Sometimes it’s hard to write about something when you’re right in the middle of it. Once you remove yourself, the thoughts, memories, and special moments come flooding in. So it is with our trip to Bermuda. We had a non-eventful ride north from the Virgin Islands with Greg Vadasdi. 850 miles of easy weather. The boat in the distance is Gunboat Flow!
The first few days in Bermuda were spent exploring St George’s where all yachts must enter and depart because of the barrier reef and customs. While Eric has raced to Bermuda, and we both flew there last year for the Cup, we really didn’t get much time to get the feel for the island, it’s history, and the unique and beautiful islanders who live there. This time we did. This blog is in 3 parts. The first is when Eric and I arrived, the second was during Goddess week and Newport Bermuda Race, and the third is our sail to the USA and how good it is to be in home waters.
After a day of clean up, a small celebration with crew Greg and wife Katie who flew in, and after a swim and a bit of R&R, Eric and I took El Raton outside St George’s Bay and inside the reef to find hidden beaches on small islands in Castle Harbor. The Nature Reserve on Coopers Island had a lookout tower with photos and explanations of wildlife, with historical info as well.
Green Turtles come here but are not born here. The Parrot fish are huge and of the darkest blue we’ve ever seen, with funny shaped heads compared to down south. Tropical Long Tail sea birds that graced the rocky volcanic cliffs in pairs followed us when we came too close to their nests, and the famous nocturnal Cahow was not to be seen but their nests both manmade and natural were along the cliff tops of islands.
These photos tell the story. It is beautiful. Think Bahamas water and islands with elevation and beautiful houses in all the Caribbean colors.
Bermudians are proud of their history. Because it’s further north, about the same latitude as South Carolina, and it’s in the middle of the ocean, explorers did not find it for a long time. When they did, it was deemed to to be haunted. Evidently the night birds sounded like ghosts so no one wanted to make this their stopping point. In fact when the first settlers arrived in 1609 it was because they were shipwrecked from a hurricane. On their way to Virginia from England with supplies, they all survived and figured out there was a lot of natural food to be had. They built 2 ships and finished the journey to Jamestown only to find the first settlers were starving and down to about 55 in numbers. Bermudians claim they saved the first settlement. Did you know they were behind the scenes in the war of 1812? While the Britts sailed off to burn down the Whitehouse, the locals got the governor drunk, raided the fort with the ammo supplies, and sold it to Americans who went back and fought the Britts! In a nutshell, they were a good stopping point to store ammunition, armies, and supplies. Because there were no natives to begin with, no water reserves for plantations, no gold or silver, this was not necessarily a place to fight over. Once the Britts landed and built their forts, there were few who dared or bothered to try and overtake them. The barrier reef had a lot to do with that. Can you imagine trying to find the one hole to go into a bay with boats that barely go upwind? They had to wait for the wind to shift to come and go. The Bermuda Sloops helped solve this problem. They were developed by a Dutch seaman using hard native woods and these could go upwind far better than the square riggers. Today’s local Bermuda sloop is called a ??? Dinghy. It has extremely low freeboard and humongous sails so the crew is constantly bailing. We watched one get swamped thus ending their day of match racing. Evidently this is common.
Enough on the history. It is fascinating however even for one who never liked history in school.
Eric and I rented bicycles and toured around while enjoying the benefit of getting our legs to move more than 40 foot distances. It felt great! St Catherine’s Fort, Tobacco Bay, the Railway Trail, fresh veggies next to the airport, and a new herb garden were part of the 2 days riding.
One of our favorite things to do while exploring new islands is to ask the locals where they like to eat, Not the tourist places, the local places. After stopping a rasta mon who had a mouth full of food were he would go we found Momma Angies. It’s a small diner type restaurant that has THE BEST fish sandwiches! We were prompted to try it local style which was made with caramelized Bermuda onions, Cole slaw, tomato, lightly fried Rock fish (Grouper/Snapper) on wait for it….raisin bread! Now who would have thought of that?!? And geez, it was DELICIOUS!!!
We chatted up the owner Wesley and learned it’s a 2nd generation business that he named after his grandmother. As we hoped, it was filled with locals who knew where to eat and not pay through the nose.
He placed a Gato sticker proudly by the register. So if you ever come to Bermuda, make sure you don’t miss this local spot on Duke of York Street, and tell him you know us!
If you are a foodie and want to splurge, Bermuda is famous for good food.
Pick up a magazine displaying food art from the many restaurants that compete for the tourists money. There is a hefty price tag that goes with most of those meals. But there are some very good places that we’ve found to be reasonable with tasty and hefty servings.
The White Horse Tavern, The Wharf, and Wahoo’s have good menus and are close to the water in St George’s. As for Hamilton we found Angelos to be our favorite. Excellent Italian dishes served with a smile. Some places they did not serve with a smile so I will not mention them. The next photo is with a group of Brazilians we met at Wahoo’s. Fun and lively!
Goddess Week and the race
Girlfriends came to play in paradise while Eric flew back to join friends in the famous Newport Bermuda Race. He would be watch captain on Herme’s Louise, a Little Harbor previously owned by Bill Koch and now owed by Jay and Leah Harris. Eric has raced with them in the past and loves this race as do most East Coasters who don’t have Bahamas or Keys in their back yards. For West Coasters it’s usually Mexico or Hawaii, but in this race famous navigators and crews from across the continent were on board the rocket ships.
Who joined me?Betsy Crowfoot, who sailed a couple thousand miles with us 2 years ago from Cartagena to the Cape Verdes, got a gig from Cruising World and will be writing her thoughts on cruising in Bermuda. Christy Radecic is a professional sports photographer and her big ass camera was always al the ready for the money shot. We will get to see their article and photos in print in a few months! Miami friend for life, Diane Davis, joined us for her first retirement trip after 37 years of teaching kids to love learning!
The gals arrived the same day Eric left and the party started! We toured St George’s by foot and bus,
checked out the Crystal Caves, drank Swizzles, and checked out the same islands by dinghy. Exploring a wreck that was only partly submerged was a highlight.
Mermaids love that stuff! Another big surprise and delight was taking the dinghy to a small cove and beach that was littered with sea glass. That led to art projects on El Gato. There was water coloring involved too.
A few days later we sailed around to Hamilton and spent the night behind some gorgeous houses, and the next morning played with paddle boarding before sailing around the south side. Pick your way through reefs that are marked with red and green posts on a sunny day and you can go pretty far around. So we did! At one point we followed a glass bottom tour boat that stopped at caves and wrecks and stopped to tell us how the fish would come to us if we threw them bread.
Back up to Mangrove Bay to watch the Bermuda Fitted Dinghy Races, and after dragging the anchor we found out why. The joke onboard was it was a bomb as it sure looked like a missile. Most likely plastic buoy filled with sand and it finally ripped off but not before we scratched our collective heads trying to come up with a solution. Grateful!
The races were close match races, and the locals invited us to the BBQ but we opted out to go anchor somewhere safer for the night.
Up to Hamilton about 1/4 mile from the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, all set to explore this side of the island.
We used our ferry passes that can be used for busses too, and went to the Dockyard. More history, more tourists than we like as the cruise ships land there, and some fond memories of the Cup. It Looks completely different as most harbors do after the big event leaves. But it left it’s mark and the locals are grateful. I never missed an opportunity to let folks know we were back because we had such a good experience during the AC.
The best part IMHO are the artists. There are glass blowers and potters, painters, and jewelers and we enjoyed finding a few treasures to buy for each other and bring back home.
After the Dockyard, we took a cab to Church Bay, and hitch hiked home.
Met a lovely local, Joelle, who we invited aboard the next evening for happy hour. Happy!
Since we WERE in Bermuda, and it’s known for good shopping, we did what some girls do best – shopped! Bermuda shorts are super comfortable and I liked them so much I bought 2 pairs.
The biannual Newport Bermuda Race was slow. Rambler arrived ahead of the fleet, 4 boats arrived within the next 8 hours, and 2 days later the rest came in as a pack waiting to dock. We greeted Eric and Barry at 4 and 5 AM and kidnapped them from their boats until it was time for them to return for customs. Yes, rule breakers. We don’t always behave.
After 2 days of R&R and it was time to sail to the USA. But not before celebrating our 4th anniversary!
The girls flew home and Eric and I took off.
We’ve been enjoying land time! First a stop at Marci Lucier’ss (and family) sweet new home and an America3 Women’s America’s Cup Team mini-mini reunion dinner with Sarah Cavanah. Then we headed north to a land bed at our friends house in Marblehead. Amy and Seamus Hourihan own Thirst, the Gunboat we’ve raced on for 3 events in the Caribbean. They own a beautiful renovated home above Ft Sewall where we can see El Gato from the yard. So nice to have long warm showers! And laundry! Thank you Marci and Amy!
Everyone has been so helpful and nice right up to the little harbor master boat that lead us through a maze of boats on Moorings to the Duxbury YC dock which is tiny and at the end of a snake like channel. Check it out on a chart or map! He had to use his boat to PUSH boats away to make it wide enough for us to get through. 11 foot tides with the full moon!
Here’s part of a letter I wrote to my GF’s friends while sailing.
Night #3 – I’m on watch, it’s 1 AM, and the weather changed so not heading to MH. We sailed through some nasty shit this AM. I barely had time to put a foul jacket on and no time to zip it up when I took the wheel and it blew up to 39.9! Eric was on watch and I was coming on, he said we might need to put another reef in, we had one, and it was too late to take in another. It was daybreak so about 6AM. I sailed low and surfed waves with a top speed of 19 knots going down one! The wind was blowing the tops of the waves sideways and it was kinda like a white out. White water streaming along the top of the water, rain blowing sideways, and the best part it wasn’t cold. It didn’t last too long but the day was filled with wind and waves and the Gulf Stream current which topped at 7 knots. Once we got past that, everything calmed down. But a few waves crashed over the bows and soaked the back deck including cushions even with the sides down, and the rain flew into our little tiny bedroom indoor windows! Water was everywhere, and our bed was soaked on my side so we are sleeping on port aft. Good thing we didn’t strip that bed! It’s kinda damp inside so once we land I will have to wipe down all surfaces with vinegar and water (good to prevent mildew) and go from there. The laundry service will be a huge load!!! Rugs will be cleaned too. Yuk