Bermuda reflections

Wed 17 May 2023 19:23

31 Bermuda

 Our week in Bermuda seemed to go very quickly and it is hard to account for the time.   On Sunday evening, Brians birthday, having cleared customs and immigration in the afternoon, we found The Wahoo fish restaurant and bar which seemed to be one of more buzzy venues in St Georges.  While waiting for a table in the bar, we met Natalie from Manchester, ex merchant navy, who was the radio operator for Bermuda Radio that gave us directions when we were approaching the island.

I needed to get a small tear in the luff of the mainsail repaired.  There is a sailmaker on the front in St Georges, it was closed on Monday 8th because of the coronation bank holiday but the proprietor was in the shop when I poked my head in and he said he would look at it on Tuesday, so we took the sail off the boat in the afternoon. It is quite a kerfuffle removing the mainsail because it has full length battens, and the batten cars have to be taken off the slides on the mast with a spanner and folding it up on the deck is not the easiest, but we eventually had a bundle that could be put in the dinghy on Tuesday morning.  In the evening, we entertained Linda and Peter from Koka Chin who were also anchored close by in Convicts Bay.  With a bit of a team effort we produced a Thai shrimp curry with mango and they brought over a wonderful apple crumble;  some beer and wine was consumed.

On Tuesday we dropped the sail off early and then majored on laundry in a laundromat across the road.  Every laundromat seems to be different and a struggle to start with.   The system in this laundry required users to purchase a ‘credit’ card from a machine using only a Bermudian $5 note; needless to say the ATM had only dispensed large denomination notes so then followed forays into various shops to try to change down to fivers.  We obtained cards, the $5 dollar non-refundable, and then had to load money onto the card to operate the machines, slow going so far.  Then probably half the sixteen or so washing machines were not working – it turned out you had to look for the inconspicuous piece of tape across the slot for the credit card.  There were others using the machines too, mostly sailors, so there was an element of queuing for a working machine. 

Later we explored St Georges, found a good supermarket (no longlife milk though!)  and bought a few items for breakfast, lunch etc.  We also found a café with wifi and a sheltered outdoor patio, and later I had a look at the fuel dock from the land to check it out.  The supermarket sold hot food where you filled a plastic container, and it was priced by weight at the checkout, and this was lunch back on the boat.

Wednesday afternoon was taken up with a bus trip to the Swizzle Inn.   A Swizzle is also a Bermudian rum punch cocktail.  The inn was right on the road by a bus stop. The interior is covered with graffiti and the ceiling pasted with bank notes from around the world.  We had a Swizzle, as you do, moved on to the local beer, watched some footy and ate there too; it was an almost English pub experience – apart from the Swizzle.

Then one of those amazing, Corinthian Yacht Club, linkups happened.  Dawn Zuill (DZ) from Bermuda, currently living in Plymouth and a member of the RPCYC – who I have not met, saw one of my WhatsApp posts to the Club and got in touch offering showers, accommodation and volunteered her house sitter, Kerrie, to give us a tour of the island.  We didn’t need to take up the offer of showers as we had facilities on hand but a tour with a local guide was too good to miss.  I understand Dawn is returning to Bermuda before we get back to Plymouth so, sadly, we won’t get to meet.  Kerrie picked us up from St Georges on Thursday giving us a commentary between dropping off promotional literature at various venues.  We had a pre-lunch drink at the Spanish Point Sailing Club, lunch in a beach front restaurant and ended up at the Dockyard which is at the end of the island furthest from St Georges.  From the Dockyard we took a ferry back to Hamilton, the capital, and a bus back to St Georges.

On the way, Kerrie had introduced us to Dr Ed Harris, retired former curator of the Bermuda Maritime Museum who was one of her literature drops.  A charming and friendly man, obviously aware we were sailors, he asked,’ Have you been to the Yacht Club yet?   No? Come and have lunch on me tomorrow, non-members are not allowed to purchase anything’.  Well, he was referring to the august Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and we couldn’t let that pass.  So, on Friday after taking the repaired sail back to the boat, we took a bus to Hamilton and enjoyed a superb lunch and drinks on the RBYC terrace.   Any anxieties about dress code were quickly dispelled as the other diners were dressed casually too.  Ed Harris joined us during the desert course, he had been dining with some other people, and told us about his early archaeological work and subsequent, fascinating, historical research while curator at the museum.  He also arranged for us to meet Galen Brislane, Rear Commodore House and ex-pat Irishman, so that I could extend a welcome from the RPCYC to any members of the RBYC visiting Plymouth and exchange a club burgee.  Galen was charming and treated us to drinks in the members bar, he knew Plymouth from Fastnet races and would have loved to stay drinking but we had to go so he drove us to an out-of-town fishing tackle shop to replace some of the lures we had lost, and then dropped us at the bus station for St Georges.

There is no doubt, Bermuda is exquisitely beautiful, wonderfully maintained with manicured grounds and gardens. We saw no signs of poverty, but some people must find the cost of living there difficult.  On the other hand, we saw lots of examples of wealth, large houses, exclusive golf and yacht clubs and expensive shops.   Surrounded by coral sand and with no rivers to muddy the waters, every aspect of the coast gave stunning views of iridescent, turquoise waters.  Bermuda is more sea than land and the reflected light is magical.

Having been out to lunch on Friday, Saturday was going to be busy because the wind direction was going fair on Sunday, and we aimed to leave in the morning.  We put the mainsail back on the spars before breakfast as the wind was light then.  Then followed several rounds of shopping by dinghy for an indeterminate, but minimum two-week, passage to the Azores, followed by more laundry, lunch from the supermarket salad bar, engine oil checks, a trial setting of the storm jib, showers at the Dinghy and Sports Club followed by a beer, before dinner at the Wahoo, again.

On Sunday morning, the wind had swung through 180 degrees, as forecast, and we deflated and stowed the dinghy and pulled the anchor out with some difficulty as it had become well set in the fresh winds during the week.  We were early at the fuel dock and a queue formed behind us as we filled the fuel and water tanks.  Then around to the customs quay where we had to queue before going along-side to get our passports stamped and our clearance papers.   The last job was to take the anchor off the bow roller and stow it away for the ocean passage.  Hoisting the mainsail in the harbour we obtained clearance to leave by the Town Cut from Bermuda Radio and headed north east for the Azores in fine weather.

All best, Tony, Brian and Keith.


Bermuda coast
The Dockyard - reminiscent of the Royal William Yard?
More sea than land
Unbelievable colour
Hands of friendship at the RBYC