Snorkelling has become common place since the Bermudian-Azores High has sandwiched us into a lovely weather system ranging from twenty-six to thirty-two degrees, with a slight breeze. There’s the occasional relief rain shower, but it’s brief, then the island steams it’s way to ninety percent humidity. Today we’re sitting at around seventy percent, so it’s quite bearable for a South Island Kiwi like me, although I’m still melting! They say if you stop sweating in Bermuda, that’s when you have a problem. Sweating means you’re hydrated and okay, no sweat means you’re dehydrated and in trouble.
Last night we went for a quick swim before tea, the best way to cool off. The water was like glass, and the visibility was fantastic. I could see right to the bottom in at least fifteen meters of water. The problem with that is the refraction in the water makes me see things that aren’t there. No, I’m not crazy, well yet anyway! What I mean is that gorgeous old bottle fifteen meters down, that I swim and swim and exhaust myself getting too, turns out to be a stick. That circle shape in the pink sand, is actually a shell, not an ancient ink well. I swam right out to the entrance of the Bay, and met some huge parrot fish, as big as one of those plastic outdoor chairs. They couldn’t care less about me, scoffing the algae, and completely ignoring me. I passed some Bar Jacks. They are a light grey colour with black fins, classically fish shaped, about a foot and a half long, and an iridescent blue stripe along their backs. If I have the breed wrong, please let me know, but they swam past me a few times. To read more about them and see an image, click in the link below this paragraph. I guess they were feeding on the clouds of bait. The tiny sprats are so funny, as they see me swimming they cloud around me, I guess because I’m bigger and they think I’ll protect them. I’m always thinking ‘From what?!’ Sometimes I have to push my way through to shake them off to get to clear water.
Last weekend we went to Mangrove Bay. This Bay has an old bottle dump with hundreds of broken bottle pieces ranging from quite modern beer and soda bottles, to the old marble, ballast and torpedo bottles all mid to late eighteen-hundreds. Not one is intact. Along the Bay a little past Watford Bridge, there’s another spot where pieces of the very old black glass bottles are, but again, only pieces. I’m sure if I could stay down for longer, and wasn’t quite so buoyant, it might be a different story. I found a broked Chapel bottle, with its twisted finished neck, used for olive oil at the end of the eighteen hundreds. At one point I dived down to check out what I thought might be a torpedo bottle, and after realising it was a rock, started to come back up. As I did a school of Bar Jacks, about thirty of them, swam past so close, I felt them brush against me. I was treading water thinking ‘Wow, that was cool’, and another one swam by. I thought ‘There’s the straggler’, then realised it was the start of the whole school again. They swam around me this time, three or four times, then they were gone. At one point it was very disorientating, as they swished by, so close, I could have reached out and touched them. I didn’t though, as I think I would have spoiled the moment. It was wonderful to have them so close, with their vivid blue stripe flashing past, just magical.
Images above: Snorkelling favourite Mangrove Bay, near Watford Bridge and Somerset
We took little boat out to a bay near the old dock on Coney Island a few days later. The sea has been like glass and ideal for our flat bottom punt. After asking permission from the lovely man who lives over in that bay, we anchored at the beach, then off we went searching. There were lots of modern bottles, but nothing old enough to write home about. A bit further round, I found some really old black thick glass, and waved my lovely husband back as he had gone on further. He dutifully came back grumbling a little, then stayed in that area searching for a while. I gave up quickly and swam on. Then it was his turn to call me back ‘I’ve found something for you’. Found it for me? I don’t think so, but I’ll play the game. He pointed to the sand bank, and sure enough an old black blob top bottle was sticking out, as though it had just been dropped there, not nearly two hundred years ago. I got the privilege of pulling it out, and sure enough, a perfect example of a three part mould, blob top dating around eighteen-thirty. It’s definitely his year for the finds! We were agreed on five more minutes, this is so important or I would stay in all day and be horribly dehydrated and burnt to a crisp at the end of it. My lovely husband suddenly looked all guilty and said ‘You’re not going to speak to me anymore!’. Good grief, what did he find this time? It was a stoneware bottle, in that earthenware glazed brown colour, with a blob top. It’s as rough as guts, cracked in three parts, but still holding together, with coral growths probably contributing to this on the outside, but it’s beautiful. We can’t even find an example of it in our ‘Old Bermuda Bottles’ book, which has become our reference bible. I’m guessing it’s in the stoneware period of between eighteen-thirty to the end of that century. A nice find indeed. Surely it’s my turn next time!
Here are some of our more recent bottle finds:
More Soon – Sally
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