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Towards the end of June 2012, Myself, my son David, and a good friend of ours Mark, set sail for Bermuda. Unfortunately shortly after we arrived Mark had to return to the real world. My daughter, Rachel, however flew in to meet us. Rachel is not big on sailing and was defiantly not up to ocean sailing so she opted for the faster and more comfortable option of air transportation. We all stayed on the boat in St. George’s harbor for our entire stay. The first couple of nights were spent on the hook but when the anchor dragged the second day (I think the line was hit by another boat.) we decided to move to the town dock. This proved to be a good move as strong winds out of the South were predicted and the anchorage was not well protected from that direction.

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We cleared customs and anchored at 3  in the morning on June 24th, but were still up early as the excitement of exploring a new town made sleep hard. Rachel had not arrived yet so it was just the three guys for the first few hours. We quickly located the dinghy dock on the north side of the town dock. We tied up and set off on foot to explore our new world. It was a bright clear Sunday morning so we were not surprised to find the town mostly empty of locals and tourists. We quickly looked around St. Georges as all the shops were closed so there were few distractions. The town is small and  filled with quaint little shops it is very clean and the buildings painted with colorful pastels. Although not officially in the tropics it has the feel of a tropical island for sure. Narrow streets weave in and out, up and down the small hills that the town is built on and around.

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We hiked up a hill towards the other side of the island to scope out our new territory. Passing the Unfinished Church, a historical site, we arrived on a hill on the Northwest corner of the island. From here we could get a good view of this end of the island and St. Georges town. To our north was Fort St. Catherine and to our south was St. Georges harbor. We followed the road around the hill and back down through a residential neighborhood back into a now awakening St. Georges.

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It is at this point I should tell the story of the missing wallet. For some reason my wallet decided to go into hiding as soon as we arrived in Bermuda. I know I had it when we left, as the last thing we did was to buy fuel and both Mark and David saw me get back on board with it in my hand. Normally I will keep it in the chart table while sailing but after searching the boat high and low it was nowhere to be found. So here I was in a foreign country miles from home and no wallet. I did have a passport for ID and a couple of credit cards I kept in my files so all hope was not lost. I mention this now as we next went off to rent some scooters to pick up Rachel at the airport. We also wanted to do some more in depth exploring. I did not think I would be able to rent the scooters without my drivers license. But to prove we were no longer in the US with strict rules and regulations the guy renting the scooters never even asked to see a drivers license! In fact even with David the agent simply asked if he was 18 and when David nodded yes, the agent  smiled and handed him the keys. Yeah this was not Avis for sure. In fact the only thing the agent wanted to know was where we were staying. When we told him on a boat he only asked for the name of the boat. That and a credit card was all it took to ride off with 3 scooters.

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The wallet only returned when we got back to the US. Before we even tied up I found it in a pair of shorts I wore and then for some reason put back in with the clean clothes, go figure. I searched all the dirty clothes but why search the clean clothes, it would not be there right?

So we got the scooters and went off to get my daughter from the airport. I am sure she was not expecting a motley crew on little scooters to pick her up but thats what you get when you travel with me! Then there was the driving on the wrong side of the road, rather small roads at that! It was an adventure for sure and the whole time she rode with me I kept hearing her from behind “Slow down! you are going  TOO FAST! Truth of the matter was we were being passed by locals left and right! We did notice driving around, that everyone was blowing their horns all the time. I at first thought this a bit rude but soon figured out the the locals were blowing their horns not in anger but to say hello to folks they passed. A beep and a wave with a smile and they were off! Nobody seemed to get too stressed over us tourists clogging the small winding roads, they would simply whiz past with a friendly beep and wave. Of course this could be terrifying to us us as they passed us in turns with oncoming traffic. I later learned our US Health  insurance would not have covered us there, but thankfully we did not get run off the road and need it.

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Mark bought us all dinner at a local restaurant which was very kind of him. The food was good but we quickly learned that prices for almost everything here were very high.  This was particularly true of food and dinning out.  Most dinning out cost double what you pay for similar in the states. Cruising sailors should keep this in mind and not plan on provisioning here. What we did buy in the way of fresh goods for the return trip went bad very quickly. I suppose it has to come from the mainland so is not really that fresh to start with. We did learn that the local grocery store in St. Georges will offer a 10% discount to cruising boats. Every little bit helps.

The next day mark set off to explore on his own taking one of the scooters. I with my kids went over to Tobacco cove to do some snorkeling. It was a bit crowded with tourists but we had a good time. When we returned after lunch the boat was no longer where we left her anchored out! A quick search and we found her on the rocks at the edge of the beach. Still floating upright with a rising tide, we thankfully were able to get back into deep water. Some locals came to our aid for which I am very thankful. At this point we decided to move onto the town dock where a nice Dutch couple graciously allowed us to raft next to them as all space was filled. Eventually we moved to an open spot when one became available. Dockage here is very reasonable at $1.00 per foot per night but there is no power or water available. You are however right in the heart of town and within easy walking distance to a grocery, laundry and the many shops and restaurants in town.

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Rachel trying to fit in with the other tourists managed to get rather sunburned the first day out. Bless her heart she was so red. We decided to find some inside activities to keep her out of the sun for a bit. Bermuda has lots of great museums and other places to visit should it rain or as in our case need to remain out of the sun. We started out by visiting a couple of the nearby forts (and there is always a fort nearby no matter where you are.)  The history here is interesting and there are lots of places to take it in. Some charged to get in but most were free and some not even attended by curators. We also visited the caves. Yeah who knew but Bermuda has some really cool caves to visit. Cool being the key word as it was a nice break from the heat above ground. There is also a nice aquarium and zoo that offers a break from the outside sun.

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We spent the next day exploring the island a bit on the scooters. This is a fun way to get around but as mentioned you do have to be careful. Rachel wanted to try some more snorkeling again so we set off for Elbow beach. This is a lovely south facing beach that is said to have some great snorkeling but unfortunately is was a bit too rough out this day and we ended up just exploring the beach on foot. The road to this beach was almost impossible to find as it looked more like a driveway than a road but with the help of the friendly natives we managed to get there. I will say this has got to be one of the friendliest places I have even been. Everyone was so nice to us and always willing to offer direction or even just chat a bit if you felt like it.

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In the evening Rachel and David went out to explore some of the night life. This was a bit of a treat for them as the drinking age is 18 here and we were docked within easy walking distance of many pubs. I think they enjoyed this taste of freedom but like me were a bit worn out from the days exploration so did not stay out too late.

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On Rachel’s last day with us we decided to explore the east end of the island. As we had returned the scooters we got a day pass for the ferries and buses. This is a great deal as you can get a single pass good for the whole day  that will work for any ferry or bus. We took the ferry around the north shore to Royal Navel Dockyard where there is a Navel museum and the the governors estate.  This side of the island had a different feel to it. This is where the cruise ships dock and it was a bit more crowed and I think not quite as friendly. I will admit the behavior of many of the tourists was not the best. We toured the fort and museum , had lunch and then took another ferry over to Hamilton, Bermudas capitol.

Hamilton is the bustling central city of the island. It is the seat of government as well as being the hub of finance and commerce for the island. It is also filled with tourist shops and other forms of entertainment. This is where you see the business men strolling the streets in the famous Bermuda shorts and knee socks. Although I am not much of a  city person, Hamilton was not bad and Rachel wanted to check it out. We did walk around a bit and stopped in the beautiful Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity for a quiet reflective visit.  Bermudas towns are full of little well manicured parks. These are often tucked away but when you find one it is worth taking the time to explore. We did not that all the parks seemed to have chickens running around in them. When we asked a local about this the reply was fairly simple….”We do not have squirrels we have chickens”  Made perfect sense to me and no we did not see a single squirrel.

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By the afternoon we were ready to return and located a bus stop to head back to St. Georges. It amazes me the bus drivers manage to navigate the narrow winding roads, but they seem to do it with no trouble. It is a fun way to get to see the the island as the drivers weave around the winding roads, stopping every few miles to load or discharge passengers, beeping all the time at friends they see along the way. A cute thing about the bus horns is the have the high pitch beep similar to the scooters, one would not picture a bus if just hearing the horn.

The next day Rachel flew back to the states and David and I began to get ready for our return trip. Bermuda is often said to be not a good place for cruising sailors to visit. I am not sure why some cruising guilds do not like this little Island but we found it to be well worth the trip. For the most part everyone we met to was very friendly, and helpful. If I have the opportunity to visit this little oasis in the Atlantic again I surely will.

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About the author: Capt. Wayne

 

Boat builder, Sailor, Surveyor, and freelance writer.