National Geographic : 1971 Jul
BERMUDA Balmy, British, and Beautiful By PETER BENCHLEY PHOTOGRAPHS BY EMORY KRISTOF NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTOGRAPHER PATRONS OF THE GLOBE THEATER in London back in 1612 probably wondered what William Shakespeare was talking about when he referred to the "still-vex'd Bermoothes" in his comedy The Tempest. What were these Bermoothes, anyway? And what continued to vex them? Then, as now, the Bermoothes were a small archipelago in the Atlantic, known today collectively as Bermuda, lying about 650 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras (inset map, page 96). Then, as now, what vexed them was their constant friend, provider, ravager, and whimsical enemy-the sea. I was to discover as I got to know the archipelago, and especially as I dived on Bermuda's reefs, that the sea has taken a stunning toll of ships and men since well before Shakespeare mentioned the islands. At a depth of 40 feet, the sunlight turned the water hazy blue. As Teddy Tucker, Bermuda's most renowned salvage diver, pantomimed instructions to me, he seemed a half-naked blue ghost performing some mystic ritual. He plunged his hand deep into the sand beside a rotted timber, and his eyes told me to do likewise. I did, and suddenly felt a different texture-soft and flaky. I withdrew a fistful of what appeared to be brown leaves. Teddy pantomimed a man smoking. What I was holding, I realized, was tobacco-unseen and untouched by anyone since it sank off the west end of Bermuda, with the ship that carried it, almost 400 years ago. "She was taking tobacco to Europe," Teddy explained when we were back aboard his 43-foot salvage boat, Brigadier."There was a mass of the stuff. It's Coral gems on a gold-plated sea, the islands of Bermuda have a vast expanse of the western Atlantic all to themselves, yet lie only two hours by jet from New York. Winds, wafting the Gulf Stream's warmth, bestow a benign climate on this vacationists' lodestone, Britain's oldest remain ing colony. On routine patrol, a plane from the United States Naval Air Station on Bermuda gets a sun-spangled view of the entire island chain. KODACHROME© N.G.S.