Transatlantic: First Week from Bermuda

We arrived at Bermuda with no wind and accustomed to merely floating along the surface of the ocean. Making ripples in the water was fast and a wake was just a figment of our imagination!


We arrived in Bermuda on July 4th, 2018 and celebrated independence day by sleeping at anchor without the need to keep watch. Continuous sleep was so longed for at that point!

We waited in Bermuda for the winds to change (Easterly winds had come over the area and we waited until they switched to Westerly again). When we left, we had strong westerly winds carrying us on a broad reach and on starboard tack the whole time!


We sailed fast and straight for days, never jibing, and never adjusting the sails. Everything was set and we were able to sail directly towards the Azores. Usually, when you leave the Azores, you rocket North until you reach 40-45N and then turn East. In our case, we simply sailed easterly straight out of the gate!


The winds were constant, steady, and wonderful. This first week was what we thought all cruising would be like: averaging 100 nautical miles per day, sailing in one direction, hardly doing any work to get the miles. We really thought we were doing something wrong and that was why we kept falling short of the 100 mile mark. Turns out, the winds are rarely in your favor and that is when most cruisers turn on their diesels to make up the missing miles and keep the pace.

With our electric motor, we don’t have that luxury, and we are forced to slowly float through the water as we wait for better winds. We used to just go and sail to the winds we had instead of waiting for better winds to come, but what a difference the right winds can make!

We originally were not going to pull into Bermuda, we were going to sail right on past it and head straight for the Azores. The only reason we stopped there was to jettison our crew member. It worked out really well because if we had continued on directly, we would have been beating into some strong winds for the next week, only to then have these beautiful sailing conditions show up. Instead, we dropped off a grouchy crew member and had a great time exploring this beautiful island!

When we finally got back out into the ocean, the winds were perfect and we logged some incredible miles under our keel!

Waking up in Bermuda

Bermuda seemed like a dream of a harbor. The high cliff walls blocked the wind and the narrow pass into the harbor kept all the seas at bay. We were anchored in a little oasis in the middle of the ocean.


Once we were anchored, I went to sleep with strict orders to everyone else not to wake me. I laid the staysail and jib over the forward hatch to completely block out any sunlight from entering the V-berth (yet another advantage of tanbark sails, they make excellent blackout curtains on a boat) and went to sleep.

A sleep that would not be interrupted by weather, watch schedules, or navigation. A sleep that would last as long as I desired, as long as I needed, as long as I wanted.

Aside from the magical sleep, was waking up to this scenery around us. For the past three weeks, the view from the cockpit when I would wake up was the image below.


Sails would be set, the sun would be out on the horizon, and we would be completely alone. All of a sudden, we are surrounded by other boat, and most of all, civilization!

Anchoring in St. George’s Harbor is exactly what we needed to give us a rest from the voyage and let us recharge our personal batteries.

Soon, the stopover in Bermuda will feel like a distant memory, for we will once again return to the vast empty horizon of the open ocean, but this time without our crew member. It will just be Maddie and me, alone on our floating home, traveling across the great blue ocean.

Transatlantic: Voyage to Bermuda

Overall, the trip to Bermuda was rather calm and slow. The whole voyage took 21 days, but it should only have taken 5 to 7 days.

The distance from West Palm Beach to Bermuda is about 876 nautical miles. We sailed a grand total of 1313.49 nautical miles, a full 437 additional miles, and at an average speed of 2.58 knots.

This was slow.

We left at the wrong time and missed the opportunity to use the Gulf Stream to our advantage, we hid far south as we waited for bad weather up north to clear up, then made our way up once everything normalized. We left when we did because we were trying to please our crew member. All this did was agitate him since he imagined us sailing along at a steady 4.5 knots and covering 100 nautical miles per day. Needless to say, leaving at the wrong time and then getting caught with no wind did not help his mood on the voyage.

Looking back, things we would have done differently are as follows

  • Don’t have crew

  • If you want to have crew, don’t ever let them call the shots because there is no going back

  • Leave when the weather is good

  • Enjoy where you are while you are there

Talking with other boats in Bermuda, it appears that everywhere had these problems. A power boat motored up from the Bahamas and had glass like seas and a wonderful time. A racing sailboat that planned to sail from Norfolk, VA to Bermuda in 2 days (that is correct, 2 days) left after the gales had passed and it took them 10 days of motoring!

If the weather is going to be slow, take your time and enjoy where you are while you are there!

Transatlantic: Arriving in Bermuda

Bermuda is not a wise port to enter in the dark. The waterways are littered with illuminated and non-illuminated markers. The reefs are so bad that there are cardinal markers all over the place! This is definitely a harbor to enter with the light of day, but we didn’t!

The island is surrounded by a vast reef which is littered with wrecks from centuries of sailors who lost their way and smashed into the punishing rocks and corals. We were not going to become another wreck that tourists snorkel over on a tour!
I began studying the charts of Bermuda way back in July 2017, when we were going to sail to there in October. I knew the different markers, the different channels, the different reefs. I knew it all and I knew it was bad and that I didn’t want to do it in the dark! That is precisely what I ended up doing.


As we approached the island, I stayed to the south to avoid the large reef that secretly lies to the west of the island. My rational was simple, if the winds died and we were drifting in to shore, the eastern side of the island has a more gradual rise of the sea floor than the western side. This would give us a better chance at anchoring and trying to wait for better winds.


Since dawn on July 4th, we had been in contact with the Bermuda Coast Guard. They knew we were close to their country, and they knew our intentions were to enter their harbor and anchor. If you are planning to sail to Bermuda, it would behoove you to email them ahead of time ( They will reply with an email that details all the information they request from you (this email will come from

This makes the entire process so much easier, since over the radio they will go over every last detail you could ever imagine! If they already have your information, they are less suspicious of you and therefore the super lengthy questions are kept to a solid 15-30 minutes.

The Bermuda Coast Guard can be hailed by calling out for “Bermuda Radio” and they are truly the most helpful and courteous radio people we have ever encountered. Not only did they aid us in coming into their country, but they also offered suggestions for where to eat once we were settled and got most of the paper work started for us with the customs agent. When we finally did arrive, all we had to do was fill out a few forms, hand over our flare gun (it's technically a fire-arm), and pay $35 per person to get our cruising permit for the country.


We were sailing close to the island in strong winds during the morning, then the winds all seemed to vanish as another system was coming in. The next system was going to rage down on this little island for the next 4 days, so if we didn’t make it into the harbor today, we were going to be stuck hove to while we ride out a long duration gale. We did not want to do that.

We contacted Bermuda Radio and let them know that we were kind of stuck in the water without any wind and worried that we would be arriving at the entrance to the harbor (called Town Cut) in the dark. I knew this passage was very small, very tight, and with plenty of current and perils!

Bermuda Radio organized with a cruiser on a yacht that was already in the harbor to come out and meet us in the channel so that they could guide us into the harbor. We went from worrying about coming into the harbor in the dark to being guided by local knowledge as we slowly made our way into the island through the narrow pass.

We are often asked how we feel about the electric motor, and this is one of those moments when a diesel would have been nice. We would have cranked it on when the winds died and powered our way there in no time, come through the pass, and entered the harbor all on our own with no outside help. The truth is, the electric motor makes us more cautious sailors who plan everything and work with all the forces around us to safely navigate the ocean. If we had a diesel, we would have wanted to use it back in the doldrums, but that would have sucked up a lot of fuel! Would we have fuel in the tank at this point? If we are going to have a diesel motor, why go small, and only move at cruising speed, why not have a motor so inconceivably huge that it can power us at hull speed into wind and waves? Enough will never be enough and there will always be some drawback to any system in some situation. The secret is finding one that works well for you!

Yes, we love our electric motor just like someone loves their dog. You love it even when it poops in the kitchen! It is not perfect and, just like with a diesel motor, it has its drawbacks, but it is perfect for us.

We made it into the island and anchored safely in the harbor where the tall rocks of the island provided us wonderful protection from the winds that were soon to come.

We arrived in the harbor 1 day late. Our crew member began pondering if that was really so bad and if maybe he should carry on with us. Maddie and I quickly proclaimed that it would be best for him to fly back to Europe so that he doesn’t miss any scheduled deadlines he has imposed on himself. Besides, a day late is a day late, why start forgiving lateness now?

While we were in land now, we were not done yet, as we were tied to the customs pier. We were told that we could not stay tied to the pier because the pier needs to be open for other arriving yachts. We were the last boat to be checked in by the customs agents that night, and that it would be safest to move the boat at dawn when we could see better.

Transatlantic: Day 21

Happy Independence Day! On July 4th, 2018, a US Documented Vessel sailed into the port of a former British colony. Oh how times have changed in 242 years!


After 21 days, sailing what should have only take 5 days in a fast boat and 7 days in a slow boat, or the 10 days we were planning to make it to this point in our crossing; we see land!


On the horizon, we see the small rocky formations of land and all of its glorious components.


It is important to note that after 21 days, we are not on land, but merely see it on the horizon. All day long, we have been beating into the weather with land in sight but out of reach. The winds were not letting up and were very unfavorable but we could see it and we wanted to touch it, so we carried on into the seas.

Bermuda is, in my opinion, one of the worst places to sail into. The low flat island is surrounded by a massive barrier reef. If you see land and simply sail right to it, you will join one of the thousands of wrecks that pepper the reef surrounding Bermuda.

The western coast of the island is completely unobtainable, as the reef has no gaps in it that will allow safe passage over it. On the north-eastern side of the island, there is a very tiny cut made through the reef and through the land that lets you into St. George’s Harbor.

From here, you can sail around the island to Hamilton, but you will be snaking your way through corals and wrecks in a very narrow channel that you need to share with massive cruise ships and all the local traffic. This is not a good place to sail, because there is just no room to tack. Having an electric motor, we felt it was best to explore the island by bus and avoid moving Wisdom from her safe and secure anchorage within the harbor.