PxPixel
Why I Skip Bermuda - Sail Magazine

Why I Skip Bermuda

This article originally appeared in the October 2009 issueMany sailors think the best way to reach the Caribbean from the northeast U.S. is to head for Bermuda, spend a few days there, and then take an easy ride down to the islands. In my experience this is neither the quickest or safest route for boats under 55 feet. Many American insurance companies, and almost all Lloyds
Author:
Publish date:

This article originally appeared in the October 2009 issue

BermudaUSE

Many sailors think the best way to reach the Caribbean from the northeast U.S. is to head for Bermuda, spend a few days there, and then take an easy ride down to the islands. In my experience this is neither the quickest or safest route for boats under 55 feet. Many American insurance companies, and almost all Lloyds underwriters, now have hurricane season ending on 1 December. If that’s what your policy says, you should head south along the coast and wait in the lower Chesapeake until December. If your air draft allows you to get under the 64-foot bridge south of Norfolk, Virginia, think about continuing south via the ICW to Morehead City, North Carolina, and heading offshore from there.

Weather along the northeast coast gets progressively unstable as the year winds down and a mid-November forecast might be good for just 24 hours. Since you are in a gale area all the way to Bermuda, if you head south from around Newport, Rhode Island, your passage time on a 40-footer will be around four days. That means the chances of getting hit by at least one gale are very high. An approaching cold front with northwesterly winds of 20 knots or more will usually veer to the north and then into the northeast. In these conditions a boat caught in the middle of the Stream will experience very rough conditions even with 20 knot winds. Higher winds will create gear-damaging conditions and repairing things in Bermuda can be time consuming and expensive. That’s another reason you should head for the Chesapeake. The trip will train the skipper, crew and boat and if there are problems they can be corrected before you leave the states.

If you are heading offshore from Morehead City or Beaufort, North Carolina, wait for a northwesterly and leave on the top of the tide. A southeast course should put you in the Gulf Stream in eight hours and be across it in 24 hours. If all goes well the northwesterly will veer to the north and then northeast. These shifts won’t bother you, because you’ll already be across the Stream steering southeast for the Caribbean. If you’re lucky, the northeast breeze will hold you down into the northeast trades.

Mid-December is about the latest you should leave from Beaufort/Morehead. If you miss this window, continue south to St. Augustine, Florida. Don’t leave from Charleston, South Carolina, because it is further away from St. Thomas than Beaufort/Morehead City. More importantly, if you leave from Charleston, it will take you three or four days to get across the Stream.

Once you reach St. Augustine, wait until a norther is in the forecast and then leave 36 hours before it arrives. Head out across the Stream—it is very narrow and close to shore here—and when the norther arrives steer so you are sailing on either a beam or broad reach. You’ll be well on your way south, with a minimal amount of wear and tear.

Related

3DiNordac_webheader

3Di NORDAC: One Year In

One year ago this month, North Sails launched a cruising revolution with the introduction of 3Di NORDAC. The product promised to deliver a better cruising experience for a market that had not seen true product innovation in over 60 years. Today we’re celebrating the team that ...read more

HB96k_EP

Sea Eagle’s HB96 inflatable SUP

What SUP?Dinghies and kayaks are all very well, but there’s nothing like a stand-up paddleboard for exploring interesting new shorelines while giving you a good workout. Sea Eagle’s HB96 inflatable SUP makes a fine addition to your boat’s armory of anchorage toys, either on its ...read more

DSC_0031-43

Charting the USVI and Spanish Virgins

When my friends and I booked a one-way bareboat charter with Sail Caribe, starting in the U.S. Virgin Islands and finishing in Puerto Rico, we were a little nervous about what we would find in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria—even seven months later.When our plane ...read more

SailRepairKit

Know How: Sail Repair Kit

Despite your best efforts, there will inevitably be times when your sail gets damaged while at sea and needs to be repaired. First, no matter what the job, you will need to do a quick damage assessment, a task that requires a flat wooden surface, sharp scissors and a helping ...read more

01-061018ROAC-8149

Coming of Age at the Atlantic Cup

Midway through the final race of the inshore portion of the 2018 Atlantic Cup, the three boats in the lead—Mike Dreese’s Toothface 2, Mike Hennessy’s Dragon and Oakcliff Racing, representing the Long Island Sound-based sailing school of the same name—suddenly broke free from the ...read more

01_silken_2018-03-08-0052

North U’s Regatta Experience Program

“Want to check the keel?” North U Coach Geoff Becker calls to me from back by the transom. We’ve just suffered our worst finish in the regatta and are absolutely flying on our way back to shore, spinnaker up and heeling at an angle that feels like maybe we’re tempting fate. ...read more

Navy-Sand-Dune_1080

Tucket Footwear’s Giller Shoes

Just for KicksMove over Crocs, there’s a new plastic shoe in town. Unlike the aforementioned fashion crimes, Tucket Footwear’s Giller shoes are made for boating. Water will get in, yes, but it will also run straight out again via rows of “scuppers” in the uppers and a dozen drain ...read more

01-m3113_git170829-294

France’s Maxi-tri Ultime class

It’s hard to believe how far foiling has come since the Moth class figured out how to reliably take to the air in the early 2000s.Was it really only in 2013 that the America’s Cup was dragged kicking and screaming into the foiling world by Emirates Team New Zealand back in San ...read more