Ringing the Bell

A boat of our vintage (1999) required the installation of a ships bell for signaling purposes, a holdover from days long past. Tivoli’s lovely, though wizened, brass bell is mounted in the cockpit. Through thick and thin it has remained silent these past 5 years, until our passage from Nassau north to Great Harbour Cay.

We left Palm Cay Marina outside Nassau at high tide to avoid contact with the local coral crowd. You know how they are. Hard. Mean. Break boats. Best to avoid them. Winds were predicted to be 15-20 knots but diminishing through the day. I was booked on a flight back to Florida on Sunday so we opted to depart rather than wait yet another day for better weather. It’s a Nordhavn, after all, 20 knot winds shouldn’t be a problem at all.

Once we exited the sheltered confines of the marina we found ourselves pounding into head seas, water over the bow, wipers on, not fun. It was particularly nerve-wracking while still in shallow water negotiating around coral heads. We tried hard to follow our track into the harbor some days ago, but the sea state had us wandering around the track like a drunken sailor. We persisted with fingers crossed and were finally able to relax once we hit deeper water and turned east toward Nassau harbor. The ride eased considerably on the new heading and, in short order, I called Nassau Harbor Control for permission to transit the harbor. After getting ships numbers permission was quickly granted and we passed through in light traffic exiting into the Atlantic and finally headed toward our destination.

The seas were 3-5 feet at 10 seconds and the ride was a bit lumpy but OK. By the time we were 20 miles out seas were 6-8 feet with the occasional 10 foot swell rolling past on our starboard quarter. The frequency of these increased as the day wore on. We were not experiencing any diminution in wind velocity or sea height as predicted. By now we are half way so we press on. The roll of the boat is pronounced, a roll hard to port then hard to starboard, the ship’s bell rings out. Two or three times it chimes in. Tivoli is saying “Enough!”. We’ve encountered much higher seas in the Gulf Stream but they didn’t ring the bell!

I review the roll and pitch graphs on our Maretron display and am shocked to see little pitch and the maximum roll was less than 20 degrees. I don’t believe it. Our seasoned Nordhavn friends will scoff at such puny numbers. Still, it was boisterous enough to awaken our long sleeping bell.

Now we have a new use for the brass antique, an excessive roll warning device (ERWD).


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