9 July 2001
N 38 40 W 40 35
See www.pangolin.co.nz/yotreps/plotter.asp (use call sign HARMONIC)
I will attribute the hiatus in Harmonica news letters to changes from our routine in the Turks & Caicos & in Bermuda. The regular crew separated when Jan returned to Calgary for 3 weeks, and Ron Webster flew from Calgary to help Dave sail Harmonica to Bermuda.
We checked out of Cuba in the ancient city of Santiago de Cuba. Short of time again, we first motor-sailed along the south coast under the Sierra Maestra where the mountains drop from nearly 2,000 metres to nearly 7,000 metres below sea the sea, and where Castro made his initial strongholds. We arrived in Santiago around 2.00am, most impressed that the marina staff were up & able to talk us in by VHF radio. Port Captain, customs, immigration etc. were all ready to see us at 8 or 9 am so Jan & Dave spent a last day provisioning & site-seeing before a final chicken dinner on the dock. Leaving Cuban soil, we waved to onlookers as we rounded the spanish fort & headed away from the sunset. From that sleepy tranquility, the other world appeared off the Guantanamo US air base where a jet roared out of the sky into the sodium haze. (We later had reason to think very kindly of these people, as our recent french friends, a few days behind on "Febo", made an emergency stop in Guantanamo where the staff treated their young son for appendicitis.)
Another 48 hrs. of windward sailing found us off Providenciales, Turks & Caicos, in the dark again. Ron Webster would fly in the next morning, but that all the guides warned not to enter the reef except in clear daylight. We anchored off West Caicos and on Sunday morning we sailed the last 10 miles in less than 15ft depth & a brisk westerly breeze. Checked in & met Ron without problems. "Provo", as the island is called, was our first english-speaking landfall in 6 months, which was relaxing. The prices were shocking after living in the latin world. The development was hapazard, with expensive houses overlooking the ocean, and strip-malls along the roads.
Hamonica anchored behind Dave Mathews in his trimaran Tao. Dave built Tao in Canada, brought her south, and has operated charter & diving holidays for a decade or so. He is a knowledgeable & helpful person. After Jan had gone, Ron & Dave moved to NW Point where the water was so clear that we could watch the fish feeding on the bottom in 35ft of water. We then spent 2 nights resting in Turtle Cove before we headed north again.
Ron had been adamant that he never suffered from sea-sickness & he was true to his word. We lolloped into light winds for 3 days, motored through a high pressure ridge and then rolled into Bermuda with 2 days in 15 knot westerlies. Again we arrived in the small hours and the full moon was blanked by cloud. The first sensory evidence of the Town Cut in St. Georges was the chirping of tree frogs from a few yards on either side. Bermuda Harbour Radio could not be more helpful & professional. Next day we checked in, walked around, met the swan "Aphrodite" on which Lyn Michaud & Don Gover (both skiers from Lake Louise) had just arrived from St Martin and flown home before we could greet them. That evening a front brought rain & squalls, & the next day a dutch yacht arrived with a broken mast after the insulator on its back stay failed.
Jan has friends in Bermuda from when she used to work there, & their son, Martin Mello, races the "Bermuda Fitted Dinghy" for the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. We were invited to watch from the RBYC support boat. The dinghies are unique craft: 14.5 ft long, but a sail area which must rival Harmonica's. Long bow sprit and boom; mast nearly 40ft high; carry 6 men; and race to everything but IRYU rules. It was a social occasion with spectators idling around in all types of small craft greeting each other.
Bermuda is a pretty Island. Very neat & clean with the characteristic pink, white & beige painted houses. Lawns & gardens are tended immaculately. Most visiting yachts seem to stay in St. Georges, which is touristy. We took Harmonica into Great Sound & anchored off Darrell's Wharf from where we could dinghy into Hamilton. We made some new friends through the Mellos and the Yacht Club, and it was sad to leave, but the Azores called us away on 25 June.