09 – 18 January 2012
We arrived in Carlisle Bay, Bridgetown, Barbados around 5.45pm after 14 days at sea crossing the Atlantic, what an enormous relief to get into flatter water and drop the anchor. But sometimes things don’t turn out quite as you think they should, we took 4 attempts at getting the anchor to set – never before have we needed 4 attempts – where was all the sandy bottom we expected? The sun had dipped over the horizon while we were still finding a home for the night, darkness arrives very quickly in the tropics, happy hour celebrations were continuing onboard Matador without us, tempers were getting frayed, but then the anchor finally set. Our kiwi friends Brenda and David on Bandit dinghied over to us with fresh fruit, NZ cheese and David’s freshly baked bread and soon after taxied us across to their boat for rum punches and dinner. It was wonderful to have such a welcome after so long at sea.
The rocking and rolling continued unfortunately, the swell crept around the headland and came in beam-on, however it was nowhere near as bad at being at sea, we just felt a little hard done by, a lovely calm and sunny anchorage would have been just the ticket after what we had been through!! I mention sunny as it was often squally, but Balvenie came out sparkling clean, finally rid of months of dust and ingrained dirt, it is worth having the rain to have such a salt, dust and dirt free home.
Our first few days seemed to pass me by, I felt like I was operating in a zombie state almost doing things by remote control. It took a while for the relief of successfully crossing the Atlantic Ocean on our own yacht to work its way through my brain and to let my body know that life would be returning to normal (well normal for us!!) The weather was very changeable - hot, sunny days with regular afternoon rain showers, so that didn’t encourage us to get out and explore, and then the watermaker decided to set a record for having the most breakdowns in a week. For skipper it was back to “Maintenance in Exotic Places”, he spent 3 days fixing 3 different failures, one resulted in several litres of salt water being pumped into the bilge – not a good thing, another resulted in several litres of salt water being pumped into our fresh water tanks – now this is a very bad thing and until it is diluted back to an acceptable level we will be purchasing drinking water, oh what fun.
As the days passed new arrivals made landfall. Tactical Directions and Ventana followed us in then Eye Candy and Resolute arrived also. All of them as happy and relieved as we were to have “crossed the pond”.
In order to perk up spirits (quite literally) there was nothing for it but to abandon ship one afternoon and head to the Mt Gay Rum Factory. Skippers “rum of choice” has always been Mt Gay since he started yacht racing in Auckland, participating in the Thursday afternoon Rum Races. Many miles have gone under the keel since then, and many many bottles of Mt Gay Rum have been emptied . Now it was time to see “where the rum that invented rum” was born. In true cruiser style an outing was planned and several of us headed for the Mt Gay Bottling Plant in Bridgetown for the “Tour and Tastings” experience. There are several different plants around the island and this is only the bottling plant, so you don’t get to see the actual production process, however they have an excellent informative short film, followed by rum tasting of three different aged rums, the measures were very generous. The adjoining bar area overlooked a lovely flat bay (where no anchoring is permitted!), rum punches were ordered and the afternoon just slipped away.
On Friday night we ventured out between the showers and went firstly to the newly opened J’s Lucky 7 Bar for a rum punch to celebrate Stu off Matadors birthday then piled into buses, minivans and taxis and all headed out to the Oistins Bay Friday Night Fish Fry Up. It’s a market stall type set up, with around 50 stalls selling the catch of the day and the local speciality – flying fish sandwiches. If you are lucky you get something with it, maybe fried plantain chips or a little coleslaw. It’s all plastic chairs, tables, plates, knives and forks – very cheap and cheerful but without the cheap!! The minivan ride was the most entertaining part of the evening,. One of those little competitions to see just how many people you can fit into a minivan, how loud will the music go and how long can you drive down the wrong side of the road before you hit something???
It was time for Tony to leave us, head for New Orleans, journey across America and then fly home to Auckland. It had been great having him aboard and deciding to ask him to do the crossing with us had been one of the best decisions we had made. Thanks for coming Tony.
More days passed, we slipped in a few walks along the beach, sundowners at the welcoming Barbados Cruising Club, snorkelling on a wreck further across in the bay and then the Caribbean Twenty 20 Cricket Series came to the Bridgetown Kensington Oval, definitely time for another cruisers outing. We walked to the ground and enjoyed watching the Windward Islands play the Leeward Islands in a evening match. There wasn’t quite as much razzmatazz and audience participation as we had thought there might be, maybe because it wasn’t Barbados playing, but it was a good game and a fun outing.
We had been waiting for our headsail to be repaired by the local Doyle Sails Loft. When ready we undertook a rather exciting surf landing on the beach to collect it, managed to get a lull in the wind just long enough to reattach, hoist and furl it in then started making our preparations to leave Barbados. It was time to sail westward once again for the final Atlantic leg. An overnight sail another 100 miles to the island destination of Bequia …. part of the St Vincent and Grenadines chain. As Balvenie sailed away from Bridgetown the floodlights of the Kensington Oval Cricket Ground lit up the evening sky before slowly dipping below the eastern horizon behind us. Darkness enveloped us once again and revealed all the now familiar star formations across the night sky made all the more vivid on a moonless night. Balvenie jogged westward on a steady easterly trade wind, rolling to the rhythm of the Atlantic swell. Dawn would see us approaching the Windward Islands of the Eastern Caribbean.
For Cruising and Touristy info go to www.balveniescruisinginfo.blogspot.com and click on the Barbados label on the left sidebar.