Every other year the Marion Bermuda Race hosts a gathering of some of this country’s most capable navigators, those who make use of all manner of techniques to derive positions and strategy. The winner of the last Marion Bermuda Race, which will be held next in June, recently described navigational practices aboard his 37.5-foot sloop Majek.
"I navigated constantly, getting as many sun sights as possible and catching both twilights," explained Max Fletcher of Orr’s Island, Maine. "This is helpful because we always knew where we were; we were able to make very detailed tactical decisions."
Fletcher suspects that his winning decision was choosing to veer from the rhumb line to Bermuda and steer out of the Gulf Stream for a cold eddy. The eddy’s favorable countercurrent positioned the vessel to receive strong winds from a front that had moved in from the west.
"We stayed ahead of it as long as possible and rode that front all the way to Bermuda," Fletcher added. Several other vessels were besieged by light air and were forced to withdraw from the race.
Majek’s nav station was equipped only with a handheld short-wave radio and speedometer.
Although not all skippers and navigators can be fortunate enough to be presented with a potentially prize eddy, every Marion Bermuda Race guarantees exciting tactical decision-making. The race offers two classes: celestial and electronic.
For those interested in joining the race as navigator or for skippers interested in recruiting navigators, Ocean Navigator is serving as clearinghouse for the next race. Send a postcard with contact information to Ocean Navigator, 18 Danforth St., Portland, Maine 04101; attention: Zubenelgenubi.