Tin Tin's Sailing Calendar

Monday, 14 May 2018

Barbados to Trinidad

Mark and I had an enjoyable few days in Barbados, finding the people welcoming and friendly. We rented a car and explored the east coast, surprised at how extensive the areas of housing are, but then I read that it is the most densely populated island in the Caribbean.  

We found a lighthouse under renovation at Rugged Point, and were allowed to climb the 114 steps to the light where, balanced on scaffolding, we could see the jagged cliffs below being pounded by the sea.
Long streamers of the golden sargassum weed were driving into the coves and later, at Long Beach, we found a dense mat of seaweed covering beach and bay, undulating in the incoming swell like a huge golden shag pile carpet, and stifling the breakers.  This is apparently an unusual occurrence and must be depositing thousands of tonnes of weed on the east coast beaches. 

We stopped for lunch at Bathsheba Bay where a restaurant, painted a lovely lurid purple and green, stood in a seafront park amidst coconut palms.   I took time to sketch and paint here after our meal, with a view  strange coral formations, undercut by the sea to leave jagged islands balanced on a narrow base.

Barbados was under uninterrupted British rule for 300 years, and still has the Queen as Head of State (although not evident on the currency).  So there are red ER II letterboxes to be seen, tea time is observed, The Anglican Church is established in all ten parishes, and cars drive on the left. All very civilised.   Yet the buildings have an exuberant style and thrilling colours, interspersed with rum shops painted bright red and adorned with huge painted signs advertising "Banks, The Beer Of Barbados!"  It felt safe and happy, with few people in obvious poverty on the streets and, apart from the enthusiastic taxi drivers touting for business, there was little sense of being hustled.
Rum shop
Later we explored town, and found the rum showroom, where we decided against tour and tasting, and instead Mark went off for a tour of the cricket ground at Kensington Oval.

Over on the west coast the beaches are sparkling white coral sand, clear of any weed and, with a gentle sea in stunning aquamarine colours, make a most attractive sight.  We stopped in Speightstown, and enjoyed strolling the colourful streets, lunch in a beach side cafe, and exploring St Peter's Church.  It would be a good place to rent a room for a peaceful holiday.  

At the northern tip of Barbados I ventured into Animal Flowers Cave, descending steps into a wave cut grotto looking out to the surging sea.  The limestone formations allowed one to imagine a shark, a hand and a map of Barbados, and then one could swim in the saltwater pool that extended out to the cave mouth, where an occasional wave sloshed foaming water into the pool.  Naturally I was in there straightaway!

The Barbados Yacht Club deserved a visit in Bridgetown, and we found an established elegant club, with members using the tennis facilities, dinghies being launched down the beach, and a shady beach bar with a gnarled tree on the sand, where I spent a happy morning painting and reading.
The beach at Barbados Yacht Club.

Then for our last night we drove out to the Fish Fry at Oistins which turned out to be a huge event, with large numbers of tables set out between competing kitchens, all serving meals of freshly grilled dolphin (dorado), marlin or swordfish, with Bajan specialties such as the unlikely sounding Macaroni Pie, all to the throbbing pulse of a big sound stage pumping out reggae competing with a steel band. On a table next to us old men were animatedly playing dominos, slamming down the tiles with determination.  Next to them a small boy begged us to play dominos with him, and then proceeded to slam his tiles down just like his elders.

We upped anchor on Saturday morning, but not before we had taken the dinghy to the beach to return the hire car keys at The Pirate Cove car park.  I swam the couple of hundred yards back out to Tin Tin.

Out at sea, some 40 miles south of  Barbados we heard a distress call on the VHF from a fishing boat. We were the only vessel to respond, and the fisherman was very relieved to hear us. He'd been drifting since Thursday, and despite calling regularly we were the first response he'd had. It seemed that his batteries were flat or the starter motor wouldn't work.  I made attempts to get hold of the Barbados Coast Guard, but we were too far away, so as he was only 8 miles away we headed in his direction.   Luckily my attempts to raise the coastguard alerted another fishing vessel, and we heard the whoops of exuberant relief in the Bajan dialect when he heard his friend was on the way.  By the time we got close the Missy D had been taken in tow and was plugging upwind the 40 miles to home.

Later we ran over a fishing net, and had a struggle to disentangle it. Eventually the fishermen told us to cut the line, but we then rejoined the ends so they lost nothing.

The following day we raised Trinidad through torrential rain storms at midday and were sailing through the narrow channel to Chaguaramas between high cliffs by 1700.

We tied at the arrivals dock, only to find that as it was Sunday there were hundreds of Trinidad dollars to pay Immigration and Customs for overtime.  With no ATM available, no credit cards or US $ taken, and being not allowed to leave until we had cleared in we were stuck in Catch 22!  The immigration lady suggested that we came back after 0800 on Monday when no fees would be payable.  We asked the hotel whether we could stay on the arrivals dock overnight, but they wanted US$100, so we found a spare mooring and drank a celebratory PiƱa Colada and cooked supper whilst being blasted by intense music from a big party boat.   

We have arrived in Trinidad!

1 comment:

Richard & Jan said...

Paul, you forgot to turn your iridium Go on.......no track between Barbados and Trinidad
Enjoying the blog, giving us lots of info for our future voyages
Richard & Jan
Morpheus of London