Windemere Sails to Bermuda

By Gisela Ormsby

The original plan was to sail to the Abacos (Bahamas), by going off-shore out of the Chesapeake Bay to cross the Gulf Stream and then head south. But the weather was not cooperating.

When we left July 8, the wind was out of the south and we had to motor most of the way down the Bay. But once we had refueled and passed Cape Henry Light, we had a good day with the gennaker up. This did not last long, however. Soon there was rain and heavy wind and we were reefed down and making little headway. The waves in the Gulf Stream were 15 feet or more and the wind was gusting to 40 knots. At this point my son and I decided to go to Bermuda instead, as the wind was more favorable and the distance much shorter.

Being prepared, I had the charts and Bermuda flag onboard. At first, the grandchildren (Kristina, 8 and Curtis 4 years old) were disappointed, but when we told them about the beautiful beaches and that we would have more time to spend there, they were happy. Kristina had been seasick the first two days but then got over it. Both kids were great sailors and never complained. The weather did not improve, and we reached Bermuda in 25-30 knots of wind and heavy cloud cover. Everything onboard was wet and soggy. It was great to detect the first glimpse of St. David’s Light.

Once again, we arrived in the night and the entrance into St. George’s can be confusing because of all the lights on shore. But St. George’s Harbor Radio is great. They guided us in all the way. Once we were tied up at the seawall in St. George’s and the sun came out the next morning, we spread out all the wet stuff to dry in the breeze. We felt like a million dollars, as we strolled through the quaint streets of St. George. It was fun talking to other sailors and to watch the cruise ships come in.

I spent two whole weeks in Bermuda, enjoying every minute of it. The logistics were more complicated, however, because of the change in destination, as I had different return crew to meet. The air transportation all having been rearranged, I had an all women crew for the return trip. We had a wonderful time together. Everybody volunteered to prepare meals, do dishes, take watches, etc. The weather problem now was the Bermuda High: no wind for the first two days. Knowing that we could not motor all the way home, I was hesitant to run the engine all the time this early in the trip. Nevertheless, we motored 13 hours out of the first 24. Then we had three days of stormy weather, and again, we were reefed down, making little headway. Our final day at sea was wonderful, however. We had a great reach for nearly 24 hours, all the way to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Since we were a day late coming back due to the weather, we left Windemere at Little Creek for a week, so my crew could go back to work the next day.

Some of the highlights of the trip were catching a White Marlin, about 60-70 pounds, and going swimming in the ocean when we had no wind. We also had dolphins visiting several times, playing in our bow wave. The cutest visitor was a little swallow that came to rest on our spreader for a while. Then it came down to the lifeline, and eventually the edge of the open hatch. Finally it hopped down into the salon and slept all night on the handrail. It stayed with us until about 7:00 the next morning. Too bad this happened on the return trip and the children did not get to see Vladimir of Windemere.

As they say, sailors have short memories, and we only remember the good things. All in all, it was a great trip!