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Blog Posts by: Eduardo de Ana

When I was in the middle of one of my daily guard duties, Nuño and Carlos began-by surprise-a drill to abandon ship. They sounded the siren and announced through a megaphone: “Attention, attention, this is an emergency drill, abandon ship, this is an emergency drill, abandon ship, please, leave your posts at once”.  In a split second, the entire crew dashed about. Some of them were sleeping, others on deck or in the messroom, but the reaction was instant.

Crew

At then in the morning, everything is ready to set sails.

Nuño has gone to customs to pick up the documentation we got when the Oceana Ranger arrived in Saint George’s Harbour in Bermuda, then on to gather supplies like flare guns to signal in case of emergency. We were required to leave a deposit upon entering to the country and submit a list of names of new crew members.

Once we passed the last buoy on the channel, Carlos gave new crew members instructions about safety measures onboard. He told us what each of us had to do in case of emergency, how to act, under whose orders we would be, and where to go in case of abandoning ship. Some “veterans” also participated in this talk, since it does never too redundant to know this type of information.

Today, three new crew members joined the Ranger to “commit” the crossing of the Atlantic. They are Xavier Pastor, Eduardo de Ana and Alicia Fraile. Xavier, a marine biologist, is the Director of the Oceana office in Europe, from where he spearheaded the Transoceanic Expedition, with enthusiastic support from Steven and Annie MacAllister, owners of the catamaran we are sailing in now.

Bermuda

Since the Oceana expedition arrived in Bermuda, the weather has been dreadful, with winds of 30 knots, rain and two meter waves. Yesterday we went out to see if we could go on our first dive, as the wind had decreased to 10 knots and the water did not see too murky.

“On our way to the reef area, while on the auxiliary raft, we stop to film a Portuguese Man-of-war (Physalia physalis).  We had just reached our spot, when we found almost at surface level, at one meter deep a juvenile specimen of loggerhead turtle (Caretta carettta) two or three years old. Its carapace may have measured 30 to 50 centimeters long, similar to the size of turtles from the Azores area; with the Gulf Current in their favor, they could be there in 10 days” Ricardo tells us, at the end of three hours of intense work which he shared with the divers, Mar, Houss, Sole and Bibi. The latter was in charge of the auxiliary boat.

Divers lose heat very quickly underwater. Neoprene diving suits are designed with specific thickness, to be worn in different dive areas and depending on water temperature. There are long and short suits. For instance, diving in a reef area in a short diving suit is not recommendable, because of the many stinging animal found there, such as jelly fish, corals, sea urchins….and neoprene can also serve as a shield.

Saint GeorgeWhen Carlos pointed me to the immense cruise ship that was coming in through the Saint George Channel, my first reaction was to run to get my camera and go on deck to take photos. As so did my crew companions, including Nuño, the captain. Outside, the colossal ship from Norwegian Cruise Line advanced slowly, while diminute tourists looked around from the railings on deck. They were oblivious of course, to the harm these pleasure trips cause the environment and anaware of the dramatic moments we were about to live: the cruise ship crashed against one of the sail boats anchored at the bay and, loosing control of the ship, its trajectory pointed directly at the Ranger. As Carlos says,”to be close to land is dangerous. Fortunately, our crew has behaved very well, reacting to the emergency fast, like cats”

Bermuda

The coral reef surrounding Bermuda acts as a protective circle to the island and its inhabitants. First, in a physical manner, sheltering the island from storms, as this ecosystem acts as a barrier where waves break off. “In fact, the most superficial corals are the most damaged after a hurricane”, Ricardo confirms. Clothed by this impressive and beautiful natural barrier-also a source of life and food-the people of Bermuda take shelter under a second protective layer: their coral houses.

As we approached the island, apart from observing the undulating aspect of the landscape-because of its rolling hills-we noticed immense white spots that were scattered around the island. It could not be snow; we thought it could be some type limestone…Now we know the reason for that color: all houses in Bermuda have the same kind of stepped roof, of an intense white color. It could have been lime, like that covering the walls of houses in the Spanish south, but this is actually coral. We learned this from Cubbit Smith, a Bermuda resident whose ancestors from this island go back more than 300 years. He says it with pride and, it also appears in his presentation card.

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