Stepping back into history

In the second part of her series charting a trip from Bermuda on board The Spirit of Bermuda, Ruth O'Kelly-Lynch reports on the salt fields of the Turks and Caicos.

The sun blazed down. They were not used to the brutal work conditions. All around them was 'white gold'. Dozens of young men were littered across the land, slowly moving, tools in hand and on shoulders.

Their throats were dry and eyes hurt from the whiteness. Sweat poured off their body and it got into small cuts on his hands and feet. Salt raking was backbreaking work.

  • <a href= "/>


  • <b>A group of Bermudians</b> examine a salt pond in the Turks and Caicos Islands chain.

    A group of Bermudians examine a salt pond in the Turks and Caicos Islands chain.


In the second part of her series charting a trip from Bermuda on board The Spirit of Bermuda, Ruth O'Kelly-Lynch reports on the salt fields of the Turks and Caicos.

The sun blazed down. They were not used to the brutal work conditions. All around them was 'white gold'. Dozens of young men were littered across the land, slowly moving, tools in hand and on shoulders.

Their throats were dry and eyes hurt from the whiteness. Sweat poured off their body and it got into small cuts on his hands and feet. Salt raking was backbreaking work.

It has been nearly 200 years since Bermudians stepped off a sloop and onto a salt flat but last week seventeen young men did just that. The students aboard The Spirit of Bermuda sailed 780 miles to re-enacted a part of their heritage a part of their heritage many knew little about before they stepped on the Sloop.

The Royal Gazette reporter Ruth O'Kelly-Lynch joined the crew for their adventure. To view exclusive footage of Bermudians salt raking go to www.theroyalgazette.com. It all started in 1668 when Bermudian captains noticed Grand Turk and Salt Cay had a naturally produced resource which could make them very rich men salt. With no refrigeration system salt was necessary to preserve food and in high demand.

Soon seasonal raking started, Bermudian land owners and their slaves would sail to Turks and Caicos during the dry season, rake up the salt for a few months before loading the ship and sailing to the colonies along the east coast of North America and selling it for a pretty penny.

So lucrative was the trade that Bermudians petitioned the Crown asking for control of the Islands. In their letter they stated: "The original settlement was made by natives of Bermuda and the islands supported by Bermuda.

"Britain chose to ignore Bermuda's claims and instead handed control over to the Bahamas in 1805 which meant Bermudians would now be taxed for any salt they took. Soon after Bermudians stopped making the journey to the southern islands.

Two-hundred years later sailors once again made the trek to Salt Cay one of the small Islands of Turks and Caicos.

The students learned about the salt trade while sailing there and when they arrived they set to work on the salt ponds raking up salt which will return to Bermuda with them and put on display at the Maritime Museum. Twenty-year-old Kanhai Woolridge was one of the crew members who raked the slat under the mid-afternoon sun.

"I honestly hated it," the Bermuda College student said. "It was hot and as you got deeper into the salt it seemed it got hotter and hotter.

"I cut my hand a few days ago and salt got into it and really stung, so I can imagine what our forefathers must have felt with open sores on their feet while working in the salt pond. It makes me appreciate what they did in paving the way for us but I am glad they had to do it and not me."

Kanhai was one of the few students who knew about this part of Bermuda's history before the start of the voyage

"I did a project for Bermuda College on this period of history so I learned a lot then," he said. "So I found this very interesting to see and take part in something I learned about."

Berkeley Institute student Courtney Dublin was one of the younger students on the trip. "

"I didn't know about it before the trip," the 14-year-old said. "It was hard but our group found a shovel so that helped. It was interesting to learn about it and then do it, it is something i have never done before. I wish all my history classes were like that instead of textbooks and copying notes."

Opposition Leader Floyd Seymour joined the crew on their visit to the salt ponds. His party is opposing plans to replace the salt ponds with a marina and believes they should be used as a living museum.

"We are grateful that the ISpirit of Bermuda$ for making this voyage," he said. "It is commemorating the past and the shared heritage Bermuda and Turks and Caicos have, not just in the style of architecture, but also in the salt industry that is such a significant part of our history The remanent of the salt ponds that you see are for the most part what built Hamilton.

"The salt industry played a significant part in not only our development but also in large part Bermuda's as well and its unique and uncommon that you can still see the salt ponds here. It is important for us to appreciate the history of our nations and the cultural heritage and I think it is important that it is preserved for future generations.

"Salt ponds weren't the only links to Bermuda on the tiny island of Grand Turk. The students met many a person with the last names Simmons, Seymore or Frith. Signs along the island's Front Street also frequently mentioned historic buildings were created by Bermudians and there were even a few white Bermuda roofs to be seen.

  • Take Our Poll

    • "Your new year's resolutions for 2019"
    • Quit smoking
    • 4%
    • Quit drinking/drink in moderation
    • 7%
    • Do not drink and drive
    • 2%
    • Lose weight
    • 40%
    • Stop procrastinating
    • 22%
    • Drive with greater care
    • 2%
    • Other
    • 22%
    • Total Votes: 2607
    • Poll Archive

    Today's Obituaries

    eMoo Posts