Green with Envy in Hamilton

I am ashamed to say that I knew very little about Bermuda  before arriving here , except perhaps  that it was the setting for Shakespeare’s “ Tempest” . It  appears to be an archipelago comprising the SE sector of a volcanic rim rising 2000 m out of the Atlantic . The rest of the rim lies just beneath the surface  giving rise to a shallow, protected , coral seascape  with a few passages into the sounds or harbours between the Islands.  The water has a different colour from the classic turquoise of the shallow areas of the Caribbean , being  a striking  luminescent mid blue  , but whereas the Caribbean is  turquoise in patches , this huge area  is uniformly shallow and  the colour equally consistent  which I have never seen before.

At the time of Britain’s war with America it was a major naval base linking and resupplying the forces in Halifax and the Caribbean. By the end of the 19th century it was beginning to rely on American trade and tourism and that certainly is the way things are now.  I gather that the opposition party would like to sever  links with Britain , but for the present at least there is an underlying Britishness to the island .


From Hamilton Harbour


We have moved round to the approaches to Hamilton harbour . It reminds me of Sydney , complete with commuter ferries radiating out from a central ferry terminal. There are more islands  than in Sydney , and on each there are one or more houses , each with their own dock. Our anchorage is behind one of the smaller islands on which stands a beautiful yellow house complete with  octagonal tower from which you can see for 360 degrees  over the various  harbours and sounds.  In the little protected anchorage between it and the neighbouring islands  are moored a small launch for commuting into town, an International One Design ( a metre type design from the 50’s that has survived here and indeed is used every year for an international match race series)  and a similar sized boat with bowsprit and heavily raked  tall wooden mast stepped near the bow. I am fairly sure she is  a genuine old Bermudan sloop , the ancestor of  the modern yacht.  I am not normally a jealous man , but……………….. do not be surprised if I am still green when I get home.


From Hamilton Harbour


Like Sydney harbour, this is a natural arena for yacht racing and it has been going on here for 200 years. We had lunch in the Royal Bermuda Yacht club and I wandered entranced through the model room with its half models of the heavily overcanvassed 14 footers that look like smaller versions of the 1950’s Sydney skiffs. Next to them are models of International 14’s , most designed by Uffa Fox , along with the  names of  my boyhood heroes  who had raced them here . Next to these are half models of the race winners of the Bermuda Race , and lastly some very old models , the oldest of which was called Undine . Apart from her age she was as unlike our Undine as it is possible to be , but all in all I had a very happy afternoon pottering about in this historic room.

Bermuda  is obviously a very affluent place  with very little appearance of poverty or an underclass. Nonetheless  there are tensions beneath the surface and this weekend’s public holiday is being looked forward to with some degree of trepidation as there was considerable violence at Easter with several people being shot.  I get the feeling that this was a great shock to everyone and a new development rather than the norm. In fact I suspect that there will be little trouble ,as all of us will have our hands full with a tropical depression which is unseasonably spinning this way and due to arrive on Monday. We are busy looking at bolt holes to ride it out and monitoring the forecasts by the hour.




One Comments

  1. What a beautiful boat. When I win the lottery I think we should move to Bermuda and race such craft. Interestingly, here on the other side of the world, we are also experiencing unpleasant weather. The boat is on the hard being prettied up and I need to get down there most evenings to do some work but no chance with torrential rain and gale force winds. I’d lend you my Manson Supreme anchor if I could – a slightly awkward brute to stow, but it holds well. Good luck. John

Leave a Reply