Saturday 16th May 2009
After a busy morning all is quiet on board Libertad, Our morning started with a rude awakening a 01:00 am to, a cry for help! Guy and I rushed to the cockpit to find a lady and man in the water sandwiched between two boats opposite, the cry now became a scream as the cold water began to sober them up, By this time the entire marina was awake with heads popping out of hatches all over the place, I put a search light on them to show a boarding ladder at the stern of a neighbouring boat. They were both having difficulty understanding the growing crowd’s instructions that now were reaching a crescendo similar to the last furlong at the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Finally with some degree of contrition, two very soggy sailors climbed the ladder of shame and disappeared below, one hopes to contemplate the error of their ways! This morning we were up early to meet with a fuel tanker along the other side of town provided by the ARC to fill our tanks yet again. This time the tanks managed to consume 300 lts of Bermuda's finest diesel. The cost of being alongside is astronomical for little or no facilities at $60:00 per night and still expect you to pay an additional $2:00 for a tepid splash which they call a shower. We are now anchored off in the bay a few hundred meters from the shore. With a look of surprise Doris (you remember, the dinghy) was brought on deck and had life pumped into her once again, with firm sponsons and the outboard engine on her transom she was ready for work once again
Yesterday we had a day visiting Hamilton, the capital of Bermuda, walking into St Georges and catching the 10:00 am ferry by the skin of our teeth we left the harbour in daylight through the infamous Town Cut, I think I am glad it was dark, on our entry i couldn’t see the coral heads and rocks so very close in this narrow channel. Following the well buoyed channel, through The Narrows we circled the north east of the island and at an impressive speed of 30Kts headed for the old dockyard stopping only to disembark and embark a few passengers. As we zoomed off to Hamilton, Guy mention that, were we to sail this ferry to the Azores we would arrive in about sixty hours, he sometimes has useful thoughts as well! The ferry docks is in the centre of town. So setting off at a commanding pace, Lucien and I breathlessly followed Guy on a city tour along the wharf area the turning up a side street, passing impressive Victorian building such as the general post office and the Parliament buildings. We sumited a minor hill called Kings St. The central area is surrounded by lavish office blocks with impressive brass plaques of The Butterfield Bank or Bank of Bermuda; it would seem that Banks, Insurance Companies and Accountants enjoy the climate of this tax free Atlantic paradise!
As ARC participants we had an invitation to lunch at The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, the equivalent of our Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes. We sheepishly entered the inner sanctum and emerged on to a terrace with tables set for lunch; the head waiter greeted us with a degree of suspicion but relaxed somewhat when we inform him of our credentials. We were invited to take a drink before lunch, sitting at table in the shade of a large umbrella we warmed to the ambiance of this splendid institution. An elderly gentleman, realising instantly that we were not members engaged us in conversation, I thought that we were talking to someone of importance in the international yachting world and asked his name, in reply he said I am not famous by my boat was, he had been the owner of “Tenacious” had sailed eight Fastnet’s, including the infamous 1979 . He sails in Cowes ,St Tropez and Monaco and claims Prince Rainier and Uffa Fox were on his Christmas card list, perhaps someone could Google this boat and let me know who he is and give us the low down.
A simple lunch of soup and a main course relieved us of $40:00 per head. We wandered through the corridors and committee rooms on our way to the gents, lining the entrance hallway were the photographs of past and present Commodores and many pictures of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.who has visited on numerous occasions. I noted that on the commodore’s wall some photos were in dress uniform some sporting the commodores cap. A George Henry in 1939 was photographed wearing a racing Trilby and had a smile of a Vaudeville Comedian, I would have like to have met him. I suspect that the Commodores cap is only worn on special occasions as it would appear that one size fits all, for some it floated coquettishly on the top of the head, others preferred to wear it on the slant, whilst many found it falling over the ears. One Commodore, I think it must have been in1903 refused all naval adornments and was photographed in full military uniform befitting that of a senior army officer, there was a passing resemblance to Lord Kitchener, minus the slogan "Your Country Needs You!"Interestingly the present commodore is a Lady, the first in the history, but not the last I’ll wager.
Walking towards the last ferry I couldn’t resist one last look over my shoulder at this impressive piece of Victorian architecture. A once in lifetime visit that I shall remember warmly.
Guy was busy making phone calls home and Lucien wandered off looking for a newspaper, I sat on the quayside seat waiting for the ferry next to a distinguished gentlemen on his commute home from the office, with renewed confidence of our previous encounter, I engaged him in conversation, He asked how I had come to Bermuda and was I working or on holiday, exchanging these pleasantries I delved cautiously deeper in to the past this interesting octogenarian. He told he was eighty two, a Bermudan by birth but educated at Stowe, the first of his family to be educated overseas. He told me that the Bermudan character was that of the entrepreneur or as some might suggest opportunistic, He mentioned with some pride the trade that Bermuda discreetly conducted with the Confederate Army in the American Civil war. Despite this lucrative under the counter trade Bermuda, he claimed, retained its integrity, as a neutral in this war, only dealing with third parties and asking as few questions as possible.
We boarded the ferry together and at his suggestion took seats on the upper deck in the sun to continue this fascinating conversation. As the ferry tooted three times and departed Hamilton dock he pointed out many buildings of interest with an intimate knowledge of this small capital, it turns out that I was talking to a passed Premier of Bermuda, a board director of Butterfields Bank for twenty nine years and running his own very successful import company .In semi retirement he has taken on the responsibility for developing the Old Dockyard area as a cultural epicentre for this part of the Island. What a day!
We have a few more days to enjoy this beautiful island before sailing north to the Azores and from my researches they should prove to be just as interesting.
Our very best wishes from the Crew of Libertad .Paul
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