Captain’s Log – St George’s, Bermuda

Well, I suppose the first thing to point out is that Bermuda is not one island. Bermuda is many islands, maybe seven or eight larger islands and myriad tiny cays and islets. Lots of bridges to most of them. About 15 miles end to end it’s all not so big but plenty people, maybe 65,000. BIG coral reefs to the NW which in low or poor visibility cand be quite hazardous when approaching from that direction in watercraft. Many lagoons.

Sailing this ship through the cut into St George’s harbour (and it really is a “cut”, cut through ancient coral) it seems awfully tight. But ships far larger than our 284-ton Picton Castle pass through easily, up to 20,000-ton cruise ships the pilot told me – now, that would be tight! But still lively work for the folks at the helm of our little barque. Pilot Captain Rico brought us in safe and sound. The Pilots of Bermuda have always been so good to Picton Castle and other visiting tall ships. So has Bermuda Yacht Services.

We went to anchor at a spot called Powder Hole off Ordinance Island where a three masted schooner was laying and later the Spirit of Bermuda, their own training ship for the youth of Bermuda, and a fine ship doing great work she is. Plenty of ex-Picton Castle crew have sailed in her. After getting cleared in with Customs & Immigration I took a look at the weather and decided to go alongside Penno’s Wharf. Looked like a rough nasty night ahead with strong squalls and thunderstorms. Did not want us dragging anchor all over the place in a blow. Good job we did. Blew hard much of the night with torrential rains. The island needed the rain, but we did not.

Bermuda is so pretty. The waters are gorgeous, the houses low and multi-coloured with the limestone whitewashed roofs for catching rainwater. Beautiful little ancient coral bound coves with the famous pink sand of Bermuda. Dawson, Liam and I went over to Tobacco Bay for a snorkel – the water is a lot cooler than the Caribbean. An excellent aquarium and natural history museum, a good bus system to get around.

Work on the ship included ongoing sailmaking, trying to finish up our new laid out sails; always painting, replacing the deck of the main salon shower, renewing bolts for the port midships bitt which got torqued out of shape in surge at Luderitz, and provisioning. Here Farmer Tom Wadson got us all local grown onions, potatoes, watermelon, peppers and tomatoes. Best stuff you can get anywhere.

Friends and former crew of the ship came by. Kembe, now working on harbour boats and who sailed long in Picton Castle and Danmark dropped by. Current crew member Zoe’s family and Paulina Brooks had met us at the cut with lots of signs and waving. CAPT Alan Brooks RN, Steve and Suzanne Hollis of Ocean Sails, Marty Amick of the new BermudAir dropped by. We had a small get together for all the above onboard. Zoe’s family made off with Zoe for the duration. Friends of theirs took it upon themselves to do ALL the ship’s and crew’s laundry. Noble charity of the highest order. Daunting as well, I expect.

We got the news about the damage that Hurricane Beryl did to the Grenadines. Very, very bad. In under an hour, as it passed over swiftly, it’s 150 knots per hour winds smashed these places to bits. Carriacou, Petite Martinique, Union, Mayreau and probably Canouan, all smashed up badly. Bequia, St Vincent and Grenada got dusted up as well, but these little islands mentioned got badly hurt. They need help, and need it now. Many friends with boats in upper islands are organizing relief as I write. It looks like bombs went off inside every house on these islands.

We sailed into St George’s last Tuesday and now on Saturday, July 6, 2024, its time to sail again. Many folks waiting for us on the dock next Saturday in Lunenburg. The weather looks good enough. So, this morning we clear out, take in the gangway, hoist the skiff, single up the hawsers, fire up the main engine, take a pilot and out the cut we steam. To set sail and steer north the 720 miles back to Nova Scotia, crossing the warm Gulf Stream and into the cold waters of the higher latitudes. Get your woollies out, soon. Crossing the north wall of the Gulf Stream can be a shock with temperatures dropping 20 degrees in an hour or two. Best thing is to avoid a north-easter in the Gulf Stream. Those make for nasty conditions.

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