Tuesday 27 November, Bermuda day 7, St. George’s: Touched bottom hence re-dock yet again, and scooter around Bermuda west end.
Our first night with the wind pinning us to the concrete dock again. Jammed against a shiny Swan66 for the last few days was so much more clinical than against raw concrete. Glen is up a few times making sure the fenders don’t roll upwards as the tide goes out. He also wants to hear if Cloudy squeals … so he sleeps in the front cabin, without the earplugs.
At 4:45am he wakes to a thumping sound and suddenly realizes it’s the keel hitting the bottom. Sure enough, with depth sounder on, it reads only 2.4m. We are aground at 2.5m. How can this happen? Well, captain gets the Numpty Hat for this one! When we docked yesterday he could not read the depth readout because the instrument was in red lowlight night mode and he could not see its reading. But it was high tide anyway, so no problem. (I was indisposed at the time, with ropes in hand ready to make yet another leap-of-faith, on command, from boat to quay). So he promised himself he would change the display back to day settings once docked and check the depth. Which of course… he forgot to do! So yes, today, now aground, he is self-promoted to chief Numpty of all Numpties in Numptyland!
A look at the tide charts shows we are 30 mins passed low water. Glen prepares the lines ready to move and watches for the depth to get to 2.6m before waking up the boss (gently, because disturbing me before daylight can be dangerous!) so that we can move. We could have waited till a more sociable hour given the tide is still rising, but with the poor weather forecast the one and only space remaining in the harbour might get nabbed by another early bird yacht. That’s not going to happen! No smart arse is going to outsmart my hubby … even if he is a Numpty today 🙂
So it’s dawn and we are re-docking yet again. For the 4th time in this harbour!! And while moving away from the quay we very nearly ram the small but solid concrete dolphin 2m in front of where we were moored. Clearly the captain is still to exit Numpty mode. But a miss is as good as a mile, as the saying goes.
Blood pressure soon drops back to normal and we are safely re-docked just 30m along the quay. Within a few minutes the lines are all good and we can relax. But there is no peace for the wicked… or Numpties.
There comes an aggressive knocking on the hull. It’s the government taxi boat Captain and he ain’t happy. We have apparently moored 1m into his dock space. “You’ve gotta be the other side of my black line” he insists. “You could park a battleship in that space! What black line are you talking about?” Glen retorts! Then he is shown a thin painted black line on the quay, “that one!” And his tone is very clear. So we drop Cloudy Bay back the due amount, leaving a measured 2mm between the end of our bowsprit and THE black line. There!
We do check the depth this time. 4.3m. Great. And also off the stern with the mobile depth sounder … Hmm only 2.7m at the stern. The spade rudder is only a little shallower than the keel. So Glen dons his swim shorts, dusts off the long unused face mask and take to the water.
Good, the rudder is at least 1m off the rocky bottom. Then to the keel inspection. Not good news. All that hard work sanding, epoxying, InterProtecting and antifouling … all undone 🙁 Well, completely undone in a few small patches and partly undone to varying degrees over the lower side of the keel. Bummer! What an idiot, he tells himself.
Breakfast and 2 coffees later, despite windy and gloomy forecast, we decide to head out on day 2 scootering. We take the most direct route to the far western end of the island, via North Shore road then Middle road. Although it’s gloomy and looks like it will rain any moment, the air temperature is a sticky 25degC and the rain somehow holds off all day.
The roads are narrow and winding but the passing vehicles are extremely careful when over taking, some just staying behind our slow pace mile after mile. Glen often pulls over to let them by. We find it a bit odd that whilst we are in a British country with huge American influence, the distances are measured in Kms and we drive on the left. Oh, add to that their domestic power is 110v. Its a big melting pot of regulations!
After an hour we arrive back to the Naval Dockyard at the furthest point, where we previously visited the museum by ferry. Here we go onto the dock that was specially constructed for the America’s Cup village. Today it’s deserted and sadly totally unused.
But then we make an intriguing find – also deserted, tucked in one corner is the Artemis America’s Cup catamaran, all in pieces on a special trailer. It’s amazing to see it like this, quite shabby with all electronic connections and hydraulic hose connections hanging out of the various pieces of hull and structure, more like an abandoned aircraft than a sailing yacht. And all getting severely corroded.
What a waste to let such a craft slowly disintegrate at the mercy of the elements. It was just a year ago these Formula-1 of race boats were competing with all eyes of the world viewing. Such a shame. But we don’t miss the photo opportunity of Glen standing in one hull cranking the grinder shouting “harder harder, we have to catch the knight (Ben Ainsley) in Land Rover!”
Next stop, coming slowly back towards Hamilton, is Somerset and its pretty bays of Mangrove Bay and Somerset Long Bay. Both with beautiful turquoise water and white sand. We venture into the Cambridge Beaches Resort & Spa, which is like all the other hotels: neat and tidy but very 1980s and deserted of guests. Oddly, with high tide on the beach, all the new looking deck chairs are floating, washing up and down with the breaking waves. Almost like they had been full of guests washed off their chairs and sucked out to sea!
South of Somerset village we take Wreck Road. A cute little one-car-width lane that meanders it’s way around Elys Harbour. Which is another of these picturesque inlets of turquoise water and moored boats, surrounded by lovely houses and gardens.
We continue in search of a resort that we might actually fancy booking into. The next is Pompano Beach Resort. Similar situation: 1980s, deserted and more staff than guests (we did at least see one guest here!). This must surely be the lowest of low season for Bermuda hotels.
Soon we are back to Southampton Parish where we left off yesterday’s island scooter tour! It appears there are no drop-dead-gorgeous 5-star resorts on this island. That’s good in a way, but also makes you wonder if Bermuda has had its days of glory a few decades ago and the show has moved on. Maybe hotel clientele of the past are replaced by the reputed thousands of people who visit from cruise liners these days.
It’s getting chilly now and the sky much darker. So we head direct to the main town of Hamilton. Here we cruise the streets on our noisy 50cc scooter then start a search for food. Even basis sandwiches in a cafe are $20, so we opt for a diner where locals seem to frequent and find a snack that doesn’t break the bank.
In Hamilton we pay a short visit to a plumbing store in search for a safety relief valve. Of course, they don’t have it but offer to order one. “How long to get in”, we ask. “At least a month, maybe 2”. Ooph! We also compare prices for some simple fittings that we bought in USA. Prices are more than double. Good examples of island life, deserted in the middle of the Atlantic!
From Hamilton we take our last unconquered road, North Shore Road, back east towards St. George’s. Busier road and with development all along. As we get closer to home spots of rain start. And as we dive into the cockpit it comes down hard. Brilliant timing eh?
We are just getting settled when we see 2 of Gale’s crew come by, so they get invited in for tea. Apparently they have had a lot of bad luck. On the way out yesterday they got a flood in the hull through the swim platform door. Then the main bilge pump failed so they had to bail by hand pump! So at only 2 miles offshore they decided to return to fix things. There were no places left in the harbour so they anchored. Then 1/2 way in on their dinghy their outboard stopped and they had to row! Now that is one unlucky day. Maybe we won’t upgrade to a Swan-66 after all 🙂
In the evening the expected wind and rain arrives. 20-25 knots at 30deg off the bow, pushing us onto the quay. Glen prays that no grit will get between the large fenders and the hull. Tonight it should be quite a storm, up to gale force winds. Let’s see.