BERMUDA BOATS YACHTS AND SAILING The intricate waters of the Bermuda Islands are navigated by a style of boat the look of which is no doubt familiar to many people who have never been to Bermuda.
They are short, broad, deep, handy little vessels ; they are not fast, though they get to windward in a wonderful manner, and are admirably suited to the waters they have to sail in, where there is generally a smooth sea and a fresh breeze ; they are very hard to beat in their own waters, but they don't seem to stand transplanting, and I have never heard of them doing much good in England, or indeed anywhere out of Bermuda ; there is a spurious imitation of them at Malta, which I think a true Bermudian would repudiate.
The waters of Bermuda are a perfect labarynth of coral reefs, intersected by numerous deep water channels, and hence arises the necessity for the peculiar form and rig of the Bermuda boats, as they are required to be very handy and very weatherly, and depth is no detri ment to them, as there is generally plenty of water or only a few inches ; so that the broad flat Yankee boats with their centre boards, although admirably adapted for navigating shallow inland waters, would not be suitable for Bermuda, as they could not go over the reefs, (some of which are dry), and they would not be near so handy for threading their way through them. One remarkable quality of the Bermuda boats is their power of shooting to windward, they take a wonderful " fore reach " in stays ; and it is not an uncommon thing to see one of them with good weigh on her, shoot head to wind through a channel of considerable length, and so narrow, that she could not possibly have beat through it.
The mast in these boats (as will be seen from the sketch) is stepped very far forward, and rakes aft considerably, it is very stout at the partners, and tapers off towards the mast head ; there is scarcely any rigging, generally only one small shroud on each side, and these appear to be like the curl in a pig's tail, more for ornament than use, as the Bermudians take them off when they race, just at the time that one would think they were most wanted ; but they have a theory that the boat sails faster if the mast is allowed plenty of " play " ; and it would be presumptuous to dispute the correctness of the theory, as far as this particular class of boat is concerned, though it is not found to be generally practicable ; it requires of course an extra stout mast, and great support at the partners. The Bermudians also lace the mainsail to the mast when they are going to race ; it is laced taut up and down from tack to head, and the mast being tapered, the sail cannot be lowered when once laced ; thus they cannot reef, and if a boat starts for a race with a whole sail, she must carry it or swamp.