We recently (in late August 2020) came into possession of this photo with a distinctive 'maritime' flavour and we could see some very familiar faces but what we needed to know is who was present, where were they, what were they doing, and when was it taken?  We also posted the same photo on our ExPo Facebook page, and  after a few comments we were deluged with a tremendous amount of information about what this was all about and who was involved as you will read below.

Arrival of the yacht "Hermit" (originally known as the "Oyster") in New York in the
Spring of 1976 after sailing from Bermuda with a crew of Bermuda Police Officers
(l-r)  Phil Phil Every,  COP  L.M. 'Nobby" Clark (with his back to the camera),  
Jim McMaster, Gerry Ardis, Perry Fox, Stephen Petty (with moustache) and
behind him is Eddie "Boxhead" Foggo, and probably Bill Bryan

 

Editors note -   We are also ran this photo on our ExPo Facebook page and here are the comments we had received  on Facebook as of Friday morning 4th September 2020.  

  • Eddie (Boxhead) Foggo partially obscured. Gerry Ardis between Jim Mc & Perry Fox. I think Andy is right about the yacht - seized over a drugs haul and later sailed up to the States. I think Bill Bryan was on it too. I got stuck with checking her on a moorings off #8 dock but sadly can’t remember her name. Circa 1977/8
  • It does look like Jim McMaster, third from left, standing , hands in pockets, Steve Petty on the extreme right, the shoulder patch on the chap on McMaster's left is hard to make out, but it doesn’t look like a Bermuda Police patch, US or Canadian perhaps? Before my time, so I am limited in ability to comment further, where is  Davie Kerr?
  • I don't remember her name but I do remember the inflatable and outboard motor the DEA let us keep. Took my mum and dad out for a cruise in it.
     
  • McMaster?? Not Harold.
  • L to R. Phil Every, Nobby Clarke, Harold Moniz, ?, Perry Fox, Steve Petty, ?
    Are they on a seized yacht? Mid 1970s. A large haul of drugs?
     
     

    We  received this photo in August 2020 from George Rose who was given it by his friend and neighbor and one of our former colleagues Perry Fox.  Perry had joined the Bermuda Police as a Cadet in 1968 becoming a P.C. in 1970 and serving for several years in Eastern Division and in CID before joining Marine Section where he served for many years. He retired from the BPS in 2005.

    P.C. Perry Fox

    Perry is one of the Marine Section officers in the photo.  George also passed on the following information which he received first-hand from Perry:-

    “This event occurred around 1974 or 1975. 

    The  personnel from left are Phil Every, Jim McMaster, Gerry Ardis, myself, Steve Petty, Eddie 'Boxhead' Foggo and I think George Washington (Reserve?) with 'Nobby' Clark in the foreground.  I’m not sure about Gerry Ardis due to the shoulder flash indicating a foreign officer.

    The occasion was the delivery to New York by the local crew named above of a seized  sailing boat the 'Hermit'.  'Nobby' had flown up to New York to meet the crew when they arrived there.  

    'The Hermit' was formerly handed over to the DEA or Customs as evidence in an earlier successful drug delivery case into New York after the 'Hermit' had dropped off the drugs and then proceeded down to Bermuda waters where our Narcotics Unit seized her at the request of the Americans in pursuit of their investigations.

    This photo was taken in the US upon our arrival. 

    I was charged with looking after the 'Hermit' during its stay in Bermuda. Weekly maintenance and engine turn-over being just part of his responsibilities. 

     

    EDITORS NOTE -  When further asked about whether he was sure Gweorge Washington was on board the Oyster during this trip Perry concurred with Gerry  Ardis, and pointed out that George made several crossings to the U.S. as navigator and a Reserve Police Officer but was not on this trip.

    SEIZURE OF THE ‘OYSTER’ IN BERMUDA – NOVEMBER 1975

    After receiving the photo George did some follow-up research and discovered this information in a US magazine entitled CAMPUS: The Navy Education and Training Monthly. The 1978 August edition at page 36 reads, in part, as follows:

    "The HERMIT" was seized in Bermuda in November 1975 by the Coast Guard for drug running. The [US] Coast Guard eventually took title to the yacht by satisfying a lien ............ Built in England in 1974 as an Admiral's Cup challenger and originally known as the "Oyster", the racer was not chosen as a challenger.

    She was a 48' long ocean racer........"

    HEADLINE IN NEW YORK TIMES

    As a result of posting the photo we have also heard from our ExPo President Cal Smith who received the following information from Patricia Flood, Administrative Assistant to Commissioner Corbishley.

    Patricia provided an article published in the New York Times headlined, “4 Arrested Here on Drug Charges” on December 19th 1975. Patricia provided a copy of the actual article as it appeared in the NYT but it is too small to be viewed on our website.   Here is a digitized copy of the article from the The Times’ print archive.

    "Four alleged members of an international drug ring that reportedly used a 54‐foot yacht registered in the name of a woman who is a British peer to smuggle more than a ton of hashish from Morocco to Mystic, Conn., were arraigned in Federal court in Brooklyn yesterday. Officials put the street value of the hashish at $2 million.

    The four had been flown in from Bermuda under an extradition treaty that is also expected to make possible the transfer to the United States of the yacht itself, which touched four different countries on its alleged smuggling journey.

    The four suspects and five others arraigned earlier were charged with conspiracy to smuggle, possess and distribute the hashish.

    An assistant United States attorney, David A. DePetris, gave the following account of the alleged operation:

    The yacht, Hermit, sailed from a berth in Marbella on the southern coast of Spain to Morocco to pick up the hashish, then took its cargo on a journey of more than three weeks across the Atlantic. It finally anchored about 25 miles off eastern Long Island.

    On Sept. 1, a 23‐foot motor launch, pulled alongside the yacht. Two of the six members of the band aboard the yacht transferred to the poWer boat with the cargo. The boat then took off for Mystic, stopping to refuel near Montauk. Those who boarded the power boat were Herman Fine, a former lecturer in psychology at Hunter College, described as the leader of the group, and Marysia Pryzybyl, a British woman.

    Waiting for them at Mystic were two other members, Robert Purvor, a British citizen, and a young American woman, Pamela Goodchild. Also waiting were agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Customs Service who had been tipped off to the drug smuggling by an informant, believed to have been the operator of the speedboat. After it dropped its cargo, the Hermit headed for Bermuda.

    Lady Rose Yorke, in whose name the Hermit was registered, is facing trial in Britain on a charge of violating a statute that makes it a crime to break a United States law. Lady Rose, the third daughter of the ninth Earl of Hardwicke, was described as a close friend of Mr. Fine's.

    The four members of the band seized in Mystic were arraigned in Connecticut. Three, were released on bail. The fourth, Mr. Purvor, who pleaded guilty last month to one count in the four‐count indictment, is in custody awaiting sentencing. A fifth member of the group, Richard Bergenstein of Baltimore, described as the man who would buy the hashish, was arrested in Las Vegas Sept. 5.

    The four arraigned yesterday were identified as Daniel David Caton, Philip de Baer, Sherwood Michaele and Dr. Christopher Troy, an Irishman who practiced medicine in Limerick."

     

    Sgt Gerry Ardis

     

    INSIGHTS FROM GERRY ARDIS

    Gerry Ardis was the Sergeant in Marine Section at the time of this case, and I wrote to Gerry and asked him if he could identify those in the photo, and about his recollections of the events surrounding the impounding of the “Hermit” and its journey to New York.  Gerry provided this excellent summary of what occurred and who was involved in sailing the yacht to New York:- 

     

    “I can confirm that it was me with my back turned to the camera just to the left of Jim McMaster;  I recognize everybody in the photograph that are clear.

    The photograph was taken when we arrived  at the marina on Manhattan in the Spring of 1976 (not certain of the date) after sailing the 54 foot ex British Admiral’s Cup yacht ‘Hermit’ from Bermuda to New York  where we were met at the marina by  ‘Nobby’ Clarke, Harold Moniz , the U.S Customs and a couple of agents from the DEA.  We had been previously been escorted by a small flotilla of New York Police, US Coast Guard and US Customs boats  from the Verrazzano Bridge  to our berth at the Manhattan marina on the Hudson River.

    The people in the photograph are as follows:  Nobby Clarke (back to the camera on the dock).  Even though it is not too clear I think Phil Every is to the Commissioner’s immediate left.  Jim McMaster is on the deck of the Hermit and I am   immediately to Jim’s left  looking away from the camera.  Perry Fox is to my left, then Stephen Petty.  Immediately behind Stephen is Eddie Foggo. There is someone behind Eddie  and though he is not clear, I think it must be Bill Bryan. 

    The Commissioner asked me if I could take the Hermit up to New York and hand it over to the DEA as evidence for a trial of the people we arrested in St. George’s. (Harold Moniz would know more about this than me). I suppose he asked me because I was in charge of the Marine Section at the time and had experience navigating small boats to and from the West Indies and the U.S to Bermuda.  I had also sailed with the Commissioner as navigator from Bermuda to New Jersey and back to Bermuda on a number of occasions on a sports fishing boat owned by a friend of the Commissioner. 

    I selected the crew who I had worked with because I knew from personal experience they could be relied on at sea in rough conditions.  I asked Perry Fox, Stephen Petty and Phil Every from the Marine Section, along with  Eddie Foggo  and Bill Bryan. I had worked with Eddie Foggo for a number of years in the Marine Section in and around all the rocks, reefs and channels of Bermuda. Bill Bryan had his own boat and sailed for many years in the Bermuda Offshore sailing races.  Jim McMaster sort of selected himself because he wanted to come along for the experience. I learned later that Jim Walsh the agent in charge of the DEA in New York was friendly with both the Commissioner and Harold Moniz;  he had requested we bring  the ‘Hermit ‘ as evidence in the trial of the drug smugglers in New York. 

    The trip up to New York was very successful. I never sailed a better yacht than the Hermit; she was amazing to sail in all sea conditions. We hit the sea buoy leading to the Sandy Hook Channel at the approaches to New York Harbour right on the bow and arrived at the Verrazzano Bridge at the exact time we advised the Commissioner on the VHF radio. We had made all the necessary familiarity and safety preparations prior to the voyage including a race out to Argus Tower and back.  The crew were all great and played their part to the full. We had a few cases of mal de mare when it got a wee bit choppy when we had a nice north easterly breeze in the Gulf Stream but nothing serious or unusual. Jim McMaster spent most of his time beside the helmsman in the cockpit and kept us amused with his jokes and stories about his police service in the Royal Ulster Constabulary and in Bermuda. 

    Like you I have a lot more information about the owner of the Hermit, the crew we arrested in St. George’s and the smugglers trip across the Atlantic from the coast of Morocco with over a ton of hash to the US and our fun time in New York being entertained by the DEA. I would suggest you contact Harold if you require any further information.

    I am sure that George Washington, the Reserve police officer, wasn’t on the ‘Hermit’ and I don’t think I know him.

    All in all it was a great adventure with a great group of Bermuda Police officers. I personally had a great time and have fond memories of ‘Nobby’ Clarke, Harold Moniz and everybody who sailed on board the ‘Hermit’.

    Hope this is helpful 

     Regards.

     Gerry Ardis

     

    EDITORS NOTE –  So, from a slightly blurred photo kindly submitted to us by Perry Fox we unearth details of a fascinating series of events involving an English peer being involved in a major drug smuggling operation, the seizure of the yacht here in Bermuda, and a team of our men in blue sailing it back to New York in triumph where they were feted as heroes!

    Many thanks to all who contributed to this article.

     

     

     

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