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31st December, 2015


The last day of the year for us was spent alongside the King’s Wharf at the old Royal Navy Dockyard in Bermuda. We’d had a very pleasant run up from Nassau and arrived on a perfect winter’s morning, light winds, blue sky and a very equable 70 degrees. To get to the berth however, there was a sixteen mile run through the channels of the coral reef and passage was only allowed during the daylight hours. Our harbour pilot boarded for the two hour run just before sunrise as we passed the old capital of St. George’s, and we docked in time to get the various tours away.

The long tour by minibus covered the complete length of the island, passing along the south shore coastline with its famous pink sand beaches. Gibbs Hill lighthouse, Hamilton’s Botanical Gardens and St. George’s were all stopping off points, along with the oldest active Anglican Church in the western hemisphere. Those independent passengers who wanted to go to Hamilton, just under 3 miles away, took the ferry from the other side of the dock.

The Dockyard has changed considerably since my last visit to the island in 1999, when it was looking rather sad after having been officially closed since 1995. Apart from a large yacht marina, many of the old buildings have been renovated and now victualing yards are pubs, art centres and shops. The old casemates barracks, which had become a prison in more recent years, lies empty and still awaits renovation, but the National Museum of Bermuda has taken over the walled Keep and has over 30,000 objects in the collection. The old Commissioner’s House, sitting rather magnificently above, has also been painstakingly restored.

Departure had to be scheduled for 1600 hours to ensure we were in deep water before darkness fell, and so a stunning sunset over St. George’s was our final land view on the western side of the Atlantic. The Azores lay to the east, five sea days away.

Captain Philip Rentell

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