Springtime Is the Time for Daffodils and Deliveries

A CW editor takes time off work to sail a big Swan from the Caribbean to New England


A typical day on CW associate editor Andrew Burton's passage to Bermuda: Mike Amelang, the mate (left), and Chris Brewer chat while Katie Goettsche steers.Andrew Burton

St. George, Bermuda, April 30, 2007-The young associate editor approached his grizzled old boss with a request, "Sir, I need to go sailing." The editor in chief looked up from his cluttered desk, growled at the youngster to stop wasting his time and ordered him back to his hole.

That, fortunately, isn't how it works at Cruising World. For one thing, John Burnham's younger than me and he's only a little grizzled. When I told him I had an opportunity to skipper a Swan 59 from St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles, to Newport, Rhode Island, via Bermuda, he understood and was all for me getting out on the ocean again, only forbidding me to take along any of my colleagues who would be picking up the slack in my absence.

Before coming to work at CW I made my living as a delivery captain, logging more than a quarter of a million miles under sail and sometimes spending more than 200 days a year at sea. I didn't do this because the money's so good, but because there's nothing like spending time on the ocean aboard a small boat to clear your head and remind you of your priorities. Now, with a lovely wife and two children, my priorities involve living on land more than I once did. But I still get a hankering to get out to sea "whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul" or pretty much any other time for that matter.

Andrew Burton| |The good ship Emily Martha Kate is docked in Bermuda behind a Ballad 30 that's soon heading home to Sweden. | So if you're wondering why I'm not returning your calls as promptly as usual, I'm stuck in Bermuda, awaiting a weather window so my four crew and I can complete our delivery. At last look there were three separate cold fronts coming off the U.S. East Coast in succession, all with accompanying areas of low pressure. It'd be nuts to leave and try to cross the Gulf Stream in such conditions. The worst weather I've ever encountered was between Bermuda and Newport (see Steve and Linda Dashew's Surviving the Storm under my name for an account of that passage). We survived in one piece, but I'm not about to take a chance of encountering those conditions again.

Andrew Burton| |Cruising along under easy sail two days out of St. Maarten; the main and jib are partially furled, which cost us a knot of boat speed but made for much easier steering. | The sail from St. Maarten was mostly pleasant and uneventful. It was a little rough just north of the Caribbean until we got across the Puerto Rico Trench, where the waves became more regular. We had 15- to 25-knot northeasterlies for the first three and a half days with brilliant sunshine and six- to eight-foot seas. On the fourth day the wind quit and we motorsailed for 24 hours. As we approached Bermuda on the fifth day, the breeze came up from the southwest and we had a lovely sail into St. George's Harbour, arriving shortly after dark.

Andrew Burton| |A shark gets our big mahimahi. You can see the mahi's tail as it goes headfirst into the water to be devoured.| Along the way we caught three mahimahi; two of which flippered their way off the boat after we'd landed them. Needless to say, the parties responsible were made to suffer. The third fish was the biggest. You should have seen it. It was twenty pounds if it was an ounce. As we were reeling it in we saw a white shape dart at it from the side. A shark! We reeled faster, but it was no use. On its third pass the shark got our mahi.

Other than that, so far the passage has been uneventful, the way it should be with good planning. I have lots of gear on test that I'll write about after I return. For now, I'm looking forward to four more days of sailing aboard this beautiful boat as we make our way home to Newport-if we ever get out of Bermuda.