The World War II surplus navy liberty launch called Carioca was destined to have its hull raised two and a half feet by Bronson Hartley and Bermudian shipwrights so the helmet diving vessel could make the ocean voyage from Bermuda to Nassau. These boats were called liberty launches because they took sailors from the ship to spent free time ashore. They had two massive lifting brackets which were used to lift the launch aboard the main ship. Bronson and Martica Hartley bought the boats for one hundred pounds a piece and my mother gave them the name 'Carioca'. According to her, Carioca was a dance as well as a resident of Rio de Janero.

Liberty launch in Devil's Hole, Bermuda
Here is a shot looking south towards Devil's Hole of the two vessels before any major work was done. The cabin was contructed by stretching canvas across metal arches. The mast had a hinge so it could be folded down so my parents took the boat through Flatts bridge and dove in Harrington Sound near Green Bay.Carioca Bermuda had a squarish cabin put on her and stayed here. The Nassau Carioca was made into home and business. Bronson Hartley built the breakwater in the foreground to protect his investment. Click here to see a 129kb shot of Carioca with her bow so submerged from lifting a heavy rock that her prop is at the surface.

Turtle island Bermuda I have no idea how my father conjered up the ingenuity to do all this, but here you are. On the little island off Devil's Hole called Angel's Island or Turtle Island (128kb), Bronson Hartley, set about to shape his destiny. The first step was to shape the planks required to raise the hull of this navy surplus boat by 2 1/2 feet. He lit a fire under the forty gallon drum and boiled water to make steam to soften the planks of wood. Behind the boiler you can see a house that is now a guest house called Angel's Grotto.

Boat building in Bermuda Next he clamped the planks down on a curved wall he built to mold the planks into the required shape. If you go to Devil's Hole you can still see this low wall on the north side of the island. There is a public dock at the bottom of Knapton Hill which offers the best view. You will be able to pickout the old house that sticks out on the point on the other side of the island. On the south side of the island, originaly called Angel's Island is the cable car. My brother's first boat ride was on the way home from the hospital. My mother, Martica, unboubtedly insisted something would have to change. Therefore, as necessity is the mother of invention, the cable car had to be built. Father used a massive ship's turnbuckle to tighten the one inch diameter cable that spanned the 150 or so feet from the island to shore. It is still in operation to this day.

Adding to Hull
Bermuda Shipwrights at Work Bronson Hartley had many friends including skilled shipwrights from the island of St. Davids. Rattery and at least one other whose name I do not know, helped bring this vision to reality. It is too cold in Bermuda in the winter (especially in the days before wet suits) to operate year round. The plan was to dive here in the summer, and Nassau in the winter. Although they had electricity, much of the work was done with hand tools. The fellow that caulked the deck had a friend inside a rum bottle. One would bang in twisted fibers of the Kapok tree in the cracks between the planks. Then hot liquid pitch would be poured onto the fiber plugged cracks filling them to deck level. Normally if interupted, one would leave a tail of fibers sticking out to mark the spot where one had left off. However, when this fellow went off to see his friend in the bottle, he would forget to mark the spot and later return to his work a bit more forgetfull than when he left. Father had to remedy the resulting leaking deck by putting sheets of plastic on the underside. It was one of my not so quaint memories as a child to be kept awake and nervous by hearing large tropical cockroaches scuttling about just above our heads as we slept in the bunk beds. Though Thor's hammer had a short handle, it was very strong. The cabin was made of Bermuda cedar and father always boasted that the boat could be picked up by the cabin.

Three 1/2 Days at sea
Carioca voyage from Bermuda to Nassau The boat was equipt with numerous Hartley innovations. The dry exaust was sent up the mizzen mast (the one at the back), and later surprised Bahamian fisherman would alert my father that the mast was on fire. This innovation was to keep the exaust smoke well away from the stren area where he would conduct the briefing to his assembled helmet divers.

Hartley Family Nassau, 1960
Here is a squishy family shot showing Martica and Bronson with their two sons Christopher and Gregory. I am the little blond one. For anyone who has been to Nassau recently, I should mention that the area in the back ground is now plastered with highrise hotels and two bridges.
Hartley family in Nassau
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