We'd sighted Bermuda; this tiny, 20.5 square mile island in the mid-Atlantic was within reach and we were anxious to drop the hook for respite from the sea. When we spotted the island, we were still approximately 20nm away and some quick mathematics confirmed that we'd not make landfall until after dark. We were approaching from the southwest and needed to sail the length of the island to the entrance channel on the east end.
Knowing we'd arrive after dark, we consulted the chart to determine whether the entrance channel would be safe. The conditions were calm and the entrance, Town Cut, was very well marked with plenty of water for our draft. The decision was unanimous, we'd sleep at anchor tonight!
Bermuda Radio monitors all incoming and outgoing boat traffic for the island. The radio has a strong signal accompanied by a powerful radar system that can spot boats along a 50nm radius. Per my Bermuda clearance research, I'd learned it was necessary to hail Bermuda Radio on the VHF once in hailing range which for us is about 20nm. Per Bermuda clearance research, I'd also learned that Bermuda has an online pre-arrival form. I had completed this pre-arrival form prior to departing Grand Cayman; the information provided is the standard particulars of the vessel and crew (vessel type, length, draft, number of crew, etc). You can find the link for the pre-arrival form here
, as well as general information about Bermuda clearance. When I hailed Bermuda Radio the dispatcher was able to pull our pre-arrival information. We provided our latitude and longitude and ETA. We continued sailing as we watched the sunset over Bermuda.
We reached the sea buoy for the Town Cut channel at about 9:15pm. Once again we hailed Bermuda Radio and received excellent directions for entering the St. George's Harbour and locating the Customs dock. We dropped the sails and motored through Town Cut channel; our only engine hours during the entire passage. We found the buoys to be exact.
Once in the harbour, we located the Customs dock to the north of the harbour, at the northeast corner of Ordinance Island. It was just after 10:00pm and we were thrilled to meet three fellow cruisers at the dock who voluntarily assisted us and welcomed us. After a short chat, we made our way to the Customs office, the building is on the dock; the office is open from 8:00am - Midnight. The woman who assisted us at Customs was pleasant and efficient. We completed one form, surrendered our flare gun, paid $70USD (via credit card, USD accepted) and within 15 minutes were cleared. We found a cozy spot to anchor just off the Customs dock. The hook was set in soft sand by 11:00pm.
By Midnight we'd converted Rode Trip back into a home and had sprawled in the very spacious v-berth. Our bodies rejoiced for the stillness, the flatness of this new resting place and we slept soundly.