Bermuda, not the Caribbean!
09 June 2017
“The pressure-washed island” is how a cruising friend described Bermuda. They were right. A resident told me the island was like one big garden that everyone tends beautifully. He was also correct. The Caribbean lacks cleanliness that we appreciate in North America but sure makes up for it in charm. Bermuda has both. A police boat politely told us we were to stay below 5 knots in the spectator area when we were zipping along in our dinghy. As they pulled away, the skipper gunned the engine a bit, giving us some wake. They slowly circled back to us. I said to Lisa, “Oh, what now?” They apologized for the wake!
What better place to organize a world class event like the America's Cup. Great Sound is a perfect arena for the sailing titans to do battle. The water is surrounded by land which keeps the waves down to nothing. Winds are moderate. They will probably average under 15 knots for the series. Shallow water yields an indescribable blue that swimming pool painters fail to imitate. The America's Cup Village is adjacent to the Naval Dockyards, an historic and tourist attraction.
The dinghy dock in Hamilton, capitol and headquarters for yachting, was a flimsy, floating affair. One week later it was joined with an aluminum ramp and anchored firmly to accommodate a maximum number of dinghies. They are really trying to get it right. I think they are.....mostly. The America's Cup Village isn't as inviting as others we have visited in San Diego and Valencia, Spain. More on that in another post. Everything else about Bermuda is spot on.
People are so polite and welcoming. We say that about most everywhere we go. But they do it here with Bermuda style. The dress is preppy, smart and coiffed. I'm sure glad I got a haircut and beard trim in St. Martin. They still spot us as “yachties.” Several have mentioned they know we live on a boat. Just how can they tell? Well, I am still not wearing an oxford dress shirt, bermuda shorts, knee socks and dress shoes. But neither are the thousands of cruise ship visitors. Even Lisa was called out as a yachtie by the ex-mayor of St. Georges. We saw him days later as a course marshal and he gave us special permission to anchor in the Superyacht Viewing Area! Being a yachtie isn't a bad thing.
Tonight they had a street festival. A dozen tall ships came into Hamilton for the weekend. It was quite a procession accompanied by cannon fire and sails flying. The street festival was like many others except: the kiddy rides were in electric powered Ferraris, no beer was served, no one was smoking, craft booths were fine jewlery or art, there was no litter, and the reggae band didn't use any dirty words! Sophie was with us, one of very few dogs on the island. She was a big hit and was petted all night by Bermudians.
Bermuda Radio keeps track of boats entering and leaving Bermuda. They insist on an inventory of your safety equipment and registration before granting permission to enter their waters. At first we thought this was a strict policing action. Actually it is a yacht concierge service. They will help with anything as well as direct traffic in some of the narrow passages.
Talk about civilized, a radio station had an advertisement for the Peoples' Labor Party. They were raising funds for the upcoming election....with a golf outing. Go People!
Don't mistake style with stuffiness. We docked our dinghy at the newly-rebuilt dinghy dock and I heard the unmistakable sound of a Seagull outboard motor. Down the cay we found a dumpy fiberglass boat with two post-war Seagulls on the back. The young guys on the boat explained that there was a Seagull race around Bermuda on Saturday. They said it would take at least six hours to circumnavigate Bermuda with these relics. But they had two for more speed and reliability. Safety gear is required for the race, a case of beer! These guys know how to have fun! I told Lisa, “If we lived here, I would sure have a Seagull race boat.” She said, “I have no doubt!”
Scooters are the favored mode of transportation. All ages and types are seen on scooters. Special parking areas are for “motorcycles only.” There are motorcycles but all are small, single cylinder bikes of 150 cc or less. Cars are mostly new and bicycles are mostly the latest, carbon fiber models or electric assisted bikes. There are no cars for rent and there is a limit of one car per household. Some of those households are virtual plantations!
OK, prices are pretty high here. Not any higher than the Bahamas but certainly more than we are used to paying in the Caribbean. As yachties we are living on the cheap. We anchor free from any fees or rent. Some foods are reasonably priced and we have a lot of stock from the French West Indies. Beer is about $7 or more everywhere vs. $1.50 in the Caribbean. We did have to pay to enter the AC Village but after visiting twice, we are committed to watching on the water from Uproar or friend's boats. Live commentary is broadcast on VHF ch20.
I wondered if 5 weeks in Bermuda would be too long. No way. We have been immersed in AC racing but will spend much more time exploring this quaint, and historic island. Bermudians should be proud. This island is isolated more than 600 miles from any other body of land. Settlers first came here in the 1600s and built a prosperous island from one with few resources. It's 70,000 residents are quite well off by any standards and are generous in sharing their paradise with us.