Updates from the fleet came in overnight in a variety of media formats, including a steady feed of tweets (see @bdarace and search at twitter.com on #bermudarace). Below are more detailed reports we received, updated as of 1030 EDT, Saturday.
Masquerade Reports (mid-day report)
Life on Masquerade is pretty nice right now. After an incredible cool night of sailing 8-9 knots through the stars, we are trying to keep speed above 6.5 with our tiny cruising kite. But the weather is sunny and warm and we’re not bouncing around too much. Sam Howell, our navigator is below trying to decide what we should do next. This is the kind of race that turns navigators into men’s hair club clients! Yesterday morning we thought there was a good possibility the race committee would have to postpone for lack of breeze, but it filled in and the start went off.
Warner Nickerson has been flying his drone this morning, including buzzing one of his friends on a nearby boat; they’ll be glad to get the aerial pics when we see them in Hamilton. Casey Nickerson, Warner’s dad, comes on deck with his usual big grin on his face, which is reflected on mine. I’m doing my first Bermuda Race on the boat I acquired last January and my first Bermuda Race as skipper. She’s a Baltic 47 built in 1995 and though her primary role is going to be as a cruising boat for my wife and me, her performance is impressive. I’m fortunate to have an excellent crew that includes four young Mass Maritime Academy cadets to sail her. Though we’ve been together only a few months, we’ve developed a terrific chemistry.
I don’t think I could possibly be happier unless my wife was sailing with us!
– Andy Burton
Warrior Won (mid-day report)
St. David’s Lighthouse winner in 2016, Chris Sheehan provided a mid-day Audio report on Saturday to his 2016 navigator, H.L. Devore, who is ashore for this race.
Shearwater Reports (Mason 43 USA 51428)
June 16 – 0930
Good morning! A lot has been happening and this is the first chance to send something after we lost Twitter and cell coverage. On that, we may be able to get Twitter back though the boat’s network. If so, or to check my Friday posts, look for us on Twitter – Shearwater Sailing or @ShearwaterSail! (This is my 3rd day tweeting, so give me a break!).
So right now, we’re sailing in 10-15 kts of wind generally from the northwest. Seas are small and we’re making good time at 7+ knots. We’re about 90 miles north of the northern border of the gulfstream, which is a very important feature to the boats in this race. Much of the pre-race briefings focus on what the currents are doing and the best place to cross it. I’ll do an email later on this feature and why it’s important.
We’ve been divided into two watches as usual. Dan Biemsederfer, Mark Kondracky, Rich Formica and Dennis Driscoll are the A watch and started the race. Gretchen Beimesderfer, Mark Pittinger, Bruce Stanton and I are the B watch and officially started at 6 pm last night. For those unfamiliar with passage making, the watches alternate shifts where they are primarily responsible for boat operation. The watch off “watch” fills in if needed but mainly tries to get some sleep. Boat watches can be set up in many ways but Shearwater’s schedule is 6am-12, 12-6pm, 6-10pm, 10-2am, 2-6 am. The odd number means each watches’ schedule changes from day to day so no one gets stuck with nasty times. The 4 hour periods during the night help relieve the strain of nighttime sailing. On that, our watch started at 6pm, ended at 10 and then we were back on at 2 am to 6. Despite short periods of sleep, this is a great schedule as we were able to enjoy a beautiful sun and crescent moon set (with a really cool rainbow thrown in) and a lovely sunrise. After being on deck in the cold dark, the sunrise is really welcome. I say dark, but that’a not really the case – the stars were out in super abundance and crystal clear/bright – a sight hard to get on the built-up east coast
I start writing this, more or less, at the beginning of the race but SO much happens to prepare for it. Boat repairs and upgrades, provisioning, and weather and race briefings are just a few of the activities that consume much of Dan and Gretchen’s time – we help where we can but it’s a big job. Every detail must be attended – there aren’t grocery stores or marine outfitters mid-ocean and you can bet you’re not going to get any love sailing up to another competitor asking for Grey Poupon!
Speaking of food, dinner last night was chile, salad and garlic bread – great chow and really hit the spot as we were cold and flirting with some light rain off & on.
Today, we expect to see winds dropping somewhat and our speed reduced, even with the asymmetrical spinnaker up.
Ok, that’s it for now – I need to figure how to send this to you.
I hope everyone’s having a great day – be sure to cut those lawns!
– Jeff Ryer
June 15 – 2100
It was an exciting kickoff for the young MudRatz crew aboard Dreamcatcher. Thirteen year old Dylon Flack was our 13th crew member leaving the dock, knowing that he had a date with a swim to his Dad’s chase boat, 20 minutes before the start. He’s determined to be a full member for the 2020 race and he’s a happy camper.
The team has settled into a semblance of routine during the first 6 hours of the 51st running of the Thrash to the Onion Patch. Windward work gave way to Code Zero reaching until dusk brought a bit of a restart with the wind dropping out for about an hour. The kids were intrigued by the view of boats in all directions, followed by a session with the AIS screen and a couple of Grib file downloads. The chatter on deck is fun to hear…”what’s a rhumbline?…how come boats are pointed in so many different directions?…how soon is the next meal?…” and the sharing continues. Skipper and Program Director Taylor Walker talks through the weather outlook, providing perspective for the orders to sail her fast and fat.
Now it’s lights everywhere, and the crew on deck is focused on keeping the speed up. But then a voice chimes in with “Why does an elephant have a trunk? It would look funny with a glove compartment?”…and back we go to herding kittens 😉
Good evening from the happy MudRatz team aboard Dreamcatcher.
June 16 – 0900
The big question at daylight was “Where’d everyone go?”…Our AIS universe gives us a 10+ mile view on a mix of the fleet. Our key competition has slid off to the west. So, with our biggest asymmetrical spinnaker flying for a deeper heading, we grind along toward our Gulf Stream entry point.
The pent-up anticipation leading up to the start is mostly behind the MudRatz kids, and the crew has transitioned into a routine of intense concentration on deck, awesome meals and then deep sleep. The Stream is on everyone’s mind as we shoot for evening entry.
June 16 – 1900
With the sun setting and our Stream entry point just 20 miles ahead, we were treated to some beautiful evening sailing, all witnessed by our drone. I continue to be amazed at the sailing skills of the MudRatz kids. All raised in dinghies and small one designs, they have that innate sense of the wind and sea action. The new experience for them is working as a team to sail a heavy displacement giant.
Tonight will be a challenge, with hot water and lumpy seas, setting us to leeward and messing with our apparent wind speed. If it’s anything like last night, the heavens will be ablaze with stars and the dolphins will be streaks of phosphorescence.
Tomorrow, we will start to have some blog reports from the rest of the gang.
– John Winder
June 16 – 0830
A quick update on our progress last night. Hopefully you have been following, as you will see we have made some positive gains on some of competitors. Big gains can be made at night as others may be tired or less focused, so a great time to roll one’s competition if possible.
Good air through the night, fairly consistent at times peaking around 10kts. We have been flying the J1, but just switched to the asymmetrical and that has put us into 5th gear.
Night was chilly, but clear. The stars from the middle of the ocean is always a dazzling sight to behold. Lots of shooting stars to entertain and always a morale booster to see lights from other boats behind you.
It appears to be a straight shot to the entry point for the gulf stream, so likely will be a drag race today, seeing who can maintain the focus necessary to make gains on the others.
We have appropriately nicknamed our watch the “Sunset and Sunrise” crew, as we have had the pleasure of seeing both on our watches. Sun is starting to rise and illuminate the sky and sea. Its a spectacular sight.
Crew is doing well, most are able to get some sleep between turns on deck. We are currently on a three hour rotation, three hours on and three hours off.
Will sign off for now, more to come as we have a busy day keeping the boat going as fast as we possibly can.
June 16 – 1730
We have had a beautiful day of sailing today, were visited by a number of pods of dolphin,s and got within 100 yards of competitor. It is rare to see your competitors on ocean races after the start, but this race has been very different in that many folks are targeting the same Gulf Stream crossing point and because most are along the rhumb line, we have seen a lot more boats this race.
The Gulf Stream is going to be an interesting experience, as the high pressure ridge is predicted to arrive about the same time we are crossing. That means wind is going to get much lighter, and depending on where one is the boat will be in the fast moving current of the Stream. We may end up in Canada, but luckily we have plenty of food.
Burritos were dinner this evening, which were delicious. A very nice way to close the day out while watching the sunset and change of watch. All day we have had good wind 9-14 kts of breeze which has made for great sailing. Sea conditions are great, with minimal swells and waves.
Tonight will be very interesting to monitor for those ashore, as crossing the Gulf Stream in light wind will make for some leaderboard changes for sure. We expect to hit the north wall of the Gulf Stream around 23:00 EST and likely will take us the better part of the night to get across it. Water temperature is 67.8 Degrees, indicating we are getting closer. Will keep a close eye on the water temperature as it climbs to 80 degrees and above. Once 80, you know you are in the thick of it.
Everyone is in good spirits, off watch has been mostly spent trying to sleep, and some have chipped away at their reading.
Time to get some sleep before the Gulf Stream, so going to close out.
– Mark D’Arcy
We’re following the fleet with the Pantaenius tracker. Here is an animation showing the fleet’s progress this morning: