Bermuda 3 angles
by Lucy Gilliam
We stopped in Bermuda for 36 hours to break our passage to Europe and take on fresh water and drop off a crewmember. Our berth for the night was alongside the quay in St Georges. St Georges is a quaint town with obvious British and American influences. It’s very ‘neat’ with its brightly coloured houses and it’s immaculate cobbled streets.
St Georges is a UN World Heritage site although it could have easily been mistaken for a colonial town in Disneyland. To me the bright, quiet neatness was a little overwhelming and I found myself imagining that somewhere so outwardly perfect must have dark secrets like the fictional murderous village of Midsummer Norton.
It transpired later that St Georges is twinned with Lyme Regis in Dorset and that the island has an area called Somerset (Big up the West Country!). The other thing you notice is that EVERYONE says hello to you, even people in passing vehicles. By the end of the day I felt like I’d met everyone in the town and had lived here for years.
Lastly there are serious numbers of people (I swear half the town) who wear Bermuda shorts with knee high socks and leather lace up shoes like some overgrown uniform at a school for those in their sunset years.
Other key aspects that Bermuda is known for include Bermuda the yacht pit stop, the biodiversity hotspot and the Treasure Island.
1) Bermuda is a well-known Yacht Pit Stop for vessels crossing the Atlantic to Europe ever since the 15th century and most famous for the myths of lost ships into the Bermuda triangle. No one can agree on what the triangle is or if it exists at all. Many theories abound that ships are lost due to magnetic variation, methane hydrate landslides, underwater earthquakes, hidden reefs, freak waves and winds, sea monsters. You name it. Someone has proposed it. This doesn’t stop the majority of vessels crossing the Atlantic using this as a convenient out post to restock. We spotted a number of vessels we had seen in St Martin along with 2 other sail training tall ships in the harbour. One of the tall ships, the Corwith Cramer, a Oceanography and Marine Ecology Research ship from Woods hole was kind enough to give a behind the scenes tour of their labs (Gulp! They have PCR machines on board!!), living quarters and galley. I was green with envy and massively inspired. Check out the full story here with lots of lovely pictures.
2) Bermuda is an incredible unique Biodiversity hot spot (Check out the Bermuda Global Ocean Legacy project). Bermuda is at the centre of the Sargasso Sea and is surrounded by a series of reefs. The Sargasso Sea is a breeding ground of international importance with many sea creatures making an annual pilgrimage to these waters to breed. The waters are rich with sharks, turtles, seahorses and a myriad of small creatures. There are many creatures unique to these waters and this has led to an international campaign to get these waters protected. The research vessel Corwith Cramer, our neighbour in Port, is working with the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences contributing significantly to the campaign to conserve Bermuda’s underwater riches.
Bermudan residents are pretty hot on ecological issues. All the shops give paper bags to customers. The island is very remote so water conservation is a high priority. But the island is far from self sufficient with near 100% of food being imported by cargo ship to the island. What I really liked was that the local currency featured their native flora and fauna, including the delightful singing tree frog. You cannot miss the singing tree frog chorus as you head home from the bars at night.
3) Bermuda – the notorious Treasure Island AKA tax haven for virtual wealth. Bermuda enables the wealthy to ‘lose’ their wealth in a virtual black hole safe from the sticky mitts of tax collectors. If you are interested in the role that tax havens play in furthering inequality and impeding international development check out this website. Apparently the Cameron dynasty (the current British PM) enhanced their assets by burying it on a virtual treasure island don’t ya know.