Newsletter # 4- Bermuda

Brookhaven, New York.  May,2001

When Chris flew to Florida I was left with a few days to kill at Marsh Harbour before the arrival of Chip and Al. In fact the days passed very quickly as I wrote newsletter # 3 and carried out a few maintenance chores. There were also two amazing coincidences. The first occurred when I saw another Westsail 42 dropping anchor nearby. The boat was called “Consort”, she was crewed by Russ and Pat. I soon discovered over a couple of rums that she was hull # 1, i.e., the very Westsail Edith and I saw on the stocks at the Westsail yard back in 1974, the one mentioned in “Fiona-a brief history” on the website. The very one ,indeed, that inspired Edith to call our own boat “Fiona”. The second coincidence involved a small ketch anchored in the harbor called “Arvin Court III”. Now “Arvin Court II” was the boat Edith and I first sailed across the Atlantic in 1964 when she was captained by John Knight.It turns out John sold the boat to Gillian and Tom , who sailed her for many years before reluctantly selling her. But they loved her so much that they named their subsequent boat “Arvin Court” too. When Chip and Al arrived we cruised the Bahamas for a few days before leaving for Bermuda. Our first night out of Marsh Harbour was spent at Guana Cay, unfortunately the wind sprang up from the west, which put us on a lee shore. We had had difficulty getting the anchor to set, but after three tries it finally dug in. Good job too : during the night the wind piped up enough to cause the anchor chain to jump over the cogs on the gypsy, link by link. The racket soon brought us all on deck, we let out more scope and slept soundly after that. In the morning we crossed over to the west side of Abaco Sound to get some protection. We anchored at Treasure Cay, where there is a very ritzy hotel and marina complex. However, as we wandered around it seemed almost deserted, probably only about twenty percent of the slips contained boats. The beach there is quite fantastic. Our next stop was New Plymouth, on Green Turtle Cay. This is a quaint village that was a center for Loyalists after the American Revolution ( or the “Rebellion”, as it is called there ). We spent some time at an interesting museum which was located in a house owned by a family that could trace its roots to those turbulent days. We left the Bahamas for Bermuda with a stationary high pressure system in place and experienced light winds all the way except for the last day. On that day, about forty miles from Bermuda, when we were sailing on a nice reach with Victor the vane in control we espied a large red sailboat rapidly overhauling us from astern. It turned out to be an 80 ft Norwegian maxi , returning home from the round-the-world Whitbread Race. As they came alongside they eased up to within a couple of feet on our starboard and started tossing freeze dried food packages on the boat. Apparently they were heartily sick of them after weeks at sea! Within a few hours we tied up at the customs dock at St Georges. Standing on the dock waiting to greet us was Selena, a friend of Chip’s. I expressed surprise at seeing her and she said, “Well, your schedule called for an arrival in Bermuda on April 10th, so here I am.” It was indeed the 10th. I forbore from pointing out that sailboats do not behave exactly like airlines. Chip and Al had never visited Bermuda and so had a wonderful time exploring the island on the pink buses. An old friend and former crew member, Louise, flew down for a long weekend. We managed to squeeze in some cruising to the lovely anchorages at the west end of Bermuda and spent a night at the impressive old naval dockyard. As we rouhded Daniel’s Head, formerly an unspoiled pristine beach I was horrified to see dozens of tacky huts built on stilts over the beach. Apparently this is Bermuda’s latest attempt to entice the dwindling hotel tourists : an eco-resort. It is a paradox : for years Bermudians complained about falling tourist numbers, and yet they build more hotels, thus slowly destroying the very beauty that makes the place so attractive in the first place. Although violent crime is relatively rare in Bermuda there seems to be a lot of petty theft. The local daily ,”The Royal Gazette”, features a column “Around the Courts”, which makes interesting reading. I was amused by a story about two young men who stole a few thousand dollars from a store and went on a binge at a fancy hotel. The purchased drinks and drugs and hired some professional ladies. They both had lengthy records, one covered seventeen pages going back to 1982. The poor defending attorney was hard pressed to think of any mitigating circumstances but finally pleaded ( I quote ), “He had not really benefited from the activity with the ladies of the night”. “They weren’t up to the quality that one would expect from ladies that professional”, said their lawyer. One got three years and the other five years. Perhaps if the ladies had been better they have got more time to reflect on their misdeeds. We attended the annual Agricultural Fair and the Peppercorn Ceremony at which the Masons pay a nominal rent to the government for the use of their HQ with great pomp and ceremony. One day Princess Anne showed up to grant St. Georges UNESCO World Heritage status. When we left another high pressure system had settled in. This produced record-breaking temperatures in New England and gave us five days of NW winds – on the nose. We were pushed east and crossed the Gulf Stream with light winds most of the time, but we had strong currents on the day we crossed the eddies on the north edge of the stream. At one time we were sailing with a good wind and the log read about 7 knots. The GPS, which shows speed over the bottom, indicated we were making good only 2 knots. Finally, as we got to the south of Cape Cod the wind veered to the N and then NE and we had a nice sail past Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Block Island and the south shore of Long Island. We entered Fire Island Inlet in the dark and anchored east of the bridge until the morning. We then threaded our way through the shallow channels of Great South Bay and came up the Patchogue River to Week’s yard at high tide on May 7th ( a day early, Selena ). The mileage logged for this cruise since last June is 14,832 nm.

Photos from the Cruise to Bermuda and Bahamas

The fantastic beach at Treasure Cay, Bahamas
Bermuda is building up–the Hamilton waterfront
The tacky “eco-resort” at Daniel’s Head, Bermuda
Pomp and Ceremony at St Georges, Bermuda