aye of the storm

Being There

bermuda 1I’m here in Bermuda up the rig of an IOD and wondering exactly how I got here. Well, a year ago, after being caught in an unfortunate house fire, I was lying in a hospital bed in a coma and on a respirator. My family was saying their goodbye’s as it wasn’t certain if I would see another sunrise. Thirty-four percent of my body sustained third degree burns. Here’s the SA linky:

I got better. Heck, I’m a bow guy. We laugh in the face of adversity. Maybe I just don’t feel the pain anymore after having a spinnaker pole dropped on my head more times than I can count. I’m doing well and I’m turning fifty. Also, I can wear Bermuda shorts and knee socks that hide my burned legs and still look sort of cool. Bow guys need to believe we look cool. As a goal for my recovery, I set the Newport/Bermuda race (my fourth to date) as a goal. I ended up on the bow of a vintage Volvo/Whitbred 60.

A few months ago, my wife surprised me with the option to go anywhere on the planet to celebrate my half century living amongst humans. Without hesitation, I chose Bermuda. For the record, Tonga was a close second but Bermuda is, well, perhaps the nicest place on earth IMHO. In the past ten days, we’ve had two hurricanes, both with sustained winds over 150mph. Still, there’s no place I’d rather be right now.

The day after the second hurricane, we buzzed down to the Royal Bermuda YC on our mighty 49 cc scooter (Everybody here drives one.) to see how the club got on. We expected to see devastation and people on cell phones yelling at lawyers who in turn were yelling at insurance companies and preparing a class action lawsuit against Mother Nature. Instead, we were greeted by group of cheerful volunteers. It was three days until the Argo Group Gold Cup Regatta and a couple hurricanes weren’t about to dampen Bermuda’s enthusiasm for hosting this stop on the world match racing tour.

Speaking of greetings, it’s important to greet everyone here individually. The standard greeting is, “How are you doing?”, pronounced “How ya doon?”. Complete strangers will say hello as you walk past them. Friendly doesn’t begin to cover it. As much as every inch of this place looks like a postcard, it’s the people that make Bermuda. Bermudians bristle with a sense of pride but, being Bermudian, it’s kept in check in a modest, self deprecating and somewhat British fashion.

Everyone in this tiny country is aware of the Gold Cup regatta and sailing in general. In most other venues, sailing is considered a pastime for idle trust fund babies. Here the sport is given its due. Local school kids learn to sail Opti’s to augment their curriculum and everyone comes out for the major regattas.

So here I am. Being a pointy-end guy, I naturally went on vacation with my Spin Lock climbing harness packed in my hockey bag (I’m Canadian). And it didn’t take long before the infectious enthusiasm overwhelmed me. I volunteered to help prepare for the regatta and I ended up doing rig checks replacing split-rings and taping the sharp bits. For the record, I was up ten rigs in one day with my new BFF, Pete doing the grinding. I’ll cover the highlights of the regatta next week as the world’s top-ranked match racers square off on this tiny island paradise.

There is a chance that Bermuda will play host to the next America’s Cup. If that happens, I’ll be here. If the powers that be elect to host it in another locale, I’ll come here anyway and watch it on my iPad from the beach. – Bermudahhh.