A bizarre concoction of plant life: a palm tree rooted next to an old oak; a strange accent from the friendliest of faces, Caribbean with English intonations; a perfectly manicured garden beside an old wooden shack… A dreamland, a film set, a paradise island – Bermuda.
Bermuda is one of those places I could easily say “I’d love to live here”. After an easy 6 day sail up from Tortola, it greeted the four of us with fresh breezes and a spring magic. The trip north had carried us to cooler climes, but I found myself relishing the crispy mornings and chilly nights. It struck me as such a strange assimilation of cultures. A nice balance of clean and clumsy… highlights of imperfections on the otherwise fairytale surroundings. Hitchhiking was easy, the people angelic, the roads and landscape breathtaking. A sailing community where almost all are accustomed to long passages, and a bar scene to prove it. I fell in love. Not a slow, nostalgic, memory infused kind of love, but a fiery, first-sight, head-over-heels variety. Bermuda swept me up, took me out, spun me ’round… then sailed away.
We left on a Friday. Any self-respecting sailor will testify to the dangers of this. An absolutely guaranteed recipe for disaster. You may as well condemn yourself to the fury of the oceans, to a slow, painful sinking death. But well, there were weather windows to be taken and boats to deliver, so humbug to the superstitions, we were off.
Of course, not 3 minutes after leaving the dock – the bow thruster breaks. And so begins a series of unfortunate (though really more hassle than life-threatening) problems. Mr Murphy conspired to set the winds directly on our nose – first 30knts, then 8knots… forcing us to tack towards Scotland, then Florida, then Iceland…
Still, it wasn’t unbearable, and every day was another 24hrs of learning, sailing, experiencing. I learnt how to push a button to unfurl a mainsail… how to flick a switch to wind the electric winch… how to stare at an instrument panel for three hours, blinding my night-vision, a bimeny overhead obscuring any stars or moonlight anyway.
Ok, so a 59ft Hinckley isn’t my kind of boat… but despite all the gadgetry I did of course pick up a few new tricks and the times spent with Willy, Kirsty, and skipper Johan, were good ones. Even with the endless hours of Johan’s music… Once we were underway, he told me: “I listen to all types. Both Abba, and Tom Jones”. Lord help me.
I survived it all though, and on April 27th, close to midnight, we powered into Newport, Rhode Island – THE UNITE STATES OF AMERICA. It had taken 3 years, 3 visa applications, and a few heart-breaks to get back, but finally I had arrived.
Now… to find a bicycle.