Christmas and New Year's Eve...

Chelone's travels.....
John and Susie Blair.
Mon 31 Dec 2012 17:17
N13:00.44 W61:14.37

Here's a long overdue update from Chelone where Susie and myself have been very busy enjoying ourselves.. exploring, eating, sunbathing, swimming etc. There are not enough hours in the day to do what we want to do but we're having fun trying!

We hired a car again and set off on a tour around the island. Heading north out of Bridgetown up the coast road through the pretty hamlets like Paradise Beach and Crystal Cove towards Holetown where we stopped at the famous Sandy Lane Hotel and enjoyed some of the pre-Xmas festivities and walked along the gorgeously manicured palm fringed beach though it was a tad expensive!

Onward to Speightstown and Port St.Charles with it's private harbour where we had a walk around marvelling at the superyachts tied alongside jetties outside the condo's of the mega wealthy. Barbados is less than 20 miles long and 8 miles wide so a short drive and you're at the north coast which is less inhabited with roads flanked by fields of sugar cane and the occasional remains of a windmill to remind one of the islands original industry and heritage. As we're driving down the east coast Susie reads out places of interest and viewpoints off the map. Through parishes of St.Peter and St.Andrew with friendly locals waving as we go by we see lovely scenery as we drive through Farley Hill National Park and make a stop at the Round House Restaurant with stunning views over Bathsheba Bay and the massive boulders along the beach. After a bite to eat we sip a cold drink and watch the surfers have fun with an 8ft clean break before continuing south through more pretty hamlets with their traditional 'Chattel' houses (not much bigger than a garden shed!). When we hired the car it was the day before Christmas Eve and the rental guy said he was in no hurry to have it back so we decided to cut through the middle of the island back to Bridgetown and do the south of the island the next day, I'm not sure if anyone reading this wants to hear any more about our driving around but let's just say we thoroughly enjoyed the chance to see the rest of the island and meet other locals outside of Bridgetown.

So Susie tops up her tan and I potter around Chelone and snorkel over the reefs and wrecks nearby (five wrecks within 200m of us). We mooch around the now familiar town and spend evenings nearby wherever there's live music, Jazz, Steel Pan, Calypso and Reggae, there's something on somewhere every night and one can't fail to see where it's at as all are well advertised.

Christmas is one big party here in the Caribbean and the atmosphere reflects this though Bajuns certainly don't forget their Christian faith at this time, we attended an outdoor festivity complete with Santa Claus himself accompanied by an awesome Gospel Choir and a spellbinding six piece male choir whose harmonising was truly mind-blowing. A children's Steel Pan group played Xmas carols in a way we've never heard before then as we chomped on the BBQ spare ribs drizzled with Caribbean honey sauce a DJ showed up and the reggae began!

Christmas day was another sweltering day spent swimming and sunbathing before some fine dining at a beautiful restaurant, watching another fabulous sunset from our table, the sea almost lapping at our feet we ate coconut shrimp starter (thanks for the tip Tina!) followed by a mouth watering main course of local seafood.

The lure of the Grenadine islands to the west finally proved too much so we did our Customs checkout and once again hoisted Chelone's sails and as the sun set directly ahead we set course for the paradise island of Bequia (pronounced Becway) a hundred miles due west (see map). The original plan was to go to Grenada next but with the New Year so close we opted for a shorter passage.
We were so excited to make our first sea passage alone though as we watched the shore lights of Barbados fade at our stern a huge full moon rose to keep us company through the night. As the hours passed we kept watch together and enjoyed snacking, drinking hot chocolate and listening to music. Other ships, yachts and cruise liners ablaze with lights came and went before the sun rose and the outline of various islands came into view ahead, St.Vincent, Canouan, Mustique and of course, beautiful Bequia itself. As we neared the lofty, verdant island the fishing reel began screaming and we caught the first of three Barracuda before we dropped our anchor in stunning Port Elizabeth Bay. This place is truly magical and the epitome of all things Caribbean, palm fringed beaches and gin clear water, a horseshoe shaped bay with steep sides scattered with beautiful verandah fronted dwellings, it wasn't long before a turtle came alongside the cockpit as if to welcome us to this little bit of paradise!

We checked in to Customs then had a stroll along the waters edge, the Frigate and Tropic birds wheeled overhead and Hummingbirds sipped nectar from the Hibiscus flowers so close to us as if they were tame. There are the most beautiful restaurants here and with New Years Eve in mind we read the menus as we walked along. There's so much going on it's hard to choose what to do and where to go but it's a tiny place so we guess we can see plenty when the time comes. As we chatted to one restaurant owner I mentioned the Barracuda now in our fridge and a deal was struck to swap them for a reservation for a meal for two on their beautiful balcony on New Years Eve, overlooking Chelone and all the other yachts.... and the perfect viewpoint for the harbour fireworks display..awesome!

So we arrived here yesterday and tonight we'll see in the New Year, we've a good internet connection onboard Chelone (thanks to our powerful external wi-fi antenna) so we're optimistic about contacting loved ones at some point (8pm here is midnight in UK) already I've managed to download some video clips to Youtube so I'll post them up now. We're going to hire a scooter and do some sightseeing at some point, the island is only about 6 miles long! Already we've met a Swedish sailing couple we met in Barbados, turns out they're anchored 100 meters away! They've kindly asked if we'd join them and their friends on nearby Princess Margaret Beach where they're having a party and bonfire so we'll see..

The laundry boat just collected our washing so we're going to take the dinghy to the beach now and checkout the snorkelling, I'll take some pics for you!

So, 'Happy New Year' to all!!

John & Susie.