May 3 - June 1, 2008: From Tortola - Bermuda - and Staying in Bermuda
It was finally time to check out of Village Cay Marina and to cast off our lines for our trip to Bermuda. The Caribbean 1500 regatta was scheduled to start later that morning. We wanted to get a head start. So, by 0845, we slowly moved out of our slip, packed our fenders and docking lines away and motored until we passed Virgin Gorda and could turn to our course for Bermuda. We had a broad reach and enjoyed sailing under these conditions with winds in the mid to high teens. We overheard the race committee announce the countdown for the start of the Caribbean 1500 and also a discussion between Romany Life and the race committee. This way, we knew Dietmar was on his way. We tried to call him repeatedly but could not hear him. This was true for the entire trip through we overheard him report his position on the 2x daily check-in with the race committee. Thus, we knew what was going on on his boat. We had hoped that he would be able to see on his AIS where we were (as ours not only receives but also sends) so that he, too, would know that we were ok. It turned out that he and his crew never even thought about doing this though they kept trying to call us on VHF.
The trip up North was more or less uneventful, except for a terrible night with lots of squalls and lightning lightening the sky all over. Juergen avoided most of the squalls. One was so large during my watch that I just could not escape and we were under a deluge of rain and lots of lightning - thank God not too close to us - the eternal fear of every sailor.
We made the entire 845 nm in just short of five days and arrived at the Town Cut of St. George's around 0900 local time after having checked in with Bermuda Harbor Radio while we were still about 25 nm out at sea. Since our Impromptu had already been to Bermuda we only needed to correct their records as to our liferaft (we have a different one than we did in 2001 when we took Impromptu there). They also wanted to record our Iridium phone number. As we approached the Spit buoy, we had to call them again and we were cleared to enter Bermuda.
Right at the Town Cut, some people were waving at us. We waved back until I noticed that it was Steffi and Tim who had arrived from Nassau, Bahamas, the day before. We waved more forcefully for them to notice that we had recognized them, and they started running to meet us at Ordinance Island where the Customs Office is located. Juergen quickly cleared us through so that we could enjoy reconnecting with our friends, having breakfast.
On the trip up to Bermuda, our generator stopped working and our 24V alternator kept discharging despite using the engine. We had been concerned that we might have to start steering or that we might lose our navigation lights, but we had made it all the way to the Customs dock (though our lavatories had stopped working). We quickly got some help through "Bernie", the dockmaster/factotum, who arranged for us a spot to tie up and be able to plug in to recharge our 24V batteries. Tim and Steffi went with us and helped greatly get Impromptu settled stern-to, squeezing in between two other sailboats - a little nerve wrecking but successful in the end, thanks to their help.
From that moment on, we socialized a lot with Tim and Steffi, talked, shared meals, walked around, had lots of fun. We finally found Dietmar and crew on Friday morning and agreed to meet at the Dinghy Club for happy hour. We refueled as the group of the Caribbean 1500 regatta had arranged for an oil truck to come and sell Diesel duty-free. The truck actually even came to us. A gayle was forecast for the night. Lots of boats left this particular marina and took moorings. We and one other boat stayed, but we tied up lots of additional lines and ensured that our boats would stay sufficiently far apart even in a strong gayle. In the end, the wind was not as bad as had been forecast, but another gayle, stronger than this one, was forecast for Monday / Tuesday, possibly into Wednesday. Nobody was leaving Bermuda. This made it difficult for us to find a spot for Impromptu for the time when we both would be in New York. After lots of attempts Juergen finally arranged for Bermuda Yacht Service to pick him up on Wednesday morning at 0700 to transfer Impromptu from her present location to a mooring near them. This way, Juergen will be able to pick up and go to the airport, hopefully, in time for his 12 noon flight to New York.
The three of them had accompanied me to the airport on Sunday, May 11. Tomorrow, they will have to say good-bye to Juergen as they are planning to depart for the Azores as soon as they see a good weather window. I sure hope that they will have a safe trip, not only to the Azores but all the way home.
Friday, May 23rd. Juergen left New York for Bermuda. He had stayed for a week, helping me get organized for the trade fair, manning the booth, charming our visitors, walking around to check out the competition, letting me walk around to check out the competition. We finally also met Phil, the rep of our printing firm who had done all the printing for us. The days were hectic, and we barely made it through dinner - mostly in restaurants - before falling into bed, dead. On Wednesday afternoon, it was all over. We were all relieved to pack up and go back to our "normal lives". We had wanted to visit Luise et al but found out that they had already gone to see Stefie and family in Concord. So we just went to Fairway to purchase some goodies for supper and even had supper in bed, watching TV, just not to have to think. In the morning, Juergen packed and went back to Bermuda. I will remain here for a few days and then, assuming that we will find a good weather window to go home soon, I will rejoin him and sail Impromptu back into Milford. Please keep your fingers crossed that this will all work out.
May 30, one day before my mother's birthday, if she were still alive. No weather forecast was available for us today, but the weather looked reasonably good. Our British friends will be leaving for the Azores tomorrow. Their engine has been repaired. Our 24V alternator has been installed after it had been worked on by another mechanic who attached the old bracket so that it would fit the old mounting bracket on the engine. It worked like a charm, but it was incredibly expensive. Our generator still seems to work, at least for the time being, thanks to Tim and Steffi's "invention". It will need proper repair once we are back home.
We had a joint barbeque last night, with the Coileys, the wonderful British family with three boys (11, 14, and 16). We shared our food, our beverages, a really good time - see a few of our pictures of the evening and other times. Then the two oldest boys and dad sang to Jack's guitar playing - until one of his strings burst - too bad, because it was really fun to listen, sing along. Then they all came onto Impromptu to watch "Peking around Cape Horn", a mesmerizing movie. We kept the kids happy with chocolate and apple juice, the adults with wine. By 2300, they went onto their boat "Double Waters" and we went straight to bed.
This morning, it was raining. No good reason to get up, but we did, had breakfast down below - one of the very few ones - returned Steve's call who indicated that he would come to fix our alternator tomorrow around 10 a.m. In the end, he changed his mind and came today - so much better for us. Now, we are ready to leave, at least "mechanically".
The weather forecast for the next few days looked good yesterday. We wanted to wait for today's and then decide. Just today, they did not have one but promised that they would try to have one again tomorrow. Brad's friend Dave called to get together. We said we would love to but only to the extent we would not be able to leave tomorrow. Well, they were busy today, and we might still depart tomorrow, though Juergen right now is saying that, depending on the weather forecast, we may want to stay just one more day and take a ferry ride into the Dockyards, then a bus into Hamilton, have lunch in Hamilton and then go back to Impromptu so we are well rested before actually getting underway.
May 31st - Saturday. The Coileys are saying good-bye. Their engine problem had been taken care of. Bernie and his wife Lilly came by to present a few gifts (magazines, other reading materials, home baked cakes) to the Coileys. We, others, helped for them to cast off after hugs and promises to visit each other in England / the USA. We believe that they actually will, and we have all intention of visiting with them at some point in time.
We had wanted to leave but Juergen felt that I should at least have been to Hamilton and the Dockyards on this trip. So, after the Coileys had left, we quickly got dressed for a land visit and went to the bus stop, just up the hill. The bus came within 4 minutes or so. I had not been to Hamilton since 2001 when we visited there with Christa. The bus ride brought back lots of memories.... We walked around, found a typical English pub for lunch, had some delicious very un-English food, went to the bus depot for the bus to the Dockyards. That ride is rather interesting and beautiful as one gets to see the Western and Northwestern shore of the island with all its coral reefs, beeches, fancy hotels. The Dockyards, however, are as unimpressive as they have always been. The former marina is non-existent. We heard that the hurricane a few years ago totaled it. New docks have been built nearby but they are generally for smaller boats (largely motor). No wonder they could not accommodate us when we tried (before going to New York). We walked around, tried to see whatever there is to see, except that we did not go into the museum - had been there, done that, a few years back. We waited for the ferry to Hamilton. On weekends, for some strange reason, there is none that goes to St. Goerge's. Too bad, because we really would have loved to go all the way back by ferry.
By the time we got back, we were quite tired as we had walked around a lot. In Hamilton the streets are rather steep. Both our hips / legs were hurting, and we were glad to be able to stretch out in the cockpit, reading, having a nice drink. I had barely prepared a salad for supper when Nick (from Ty Dewey) came by. We invited him for a glass of wine... He left around 2300 as he was waiting for crew that did not show. He later found out that the young man missed his connection due to weather. He was now expected to arrive around noon the next day. We went to bed quickly thereafter. We had met Nick, his wife Gesa (German descent) and their kids "Izzi" from Isabelle, and Max, in Antigua and later on in St. Marten. Gesa and the kids were already in the states visiting with friends while Nick and three crew were planning on taking the boat from Bermuda to Boston where he would reconnect with his family and later even his parents.