Tuesday, 10 May 2016

BVIs to Bermuda Passage Summary

Hi everyone,
We had an interesting passage from Soper's Hole in the British Virgin Islands to St George in Bermuda.  A mixture of champagne sailing for the first few days followed by several days with cloudy, rainy and occasionally challenging conditions.  A fair balance and it seems only fair to have to work a little to reach nice places!

First the usual plots...

Zen Again Track
Zen Again Speed (note brief "spike" at the big squall)

The track shows how little we had to deviate from the rhumb line.  The "wiggles" towards the end are during and following the squalls.  In the first two squalls the wind veered from SSE to SW and we initially followed the wind before gybing.

Here are the vital stats for the passage…
  • Distances/Speeds
    • Route Distance = 830nm
    • Logged Distance = 891nm
    • GPS Distance = 864nm
    • Duration = 6 days 6 hours
    • Average speed = 5.9kt
    • Average VMG = 5.7kt
    • Average day's run = 143nm
    • Best day's run = 154nm (6.4kt)
    • Minimum boat speed = 3 kt
    • Maximum boat speed = >14.9 kt (we'll never know for sure)
  • Weather
    • Minimum wind speed = 6 kt
    • Average wind speed = 20 knots
    • Maximum wind speed = >50kt (in squall 'nadir')
    • Apparent wind angle range = 50 to 150
    • Seas up to 3m
    • Swell up to 3m
    • Later very overcast but initially some gloriously sunny days and starlit nights
  • Engine
    • Total = 20 hours
    • Driving = 12 hours
    • Charging = 8 hours
  • Consumption
    • Water = 40 litres (6.7 litres / day)
    • Fuel = 40 litres
  • Failures
    • Engine raw water overheat alarmed after extended running at low revs under load.  No damage.  Lesson learned!
  • Stars
    • The boat!
    • The rig (for not falling down in squall 'nadir')
    • The new tiller and near-new rudder for passing their ultimate load test
    • The furlex furler which didn't let us down in its ultimate test
    • The Extreme Sails yankee and main which survived their extreme test too
    • Pelagic Autopilot ram (steered 50% of passage - a good shakedown)
    • Aries vane gear (steered 50% of passage)
    • qtVlm GRIB viewer and weather-routing software

Regarding the maximum boat speed, the boat's record under our ownership is 14.9 knots surfing down a big wave on the east coast of Australia.  I believe we exceeded that by a considerable margin in squall 'nadir" but can't prove it so the record stands.

By the way, Zen Again exhibits an interesting phenomenon on the helm at speed.  It feels like there's play between tiller and rudder which is concerning - a "dead zone" in which nothing appears to happen.  I now believe it is caused by turbulence aft of the substantial skeg.  One has to move the tiller a long way to get the rudder into less angry (laminar flow) water to get a response.  Perhaps a naval architect can comment!

View from dinghy dock with Customs House to right and Zen Again at left
Was it worth it?  We think so!!!
We spent this morning cleaning the boat and drying her out.  We went ashore to the very nice White Horse pub for lunch then walked around St George briefly.  Tis a very scenic and historic town, founded in the early 1600s.  Back on board we did the laundry and planned our touring for the next week or so.


  1. Glad to hear you made it safely to Bermuda - look at the colour of that water - definitely worth it! Trust me from a very rainy Ipswich ;-)

  2. Enjoying reading your blog. Re your comment about "play between tiller and rudder". Ruby Tuesday, which has a rudder hung of a substantial skeg exhibits a similar phenomena. I have always assumed it was due to turbulence caused by the skeg.