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Cruising to Barbados

By Sue Richards last modified Mar 19, 2012 12:10 PM

Published: 2012-03-19 12:10:52
Countries: Barbados

Yes, we’re here in Barbados, an island that apparently gets less than 600 visiting cruising boats a year - and I’ll bet that most of them are mega or super-yachts at that.

Our strategy of leaving from Martinique and sailing SE with a ENE wind worked out just fine. We sailed all the way, clearing in at Port St Charles on the NW coast. Chris Doyle’s guidebook describes the docking facilities at Port St Charles to be much better than in the capital city of Bridgetown (where the cruise ships go). There may be some truth in this, however, we did find even the docking (and you have to dock the boat, clearing in by dinghy is not allowed) to be far below standard.

The fuel dock (where we were directed) was only about 40 feet in length, and with our boat surging back and forth, I thought the wooden fuel dock was going to collapse! After we cleared in, we headed South for two hours and anchored in Carlisle Bay (at the mouth of the Carlisle River) at Bridgetown (the capital), described as the only anchorage in Barbados. We are currently anchored, together with only one other cruising sailboat.

Barbados is not highly visited primarily due to its geographical location, over 80nm due East of St Vincent. With the winds predominately East, it can be a "pain" to get here. We did speak with the Captain of "Caribbean Reach", the only other cruising boat (70 feet) here, and they had no problems clearing into Bridgetown at the main dock. However, there have been reports of traffic issues, conflicts with cruise ships and mega yachts - but that was not our experience, or that of Caribbean Reach.

During our island tour, we were struck by the level of infrastructure. All homes are equipped with electricity and running water. Not present are the individual home water catchment systems and storage barrels that are so common on other Caribbean islands. A national healthcare system is in place and education is provided up to and including the university level - a stark contrast to most of the other islands. The fields are tilled with machines and we never saw a single person with a machete in hand (which is very common on the other islands). Gasoline sells for $ 2.30 / litre at the pumps (double the price of Canada). Eddie Murphy and Oprah Winfrey are two of the many celebrities who have established homes with the rich and famous. We also learned that the singer Rhianna hails from Barbados.

Bridgetown has a beautiful downtown pedestrian shopping mall. You can take your dinghy up the Carlisle River only a few hundred meters, passing under the lift bridge and easily securing to a cleat. Garbage drop off is also easy, right where you lock the dinghy. You can tie the dinghy up right in front of a grocery store. There are a couple of weak non-secure wifi signals in Carlisle Bay, but we chose to buy wifi through one of many very strong LIME wifi signals, at a cost of only $10US per week. We have easily sourced grocery stores and all the other usual amenities.

Wade Alarie
SY Joana

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