Sunday, 1 February 2004

February 2004, Port St Charles, Barbados

Navigation is no longer an art, we knew exactly when Barbados would appear on the horizon, and as expected, on the morning of 17th February we had the delightful sight of the island on portside. The sea was rough as we got closer to round the North Point, with gusts up to 36 knots, so it was a relief to come into more sheltered water on the West coast, and even better to tie up at the Immigration jetty at Port St Charles. But before the sea settled and squalls still battered us we had the most amazing welcome from five large and playful dolphins. Two of the animals treated us to leaps high up in the air just in front of us. (Could they possibly be trained and employed with the Barbados Board of Tourism?!)
At Port St Charles three officers for immigration, customs and health came aboard, well-dressed and very formal, cleared us in with a lot of paper-work, but no problems, and after joining us in a glass of Norwegian aquavit to celebrate our arrival, relaxed and became very chatty and friendly. Later in the day, we were given a berth in the outer lagoon of Port St. Charles. This must be the best berth for a yacht in Barbados! It is a completely sheltered, aquamarine lagoon, with apartments for the rich in well laid-out tropical gardens. Thanks to our previous rowing, helping with the present rowing regatta from La Gomera and the kindness of one of the owners; Thomas Herbert, we have been given this free berth and use of all the facilities. So we are now enjoying a very privileged life, swimming in the pool, keeping fit in the excellent gym, and watching the sun set behind the palm trees with a rum-punch in hand. Beats going to work back home in frozen Norway!
It is also a pleasure to share this with our guests, first with our crew member Frode who was here for nine days, thanks to our fast passage from Cape Verde Islands. Together, we have driven around most of the island, visiting places we know well, and meeting old friends. Stein and I have worked in Barbados twice, in 1978-79 for just over a year, and again in 1988-89 for half a year. So we know the island well and have good friends here. So far we have visited Wendy and Harold Goddard, old sailors whom we met on our first circumnavigation in the Solomon Islands in 1981, and the Smyth family, who are faithful helpers of all yachties who come to the island, giving them weather forecasts on the amateur radio (The Caribbean Maritime Mobile Net) or by e-mail, and often inviting them to their lovely home on the East coast. Frode left us on the 26th, after nearly six weeks aboard, the perfect crew-member – experienced sailor, good fun, easy-going and helpful. The night before he left, he treated us to a second, splendid meal at the restaurant La Mer in the PStC complex, Eli having done the same on the first night ashore. And with the excellent food and service, good wines, and a table at the edge of the water, life seemed wonderful! Welcome back again another time, Frode!
While we are here, we will be meeting the rowing boats which come in, and the winner has already arrived, the four-manned boat Queensgate on the 24th February after a fast 36 day passage from la Gomera. Unfortunately they didn’t beat the record for the fastest row ever across the ocean of 35 days (but that was by 11 men!) but they are the first four to cross and have set a hard standard for future rowers. We took White Admiral a few miles up the coast to meet them, with Kenneth Crutchlow, director of he Ocean Rowing Society, a couple of journalists/film-makers and a few relatives aboard. It was quite moving to see the excited relatives shouting and waving to their loved ones, and follow the boys the last few miles into the harbour here.
Now we have my brother Jim from Toronto and his son Andrew aboard. The arrived from cold Canada yesterday and are just getting used to the shock of 30 centigrade in the shade and blazing sunshine. Next week we are looking forward to seeing our son Martin, daughter-in-law Camilla and grand-daughter Hedda who are coming for ten days.
We will probably stay here until about the end of March, as long as we feel we are not outstaying our welcome, to meet a few more of the rowing teams, and fully enjoy life on our Barbados; Island in the Sun.
28 Feb 2004 by Stein & Diana

1 comment:

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