SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
May 06, 2016
32° 22’ N x 064° 40’ W
Description of Location
Docked in St. George, Bermuda
Cloudy with strong wind and sideways rain
The weather today is glorious. We’re all happy to be safe and warm in St. George’s harbor! It’s a small jalapeño (a little chilly) outside. Small whitecaps lap at our boat and the dock, sending salt spray into the air. Winds steadily rip around the island of Bermuda and are periodically punctuated with awesome gusts (one such gust was 50 knots!). Rain has been both perpendicular and parallel to the ground.
Rather ironically then, today has been our calmest day in a while. First thing this morning we made our way to Bermuda Radio. Far from being an island pop station, Bermuda Radio is the central hub for all maritime logistics in this area of the North Atlantic. The little building sits atop the hill above our dock and from a distance looks like any other on the island (albeit surrounded by large communications equipment). However, upon closer inspection you’ll see that it is built on top of a colonial era fort, with a 40 foot deep moat. Things got more interesting from there. After crossing a bridge over the moat we entered a room that looked like a NORAD command center. We were surrounded by charts, radar readouts, papers, and the sound of crackling radios. In this tiny building they coordinate ocean rescue operations with the US Coast Guard, coordinate aviation rescue operations for Bermudian airplanes (globally), coordinate customs operations, monitor all traffic around the island, identify potential smugglers, and monitor the ever-changing Atlantic weather. I was entranced by this complex logistical web. It was wonderful to be given a brief glimpse of the systems that support our northward cruise.
After Bermuda Radio we returned to the boat to listen to several guest speakers discuss marine conservation policy and politics in Bermuda. The first man to talk to us had attempted to organize the “Blue Halo” protected area, which would have covered a significant area of the island’s pelagic waters in the Sargasso Sea. However, his campaign was marred by foreign NGOs attempting to take over project planning, and the subsequent political fallout in Bermuda. Bermudians dislike foreigners inserting themselves into island affairs. He is now trying to create a new conservation plan. We were then visited by two women from Bermuda’s environmental agency. One of the women is also a member of the Sargasso Sea Commission, an international group attempting to create conservation policy (Japan likes to derail these things) in the Sargasso Sea. They gave us insight into the complexities of the Bermudian government, and worryingly revealed that very little emphasis is put on environmental protection on this fragile, isolated, island. The implications of these talks, for both the potential of future protection in the Sargasso Sea and for our own management implementation plan, were not reassuring. Still, I somehow feel more emboldened to push forward with our work.
Tomorrow we prepare the ship for our Sunday departure and get our final taste of on shore life in Bermuda before returning to the high seas! We’re all excited to continue the journey.
Till Next Time,