Sunday, February 26, 2006

2 for 1 Bermuda Special

I have been trying to keep my blogs positive, which may explain why I do not write as often as I should. With several poor weather days behind me and several yet to go, I am compelled to tell you more about a real Bermuda winter. At this moment I am experiencing the second of back to back storm force weather patterns, which I call 2-for-1 Bermuda Specials. I will spare you the meteorological spiel but know that this is a common occurrence here. As if one storm of this caliber is not enough to cause sleep deprivation and make you beg for mother-natures mercy. By no. 2 you are in an I-can-not believe-this-is-happing-to-me-again fog and fantasizing about things you do not believe in, like mind altering substances or anything that might help you execute a wake-me-when-its-over strategy. Storm no. 1 was rough with frequent gusts into the 50 knot range which emptied the contents of my dinghy, including an external fuel tank. (This is sill too painful to talk about.) But this time storm no. 2 is a doozee. Or should I say doozeer? Anyway, its not pretty and the barometric pressure continues to fall. Like many storms before, I try to sleep but can not because it is like trying to sleep on a carnival ride. Instead I sit at the chart table and watch the instrument panel, my entertainment center, to confirm that the wind IS as bad as it sounds. I try to distract myself from the sloshing noises all around me, the howling in the rigging (it sounds like a tribe of banshees) and the creaking of the cabinetry, and hope. Hope that the weather will improve soon. Hope is a wonderful, powerful thing. I should be grateful that I have internet access and a weather knowledgeable captain (in Boston, the lucky dog) giving me updated reports based on the latest satellite imagery, but sometimes it hurts to hear the truth. Or in my case the forecasted truth, which is always subject to change, or so I hope.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Cocktails Anyone?

According to local knowledge, rum has been the drink of Bermuda for some 300 years. They certainly do like their rum as you will find it in so many things - even the jam! The two most popular rum drinks are the Bermuda Swizzle and the unofficial national drink, the Dark n Stormy.

Few would argue that the best swizzle can be enjoyed at the Swizzle Inn (in Baileys Bay) where the mantra is swizzle in, swagger out. I think the very tasty and refreshing swizzle is a perfect daytime cocktail, and is best enjoyed by the jug, shared with a friend. As the sunsets, I tend to take the locals lead and order up a dark n stormy. It is said that a true Bermudian prefers a dark n stormy, a highball made of black rum and ginger beer (pronounced burr), which is neither beer nor ginger ale, but a carbonated soft drink with a strong ginger flavor. Locals claim the real deal is made using Barritts Ginger Beer. I agree. Just about anyone can make a good dark n stormy but I enjoy them most at the White Horse Tavern in St Georges where they are commonly accompanied with sailing stories and weather talk.

For those of you who can not join me for cocktails, here is a taste of Bermuda to enjoy wherever you may be:

Bermuda Rum Swizzle
best made by the pitcher

8 oz Black Rum
Juice of 2 Lemon or limes
5 oz Pineapple juice
5 oz Orange juice
2 oz Grenadine or Bermuda Falernum
6 dashes Angostura bitters
Crushed or small-cubed ice
Stir or shake vigorously until a frothing head appears. Strain into sour glasses.
Note: extensive research has confirmed that the best swizzle is served at the Swizzle Inn.

Dark n Stormy
Place ice cubes in highball glass
Add 1.5 oz Black Rum
Top with Ginger Beer


Surprises at Sea

One of my favorite parts of ocean sailing is the joy of seeing something interesting in the water, ideally a creature of the sea. You would be surprised by how little you typically see out there, but I always hope. The other day we went out for a day sail off the southeast coast of Bermuda on Event Horizon with new found cruising friends from Maine. A few miles out we started spotting small objects several meters apart floating in the water. Is it trash? Is it some type of line in the water? Upon closer approach, one of our guests was able to identify the mystery object as a Portuguese Man-Of-War, a jelly-like marine animal that looked like a fragile blue bubble. Man-of-wars are well known for their painful and powerful sting, apparently seventy-five percent as powerful as cobra venom, and can be found in warm water all over the world. (I regret not spending money on cable TV to receive an Animal Planet education.) They are not Portuguese but named for their resemblance to a Portuguese battleship with a sail. These sea creatures are four different polyps that rely on each other to survive. The body is a gas-filled translucent bag-like float. It can be anywhere from 3 to 12 inches (9 to 30 centimeters) Underneath the float are clusters of polyps, from which hang coiled stinging tentacles of up to 165 feet (50 meters) long. The crest above the float is only a few inches tall and acts like a sail. Like us, it relies on the wind to move it from one place to another. Man-of-wars commonly float along in large groups and can deflate their floats so that the weather will not harm their delicate structures. Above is a close-up view from one of our sightings.

Monday, February 06, 2006

We Moved

Moving has never been so easy. No packing or change of address cards. Only coordination required was entering our new neighborhood at high tide. Still in St Georges Harbour (east end of Bermuda), we have moved into Smiths Sound, which is between Smiths Island and St Davids Island. Event Horizon is on a custom anchorage consisting of a 4,000 pound metal plate laying at the bottom of 20 ft of water, connected by 26 ft of ships chain and a rode of 30 ft 5/8 chain, connected to two bridles and a third chain which is secured to the mast. Our new location provides more shelter from all wind directions and easier access to a dock on St Davids, which should allow me to collect visitors in most weather conditions. Hallelujah.

While sea turtles are no longer a common sight, my new home is very beautiful and surrounded by history. Smiths Island (61 acres) was Bermudas first settlement and remains accessible only by boat. 23 acres are now a recreational park area, much of which has been reforested in native cedar trees.

St Davids Island (650 acres) is unknown to the average visitor and is considered the way it was. Its perimeter road skirts St Georges Harbour and is mostly residential. From 1941 to 1995 most of this island was used by the US Military, who built the airport which is located on the west-side next to the mainland connecting bridge. The most significant landmark is St Davids Lighthouse, an octagonal red and white tower built in 1879, which continues to serve as a beacon for mariners. The island also has two beautiful public beaches, nature trails and picturesque sea views.

Oh yeah, the harbour web cam does not reach this far south so there will be no more spying on me.