Bermuda, Now You Know The Rest Of The Story

January 17, 2015

“Bermuda, Bermuda, now you know the rest of the story,” ended a broadcast from Paul Harvey on his 1970′s radio series “The Rest of the Story,” following an enthusiastic telling of the tale of the founding of Bermuda in 1609.

“The Rest of the Story” was a radio program originally hosted by Mr. Harvey that saw him present stories of little known events and places on a wide range of subjects, with Bermuda’s founding ranking among them.

Mr. Harvey’s telling of the story of the founding of Bermuda includes details taken from the account of William Strachey, an eye witness reporter aboard the Sea Venture when it unexpectedly landed in Bermuda in 1609.

In his Bermuda-focused “The Rest of the Story,” Mr. Harvey said, “Now, the rest of the story.

“In the summer of 1609, Jamestown Colony was struggling for survival. So, from Plymouth, England was dispatched a fleet of ships to the rescue.

“They bore supplies and additional colonists, nine vessels in all. The flagship of the fleet was the Sea Venture. A trans-Atlantic voyage took many weeks in those times and for many weeks, all was quiet.

“But then, one Monday late in July, a hurricane struck. The fleet, which had been sailing in tight formation, was suddenly widely scattered. Now the magnificent flagship Sea Venture was alone in a swirling ocean cauldron, cowering beneath a glowering sky. Aboard the Sea Venture was colonial secretary elect William Strachey.”

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“It is his descriptions of the days that follow that comprise one of the most vivid and one of the most terrifying accounts in all maritime history,” continued Mr Harvey.

“Strachey called it a hell of darkness that descended upon them. He told of the relentless roaring winds that stirred the seas and pounded their vessel. He related that over the next 24 hours, nobody could imagine the weather becoming more violent… and yet it continued to become more violent.

“The mountainous waves seemed to swell above the clouds, he said. The rains seemed more a river flooding the air. There was not a moment in which the sudden splitting of a ship was not expected, he recorded. And by Friday morning, the fifth day of windy, watery hell, all had abandoned hope and prepared to perish.

“And it was then that the cry of someone on the Sea Venture was heard above the howling wind – the voice of Sir George Somers, the admiral of the fleet, and the word he shouted that shattered the darkness was “land.”

“As best he could, Somers guided the Sea Venture straight toward the eerie silhouette in the distance. Before reaching shore, they struck a reef, and the passengers and crew prayed the vessel would hold. She did.”

Paul Harvey’s “The Rest Of The Story” – Bermuda

“For the rest of the day, dinghies ferried people and provisions over the mile of water from the reef to the mainland, and then fear swept through the company anew.

“For one by one, the adventurers of the Sea Venture began to realize, the land Admiral Somers had cited was not America, but rather it was the notorious Devil’s Island – more feared, more carefully avoided by ocean voyagers than any other corner of the globe.

“Only demons lived there, it was said. Their shrieks had been heard repeatedly by passing ships, and yet for now the sea venturers were safe, and safe they would remain.

“From the wreck of their ship, they built two smaller vessels which eventually carried them to Jamestown.

“And when William Strachey’s written hurricane account reached England, it was written by another William, named Shakespeare, who was thus inspired to write a now famous play called ‘The Tempest.’

“As for the devil’s islands which had provided a haven for the windswept seafarers, it was quickly discovered that no devils dwelled there.

“The cries heard by seaman in days gone by had been a squealing of wild boars and thus was civilized. The little island chain, snaking a thousand plus miles from the Florida coast, a tiny speck in the mid-Atlantic, a welcome needle in a hellish haystack, a place now something of a paradise.

“Bermuda, Bermuda, now you know the rest of the story.”

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