Saturday 24 November, Bermuda day 4, St. George’s: Cycling around St. George’s Parish, the east end of Bermuda.
Remember when we said the other day that the inflatable fenders tied on the waterline along the stern to muff the lapping in our cabin? We take that back!!! Wrong info! Last night we had a quartet going on, with two squeaky lines and and base drums!
The day is forecast as cloudy, windy, and few showers – no change! So what outdoor activity would be the most appropriate, if not cycling? Glen takes his bike for a test after changing the servo the other day. The bike works perfectly now, we are good to go and exert ourselves, cycling uphill and against the wind 🙂
We start towards the north tip of Bermuda, on a hilly but very pleasant ride along a narrow road right on the coast. It will be again a history day…as in there will be lots of forts and batteries to see 🙂
Bermuda has a chain of forts which were built to protect the Narrows Channel (which today is still the only route for large ships to enter Hamilton and the Naval Dockyard), the prize for an invading force. The British felt compelled to defend themselves from the French, Spanish and Americans through the centuries. This chain started in the east at Fort Cunningham on Paget Island then, following the channel, led to Alexandra Battery, Fort Albert, Fort Victoria, Fort St. Catherine and finally Fort George. Any approaching enemy would have had to face a gauntlet of over 26 of the heaviest Victorian era artillery pieces before even nearing their targets.
The first stop is at Gates Fort, where we find a small ruin and two cannons. Next stop, Alexandra Battery. Originally called Buildings Bay, this is the site where the ship “Deliverance” was built, that would take Sir George Somers and his colonists to Jamestown, Virginia in 1610. In the 1860’ Buildings Bay Battery was armed with five 9-inch guns of 12 tons. In 1904 the defensive work was rebuilt and rearmed with modern 6-inch guns. It was renamed Alexandra Battery after Queen Alexandra of Great Britain. Alexandra Battery saw active duty until 1920.
Having this historical info to digest, we jump back on the bikes and carry on cycling. A nice road, passing through colorful villages and along the coast. The sea is in a very agitated condition today. It reminds us that tonight it will be blowing a gale again! Once in a while we get glimpses of small bays and beaches. Despite not having the summer feel, we can imagine they could be quite nice when the sun is out.
We come across a very nice large bay, with a beautiful stretch of golden sand beach and turquoise water. St. Catherine’s Beach. And we would love to get a closer look, but it is all fenced off: construction site. Most certainly a resort is being built here, judging by the size. Hm, probably another one that will restrict access to this beautiful beach to guests only, like we have seen so many times in these paradise islands.
And at the end of this beach is Fort St. Catherine, which makes our third stop. It is an impressive fort, surrounded by a dry moat and accessed by a drawbridge. The original St. Catherine’s Fort was built around 1614, but it was renovated several times. It saw active duty till late 19th century. This fort was defended by 5 cannons, each weighing 18 tons. On the west side it overlooks Achilles Bay, and on the east overlooks St. Catherine’s Beach. Pretty nice position it has here! We didn’t visit the museum, only had a wander on the grounds. And we comment once again just how much money nations have spent to defend themselves. And how many thousands of such cannons are in these islands. They could tell some stories…
Back on our bikes, we cycle a short distance to the next beautiful beach in Tobacco Bay. We hear it before we see it, as the music was blaring from the speakers of the little bar which makes for the beach club here. Beautiful cove, with the usual crystal clear turquoise water and white beach. And probably great snorkeling grounds under all the rocks that are making this cove a very sheltered bay. A few more people here, all of them just passing by same as we did. And it kind of feels nice to see it natural, without all the sun-beds and umbrellas which we imagine are filling this beach in the summer season. So pretty that we decide to have a short break, over a beer and a toasty. We got to enjoy the view for longer, because the short break wasn’t that short in the end. It took an hour for the toasty to be prepared!
Rested and fed, we jump back on the bikes and continue the cycling tour around St. George’s Island. Then head off to St. David’s Island on a bendy road bordered by colorful houses and water inlets home to lots of small boats. Again, cursing it’s not a bright day to click beautiful pictures.
St. David’s Battery is our first stop here, another massive defence spot. It was completed in 1910, but unfortunately other than this fact we couldn’t read much about the particularities of this one: the boards were all deteriorated by the weather elements. On the hill above the battery, there is a Memorial for those lost at sea in the 17th-21st centuries.
From up there we have a very nice view over St. David’s and some of its bays. And we pick our next destination, St. David’s Lighthouse. Quite a few hills to pedal hard on to get to this lighthouse, as it is positioned high above the town. And once there, our eyes are drawn to some magnificent beaches across the bay. Just spectacular, even on a dark day like today.
It’s the Cooper’s Island and the Nature Reserve. The beaches here are the nicest we have seen yet, and we tick them one at a time: Clearwater Beach, Turtle Beach and Long Beach. At the south end of the nature reserve we come across a small observation tower and we climb it. Beautiful view from up there, and while I am fantasizing about sunbathing on one of these magnificent beaches, Glen is contemplating whether he could kite surf off one of them 🙂 This area had previously been a restricted zone due to a NASA spacecraft tracking station. But recently that was demolished and the whole area returned to its natural beauty.
We are quickly awaken from our reveries by few drops of rain. The sky is getting even darker, so we rush back to the bikes and pedal fast back to St. George’s. Well, truth being told it was mostly engaging the electric power button!
Back at Cloudy Bay we have a nice lunch in the cockpit, listening to the wind in the rigging and the lapping of the waves on the stern. Tonight it’s going to sound a lot worse!
In the nearby King’s Square some activities are in full swing as we hear some music. Our curiosity is soon satisfied, when we hear a countdown and the Christmas lights are switched on. A gospel group sings some carols, and together with Gale’s crew we join the locals and enjoy the show. Which didn’t last long, as the spectators dispersed soon after that.
And with the early Christmas celebrations infused in us, we move the recreational activities at The Wharf Bar. Over few beers, we chat the evening away with Christian. He has lots of interesting stories and experiences in the Pacific. So tomorrow, armed with the world map, we will pick his brain about our next destinations once we go through Panama Canal.
When we exit the pub it’s raining hard. The storm is almost here. By the time we are back at Cloudy Bay, climbing the precarious passerelle to Gale, we are soaked!
But soon snug in bed, listening to our usual accompanying orchestra which is at full volume tonight along with the boat swaying heavily in the gusts.