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Sailing in the Caribbean – Barbados

Barbados

Bridgetown

On November the 23rd at 8AM we drop our anchor in Carlisle Bay.  We are advised to go with our dinghy to the big commercial port to clear in to customs and immigration.  We call the port officer on VHF and ask for permission to drive in to the great port and, once there we try to find a way up on the quay.  Between giant cruise ships we sneak to find a ladder and we really feel like Liliputians.  Finally  a ladder is found  where we climb up and lock our dinghy.

 

Clearing in to Barbados was a longer procedure than expected. We were greeted by a very nice health control officer and he, like most of the people we meet on Barbados, is very surprised that we have crossed the Atlantic in our own sailing boat. Barbados is  a Cruise ship friendly port, with the slogan to be the best cruise ship port in the world. Sailors on the other hand, are almost invisible and the clearance take about two hours, mainly because the personnel is not used to clearing in smaller boats. 

 

Nevertheless we want to give Barbados a fair chance and take the dinghy up the  Careenage channel  to the centre of Bridgetown.  We find a good spot to tie it up and quickly we are in the busy centre of Bridgetown. The mixture of historical buildings, modern glass department stores  and long forgotten shacks is overwhelming .  You quickly feel the British history infused by modern times vivid Caribbean vibe. 

 

 

On Sunday we are searching for a church, ending up taking a taxi drive to see Rihannas dive and the tiny church where she sung when her voice got discovered. She grew up in the township of St. Michael, close to the cemetery, where, according to our taxi driver ” a lot of people are dying to get to”.We see several nice beaches, super exclusive hotels on St. James coast. The service in the church has already started, so we just sneak in shortly.It’s a peaceful place. We learn that the best way to find the way back is to look at the bus stop signs. If it says ”to the city” you are on the right way, if it says ”out of town”, you have to turn.

 

The currency in Barbados is Barbadian dollars, but the most practical currency is US dollars. We rent a car and drive around the Island. Barbados is the most densely populated island of the Caribbean with 656 people per square kilometer. Still we find wide sugar cane plantations and beautiful nature. The cane is cut with big machines, but also by hand. We visit the Rhum distillery, St. Nicholas Abbey and enjoy a ride in the steam train. (This must be the Island Lummerland, where the protagonist in the German writer Michael Endes story ”Jim Knopf” drove around in his Emma-train.) The Georgian style house is a museum and tells the 350 years story of one of the oldest surviving plantations on the island. 


 

 

 

 

The Georgian style house is a museum that tells the 350 years story of one of the oldest surviving plantations on the island. Here we find precious examples of the Sailor’s Valentine, a  souvenir of beautifully arranged shells, popular in the 1860s .

 

The anchorage in Carlisle Bay is calm and it is easy to snorkel to the nearby wrecks and dive into a colourful world of corals and turtles, only a stone throw distance from the boat. We drive to the fishing harbour to get some gasoline. All fishermen are genuinely helpful and show us where to dock our dinghy and where to gp to find some fuel. The three of us also need some more substantial fuel and order Coucou with fried fish. Ooh, it’s so fresh and delicious, worthwhile crossing the Atlantic for it. The national dish is flying fish, which is way more tasty than you think when you see the fish land on your deck. 

 

 

 

Barbados has beautiful beaches and we enjoy having lunch or dinner at the Barbados Yacht club. We got a membership for a week and take part in life music and BBQ. Our British sailing buddy boat (we met in Santa Cruz and sailed almost  parallell to Mindelo) Ellen with Julie and Malcolm, arrive to Barbados some days after us and it is wonderful to share the experience of a new crossing.

 

 We take the dinghy in to Bridgetown to celebrate and what a big party there is. Barbados is celebrating the inauguration of the new monument in the center of the town.

 

Some years ago the statue of Nelson was removed and now it was time for the peaceful monument ”the Barbadian Family”, symbolising the family’s role in producing national heroes  who fought for freedom and independence. The Prime Minister, Mia Mottley and the Bishop are present while unveiling the monument and the celebration continues for hours with many skilled singers and groovy music. Blue and Yellow are the colours of the day and we should have brought the Swedish flag! We are happy to be back in the Caribbean vibe and carefully dinghy back under the shine of the full moon, hoping an outlook for turtles.

 

 

Barbados is busy, especially when cruise ships arrive. We get up early to check out, this time we take a taxi to the harbour. We have got the information , that we have to pay 50 USD to an office, before we can clear out. Finding this office takes us over two hours. We are told to go to a big blue shack, which we do, but underway we ask for the direction. We follow the advise and walk all the way to the other side of the cruise ship terminal. Only to find out that we are completely wrong. The personnel are friendly and shows us the way back and we are gently directed outside of the Terminal. Half an hour later we come back. Nobody had heard about the office and we got the information that it moves now and then, so nobody knows for shure. The clock ticks and the office will soon close and we are running around in circles. It’s good with some exercise, but our patience is strongly tested. Finally we find the office and another very friendly man on the place which we had passed by five meters four times. This odyssey really makes us want to leave this maze asap. Which we do and sail to Carriacou.

 

Yaghans 11th Atlantic crossing

Endless ocean

 

 

We are so happy to witness Yaghans seaworthiness under her 11th Atlantic crossing. Yaghan is happily romping along in the steady following winds, behaving just like a horse livening up when smelling the green grass on the fresh spring field. Yaghan knows her way on the Atlantic and we just have to adjust the course some degrees optimise the angle of the winds into the sails.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quite seldom  our night watches were enlivened by passing vessels. The day after we caught a Mahimahi, we saw three big fishing ships from South Korea. Otherwise, the surface of the Atlantic was totally empty. We take turns during the night whiteout a scheme, just seeing who needs some sleep and then change when we feel its time to switch. Only waves until the horizon, until Nilla spots two finns of what could have been pilot whales. One day we catch a mahimahi, but it jumps off the hook in the last second, avoiding being heaved on deck. We learned that this will bring us a bigger fish one day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the 16th of November, we only have 1000 nm to go and celebrate half way. We have now been on the Atlantic for six and a half day. A Cidre from Santander ( a gift from Joaquin) to a meal with tournedos, salad and potato gratin is the perfekt treat. A cheesecake baked by captain Anders has never tasted better than on the middle on the ocean and Birk brought delicious chocolate from Bruxelles as a surprise.  We still have a lot of fresh food and fruit as papaya and mango and we feel that we can continue to sail for several weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The waves, ande especially the swell is growing up to 3 meters and when we get closer to Barbados, we see a squall on the horizon or the radar now and then, but not too close. On our whole crossing, the waves vary from 1.9 to 2.8 metres height and the swell, mostly from NNE with 1-2.7 metres.

 

On the 20.11 we have to gybe for the first time and 24 hours later the wind goes down tho 6knots and we start the engine. We still have 4500 metres under the keel when we stop the engine and decide to take a short swim in the deep blue ocean. We stay close to the boat all the time and hold a line, not getting lost. Now we now for sure, that there are not many boats to help in case something happens. The quick dip is really refreshing and it’s a lifetime experience to swim and be surrounded by the special clear blue water of the ocean.

 

When we set the sail again in mild 11 knots wind, Nilla and Birk go on the deck to put the whisker pole in the right position and Birk spots a really big whale around 200 metres in the direction of Barbados! We see the big fin slowly go up, before it dives! Size wise it might even be a blue whale. This is such an emotional encountering and we are happy to share the water, or more so, be a guest in the territory of this giants.

 

 

As the sun arise on Thursday morning,  November the 23rd 2023, we see the lights of Bridgetown, Barbados. We are welcomed with a short soothing sweet rain, washing off all the ocean salt after 13 days on the Atlantic. It´s a truly amazing feeling to see land again after having been surrounded by water and colours of blue 360 degrees around us for almost two weeks. At 7:45 we ask for permission to drop the anchor in Carlisle Bay and we anchor in the white sand, close down all systems, jumps in the dinghy and drive to the cruise ship marina, where we visit the health department, customs and immigration. Now we learn to live in island time. Everything works a little bit more relaxed. After two hours we can finally drive back to the boat and sleep for some hours before we drive into Careenage in the centre of busy Bridgetown for a local beer. The Bajans (local name for Barbadians) are friendly and Bridgetown is a funny colourful mix of houses from different epochs and cultures.

Yaghans eleventh crossing took 314,5 hours and the distance was 2088.5 nm with an average speed of 6.4 knots. We are so happy for having such fair winds during the whole crossing.

 

 

Waving from the Atlantic Ocean

This is day 4 on the Atlantic Ocean, sailing from Mindelo, Cape Verde to Bridgetown , Barbados.

We have sailed 500 NM wing on wing since we heaved the sails and connected the whisker pole on Friday the 10th of November. With more than three meters high, rocky, choppy waves, the first day was quite bumpy. Birk, Anders and Nilla shared the nightshift on the fluorescent surface, and we were all happy to be on the ocean again and finally able to start the approximately 12 days long sail to the Caribbean. With winds of 18 knots, we were able to make a speed of 8 to 9 knots. We gradually grow more distant to our buddy boat Ellen.

 

The further from the Islands, the weaker the wind and its gusts. On Saturday the seas calmed, and the winds decreased to a pleasant 12 to 15 knots with perfect visibility. We have a good meal, play guitar and sing. In the next night we see a ship and call it on the VHF, and it changes its course. Birds and flying fish keep us company while we gently sail with free wind straight on the rumbline. We enjoy papayas from Cape Verde and bake banana cake while we suddenly catch a beautifully blue striped Barracuda.

Even though this fish hardly has eaten any reef fish, we don’t take the risk to get intoxicated by ciguatera, since there is no chance for us to reach a hospital while we are out here on the ocean. 1500 more nautical miles to sail and the forecast is good.

Refuel diesel and sherry in Gibraltar and Cadiz

 

Having reached the impressive hill of Gibraltar, we steer among a fleet of freighters to refuel our diesel tanks in the English port. There is no need to  check in at customs and it’s easy and unbureaucratic to fill up around 1600 litres of tax-free diesel. We have booked a berth in Puerto Deportivo de Alcaidesa, on the Spanish side of the border to Gibraltar. We dock and are welcomed by  a crowd of strong, athletic women and men, competing in weight lifting. If we hadn’t changed the washing machine already, this would have been the place for it.

We take a walk to Gibraltar, where we meet people whose families have been living there since the 16th century. Gibraltar is a beautiful town and it’s hard to imagine how many battles have been fought here on the threshold to the Mediterranean Sea. After one night in the harbour, we anchor on the western side of the bay of Gibraltar, so we can have our regular morning swim.

Gibraltar

Early Monday morning we sail from the Bay of Gibraltar along the Strait of Gibraltar to Puerto Sherry. We are a little bit nervous. This time there are no
submarines that awaits to attack us, the danger in the water comes from orcas and the area from Gibraltar to Cadiz is one where the most frequent attacks have been reported. Since Summer 2020 there have been several interactions between orcas and sailing boats, where the orcas, also known as killer whales, have been slamming into boats and pushing the rudder. Some boats sunk after the attacks, so we take precaution and go close to the coast in shallow water. Luckily there are no orcas in sight.

                            Lighthouse of Trafalgar    

Puerto Sherry in the Bay of Cadiz is a magnificent Marina where we will leave Yaghan while we fly home to Gothenburg for a wedding and birthday celebrations.  With a lot of joyful memories after two weeks of quality time with Annika and Ben onboard, our ways sadly part for this time.

Busy Bay of CadizPuerto Sherry

Our first month onboard

The first month with Yaghan has been filled with amazing moments on and in the water together with family, friends, dolphins and medusas. We have sailed from Valencia via Denia, Mascarat, Alicante, Isla Tabarca, Torrevieja, Isla Gros, Gabo de Palos, Calabardina, Cabo de Gata, Agua Dulce, Motril, Herradura, Benalmadena, Puerto Banus to Gibraltar.  355 exciting nautical miles on the hot but rather calm Mediterranean Sea.

Gibraltar

Luckily there is a lot of space on and under deck.

 

 

 

 

And if not, there is always some more space in the dinghy or in the 30 degrees warm Mediterranean Sea.

The winds have been fair so far and even though we had to motor a bit, we could sail gently most of the time.

The light and all reflections on the surface awakes a lot of thoughts and deepens the understanding of life.

The high, rough cliffs of the Spanish easterly coast bring contrast to the smooth water. The ever-changing shapes are a delight for the eyes, especially the hidden white cliff of Cabo de Gata.

 

On Monday the 14th of August Joaquin drove down to Denia to give us a proper farewell with Champagne and it was time for us to sail south. Twelve days later we reached Gibraltar. It was a very special moment for us to reach this impressive landmark of Europe.

Care, share and repair

When we arrived to Valencia, we moved from the southern Marina, Valencia Mar, to Marina Norte, where our friend Holger from Rivercafe was waiting on the quay. It was a happy reunion with Karin and Holger since we last said goodbye in Antigua in December 2021. So many stories to be told and advices shared.

 

 

 

 

 

We learned to know about the new anchor, Ultra. After a quick research we learned that the Ultra anchor is standard on the new Hallberg Rassy boats, so to be safe on all places on the journey to come, we ordered a new anchor and got help to install it from Gerard.

 

 

 

A day without repair is very unusual for sailors.  Some repairs are a heavier hassle than others. This time we had to change the washing machine.

With some calm preparation, using the lines from the mast and with the help of Magnus, we hove the new Hoover onboard. Without a single scratch. With a weight of 60 kilo, bulky as an elefant, the old washing machine could serve as an anchor…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Long term sailing is provisioning in new places. In Valencia, there are excellent bike tracks and our small and strong bikes takes us to the local market in Cabanyal.

The fish market is full of sea treasures and delicious squids, mussels and gambas.

It’s easy to deliver to the boat. In Mercadona, we just fill the trolley and the next day we get a swift and friendly delivery. In the hot spanish summer, we need a lot of water.

Its finally time to say farewell to our dear friends and all-time helper, Joaquin and Nieves.

Back to sea level

Farewell dinner with Joaquin, Nieves and ClaudiaFrom the high mountains of Klosters, we are now returning to the wavy, open landscapes of the sea. It’s 524  days since we after more than 18 month, one Atlantic crossing and two seasons in the Caribbean, disembarked Ydalir II in Antigua. On the 19th of July we embarked on Yaghan in Valencia with the intention to make it our primary home for the next years  to come and we sense it will become an important milestone.

 

 

Our first one thousand miles(+} sailing Yaghan with Valencia as base

 

Since the spring of 2022 we have used most of our spare time to prepare ourselves and Yaghan for new long haul adventures.

We have sailed her, mainly on Costa Azahar, Costa Blanca and around the Balears  for weeksends and a some vacations weeks and after around 1500 NM we start to feel a bit more familiar onboard.

In the meantime we have done some upgrades of equipments onboard:

  • We replace the KVH and the Iridium Pilot satellite systems, with faster Irdium Certus 700, with which have good experience from our previous Atlantic Crossing, on SY Ydalir II.
  • We have very recently installed the maritme version of Elon Musk’s Starlink and are now enjoying internet connections upto 300+ Mbits/s – cursious to see how well in will serve us across the oceans
  • We have replace all 12 and 24 V batteries with faster charging MasterVolt batteries
  • We have serviced engines and winches, got the rigg checked and serviced the lift raft and other safety equiment
  • We changed the VHF to Vesper Cortex, with build in AIS, collision advoidance, anchor watch etc.
  • We got a new, Highfield Ultralight 340 dinghy and the gelcoat is now polsihed and vaxed
  • Last but but not least we found an electrical induction stove fitting the space after the Force 10, with only minor adjustments.

Yagahan’s electrical supply – Change to MasterVolt lithium

Yaghan has three principle electrical systems, two DC 12V and 24 V and AC230V. AC charing of the batteries are either through shore power or via an Onan 18kW generator. While running the main Volvo Penta engine, we also get both 12 and 24 V charging via two alternators.

The main power bank to supply electricity under sail is a 24V battery bank placed under the bed in the master cabin. This was until recently consisting of twelve 950 Ah two-volt cells connected in serious. This system have served previous owners well. We did however build our own experience with lithium batteries when we converted our previous boat, at we got very impressed by the robustness, the computerised monitoring and especially the very fast charing. We therefore decided to make the effort and investment to convert Yaghan to MasterVolt lithium and as we wanted to have the installation made as professional as possible, we agreed with our friend Hans Rutgersson, former CD Bilradio AB in Gothenburg, now MD of HR teknik AB, who have given us so great support in the past, to make the installation. Hans spent a few days onboard in the autumn of 22 to explore and design. We agreed to order six 24V 200Ah batteries for the main power-bank, one 12V 200Ah battery for 12V supply and one 12V lithium start battery. In addition we two 24V 200Ah batteries to be connected in series to supply the bow thruster with 48V and being charged by two DC-DC chargers

In addition we order new alternators, regulators and two MasterVolt Combi Ultra 24/3500, chargers and inverters and an extra separate charger thus permitting as to charge with 300A and giving us 7 kW 230 AC from the inverters.

By pure luck, the size and physical format of one 24V litium batteri was more or less identical to two two-volt cells, which ment that we could very easily fit the and fasten them in the same holders. We reduced the weight of 24V power-bank from 960 kg to 270 kg, ie close to 700 kg less.

 

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