Unfortunately, the talented, articulate Robin had to fly back and go to work. The return trip log was done by Roy Taylor – Alias: "The Captain".
Official Contessa Crew Members: Roy Taylor (FINALLY the sole Captain on board!!), Bud Starr (substitute galley wench…and still all around great crew member), Joe Shearrer (world famous celestial navigation trainer…and the guy who only let loose of the wheel long enough to upchuck occasionally), Brian Wilson (Australian pilot responsible for ensuring the boat never ran out of beer), and Rick Neff (THE fisherman)
30 Jun 01
Our journey home begins at about 1330 EST. We have rushed to get started, trying to beat a couple of fronts predicted to cross our path on the way home. We cleared the Town Cut and headed north around the shoals and then "westward ho". Lost sight of Bermuda late afternoon and the return crew settled in for the first night at sea. (…and Rick even put up his fishing poles for the night.)
1 Jul 01
Great day of sailing! Two marlin hit at THE great fisherman, Rickster’s lures…we clearly saw them…very exciting (even if Rick didn’t land them)!! Some motor sailing to try to beat the fronts but the word in the afternoon is "no chance". The fronts have accelerated and we will catch the first one on Monday night and the next early on Thursday. Bud is in the galley and we all are loving his grub and continueing to get fat(ter). Highlights of the day include a Porpoise show (a pod of about 10 dolphins accompanied Contessa for about a half an hour) and an incredible sunset. Rick still is fishing (no surprise there) and we have been able to keep three of the other boats in our rally group (Latitude/White Silence/Misty Maiden) in sight on the horizon.
2 Jul 01
What a day! Winds picked up to 25 to 30 knots from the SW. Seas are VERY large - 10-15 feet. Contessa is doing just fine handling the conditions but the crew is not so lucky…all had a touch of seasickness (Oh our aching stomaches!). Despite the "quezzees," it is a real rush "climbing the mountains" and sliding down their backsides! Surprisingly, the autopilot is holding our course…the crew just has to survive. We plan to cross the front tonight and the winds should die down some...hopefully a "kinder" day of sailing tomorrow. Even Rick was too sick to troll today!!
3 Jul 01
Much nicer sailing day today! Started the day with Bud’s famous "Breakfast Burritos". After the front passed, the winds, as predicted, diminished. Most of the day we had SE winds at 8 to 10 knots…time for all of the crew to recover (YEA!). Rick of course, went back to fishing (did you doubt??) and managed to get two more marlin to chase his lures…but still not a fight nor a catch (maybe we should call him a "fish teaser"!!). We spent several hours enjoying following seas as Contessa sailed along "wing on wing"…just an overall pleasant day at sea!
4 Jul 01
"Hell day"…or as Bud referred to it as "Dodger appreciation day". Winds were from the SW at 18-20 knots with gusts to 30 as we "beat" through the gulf stream in 8 to 10 foot CHOPPY seas. Seas, although not as large as two days ago, were much more choppy with more water coming over the bow. Contessa (…not to mention her crew!) took a real beating ALL the way through the night. It was hard to sleep…or, in Rick’s words, it was "a crawl up on the back bunk/thumb sucking kind of night—AHH!). We punched through several "really good" squalls with winds up to 38 knots and saw an ominous looking waterspout WAY too close for my comfort. During one squall (which had previously appeared to be just a rain shower), we experienced strong beam winds. Before we could adjust the sails, we actually got the starboard lifelines in the water! As all good emergencies go, we then lost the engine due to fuel starvation (we were motor sailing to help counter the fluky seas). And--to top it all off…Rick FINALLY hung a 40-inch Dolphin! We hove to, and most of us refueled the tank from the cans on deck and bled and restarted the engine while Rick landed HIS fish…all in 20 to 30 knot winds! What a day!!! I now know what it means to "beat across the Gulf Stream"…7 knots of boat speed…3 knots VMG to Norfolk (Yuk). I also now know that I NEVER want to have ANY fish caught/cleaned on Contessa in high winds in the gulfstream (You don’t even want to know what she looked…or SMELLED like for the next 24 hours)!!!
5 Jul 01
The perfect end to the perfect Trip!!! We gladly departed the Gulf Stream early in the morning and picked up a positive current…we’re doing seven to eight knots VMG toward Norfolk...and our wives (In Rick’s words, "now I understand the whole sailor reaching port thing!")! The cold front that was supposed to cross us today has stalled and should not get here until late tonight. By that time we should have Contessa safely tucked away in her berth at Poquoson Marina. Winds have settled in at 15 knots and the seas have significantly decreased to 2 to 4 feet. About twenty miles from the entrance to the Chesapeake we set the spinnaker and charged for the tunnel! Rick cooked HIS Dolphin that HE caught the day before; it was ALMOST as good as Robin’s (hey—do you take me for a fool??). Spirits were real high with mixed feeling about getting home and the end of the adventure. Contessa returned her motley crew safely to Poquoson Marina at about 10:00 PM. We were greated by an illustrious group of well-wishers welcoming "us big tough blue water sailors" back; I even had a special surprise visit from a "flasher" (Robin in a rain coat—and I’m not saying what was on/not on under it!).
As Robin and I sat on the couch and reminisced about our Bermuda adventure, we knew we could have easily turned right around and headed out again. Unfortunately that will have to wait until later…for now we will just have to remember the fun and plan the future. It was a great trip and we hated to see it end!!!!!!
For photos of the journey home, visit:
Copyright © Warriordoc, Joe Shearer, Roy and Robin
Taylor, Bud and Jeannie Starr, 2001, 2002.