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Information is correct at the time of printing.
A voyage under sail to Bermuda can be a rewarding and relaxing experience —provided you plan your voyage carefully and adequately check and prepare your vessel. This Information Sheet should be used in addition to all the other traditional reference material available.
It is especially important to keep in mind the vulnerability of electronic navigation equipment in the marine environment, and for this reason have at least one crew member aboard capable of navigating celestially. Backup communication and navigation equipment, as well as contingency planning in the event of emergency will all help to ensure a safe arrival in Bermuda.
Contact your nearest Coast Guard or Coast Guard Auxiliary office early in the planning stage to obtain a full list of recommended safety equipment. All ocean-going yachts should have at least:
- an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB)—preferably one that operates on frequency 406 MHz;
- a VHF radio-telephone transceiver capable of 25 watts power output;
- a Single Side Band radio-telephone transceiver operating on medium and high frequencies;
- an oceanic life raft designed to hold the total number of crew aboard your vessel, and a survival or "panic" bag containing pre-packed rations and other essential items;
- a medium frequency radio direction finder;
- a radar reflector;
- parachute rockets, smoke flares and dye markers;
- some form of auxiliary power;
- sufficient battery power to keep navigation and communications systems operating for several days in the event of engine or generator failure.
To calculate your minimum requirements of consumable stores, estimate the number of days required to make a normal passage, double it, and add a few days for good measure. It is reasonable, for example, for a 40-foot yacht to take 5 1/2 days to get from New York to Bermuda. In that case, stores and water should be taken aboard for a 14-day journey.
Size of Vessel
All types of small craft have successfully completed passages in all seasons, but the elements of risk and discomfort increase rapidly as the length of a vessel falls below 30 feet. However, a well-found vessel of 35 feet overall, carrying an experienced crew of four or five persons, should be adequate for a normal ocean passage.
Location of Bermuda
Five Fathom Hole, at the approach to Bermuda’s two main entrances, Town Cut Channel and the Narrows Channel, lies 667 nautical miles to the southeast of New York in the Atlantic Ocean at 32º 23’ North latitude and 64º 38’ West longitude and is some 640 nautical miles from Norfolk, Virginia, and 687 nautical miles from Boston.
Bermuda is not in a Trade Wind Zone. The generally northeasterly flow of weather systems over the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S.A. continues over Bermuda. During the summer months, however, a high pressure cell located between the Azores and Bermuda becomes the predominant meteorological factor affecting Bermuda weather. The so-called Bermuda-Azores High usually produces wind speeds averaging 15 knots. Although the Centre of the system is near the Azores, the highest average pressures are recorded near Bermuda. Another great influence on Bermuda’s weather is the Gulf Stream. Its northward flow between the U.S.A. and Bermuda warms the island’s waters and stabilises the climate. Temperatures vary little more than an average of 20°F throughout the year, dropping to an average of 62°F in February, the coolest month, and rising to an average of 82°F in August. The cooler season from December through March is mild, with average daytime temperatures in the 60s. The average annual rainfall of 58 inches is well distributed throughout the year. The wettest month, on average, is October, with approximately six inches of rainfall; the driest is April with approximately three inches.
The tide's average rise and fall varies between three and four feet.
Bermuda does lie in the track of those tropical revolving storms known as hurricanes, which are usually born in the southeastern waters of the North Atlantic. The hurricane season is defined as occurring between June 1st and November 30th. The normal pattern is for a hurricane to move westerly until it reaches the Caribbean or the southeast cost of the U.S.A. before changing course to the north, then northeasterly, roughly following the direction of the Gulf Stream. Most hurricanes therefore bypass Bermuda to the west. The period of greatest frequency for these dangerous and highly unpredictable cyclonic storms is between August 15th and October 15th; an average of 40% of the hurricanes passing Bermuda are recorded in September. The passage of hurricanes directly over Bermuda is rare.