Yachting in Bermuda: A captain and crew guide
Last updated: 11/10/2016
640 miles from the next piece of land, Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory that is ideally situated in the middle of the Atlantic for yacht stopovers during Atlantic crossings, eastward or westward.
Yachting Pages spoke to Meyer Agencies, a leading yacht services company in Bermuda, to find out what to expect when visiting the island.
Why do yachts stop in Bermuda?
If you’ve gone from the Mediterranean to the USA/Caribbean, or vice versa aboard a yacht, the chances are that you’ll have stopped off in Bermuda.
With over 40 superyachts visiting each year, 90% of superyacht stopovers on the island simply involve provisioning and bunkering stops, popular for its duty-free status. The yacht agents and marine service companies in Bermuda are very aware of this, and are used to accommodating superyachts for a few hours while they refuel. It’s also common for visiting yachts to await a ‘good weather’ window in Bermuda before setting off again from the island.
What to see and do in Bermuda
The yacht agents in Bermuda suggest spending a little more time in Bermuda, instead of seeing it as just a ‘stop-and-go port’. Fitting into just 21 square miles, and capable of berthing some of the world’s largest superyachts, Bermuda can offer much more than just duty-free fuel, as Joe explained, “If superyachts tried spending a little more time in Bermuda they would get to see the world-class beaches, meet the friendly locals and enjoy our safe shores, I’m positive of that.”
In fact, Bermuda is made up of 181 beautiful islands, inlets and rocks. While most of these are uninhabitied, the eight major islands house the marine services and superyacht infrastructure to facilitate longer breaks for guests, captains and crew.
Should the yacht be stopping off for a few days, there are many activities that are easily accessible. Joe commented, “Bermuda is a diamond in the Atlantic; there are many world-class golf courses, and some of the most scenic tennis courts. You can rent a moped and explore the different attractions and beaches that Bermuda has to offer, plus there are many tours and excursions that can be arranged for the captain and crew.”
When to visit Bermuda
The peak yachting season for Bermuda is usually during April and May, with superyachts typically calling at the destination on their way to the Med for the summer season, as well as in October, as they travel back in the opposite direction.
Yachts that do stop in Bermuda often prearrange duty-free fuel, provisions and fresh water with an agent.
Yacht fuel bunkering in Bermuda
Yacht fuel bunkering is big business in Bermuda. According to Meyer Agencies, they offer fuel for $793 per metric tonne (correct as of July 2015). Joe Simas from Meyer Agencies explained, “Depending on the amount of fuel required by the yacht, it can be on its way within four hours of its arrival. We have a great working relationship with the two major fuel providers locally - so fuel can be taken at berth via tanker trucks or via pipe depending on supplier. Also, we can supply lube oils, if available.”
Superyacht parts and supplies
Though popular for superyachts, Bermuda is a small island meaning that some services are limited, including repair services and supplies, though all types of provisions can be acquired.
Joe explained, “There are no major suppliers of yacht parts in Bermuda. So when needed, spares or equipment have to be shipped in. This can be done by courier, airfreight or for large consignments, ocean freight.”
Superyacht berthing in Bermuda
Despite the fact that superyachts don’t tend to stay in Bermuda for long, there are some good berthing options on the small island:
A full-service marina, Hamilton Princess Marina offers full-length finger berthing ranging from 9m to 22.9m (30 to 75 feet) at $4 per foot (July 2015). These are available on annual leases with the option of monthly payments, or for daily use for those visiting Bermuda.
The southern breakwater of the marina is 152m (500ft) and the western breakwater is 91m (300ft), allowing the marina to accommodate superyachts of 152m (500ft). The average water depth is 12m (40ft).
With a price of $7.50 per metre (July 2015), the St George’s superyacht facility can accommodate yachts of up to 91m (300ft) LOA plus, alongside or stern-to. The facility can arrange for duty-free fuel bunkering via tanker trucks.
Royal Naval Dockyard (bunkering berth)
Free if your yacht is in and out the same day, the dockyard on Ireland Island offers superyachts a quick stop for bunkering via pipe.
Yacht clearances and customs in Bermuda
According to Joe at Meyer Agencies, Bermuda’s yacht arrival formalities are somewhat basic and could be even simpler in the future. He explained, “Meyer Agencies will assist yacht captains on what is required for pre-arrival and arrival documents, so on arrival there is minimum delay with HM customs clearance.
“Meyer Agencies is working with HM Customs to try to expedite the clearance process. Some of our suggestions are to allow yachts to pre-clear on arrival. This will entail sending on necessary documents electronically to us, who will in turn submit all documents and pay fees to HM Customs on behalf of the yacht. We are getting positive feedback from HM Customs on our proposals and hopefully by next season, or the end of this year, these proposals will be implemented. This will be a ‘win-win’ for arriving yachts and HM Customs.”