A Heavy Boat

Dear reader, it is Saturday afternoon, 1300 hours local time and we are 24 hours from Bermuda. We are leaving the Sargasso Sea, the last desert on this Earth, desolate, empty, no living creatures for miles around. Peter thought for a moment he had seen the shadow of a dolphin, it was lost I’m sure. One lonely flying fish landed on deck. He is waiting to be chopped up to be used as bait when we fish for tuna later.


The air temperature drops slowly; we left Fort Lauderdale with 30 degrees, it’s now 22. The air-conditioning can be turned off.


Yesterday afternoon we spotted a bright orange life buoy. We changed course, you never know if someone is using it, but in this case it was empty. We decided to practise our Man-over-board drill. Not so simple in the rough seas we have here. Jorrit took the helm and Joost manned the boat hook to pick the lifebuoy up. Only on the second approach were they able to fish the buoy, belonging to Sypress of Singapore, out of the water, under the watchful eyes of the two senior crew members (both qualified RYA Ocean Yachtmaster). Our compliments, they have passed this test and earned a tot of rum for their efforts.


Looking back on this first part of the passage we can see that we have made a most uncomfortable start, with extended periods of heavy winds and high waves taking their toll on us.


There were also one or two moments of serene calm.


The speed that we had hoped to achieve turns out to be unatainable. The big waves and swell from the North-east slow us down, as does the constant drift from the South-east that requires us to steer almost 20 degrees starboard of our course.


Our arrival will be a day later than we had planned, just before a heavy front rolls over Bermuda.


Nothing but praise for our Four Seasons, who has carried us safely and competently across these stormy seas.

Everything still works as it should.


In my mind I try and describe her; the best I can do is compare her to a horse, a noble beast – a noble boat. A cross between an Arab stallion, a Frisian mare and a gender-neutral Belgian shire horse might maybe combine to produce her personality. Spirited, almost unnaturally beautiful, trustworthy, disciplined, forgiving, hard-working, I can go on and on. I leave you to dot the i’s.


American visitors called het ‘cool’ and ‘awesome’.


In dutch we call her ‘Vet!’ – ‘heavy’.


In Dutch ’vet’ is also fat, greasy, and that is beginning to apply to her too. Our bare feet have pitch black soles, where the dirt comes from is anyone’s guess as we have hardly been outside and the decks are covered with a thick salty crust from all the spray.


Our excuse is that we have hardly been able to shower on this trip, the water going everywhere except down the drain.


Shaving has been equally impossible, moustaches and beards are the order of the day and we’ll probably leave it that way.


We are able to clean our teeth, but that’s about the limit of our personal hygiene. When we arrive tomorrow we’ll make time for a big clean up operation.


That’s it for now aboard the Four Seasons, the watches have been set by Jorrit. He hasn’t given me the night watch, so that I can be up and awake to pilot the boat into Bermuda harbour in the morning, bringing her into the berth where we hope thousands of people will be lining up to welcome us ashore.


My greetings to you all,

Edzard, on behalf of the whole crew.

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