing services, satellite phone roll-call, boat tracking, discounted marina services at both ends, to name just few.
Before bashing such thing, I would suggest to get aquatinted with their web site.
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Old 02-01-2013, 08:08   #5
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Re: New York to Bermuda

Capn Ziggy - didn't mean to "bash". I have participated, so was not speaking from the couch. My main concern with rallies is the group think syndrome which causes each captain to disengage his/her normal decision making process.
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Old 02-01-2013, 08:34   #6
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Re: New York to Bermuda

Rally or not is a personal decision based on personality as much as anything. Time it so you are back in US by mid-June if possible. Be in Bermuda before the big races arrive (Newport-Bermuda, Marion-Bermuda) they tend to take over. Give yourself as much time as possible in Bda for two reasons. One is to enjoy the place, it is great. The other is to not to have to leave on schedule. Nice to leave with a good weather window at least for the first few days. Same thing at the NYC end.

Be prepared for just about any kind of weather from long calms to gale conditions. Also thunderstorms are common and just a fact of ilfe. Bermuda Harbour Radio are very helpful. They have a pre-arrival on their website that you should complete and email before departure. Most people just stay in St George's harbour either at anchor or tied up at the dinghy club or the sea wall in town. There is also a tiny marina (6 boats) in St George's. You can also anchor in Hamilton harbour but it is very busy there with lots of wakes. You can contact Royal Bermuda YC but they always seem full. There is a larger marina at the Dockyards at the western end of the island.
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Old 04-01-2013, 16:23   #7
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Re: New York to Bermuda

Aina is right about the weather. We've gone to Bermuda on a steady eight-knot reach without making a tack for two+ days. We've had to beat into 25knot headwinds and an 8' chop. Other times we've had thundersqualls and 50 knots of wind... or dead calms with just basking sharks spread out every 400 feet for company. We've also had up to three waterspouts in sight at the same time, and crossings with freighters at night in the rain. Give yourself a big weather window, and as Swabby says, you'll grow a lot as a sailor.
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Old 04-01-2013, 16:30   #8
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Re: New York to Bermuda

My self, I would leave from farther east or south so that I have a nice place to sit at anchor and get the right weather window and not be in the traffic zones for New York at night. Some place like Block Island maybe, or possibly Cape May. Norfolk provides a better angle usually. Best time is usually late May into mid-June. Of course, in that season you've got to keep a close watch on possible hurricanes, but they are few in June. I second the idea of finding out when the races are in town and trying to avoid that time--they take up all the space and cause waits at the fuel dock.
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Old 04-01-2013, 18:05   #9
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Don't Cape May and Norfolk have as much traffic as New York?
I had no wind, too much wind, tropical storm on my trip. We didn't make Bermuda, and had to keep going to St.Marteen. It was our ultimate destination, but missing Bermuda was upsetting. Be ready for about everything. The distance is long enough to call it water sailing">blue water sailing. I mean there is no reliable weather forecast to cover entire trip.
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Old 04-01-2013, 18:37   #10
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Re: New York to Bermuda

Norfolk and the mouth of the Chesapeake are probably almost as busy as NY, and Cape May is just north of Delaware Bay, so you are basically right. I don't like to sail for a long time in one of the marked traffic separation zones. Best to stay out of them. Not unusual in June to have plenty of fog until the Gulf Stream.
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Old 04-01-2013, 20:37   #11
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Re: New York to Bermuda

I've sailed into or from Bermuda a bunch of times, including twice from Long Island Sound to St. George's - once in June, once in November. I agree that earlier (pre-hurricane season) is better than later, particularly if you're leaving from NY. If you were to leave from the Chesapeake, you could certainly go in November and have a really nice sail, but the return trip (if you're not heading further south) would be darn chilly. One big benefit from leaving from the Chesapeake is that you can get across the stream in about 24 hours or less and then you'll be in the warm blue waters the rest of the way. Leaving from NY, you're sailing in the cold stuff for about 3 days (in a 323).

With a smaller boat, you're also going to want to make sure you've got a good long weather window and if it's your first time to Bermuda and/or crossing the Gulf Stream, get some professional weather routing

The observations on rallies is fair, but should be in context. Rallies are more rigid in their calendars so it's possible that you might depart with an "OK" window but might have and "Ideal" window if you have a few more days flexibility. Also, rallies differ in their ability to support the fleet underway. The old Cruising Rally Association (Now part of World Cruising) did a great job (imo) of supporting the fleet underway (I've done 4 of their rallies) but I've heard of others that do not. Also, if you do a rally in a B-323, plan on being the last guy to to get to Bermuda.

Arrival in Bermuda is fun. If it's your first time, plan to arrive at daylight as the Town Cut is best transited in daylight if you've never done it. Call Bermuda Radio when you get within VHF range of the island, and they'll get all your details for arrival and will also give you clearance to enter the Town Cut. (Don't enter St. George's without Bermuda Radio's approval). They can also direct you to customs.

Equipment-wise, you'll get fog north of the stream, so your radar will be helpful, and an AIS receiver can be really helpful on the approach to Bermuda as all marine traffic converges at the same point before entering harbor. This includes - cruise ships, commercial ships, visiting warships, and sailboats. It can be pretty hairy. (In 2011's Marion-Bermuda, we arrived at dawn and had about 10 other racers, 2 cruise ships, a cargo ship and a British warship all converging at the Spit Buoy at the same time. If was nuts.)

Overall, it's a fun trip. Enjoy.

Cheers,
Colin
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Old 07-01-2013, 10:41   #12
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Re: New York to Bermuda

Thank you all for your comments. In your experience, is there a source of a weather forecast that works best for this trip?
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Old 07-01-2013, 14:50   #13
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Re: New York to Bermuda

There are a few professional services you can use. I tend to use Commanders' which is at Commanders' Weather. You can also use Chris Parker - Marine Weather Center - Bahamas & Caribbean Marine Weather Services Or, if you have a good SSB and you want a free service, you can use Herb Hilgenberg (Southbound II) South Bound II VAX498 - Ship routing and weather forecasting

I've used all 3 of them over the years and they are all good, but of course no one's perfect.

Also, if you want custom Gulf Stream info, you can go to Jenifer Clark, too. Jenifer Clark's Gulfstream

There is also overlap here, because Commanders', Herb, and Chris will also give you Gulf Stream routing and I think Jenifer will probably provide full routing as well as Gulf Stream analysis (which is what she is known for)

Hope this helps.

Cheers,
Colin
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Old 07-01-2013, 14:57   #14
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Re: New York to Bermuda

And if you just want a generic forecast, there are tons of options out there. The one I tend to favour is passageweather.com There may be better sites out there, but passage weather has worked for me over the years. Also, it allows you to download all the maps prior to heading to sea, so you have them as a reference.

Then, once at sea, I download forecasts and GRIBs via sailmail.

Cheers,
Colin
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Old 09-01-2013, 10:57   #15
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Re: New York to Bermuda

Thank you Colin, most helpful.
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