Starblazer - 16/05/2016 - Bermuda
We did eventually reach Bermuda in the very early hours of Saturday after a very frustrating passage. It was frustrating for numerous reasons: the winds were too light to sail by for about three days; the water pump generously shared the engine cooling water with the oil (again); the replacement water pump didn't want to share its water with the cooling system; the water maker decided to stop pumping water through the membranes in less than 10 minutes. For the last 42 hours we motored at 2000 revs and, though the water pump wasn't putting much water through the system, the temperature readings at various points in the system remained acceptable. Yards from the Customs dock the overheat alarm went off! The engine overheated when the revs were very low. Surprisingly the Customs and Immigration office was open so John cleared in and we anchored soon after 0300.
Saturday morning, after very few hours sleep, we were invited to up anchor and refuel at the wharf. From there we attempted to Med moor against the wall at the Dinghy Club but there was a vicious cross wind blowing so we aborted the attempt and anchored again in much the same position as we had at 0300. I didn't want to go on the wall because I knew from our visit in 2010 that it is very difficult to get off the boat and I haven't become any more fit or agile in the intervening years. John thought we should be on the wall because we could plug into mains power and, without the engine, our only source of energy to charge the batteries is the sun. The rest of Saturday was spent on completely overhauling the cooling water system and rebuilding the pump (again) including putting a 'O' ring in between the oil and the water seals. (John: it's in the diagrams but I cannot see what it can possibly help where it is!) This appears to have been successful as we ran the engine on tick-over for an hour to charge the batteries with no signs of overheating.
We were going to do some touristy things on Sunday but the weather rather intervened. When it brightened in the afternoon we went ashore and walked around St George, a really pretty town. At the evening dinner and presentation the World ARC 2015-16 family did rather well with GarliX winning division 1, Circe taking 2nd in division 2 and Ayama and Exody taking 1st and 2nd respectively in division 3! Today we went to Hamilton by bus, much cheaper than hiring a scooter for a day. Our shopping expedition was successful, finding a small inverter (so that we can again charge the battery for the Milwaukee drill = power for the winches) and DMC embroidery threads, so we both came home happy. We have promised ourselves more tourist time next year as it is a lovely island.
We had to get back in time for the Skippers' Briefing at the Dinghy Club at 1600, it is a good job we made that effort. It is now official, Leg 2 of ARC USA is non-competitive but it is a race, a race against a weather system which appears to be developing on the east coast of the USA. Basically most British weather systems start life as low pressure systems spawned on the east coast USA which then track across the North Atlantic sweeping the UK with frontal systems. What we need to avoid is a low pressure expected to develop just west of Cape Hatteras then tracking NE, this could have sustained winds up to 35 knots and significantly higher gusts. The positive aspect is that some GRIB Files show the strongest winds offshore Saturday evening to Sunday morning by which time we should be well inshore. Our plan is to pull the anchor up at first light and make best speed while avoiding a messy occluded front which is more or less on our rhumb line, hopefully arriving in Portsmouth Virginia before the weather on Saturday afternoon. If it all turns pear shaped, we'll drop the main, reduce the genoa to a pocket handkerchief size and sail with the wind on the quarter until it blows away. That will be safe, relatively comfortable and not far off the right direction.