Cruising to Barbados: Cruisers’ Impressions
Published 5 years ago, updated 4 years ago
Comment posted by Maria about Bridgetown – December 2017
Posted December 2017 – by SY Safire
Barbados, maybe for now give it a miss. It needs to become far more yacht friendly. Here are some of the good and not so good issues.
Currency is the DB$ and is fixed to the US$ at 2:1. US$ accepted in many places. A number of places take credit/debit cards.
Port St. Charles
Check in to Port St Charles (the better option). Call on CH16 or 77 but if they do not answer, enter and tie up at the fuel dock, the first pontoon as you go in on the right. Remember the area is IALA B so red buoys on your starboard side as you enter. Both Customs and Immigration were extremely helpful, but this is a private residential port complex and no facilities apart from the nice yacht club. Once checked in you can anchor just off, move to Speightstown or the Holetown area. These are open anchorages and unprotected from swells, but are nice. Speightstown has a number of shops, bars, restaurants, but it’s a small township of about 1000 people.
Carlise Bay (Bridgetown)
This is suggested as being the only real protected anchorage. It has some protection, yes, but it is still a very rolly anchorage and thas issues with noise – a lot of noise. The swell is often at right angles to the wind, so swell can be beam on and in the afternoon very choppy.
During the day there is a plaque of jet skis bikes with tourist driving, many of whom are first-time users. They whizz too close to yachts at high speed, often screaming with excitement. Then there are the horrid tourist pleasure boats who pass close-by at speed, in particular, the so-called wooden Jolly Roger with its loud music, the Captain at times seems to like circling the occasional yacht for his fee-paying guests to look at. The Sandals craft likes to plough through the anchorage at 25 kts, with zero consideration of those anchored there. The beach bars blurt music out as you would expect, but it’s way too loud.
At night expect more loud music, sometimes until 06:00 in the morning.
Bridgetown and its people are very friendly, but although it is the capital, it is very limited, surprisingly on evening dining. There are plenty of taking away eateries and local shack bars, but only one loud bar near the bridge seems to offer food 7 nights a week. The Waterfront Café is good for daytime drinks and food but only opens Thurs-Sat on evenings. An early week there is nothing on offer, its surprising. The Thurs/Sat jazz night is expensive but good at the Waterfront Café.
You can dinghy into the town through the port entrance, go down to the first bridge and take the far left channel under it. After this, tie up on the quay wall next to one of the stainless steel steps and padlock up. At night take the usual precautions. At no time did we feel unsafe, but it does not hurt to be careful. In fact, we found people to be very helpful.
If your dinghy in via the beach, check the surf out first before landing. It could be tricky.
Use the RBS bank cashpoint close by, its inside and secure. We have had no issues.
Bridgetown supermarkets are small and limited. There are two better ones down the main shopping road in the back street. You could take a taxi to the Holetown area, but ask to be taken to the larger supermarket on this road. A taxi will cost about BD$40 each way (US$20).
The Friday night fish fry at Oinstins is popular, but it’s a taxi ride of BD$40 each way and takes about 20-25 minutes). There is, of course, the local DB$2 buses. It’s an area of shack-type huts all cooking fried and BBQ food and serving bottled beer. Very busy. Venture in before deciding your venue. Food closer to the stage area looked better. It’s OK, but nothing really to write home about.
Barbados has nice friendly people, great beaches, but otherwise is limited. For stunning scenery take a local bus to the Atlantic east coast side.
The only good thing for me is that at Port St Charles you can fuel up when checking out. Once checked out fuel is duty-free at DB$ 1.20 per liter (US$ 0.60c). It’s cash only, but you may be able to agree with the post office to pay by card for larger amounts, say DB$ 1000 or more. Call the dock master in advance.
For me, there are far nicer and much better islands to visit with good bays offering scenic venues and much better protection. We will not return to Barbados sadly, but it did leave a little mark.
Posted March 2012 – by SY Joana
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.