On the fifth day we approached the 22-mile-long landmass that is Bermuda. The island stretches along an northeast-southwest, with extensive reefs along the north and southwest shores. Off the southern shore, it’s deep. Our route paralled this coast just a couple miles off the beach and off soundings, as well. St. George’s, the island’s yacht harbor, is at the island’s northeasternmost point, so our plan was to parallel the south coast then take left turn into the harbor.
Anyone who has ever made the passage to Bermuda will recall that the harbor is managed like an airport with a harbor control official who talks each vessel in after interviewing the skipper on his boat, crew and safety equipment. A powerful radar atop the Gibbs Hill lighthouse tracks vessels.
Our entry would be well after midnight, and so it should not have been a surprise that our controller had a hint of a late night DJ in his radio manner. The accent was British of the ironic, Monty-Pythonesque sort. The harbor was well marked, and the moon illuminated even the unlit buoys; with Reuben Trane at the helm entry through the narrow mouth was a synch. Our controller guided us to an anchorage and bade us good night, saying “well done” in that ironic tone of his.
We dropped the hook at around 3:30 a.m.; Sass and I had a cocktail on deck while enjoying the scent of land. Our journey had taken 133 hours, close to exactly 5 ˝ days. Semper Fi had averaged 6.5 knots. The next morning we took on 311 gallons of diesel (about $1,200 worth), which meant we had arrived with a 35 percent reserve. Trane won the pool by for having made the best prediction of what our fuel consumption would be. For his prize, the crew graciously accepted a round of drinks on him.
As you can see, by having read this far, we made the passage to Bermuda like gentlemen-no puking, no wet butts, daily showers and clean clothes; we ate at the table with knives and forks like our mothers taught us. Sass and I flew back to the states, leaving Trane and Van Dozier to doublehand Semper Fi to New England. Their trip proved a little bumpier, but that story I’ll leave to Reuben…