829 Southdrive

829 Southdrive

A New Jersey state of mind

Friday, July 15, 2011

Corner of a Triangle

The view of New York Harbor from the pool deck of the Explorer
of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.  We were about to
embark on a six day cruise to Bermuda, leaving from Bayonne,
New Jersey.  Oil tankers, cargo ships, ferries, barges of every shape 
and size, tugboats, schooners, racing and cruising sailboats, and 
another cruise ship leaving the pier from the west side of 
Manhattan gave Lady Liberty something to look at this typically 
warm and windy Saturday afternoon.

I was amazed at how fast the Staten Island ferry was.  And how
relatively small it was compared to the floating city atop of 
which I was standing.   

For a time there I wasn't sure we would clear the Verrazano, but
we did and once past the ceremonial start of the cruise, everyone
cheered and ordered another drink.  The bartenders and wait staff 
were immediately at full speed and they barely slowed down
for the next six days.   

Having never been far enough offshore so there's no land in sight,
I was able to line up the horizon with the railing and really get a good
sense of the curvature of the earth.  Also, the color of the water out
there is a spectacular deep blue.  There was a nice stiff wind and 
the sea was relatively flat, perfect conditions I thought, for sailing
across the ocean.    

Not only did my girls refuse sherpas, but they went up without
bottled oxygen.  I told them if they ran into anyone in trouble
up there, give them your chocolate bar but keep pressing on.
Self-preservation is key - don't be a hero.  Plus, our sit-down
dinner time is 6:00 and they still need to shower and do their hair.

The dark and stormy proved to be my favorite cocktail.  Gosling's 
dark rum and ginger beer.  Ginger ale just wouldn't cut it.  At $5.75,
it was one of the bargain drinks on the ship.  Bermuda itself is quite
expensive on the other hand.  We played many hands of "bullshit", 
which my younger daughter enjoyed shouting out at any opportunity.

The sometimes result of shouting bullshit too many times.

The first morning we were in Bermuda, we arrived in Somerset 
too early for our boat rental.  So we sort of trespassed on this resort
 beach where kids under 16 are not welcome.  We kept telling
Olivia to shut up and quit acting her age.  Nobody seemed to
notice our Royal Caribbean towels on the beach chairs.  

We had lunch beachside at the cafe, where we were reminded
by the server that children under 16 are not supposed to be on
the grounds.  I'm not quite sure what came over me but I looked
that guy right square in the face and swore that my daughter
was 16.  And the other was 18 (which she is) and she'd like a 
banana daiquiri.  There were no more concerns; three
of us ordered $16 club sandwiches.  

It was hard to beat the view from our table.

Weeks before, I had reserved an O'Day daysailer for us to sail 
around the different beaches and lagoons and snorkel from.  Due
to the absence of wind, we decided to rent a small motorboat
instead.  That way, we could go far beyond our rental boundary
and get virtually lost in less than half the time.   

We finally found the elusive "World's smallest drawbridge" after
making a mildly concerned cell phone call back to the rental
office regarding the multitude of reefs we were dodging that weren't
mentioned in the pre-three hour tour pep talk. 

The bridge doesn't appear to actually draw open any more, but
they claim that sailboat masts can fit through the 18" gap when the 
board that fills it is removed.  Provided they don't have sidestays,
I guess.  Lasers and Sunfish maybe. 

The Royal Naval Dockyard at the west end of the island.  The
pier can accommodate 2 cruise ships so this area is always buzzing.

A cab ride east to Hamilton, the main city on the island, 
would probably cost $25-30 easily.  We chose to take the
ferry across the sound.  A fifteen minute ride with the wind
in your hair for 4 bucks a head.  

The Explorer of the Seas, left, is a massive ship with 3000 
passengers and 1200 crewmembers.  An impressive operation.

The second day on the island we chose to go to the famous pink
beaches.  They weren't necessarily pink but the sand did have 
some pink grains in it.  We brought a ziplock, of course.  My 
daughter bought a tubular bracelet that could be filled with that 
famous sand and my wife took the rest home and poured it
between a few patio slabs. 

Not just BBQ flavored

What we thought was more interesting than wading in the waves
was snorkeling and just plain floating around in this little lagoon
adjacent to the beach.  The water surged in and out making it
feel like you were in a washing machine sort of.  What I found
cool was that there were no barnacles, and you could hang out in
the water in the shade of the rock walls.

Near the ferry dock in Hamilton is the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.

Lunchtime for the junior sailors.  I assumed that a club launch
would drive them out and drop them at their Optis.

Now why would I think that?

There are 180 cooks on the ship, 3 eight hour shifts of 60, prepping
and cooking food 24 hours a day.  Very possibly the cleanest kitchen
I've ever been in.  After some pretty well-publicized health issues
aboard cruise ships in the past decade or two, no chances are taken
and the sanitary codes are some of the toughest in the world. 

I just thought this looked cool.

The Captain said he would be honored if I came and took the helm
for a few hours, and I would have if there wasn't karaoke in the
Maharaja lounge at 9.  I did ask if he could arrange for the entire
kitchen and service crew to come out in the dining room and take 
a bow.  He was quite a sport, and in a few minutes, there they were!

For being on the ship an average of seven months at a time, 
virtually every crewmember appeared happy and pleasant at any
given moment.  We were made to feel welcome and appreciated
and the whole trip was an experience we'll never forget.  

I heard that just for our particular cruise, the crew planned
a flash-singalong.  I was amazed at how in tune they all were.
Now, where's my dessert?

P.S. - On a serious note,  I would like to thank my
Mother and Father in law for taking us on this wonderful
cruise.  Their generosity is extraordinary and we 
love them with all of our hearts.


  1. Good show, Baydog! What I'm most envious is (1) having the water warm enough I could swim out to my boat and (2) having a wake like that (15th photo) on a Wednesday night race!

  2. Nice! We're thinking of doing the cruise later this year. Last Saturday we were out on the Patapsco R. on our boat and saw the Enchantment of the Seas leaving for Bermuda.

    Steve in Baltimore

  3. That would be a great port to leave from. Cruising down and then back up the Chesapeake would be an added treat.

  4. Fantastic! Thanks for sharing the beautiful pics. I am so green (with envy).

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  6. I do not know a thing about sailing or ships but you can you imagine how honored I was when the Captain of our cruise ship asked ME to clean the Head. I assume the Head is the brains of the ship ( I don't know why it needs cleaning) any way I told him that I was honored but I felt that I did not have the skill set to do the task properly and did not want to jeopardize the passengers and crew.

  7. Welcome back! Looks like a wonderful trip. I miss water that color.

    Mmmm ginger beer, in dark & stormies or anything else or just by itself. My part of Brooklyn is heavily Caribbean. Never availed myself of the salt cod that's in every grocery, but the Jamaican ginger beer you can get in every bodega in the area has spoiled ginger ale for me forever!