May/June Issue 262: November shakedown to Bermuda


It was cold on the morning of Nov. 20, 2019, when Dan Torchio and his crew of two slipped the lines off Rhapsody, a Passport 47 aft cockpit cutter, departing the safe confines of Greenport, N.Y. They were taking the Robert Perry design on a maiden ocean passage to Bermuda and beyond. Torchio, who had been sailing since a youngster, had spent the previous two seasons getting to know his boat, sailing around Gardiners Bay.

He was champing at the bit to be gone. Since the official end of the hurricane season at the beginning of November, sailors like Torchio had been unable to leave because of the unusual amount of severe weather that had been circulating in the Atlantic. He needed at least a four-day window to get to Bermuda without getting too beat up. None of the three weather services that he had access to were able to give the green light until Nov. 20. Thinking he could depart earlier, he had arranged to fly his family to Bermuda for the Thanksgiving holiday and now the time was getting close. Ruefully, Torchio said, “You never sail on a schedule, but you always end up on one.”

Finally, the weather services agreed the time was right. The wind was from the northeast and would be backing to the northwest: perfect for a fast reach to Bermuda.

The idea was to try to make 7 knots if they could. Both his crew were experienced to a greater or lesser degree, and Torchio had more than 20,000 miles of experience as offshore crew. The boat was solid, and the steering station was enclosed with canvas to keep the helmsman out of the weather. They were soon out of sight of land in 20- to 30-knot brisk northerly winds. The wind was perfect and the sky blue, but the sea was already kicking up and the crew began feeling the effects of seasickness. Torchio was immune to the discomforts and spent a major part of the next four days in a state of non-sleep. Just as they settled in at a position of 39° 45’ N by 70° 44’ W on Nov. 21, they picked up a mayday 120 miles southeast of Montauk. Being close by, they changed course to see if they could render assistance. It was the sailing vessel Volare out of Newport, bound for the islands, reporting that captain and owner Joseph Francis Gigliotti had been washed overboard. Tragically, he was never recovered. Rhapsody stood off, but the Coast Guard had already arrived on scene.

Even though Rhapsody was equipped with GPS and chartplotters, Torchio is a practitioner of celestial navigation. He owns an Astra IIIB and uses it whenever he can. On this passage, he got some good latitude noon sights of the sun’s lower limb that kept his skills sharp. Let’s join him on Nov. 22 at a DR of 36° 45’ N by 67° 50’ W. He is doing a LAN observation of the sun. Height of eye is 10 feet; there is no index error. The Hs of the observation is 32° 48’. Use the 2019 Nautical Almanac.

A. What is the time in GMT of local apparent noon? 
B. What is the Ho?
C. What is the latitude of the observation? 
D. What is the EP?

A. LAN at GMT is 16:17
B. Ho is 32° 59.7’
C. Latitude is 35° 50.9’ (using 1600 hours declination of the sun)
D. EP: 36° 51’ N by 67° 50’ W


By Ocean Navigator