By Peter Swanson
Racing sailors called the Bermuda passage “thrash to the onion patch.” But when we took the Mirage Great Harbour N37 to Bermuda in late August 2002, the only thrashing was the luckless yellowfin tuna we hooked third day out.
I’ve always said that the worst passages make the best memories and the best stories, while the good passages tend to blend together over time. Despite this truism, rare is the mariner who looks for trouble, though there are a few.
Common sense dictates careful preparation before going to sea, particularly for blue water expeditions. But before I get into that subject, let me explain who we are and what we were trying to accomplish.
Mirage Manufacturing of Gainesville, Florida, builds trawler yachts, the newest of which is the Great Harbour N37, first launched in October 2001 and named Semper Fi (in deference to our VP’s first career). You can read about her elsewhere on our website, but suffice it to say, she’s handy performer derived from the lines of an offshore tug and inherently stable in seas.
Even though most trawler folks do not use their boats for crossing oceans, there is a perception in the market that equates ocean-crossing capability with safety. Semper Fi was going to the Rhode Island to the Newport Boat Show, anyway. What the heck, we said, let’s go via Bermuda. Jacksonville, Florida, to Bermuda is about 870 nautical miles, and Bermuda to Montauk Point is another 670. Fifteen hundred miles of blue water should make the point.
From our perspective, a better point to make with the New Englanders at Newport is that the Navigator will continue to allow them to do what they’ve always done with their sailboats-take the short cut to the Caribbean via “the onion patch.”
Then, of course, there was George.
Most of us mariners see offshore passages as a necessary hardship to reach those great destinations-something to be endured as cheerfully as possible. George Sass Jr. is a little different. His father baptized with and brine and kept him a prisoner on boats so long that he became permanently warped. Sass actually enjoys being out in seas, and he happens to be senior editor at Yachting magazine.
We figured Sass was bound to fall in love with Semper Fi as have we all. And maybe he’d say nice things about us in Yachting so we could sell more boats.