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Guest blogger Ida Becker helps send off the sailors of the Charleston to Bermuda race Thursday night.
A delightful contingent of rum-quaffing, shorts-wearing, high-pressure weather-talking Bermudians received guests at the Rice Mill Building for The Celebration of Sail on Thursday night. This party honored the cultural and historic ties between Charleston and Bermuda, the British overseas territory located 777 miles off our coast.
Standing shoulder-to-shoulder, the receiving line consisted of Mark Capes, deputy governor; Ralph Richardson, commodore of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club; Andre Burnett-Herkes, honorary secretary of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club; and E. Michael Jones, chairman of the Bermuda Tourism Board, who sent a ripple of laughter through the crowd when he opened his remarks with an island-tinged, "How y’all doing?"
Mayor Riley was on hand to laud the entwining, seafaring relationship shared between our home port and those on the island outcrop, which is celebrating its 400th anniversary this year (it’s one darling of a yearlong party; check out the nonstop festivities). Riley was presented with a fresh-from-the-press copy of Four Centuries of Friendship: America-Bermuda Relations 1609-2009 that details some of the more colorful excerpts of our shared history—think smuggled gun powder and copious amounts of rum!
Sailors, marked by their telltale tans, mingled amid the coat-and-tie crowd; and while discussions of weather are often the most boring party speak, chattering about the forecast was duly appropriate for this nautical crowd, especially with the Charleston to Bermuda race getting underway the next day.
The gathering brought back fond memories of previous parties held on the eve of the Charleston to Bermuda race: awe of my friend Susan Ford, who captained an all-women crew six years ago; assisting with logistics before flying over to greet the arriving boats four years ago; and the eager anticipation of my crew spot aboard Luna Danns two years ago.
Although the fleet is relatively small this year (only seven boats will make the passage this week compared to the 18 that competed the year I raced), I’ll be excitedly following the progress of The Spirit of South Carolina, our locally built tall ship, which has already introduced more than 3,000 students to the challenges and rewards of sailing. You too can track the fleet.
Incidentally, Bermuda recently completed work on its own tall ship—The Spirit of Bermuda, a 112-foot, three-masted schooner. She’ll sail into our harbor alongside nearly 20 other tall ships in late June, just in time for Charleston Harborfest. Get ready for the Parade of Sail as it’s bound to be spectacular!