Barbados and onwards


Barbados provided a great location for recuperation. Lazing around in the sun, swimming, eating and drinking. The locals were true to their reputation.............. laid back and friendly. The beer was good......... the rum was better ! We were anchored off the beach at Carlisle Bay. About a quarter of a mile off in fact, which was quite a long row, and when we reached the beach we had to land in a swell which could be challenging at times. After a good few soakings in the first couple of days we honed our technique and managed to time our landings and launchings to stay dry for the most part. However, the sea showed no mercy to those crew members attempting to launch Cub after a night on the town enjoying the Bayan hospitality ! But you'll have to ask Joe or Finn about that, and they may claim amnesia.

After three days, having largely recovered from the crossing, we were feeling fresh fresh as a daisy when Joe and I went to the airport to meet Noley and Immi on New Years Day. I had been away for over five months by now, and gradually getting used to the warm sea and hot sunshine, but for Noley and Immi, fresh over from a wet and windy English winter, the contrast was great and we spent the next few days diving in to the turquoise sea every time we felt too hot. But we weren't entirely without our own wet and windy conditions. We were still getting 3 or 4 squalls a day.
Exploring the island was mostly confined to the capital, Bridgetown, just behind Carlisle bay, a bustling and interesting town, with some attractive historical buildings. The town had seen better days though, and was looking a bit tired apart from a couple of upmarket shopping malls selling expensive looking jewelry and other essentials for the cruise liner passengers who appear to keep the local economy ticking over. There were sometimes three cruise ships in the dock. They arrived overnight, spent the day in town, with just enough time to go snorkelling with the turtles and buy a diamond tiara, and then left in the evening presumably to travel to their next destination in time for breakfast.
On Friday night we went off to 'Fish Friday', just along the coast at Oistins. Here they took the fish straight from the fishermen on the beach to a village of sheds, barbecues and picnic tables to offer a mouth watering choice of delicious seafood. After which there was beer and dancing. Great !......... OK, it was a little touristy, but great nonetheless. We got to Oistins by a local mode of travel, a Toyota minibus being run as a cross between a bus and a taxi. The driver drives, and by the sliding door in the back is the 'casher', who touts for business, leaning out of the window (or sometimes hanging out of the door) accosting all likely clients. You don't have to look for one of these 'buses', they'll find you, sometimes stopping and backing up a sideroad when a pedestrian who needs upgrading to passanger status is spotted ! There seems no limit to the number of passengers, I counted 18 at one time plus the 2 'staff' ! And of course when the passenger in the corner at the back wants to get off, then everyone in front has to pile out, and then back in again. To keep everybody happy, an oversize sounds system pumps out a stream of Bob Marley or Hip Hop. On our homeward journey the back of the bus was full and so Immi had the privilege of sitting up with the driver, a young man, about 15 yrs old who managed to keep the bus on the road surprisingly well considering he was texting on his phone most of the time. Poor Immi, sat with one hand protecting her pregnant belly and the other on the windscreen, but always the sociable one, several times she tried to break into conversation, with such openers as,"Baby in here," and "Keep your eyes on the road !!!". ............."Yeah, man. OK", came the reply.
After a couple more days, there was about a week before we would say goodbye to Joe and Immi, and Hello to Holly, Dave and the boys. The changeover was scheduled to be in Grenada and so we had to move on. We motored from the anchorage to the fishing harbour to take on water, and there we also said goodbye to Fabian, a local Bayan who we had got to know. A lovely friendly guy. An admirer of Holly Mae.............................. and Annie Mae (but not necessarily in that order ). After another squall, we hoisted sail about an hour before sunset. The plan was to sail overnight to ensure a daytime arrival. Always a safe plan in this part of the world where navigational lights are unreliable. After an hour of two it was just like being back on the Atlantic crossing. Following wind and swell......................... easy sailing but not comfortable.
By nine in the morning we could see Sail Rock, a large outlying rock signalling the proximity of the Grenadines. A couple of hours later we were passing through the channel between Union Island and Carriacou. Then a gybe onto the port tack and down the leeward side of Carriacou where we dropped anchor at midday off Hillsborough.
Compared with the islands on the east side of the Atlantic, the first impression one gets of these Caribbean islands is the green and lush vegetation, which are spectacularly beautiful when fronted by a white sand beach and turquoise sea. This was how we saw Hillsborough. Behind the coconut palms the town stretched out parallel to the beach. The town was small and friendly although that's not how I would describe the various officials I had to visit to get clearance into the islands. Three offices, two sets of detailed forms, passports, boats papers.etc. etc....... First Customs, then Police, then Immigration............... their attitude was sometimes officious, at least offhand, although when you consider the tedium of their job perhaps it is not surprising. Or is it just vicarious revenge for the way they have been treated by the Brits in the past ? Anyway it's a small price to pay.........................
The following morning we weighed anchor and moved across the bay a couple of miles to Sandy Island. (see photo) An imaginatively named little piece of paradise. Only about a quarter of a mile long, this curve of sand was built on a foundation of coral and topped with coconut palms............ the usual dreamy colours. There were a couple of dozen pelicans constanly diving just off the beach. When we snorkelled in to the beach we passed through a cloud of millions of fish each about six inches long and obviously a tasty mouthful for the pelicans, who fished lazily at mealtimes and then just hung out to digest, and work up an appetite before eating some more. Not much sport in it though. After the swim we harvested a few coconuts from the trees, and back on board we cut off the tops, added some rum put straws in the top........................................... mmmmmmm nice !
The next morning it was off to Grenada. and as our course was SE we had the wind reliably on the port quarter. A cracking sail took us down over the channel between Carriacou and Grenada, past some pretty impressive uninhabitaed islands and rocks, one of them affectionately named ' Kick 'em Jenny', and then down into the lee of Grenada. We sailed the length of this lush verdant island alternating between quiet sheltered stretches and exhilerating gusts which came down between the hills. We rounded the south west corner and beat the last five miles into a well sheltered anchorage at Prickly Bay. For the first couple of nights we paid the extra for a marina berth but as this turned out to be a 'stern to' arrangement we didn't stay. Many modern boats are equipped with step-off platforms at their stern or built in gang planks, but we have a bowsprit at one end and a self steering at the other. Getting ashore for a sober adult was possible, but with the grandchildren coming soon and the temptations of cheap rum we decided it would be prudent to move out to the anchorage. Better for swimming too.
So here we spent Joe and Immi's last couple of days, sailing cub, swimming etc. etc. as well as the more mundane delights of laundry and shopping. Here also we re-met Tristan and Sue on their Holman sloop............... last seen (by us) in Tazacorte, La Palma. It was good to see them and exchange tales of Atlantic crossings etc. They also had had a fairly quick and trouble-free time of it.
When taking Joe to the airport, we were listening to the radio news in the taxi. The newscaster had a great informal way of telling and commenting on the news including some gangland activity in nearby Trinidad. "........................... dis man, he shot........................ nine times.................obviously he dead!"