These were not the first occasions that St.
George’s had attracted American navigation.
In the Civil War of the 1860s, St. George’s attracted the lucrative traffic of stealthy blockade
runners transshipping cotton to finance the war
effort of the Old South, while Yankee warships
prowled offshore. All this nautical activity has
faded now, displaced by new technologies such
as containers, and is relegated to museums.
But for those astute enough to look up from
their lunch and gaze around the harbour, there
are still hints of past glory. Over in Convict
Bay lies the rusty magnificence of a decaying
four-masted bark, the Taifun. In 1920, the
Swedish windjammer was dismasted off Ber-
muda and limped into St. George for repair.
The age of sail was in its twilight and the ship
consequently of marginal value. When the
merchantman, its cargo of kaolin clay took on
water and solidified, thereby immobilising the
vessel. When her owners proved unwilling to
advance monies for her repair to a local ship-
ping agent, W.E. Meyer & Co. Ltd., the shrewd
Bermudians adopted the hulk as a breakwater
to shelter their operations at Meyer’s Wharf
below Barrack Hill. Such commercial quick-
wittedness offered proof that the Meyer
company, for all the Germanic resonance of its
name, had become inseparably associated with
the maritime prosperity of St. George.
Like the Taifun, the Meyer connection had
begun almost a half-century earlier when a
footloose young Prussian mariner had found
himself driven into St. George’s Harbour
by another mid-Atlantic dismasting. Capt.
William E. Meyer (1843-1912) subsequently
made Bermuda his permanent home. His son,
A century ago, it was all
quite different. St. George
was a bustling port. Its ap-
peal was immediate, offer-
ing Bermuda’s closest port
of call to deep Atlantic
water. Freighters and early
cruising liners regularly slipped through the
Town Cut into St. George’s ample anchor-
age. Palatial steam yachts with their gleaming
brightware and clipper bows dropped anchor
there. Freight radiated from the town’s jetties
out into the colony. Crates of onions and
lilies departed for America. Stockpiled coal
replenished ships’ bunkers. In the First World
War, American submarine chasers tied up
on Ordnance Island ready to dash out into
Atlantic waters, a pattern repeated in the next
war by American submarines.
ST. GEORGE’S CREST
W.E. MEYER & COMPANY POSTCARD
TThe town of St. George today presents a picture of touristic tranquility. Visitors stroll along Water Street, poking into shops and taking in the spectacle of a dunking in King’s Square. Bermudians come and go, picking up their mail or popping into the
bank. Around noon, locals and tourists alike gravitate
to the water’s edge for lunch. Under umbrellas on
Somers Wharf, they sip their wine and beer, and
await the arrival of a fish sandwich. Out on the
azure waters of the harbour, visiting yachts swing
at their moorings, their crews scuttling back and
forth in Zodiacs with their cargoes of groceries and
laundry. On occasion, this lazy ritual is punctuated
by the arrival of a sculpted mega-yacht, slipping
alongside Penno’s Wharf or Ordnance Island. St.
George’s quietude is seldom disturbed by cruise
ships. The floating behemoths now disdain the
harbour’s narrow Town Cut and head for the
more commodious Dockyard. St. George has become the quiet, if picturesque, end of the island.