Saltwhistle III: Rach & Tony
14th May 2012
St Georges, Bermuda
Here we are now in Bermuda having avoided being lost in the triangle. If you have seen the chart for this area you can well understand why so many boats have been lost, its reefs galore. It took five and a half days to get here and was our longest trip sailing two-handed. On the whole the watch system worked very well on a 4-3-3-4 hour system with Tony going down first at 7pm. The first day was good sailing followed by two days of motoring with intermittent attempts to sail but the wind was too weak to push our 14 tonnes along. We took the opportunity to skinny-dip, one at a time, with closest land five miles below. Not as mind-bending as you might think.
By day three we were getting good wind carrying us off to the north-east before a tactical gybe to the west in expectation of the cold front passing through (it did and we got wet) giving us a westerly wind to carry into St Georges. Alas the weather gods didn’t play ball so we motored the last 30 miles whilst the wind was fluky, before becoming the start of the dreaded northerly. One boat following us had engine failure and were forced to tack up, making only 3 miles in one 24 hour period. The first mate was in tears and I don’t blame her.
On arrival at 2am we were directed to the Customs berth to complete clearances before being allowed to anchor in the bay and finally get to sleep at 4:30am (okay, we had a couple of vinos to celebrate our arrival). We figure we did pretty well as we made three-quarters and half a day on Halo and Pinta respectively, who left a day before us. They had a lot more motoring in light winds and poor old Pinta got caught in lightening storm and lost their GPS antenna. Also, the winds carrying us north-east must have been too good for Quivera II to ignore – they left the same time as us but have not arrived here so we assume they have carried on to the Azores.
We have just spent the last couple of days relaxing around St Georges and catching up on sleep. Yesterday was a nail-biter at the pub watching the final day of the Premiership. Thank God Arsenal finally pulled out a winner out. I hope Kevin Keegan was watching Man U in the two minutes after their game finished – 125 seconds of thinking they’d won the Premiership before a deafening silence and realisation they had won nothing. In the immortal words of Sir Alex: “Football. Bloody hell.”
Today we will crack on with a few maintenance jobs – main engine oil change and secondary filter change (Tony did the first filter en-route when we started losing power). One of our autopilot rams seized up but we carry a spare and also did that replacement en-route, which made the steering much lighter. The ram that failed is an original (so 14 years old) and has put in a lot of service with two return trips to the Caribbean and one to the Baltic. Pinta recently bought a new ram so we will find out what they paid and then buy a new one in the States.
We figure we will stay in Bermuda for up to two weeks whilst we explore, do maintenance, relax, dive/snorkel and wait for a weather window for Newport, Road Island. I must say that it is decidedly chilly now that we are 830 miles north and I had to break the duvets out of their bags. We bumped into Richard (Sya) yesterday as he was checking out at Customs and, like Tony, he was wearing long trousers. He left yesterday for the Azores and we pity him because today there are easterly winds – weather gods again!
In the next couple of days we will take the boat around to Hamilton, the capital. We met a Bermudan couple in Virgin Gorda Sound on their lovely Oyster 54 ‘Magic’. They offered to provide an introduction to the local yacht club so that will be an opportunity to tidy ourselves up a bit. One of the quirky things here is that there is no car rental – for tourists it is either mopeds, buses or taxis. Moped hire tomorrow then, yee hah.
Just turned the radio on and heard Quivera II entering the channel. I gave them a call on the blower and they were having a bit of bother with Customs – essentially they have been ordered to tie up on the Customs pontoon despite reporting problems manoeuvring due to a broken engine control stick. Obviously it would be safer to anchor and dinghy to Customs (as we do everywhere else) but Customs aren’t having it. We dinghied over to offer some help but Customs gave Tony the ar*e about providing bunting assistance with the rib and wouldn’t allow me to go onboard to help with lines. At last sight Quivera II was circling in the harbour whilst four other new arrivals jockeyed for space at Customs. Nightmare, and a triumph of officialdom over good sense. We have noticed that old British colonies can be the most dogmatic about “the rules”.
Swimming mid Atlantic
63 miles and 10 hours to go
Floating data buoy
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