Another year and another trip to back to Bermuda. Lyall, Mia & I – the ARC Europe ‘Yellowshirt’ team – arrived on island yesterday. Lyall and Mia will be familiar faces to the BVI fleet, while I was on hand in Portsmouth for the folks leaving the continental USA.
It never ceases to amaze us, this tiny island in the middle of the ocean. We were reminded yesterday of why we like it here so much. The colors on Bermuda don’t make sense. On a sunny day, with the pastel paint on the houses around St. Georges and the electric blue water around the shallow reefs and pink beaches, it really looks imaginary. Alice in Wonderland type stuff. Inspiring.
The first boat is due to arrive later this afternoon, the 61’ carbon-fiber Moxie catamaran Tosca. They’re making remarkable progress, having left Portsmouth only just after noon on Saturday. As of 5pm Bermuda time Tuesday, they were within striking distance of the island, only ten miles out, and a full 250 miles ahead of the next closest, another cat actually, the Dean 440 Mariposa.
Us Yellowshirts have been busy nonetheless since arriving last night, getting organized at the St. George’s Dinghy & Sports Club and re-familiarizing ourselves with the town we call home each year for ten days. Exploring the cobbled streets last night, we walked, following the main street just in town, passing Somer’s Grocery on mthe left and arching up the hill towards the Dinghy & Sports Club. There are some impressive yachts in the harbor: the giant red Swan Red Sky is in port, as are a few massive super yachts, including the big ketch Adele and a host of others at Bermuda Yacht Services on Ordnance Island. The J Class Rainbow just raised anchor at Bermuda Yacht Services and motored by the Dinghy Club as she headed through the cut and out to sea, bound for the Azores.
And then there’s the smaller cruising boats in the anchorage. This place is a haven for the ‘real’ sailor – it’s at least 600 miles from anywhere, and at any given time in the spring and fall ‘moving’ season, you’ve got an impressive list of boats and sailors hanging around.
Meanwhile at sea, the BVI fleet has experienced some variable winds since the start in Nanny Cay on Saturday. It’s evident by the amount of logs up on the website that the sailors have some spare time to kill and the weather is good.
Webster wrote in their log on Monday, “We motored much of last night with little if any wind. Just before day break there was a puff of wind on my neck so up with the sails and by the time Dave and Neal came on deck at 7am we were sailing in 10 knots from the SW.”
They also had their first rain squall, which brought 30 knots of wind and heavy rain for a bit. The Boat Andromeda had some engine trouble after the start. They turned the engine on in the light winds and after some trouble-shooting realized that the gear box needs repair and has unfortunately decided to turn back to Nanny Cay to have it fixed. Athenea, the third catamaran in the Portsmouth fleet, also had some trouble and are back at Ocean Marine Yacht Center in Portsmouth for repairs to their transmission. They hope to be back at sea by tomorrow or Thursday.
The fleet has also reported some wildlife sightings. Anettine reported in their log “We had dolphins visiting us in the afternoon, one of them showed off just beside the boat and made 3 high jumps while spinning at very high speed. Beautiful!” On Webster “We saw a Stormy Petrel today, have not seen one before. A beautiful bird, which looked like a large hawk to my eye. It must have had an eye on the chicken and avocado wraps we had for lunch - no chance.”
And so it goes. It’s now been three full days of ocean sailing for the yachts on their way across the Atlantic, but a preview of what’s to come. Arguably, the most difficult part of the passage is now behind them – oftentimes leaving the dock is the hardest part about a big passage. Now at sea, the work behind them (and hopefully the stress), the crews can start living out the dreams they’ve been planning for so long. Here’s to them.