From Turbulent to Tame
The second half of our sail from Antigua turned out to be way better than the first. The sea state gradually reduced from a fast boil to slow simmer, the wind dropped from 20 plus knots to less than 10. And with one day left to go before arriving in Bermuda, the wind fell to practically nothing. Of course, this is no good for sailing, but it does help a seasick person to recover. And for the last two days, Maria was able to join me on deck. At least during daylight hours.
The Bermudian authorities insist that vessels heading to Bermuda call Bermuda Radio on VHF from 50 miles out. So, precisely 50 miles from St George’s, I radioed to let them know our intentions and ETA. And a few seconds later, a somewhat unexpected gentle Scottish accent replied asking me to confirm our boat name and callsign. Then, after checking his records to make sure we had completed the pre-arrival form, he said he looked forward to welcoming us to Bermuda and offered us all the help we needed.
Things weren’t as slick for the vessels that hadn’t filled out the pre-arrival form. For those folks, the radio dialogue sounded more like an interrogation. The Bermudian authorities are very thorough. They request a lot of information from visiting yachts, right down to the hexadecimal number of the EPIRB(s) carried onboard. So, for any yachtspeople reading this, fill out the form before departure – it’ll save you a world of pain.
Arrival in St George’s Harbour
One of the reasons for being so thorough in requesting an early VHF call is likely that Bermuda’s reefs extend around 10 miles out. For the unprepared, especially those folks without charts, the voyage here could be their last. This complexity certainly keeps the pilot boats busy.
For us though, a quick call to Bermuda radio permitted us to proceed towards Town Cut and towards St George’s Harbour. And we received clear directions to the clearance facility, together with a very warm welcome to Bermuda. This is impressive stuff. The authorities here might be thorough, but they come across as very human.
Fortunately, the dock outside the customs office was free, so Maria and I brought Lady Jane alongside and presented ourselves to the customs authorities. After a bit of form filling and handing over of some cash, we each received a shake of the hand to welcome us to this fabulous country. Then, stepping outside we were greeted by Melinda and Reinhardt, fellow Salty Dawg members, who had been waiting to welcome us. And this helps set the scene for the attitude of folks here on the island. The friendliness and willingness to help are way beyond anything we have previously experienced. And we have been to some very friendly places.
Deflated in Convict Bay
It’s been a bit of a leaky few days onboard Lady Jane. We found that some of the windows leaked when waves crash over the deck (actually Maria discovered this when a stream of water poured over her face). And after re-inflating the dinghy we found that it too was leaky.
So, the next day I took the wobbly dinghy over to Bermuda Yacht services to see if they could help. But after finding out the hourly rate, tightness got the better of me and I booked a berth at the town quay ($1 per foot per night) so that I could fix it myself.
Being on the town quay was great fun. It’s a very sociable place to be and a great way to meet some of the local folks and the cruising community. And there is plenty of space to work on the dockside. The only problem is that it’s perhaps a bit too sociable to get things done quickly. It took ages to fix that dinghy because we had to keep stopping to speak with people. And the hole in the tube proved to be a bit elusive. Still, we got there. By the end of the day, the dinghy sported two new patches, and we left the adhesive to set for a day while we explored St Georges.