Today we went snorkeling and watched the Bermuda Day Parade.
Ferry to the Navy Dockyard
We woke up fairly early to try and make it to a snorkeling tour around some shipwrecks. Unfortunately we weren’t able to do the tour, it’s a complicated story of why we weren’t able to so if you want to hear the details, ask me when I get back. We had already boarded the ferry to the old Navy Dockyard though, so we went. The Navy Dockyard is basically a fortress at one tip of the island. If you imagine Bermuda as a fishhook, the dockyard is at the barb (I think that’s what you call the thing that snares the fish).
When we arrived, we walked around trying to find what there was to do in the area. (Recall that our original plans had fallen through.) After talking to a few people, we found a beach where we were able to rent snorkel gear. I haven’t snorkeled in years, mainly because there’s basically nowhere in Colorado to snorkel.
The water was very cold, not frigid Colorado snow-fed river cold but still cold. It took a while, but both mom and I took the plunge and went in. I’m glad that I did because we tons of coral and fish. (Ok, maybe it isn’t really tons of fish and coral, but it was to this Colorado boy.) There were fish of all colors and sizes, it was pretty cool. There was a large variety of coral as well.
I really enjoyed snorkeling despite the frigid water temperatures.
After snorkeling for a while, we went to the museum there in the dockyard. Essentially the museum was the main fortress area. We went into one of the main building where they had displays about the history of Bermuda and the dockyard.
Bermuda was an uninhabited island until some Europeans shipwrecked on it. At some point, some of the people who were shipwrecked decided to stay. Ethnically, Bermuda is populated by descendants of Europeans (mainly English but also some Portuguese from the Azores) and African slaves. In fact, three fourths of the population is Black.
When slavery became illegal in British territories, Bermuda was one of the first places to emancipate the slaves. (Side note, the word slaves came from “Slavs” when some country way back when enslaved a bunch of Slavs.)
The fortress at the dockyard was important because it guards the entrance to the harbor. The fortress was used for a long time. It began being used in the 1700s I think and continued to be used until after WWII.
We went outside the building and up onto the ramparts where they had an assortment of cannon, howitzers and mortars. (Mortars are short-ranged, short-barreled guns used to lob projectiles into enemy positions, howitzers serve the same purpose but for a longer range and cannon are used on horizontal targets such as fortress walls or infantry.) We walked around and saw those and then headed back to the ferry to return to Hamilton.
When we got back to the ship, we ate lunch and went down to street in front of our ship to watch the Bermuda Day Parade.
Side note: our ship, when it is docked in Hamilton is probably the second or third highest point in the city and one of the higher points on the entire island.
Bermuda Day is the unofficial start of summer in Bermuda. The day has no significance except for the fact that it is the day that Bermudans celebrate their heritage. People mark off places on the sidewalk with tape the day before the parade and the marks are respected. We were able to find a small spot on the sidewalk in between claims to watch the parade. It was a very interesting parade. The “floats” were basically trucks with a few decorations. There were large gaps between the floats, a few times there were fifteen minutes between floats! The floats were basically just a bunch of local groups (dance groups, bands, etc.) that paraded along stopping every 50 yards to do a little dance or song. It wasn’t an exciting parade per-se but it was very much a small town-like parade. There were a bunch of times that the people in the parade would wave to people they knew on the route and people from the side of the road would walk out to say hi to people and take pictures. There were a few times that people in the parade just stopped dancing and came over to talk to a friend. Between the floats, people would be walking in across the street and kids would come out and play. It was a very interesting cultural experience.
The parade went on for forever. We stayed down at the street for at least two hours and only 15 or so floats had gone by. There were lots more coming though, but we wanted to go eat so we headed back to the boat to get ready for dinner.
We ate dinner with two couples. One was from Indiana, the other from Arizona. We had nice conversation about a wide variety of topics. I had chicken pho for my appetizer. It was very good. For my main, I had a baked ziti dish which was delicious as well.
Once we finished dinner, I went up to the Crows Nest to write this blog post (I guess it would technically be more correct to say that I typed this blog post, but whatever).