In 1983, a stupid little sailor boy signed up as a deepwater crew member on a 98-foot ketch called Astral, because he thought it would be easier than serving on a big, proper Navy ship. He soon discovered that as posh and big as a 98-foot sailboat seemed in port, it became infinitely smaller, more crowded and less appealing when it was bobbing around in a big, deep, violent ocean. Fortunately, the Astral did make occasional ports of call, the first of them at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in Hamilton, Bermuda. The stupid little sailor boy is pictured there, at right, in the summer of 1983, way out of his league, and probably deeply toasted on rum and beer by lunch time that day, because that’s what stupid little sailor boys did in 1983 when they pulled into port. And then they chased women and got tattoos. And parrots, if they were lucky.
After all the stupid little sailor boys had had five or six days to flop and wallow around Bermuda, Astral set sail for other destinations, including Halifax, Nova Scotia, Camden, Maine, Woods Hole, Massachusetts and then back to its home port in Annapolis, Maryland via the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. The little sailor boy went on with his training and ultimately became a little naval officer, and then a little government contracting officer, and then a not quite as little nonprofit executive, music critic, and general gad-about-town. But over the years, the memories of that summer on Astral exerted a powerful pull on the middle aged man formerly known as the stupid little sailor boy, and he took his surprisingly lovely and accommodating wife to visit each of those ports, and was pleased to find that they were just as delightful and magical as he remembered them being, and in some cases, were even more so.
This month, the ex-stupid little sailor boy who is me and the lovely and accommodating wife who is Marcia finally made it back to the last of those Astral stops: Hamilton, Bermuda. We made the trip as a second honeymoon in advance of our 20th wedding anniversary, which we will mark in June. We stayed about four blocks from the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, so it was an easy walk for me to stand in the very same spot where I stood in 1983 and have a photo document of my return visit, above at left. I’ve changed, but the club was pretty much exactly the way I remembered it, absent some changes to shrubbery and signage.
We had a wonderful, lovely vacation, and I’ve done my usual photo essay of it over at my regular website, here: Bermuda Trip, May 2009. (The photos are inline, so give it a sec to load, if you see little red dots where the pictures are supposed to be). It was a real gift to be able to go back to Hamilton, all these years later, but the best part about returning was being able to do so with Marcia. That makes everything better. Even things that were pretty darn good to begin with. I can’t wait to go back again. With her.