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arrival at customs in a mental fog
Image by greg frucci via Flickr

After being in St. Georges for about a week, I was able to regain my strength…and my “land legs”. One day, as I was walking through the village, I came upon some sailors I met the first day I arrived in Bermuda. The two sailors were on the sailing vessel, Harvest Moon ahead of me the day of arrival. I had been up for more than forty-eight hours straight during the last two days at sea due to my autopilot not functioning. Having an autopilot while sailing alone is one of the most important pieces of equipment because it allows the solo sailor to sleep…even if it’s just an hour at a time, which is what I had been doing the six days prior to the autopilot not functioning at all.

The morning of arrival, I was instructed by Bermuda Marine Radio to stay offshore at a position while a tanker and the S/V Harvest Moon navigated into the harbor ahead of me. I complied, holding my position for about an hour and a half that morning. Once I saw the Harvest Moon sail in behind the tanker, I began my final course to St. Georges Harbor.

The two sailors from the Harvest Moon both had smiles on their faces as one said to me, “Wow! You look a lot better than the day we met!”. I must have looked confused to them as he continued, “Do you remember tossing us your dock lines?”

“I guess so”, I said smiling, yet confused still…I think he felt that from me.

The sailor then went on to tell this story of the day of arrival from his perspective…

“We had just finished our paper work in the Customs Office and as we walked out of the office back to our boat, we saw you motor up to the Customs Dock behind the Harvest Moon. You had a huge smile on your face, but you looked like you had had a rough time. We listened all night on the VHF as you were giving your positions to Bermuda Radio while you were crossing the reef north of the Island since you didn’t have any navigation lights. Thank you for that. We looked for you and could see your mast lighted up from your spreader lights. You sounded exhausted.

As you maneuvered to the dock, I asked you to toss me a dock line so I could help you tie up. You seemed completely “out of it” as you slowly docked. We were amazed you were able to function at all, let alone gently place your boat next to the dock without running into anything. The funny thing was, when you tossed me a dock line, I tossed it back to you and told you to tie the other end of the line to your boat! You tossed the line back to me with a ridiculous smile on your face and without connecting the line to your boat. This happened three times before you finally tied off your end of the line. Do you remember any of this?”

“No”, I said smiling at my feet, embarrassed.

“We understand, Greg. It’s funny now because we can all reflect on how you got here. I’m glad you are well. You look completely different than the day you arrived…rested and healthy. Good luck on the rest of your journey, wherever it takes you.”

We all parted ways and continued on down our individual paths. The Harvest Moon set sail that day for New England. A few days later, I sailed down to Dockyard, Bermuda to have the Cuddy hauled out for repairs to the rudder and autopilot so that she can sail again someday.

Ocean sailors are an interesting breed of people and I love them…different in a way which is hard to explain. From the moment I arrived in Bermuda, I felt as if I had become part of a new family. I was welcomed into the Bermudian family by people like Captain Phillip “Phoopa” Anderson who has a history of being part of one of the oldest families in Bermuda. The other ocean sailors I met in both St. Georges and Dockyard welcomed me into those families as well. We all told stories of our experiences at sea…how we got to the place we are now.

This little story is just one of many which happened during the crossing to Bermuda…yes, it was “only” eight days…but so much happened physically and spiritually in a few moments in time.

— frucci 🙂

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