Mon 14 Jan 2008 14:06
13.05N 59.37W
Well we've been in Barbados for a week now; we like the island and the people so we've spent quite a bit of time on land.  We sailed down from Martinique last Sunday afternoon/night, beating against the wind and seas so Annabel was quite sick.  We arrived at Port St Charles last Monday morning at 6.30am. It's a very posh place, with lots of condos(American-style townhouses) with their own moorings and just a few visitor berths by the customs office, all filled by huge motor and sailing yachts, but we managed to squeeze in and have breakfast and a snooze between talking to several residents out jogging and doing yoga on the adjacent helicopter landing spot ! Another British yacht arrived whilst we were in customs and the skipper and Syd eventually worked out where they'd seen each other before - on a flight back from Gibraltar in September! This was their first stop after sailing accross the Atlantic, so we cheered them in as best we could, remembering how we'd appreciated our ARC welcome in St Lucia.  After a quick drink in the very posh yacht club restaurant and a bit of a wander round to find that it was a gated secure area and there didn't seem to be much else to see or do, we also discovered that it was going to cost us US$90 per night for the 'marina', so we decided to sail on down to the Bridgetown(capital of Barbados) area.
We had a nice gentle sail down the west coast of Barbados, past Paynes Bay (Payne is a very common surname here - the customs officer showed us 6 columns of them in the phone book!) and anchored here in Carlisle Bay, a lovely wide sandy bay in Bridgetown.  That night was quite calm but most other nights (and some days) have been very rolly, although there's been hardly any wind all week.  Also the nightclubs on the beach have been blasting out their music until 2.30am and we haven't got round to joining them, so we've been suffering from disturbed sleep and just had to have a few siestas during the day....
Bridgetown is a mix of local shops and services and smart duty free shops for the many cruise ships that stop here - one day we counted 5 in the dock !!  We've found a good internet cafe where we could use their computers and printer and Annabel made one visit with her laptop and was able to plug it in to theirs and download a few things, which wasn't possible on the unreliable wifi connections at Rodney Bay.  To get into town we take the dinghy into the old town dock which unfortunately doesn't look quite deep enough for Gaviota.  Annabel loves the local drug-stores which sell all the usual brands of European and American shampoo etc, plus interesting bottles of things like witch hazel and camphor oil as well as basic stationery and snacks - we've found ginger boiled sweets(should be useful for preventing sea sickness) and little packets of un-salted roasted nuts which are a mandatory accompaniement for the sundowner drinkies!
On Thursday we hired a small Suzuki jeepy thing and drove all round the island, stopping for lunch at Bathsheeba on the east coast where we had the best local-style meal since arriving in the Caribbean.  Then we carried on up to the northern point with its dramatically eroded cliffs and then down through the centre of the island which is quite hilly, but not as much as St Lucia.  The fields were mostly planted with sugar cane and we glimpsed a few large plantatian houses through the trees; the one open to the public was too busy with coaches for us to go in.  We didn't see much wildlife; an occasional mongoose ran across the road, but we did see a couple of monkeys when we were well away from civilisation!  The island is quite well populated; people mainly seem to live in little wooden bungalows, often quite colourful, and there are lots of American style flats/condos and bigger houses on the southern and western coasts.
After some hard questioning at the tourist office we found a bike shop which said they might be able to find a mountain biking group for Syd - lo and behold someone rang him when we got back to the boat later that day and invited him on their ride this Saturday, and maybe Sunday too for some technical off-road stuff.  Someone offered to come and pick Syd up from the beach car park near where we're anchored in Carlisle Bay, so although Saturday dawned wet and rainy he put the bike together on the boat and we took it across on the dinghy, planning as we went how we would get it out without getting sea water and/or sand on it.  The plan failed when Syd fell backwards into the water, but the bike stayed dry and clean and we hosed Syd down at the beach showers and off he went for a good little ride, but didn't feel quite fit enough to do the Sunday technical stuff - too out of practice ! Well, at least we've learnt that we can get the bike ashore on the dinghy - we'll try both bikes next time. Annabel had found a branch of the Hash House Harriers on Barbados, so she took 2 local busses across to the other side of Bridgetown for their usual run/walk, followed by a few beers.  One of the girls had spent some time in Marlborough where Annabel grew up, and there were a few Scottish people there too, which was interesting.
As I write this on Monday 14 Jan, we're packing up the boat ready to sail down to Tobago and then to Trinidad - we expect to be in that area for a couple of weeks to enjoy Carnival.  The wind was quite strong for the last few days, and from the East, so we're hoping for a good smooth sail, overnight again, as it's c.120 miles.
Hopefully I'll get round to getting some photos developed and put on the web diary and will get a good internet connection there to upload them, which I can't do with the satellite phone link on the boat.