Pedaling to Bermuda - Sail Magazine

Pedaling to Bermuda

I once sailed my Westsail 32, Antares, from Virginia to Bermuda. Through 760 miles of open ocean, Gulf Stream storms with towering seas, setbacks and survival, I was completely alone. I’ve crewed aboard boats all over the world, but I had never experienced conditions like those of the first days of the passage.I was mugged by a nasty northerly gale just off Cape Hatteras. Battered
Author:
Publish date:

I once sailed my Westsail 32, Antares, from Virginia to Bermuda. Through 760 miles of open ocean, Gulf Stream storms with towering seas, setbacks and survival, I was completely alone. I’ve crewed aboard boats all over the world, but I had never experienced conditions like those of the first days of the passage.

charles_scott

I was mugged by a nasty northerly gale just off Cape Hatteras. Battered and bruised by steep, breaking seas, I lay ahull, pummeled by the storm for 36 hours. Great walls of water like giant wrecking balls slammed into Antares, tossing her sideways and throwing me violently across the dark cabin. Water seeped through the companionway hatch, and the contents of broken lockers floated across the floor. Lightning flashed, torrential rain pounded the deck, and wind shrieked through the bare rigging. When the storm blew over, I found a jibsheet wrapped around the propeller and a cat’s cradle of lines and halyards encircling the mast.

The interior of the boat was soaked. I hadn’t eaten for two days, and I was a wreck. Without sails or power, Antares rolled wildly in the big seas.

I had to get the sails up, and there was no choice but to climb the mast. Swinging in a giant arc far above the deck, I held on with a viselike grip and untangled the mess of loose lines. At last I was under way, but I just didn’t have the heart to continue on. I turned back, beaten and exhausted, and headed home.

I collapsed into my bunk, feeling despair on the one hand and relief on the other. In a few days I’d be back in port. For three hours I slept like a dead man.

Then I woke with a jolt. I could hear my mother saying to me when I was 14 years old, “You can make it. Just keep riding and you’ll be home in a few days.” At the time I was far from home on a 760-mile solo bicycle journey around Michigan. I’d been riding for four days when, sore, tired, and lonely, I called her to come and pick me up. “If you quit now, you’ll always regret it,” she said. “You’ll make it. Just keep pedaling.” So I did, and four days later, overjoyed, sunburned, and triumphant, I pedaled up the driveway to home.

Now, 30 years later, I lay in my bunk, looking at the clouds sweeping across the hatch, and thought, I can’t quit. I’ve worked five years toward this, and I won’t give up. Just keep pedaling.

So I did. I turned Antares around and reset the course for Bermuda. The next day, in calming seas, I climbed over the side (I had to) and unwrapped the line from the propeller. After that things began to look up, and in four more days, overjoyed, sunburned, and triumphant, I sailed down the channel into St. George, Bermuda.

I don’t know if Mom ever had any idea how much her words of encouragement would mean to me, but I’ve thought of them often through the years, and they have served me well through a lifetime of ocean adventure and world travel. They have kept me pushing on when I felt I could push no more, they have given me strength on the darkest nights, and they have made all the difference.

Charles Scott has made numerous distance passages as crew all over the world and lived aboard Antares for ten years.

Related

SouthernOcean

The 50th Anniversary of the Golden Globe

Here we go! The 50th anniversary of the Golden Globe, the first singlehanded nonstop round-the-world race, is upon us. On July 1 one tribute event, the Golden Globe Race 2018, will start out of Les Sables d’Olonne, France, with a fleet of 19 amateur skippers setting out in ...read more

180621-X01-Landing-Page

Volvo Ocean Race Cliffhanger

After racing over 44,000 miles round the world and battling their way past the world’s great capes, including the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn, it’s all come down to the final 700-mile leg from Gothenburg, Sweden, to the Hague. Brunel, Mapfre, Dongfeng: going into the ...read more

Stearns Photo

Racing the Solo Mac for a Cause

There are plenty of reasons to do a Chicago-Mac race, and Rich Stearns, who has done literally dozens of ‘em should know. This year, though, he’s doing the Solo-Mac for an especially important reason: to help those with prostate cancer.“Two years ago, I was diagnosed with ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comRafting dangerOne unseen danger when sailing yachts lie alongside one another for a convivial night is that if they happen roll to a wash or begin to move in an unexpected sea, the spreaders can clash ...read more

180615-01 Lead

A Dramatic Comeback in the Volvo

After winning three of the last four legs in the Volvo Ocean Race (and coming in second in the fourth), Dutch-flagged Brunel is now tied for first overall with Spanish-flagged Mapfre and Chinese-flagged Dongfeng following the completion of Leg 10 from Cardiff, Wales, to ...read more

MFS-5-2018-Propan-SP02

Tohatsu LPG-powered 5hp Propane Motor

Gassing it UpTired of ethanol-induced fuel issues? Say goodbye to gasoline. Japanese outboard maker Tohatsu has introduced an LPG-powered 5hp kicker that hooks up to a propane tank for hours of stress-free running. Available in short-, long- or ultra-long-shaft versions, the ...read more