Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Barbados






There is only one protected anchorage in all of Barbados and that is Carlisle Bay just south of Bridgetown on the south west of the island.  When we first arrived, there were about 15 yachts anchored who like us, had just crossed the Atlantic.  We met cruisers from all over the world and swapped stories about the crossing,  compared crossing times, weather, injuries and broken boat bits. 

Our first priority once we went to shore was to get to the Canadian High Commission to renew our passports.  Although we had 10 months left before they expired, we had run out of pages for countries to stamp us in and out.  The renewal process went smoothly but we were told the passports would take 4 weeks to complete due to Christmas holidays and New Years. 

The Bajans are really big on Christmas.  There were decorations everywhere and Christmas music blaring from the stores.  In the square downtown, they had shipped in 20 evergreens from somewhere and decorated them with lots of lights.  The ground was covered with pure white gravel to look like snow.  It put us in the Christmas spirit, despite the 30 degree heat.


On Christmas day, we went snorkeling with some friends on three wrecks that were sunk nearby in Carlisle Bay.  I’m not sure how long they have been down there since the coral was just starting to take hold but there were tons of bright colored fish, the likes of which we have not seen since the Red Sea. On Christmas night, we went over to their boat for mulled wine and Bajan Great Cake (like our traditional Christmas Cake only gooier and more rum).


We did some sightseeing by bus and visited St. Nicholas Abbey, one of the island’s oldest surviving plantations.  At the centre of the plantation is a  17th century Jacobean mansion and a working Rum Distillery.  The bus ride to the Abbey was just as interesting, first following the west coast of the island then cutting through the interior of the island that is covered with sugar cane.

For New Year‘s Eve, all the boats anchored in the bay were invited to the local sailing club for a BBQ.  We sat on the deck overlooking the bay and watched the sunset while we munched on our shrimp kabobs and fish kabobs.  At midnight, there were two fireworks displays within ¼ mile each side of where Toboggan was anchored so we took our dinghy back to Toboggan, made some popcorn and watched the fireworks from the deck. 


One night, we took a bus ride to Oistin which is famous on the island for it’s Friday night fish fry.  Right beside the fish market which is very busy during the day, there is an area with lots of brightly painted picnic tables surrounded by 20 shacks which cook up a wide range of seafood.  Steve ordered the shrimp kabobs and I had the grilled snapper.  Our meals came with two Bajan classics…macaroni pie and “peas and rice” but we still managed to stuff down a side order of fish cakes.


Another day, we took a bus ride to Bathsheba which is on the East Coast of Barbados.  It is known for the best surfing waves on the island.  The day we went, there were lots of surfers and we sat for a couple hours watching some good runs and some spectacular wipe-outs.  A couple days later, the beach was closed since the winds were up and the surf and undertow became too dangerous.  Of course, the surfers still wanted to go out so they had to have policemen patrol the beach to keep the crazy surfers away.

After a fabulous three weeks in Barbados, our passports were completed and we were free to leave the island.   We said goodbye to our new friends and prepared to set sail for Guadeloupe.

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