August 26, 2007
Bermuda! (August 2007)
In 1505, a Spanish captain named Juan de Bermudez was on his way from Spain to other parts, and stumbled across some tiny island off the coast of North America… he called it Bermuda and continued on his journey. For the next 100 years, the only visibitors to this island were the occasional crews that ship-wrecked off the islands reefs. In 1609, Sir George Somers set sail from England to the new british colony known as ‘Virginia’, and crashed his ship ‘Sea Venture’ on bermuda’s reefs. The crew built two new ships from the trees on the island to continue their voyage to the New World, but Sir George Somers left 3 people behind on Bermuda to hold the island for the British Empire, and we still drive on the left side of the road and enjoy tea-time at 4 pm on Bermuda to this day.
Then in August of 2007 the Meyer family (28 in all) went to Bermuda to vacation for a week, though you will not find this event referenced in Wikkipedia.
OK so here are pictures… I won’t show you my family because they might not all be so happy about publicity, but here are pictures of the island. Let’s start off on the beach in front of the Coral Beach Club, where we stayed. The water around bermuda is so clear and light touquise, and the sand so white, that the Ocean is almost like a pleasant, salty pool… PLENTY warm for very long swims. Here on the beach, you can see the little stairwell climbing up into the cliffs. There are a number of such stairways from the beach, climbing up through the cliffs to the various cottages and clubhouse of the Coral Beach Club, a grand classic resort built around maybe the 1920’s or so, I would guess, from the looks of it.
OK, imagine walking across the perfect white sand to the strange little stairway built into the side of the cliffs.. what do you see?
Now climb up the stairs through the cliffs and flowers to the various cottages and clubhouse…
…and you come up to the clubhouse of the Coral Beach Club… like a scene straight of ‘The Great Gatsby’, the hotel is virtually unchanged for the last 60 years!
All is hand-carved and stained wood, and hand-cut stone. There is no change at all from the last time our family vacationed here (16 years ago) and probably no change since 1920!
It is simply beautiful! Just PERFECT! It must NEVER change!
Step out onto the porch and have a few drinks while enjoying the view, or wind down the stairs through the cliffs to the Ocean…
…or go down to the lunch patio and enjoy the view along with lunch…
The club is on a pretty large tract of land, with little trails and fields and tennis courts and putting greens spread out across the landscape, and little Coral Beach Club cottages spread out across the grounds. Below, one of the dozen or so cottages on the grounds, all nesteld amongst the trees and flowers, overlooking the ocean from atop the little cliffs.
The only way to get around Bermuda is MOPED! The isald is too small to rent huge ugly clumsy cars to every tourist that comes in, so the island decreed that only MOPEDS may be rented to the tourists! This was perhaps the smartest restriction every levied by any government, because it is SO DAMN FUN! It is the most beautiful island you can imagine, and you jump onto a little scooter and zip and buzz about the island, enjoying the wonderful scenery and soft Bermuda air, all on the WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD! Stop by any restaurant or shop for a drink or shopping, and then back onto your little rented moped and off you go to see more sites! For an adult, it is as fun as a Disney-Land ride is for an 8-year old!
The island was built into modernity maybe 100 years ago, and all the island.. the WHOLE THING, is beautifuly kept, with trees and flowers EVERYWHERE, and hand-carved stone marking the wlakways for the ENTIRE ISLAND. The road below is a typical motorway along Bermuda… everyone drives about 40 mph, everywhere, so every moped ride is brisk and fun.
Roads go on like this for miles!
ROUND-ABOUT coming up! Compared to round-abouts, American intersections SUCK! You do not have to STOP for a round-about! You just come in and merge into traffic and race around the circle, ducking out of it whenever your road comes up. You can do it safely at maybe 20 mph or so, or maybe 30 if you are racing, AND YOU NEVER HAVE TO STOP!
Scenes like this are common as you scooter on along the roads that run along the harbour.
A local’s house overlooks the harbour:
And here is Hamilton, the main city in the center of the island.
Hop off your moped at a sock (un-occupied for a few moments) and enjoy the simple view!
One espeically fun part of our vacation was seeing two giant industrial ships docked away from the cruise liners. They were the Cable Innovator and Pacific Guardian. What do they do? Me and a few cousins hung around outside the ships until the Cheif Engineer happened along and invited us about the Pacific Gaurdian! So, what do these ships do? Well, the Cable Innovator lays the cable that connects the world with intercontinental cable lines! They lay the fiber-optic that makes the global phones and internet possible! The Pacific Guardian then REPAIRS that cable whenever it breaks! Below, the ‘Guardian’, and we get ready to climb aboard! This being a British vessel, the first stop was the ship’s pub, where the engineer (currently OFF-duty!!) finished his warm beer and regaled us with stories of past exploits of the Pacific Guardian. This included a particularly harrowing voyage into a storm where the ship was in such weather that it listed FORTY-FIVE DEGREES TO PORT AND STARBORD from the waves. Just look at the pictures below and imagine that entire ship listing FORTY-FIVE DEGREES from the waves. Two of the engines had already failed because the overhaul they had JUST gone through was improperly done (some wrong fittings had been used between the connecting rods and the crankshaft), so they were running at only HALF power as the storm began to hit. During the storm, a THIRD engine failed, so they were down to ONE engine in 45-degree lean-angles from the surf. Water was actually crashing into the air-inlets for the engine-room, and the engineers were frantically trying to restore as many engines as possible while being drenched with ocean-water DUMPING in through the air intakes. This was ESPECIALLY fun because the engines in this ship do NOT directly drive the prop, but intsead turn GENERATORS which in turn drive ELECTRIC motors hooked to the prop shafts. So they had 1 engine, 45-degrees lean angles, crew trying to restore the other 3 engines, and ocean water being dumped on them in a high-voltage environment as they tried to do the repair. SOME of the crew thought they might actually lose the ship. The pub where we were stnading as we heard this, for example, had been trashed with the furniture flying all over the room, and big refrigerator tipped over spilling everything out… imagine taking your favorite pub and leaning it 45 degrees! A mess is guranteed!
Anyway, on with the pics!
Our first stop was the bridge, a huge room like a floor of a library with monstor controls and displays and computers set up everywhere. One of the primary computer displays showed an image of the boat with compass headings and distances radiating out from it. Using this station (SEPERATE from the primary helm) the ship’s autopilot could hold position, at sea, to within a few meters. This is needed because the Guardian acutally has a remote submarine that it can send down to grab damaged cable to haul back to the surface for repair! And, of course, when this remote sub is in action, the Guardian had better hold it’s place perfectly as the sub descends on it’s leash! The sub can go down several thousand feet. So here is how it works: A call comes in that an intercontinental undersea cable has gone out. The ship is steered with the helm to the closest guess as to where the break in the cable may be. When they get to a possible point for the break, control is relenquished from the helm (the big steering wheel in the CENTER of the bridge) and turned over to the computer sation on the on far LEFT side of the bridge. The operator of THAT station enters the desired coordinates and stands back while the autopilot holds position to within a few meters. The bridge is as big as the the first story of a small house, so people can be at the helm, the station-keeping station, and the large reference area of the bridge with HUGE tables to lay out the maps. As well, emergency-procedures checklists are readily available, as well as doors out the left and right sides of the bridge to run out and help with docking. Anyway, once the ship is at station keeping, a crane on the bow (visible in the top picture above) grabs the ROV (remotely operated vehicle, or submarine) and lowers it up to a few thousand feet down to the cable. Guys in a room bolted to the foredeck operate the sub with little joysticks, looking at camera feeds as they searcdh for the cable. They soon find it, grab it with little claws on the ROV, and surface the ROV, bringing the cable up with it! At that point, they test the signal and see if they need to move up or down the cable to find the break. Once they have found the broken part of the signal, they patch the cable right there ON THE SHIP, then drop the cable right back dewn again, now patched and ready for use!
After checking the bridge, ROV, and ROV operator’s station at was down the engine room (passing the various bedrooms and ship’s library, stocked with about 323,908,504 dvd movies). The eninges are around 4,000 hp or so, and the ship has 4 of them, all turbocharged. With only ONE engine running, the sound in the engine room was still pretty loud, with an overtone of a steady, whining, scream, which was the sounds of the turbocharger, according to the cheif engineer.
After the engine room, it was up to the reason the whole ship exists: The Cable-laying deck! The majority of the HULL of the ship is a big tank that holds cable, the majority of the deck (right at the level of the gangway entry above) is allocated to the big spools and assembly platforms that spool the cable out and reel it back in. The bow has the ROV, and the bridge sits atop it all, with the engine room in the aft hull… so the ship is really highly optimized for what it does… there is very little un-needed overhead. (Yes, the Pub IS NEEDED).