In a BBC radio programme aired at 11pm on BBC Radio 4 on Monday 4th November the journalist John McCarthy reported that just months before he was shot dead, the former Beatle, John Lennon chartered a yacht and sailed from Newport Rhode Island to Bermuda.
The Captain of that yacht was Hank Halstead now a director of Northrop and Johnson and the mastermind behind the Newport Bermuda Race and both the Newport and St. Barths Bucket Regattas.
Hank Halsted has been a sailor virtually all his life. In fact, the day he was born his mother had to be rowed ashore from the family cruising boat and taken to the hospital!
But back in June 1980 he was the Captain of the diminutive sailing yacht Megan Jaye.
The voyage he was to undertake had been planned, according to Lennon, based on the reading of tarot cards.
It was through this divination he learned he should make a long journey in a south-easterly direction. So Bermuda south-east of New York, became the destination and Halstead the Captain of choice.
The passage from Newport to Bermuda is often a stormy crossing (believe us we know from first hand experience!) and this trip was no exception.
Halstead recalls “John was very much part of the crew despite being the least experienced sailor on board. I appointed him ship’s cook and he spent a good deal of time below decks preparing food in the galley.”
The passage should have taken four to five days, but less than 48 hours out Megan Jaye sailed into a force-eight gale. With the rest of the crew laid low by sea sickness only Halsted and his inexperienced cook were left standing.
After 48 hours at the helm, Halstead knew he needed to get some rest, so he put Lennon on the wheel despite his lack of experience.
After six hours sleep, Halstead returned to the cockpit to find Lennon still on the helm, “totally in control, roaring curses and singing sea shanties.”
Several days late Megan Jaye sailed into Bermuda and Lennon went ashore to rent a home where in the solitude of the villa he planned to write songs to be recorded when he returned to New York.
He left Bermuda in late July some two moths later and headed back to New York and the Dakota Apartments.
And the rest is as they say: History.