Atlantic Crossing Part II Days 25-27: Fish On!

Monday July 14, 2014

I hate to admit to myself, but mostly you, how very easy it is to become incredibly lazy on a passage. The sad part is that it has nothing to do with fear of seasickness or of moving around the boat too much. It’s just your everyday garden variety of ‘It is so much easier to sit here and do absolutely nothing than to put effort into anything at all’. Which is probably why we’ve let ourselves drift along at this sad pace, achieving an average of 2.5 knots of speed. Today though, that had to change. It was time to bring out the spinny. I have to confess, it probably would have come out sooner had it not been for our dinghy blocking the forward hatch where we’d normally feed it out of the v-berth, but now we have to drag it back an extra five feet to feed it out of the other hatch. Either way, we finally got up the motivation today to give it a try.

It wasn’t even until late afternoon that we were able to give it a shot because of our sleep schedules. That’s the real kicker of these passages. By the time both of us are finally awake it’s normally two in the afternoon, and once we have the energy to actually do anything it’s already creeping past four or five. Which gives me a good two hours to be productive before it’s time to make dinner and then go to bed. So just like any other mostly lazy day, the spinnaker was not brought out until five in the afternoon.

*I should quickly mention that even though we’ve passed through about two time zones now, we have yet to change our clocks. Part of it is to do with keeping a schedule that allows Matt to be awake at the right times to download our weather, and the other part is, well, laziness. Whichever way you look at it though, it’s been leaving us with 4:30 am sunrises and 6:30 pm sunsets.

Just as the sun was starting to make it’s evening decent into the sky we were finally running the lines to the cockpit, hoping to get a good 2-3 hours of flying it before it was time for me to go to bed and it would need to be taken down. There is just no way that thing is worth messing around with in the dark.  Winds were currently holding at 6-8 knots, and although raising the spinnaker would not send us flying along, we thought it would be enough to hopefully kick us up to 3.5 knots. Something has to be better than nothing, right? I won’t call what happened next Murphy’s Law, but I’ll just call it Our Luck. We had just gotten the spinny raised and flying perfectly when the wind took a dip. Our 6-8 knots turned to 5-6, and then eventually 3-5. We kept it up for about 30 minutes, hoping a nice breeze would come by to fill it in, but it never did. So back down it came. It looks like we really will be completing this leg of the crossing at 2.5 knots.

 

Oh, I also had the shock of my life when I was on my shift last night and I heard a loud and expected clunk just feet from where I was sitting. I checked all the lines with a flashlight to make sure nothing had snapped, but I couldn’t see anything wrong. It wasn’t until I came back out during daylight that I was able to see fish scales sitting on the vinyl of the dodger. That must have been a pretty good jump! There was no body left on deck though, or trust me, Georgie would have found it.

fish scales on dodger

 

Tuesday July 15, 2014

Did this day actually exist in history? Because I don’t remember anything happening.

fish swimming next to boat

fish swimming next to boat

 

Wednesday July 16, 2014

Today was shaping up to be yet another forgettable day on Serendipity with only 550 miles under our keel since leaving Bermuda just over a week ago. I had my morning coffee, Matt was realizing a few things he messed up while working on boat projects yesterday (look, I did remember something!), and we were just settling into the cockpit and preparing to open our gift de jour. Having set it aside for a quick shower though, I went on deck to dry myself in the early afternoon sun when I noticed a familiar electric blue light passing through the water. “Matt”, I yelled to the back of the boat, “Our mahi is back”. Not the same one that escaped us before I’m sure, but one worth trying to catch nonetheless. Untying our hand reel from it’s normal stationary position at the stern, Matt brought it to the front of the boat as I tried to keep an eye on the large fish that was doing laps around our boat.

Conditions were once again incredibly calm as we drifted along on glass calm waters. As soon as I spotted the mahi was making it’s round from the back of the boat and toward us again, Matt threw the multi-colored lure in the water just in front of it. That fish didn’t even have time to think about what was happening, it just saw something land an inch from it’s face and went to nibble on it. We’d just caught our mahi! The question now was, could we keep it this time?

Without any time to prepare for actually catching a fish since I’d literally spotted it about 90 seconds earlier, we were in no way ready when we landed it. Matt began pulling it in toward the boat while I quickly ran to the back to grab the gaff. Food was beginning to get low and there was no way I was going to let this meal get away. Approaching Matt again with the sharp hook in my hand, he explained that he was going to hand the line over to me while he gaffed the fish and brought it on deck. Hearing about exhausting fights that other fishers have put up with while trying to bring in these powerful fish, I braced myself against the gunnel to keep myself from ending up in the water and getting dragged half way to Horta. Surprisingly though, there was no struggle.

At least, not until we got it on deck. Suddenly it began flexing it’s powerful muscles as it’s massive body started flipping all over the place. I had not been prepared for this and had no idea what to do next. I guess I assumed the gaff would kill it. Matt wasn’t quite sure what to do either and things were not handled well on either side. He began barking orders at me as I’m running around screaming ‘I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know!’. What makes matters even worse is that he can tend to get flustered in these kind of situations where he’s all anxious but can’t tell me what he wants. “Get me the…uh…you know…the…the thing!!”. “What effing thing?! I don’t know what you need!”. “It’s the…uh..just get me a hammer..quick!!”.

So I fly down the steps and into the aft cabin where we now have two bags full of Matt’s tools, and I can not find the hammer in either one. I am now beyond anxious and pissed myself. Stomping (quickly) back up the stairs I yell at him “Your effing hammer is not in the effing tool bag, you need to start putting your s&%t away!”*, as the mahi is partially listening to our heated conversation and partially fighting for it’s life. “Just get me the damn winch handle”, he called back, ready to end this in any way possible. Snatching a spare one out of our combing I ran it up to him, a few hard smacks to the head later, this fish was definitely not going anywhere.

Pulling out our fillet knife and the Cruiser’s Handbook of Fishing, all the while trying to keep Georgie confined to the cockpit, we cleaned our first fish caught by anything other than a pole spear. I’m not counting those barracuda we threw back in the Bahamas, or, tear, that mackerel we mistook for one.  Most of it was bagged and frozen, but I can tell you one thing.  I am having fresh fish for dinner tonight.

*This conversation is actually kind of hilarious because a.) We normally never yell or swear at each other and b.) if we do, it’s Matt yelling at me to put my things away because I never do.

Matt with mahi

filleting mahi

fresh mahi fillets

 

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Atlantic Crossing Part II- Day 26

Finding ourselves running into the center of a stationary high. Here’s to a few more slow(er) days ahead. All is ok. 1746 nm. 35.16 n 54.34 w.

Day 26

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Atlantic Crossing Part II – Day 23

Getting back into star gazing, saw a fireball in the sky thurs night. Today marks halfway bwtn miami & azores. All is ok. 1521 nm. 34.07 n 58.47 w Day 23

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Atlantic Crossing Part II – Day 21

We’re back at it & back to drifting at 1.5 knots in 5 knot winds. Let’s hope we make the azores by aug. All is ok. 1364 nm. 33.04 n  61.32 w. Day 21

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Atlantic Crossing Part II Days 21-24: Light up the Sky

Thursday July 10, 2014

Now that we’re on our third day out we’re finally starting to settle into our schedule again. Falling asleep when we’re supposed to, having dinner ready by 7, and just kind of getting used to the general confinement of having my world extend no further than the 34 feet of this boat. The thing is, after a few days now, it’s beginning to feel like we never stopped in Bermuda for a week and a half. Those 10 days we were nestled safely at anchor? Right now they kind of feel like they never existed and we’ve been cruising this whole time. That we just picked up right where we left off. I’m not sure exactly where the excitement went, or where the feeling that we’re actually getting even just a little bit closer to our destination has gone, but the past day or so has left me like a whining five year old in the backseat during a road trip screaming ‘Are we there yet?!’. And considering that we’re still closer to the US than we are to the Azores, that’s a dangerous cry to make since Matt could still threaten to turn the boat around.

I did have one interesting thing happen on my night shift though. I was sitting out in the cockpit since it was still fairly nice outside (lately I’ve been switching it up between sitting in the cockpit and laying on the settee, coming out for a check every 15 minutes), listening to some podcasts downloaded on our Android. Usually something from Tech Stuff on How Things Work, while sneaking in a TED talk at the end, spacing those out since I only have so many to last me through this passage.

Now, don’t start pelting me with rocks when I say this, but I’ve already gotten a little bored watching the stars. Trust me, they’re beautiful and I’ll always admire and appreciate them, but for the past few nights I can see a shooting star every time I look up. They’re just everywhere. So tonight instead of looking out with wonder at the sky as I normally do, I was keeping my gaze just focused at the stern of the boat since that was the direction I was facing. Then on one of my 360 degree checks, I just happen to be facing the right direction at exactly the right second and saw a very bright light blazing through the sky. It was honestly one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.

It only lasted about a second and a half, but it seriously looked like a ball of flame being tossed through the night sky. Quickly going back to my computer where I had a graph of ‘What’s that light in the sky’, I followed the trail to try and figure out what it was (definitely not a masthead light, haha). I think I’ve narrowed it down to either a bolide or a fireball. I didn’t see it end in a dramatic explosion, unless that’s what I was already seeing. Man I wish I had the option to Google while out at sea.

light in sky

 

Friday July 11, 2014

Did I ever mention that we lost all of our speed just out of Bermuda? I swear, as soon as we were 10 miles out the current that was carrying us so swiftly along puttered out on us, and our 18 knots of wind almost completely died. We ended up only making 100 miles our first 24 hours out. The next day we hit 68. Even though we thought we’d be picking up on some stronger winds once we left Bermuda it appears as if we’re falling into the same 3 knot average that we had the whole way from Miami. Our progress is becoming abysmal once again, but we keep our mouths shut and smile because we know that 2.5 knots is better than 1.5.

This puts us back into our ‘at anchor’ traveling, where even though we are still moving (however incredibly slow), the conditions are so flat and comfortable that it feels as if we were at anchor. Just, without the option of actually getting off the boat. Once again I’ve thrown myself into reading, cooking, and watching movies from our hard drive. I never forget that I’m on a boat, but sometimes where my boat currently sits, or where I’m headed to, escapes me. I have to constantly remind myself that I’m sitting in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean with a destination of a group of islands that few people ever see. That in itself is pretty damn cool, and even if we keep moving toward it at 2.5 knots, I know it will all be worth it in the end.

 

P.S. I broke into the temporary tattoos today. They’re glow in the dark! So cool when you shine a flashlight on it at the end of your night shift and then jump under the covers.

temporary tattoo

 

Saturday July 12, 2014

We may not be going far anymore, but at least we do have the luxury of being ‘at anchor’ again. Which is still better than being slow and uncomfortable in my opinion, so at least we have that going for us. With the ability to freely move about the boat as we please, and with plenty of sun this time to keep our batteries fully charged, we’ve basically been doing nothing lately besides watching tv or movies. Usually an episode or two of Dexter each day, but we’re trying to throw a few movies in there as well.

Which actually leaves me a little worried sometimes that I’m going to pick the wrong movie for this kind of voyage. Not that we have large seas or storms to deal with at the moment, but you never know what’s right around the corner, and I do not want to watch anything in a movie that reminds me just how quickly things can change out here. Probabilities are low that we’ll encounter any kind of epic storm out here, although I’m sure we’ll still get our fair share of the smaller stuff, but that doesn’t mean I need to see it on the big screen while I’m hundreds/thousands of miles out to sea.

So, here is my list of movies that I will not be watching until we settle down for winter without the prospect of moving again for a few months.

  • The Perfect Storm
  • The Life of Pi
  • All is Lost
  • White Squall
  • Forrest Gump
  • Hell, even that scene in the beginning of Frozen

Can you think of any I’ve left off?

dusk on the Atlantic

 

Sunday July 13, 2014

We’ve had an issue the past few nights where what little wind we have will suddenly shift from our beam to our bow, and the boat will suddenly begin tacking itself around in circles. Not a big deal since there’s no big waves or anything worrisome we’re turning ourselves into,  and the only real hassle is forgetting that I’m tethered in to the entrance of the companionway, subsequently being yanked backward as I run out of ‘leash’ while dashing for the wheel to set a new course. It happened to me last night, and it happened to Matt. We reposition until we’re closed hauled and go back to staring into space.

This afternoon though we noticed noticed that our doing doughnuts in the middle of the ocean did happen to create one issue for us. We usually leave a fishing line out in the water all day in the hopes of one day actually catching a fish, and Matt decided to leave it out overnight as well last night. Well, sometime during one of our little spins, it got itself wrapped around the prop. At least that’s what we thought since we could no longer see the line trailing behind us, and it definitely was not coming out of the water upon yanking it.

One of us was going to have to get in the water to cut it free, and even though I had joked the whole way to Bermuda that the next time the wind dropped under 6 knots I’d be in the water scrapping the bottom clean, it was not going to be me. Somewhere along the way I became terrified of jumping into that big blue pool. The wind wasn’t an issue, we were still basically drifting along, and the seas were just barley above a ripple. As Matt prepared himself to get in and cut the line free I began thinking of every possible scenario that could go wrong. We were barley moving, he was going to hang on to a line that was attached to the stern, but it still reminded me of back when we were in the Jumentos and Matt jumped off the boat to fetch his hat that had blown off his head. We had only been moving at 1.2 knots, but it was still fast enough that he couldn’t catch back up to the boat. We were also moving so slow that I couldn’t power the boat enough to turn around and get him. I almost had to use the engine, before the boat finally cooperated and turned enough that he was able to catch up. But this time I don’t even have the backup option of the engine.

Just as I was turning into my mother and asking every kind of safety precaution question possible, certain that Matt was going to lose the rope he was planning to hold on to and drift just far enough away that I couldn’t get him back, he noticed something off the side of the boat. Now that we’d heaved to and were effectively at a stand still, the fishing line had a few moments to float and Matt saw that it was not wrapped around the prop, but only the stainless steel bars for our emergency rudder system. With a little work with the boat hook we managed to free the line and bring it back aboard. No one was going to have to go in the water after all. Thank god. Even at a standstill, and even though I wasn’t the one going in the water, I’m sure I would have found a way to eff up the situation and lose my husband at sea. It would be just my luck.

sunset on Atlantic Ocean

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Atlantic Crossing Part II Days 19 & 20: Fun with Moustaches

cat in fake mustache

Tuesday July 8, 2014

We finally made our escape from Bermuda yesterday. It was one of those things where we could have stayed forever, yet at the same time I was ready for a change of scenery. As much as I wasn’t looking forward to the prospect of an 18 day passage, at best, it was time to go. We’d already gotten one extra day at anchor due to light winds and we couldn’t drag it out any longer.

We let ourselves sleep in one last time, and then with the dinghy still in the water, made our way to the market to do the smallest provisioning we’ve probably ever done in our lives. A head of lettuce, one cucumber, two tomatoes, and a five pound bag of rice. We assume this, along with the dozens of canned goods stashed in the boat, will last us to the Azores. Had we not bought the rice I might be a little worried, but if it comes down to it, I think we can live on that if necessary. Then it was back to the boat for me to finish up the last of the prepped meals and snacks so that once more, I don’t have to do any real cooking until my body gets used to the motion of the ocean. The chili was simmered, cooled, and contained, and then as the last chocolate chip cookie was making it’s way out of the oven, we were already getting the anchor up.

Our first stop on the way out was for fuel. Since leaving Miami we’d probably used about 20 gallons and we definitely wanted to fill them back up before we left.  It was hard to release my vice like grip while handing over the $7/gallon for our fill up, and even worse when I handed over a tip to the attendant, after he made me nearly fall off the boat trying to fish a dollar bill out of the water for him that had fallen out of his pocket. With that done and what’s probably going to be half of our monthly cost just spent on fuel, we were ready to head out into the wild blue yonder again.

Motoring out of the channel we had the main all raised and ready to pick up the 18 knots of wind that were waiting for us on the other side. Finally, some movement in our future! Shutting off the engine we cruised along at a mighty 6-7, although I have to imagine there was a bit of a current working in our favor. 18 days? If we can keep this up it’s going to be more like 12. And I can definitely handle that.

cookies for passage

Georgie on passage

Serendipity at 6 knots

 

Wednesday July 9, 2014

I think I may have mentioned back when we first started this crossing from Miami that we were given little gifts to open every few days from Matt’s mom, something to look forward to on our otherwise boring days. We had been really good with sticking with the dates of when to open our packages ‘Open on day Five, Open on day Twelve’, but when day Seventeen came around I decided to hold off. It was the day before we got to Bermuda and I was already extremely excited about that, so I figured I didn’t need the additional elation of a present at the time. I figured we’d wait until we’d been back on the boat a few days and push it back, opening it when day Twenty Two came around, therefore leaving ourselves the added cushion of extra presents when this crossing lasts over 37 days, if it happens to. Matt, ever the stickler for playing by the rules, did not like the fact that we did not open it when we were supposed to and as soon as he found out that we were now three (passage) days behind on opening it, forced me to dig into it earlier than I had planned.

Now, we love the stuff that’s been in our other packages: puzzle books, coloring books, stickers, ect. But this one happened to be right up my alley and totally made my day. It was full of beauty tween ‘beauty’ supplies that I’m just as thrilled to receive even now that I’m in my 30′s. Bright shaded crayons to color my hair, mud face masks, stick on nail art, and temporary tattoos. I could really have some fun with this. Rocking back to my early 90′s self, I can pull a Jennifer Gardner in ’13 Going On 30′ where I’ll have a full evening of pre-pubescent beauty routines where my hair will end up six different colors just to see what it looks like, and my nails will be Bedazzled to the point of suffering from temporary blindness any time the light hits them. The best part of it all is that I can actually look over to my husband and quote, “Matty!! Hey Matty, come here!!” as I get ready to break out my Michael Jackson ‘Thriller’ moves. Geez, …I really need to stop with the obscure movie references.

One other thing that was included in the present, fun for the whole family, was a package of three stick on mustaches, each with a different theme or look.  There was the Rascal, the Outlaw, and another that Matt was quick to pop on his face.  I was doubled over laughing so hard that I barley had time to get the camera out to capture the moment.  I’m sure we wasted a good hour of our time as we peeled off and stuck on new mustaches, playing the roles of the different looks we were offered.  As Georgie followed us around the boat while we were in hysterics, we decided there was no way we could leave her out of the fun as well.  A cat with a moustache.  Hmmm….I might have to try the hair coloring crayons on her next.

Matt with fake mustache

Jessica with fake mustache

cat with fake mustache

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Last Days in Bermuda

Monday July 7, 2014

St. George Yacht Club, Bermuda

I’m going to kill my camera.  I really am.  Even though I’m the one I should be mad at since I’m sure it’s 100% my fault for not knowing how to work it properly.  First of all, ever since I got my new Sony NEX-5T back in Miami, I’ve been having issues where I need an update that I can’t get on Photoshop for it to read my RAW images.  So ever since our first stop in Bimini, I’ve been using JPEG photos on the site.  Not my number one wish, but whatever, it works for now.  At least I shoot in both and still have RAW images saved so I can go back to them later if I want.

The kicker for me is that last night we heard a celebration going on in the town square of St. George, so we went to check it out.  Bringing my camera in, and shooting in RAW and JPEG, I took some great photos, knowing that I’d be using the JPEGs to go up on the site.  Now I go back to them and get this error message: ‘Photo viewer doesn’t support this file format, or you don’t have the latest updates to Photo Viewer’.*  Come on!  It’s not like I have the easiest access to a good internet connection these dates to get those updates!  So, at the moment, I’ve had to go waaaay outside the box, taking screen shots of my RAW photos that I can only view on my computer but do nothing else with, paste them to Paint, save as JPEG, and then I can worth with them to edit or upload to the site.  Geez.  I really need to get my s#!t together and figure out this problem once and for all.

But..other than my issues with the camera, everything has been great here.  As I was mentioning, we went into the square last night when we heard a live band playing and wanted to see what the celebration was for.  Since a crowd was gathering around the yacht club we wandered over there as well and found the floor of the office decorated with intricate flower patterns and statues of Jesus placed here in there.  Then I remembered that when we had been walking around earlier we’d seen a procession of kids all dressed up, and thinking back to the elementary aged girls in their frilly white dresses, I put two and two together.  This must be an annual celebration for First Communion.

With all the church related stuff done for the day it was now time for everyone to party, and they were going all out.  In the center of the square was a large stage with a band playing, what had originally drawn us in.  It was a group of about five men playing covers of songs from the 70′s, 80′s, and 90′s, and they were pretty good.  In front of the information center was a long tent with tables selling all kinds of food.  We had actually been up for buying something for once but found out we got to the party just a little too late and all the good stuff was sold out.  We could still buy beer or other drinks, but I had already packed a single serve wine in my purse to bring to the event with me.  Tee hee, my parents have taught me well.

When the music finished it was time to raffle off a Vespa, and Matt and I were caught quite off guard when the gentleman on stage began speaking in something that was definitely not English.  It was something that neither of us were familiar with, and after trying to pick out familiar sounding words here and there we finally gave up and asked a family who was sitting on the curb behind us, and they told us it was Portuguese.  Wow, it sounds a lot different than I expected it to.  Lots more shhhh sounds.  I always thought it would sound very French.  But it looks like something we’d better prepare ourselves for since the Azores are part of Portugal and we can foresee a lot more of it in the future.

St. George Harbor, Bermuda

St. George Yacht Club, Bermuda

band in town square

St. George town square, Bermuda

celebration in St. George Bermuda

 Although we originally planned on getting our butts in gear and leaving today, the weather was showing no kind of wind whatsoever.  So instead of bobbing around 10 miles outside of Bermuda waiting for it to fill in, we decided to do it comfortably at anchor.  Which also meant we had one more day on our hands to go have fun.  Wanting to enjoy Tobacco Bay once more, sitting out and enjoying the sun and water, we packed another bag today as well as our snorkel gear and made our way out there.

We had barley put our bags down on one of the flat black rocks surrounding the bay before we were grabbing out our snorkeling gear and getting into the water.  We hadn’t expected to see much in these waters, but even as soon as we got in there were a bunch of hand sized white fish with black dots on their tail that are hard to see unless you’re in the water because they blend in with the sand.  Wanting to see more though, we kicked between some of the rocks and out of the protected little bay into open water.  Although we hadn’t been expecting much in these areas either, we were pleasantly surprised to find an abundance of tropical fish out here, probably better than most of the areas we’d snorkeled in the Bahamas this year (with the exception of Bimini).

Staying close to the tall rocks, as that’s where any of these fish seemed to be, I could tell we were both silently cursing ourselves for not breaking our pole spear, although I’m not entirely sure if that’s allowed here.  I was having a great time out in the water, having not really enjoyed it for about two months now.  As I was thinking to myself, ‘This is absolutely perfect, and the best part is, there’s no barracuda lurking behind me’, I turned my head just in time to see, yup, a big ‘ol barracuda staring me down.  Damn it!, we can never seem to escape those things!

It wasn’t much longer after that when we swam back into the safety of the bay and I lost Matt for a bit when I became entranced watching a parrot fish that was almost as big as me.  When I did find him again he was skirting an area just below one of the tall rocks that people were jumping into the bay from.  Getting back to our spot on the rocks we had another lunch and relaxed a little before packing it in for the day.  Well Bermuda, you’ve been really good to us.  I think we’re going to miss you, unintentional stop.

Matt at Tobacco Bay, Bermuda

Tobacco Bay

Jessica at Tobacco Bay, Bermuda

 

*I just realized the issue of why I couldn’t get the photos from last night to come up in JPEG.  Because of my memory card swap, since my normal one stopped working in Hamilton, I had different photos with the same number when they uploaded.  The RAWs uploaded fine, but when the second set of JPEGs uploaded with the same number, it wiped out the first set.  At least that’s one issue figured out.

 

 

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Picturesque St. George Bermuda

Sunday July 6, 2012

St. George Bermuda

So we may have slipped back into our lazy habits of just sitting on the boat for the past few days, completing other small projects here and there, and still enjoying eight (or ten) hours of sleep each night.  But since I didn’t share all the amazing photos from our first tour of St. George, I figured now would be the perfect time.  Enjoy!

Water Street, St. George, Bermuda

St. Peter's Church, St. George, Bermuda

cemetery St. Peter's Church, Bermuda

unfinished church, St. George, Bermuda

Tabacco Bay, Bermuda

Tabacco Bay, Bermuda

Fort St. Catherine, Bermuda

Fort St. Catherine, Bermuda

random fort, St. George, Bermuda

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Hamilton, Bermuda

Friday July 4, 2014

Hamilton Bermuda

Image taken from here.

Can you believe that we got ourselves to the picturesque capitol of Bermuda today and the memory card on my camera decided it didn’t want to work for me?  When I didn’t have a backup along to switch it out to?  I swear…me and cameras this year.     But that’s not either here nor there, because I can just steal represent other photographs that I’ve found of the area online.

Even though this country is incredibly expensive and we’re trying to keep costs as low as possible, we’d hate ourselves if we only saw the small area of St. George where we’re anchored.  Luckily there’s a visitor’s center just a few hundred feet from the dingy dock, full of brochures and bus schedules.  With the day passes ranking at $25, we started to wonder how even the locals can afford to live on this island, but we were still willing to pay the $4/person each way to get ourselves to Hamilton and back.

Stepping onto the empty bus at the very first stop along the line, we wound through the cute little towns and villages of Bermuda, picking up more and more people along the way and we passed gorgeous turquoise waters off to our side.  The city of Hamilton must have been a major destination for anyone between the two towns since we let no one off the bus, but only kept taking on more people until every seat was full and the aisle was crowed with people grasping to handles hanging from the ceiling.  Just as it felt like we could take on no one else without busting at the seams, we pulled into a populated metropolis that could be none other than Hamilton.  As we were let off at the main bus terminal, we randomly wandered down whatever street was in front of us, taking in the upscale buildings and parks that lay on each side.

Hamilton  Bermuda

Image taken from here.

The part of Hamilton we seemed to have found ourselves in was fairly upper class, mostly geared toward the tourists with offices sprinkled in between restaurants and bars.  Walking to a dead end we turned toward the water, and followed that street until we heard our stomach start grumbling and realized we forgot to pack a lunch and would need to find a suitable place to eat.  Or maybe I purposefully forgot to pack even as much as a granola bar, ensuring we’d have to go out to eat.  This place must have a McDonald’s right?  It’s now been four weeks since our last fix, and I wanted to make sure we got it while we were here.

Except, there was no McDonald’s!  What the??  That was almost the whole reason I came out to this side of the island.  Fear not though, we still got our greasy food fix.  Backtracking a little bit, and getting kind of lost in the process, we found the KFC we’d spotted after just getting off the bus, and rushed inside where Matt was able to pay $10 for a value meal, and I was just happy that the $5 kids meal was enough to fill me.  Fiddling with my camera a little more and cursing at it for still not reading or formatting to the memory card, I vowed to still take photos to my camera’s hard drive and pull them off later by connecting it to a USB.  (Spoiler alert, it didn’t work)

Since neither of us had made of plan or list of things to see that day, as we aimlessly wandered by the waterfront again we pulled out our guidebook that we’d picked up at the visitor’s center.  Matt thought that Fort Hamilton sounded cool, and since I wanted to see how they compared to all the ones we’d come across in St. George, I told him to lead the way.  Which actually wasn’t very clear on our map, and we may have gotten ourselves lost in a few residential areas before finding our way again.  Beautiful homes on this island though.  And all with blooming flowers that one just has to stop and sniff.

After working up quite a sweat in the heat of the day to make it to the top of the hill that leads to Fort Hamilton, we walked in to find that it was being set up for an event.  Everywhere across the main lawn were round tables being spread with white tablecloths, and red and white decorations lining the perimeter.  Of course, it’s the 4th of July.  We’d heard on the radio about dinner events being held here and there, this must have been one of them.  And by the looks of it, it was going to be fancy.  Our sweaty red faces did not fit in at all and we made beelines for the public restrooms to rinse them off.

Coming back into the blazing sun, Matt had found a long dark staircase that looked like it let to an underground tunnel, and we figured we could take rescue from the heat down there.

Fort Hamilton 2

 Image taken from here.

 

It did help to cool us a few degrees, but most importantly, took the sun off our faces.  Without a guide or any signs leading us, we blindly wandered through dim corridors until there was literally a light at the end of the tunnel.  This fort has a mote as well, we had crossed a bridge over it while entering.  But now it looks as if we had just found ourselves inside the moat, surrounded by incredibly tall stone walls in an area that had now been turned into a garden.

This is the point that I’m incredibly mad that I haven’t been able to recover any photos from my camera’s hard drive (Are they even there? My camera didn’t stop me from shooting w/o a memory card), because this place was like something you’d see in the movies.  Tall vines of ivy wound up the stone as they stretched for the sun, and exotic trees with head sized leafs and gnarly roots lined the dirt path as bright orange flowers bloomed on the tree across from you.  It was like a scene from Tomb Raider.  The late afternoon sun was transforming it into one of the most picturesque areas I’ve ever seen, and we could have spent the rest of the day in that one spot.

fort-hamilton moat

Doesn’t quite show the best parts of it, but you can get the idea.

Image taken from here.

 

Dragging ourselves topside once more after we walled the full circumference of the fort, we strolled the grounds a little longer as the 4th of July celebration continued to be assembled.  We climbed the stairs for close up looks at the mega sized cannons, stared down at the view of the bay below, and even contemplated playing a game of horseshoes that had been set up for the party that evening.  Following a different route out and admiring a few more gardens on the way, we decided to sneak one last look at the festivities being set up and wandered through the wide expanse now covered with fully set tables and awnings of red white and blue cloth.  Admiring what the $75 ticket price could buy you, according to the radio announcement, while walking back out we saw the catering companies notebook sitting on a table with the front sheet stating ‘David Clark’s 75th Birthday Celebration’.  Huh…??  This isn’t a public event…but a private party?  What the?!  Who do you have to know to pull those kinds of strings?  What kind of money do you have to have to pull off a celebration that’s better than any wedding we’ve seen…for your 75th birthday?  And most importantly…..can we come David?  Please!!!

Fort Hamilton 3

Fort Hamilton 1

Fort Hamilton 4

 Above images taken from here

 

Faced with the option of yet more walking around, we couldn’t bare the thought. Getting back down the hill and into town, we popped into a grocery store, somewhat just to see if prices were any cheaper here (They weren’t, it cost $5 for a 2 liter of Pepsi), but mostly to buy ourselves a cold pop so we could then bring them over to Queen Elizabeth Park and sit with them as we regained the ability to move our limbs.  This is a very beautiful park, named after Queen Elizabeth after her Diamond Jubilee in 2012, formerly named Par-la-Ville, after Bermuda’s first Postmaster’s home.

Under a very large tree with orange blooms at the center of the park, we sat and sipped our ice cold Cokes and watched the businessmen pass us by in their work attire of Bermuda shorts, tall socks, and blazers.  From restaurants just down the hill we could hear the World Cup being broadcast, patrons raising their bottles of beer in the air any time their team made a good play.

When I felt up to moving again, as Matt stayed on the bench and busied himself with our guidebook, I walked the grounds of the park and admired flowers, statues, and a very nice coy pond not too far from where we had been sitting.  I’ll say one thing for Bermuda.  Other than the extremely high cost of living that we could never afford, even as tourists on holidays, this country has yet to disappoint.  It is clean, the people are extremely friendly, and there are take your breath away sights everywhere you look.  Maybe that total lack of wind and the need for a break from drifting sailing was a blessing in disguise.  If I found out later how amazing this place was, and that we missed it, I could never forgive myself.

Par-la-ville park

Image taken from here.

par-le-villepark1

 Image taken from here.

Stephanie at Elizabeth Park

 Our friend Stephanie, walking up to Elizabeth Park, last year.

Image taken from s/v Rode Trip.

 

 

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This is No Vacation

Wednesday July 2, 2014

sunset St. George's Harbor, Bermuda

As much as I would like our time here in Bermuda to be all relaxing and rum drinks, unfortunately there is a lot of work to be done as well.  Since we did happen to land ourselves in an amazingly beautiful area that deserves lots of exploring though, we decided to break up our days and do off and on boat work versus having fun.

Yesterday I hauled our overflowing bag of dirty laundry to the laundromat.  Even though we’d basically been living in athletic gear the entire passage, wearing clothes for three days at a time before changing them out (although who’s going to complain about the smell?, it’s just us), we were kind of lax on some of our chores in Miami, and laundry fell to the bottom of the list.  Which meant that on top of the past three weeks of dirty clothing and bed sheets, we had about two weeks worth of clothes from before the passage to deal with as well.

While Matt tackled some minor projects back on the ‘Dip, I loaded myself down like pack mule with about twenty pounds of clothes, sheet, and blankets between two bags, and set out into town.  I had spied a laundromat the previous day on our little hike about the area, so at least I knew where to go before the extra weight could reduce me to a mess of tangled limbs and nylon bags in the street while trying to hunt one down.  I did find out that things are done a little differently here, and instead of just inserting coins into a machine, I had to spend $5 on a card to then load money onto, which then gets inserted into the machine and deducts from my balance.  Not really an ideal situation for someone who is only going to be here once, but I didn’t have many other options.*

Once all the clothes were in the middle of a rinse and repeat, I took off down the road to check out a few of the markets to gauge pricing in the area and we could see what kind of costs we might expect to fill our pantries again.  As soon as I stepped into the first market it became apparent that our pantries would remain at low until we reach the Azores.  In only looking for basic items, this is what I found we’d be paying.  Head of lettuce: $3.50; quart of milk: $2.50; pound of chicken: $7.50; loaf of bread: $5.00; 5 lb bag of rice: $10.  At least this means we’ll finally be able to go through all the items we provisioned for while heading to the Bahamas.  And I know for a fact that there’s a can of pear halves I bought in St. Augustine that still need to be eaten.

Today, which on our ‘schedule’ was supposed to be a fun day, kind of slipped into a work one.  After sleeping in entirely too late (I’m using the excuse that I’m still catching up on two weeks of sleep), I didn’t have much drive to get off the boat.  Once the coffee was made and enjoyed we were now into lunch time, and the prospect of exerting enough energy to get off the boat and do something enjoyable was too much.  The settee, a bowl of popcorn, and an afternoon matinee sounded much more appealing.  That’s not to say we could get away without doing some kind of work though, to allow ourselves two fun days in a row then.

Remember how I mentioned we got a little lax about a few projects back in Miami?  Cleaning the bottom of the boat was another one that kind of slipped through the cracks.  A bad one.  One of the last things you want when making a 3,000 mile journey is a bunch of barnacles on the bottom of your boat slowing you down after having spent one month sedentary in a hot tropical climate.  I’m pretty sure it took at minimum a half knot off our speed during this passage, and possibly up to one.  That bottom right now is nasty.  During one bored day on passage we actually put my camera in it’s waterproof case and shot video as we dunked the camera below the water line to see exactly what we were dealing with.  No wonder all those fish attached themselves to us like a reef…..we looked like one!

Probably due to the fact that every time Matt has gone about cleaning our bottom before and the project had taken him all of one hour, I thought that with the both of us working on it we could knock it out in 45 minutes and spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing.  Sigh.  You silly, silly girl.

What happened in reality is I spent the next two and a half hours shriveling up like a prune in salt water while using muscles I haven’t used in quite a long time, and pushing myself to the limits on breath holding capabilities.  It was sad, really.  At the water line I was doing ok as long as I could hold on to something to keep the current from pushing me away from the boat.  But as soon as I tried to get the under body, my body would only allow me to stay down for three scrapes before scrambling back to the surface to gulp fresh air.

I have to say, I don’t think I’ve ever pushed my body as hard as I did today while cleaning that bottom.  Even though I wanted to give up very early and make Matt finish the project himself, I stuck it out and cleaned one whole side myself.  I give major props to Matt for doing it himself every few months in the past, as well as anyone else out there who is stuck with this horrendous project.  Unless you’re like our friends Ren and Ashley who can hold their breath for five minutes at a time.

When I finally finished and was able to climb back on to the topside of Serendipity, I was like the living dead.  I could barley move, and bumped about the cabin in a zombie like state.  An immediate nap was in order, and now hours later, I am finally regaining the status of a normal conscious person.  Just in time to enjoy a glass of wine and this sunset.  So I guess it’s not all bad.

 

*My card was purchased back from the owner once he found out I was a sailor in for a one time visit.  He may have actually run the barber shop next door…….very nice guy.

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