Saturday, 22 June 2019

St. George's, Bermuda

From Barbuda to Bermuda

When we neared Barbuda from the south we were amazed at the island’s flatness. Contrary to the more southern Caribbean islands, there was not a single hill, not to mention a mountain, to be seen. We later learned, however, that there is a ‘highlands’ area on the eastern side of the island where hills rise to a staggering height of 38 metres! 

Just two years ago, 6 September 2017 to be exact, Hurricane Irma caused catastrophic damage to the island destroying most of its structures, and the entire population of Barbuda had to be evacuated to Antigua. Now most of the residents have returned, and homes and some of the tourist destinations have been rebuilt. Hurricane Irma had also caused havoc to the corals around the island but luckily, sea grass beds were thriving. Most of the shallow sea bottom at Cocoa Point, where we were at anchor, seemed to be covered with sea grass and there were dozens of big, beautiful hawksbill turtles feeding on it. 

After four days of turtle watching and beach strolling under the scorching sun, we were more than happy to continue our journey further north, in anticipation of a colder climate.
On the way to Bermuda, the first three days were plain sailing as we had 15 to 20 knot south-westerly winds and made an average of 140 nm a day. But on the fourth day, we reached the horse latitudes, a belt of calm air and sea between the trade winds and the westerlies, and thereafter it was first motor-sailing and then plain motoring for the rest of our one-week voyage. 
The origin of the term horse latitudes is not certain but it probably comes from the fact that in bygone days when there was no engine power available, becalmed sailing ships were forced to dispose of their horses in order to conserve precious water for the crew. The idea of the term referring to a playground for seahorses is much more appealing however!

During the first two days we were seriously fishing for tuna, but to no avail. It was to be a mahi-mahi - take it or leave it. The first mahi-mahi we hooked was far too big for us and to the satisfaction of all parties concerned, the fish got away. The next day, we caught a considerably smaller  (115 cm) mahi-mahi which we consumed with gusto. We’ll continue fishing for tuna after Bermuda when we are in the Gulf Stream. It won’t matter whether the tuna has blue or yellow fins as long as it is not as big as the one we caught there In 2010 when coming from the Northwest Passage. The tuna weighed about 35 kilos (Pekka’s estimate), and it was a real struggle to get it aboard, not to mention to consume it.

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