Tiny boat HUGE SAILS

While orienting us to Bermuda our new friend Audrey told us about the Bermuda Fitted Dinghy.  These crazy race boats are only 14 feet long, but carry a mast that is up to 40 feet tall!  Rode Trip’s mast is only 44′ tall!  We were intrigued and Audrey said she would make some phone calls and try to get us a spot on the committee boat.

As we were leaving the club to head back to Rode Trip a friendly voice called down from the balcony, “Are you the two interested in being on the committee boat this weekend?”  We stopped and looked up to meet Gary, a supporter of the St. George’s dinghy Victory.  Gary told us that there would be plenty of room on the committee boat and we were welcome to join in the event.  As we were saying our goodbye’s he asked if we had a lot of dinghy sailing experience.  After telling him about racing lasers in New Hampshire he informed me that there just might be an open crew position on the Victory.

Sunday morning we met up with the crew at the Sports club and started assembling the dinghy.  First step attach the bowsprit (12′) and launch the boat.

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IMG_5201Then we loaded up the rig selection for the day.  Our skipper Tom chose the #2 rig.  There are three different sizes of rig for the dinghy # 1 is a light air rig with a 40′ mast, #2 is smaller with a 32′ mast and #3 is for heavy air with a 25′ mast.  We loaded the mast, boom, sails, spare parts and tools onto the support boat and headed out to a mooring to rig the boat.

All hands to raise the mast!

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Here comes the competition!

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Once the mast was raised we had to keep at least 3 people in the dinghy just to keep it upright, and this was without any sails!

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With 8 people helping the sails went up quick and the crew headed out for the first race, unfortunately I didn’t get to sail in the first two races, but had a great time watching.

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Stephanie helped on the starting boat for the first race.

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For the second race Skipper Tom’s girlfriend Leatrice came by in her powerboat and followed the Victory giving us a play by play of everything that was going right and wrong on board the dinghy.  We learned that she had represented Bermuda in the 2004 Olympics for sailling!

During the second race the crew of Elizabeth didn’t move their weight quite fast enough and ended up sunk.  It took a long time to get the boat upright and floating again.

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For race 3 Tom decided that a little more weight would help and I was selected as crew.  We had a GREAT race, taking first place!  I haven’t hiked ( held my weight out over the water by tucking my feet under a strap) that hard in a long time!

IMG_5300It was a great day of racing and meeting new friends.  Leatrice even invited us to come down to Hamilton on Wednesday for “big boat” (not dinghy) racing.

More pictures!

 

Welcome to Bermuda

Land Ho!

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We’d sighted Bermuda; this tiny, 20.5 square mile island in the mid-Atlantic was within reach and we were anxious to drop the hook for respite from the sea. When we spotted the island, we were still approximately 20nm away and some quick mathematics confirmed that we’d not make landfall until after dark. We were approaching from the southwest and needed to sail the length of the island to the entrance channel on the east end.

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Knowing we’d arrive after dark, we consulted the chart to determine whether the entrance channel would be safe. The conditions were calm and the entrance, Town Cut, was very well marked with plenty of water for our draft. The decision was unanimous, we’d sleep at anchor tonight!

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Bermuda Radio monitors all incoming and outgoing boat traffic for the island. The radio has a strong signal accompanied by a powerful radar system that can spot boats along a 50nm radius. Per my Bermuda clearance research, I’d learned it was necessary to hail Bermuda Radio on the VHF once in hailing range which for us is about 20nm. Per Bermuda clearance research, I’d also learned that Bermuda has an online pre-arrival form. I had completed this pre-arrival form prior to departing Grand Cayman; the information provided is the standard particulars of the vessel and crew (vessel type, length, draft, number of crew, etc). You can find the link for the pre-arrival form here, as well as general information about Bermuda clearance. When I hailed Bermuda Radio the dispatcher was able to pull our pre-arrival information. We provided our latitude and longitude and ETA. We continued sailing as we watched the sunset over Bermuda.

We reached the sea buoy for the Town Cut channel at about 9:15pm. Once again we hailed Bermuda Radio and received excellent directions for entering the St. George’s Harbour and locating the Customs dock. We dropped the sails and motored through Town Cut channel; our only engine hours during the entire passage. We found the buoys to be exact.

Once in the harbour, we located the Customs dock to the north of the harbour, at the northeast corner of Ordinance Island. It was just after 10:00pm and we were thrilled to meet three fellow cruisers at the dock who voluntarily assisted us and welcomed us. After a short chat, we made our way to the Customs office, the building is on the dock; the office is open from 8:00am – Midnight. The woman who assisted us at Customs was pleasant and efficient. We completed one form, surrendered our flare gun, paid $70USD (via credit card, USD accepted) and within 15 minutes were cleared. We found a cozy spot to anchor just off the Customs dock. The hook was set in soft sand by 11:00pm.

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By Midnight we’d converted Rode Trip back into a home and had sprawled in the very spacious v-berth. Our bodies rejoiced for the stillness, the flatness of this new resting place and we slept soundly.