Atlantic crossing. Bermuda 6.
Sun 3 Jun 2007 16:03
Oh Bermuda ! All the epithets used to describe islands filled my brain as we scooted around yesterday. This place is near perfect. The anchorage at St George is at the eastern end of the island. Transportation is mostly by scooter and there are numerous places to hire them. We followed suit and had a great day exploring. The main City, Hamilton, is about 20 kilometres from St George along well maintained roads. It has a 'toytown' feel a bit like the Scillies. Alongside the road are beautifully maintained fruit and vegetable gardens and very smart houses. Everything is trimmed and manicured to a very high standard. Passing through small villages and settlements it is startling to come across modern and old churches painted in bright colours, pink, sky blue, mauve, you name it. In England it would be totally out of keeping, but here in the blazing light it works really well. I found it hard to believe that everyone made the maintenance effort independently, and have since discovered that is driven by government legislation, obviously with the tourist industry in mind. People are constantly painting and cleaning. The streets of Hamilton are a pleasure to walk on, and best of all from my point of view, no dog mess anywhere, in fact I have only seen one dog since we arrived. Shiploads of tourists arrive through Town Cut, the miniscule channel into St Georges harbour, just wide enough to allow a cruise ship to pass but certainly nothing else at the same time. Apparently, when a couple of thousand people arrive all at once the place comes alive, one downside, the hospital is full of people who have had scooter accidents ! The prices of even the most basic stuff is a joke after St Lucia. We bought two loaves of bread and paid $7.65 US (about £3.50) The racial mix is hard to define at first but I'm told its about 50/50 black and white. The black population appear to have a much higher standard of living than any of the other islands I have visited. Part of the route back to St George is alongside one of the many golf courses on the island and has to be seen, its perfect in every respect. We lingered at a picnic spot beside the road, right beside the sea. Big brightly coloured fish were drifting over the rocks as the waves lapped over, some of them several kilos in weight by my estimation, and only 10ft from where we stood. According to a local who was fishing nearby, the big ones were Parrot fish and it is illegal to catch them, or indeed many of the other fish that maintain the reef. This island was uninhabited for many years until a shipwreck rediscovered it. That wreck is now a much trumpeted part of island history, we bought a book yesterday to try to learn more about it.
I would like to mention the personalities that make up the crew which is now up to five with the arrival of our skipper Michel. Michel is an Anglicised Frenchman, having lived and worked in England for many years. His brother in law, Richard, and HIS childhood friend Joel are the ones I have been rudely referring to as the French. Richard is a very big man, about 140 kilos (?) and is hoping to shed some of them on the voyage. He is a larger than life figure with a powerful personality. He is an ex rugby player and has the busted up body to prove it, his knees are not good and he has suffered many broken bones during his career. He has done a bit of sailing, some if his experienced gained helping Michel to move boats in the past. He is passionate about food and is a very good cook. Last night (Sat) he treated us to a leg of lamb al la Francais, with wine he knows well, from his home in Provence. Joel is a strong man, I was initially concerned that he would be a liability, no experience and prone to seasickness. In fact he has the strongest stomach of everyone on board, at one point during the crossing, when we were rolling around in the gale, he was crawling around on the cabin sole looking for a piece of his camera. It turned my guts just to watch him. He is very sweet natured, almost little boyish, and can go on forever without sleep, in fact, for many years, has only been able to achieve any real sleep with the aid of medication. Both are ex Gendarmerie. Michel is a vastly experienced yachtsman, slightly built but very wiry. His dual language skills has made life much easier for everyone. He has developed a cold, probably from his recent plane trips. Sue has her usual inexhaustible enthusiasm, cooking meals in a howling gale just for something to do, and getting involved in everything that goes on on board. Her attention to detail tends to wear her down a bit when the going gets a bit tough and I have had to urge her to let go and await developments. I tend paint life in broad strokes while she will paint every leaf, its not a case of right or wrong, just different styles. All in all I think we will make a good team. Preparations for departure are now afoot, reprovisioning, refueling and final maintenence jobs for jumpoff on Tuesday weather permitting. Manny