The only cruisers that seem to come to Barbados are the ones that cross the Atlantic to get here. That’s because it’s off the beaten track out in the Atlantic to windward of the Windward Islands. But we did cross the Atlantic so there we were.
After turning on the motors to make the 8pm cutoff for Customs and Immigration, we made landfall just before dusk and made our way around the south of the island to the main port of Bridgetown. We got there around 7pm and had to wait for a couple of cruise liners to leave before we could proceed into the Shallow Draft Marina. One of the many advantages of the rally was the quick and (relatively) easy check-in. Jimmy and Pascal were there to greet us and had organized for Customs and Immigration to be right there at the marina. After successfully checking into Barbados and a quick meal on the town, it was up early the next morning and off to the Careenage, which was to be La Mischief’s home in Barbados, in time for the bridge opening at 8am – Barbados time. We arrived with music blaring in preparation for the night’s concert, just off the back of our boat. The Careenage is a wonderful location, right in the centre of town. Coming in was a bit daunting, with about a metre each side as we came through the opening.
We quickly settled into Barbados, swimming and drinking Rum at the Yacht Club on the beautiful beach at Carlyle Bay. The Barbados 50 celebrations were in full swing and we took fu
ll advantage of the concerts and activities. One day we took a local “reggae” bus up the Eastern Coast – now that’s an experience.
Next day, Dee went touring the island with Trevor and Linka whilst I stayed behind to join the rally’s tour of the Mt Gay Rum Distillery. Wasn’t to be missedThe highlight of the Barbados 50 celebrations was a free mega Concert at Kensington Oval. We got there a bit early to make sure we got the lay of the land and after that we ended up outside drinking at one of Barbados’ many, many rum bars. With a few rums under our belts, we wandered back inside and marveled at the oval with the Gary Sobers Stand, the Three W’s Stand, the Joel Garner End, and the Greenidge-Haynes Stand – it’s a pity there were no cricket games scheduled when we were there. But I digress – back to the concert, which was opened by Prince Henry (more commonly known as Harry) and Rhianna singing the National Anthem. Then the music got underway working its way from the 1960s to present day, the highlight that stuck out for me was a jazz saxophonist who was one of the best in the world. We ended up leaving at 2.30am after giving up waiting for Rhianna who came on after we left as the last act.
Fun times over, we set about leaving the boat in the Careenage, the small river basin that runs through the centre of Bridgetown. The only other option was the Shallow Draft Marina, but this wasn’t really a viable option because the local boats leave and go and anchor in Carlyle Bay whenever a southerly pops up and comes straight into the Marina.
Then it was off California and Western Australia.
Coming back straight after X-mas, we spent a few days recuperating at the Barbados Yacht Club, making sure we were ready for a big New Years Eve Celebration. And what a celebration it was!!! Five remaining Rally boats plus Andy and Allison and some lovely bejans that we met in Miami saw in the New Year in style at the Yacht Club that put on an excellent buffet followed by lots of dancing at the beach with an excellent 10 piece band, singing all the stuff we love and an amazing fireworks show.
day, Jan 1st, we took a taxi up past Port St. George to visit Garry and Marti, who own an old Plantation House called Colleton House whose foundations were laid in 1652. We met Garry (who started Cruising Helmsman magazine in Oz) and Marti, who is from Hungary, in Leros Marina couple of years back. It was great to catch up again. Garry took over the house from his Uncle who ran Oilsearch in Papua New Guinea and he showed us an amazing collection of PNG art in the stables building, better than I’ve seen in a lot of museums. The House itself was started by Sir John Colleton, an English Royalist who fled Cromwell back in the 1600’s.
New Years over, we then got ready to leave the Careenage. Whilst we were away, we had provided a home for a few million mussels and we needed to get a diver down to clear them from our props to make sure we could motor out. We also had left a hose in the water and this took some cleaning with multiple applications of bleach. Assante who left before us had to sail out when they couldn’t engage their motor.
It was good to get out of the Careenage and anchor in Carlyle Bay. We anchored near the cruising club out of range of the discos further up the beach. It was delightful swinging over clear sand with the odd bit of coral. We got visited by the turtles but didn’t get up early enough to see the race horses swimming around the boat.
Talking of race horses, we spent a relaxing afternoon at the races in the historic Garrison Savannah. Didn’t walk away with any fortune but it was an interesting crowd and some of the horses looked magnificent.
There was one more thing I wanted to do on Barbados and that was to see the Concorde that was housed there. It was thrilling to get up close to this magnificent aircraft and see how passengers travelled in first class style. We got to walk around the aircraft and go inside as well. They showed us some great vintage footage as well. The aircraft remains in pristine condition and the tour guide was great.
But our time in Barbados was coming to an end as we looked forward to checking out (some of) the rest of the Caribbean. We had originally decided to head south to Grenada but we’d blown a hose when we turned on the watermaker, and we cou
ldn’t get under the cupboard where the salt water was pouring out, so we decided to head for the Lagoon Agent in Martinique to get everything fixed. A good decision as he traced the problem to an outlet valve that was closed when the boat was left in the Careenage.
So off we went, leaving behind the beautiful people of Barbados, so friendly and helpful and safe.