Full sail ahead to Bermuda

“Where they Went” by Diane Daniel
(Published Nov. 23, 2008, in the Boston Globe)

Personally, I’d rather fly (or bicycle, if possible) to Bermuda. This was quite the adventure!

Dan Forster, Ulf Westhoven, John Fulghum, Bob Baldwin, Philip Kersten

Corinna Kersten and crew. From left: Dan Forster, Ulf Westhoven, John Fulghum, Bob Baldwin, Philip Kersten

WHO: Corinna, 38, and Philip Kersten, 41; John Fulghum, 42; Dan Forster, 46; and Bob Baldwin, 50, all of Nahant, Mass.; and Ulf Westhoven, 44, of Swampscott, Mass.

WHERE: Sailing from Bermuda to Nahant.

WHEN: A week in late June and early July.

WHY: “My husband had always had this as a dream, to do blue- water sailing, which just means that you’re really offshore,” Corinna Kersten said.

ONE AND TWO LEGS: Kersten’s husband, Philip, and Fulghum made the trip from Nahant to Bermuda and back, but Kersten, Forster, Baldwin, and Westhoven only sailed the return leg. The voyage home took 4 1/ 2 days at sea. Philip Kersten, who was captain and organizer, is a lifelong sailor and racer. The couple belongs to Nahant Dory Club.

GROUNDWORK: The group of 10 sailors met regularly for months leading up to the trip. “We had meetings about different things,” Kersten said. “For the medical one, we bought pigs’ feet and sliced them open and learned how to sew stitches.”

Philip and Corinna outside of St. George, Bermuda

Philip and Corinna on a warm-up sail around St. George, Bermuda

TRIAL RUN: The crew was sailing Tioga, the Kerstens’ 44-foot Alden, a limited series made in Rhode Island 30 years ago. Kersten began her leg by flying into Bermuda and then taking a short sail. “We sailed from St. George’s all the way around Bermuda to Hamilton. It’s very tricky because there are a lot of reefs. The Newport to Bermuda race had ended the day before and when we were there, they did a harbor race.”

Corinna at the helm

Corinna at the helm

NONSTOP CLOCKWORK: After clearing customs, they took off from St. George’s. They sailed the entire time, with two people taking three- hour shifts sailing, being on standby, and sleeping. “It took everybody a day or two to get into the routine. One person was seasick one day and three guys couldn’t eat for three days.”

Corinna enjoys a calm day after a storm

Corinna enjoys a calm day after a storm

A WEATHER THRILL: Though they departed under sunny skies, a forecast storm hit about 36 hours later. “My husband and all the other boys were excited, but I was a little nervous,” Kersten said. “The waves started to get bigger, it became windy, and we had hard rain and thunderstorms, but we could still sail through the whole thing. Everybody knew what they were doing, so it was still OK. We made it through the Gulf Stream, then everything turned out to be perfect again, blue skies, beautiful sunsets and sunrises.”

HAPPY HOMECOMING: Their first sight of civilization was a buoy off Nantucket. They reached Nahant around noon on the Fourth of July. Friends and family had tracked the crew’s voyage using a GPS satellite messenger system. “We had a big welcoming committee with all our kids, family, and friends waiting for us with champagne.”

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