Celestial to Bermuda - Sail Magazine

Celestial to Bermuda

Back when the Marion-Bermuda cruising yacht race was founded in 1977, everybody was required to use celestial navigation. The race formally sanctioned electronic navigation in 1997, but many boats still choose to navigate using the sun, moon and stars.During this year’s race, eight entries in the 50-boat fleet navigated celestially, including my father’s boat, the Hinkley Sou’Wester 50
Author:
Publish date:
CelestialPhoto1

Back when the Marion-Bermuda cruising yacht race was founded in 1977, everybody was required to use celestial navigation. The race formally sanctioned electronic navigation in 1997, but many boats still choose to navigate using the sun, moon and stars.

During this year’s race, eight entries in the 50-boat fleet navigated celestially, including my father’s boat, the Hinkley Sou’Wester 50 yawl Lyra, on board which we were reminded once again of the many difficulties faced by sailors in years past.

In addition to the basic technical challenge of handling a sextant, celestial navigators often face uncooperative weather, and this year’s race was no exception. On the heels of the 2009 race, where too much wind and heavy seas made sights difficult—if not impossible—to take, the 2011 race included three days of fog and stretches of no wind, which left the celestial class becalmed and blind.

Aboard Lyra, navigator Steve Bussolari had to rely on dead reckoning much of the time. But when Lyra arrived in Bermuda six days later, we were only 2 nautical miles off the GPS coordinates that popped up when we finally turned the instrument on.

Celestial racing classes like this provide a unique opportunity for sailors to uphold the customs and traditions of historic sailing. Using a sextant, mathematical tables and the stars to navigate the 650 miles to Bermuda makes what is already a great experience that much more rewarding.

For more on this year’s race, including complete results, visit marionbermuda.com.

Related

Outremer45

Boat Review: Outremer 45

It’s funny the way things that work right almost inevitably tend to look right as well. Case in point: the Outremer 45, a catamaran that can’t help but turn heads with its large rig, nicely sculpted cabintrunk and narrow, purposeful bows. Better yet, under sail the boat more than ...read more

Sunset-Tyrrel-Bay

Charter: Glorious Grenada

In the wake of the hurricanes that devastated the Virgin Islands last year many charterers ended up going farther south to Grenada and the Grenadines where they found the sailing excellent and the vibe just fine“God must have been a sailor when he created the Caribbean,” a friend ...read more

WaterLinesNov

Waterlines: Tangled Up in Pots

I learned to sail on the Maine coast as a boy, and one of the things my elders taught me was to respect fishing gear. If you got caught up with a lobster pot, you did everything you could to get clear without cutting the pot warp. It represented a family’s livelihood and thus was ...read more

7353

Harken’s Reflex 3 top-down Furler

Furl PowerAre you afraid of flying—spinnakers, that is? Harken’s new Reflex 3 top-down furler will tame A-sails on monohulls from 44-58ft and multis from 39-55ft, and Code 0’s on 39-54ft monos and 36-50ft multis. All you do is heave on the furling line and the sail will roll up ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comDitch the stress Owners of high-freeboard yachts best boarded via the stern sugar-scoop like to back them into a slip, but the process can be fraught on a windy day or when there’s a current running, ...read more