Barbados 1

Phil Pascoe
Sat 10 Jan 2009 15:16

13:05.00N 59:36.725W

Hello again.  We’re back in Barbados and Whitemeadow is blogging again.
First a few more pics and a tale or two from when we arrived in Bridgetown in December.
The last few miles cruising close to land again felt very strange – Barbados seemed very built up and the mass of lights made picking out any navigation marks quite difficult.  I radioed Port Control to see if they wanted us to come in for Immigration, customs etc.  A very friendly voice came back: ‘Welcome to Barbados (Man), come into de Commercial dock and radio again, you can clear Immigration dis evenin. The trusty Raymarine Chart plotter came to our aid and we found our way to the Commercial dock as instructed. Coming alongside a wall built to take the QE2 was not so easy, and getting ashore required some acrobatics from Tony.  Lots of ropes and lots of fenders and 15 minutes later, Pete and I went along to the Harbour Master leaving Tony onboard.  Although we had to visit three different offices (Immigration, Health and Customs), and fill out three or four different forms (all much the same information), it all went fairly smoothly.  No money was necessary as we pay when we check out, let’s hope we didn’t slip into the overtime rate.
Staying in the Commercial dock was possible but would have been pretty uncomfortable, so we decided to move around to Carlisle Bay, about half a mile away, and anchor for the night.  We had a drink in the cockpit to the sound of Reggae music from a nearby beach bar, and then retired, feeling relieved and pleased with ourselves that we’d made it, and in time for our flights!
The next morning we picked up a mooring off the famous Boatyard Restaurant and prepared for our first run ashore in the Caribbean.  After tying up to the jetty we were immediately told that it would cost us $10 US each to enter the Club but this would give us credit towards food and drinks.  Hmm, not so keen on that idea, but we have little option.  Let’s have beer.  Three beers at $8BDS (=$4US) each meant we were not likely to get intoxicated with our $30 US credit.  I hope beer is not this price everywhere. 
The rest of our time in Barbados was spent trying to find a safe berth or mooring for the boat over Christmas and New Year – not an easy task.  The locals were all very friendly and potentially helpful, but we never seemed to be able to meet or contact the person we needed.  Barbados is not very user-friendly for visiting yachts, particularly if you want to leave the boat for some time unattended.  Eventually we found the best option was a mooring, of dubious quality, at the Royal Barbados Yacht Club.  This was to become ‘home’ for the foreseeable future – a very friendly Colonial style establishment, with beach bar and restaurants etc.  The one drawback was the surf on the beach and getting to and from the boat in the dinghy.  One memorable night after a few rum punches at the St.Lawrence Gap Happy hour, we were caught by a ‘big one’ which turned the dinghy over, complete with outboard, and bowled Pete and me over for a total immersion, including our bags with camera, mobile phone, wallet and passport inside.  An enjoyable evening but not a happy ending. The pic below shows the drying out process – fortunately the only casualty was my mobile phone.  That’s twice I’ve drowned a mobile by taking it swimming.  Do they make waterproof models?

We did also manage a bit of sightseeing.  An interesting Island of contrasts, some modern areas and developments, but a lot of shacks and many disused and delapidated buildings from a former era.  They became Independent from the UK in 1966, and in some areas it looks as if nothing has be done or spent since!  The transport system takes a bit of getting used to.  Blue buses, yellow buses and white minibuses all charge a standard fee of $1.50 (50p) for any length of journey.  Taxis are much more expensive, but very plentiful.  Traffic is a problem, it always seems busy around Bridgetown – too many cars. 
Barbados was not really as I expected, but the natives are friendly and the whole place is laid back, so I’m sure we’ll get to like it, providing we can cope with the heat.  Around 30 degrees in the middle of the day and not much cooler at night, and fairly humid.

Enough for now, more to come about our return in 2009.

Pics are:  Typical beach (crowded), Boatyard Restaurant, Tony and Pete (I don't drink spirits) Sizer on their 4th Rum punch, the drying out session, local beer and a cultural experince - fish and chips at Glorias on Baxter Street.