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Memorable, Historical and Comfortable Hammocks

Some of my most vivid memories in the Virgin Islands feature hammocks—playing on the enormous blue and purple climbing hammocks at Trellis Bay, stretching out among the boulders above the sea at Baraka Point Estate, swinging on a double chair hammock while listening to The Elmtones play in Cane Garden Bay, and watching the stars from a hammock strung between two palm trees on Deadman’s Beach, Peter Island.

The word hammock, according to “Hammock Lore and History” by Hart Baur, came from the Carib Indians who used the fibers of the hamack tree to craft net beds—a skill they learned from the Arawaks. The article “Hammocks Rockin’ History” on History.com states that “suspended beds prevented contact with the dirty ground and offered protection from snakes, rodents and other poisonous and pesky creatures” then were later used to eradicate yellow fever because they “could easily be enclosed in mosquito netting.” The article also states that by the late 1600s, hammocks became a crucial part of England’s navy, with sailors using the portable, cocoon-like beds because they moved in synch with the pitch of the ship.

In addition to their practical purposes, hammocks also provide a cool, comfortable spot to relax on a beach, a porch, a campground, a backyard or a boat. The fabric or netting conforms to the loungers’ body shapes and allows the breeze to flow beneath them. The rocking motion might also contribute to the relaxation one feels when swinging in a hammock. A June 2011 Current Biology article, “Rocking Synchronizes Brain Waves in a Short Nap,” reports that “sensory stimulation associated with a swinging motion exerts a synchronizing action in the brain the reinforces endogenous sleep rhythms.” Or, in English, the results found “provide scientific support to the traditional belief that rocking can soothe our sleep.”

Hammocks come in various materials—fabric, rope, string—with or without a wooden spreader bar. Roy Keegan at Arawak Interiors in Road Reef Plaza said his bestsellers are vibrant, two-tone, breathable parachute silk hammocks that can be washed in the laundry, dried outside in minutes, installed anywhere, and packed into a small, drawstring bag. He also sells a lot of crocheted hammocks to villas and resorts such as Necker Island and Baraka Point, where guests can treasure their hammock time.

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