Spirit of Bermuda Leaves home en route to start of Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge0
Driving rain and increasing winds in front of an approaching cold front failed to dampen the spirits of those on land or those on board The Spirit of Bermuda – Bermuda’s first purpose built sail training ship – as she left the Atlantic Island this morning for her first Trans-Atlantic crossing to Europe. As the ship sailed out of Hamilton Harbour to the cheers of onlookers, John Wadson, Director of Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge; Tall Ships Bermuda and Sail Training Bermuda enthusiastically declared: “This is the beginning of the Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge 2009 Race!”
“This will be our most challenging voyage yet”, Malcolm Kirkland, Executive Director of the Bermuda Sloop Foundation added. “It’s our first offshore voyage operating in Northern latitudes, up to 40 degrees north, and we have purchased thirty ‘survival suits’ which takes us well over and above the safety requirements. This is all about a challenging, mission critical, operating community, with all the best safety “nets”.
First stop for The Spirit of Bermuda will be in Horta and then Ponta Delgada in the Azores and then Porto, Portugal, before the ship heads to Vigo, Spain for the start of the Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge 2009 Race on 3 May. That Portugal is her first port of call is significant in that the Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge 2009 race is designed around Bermuda’s 400th Anniversary of Permanent Settlement and a large proportion of Bermuda’s strong Portuguese community originates from the Azores.
John Wadson, Malcolmn Kirkland, and Sutherland Madeiros, the Mayor of Hamilton joined an excited throng of family members, friends and supporters at dockside to bid the ship, its trainees, crew and captain ‘Bon Voyage’ as it sailed out of Hamilton Harbour in southwesterly 22 – 28 knot winds.
Bermuda Sloop Foundation official Jay Kempe said this first transatlantic leg will be something of a pilgrimage for the ship as the stop in the Azores will honour Bermuda’s strong cultural ties with those islands that began in the 1840’s. The pilgrimage will no doubt be especially meaningful to Portuguese-Bermudian Brian Bulhoes and his family. Brian, 16, is a veteran of the Public Middle School Waterwise Programme (Yr 1), the 5 Day learning expedition aboard The Spirit (Yr 3) and a world class U16 sailor. Though born and raised in Bermuda, his
large family hails from Ponta Delgada, San Miguel. He is looking forward to meeting other members of his family when the Spirit arrives there and his passage has been sponsored by D&J Construction, one of the Island’s leading construction companies.
Also crewing onboard The Spirit for this historic voyage are five Bermuda Regiment soldiers and three members of staff from the Department of Marine and Ports. “This is important for us”, said Kirkland. “These two institutions are strategic partners and offer important disciplined training for young Bermudians. We are really delighted to have them aboard.”
The Spirit of Bermuda has eight professional crew members under the command of Capt. Simon Colley and 15 trainees. Four seasoned public school students Vershon Simmons, 16; Michael Byron, 15; Cameron Joseph, 16; and Denzel Todd, 18, are on board for the complete round trip of two transatlantic crossings of some 7,000 nautical miles. Spirit will race from Vigo, Spain to Tenerife in the Canary Islands before embarking on the second race of the series to Bermuda. She will continue racing to Charleston, SC, then on to Boston MA and Halifax NS before returning to Bermuda to commemorate the actual landing of the crew and passengers from the ill-fated Sea Venture after her shipwreck on July 28, 400 years ago. It was this event that started the settlement of Bermuda.
Tags: Bermuda, bermuda sloop, Bermuda Sloop Foundation, crew, Hamilton Harbour, John Wadson, northern latitudes, Spain, survival suits