Home | Articles | Links | Projects | Columns | Designs | Boat Index

Visit to Bermuda
by Peter Vanderwaart pvanderw@optonline.net

In June of 2000, my father took about 20 of his closest relatives on a cruise to Bermuda. I took along a new digital camera and took as many pictures of boats as I could. For family and personal reasons, I didn't get around the island very much, but I did see a few things of interest

Bermuda is of volcanic origin. It is the long, thin, erratically shaped edge of a very extinct volcano that has eroded nearly back to sea level. The island is not very wide anywhere, and it encloses several large bays. The sea around the island is shoal for miles out to sea. As a result, Bermuda is primarily a small boat sailing venue despite its oceanic location. Of course, it is used as a waypoint for boats making ocean crossings, especially from northern New England and Canada to the West Indies, and from the southern United States to Europe.

Our visit coincided with the end of the Newport-Bermuda Yacht Race. Looking from the bow of our ship, the Nordic Empress, as she was tied up at Hamilton, we could see the racing fleet tied up at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. It is the pink building closer to the boats. I was able to walk the docks and take some pictures of the boats, but I found the fleet somewhat uninteresting as it was mostly composed of the same J-boats and Farr designs that I see at home on Long Island Sound.

hb090.JPG (57077 bytes)

An exception was Kirawan, the 1936 winner, recently restored to perfect condition. One member of the crew that raced her to Bermuda was John Rousmaniere, the well-known writer of "Fastnet Force 10" and "The Annapolis Book of Seamanship." This shot gives a better view of the yacht club, the pink building in the background.

bc075.JPG (62658 bytes)

For half of our stay, the cruise ship was tied up in King's Wharf, formerly the site of a Royal Navy base, and now given over to tourist attractions. The next picture approximates the view from our stateroom window in the evening. The pink catamaran is a cylinder-molded Kurt Hughes design named Restless Native. It does tourist sail/scuba duty, and my children and I spent a half-day aboard. It's a perfect boat for the service. Captain Kirk (true!) had us doing 9 1/2 Kts upwind, sailing essentially single-handed.

The Bermuda Marine Museum is to the right, and includes the former Commandant's house perched on the hill.

bb057.JPG (60198 bytes)

One of the museum buildings is devoted to the display of some small boats. There are several Bermuda Fitted Dinghies, a 15' racing class from about 100 years ago. I understand that "fitted" means "with a keel." They were wonderfully designed and built. It may be some indication of the standard that one of the boats on display was by N. G. Herreshoff, the Wizard of Bristol. I didn't make a note of who built this one.

bb032.JPG (56865 bytes)

This is a completely rigged boat, which sits over a hole in the floor that accommodates the keel. You can get an idea of the generous proportions of the rig. On the right is a model. You can see that the keel has a rectangular profile, as was usual in the full size boats. The boats flew the old-fashioned kind of triangular spinnaker. The pictures indicated that the inboard end of the spinnaker pole was held by a crew member, which seems to me to carry some potential for occasional excitement.

bb036.JPG (60157 bytes)

There were only a couple of working boats on display. One was this turtle fishing boat. As you can see, the exhibit describes the turtle fishery.

bb037.JPG (60119 bytes)

The final boat from the museum is a little cruiser named Spirit of Bermuda. It is a double-ended, hard chine sloop about 16' long. It was sailed from Bermuda to New York by two brothers. The trip took 17 days. The boat has a keel about 10 inches deep. The cabin had a canvas cover. I believe that she is built of Bermuda cedar. This is locally considered to be an excellent boat-building wood, which is especially convenient because it is also about the only locally-grown wood available. In the past, it was used for building sizeable craft, up to ocean crossing sailing ships.

bb038.JPG (57941 bytes)

This boat was in the marina at King's Wharf. I believe that it is a Tahiti ketch, to John Hanna's original design, although I'm really just guessing. It is always interesting to come across a boat built to one of the famous old designs. It gives the chance to compare the impression given by looking at the plans and pictures to the real thing.

That's the Nordic Empress in the background.

bb053.JPG (61410 bytes)

The final picture is of a racing class called the International One Design or IOD. I saw a dozen or so IOD's in Hamilton harbor, but I didn't get a picture so I got permission from www.iodclass.com  to use one of theirs. The class was designed by Bjarne Aas. It is somewhat like the International Dragon. In his book "Sailing Boats," Uffa Fox described it as a refined IYRU 6 meter. They are 33' 4" overall and 21' 6" on the water, displacing just shy of 7000 lbs.

These boats have been used for prestigious races in Bermuda through the years and there are pictures of them are in many books on racing.

upwind4.jpg (43700 bytes)

And those are the boats I saw on my summer vacation.

line.gif (878 bytes)

Note: These pictures were taken with an Olympus D-360L digital camera and are all original size and un-retouched. The camera records on SmartMedia cards. The 8MB card that comes with the camera will hold 122 pictures at the standard quality size of 640 x 480 pixels. It is possible to take pictures up to 1280x960, which is sometimes convenient (e.g. for computer wallpaper), but the picture quality is not a whole better because of hand shake and, possibly, the limitations of the lens.

Power is supplied by 4 AA cells which will last for hundreds of pictures if you avoid using the LCD screen and use a power adapter for downloading to the computer.

Downsides: The focal length of the lens is chosen for ordinary snapshots which are usually groups of people, so it is too wide angle to be ideal for boats. In common with most digital cameras, it exaggerates contrast making shaded areas darker than you want them.

line.gif (878 bytes)


Home | Articles | Links | Projects | Columns | Designs | Boat Index