Happy 400th birthday Bermuda
Yesterday we were in St George's witnessing the ritual ducking of a nagging woman (photo). My ex-wife will be unhappy to know that my son loved it. "Dunk her again,"
he ordered the Town Crier in charge of this kangeroo court. He duly did. After, we went splashing about ourselves on St Catherine's Beach, a beautifully secluded bay overlooked by the dramatic St Catherine's Fort
and the sadly unused St George's Golf Club
. It is here by the way that the long debated new Park Hyatt hotel
will be built and it's a beautiful spot at this very eastern point of the island.
Our timing was a bit off as the day before on the very same beach there was a re-enactment of the landing of survivors and first settlers from the washed up ship, the Sea Venture 400 years ago to the day. The Sea Venture was on it's way to Jamestown in the Virginia with crucial supplies for the newly established colony but it became separated from the other ships it sailed with on July 24th, 1609 after sailing a more northerly route it encountered a serious storm, probably a hurricane. This area of the seas was known as treacherous and the Bermuda Triangle struck not for the first and certainly not the last time.
So, on Tuesday evening actors rowed to shore at St Catherine's Beach in longboats manned by Sea Cadets in period costume. A service was held on the beach followed by the unveiling of a cross symbolising the one that was left by the survivors before they departed Bermuda for Jamestown. The celebrations featured 150 sailors, including the crew of the visiting Royal Navy destroyer HMS Manchester.
Back in 1609 the survivors, included the Admiral of the Fleet and Bermuda's founder Sir George Somers and one of histories greatest privateers
Christopher Newport plus a dog, 138 men and 10 women remained on this sandy isle for 9 months building two replacement boats from the remnants of the Sea Venture wreck and cedar from trees found on the island.
Two of crew were left on Bermuda to claim the land for England while the two ships continued their journey to Jamestown. Being left behind was meant as a punishment for renowned mutineer Christopher Carter and muderer Robert Waters, who had earlier killed a fellow crewman with a shovel but was later pardoned. Carter and Waters are considered the first ever Bermudians.
Meanwhile when the two new ships, Deliverance (there is a life-size replica of the ship in St George's) and Patience arrived at Jamestown in May 1610 they found death and misery as members of the rest of the fleet had floundered against starvation, disease and unfriendly Native Americans. Just 60 of the 330 men had survived but Somers' men had brought fresh food supplies from Bermuda, mainly salted pork from hundreds of pigs found on the deserted island.
Bermuda's maybe a British colony but it has played a important part in America's history too. In fact I would say despite the many Union Jack's fluttering around the island many of today's generation feel more American than British, encouraged probably by the countries Premier, who "was on vacation"
for the 400-year celebrations. The Queen sent her wishes "Bermuda's history is a testament to the resourcefulness and resilience of the people who call Bermuda home, characteristics shown by the early settlers and through the ages. I am proud of your achievements,"
but refused to pay her respects in person due to the recent spat between Government's over Premier Brown's decision to resettle four former Guantánamo Bay prisoners
without asking Britain’s permission.
Anyway it is a fine achievement for a tiny island 600 miles from anywhere. Happy birthday Bermuda. Click for the full story
of the settling of Bermuda.