Bermuda – Sept 26, 1981

This is a longer bit than usual. Bermuda has a great deal of history and is a very interesting place.

The people come in all hues and are very friendly.

The main island is less than a mile wide and 24 miles long. There are around 138 islands here. The main island has a 75 mile coastline and many beautiful beaches. It is 650 miles from the coast of North Carolina and 800 miles north of the West Indies. The currency is the Bermuda Dollar and is a territory of the United Kingdom. The population is 63,900 according to the internet. It became self governing in 1620.

Rear Admiral Mason Berridge created Bermuda Shorts. He thought that they were “a bit of Oxford and a bit of the Khyber Pass.” They are usually an inch above the knee and are quit comfortable for warm climates.

We arrived after being stranded overnight in New York City. Hurricane Hugo was blowing over and around Bermuda, so we had to wait until the weather cleared.

The airline took us into a private room, locked us in and then told us we were not going to Bermuda. Nice Job.

There was one woman among us who only spoke Farsi. The airline had no translator and she was clearly upset. I think if they had gone out to any cab at that time, they would have had a fifty-fifty chance of finding an Iranian driving it or walking down the street. I have many Iranian friends and they are always eager to help someone in need.

They bused us to a hotel and gave us a voucher for ten bucks. A burger was twenty in the hotel, I think.

So our trip was off on a rough note, but the next morning we took off for Bermuda and made a successful landing there. The roof of the airport had been blown off. The main lobby was full of fresh air. Very nice. I love the trade winds.

The town of Hamilton is a beautiful little place. The strand offers a pleasant stroll along the harbor.

There had been a large cruise ship in the harbor that had been blown adrift in the harbor. The rope was enormous and had snapped under the force of the winds. It was tied to a giant concrete block about eight feet square which was pulled out of the ground.

The ship was floundering without power for some time in the harbor but thankfully its engines were restarted and everyone was saved from any possible injuries.

The houses have roofs made of coral. The roof drains catch rain water during storms which is kept in large barrels under ground or in the basement of the homes. The water is pumped up when needed.

The power was off and on at our hotel and made for an interesting first few days. We had little or no hot water at first and so were very perky after a quick shower. They actually have shampoo that works in the ocean when the power goes out and fresh water is unavailable.

The island actually makes you produce a “death certificate” in order to get a replacement vehicle. They must keep the number of cars at a manageable level and this seems like a good way of doing it to me. Perhaps we should try it at home in America in some places.

We were to go to the aquatic park, but when we arrived, the storm had knocked over many trees and the tanks were full of debris and dirty water. So sadly, that didn’t happen. In the afternoon we took a boat tour around the harbor and saw many interesting things.

Many of the neighboring islands sent chainsaws to Bermuda to help the locals clear the roads clogged with trees and parts of buildings. Perhaps you can remember how the people all worked together. Remember those bygone days?

We signed up for an island tour and enjoyed seeing the sites. It is a small place, so your site seeing doesn’t take long. That is not a bad thing. It leaves more time for the food and walking around the town and chatting with the locals.

Warning, warning!! Stop here unless you want to learn about some of the history of Bermuda.

It is believed that Juan de Bermudez “discovered” and named the small group of islands now called Bermuda in 1503. He was sailing on the La Garza from Cadiz to Mexico. The history of the discovery is murky due to the many voyages passing by the islands. The islands were generally considered uninhabited until 1609.

In 1609, The Sea Venture was purposefully grounded on a reef to save it from sinking. The ship was owned by the English Virginia Company which had established the colony of James Town, two years before. Bermuda’s first capital of St. George was established in 1612.

Bermuda became a Crown Colony in 1707 with the unification of the parliaments of Scotland and England which created the United Kingdom.

There have been many shipwrecks on and around the islands of Bermuda. The islands are located in the “Hurricane Belt.

“The Spanish used the Gulf Stream which passes in a northernly direction nearby, to return from the new world with their plunder. They tried to stay well away from the islands which they called the “Domoniorum Insulam. There is an inscription of a date of 1543 carved into Spanish Rock, perhaps left by a shipwreck victim.

An English man named Henry May was wrecked in the islands in May of 1593 along with a Frenchman named Russell. May noticed previous wrecks while there.

The “Tiger,” commanded by Richard Greenville captured a larger ship, The Santa Maria de San Vincente off the shores of Bermuda in 1585. The Tiger was returning from the Roanoke Colony at the time.

Bermuda was initially divided into nine equally sized sections called “tribes.” Later they were called parishes. They were named after the eight largest investors in the company. From east to west they were the Bedford, Smiths, Cavendish, Paget, Mansell, Warwick, Sandys, Southampton, and Devonshire.

The Company sent 600 settlers in nine ships between 1612 and 1615. Governor Moore dug a well in St. George and built fortifications called Paget and Smith’s Batteries at the entrance of the harbor.

In August of 1616, plantains, pineapple, sugarcane, and fig trees were imported. Indian and African labor which came to Bermuda were the first in any English colony.

When the island turned to a maritime economy in the 1690’s, slavery increased a good deal. Before that the system used indentured immigrants.

By 1710, slaves were doing most of the work and were 3,517 of the total population of 8,366 in 1721.

There were several slave revolts in 1623, 1656, 1664, 1673 and then in 1681.

A law was passed in 1674 that made slaves straying from their home farm or work place and wondering without permission or gathering in groups of more than three from different perishes illegal and punishable by whipping.

Any free black Africans had to leave the island or risk being placed in slavery again.

We had a wonderful time in Bermuda. By the way, I saw the most beautiful women while traveling there. Just an interesting fact. We would gladly go back in a second if we didn’t have many other places to visit.

In a few days I will put up another “Island Adventure.”

Check my website for my novels. If you like history and adventure, read “Sailing Away,” by R. C. Hand on Amazon.