Happy 50th Barbados
24 November 2016
November marks the celebration of Barbados' 50 years of independence. We saw signs of the celebration everywhere. My braid has the Barbados flag colors.
Often I heard, "Hey, you are helping us celebrate." I sure was. It was fun to wish the Bajan people, "Happy 50th." These beautiful people have built quite a wonderful country.
Barbados is the most prosperous country in the Caribbean by far. They have hundreds of beach hotels in all price ranges. Crime seems to be non-existent and the people could have not been more pleasant.
But this blog is about sailing. It is quite rare for a cruising boat to sail to Barbados! Barbados lies about 100 miles east of the Caribbean chain. Sailing there is sailing upwind, something cruising boats don't enjoy. The island is not volcanic in origin but caused by plates pushing up. The terrain is quite different, rounded, not mountainous. There are no bays providing protected anchorages. There isn't even a yachting infrastructure.
But Barbados has beaches. These are the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean and the entire western (lee) side of the island is beach. The consistent trade winds make anchoring safe anywhere on the western side of the island. It may be a bit rolly at times but holding was great in soft sand and we felt safe at anchor.
Dinghy docks are scarce. That meant beach landings with the dinghy. This produced some very wet results with the swell. We completely swamped the dink on one occasion.
We arrived with Chris on Skabenga from Tobago. It was a pleasant overnight sail with winds on the beam. The anchorage was just a kink in the shoreline south of Bridgetown. We cleared customs at the cruise ship docks, about a 2 mile dinghy ride in Skabenga's large dinghy. The only place to climb up the harbor walls was just under the bow of the Carnival ship, Fascination. What a funny sight.
Customs, health, immigration and port captain were all in the shopping mall building for the cruise ship passengers. We were able to buy Mount Gay rum at rock-bottom, duty free prices. They even carted the three cases to Skabenga's dink and handed them down the ladder to us.
Uproar signed up for a temporary membership at the Barbados Yacht Club. I had lunch there 32 years ago, my first visit to the Caribbean. This grand old complex served as the US Consulate in the 1920's. The registration book dates back to the 1970's. Further proof that not many cruisers visit here.
Ken Quant, Missy Suring and Karen Shipley flew in to join us for a week. We had a great time celebrating Missy's 50th along with Barbados 50th. Chris on his spacious catamaran, Skabenga, hosted a party not to be forgotten. We were joined by Peter and Eva from Atla, a Dutch couple in our anchorage.
Highlights were the fish fry on Fridays at Oisten's and driving around the island to visit the sights. Snorkeling was great with 4 shipwrecks just a short dinghy ride from our anchorage. The Mount Gay red hat museum enshrined a Louie's Last hat with Tumultuous Uproar written on the visor. We toured a cave and some rugged coast line on the north side.
Barbados may not be an easy cruising destination but we were pleased we had made the effort. During our 2 1/2 weeks there, we saw only 6 or 8 other cruising boats. Next year they hold a regatta where the skipper of the winning boat earns his weight in Mount Gay XO rum! We may be back.