I was fortunate enough to visit Bermuda for work recently. The days dedicated to business were full from dusk until dawn (plus some!) however these were incredible for my professional development and networking.
Come 5pm Friday I was on my own time and after three very full on days, I was very excited to spend time with new Bermuda-based friends!
The weather was awful for my whole stay, however I could definitely appreciate how beautiful the island was. I spent half of my time at the Fairmont Hamilton then moved to the Fairmont Southampton. Both hotels were incredible… They were also insanely expensive!
On my plane journey from Toronto I sat next to some men who were playing at a Par 3 competition at the Southampton. I ran into them on the weekend and they hadn’t been able to play golf because the winds were so ferocious. At their worst, they were around 80km/hour.
The beach at the Southampton was divine. I went for a walk along the shore on Saturday, however I didn’t last long. It isn’t pleasant having sand blown into ones face at 80km/hour!!!
The bus trip from the beach to Dockyards was just amazing. The island is fairly narrow so it was quite amazing going from one shoreline to the other.
First World War
During the First World War, the Dockyard and its vessels, intended to dominate the American coastline and the West Indies, found themselves absorbed with the role of protecting Allied merchant shipping the length and breadth of the Atlantic.
The vessels of the North America and West Indies Squadrons were employed to track down German surface raiders, and in escorting the convoys that were assembled at Bermuda before crossing the Atlantic. As would be the case in the Second World War, the primary threat to trans-Atlantic Allied shipping was the menace of German submarines. Ships from the dockyard also took part in the Battle of the Falkland Islands.
Second World War
During the Second World War, again, the naval base in Bermuda organised trans-Atlantic Convoys. Ships would arrive at Bermuda singly, where Charles Fairey‘s converted yacht, HMS Evadne, patrolled beyond the reefline, and the converted tugboat, HMS Castle Harbour, crewed by local ratings, patrolled nearer to shore and transported the pilots (who steered the visiting ships through the treacherous reefs that protected the harbours and anchorages) and the naval examination officer tasked with inspecting arriving vessels. Most convoys from Bermuda (coded BHX), once assembled, joined at sea with convoys originating at Halifax, Nova Scotia (coded HX), before crossing the Atlantic, it having been shown mathematically that – the area of a circle increasing disproportionately to its circumference as its radius is increased – it required relatively fewer warships to protect one large convoy than two smaller ones.
The Fleet Air Arm‘s Royal Naval Air Station on Boaz Island, HMS Malabar, nominally an aircraft repair and replacement facility without its own aircrews, provided air patrols during the early years of the war, using Supermarine Walrus flying boats flown by naval pilots from ships at the dockyard, or pilots from the Royal Air Force and the Bermuda Flying School on Darrell’s Island. Once the US Navy began flying air patrols from Darrell’s Island in 1941, however, the Fleet Air Arm’s patrols ceased.
Although Bermuda was a naval base, her warships were normally spread far-and-wide across the Atlantic, unable to protect the base or the colony. Early in the war German battleships, operating as commerce raiders, created some concern of Bermuda’s vulnerability to naval bombardment (especially when Convoy HX 84 – which included ships from Bermuda – was attacked by the German cruiser Admiral Scheerin November, 1940), but the island was never attacked, and the threat of German surface vessels and their aircraft quickly faded.
I somehow managed to squeeze in a visit to the Crystal Cave, which was absolutely beautiful and nothing like I have ever seen before!
The tour guide was a Bermudian with a great sense of humour, which made the tour that much more enjoyable.