HRCS Members Launch New Sailing Hat in Bermuda, Then Sail Back to the USA!
Hudson River Community Sailing opens many doors, but for these two members, it opened up a whole new world of open ocean sailing.
Mary Rankin, an HRCS member who recently completed her US Sailing Coastal Navigation course at the HRCS Pier 66 Clubhouse over the winter, and Evan Kereiakes, a longtime HRCS member and racing captain recently teamed up to help transit a boat from Bermuda to Connecticut. Along the way, they stopped off at the America’s Cup for the launch of their new windproof hat called the ‘Boat Brim’, which was invented here at HRCS.
Here’s a recap of their story:
Upon arriving in Bermuda mid-day on Wednesday, June 21, the first thing we noticed were the vibrant pastel colors, crisp turquoise waters, and stepped white roofs bestrewed across the island. It was an incredible feeling to step off a quick 90-minute flight from New York City and arrive in the tropical oasis of Bermuda. First stop: customs, where our crew was pulled away to a separate interrogation-style room to be questioned by a customs officer. Why? We all arrived in paradise with one-way tickets and a plan to sail 650 miles across the Atlantic Ocean from Bermuda to Rowayton, Connecticut.
Evan and I are avid sailors with a passion for traveling and exploration. When a family friend was seeking a return crew to sail Cynthia, his 46-foot Grand Soleil, back to our home-town of Rowayton, we didn’t think twice. We were in for the ride because we knew we were ready to utilize our training in navigation and sailing at HRCS and apply it to the open ocean.
First we linked up with our crew at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and shortly found our departure from Bermuda was being pushed back a day due to the remnants of a tropical cyclone dissipating up the Gulf Stream. Blessed with sunshine and blue skies, we spent some extra time exploring the coral beaches and volcanic cliffs that hug the island’s pink shores.
The storm also scored us more time to show our Boat Brim hats to the America’s Cup village where the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup winners were presented their awards (nice win, team UK!). We were surprised by how much better our views of the racing were from our couches at home in comparison to trying to spot the teams on the waters of the actual course. Never the less, it was a sensational feeling to be among the best and fastest sailors in the world.
On Friday morning, our journey back to America began with a beautiful day meandering through the coral alcoves of Bermuda to the open ocean. The captain and boat owner gave us the navigational explanation of our journey and some quick tips of living aboard in the open ocean for a few days.
The seas were to be fairly calm with a steady breeze of 7 to 15 knots for a majority of the trip, though it was projected that we were to hit the tail end of the storm making its way up the Gulf Stream at some point. That night a dense fog set in and for the first time we all felt the aloneness and awe of floating in the middle of the ocean miles away from the nearest boat. It was nice to have a calm start to the journey, though the next few days were shaping up to be a much wilder ride.
I have never been one for sea-sickness on sail boats, and my confidence in my stomach superseded reality. By the second evening, after a few hours of riding the rising waves at sea, extreme nausea and drowsiness struck and I couldn’t help but keep my head down and my eyes fixed to the rolling waves to balance my mind and stomach. With lots of fresh air and an anti-nausea patch stuck behind my right ear, I began to feel more and more accustomed to life at sea.
At night, we would team up in groups of 2 and sail for 4 hour shifts to keep on course. To ensure safety under the pitch-black, twinkling night’s sky, those on night watch harnessed themselves to jack lines strapped up to the foredeck of the boat. These lines deemed themselves necessary when we reached the tail end of the storm in the Gulf. By the third morning Cynthia was surfing 15+ foot waves with 35+ knots of true wind speed. With the jib furled and the mainsail reefed twice, the boat was riding a heavy heal and often banging its hull while riding wave after wave. At the height of the storm, a wave broke over the beam of the boat and gallons of water poured into the cockpit and cabin. That was a soggy wake-up call!
The storm dissipated by the third evening, the seas calmed and we were able to enjoy a beautiful sunset and begin to cover lost ground by motor sailing. Our last full day at sea came with equally calm waters and a dazzling sighting of dolphins. They swarmed the bow and dance through the water inches in front of the boat. It was a magical sight and a comfortable feeling to know there was life out there – besides the passing speck of a cruise ship or tanker ship spotted miles away.
The fourth night came with some more unique challenges as Evan stayed up on watch duty approaching the busy commercial waterways leading into New York City. It’s amazing how small you feel while taking bearings to avoid the crowd of tankers and cruise ships fast approaching at night.
Rounding Montauk point at sunrise was another beautiful sight, and then as soon as the trip began, it was all over as a US Customs agent greeted us at the dock in Connecticut to check our passports and allow us to step onto US soil.
This trip was an amazing opportunity to utilize the skills and friendships we’ve built here at HRCS for a successful ocean journey. The memories will last a lifetime and our Boat Brim hats are now proven to work beautifully in open ocean conditions. Thanks for reading our story and please contact us or check out to get one of our brand new windproof sailing hats