an121 Bermuda to USA an122 Bermuda to Canada an123 Bermuda to Northern Europe an124 Bermuda to Gibraltar an125 Bermuda to Azores an126 Bermuda to Lesser Antilles an127 Bermuda to Virgin Islands
Bermuda occupies such a strategic position in the Western Atlantic that even those planning not to stop there find it difficult to bypass this attractive island. Although good protection is assured in its well sheltered harbours, the approaches to Bermuda are dangerous and a brief look at the chart
will explain why this cluster of islands surrounded by reefs was first settled by shipwrecked Englishmen on their way to America. In more recent times a shipping exclusion zone has been declared around Bermuda's shores, and ships are warned to keep their distance unless they intend to call there. However, with reliable lights and clearly marked channels, the approaches are not too difficult, unless one attempts to make landfall at night or in a southwesterly blow, neither of which are recommended.
Bermuda is in the Horse Latitudes, the region of variables north of the trade wind zone and south of the westerlies. There is no prevailing wind and the weather of the island is affected by two main systems, the position of the Azores high and the flow of weather systems over the eastern seaboard of the United States into the Atlantic. In summer the Azores high is the dominating feature and produces SW winds of around 15 knots. The Gulf Stream also influences the climate, making the water around Bermuda warmer and keeping the winters mild. Hurricanes cannot be ignored, although most of these tropical storms which form in the North Atlantic curve to pass to the west of Bermuda, very few storms passing directly over the island. The hurricane season is officially 1st
June to 30th November, the greatest frequency occurring from August until October. In winter high winds and gales strike the island, February being the worst month with an average of 8 gales.
Around 1000 cruising boats call at Bermuda every year, most of them spending only a few days there before setting off for new destinations. Bermuda is the finishing point of various races from the US east coast, the biannual race from Newport being one of the longest established offshore races in the world. Most people, however, use Bermuda as a convenient springboard either to the Caribbean or to the Azores and Europe. The routes radiating from Bermuda are very seasonal, the spring, from April to June, being busy with boats returning home either to North America or Europe. At such time, European boats are in the majority and in Bermuda they are joined by US or Canadian boats also bound for Europe. The summer sees mainly a two-way traffic from the USA as the hurricane season keeps most people away
from the Caribbean, while the autumn brings a new influx of North American boats on their way south.
Those starting their transatlantic voyage in Bermuda are confronted with a serious challenge and there are few routes described in this book on which access to up-to-date weather information is of such paramount importance as the route to the Azores. The position of the North Atlantic high or anticyclone, commonly referred to as the Azores high, ought to be known at all times and a course chosen accordingly. Occasionally, uncommon easterly winds slow down the boats making their way to the Azores in spring. This is due to the Azores high being situated much farther north than its normal position for an unusually long time, allowing easterly winds to make
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