The next few days after Gaia arrived and crews I met left Caribbean bound involved continued effort of attempting to settle in, trying to stay dry, communal dinners, and planning the getaway to Hamilton. There was an International Moth Regatta in town and we decided it would be more fun to sail over and check it out first hand rather than attempt to get on the bus and see what we would find. Wednesday morning we picked up our anchors and raced to Hamilton. The winds were decent but tacking through the Narrows was a bit ridiculous and then it lightened. By the time we got into Hamilton harbor the Moths were coming in from their morning races. Turns out the winds were too light on that side of the island and the third race of the day was cancelled. That explains why many of the little boats were being dragged in by the Ribs that rounded up the stranded Moths.
We searched around for a nice place to anchor close to town and proceeded to dinghy to shore to explore. I went up to the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, found a place to tie up my tender; errrr my now somewhat sinking dinghy, and immediately started chatting up the only guy who looked like he would have been out on a Moth. Richard had just started Moth sailing a few months prior but advised for good spectating, tomorrow would be the day! The winds were supposed to be high and so the wipeouts should be great to catch.
They were. Until I was almost blind that is. Kirsten and I dressed up in full foulies and motored out all the way across Great Sound to see the start of the first race of the day! Moths were flying around everywhere!! It was complete chaos as they zipped around the Committee boats getting ready for the start. That’s when we met Aaron who was out watching for wipeouts as well in his skiff that had a nice bimini on it. He kindly offered us onboard as he laughed that we were out in such weather in an 8’ inflatable. I’m pretty sure it’s a 12’ inflatable, but we didn’t argue and stepped aboard to hang out with the nice Bermudian native as it was raining. Aaron talked all about Bermuda, how it was founded, ultimately inhabitaed, the birds, and how unfit Americans that come out to do strenuous activities like scuba diving and snorkeling and other such water sports are a real liability to tour/activity guides!
We cheered and observed how nuts these little boats were to sail! They would wiz by and boom…wipeout! The collisions and almost collisions, it’s just pandemonium. Kind of like my eyes at this point as it was getting so hazy that I couldn’t make out Moths in the distance. Kirsten and Aaron were commenting on this wipeout or that Moth stunt and I questioned to myself how they could see that because I couldn’t see through the haze. Wasn’t it the weather causing the haze? Yikes.
After the 2nd race, Kirsten was ready to go and considering I wanted to rip my contacts out of my eyes, I was ready to bolt back myself. Bolt against the wind and a waves as I could see less and less as we entered Hamilton Harbor. I closed my eyes and held on tight. By the time we got back to Acedia I could make out the silhouette of her stern and only the colors of Kirsten and my foul weather gear. I think I might have been legally blind? Well, at least my final visual memories were of the great Moth regatta spectating on the preferred day as I got to at least see a few wipeouts! I was never so grateful that I had worked so hard and gotten my boat to Bermuda. What if I was never to see again?! At least I had made it happen. Grandma was right to do everything you can and don’t get old. I had not one regret on the decisions I had made to get there and the experiences I had upon arrival. I was ALIVE.
Kirsten left me off and told me to holler if I thought I needed to go to the Hospital. Yes. But, it takes me awhile to accept those things so I washed my face and dried off a bit. My eyes were in such PAIN. I couldn’t open or shut them without feeling like glass was scratching across them. I went to the ER. My dear friends sat and waited in wet foulies in a cold waiting room while they thought Doctors were removing my eyes. Nope. They took me in so I could wait more and I cried until I was able to convince the Doctor, who finally saw me, he needed to give me the numbing drops that made everything better.
That evening my friends took me home so I could just go to bed and rest. They helped me get Acedia on a mooring as squalls came through causing Acedia to swing in a less than ideal direction and too close to rocks for me to deal with on such a night alone. By morning it looked like I had gotten hit in the face with baseball bat or at least got into a bar fight with two swollen eyes. The ophthalmologist diagnosed the whole incident as a severe allergic reaction. To this day, I have no idea of what it was a reaction to or cause. It simply was a grand scheme that caused me to lose my grand opportunity to get in a Moth Ride while visiting Bermuda!
After the Doctors appointment, I hopped in my dinghy and went to the closest point of the Moth race course to catch a few Moths zipping by. Holy crap I was right in the way! I almost got hit by like 3 zooming Moths! They come on faster than a barge in Boston Harbor…geeeze. Sorry guys! Aw, but on the way in after the last race I was able to catch some hotshot British Moth Sailors coming in strong making moves and flying one behind the other in perfect alignment. I stopped and got some great shots of the impressive moves. It was So. Cool. To. Watch.
That evening I was strolling through the yacht club and almost ready to take my sunglasses off as my face was deflating. On my way to the dinghy dock there were a bunch of guys sitting around some high tops drinking darkNstormies in a can. Richard grabs me and tells me to go get one out of the cooler. I brought back the last three on ice for the table and proceeded to have darkNstormies with Richard, Chris Draper, and as it turns out other famously best-in-the-world sailors. Chris immediately looks over at me and in jest says Hey- you were the one who wrestled me to the ground for my a ride on my Moth! Ooops. Yea, that was me. I proceeded to explain that I didn’t just want to take out his boat, but was asking to be taken out for a ride. Afterall, you can sail a Moth with more than one relatively light people on it. As the night progressed, I had never been asked how much I weigh by so. many. men. Sitting around for darkNstormies turned into full on crashing the regatta closing ceremony party. I met 90% of the Moth sailors, 30% of them who have gladly taken me for a sail this morning after the last race, had I met them yesterday….instead of meeting the Doctor in the ER.
Crashing the regatta party turned into tagging along for an afterparty at a club down the street. Moth sailors everywhere. Nice ones, snobby ones, good ones, new ones, crazy ones, awesome ones; Moth sailors from around the world! Sailors that had won this race or that race including the Mini Transat, Olympic sailors, and America’s Cup Sailors. All kinds of sailors come together to sail these crazy little dingies. It was the most fun I had had in a very, very long time. Dancing, drinking, and talking about sailing to a new kind of sailor crowd. We discuss how I was ever going to get a Moth ride and how I was going to become next years leading lady Moth competor. I think by Saturday morning, a plan had been developed. The best was the quote from my new friend Christina who said ‘the highlight of Friday night was turning around and seeing Melissa on the dance floor surrounded by 25 Moth sailors” Life was good and Benoit can dance! That night Chris from Newport had Matt from Boston walk and get me safely back to my dinghy. I had made a group of great new friends.
Crazy how we all refer to ourselves as sailors. However, could we take each others boats and just go out for a sail in it? I certainly didn’t think I could just take our Chris Draper’s Moth and figure out out to get it to fly out of the water! There are yachties that think my boat is small and run down; cruisers that think my boat is a grand size, comfy, nice, and easy to handle; there are dinghy racers that wouldn’t know how to get to Bermuda if they had to skipper my boat…what’s that nav station there for again? The sport of sailing is so vast and varied. I love it all. I want to work on a yacht, oddly enough only to be the cook. I want to race dinghies. And I love cruising my boat around from place to place. Just put me on a boat, let me sail or just cook, give me a few sailor friends and I’m the happiest sailor girl in the world!