We made it !
Libertad St Georges, Harbour, Bermuda.
Thursday14th May 2009
On our Atlantic routing chart the island of Bermuda is a small dot about a quarter of an inch long, the reality is not much difference. This small archipelago of coral reefs, little more than 100 mtrs above sea level at its highest point was strategic in the days of the Empire as a staging post and victualing station. Bermuda was originally fortified in the middle to late 1700,s against possible incursions from the French and Spanish. The garrison was again re enforced by that great lady of the empire, Queen Victoria. She was taking no chances; the fortifications on Bermuda could would have put Hitler’s attempts at the Atlantic wall to shame. The south coast with its entrance to St Georges Harbour and the Narrows Channel leading to Hamilton, the capital had a concentration of defences with forts on every headland bristling with cannon laying in wait for that invading fleet. By the mid to late 1800,s the Americans had joined the list of potential invaders and the garrison was, strengthened to more than two thousand officers and men. The remaining coastline has a natural defence of coral reefs extending several miles offshore, a natural minefield laying in wait to ensnare the unsuspecting or less that cautious sailor.
Today, our initial contact is made via VHF with Bermuda radio, this efficient group of operators offer a calm combination of advice and instructions as you approach the island with that comforting knowledge that the have you plotted on their radar and will they advise you should stray from the well buoyed if confusing channels around sub tropical paradise.
As you near the entrance to St Georges Harbour you are faced with the Town Cut a narrow (no more 200 ft wide) channel leading into the lagoon. We negotiated this entrance in pitch black, the first moonless night in a week at 03:00 in the morning. We were informed that customs and immigration would not be open until 08:00 a.m. and requested to anchor in Powder Hole on the port side of the harbour. Sending Guy to the fore deck to let go the anchor in 30ft of water we finally turned off the engine.
Tuning into our bunks in a blissful silence and stillness was a well earned luxury for the crew of Libertad. Five and a half days at sea and 869 nautical mile to the north of Tortola in conditions that initially were boisterous to say the least and latterly frustratingly calm or on the nose' that is sailing. We, like farmers are never satisfied with Mother Nature’s gifts.
A few hours of blissful rest were disturbed by the crew keen to explore this new destination and link up with friends on other boats to share the experience of the past few days. We weighed anchor and motored the short distance across the harbour to search out the customs house hiding behind an enormous cruise ship (The Norwegian Majesty) to clear .This process was friendly, polite, quick and free, what a change from all those morose officials we had encountered in the Caribbean islands. I was intrigued to discover how this ship had been shoehorned into this dock through the Town Cut. I was told she would be departing on Thursday morning, this I have to see.
Drew has been exploring the beaches nearby with a couple, Gi Gi and Charlie, they are helping he owner, Tom to sail her back to Scotland. It must be a pleasant relief to get away from us. Toms just turned up for a coffee relating tales of woe with the repairs to his boat, Hei Matau, which Tom informs me the name is a Maori good luck charm for” a journey across the sea”.
Today Guy and I hope to spend some time touring the island, Lucien wants to stay on board to bake a cake and make Pizza for tea for us all. We eventually found the supermarket and let Lucien loose with the shopping trolley. Alore! Alore! He cooked crepes at sea and wanted to flambé them in rum until I snatched the matches away, should we leave him unsupervised or will he burn us to the water line?
Well the crew are keen to get on with the keel hauling or fogging of Mordecai and other nautical fun, so until next time from all the happy crew of Libertad.
Best wishes Paul.