You’re now reading this in delay. We set sail about 1100 on Sunday morning, just after posting my last journal entry for Friday 5/11. It’s now 1500, and we are about 15 miles off shore from Bermuda. The sun is shining, although every horizon is cloudy. Wind is around 12 knots, and we are clipping along at 7-8 knots, on a course heading of 346. That will take us directly into Newport Rhode Island.
I left off with describing the night at Mini’s yacht club. It was another day of immersion in Bermudian culture. Saturday morning, I arose around 0800, which seems to be my internal clock’s preferred alarm. The sun had risen, but the skies were overcast and a light drizzle was watering our green lawn. I made myself a cup of coffee on our Keurig, and took my book out onto the back porch to catch up on reading. My novel’s hero was meandering his way down the French channels on his book-selling barge, meeting the locals along the way. I set the book down following his discovery of a town’s gymnasium being converted into a tango dancing outfit, under the nose of the conservative town and it’s disapproving men. A french take on Footloose, with a spicier flare.
As the weather improved, Alejandro and I made our way into town to do some shopping and to get a bite to eat. Jimmy Buffett was onto something when he sang about cheeseburgers in paradise, but the greasy burger and fries from Mini’s the night prior had now worn off, and we were both craving some seafood. We visited our friend Kelli again, where I decided to outfit the girls’ on my team with Bermudian jewelry, and Alejandro purchased a handmade mask from a local. She had the small mask on display in her store, which was the same design worn by the dancers we had seen the night prior. Given all of our business, and Alejandro’s sob story about never finding a parrot, she sold him the mask.
We headed next door to Wahoos for lunch, gave our waitress from Thursday night a hard time, and were seated on the back patio, overlooking the harbor. I told her to bring my fish chowder immediately, as if my system would crash without it. The Bermudians put a half ounce of rum into their soup at the table, before eating it. I was onboard and stirred in a little hair of the dog. Delicious. I had some fish ceviche with sea weed salad and some Wahoo belly bites of fish. I really haven’t had my fill of sea food since leaving St. Maarten, but was making up for it here.
As we ate, Alejandro explained his role on the Costa Rican board of directors for their education system. I’m getting the sense that this humble guy of almost 60 is a bigger deal than he lets on. He runs the Latin American outfit for Amazon, which means he employs 5,000 people in San Jose. This board where he was appointed is made up of business owners in the country, establishing a strategy of how to bring Costa Rica into the developed world status through enhancing their education system. I’ve learned that they have one of the lowest illiteracy rates in the world, but have some work to do on teaching the population to problem solve. He used the example that the Panamanians, who border to the south, do all the building in Costa Rica because the native population doesn’t know how to construct a road or a bridge worth driving over.
After lunch, we visited the Old English Shop, which is an apparel store with the cheeky yet affordable styles of Great Britain. I had visited the same shop and made a couple purchases in Hamilton a couple days prior, but hey, you never know what kind of deal might catch your eye. Caught, it did. I was transfixed to a sport jacket that patched together all the vibrant colors of the island. A flashy pair of Bermuda shorts and some tall socks later, I had assembled the quintessential professional attire of the islander. I’m not sure I can sport the new look in Denver and be taken seriously, but the Derby party and our annual dinner in Milwaukee with the mucky mucks is a perfect occasion for the flamboyant dress.
We then ventured to the grocery store, as we had offered to cookout for the captain and crew that night. Usually, I take the lead on any such adventure, but was curious to learn the culinary cuisine of my international bunk mate. We purchased a couple large roasts, some marinated chicken and shrimp skewers, asparagus, whole potatoes, and an assortment of spices. For a party of 6, I learned that the Costa Rican culture must triple their portions to ensure nobody goes hungry.
By the time we came back to the apartment and dropped off our groceries, the sun had burned through the clouds and we had perfect weather for the beach. We threw on our suits, loaded my back with a couple towels, swimming goggles, and sunscreen, and headed back out. Tobacco Bay, which is one of the top beaches on the island, was a short walk over the hill from our cottage. We stopped by a half-constructed chapel from the turn of the 19th century. They maintain the grass around, and inside the nave and in between all of the ruin. It’s a perfectly constructed church without a roof and windows. They were setting up chairs on the grass inside the church ruins for a wedding later in the day. Something magical and historic about the site.
A quarter mile later, we crested the top of the hill, and looked down into the turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean, looking north. It was breathtaking. We were staying a five-minute walk from the beach on one side, and a harbor full of yachts and a town to the other. The luck, and surprises, just keep coming.
After spreading our towels on the beach, which lies directly in front of a bar with, get this, super clean bathrooms, a manicured deck, and friendly wait staff, we walked out into the lagoon. The beach is guarded by an outcropping of coral that rises above the sand 15-20 feet, forming a semi circle around a space the size of two or three football fields. This “lagoon” is no more than 5 feet deep at its extreme, and snorkelers swim around and through the outcroppings where fish abound in the coral reef.
For 20 minutes, I swam out into the Atlantic, around the outside of the reef, back in, and around again. It always takes me a few minutes to relax in open water swimming, made more tense by the living wildlife, and hyper sensitivity to any movement around the coral. I half expect an eel to dart out from a dark crevice, take off one of my fingers and toes, and slowly back into its den again with an sardonic smile across its pouty mouth. I’m sure my fears are unjustified, but villains in “The Little Mermaid” have taken their toll.
Back on the beach, I realized we had laid our towels next to three bikini-clad girls speaking a foreign language. Italian? I fell asleep in the sun, still shaking off the last cobwebs of the prior evening. When I awoke, the girl next to me said hello, and I returned her greeting. She had long black hair, round Ray Ban sunglasses, a friendly smile and must have been in her early thirties. I learned that she and her two friends were visiting from New York for the weekend. They all work at Luxottica, which is a Milan, Italy corporation that owns designer sunglasses (Ray Ban, Oakley, Prada, etc). Her name was Valentina. Originally a native of Sicily, she had come to the US 6 months ago to work in the marketing arm of the US division. She has been with Luxottica for 10 years, but worked for Johnson and Johnson for two years out of school. When I mentioned being from Colorado, she said she had met someone from Colorado when she was at a training for J&J in Ohio. I made sure we all agreed that he wasn’t nearly as cool as me...nor, humble, Alejandro added. Jerk.
We spent the better part of an hour talking to her and one of her other friends. They said flights from NYC are only $300 and get you to Bermuda in one and a half hours. Earlier in the weekend we heard that only locals are allowed to own the real estate. I can see why - with such a short flight, Bermuda would be an extension of Long Island in...well...a New York minute. The girls were staying on the opposite end of the island, my bride would be pleased to know, but had heard Tobacco beach was one of Bermuda’s best. I can see the allure, given the witty, somewhat exotic middle aged Latin American men and short white Jewish guys that frequent the spot. But, more likely it was the blue lagoon, coral reef, and cold beverages. Whatever, Trip Advisor.
Alas, it was time to part. Valentina, with her Italian charm and her two friends headed back to their end of the island and the world from which she came. I was stuck with the round-headed executive from Amazon. Perhaps he would buy my drinks - things weren’t so bad.
We walked back to our cottage, and started preparations for the evening. I opened two bottles of Red to breathe, stirred up some home made guacamole, and took out the steaks to warm up in the tropical breeze, then chopped up asparagus for the steaming pot. With wine glass in hand, I sat down on the back deck, while reggae music from our blue tooth mixed with the growing chorus of frogs, and swaying palm trees. This was the perfect night for a BBQ.
The captain showed up and the crew, residing next door, walked over. Appetizers were shared, drinks were had, and we had somewhat of a reunion after having gone our separate ways two days prior. We all felt the comradery in being back together, and enjoyed the evening with great food, funny stories, and the occasional sailing tale from Hank. It was the opportune time to try our Cohibas, so Hank and I fired up the Cubans, mixing the robust scent of the cigars with the roasted meat and fauna from the island. Tommy Bahama could have done a photo shoot...
The night ended with Alejandro and I sitting quietly, finishing the wine and listening to the chirping frogs amongst the palm trees, as the evening cooled slightly, and the breeze gently soothed our baked skin. This would be our last night in Bermuda. It seemed too soon to end, yet felt like we had lived ashore for weeks. My mentor and friend, John McTigue told me once that a sailor never stays in port for longer than 30 days. Too much time ashore, and the fear of the sea, coupled with the comfort of being on land, prevents the sailor from pointing the bow back to the open water. Perhaps a few days was just enough time to get a taste of a port to which I would soon return, without tainting the desire to head back to sea.
We're the Zimmerman Family!
Home Base | Denver, CO
A family of six that
LOVES to sail !
Follow our crew (Royce, Tara, Avery, Charley, Nora & Ruby)
as we blog our sailing adventures
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