Preparing for our trip to Bermuda

Saxon Blue's Blog
Harvey Jones and Andrea Stokes
Tue 14 Dec 2010 03:01
Monday night

We've been making final preparations for our voyage to Bermuda which we're starting tomorrow morning. Yesterday morning, we met the Dockmaster woman and got ourselves sorted out with information about the town. We filled up the water tanks ready to do plenty of laundry and went out to explore Hampton. Andrea and I found a lovely little cafe for lunch and I had Biscuits with Sausage Gravy which is, as Bill says "about as Southern as it gets". I suggested that we might go to a NASCAR race but that, apparently, is "dangerously Southern".

Hampton has been a bit too tidied-up to be very interesting. There is one small row of old buildings but everything else has been developed into blandness. They've fallen into that planning trap of demolishing their waterfront buildings and using the space for a dual-carriageway which makes the dockside area seem like an out-of-town shopping mall rather than the historic centre that it really is. That said, everyone in town is ridiculously friendly and it seems much more integrated than other places we've seen. It's not pretty but it is relaxed. One lovely thing they've preserved is a Nineteenth Century carousel which has been fully restored and put into a purpose-made octagonal building. The horses are individually carved and are very lifelike, clearly made by expert craftsmen and lovingly repainted. No racing cockerels and with a different style than the English ones but wonderful, nonetheless.

As visitors to the town docks, we can use the facilities in the hotel next to the pontoons. It has a good little gym area where Kali has been doing yoga and a great business centre where Andrea has been working away all day yesterday and today. We've been using the showers in there as well so it's become quite a sanctuary. The restaurant is good as well, serving much simpler meals than most of the ones we've visited so they've done OK out of us. Yesterday afternoon, Kali, Bill and I had an excellent meeting about the next part of our voyage, covering navigation and a lot of safety stuff which it was great to get Bill's perspective on. Kali's done loads of work on it all, as ever, so it feels like we're as prepared as it's possible to be.

While looking for things to do in town, I noticed that the IMAX cinema in the Air and Space museum was showing the latest Harry Potter movie last night. Oh dear, now I would have to tell Andrea and then I'd have to go along to it with her. She was so excited that she rushed straight out and bought tickets for us two and Kali. We had an early tea in the hotel and then went into the cinema. It was hilarious. We walked into the five-storey high auditorium and there were six other people in there - none of them kids. Thank goodness we booked early! In fact, that's been our experience of Hampton generally, it's like a ghost town. The film wasn't as frantic as the other HP offerings although it's pretty dark and I enjoyed it more than I expected to.

When we got back to Saxon Blue, Andrea and I went to bed to watch the final of the X-Factor on YouTube. I had to find all the right clips in the correct order to see it all without giving away to Andrea who had won. As we had to watch extra clips of the previous night, it all took ages and it was well past midnight before we found out that Matt had won which was disappointing but at least we could go to sleep. I'm sure his career will be meteoric - bright and short-lived.

Bill made us delicious omelettes for Brunch this morning, after which we did loads of washing. Bill and I took a taxi out to West Marine and I got a better tether to tie myself to Saxon Blue in rough weather and a brighter LED light to go beneath the Windex at the top of the mast. On our return, we set out to fix the light which, as ever, took ages and required first Bill and then Kali to get to the top of the mast in a blizzard. That's right, it's been snowing here on and off all day and chose that moment to really come in thick. Anyway, the new light is fixed and is much better than the one we fitted last week.

Incidentally, there's been a lot of news stories about the snow in the mid-western States. So much landed on one sports arena that the roof collapsed under the weight and many motorists have been stranded in their cars so it doesn't just happen in the UK.

We all went out together to the restaurant in the hotel tonight and had a lovely meal. Everyone is really excited to be heading out into the proper Atlantic Ocean. We're leaving tomorrow morning after filling up with diesel and heading out of the Chesapeake and then turning slightly South of East, all the way to Bermuda. It's about 600 miles so we should arrive on Friday. The forecast is perfect with winds of about 30 knots from almost directly behind us which should blow us along nicely. We'll cross the Gulf Stream quite quickly and we're hoping that the warm water will take the chill off the wind. As the wind is blowing off the land, I'm hoping that the seas will build up slowly and I'll have time to adjust to the motion. We'll see.


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