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Introduction To Bermuda

Downtown HamiltonFor many yachtsmen, Bermuda represents the first step in true voyaging. Situated roughly 600 miles off the Carolinas, it's an island with a true mystique for passagemakers.For the landsman, Bermuda conjures up images of pastel cottages, pink-sand beaches and British traditions like cricket matches and afternoon tea spring, not to mention businessmen going about their business in jackets, ties, Bermuda shorts and high socks.

Most visitors to Bermuda come from North America for short stays, and many consider the island to be quaintly British; the Brits, on the other hand, come in much smaller numbers but tend to consider the island highly Americanized. Of course, Bermuda has a leg in each country, but it is uniquely Bermudian - a product of nearly four centuries of British colonial history and an equally long reliance on American trade.

Full country name: Bermuda
Area: 21 sq miles
Population: 62,997
Capital city: Hamilton (pop 15,000)
People: 61% African descent, 38% Caucasian descent,
a small minority of American Indian descent
Language: English
Religion: Christian (28% Anglican, 15% Roman Catholic)
Government: Self-governing British dependency
Premier: Jennifer Smith
Head of State: Queen Elizabeth II; represented by Governor Sir John Vereker
GDP: US$1.98 billion
GDP per head: US$30,000
Inflation: 2.1%
Major industries: Tourism, finance, insurance, structural concrete products,
paints, perfumes, pharmaceuticals, ship repairing
Major trading partners: USA, Canada & UK
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Late May and early June are especially busy for dockage in Bermuda, and transient dockage in Bermuda is difficult at best.

Dockage for the rally will be at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in downtown Hamilton. The rally fee covers dockage, electricity and water at RBYC for the duration of the visit to Bermuda.

The club's docks are in the center of Hamilton. The seawall extends almost 1,000 feet forming a rectangle and enclosing 110 floating docks for members' boats. Facilities for transient yachts on the outside of the seawall allow 30 - 100 amp, 120 - 240 volt, 60 Hz., single and three-phase electrical service at every slip and water at every slip.

RBYC members' boats take all the space inside the seawall, and rally yachts will be accommodated outside the protected basin. Most rally yachts will be Med-moored on the outside of the breakwater, not a perfect situation due to the sometimes blustery winds and usual light chop in the harbor. This is not an ideal docking situation.. During Milt and Judy's advance visit in mid-May 2004, winds were often 15 to 20 knots, sometimes gusting to 30 knots, and some of the dockage is beam to the wind. However, the bottom line is that there is no terrific dockage for transient yachts in Bermuda at any price, especially in the springtime when transatlantic yachts in Bermuda are everywhere.

Med-mooring at RBYC involves passing a bow line through an eye on a mooring buoy, then backing down to the breakwater, keeping a stain on the bow line to hold the bow up. RYBC promises to have small boats in the water to help rally yachts get bow lines through the mooring buoys.

Rallly officials have a dock plan showing the transient slip area, complete with measurements and available power at each slip/power pedastal. About 20 - 22 rally yachts can be accommodated on the outside of the breakwater.

Use of passerelles will be required. RBYC has many long planks which can be used, but Rallly captains are advised to be prepared with workable passarelles.

Water is at every slip, and standard U.S. hose fittings are used.

Pier Master Allison Macintyre (441-295-2214 or cell 441-799-5290 - VHF channel 16) is the contact.

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Royal Bermuda Yacht Club

Yacht ClubHost club for the Rally in Bermuda is the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club right in downtown Hamilton, just a few minutes' walk from the shops and restaurants of Hamilton.

Rally captains and crew are invited to use the RBYC's facilities, including the patio restaurant and the bar. Rally participants may use credit cards at the club or may charge on their temporary membership cards. All bills charged on membership cards should be settled prior to departure. Two Rally social events will also be held at the club.

The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club is a private Club and is the third oldest club holding a Royal Warrant outside the British Isles. The club was established on the 1st November, 1844. There are now approximately 850 resident and non-resident members.

Early in 1845, the Prince HRH Prince Albert, the first Duke of Edinburgh, graciously consented to become Patron of the Club. His Royal Highness, Prince Albert gave permission for the Bermuda Yacht Club to style themselves the "ROYAL BERMUDA YACHT CLUB".

After almost 60 years occupation of No.52 Front Street, the RBYC in 1933 acquired a fine water site at Albuoy's Point, Hamilton, built a large Club House on their new property and moved into their new quarters on the 16th December, 1933.

The RBYC's major event is the biannual Newport Bermuda Race, which the club co-hosts with the Cruising Club of America. The conclusion of this race sees RYBC lined with dozens of sailing yachts. During this event, the club hosts social events for thousands of sailors. The 2004 Newport Bermuda Race will conclude in Bermuda about three weeks after the rally yachts depart for the Azores.

Commodore of the RBYC at the time of our visit will be Jane Correia, and Vice Commodore will be Andrew Cox. The club's general manager is Vernon Pemberton, and the club's secretary is Hilary Roberts.

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Princess HotelThe Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel, an easy 10-minute walk or 5-minute dinghy ride from RBYC, offers special rates for groups. If the Rally can guarantee a certain number of people, Simon Boden at the Princess will reportedly offer very attractive rate reductions.

The Princess is one of Bermuda's oldest hotels. Reservations 1-800-441-1414, www.fairmont.com/hamilton, hamilton@fairmont.com. Rack rate for a double: $379 to $539/night.

A bit downscale, Rosemont Apartments, 1/4 mile up a hill beyond the Princess but without the harbor view, offers neat, clean, air conditioned basic rooms with kitchens at $170 to $200/night plus service charge ($8.00) and tax.

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The Bermuda dollar is on par with U.S. dollar. U.S. dollars are accepted everywhere, though change may be given in Bermudian currency. Credit cards are widely accepted, American Express and Diners Club less than Visa and Master Card. ATMs are widely available.

One recommendation: towards the end of your stay, ask for your change in U.S. currency. Bermuda dollars are accepted at few places away from Bermuda.

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Under Bermuda law, no self-drive automobile rentals are permitted for visitors. Taxis readily available but expensive, and the public transportation system--frequent busses and ferries--provides convenient and reasonable transportation. In May 2003, a one-day pass, good for unlimited rides on busses and ferries, was $11.00.

Rental motor scooters for one and two people available. Mike Smatt of the Smatt's Cycle Livery Ltd., 74 Pitts Bay Road, Hamilton, 441-295-1180 (msmatt@northrock.bm) offers a Rally participants 20% discount on rental of motor scooters. Smatt's Cycle Livery is a five minute walk from RBYC.

Remember that Bermudians drive on the left side of the road, which makes driving motor scooters somewhat hazardous for Americans.

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Provisioning in Bermuda will not be a problem, but paying for it might. You'll find a terrific selection, many familiar brands, and prices that are typically 50% to 100% higher than in Fort Lauderdale, though some U.K. items such as Irish butter are actually less than in the U.S..

A five-minute walk (and five-minute dinghy ride) away from RBYC is Miles Market, The Waterfront, Pitts Bay Road at Waterloo Lane, Hamilton, 441-295-1234. This is a pricey but extremely popular specialty market with everything you need from avacados to zuccini, including fresh King salmon, Haagen-Daaz, and a coffee bar--the closest thing to Starbucks we found on the island. To quote their advertising: "Miles-aged beef, including special 'dry-aged' beef, free range chicken, turkey and lamb, hand-selected fresh fish, 'fresh local catch' and more." They also have a fine selection of imported cheeses, smoked salmon. Miles offers a good selection of fresh produce, wines from around the world (few under $20.00), beer and liquor, a complete selection of fresh bread and other baked goods from their own bakery, Cuban cigars, and a delicious selection of take-out prepared foods. For substantial orders, Miles will deliver to the boat. Just give the yacht's Rally number (visible from the pier) to Miles Market, and they will deliver right to the slip.

A 15-minute walk from RBYC is The Marketplace, on the north side of Church Street between Burnaby and Parliament Street. This is a more conventional supermarket, the largest supermarket on the island, and prices are perhaps 20 to 25 percent less than Miles Market. This well-stocked supermarket is almost identical to the U.S. variety, featuring a massive fresh produce department, fresh fish, meats, cheeses, milk and other dairy products, a bakery, and a good selection of ice cream. It also has a very large selection of prepared foods. Beer, wine and liquor. The wine selection is much larger than Miles and many of the wines are less than $20.

We suggest that Rally chefs and serious foodies check out both markets!

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Rally participants are invited to use RBYC's restaurant and bar facilities and may use either credit cards or temporary member cards, with temporary accounts to be settled prior to departure.

In addition, Bermuda offers over 150 restaurants, ranging from plain to very fancy and expensive. From chic international cuisine at posh dining rooms to conch stew at a roadside cafe, there’s a taste to please every palate and budget. You’ll find Italian, Indian, Greek, Chinese, English, French, and Mexican restaurants throughout the Island. Wahoo steak, mussel pie, Hoppin’ John (black-eyed peas and rice), cassava pie, codfish and potatoes for Sunday brunch, and guinea-chick (spiny lobster) are just a few of the Bermudian delights available.

RBYC Rear Commodore Andrew Cox especially recommends Coconuts on the Beach at the Reefs Hotel on the South Shore as a great romantic Bermuda dining experience; four-course dinner about $88; reservations required--www.thereefs.com, South Shore, Southampton--about a $20.00 cab ride from RBYC. Coconuts: 441-238-0222. The Reefs is generally acknowledged as the island's finest resort and has won many awards.

Check out restaurants at the Bermuda tourism website: www.bermudatourism.com.

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The RBYC offers a coin laundry--two machines which take U.S. and Bermudian quarters.

Quickie Lickie Laundry, 74 Serpentine Rd., Hamilton, 441-295-6097, offers free pickup and delivery and wash, dry and fold service, but pricing is reported to be high by U.S. standards. RBYC General Manager Vernon Pemberton can arrange a pickup point at RBYC for Rally yachts upon request.

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Communications and Internet
It's easy to stay in touch while you're in Bermuda. Bermuda's area code is 441, and calling to or from Bermuda is just like making a call to another state in the U.S. To call Bermuda from the U.S. press 1-441 and the seven-digit Bermuda number. Likewise, calling the U.S. requires pressing 1 plus the area code and seven-digit U.S. number.

If you have AT&T cellular service, you can make arrangements with AT&T to have your service activated in Bermuda--see AT&T below. Cell phones are available for rent in Bermuda, and Internet access points are available in many locations in downtown Hamilton and at the Dockyard. Internet service on the island is typically 56K or slower, though some companies claim to have DSL and T1 lines.

Cable & Wireless, 20 Church St., Hamilton, open 9 am - 5 pm M-S, offers international calls, telex and fax, but no Internet.

RBYC sells phone cards which offer long distance service for about $0.30/minute and can be used from any phone in Bermuda.

AT&T Bermuda cellular service: call AT&T Customer Service from the U.S., have the Bermuda plan activated for $2.99 per month, and your cellular service will be extended to Bermuda for $1.49 per minute, not including long distance. Verizon has no service in Bermuda. Cellular One does have service in Bermuda which can be activated through Cellular One customer service in the U.S. No other U.S. cellular companies found in Bermuda.

Bermuda Cell Rental, 441-232-2355, rents cell phones for both short-term and long-term rentals--additional information including prices available at www.bermudacellrental.com. Or contact Cellular One in Bermuda at 441-296-4010.

Internet service is available at many locations around Hamilton. Generally, Internet connections in Bermuda are not fast, averaging about the same speed as a dialup connection in the U.S. Some locations claim to have ISDN, DSL or T-1 service, and such locations may be a little faster than dialup.

Internet Lane, upstairs at The Walkway, 55 Front Street, Hamilton, tel. 441-296-9972, is a 10-minute walk from RBYC and offers "fast Internet service" on their computers or yours at rates of 50 minutes for $10, 100 minutes for $19.50 using a magnetic card which allows you to split your time over several visits.

Twice Told Tales, 34 Parliament Street across from the Magistrate Court, 441-296-1995 is a dusty second-hand bookstore and cyber cafe near the RBYC offering inexpensive Internet service--15 minutes for $3, 30 minutes for $5.00.

You can make an appointment for 30 minutes per person per day of free Internet service at Bermuda Library just beyond the Perot Post Office (open 7 days a week) at the intersection of Queen & Reid Streets, a 10-minute walk from the RBYC.

At the Dockyard, Swiss Connection (441-234-6480) offers DSL Internet connection for $5.00/30 minutes--nice modern equipment and large bright screens. These were the fastest Internet connections Milt and Judy found in May 2003.

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Consular Information Sheet
U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs Washington, DC 20520
This information is current as of Aug 7, 2003

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Bermuda is a highly developed British overseas territory with a stable democracy and modern economy. Tourist facilities are widely available.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: U.S. citizens entering Bermuda must present a U.S. passport or a certified U.S. birth certificate, and photo identification. The Consulate strongly recommends that visitors travel with a valid passport at all times. A U.S. driver's license or a voter registration card is not sufficient for entry into Bermuda. For additional information on entry requirements, travelers may contact the British Embassy at 3100 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 462-1340, or the British consulate in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York or San Francisco; Internet: http://www.britain-info.org or the Bermuda Department of Immigration.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

CRIME: Bermuda has a low to moderate crime rate. Incidents of serious violent crime are infrequent, but petty thefts and assaults do occur. Valuables left in hotel rooms (occupied and unoccupied) or left unattended on beaches are vulnerable to theft. Criminals often target transportation systems and popular tourist attractions. Examples of common crimes include pickpocketing, theft of unattended baggage and items from rental motorbikes, and purse snatchings (often perpetrated against pedestrians by thieves riding motorbikes).

Travelers should exercise caution when walking after dark or visiting out-of-the-way places on the island, as they can be vulnerable to crime, and because narrow and dark roadways can contribute to accidents. There have been incidents of sexual assault and acquaintance rape, and the use of "date rape" drugs such as Rohypnol has been reported in the media and confirmed by local authorities.

There has been an increase in criminal activity at St. George's, a popular cruise ship destination and World Heritage Site. Incidents of verbal, and sometimes physical, assault against both locals and tourists have been reported. Petty drug use is frequent and open. Gang activity, including assaults and arson, has been reported in the area as well. There have been several assaults and thefts in the area of Pitts Bay Road from the Hamilton Princess Hotel into the town of Hamilton, and the back roads of Hamilton are often the setting for assaults, particularly after the bars close.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. U.S. citizens can refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. This publication and others, such as Tips for Travelers to the Caribbean, are available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Good medical care is available. The hospital performs general surgery and has intensive care units. Serious or complex medical problems will likely require medical evacuation to the United States.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency services such as medical evacuations.

When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the United States may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299); or via the CDC's Internet site.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Bermuda is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Excellent
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor

Driving in Bermuda is on the left side of the road. The maximum speed limit in Hamilton is 25 kph (15 mph); 35 kph (21 mph) on the rest of the island. Under Bermudian law, non-residents are not allowed to own, rent, or drive four-wheeled vehicles. Non-residents must rely on taxis, the excellent local bus system, or motor scooters. Traffic is moderate, and Bermudians generally follow the rules of the road. Licensing and registration are strictly enforced, as are driving and parking regulations. Because Bermuda does not allow the importation of used vehicles, most vehicles are in good condition.

Those unused to driving on the left are likely to find the roundabouts and regulations for yielding at junctions confusing and dangerous. In addition, vehicles often stop on the side of the road, blocking one lane of traffic. Main roads, while generally in good condition, are extremely narrow and tend to be bordered by heavy vegetation or low stone walls.

Pedestrian crosswalks marked by white lines are found on all roads. Vehicles must, and do, stop when a pedestrian is seen approaching a crosswalk. Horns are seldom used aggressively or as a warning. Instead, horn honking is used as a general form of greeting in Bermuda. As almost everyone knows everybody else, horns are heard honking at all times, which may be confusing to those visiting the island.

Rental motor scooters are readily available, and the required helmet is provided. While renting a scooter for daytime activities in good weather should be reasonably safe, visitors should carefully consider whether or not it is worth the risk to ride a scooter during rainy weather or at night. Motor scooters provide the greatest road peril in Bermuda; local operators tend to abuse the speed limit more than other drivers, and they will often pass on the left or right with no warning. Travelers who rent scooters should be aware that scooter accidents involving visitors are relatively common, and they can sometimes be fatal or involve serious injuries.

Taxis are readily available. The local bus system, which is excellent and relatively inexpensive, services the length of the island and stops close to most beaches, hotels, the downtown shopping area, and other points of interest. In addition, water ferry service to a variety of stops around the island is available seven days a week, and it is a very safe and enjoyable mode of transportation.

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please see the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs home page. For specific information concerning Bermuda driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Bermuda Department of Tourism offices at 310 Madison Avenue, Suite 201, New York, N.Y., telephone (212) 818-9800.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Bermuda's Civil Aviation Authority as category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Bermuda's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at telephone 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet web site.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at telephone (618) 229-4801.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: U.S. citizens who are taking prescription medication must inform Bermuda customs officials at the point of entry. Medicines must be in labeled containers. Travelers should carry a copy of the written prescription and a letter from the physician or pharmacist confirming the reason the medicine is prescribed.

Bermuda customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Bermuda of items such as animals, arms, ammunition and explosives, building sand, crushed rock, gravel, peat and synthetic potting media, foodstuffs (animal origin), fumigating substances, gaming machines, historic articles (relating to Bermuda), lottery advertisements and material, motorcycles, motor vehicles, obscene publications, organotin anti-fouling paint, plants, plant material, fruits and vegetables (living or dead, including seeds), pesticides, prescription drugs, prohibited publications, seditious publications, soil, VHF radios, radar and citizens band (CB) radios. For additional information on temporary admission, export and customs regulations and tariffs, please contact Bermuda Customs at telephone 1-441-295-4816, or email customs@bdagov.bm, or visit the Bermuda Customs web site.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Bermuda's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Bermuda are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines. If arrested for possession of even a small quantity of an illegal drug, offenders will be bound over for trial and not allowed to leave the island until sentencing is complete.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: ATM machines are fairly widely available in Bermuda. No local banks accept checks drawn on a U.S. account, but some Front Street stores catering to the tourist trade do accept U.S. checks as payment. The local American Express office will cash U.S. checks up to $500.00 for a three-percent fee. Credit cards are widely accepted at all establishments.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Bermuda is a hurricane-prone country. The worst of these storms generally skirt the island, however, and little or no property damage is incurred. Cruise ships regularly alter their schedules and courses to and from the United States due to hurricanes in the Atlantic. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone 1-888-407-4747. Bermuda is a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The Central Authority for international child custody issues in Bermuda is the Attorney General's Chambers, telephone 1-441-292-2463.

REGISTRATION/CONSULATE LOCATION: U.S. citizens may register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Consulate General located at Crown Hill, 16 Middle Road, Devonshire DV03, telephone 1-441-295-1342, where they may also obtain updated information on travel and security in Bermuda. Office hours for American Citizens Services are 8:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m., Monday through Thursday, except Bermudian and U.S. holidays. American citizens in need of after-hours emergency assistance may call the duty officer at telephone 1-441-235-3828. * * *

This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated April 30, 2001 to update sections on Entry Requirements, Crime, Medical Facilities, Medical Insurance, Other Health Information, Traffic Safety and Road Conditions, Customs Regulations, Criminal Penalties and Children's Issues.

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