Solstice's Dark & Stormy to Bermuda

PSA member Beth Berry (Tartan 37, Solstice) made the passage to Bermuda with PSA members Steve Van Pelt (P-39, RSVP) and Mike Lehmkuhl (Renegade, Athene) among others as part of her 6 person crew outbound and 6 person return crew (including Beth). Despite the weather, or because of it, we learned some essential bluewater skills and had some fun doing it. Bermuda is also a wonderful destination and I would highly recommend the St. George's Dinghy & Sports Club, along with the rest of St. George's, Bermuda. Thanks, Beth, for asking us along!

For more details on the other boats in the trip, check out the West Marine Bermuda Cup.

The outbound leg took 6 days, including two days of squalls on the other side of the gulf stream and then two days of gale with 15-20 foot seas and 35 knots of wind. One night we sailed under storm trysail alone. Luckily we had a couple of extra GPSs aboard since that same night the Garmin chartplotter died. Although we had a sextant aboard, we didn't see the sun for more than 20 minutes during those 6 days. Along the way we picked up a few flying fish in the cockpit and had a few conversations with the US and Argentine Navies as well as numberous other ships along the way as we asked for updated weather reports. The cruise was part of the West Marine Bermuda Cup Rally and out of the 12 boats participating Solstice was the smallest. Our position was in the back of the fleet along with a Hunter 38, Fox III who became valued and trusted cruising partners along the way, and especially on the return trip.

The return trip also took 6 days and was mostly motoring until Solstice was almost out of the gulfstream and was hit by tropical depression Bill. For 22 hours, the crew endured Force 7-8 conditions, waves approximately 25+ feet high and for approximately 4 of those hours, endured up to 62 knots of wind. Fox III and Solstice were separated after Fox III suffered a series of knockdowns. Fox III made it safely back to Hampton and Solstice ended their trip deciding instead to sail the easier route to Ocean City.

-- Mike Lehmkuhl