Sailing in the Caribbean – Barbados
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.