AUTHORS • ATHLETES • ARTISTS
Pages: New Bermuda Books
BERMUDA MAY BE A TINY ISLAND in the mid-Atlantic, but
a large body of maps has told its complex and fascinating story over
the centuries. Depictions range from vague and dangerous-looking
representations on early hand-drawn charts to the golden age of decorative printed maps in the 1600s, the elegance of the Georgian era and
the substantial Victorian period, into a revival of decorative maps of
holiday-resort Bermuda in the 1930s and 1940s.
Bermuda Maps by Bermudian historian and writer Jonathan Land
Evans, edited and produced by Brimstone Media, is the culmination of
a lifetime collecting and studying these depictions. Wide-ranging and
combining scholarship with connoisseurship, it features hundreds of
rare images of old and new maps, with analysis of their content, presentation and context. Of particular interest is how depictions of Bermuda
changed with the centuries and with the island’s importance: first as a
remote navigational location, through its emergence as a thriving British colony to vital importance as a naval defence hub for the Americas.
Many Bermuda maps were kept under strict secrecy in such times. In
sharp contrast, whimsical Bermuda maps became prevalent as the age
of tourism overtook the island’s fortunes.
Featured maps come from institutions worldwide, as well as many
Bermuda individuals and collections, including maps from the Nancy
and Brian Duperreault Collection and the National Museum.
Jonathan Land Evans is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, Bal-
timore, MD, and the School of Advanced International Studies, Wash-
ington, DC, and of Univer-
sity College London and the
College of Law, London. His
self-published books include
The Encyclopedia of Bermuda
Artists and a series of books
on Bermuda’s modern
history. A three-volume il-
lustrated history, Bermuda
in Painted Representation,
Bermuda Maps is avail-
able from local book-
stores or direct from the
National Museum at
FORMER BERMUDA COLLEGE mathematics professor Dr. Seán
O’Connell has written a book about his
record-breaking two-day swim around
Bermuda in 1976.
The 116-page autobiographical
account details the then 33-year-old’s
months of preparation, failed attempts, and gruelling, but
ultimately successful, 38-mile swim that raised $10,000 for charity and
landed O’Connell in Sports Illustrated and the Guinness Book of Records.
Produced by Brimstone Media, Shark Bait: How I Battled Tides,
Fins and Fatigue to Complete the First Non-stop Swim Around Bermuda
also reveals how O’Connell’s 43-hour feat—the first known swimming
circumnavigation of the island—was triggered by a $1,000 bet wagered
by a friend at Robin Hood Pub one Friday evening.
“It only happened because of a happy-hour boast that turned into a
serious proposition—and it changed my life forever,” says O’Connell,
now 75, who moved to the island from Brooklyn, New York, in 1974 and
spent 29 years teaching at the college.
Born to a family of Irish heritage, O’Connell, now Bermudian, studied
to become a Jesuit priest after high school until he chose teaching as a
career. But he says his upbringing as the son of a high-ranking New York
City police officer, plus the years of discipline he practised in the religious
order, prepared him well for his long-distance effort years later.
O’Connell’s seven months of training in the ocean around Bermuda in
1976 saw him battle weight loss, vomiting and psychological challenges,
as well as endure strong tides and close encounters with barracuda,
sharks, jellyfish, even a freighter. Through it, he learned the necessities of
marathon swimming—how to fuel his body with high-energy supplements and protect against hours in salt water by coating himself with
thick grease and wearing a face mask.
A team of volunteers and vessels was organised to support him
through two attempts, including the final successful clockwise swim
around the island August 21–23 in a time of 43 hours, 27 minutes.
O’Connell donated a total of $10,000 raised by his swim to a local charity supporting the physically challenged.
The book, which includes contemporary photographs and newspaper clippings, looks at other round-the-island attempts before and after
Shark Bait is currently on sale at Bookmart for $19.95. All proceeds go to
the Physically Handicapped Association (BPHA), the same charity that
inspired his swim.