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Old 26-09-2020, 17:00   #1
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Sailing to bermuda - resources - 30 foot sailboat

I have a Bristol 30 I've been outfitting for offshore trips. I did a singlehanded delmarva cirucmnavigation on her last year, and she did well, including making through knockdown. I'm decently experienced. Many solo trips up and down the bay, some dinghy racing, and survived several storms so far. I'd like to take it to the next level.

Just to be clear, I intend on taking an extra crewmember for this trip.

I'm looking at blue-water trips this winter (coming out of the Chesapeake bay) and Bermuda sounds appealing.

What kind of resources can I look at to see currents, prevailing winds, etc? What is a good season to sail to bermuda? is late november after hurricane season okay? Any books to read? I've never travelled outside the US on my sailboat before.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 26-09-2020, 17:32   #2
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Re: Sailing to bermuda - resources - 30 foot sailboat

Expected winds/currents/waves can be seen on pilot charts. Late November chances cold fronts and rough weather: late June is better.
The reason to sail to Bermuda might be because you've never been, or because it's there, or because you need SOMEPLACE to sail to. Remember that you have to sail back, or carry on to someplace else.
It's a bit expensive there, but there's some lovely scenery, and pretty gorgeous water. I expect the swimming and snorkelling are good, though I didn't get a chance to indulge.
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Old 26-09-2020, 17:44   #3
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Re: Sailing to bermuda - resources - 30 foot sailboat

Bermuda is indeed a good landfall, beautiful island, interesting history, lots of good snorkel/dive sites. Biggest downside is that it is expensive.

The Gulf Stream is a year round planning consideration, not just the axis of the Stream, but also the warm eddies, cold eddies, meanders...etc. Playing all of these features to your advantage can make a big difference in crossing times.

Leaving in winter months means more likelyhood of cold fronts. A strong cold front against the Gulf Stream current can get very ugly. Spring months are more likely to yield you a smoother ride (...though crossing the Stream itself is normally at least a little bumpy regardless).

I suggest you first start with getting educated on the Gulf Stream. Loads of resources at your fingertips on the Internet.

Bermuda was discovered by shipwrecks, in its natural state it was low lying, unlit, unpopulated, surrounded by extensive reefs, unknown on charts, and effectively invisible. Fortunately today it is well charted, the loom is visible for miles, and the approach channels are well lit and well marked.

See Windy for a big picture view of the Gulf Stream.
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Old 26-09-2020, 17:47   #4
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Re: Sailing to bermuda - resources - 30 foot sailboat

Also, Bermuda is not very warm and damp in the winter. I would go mid to late May, spend a couple of weeks there and come back in early to mid-June. Everything there is expensive so provision for the stay and return trip. Far too soon to know when Bermuda might be open to boats coming from the US though.
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Old 26-09-2020, 20:52   #5
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Re: Sailing to bermuda - resources - 30 foot sailboat

Quote:
Originally Posted by AiniA View Post
Also, Bermuda is not very warm and damp in the winter. I would go mid to late May, spend a couple of weeks there and come back in early to mid-June. Everything there is expensive so provision for the stay and return trip. Far too soon to know when Bermuda might be open to boats coming from the US though.
Thanks.
Bermuda is open to cruisers now with recent COVID19 PCR test. Not saying that travel is really a good thing right now though..
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Old 26-09-2020, 20:58   #6
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Re: Sailing to bermuda - resources - 30 foot sailboat

I’ve singlehanded there four times and was not able to make the trip this spring due to the epidemic. I leave Southern New England in late April and it has taken me six to eight days depending on the weather. I use windy.com and passageweather.com to decide when to make the jump offshore. I don’t have a satellite link or a SSB radio so I’m on my own. I do have AIS B and an AIS receiver built into my VHF along with my plotter, radar, and the usual complement of instruments. I stay for a couple months and head back in early July before the hurricane season kicks in.
Fill out this form Visiting Yachts before you head out to save yourself having to provide this info via VHF as you close with the island. You will be contacted by Bermuda Radio as you make your approach. This link is very helpful Bermuda Marine and Ports .
Those who advise that Bermuda is expensive don’t live in southern New England. I find things minimally more expensive in grocery stores and restaurants. Anchor out and stock up on food and boat spares to avoid any perceived financial shock. There are numerous places to drop a hook. Once you clear Customs you are good for 90 days.
Public transportation is readily available so avoid taxis which can be expensive. There are many attractions and museums for those so inclined. I enjoy the offshore passage and the destination equally.
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Old 27-09-2020, 03:21   #7
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Re: Sailing to bermuda - resources - 30 foot sailboat

^^Thanks for posting this. My experience there was limited to Hamilton in the aftermath of the Bermuda race, so I saw only a narrow slice, but enough to make me want to return with more leisure on my own boat. Perhaps I'll see you there year after next.
I will avail myself of your links. Thanks again.
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Old 27-09-2020, 05:16   #8
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Re: Sailing to bermuda - resources - 30 foot sailboat

Most cruisers stay in St George's. You can either anchor out or get a dock in several places. Dockage is not expensive but you don't get power in most places. In season there is a large ferry from St George's to Hamilton and the Dockyard plus the local bus system works well. St George's is one of those cruising crossroads where you get people coming and going from every direction. Good vibe as everyone has had to make a significant ocean passage to get there.
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Old 27-09-2020, 08:23   #9
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Re: Sailing to bermuda - resources - 30 foot sailboat

don't do it in winter. Late April to mid June is the time you are less likely to get beat up. And unless you carrying on further, you have to think of the return trip.
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Old 27-09-2020, 08:28   #10
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Re: Sailing to bermuda - resources - 30 foot sailboat

Jimmy Cornellīs World Cruising Routes book would be a good place to start.
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Old 27-09-2020, 08:33   #11
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Re: Sailing to bermuda - resources - 30 foot sailboat

I have sailed twice to Bermuda, both in May.

Second time was 2015, when they were encouraging boats to only stay for three weeks. That could be extended for bad weather, but the officials did not encourage boats to hang around for months at a time.
We left and returned because of change in weather when overnight winds strengthened and changed direction from forecast, got stay extended for a few days, then left again with another good forecast and made landfall at Chesapeake Bay.
It is just long enough that you will not likely make the full trip without a change in weather. Your boat will likely make good about 110nm per day, thus six days passage each way. Bermuda is a nice visit, expensive, but no need to buy much if well stocked up. We spent a few days at a dock near the fuel dock, otherwise anchored out on the opposite side of harbour.
Be wary of the rental scooters, as when we were there the cruise ship passengers all rent them and zoom around the narrow and twisty roads and many are seen with bandaged arms and other lost skin from tipping over. Probably no cruise ships going there now.

When we were there it was crowded with boats headed from Caribbean to Europe as well as to the U.S. coast. Some boats anchored very close to the limits reserved for the cruise ships to turn around under their bow thrusters. We saw one boat's anchor line (rope) sucked into the bow thruster and the boat reeled in to smash against the cruise ship hull.
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Old 27-09-2020, 14:08   #12
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Re: Sailing to bermuda - resources - 30 foot sailboat

Buy or rent an EPIRB and a good survival suit for each crew member. The North Atlantic is a little chilly in winter
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Old 27-09-2020, 15:17   #13
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Re: Sailing to bermuda - resources - 30 foot sailboat

I've done the Bermuda trip three times from the USA eastern seaboard..always in the spring/summer time....May-June....
each trip had it's "moments".
#1 is the Gulf Stream, you will have to contend with this one way or another. You can pay for a weather router or do your own homework, but the Gulf Stream has numerous meanders, twists and turns enroute to Bermuda...and there is a pretty good certainty that you will have to deal with this at some time or another. The worst is if the wind is blowing against the stream. You will get some pretty big waves and may have to alter course or take other evasive action for a period of time. Planning your departure time will hinge on wind against current.
#2. The wind can be fickle...my voyage times have ranged from 7-10 days leaving from Florida. You can have dead calm, headwinds, and a lovely broad reach all within 24 hours.
#3. Bermuda is surrounded by reefs. 400 some shipwrecks will attest to that. The north side being worse than the south side. Knowing your exact position is very helpful, as I have learned.
#4. I have always entered Bermuda at St. George's on the north-east end. The cut into St. George's is thru' a cut in the cliffs, which is hard to see. I would advise a day time entry. Additionally, inside the cut are some derelicts and sunken boats, so you need to keep a sharp eye out for these. If you arrive at night, my suggestion is to stand off until daybreak.
#5. Bermuda Harbor Radio is located in St. George's and they will be monitoring your whereabouts via radar and vhf as well as SSB. The custom office will be on your right after you enter the cut. Very friendly folk and you can tie up to their dock.
#6. Custom decrees you have a "dark and stormy" drink on arrival.
#7. Everything in Bermuda has to be imported there.. so things are very expensive....ie, food and drink. Your wallet will be depleted in short order.
#8. Just about everybody in Bermuda owns a scooter and you can rent these to get around, but there is also excellent bus service. The scooters are fun if you know how to handle these, otherwise the bus service is excellent.
#9. Either going there, or leaving there, you are bound to have your butt handed to you, weatherwise. I could not say why this is so, but it is so.....and everyone I know that has sailed to Bermuda, will attest to this.
# 10. I've enjoyed all my trips there. I've had to endure some pretty intense weather, but that is par for the course.
#11. The place is very " British"...me personally, I find this very endearing.
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Old 27-09-2020, 18:05   #14
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Re: Sailing to bermuda - resources - 30 foot sailboat

Sailed an Island Packet 38 on the return after she was in the Bermuda Ocean Race from Annapolis to Bermuda..did this in late June so cant speak to the weather in the fall. If you wait until Spring/Summer would add a bimini as it gets hot once you transit the Gulf Stream...worst part of the trip was sailing up the Chesapeake at night w/o radar...trying to pick out the ship lites from city/background lighting was a challenge... try using the northerly flow of the stream to your advantage when navigating both directions. excellent trip.
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Old 27-09-2020, 18:13   #15
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Re: Sailing to bermuda - resources - 30 foot sailboat

Thanks so much everyone. Has anyone made the trip in the wintertime?
I do have a few rescue devices. PLB and a Inreach. Each crew can have one on at all times.
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