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We went to bed about 8 PM last night and slept until 6 AM - 10 hours of sleep with no watches, just loud music to get used to again. At 5 AM the loud music stopped. We later discovered that we'd anchored right near one of the most popular beach bars in Barbados. Usually the music didn't start until 9 PM or later, but it lasted until about 4 AM every morning. After a while we didn't hear it anymore. It is the same in Trinidad. The best anchorage has the loudest music.
After taking down the anchor light that uses kerosene or lamp oil, Jerry put one of our new U. S. flags on the back of the boat while I made hazelnut coffee to celebrate our longest passage so far. Before the 18 days from Beaufort, NC to Barbados, our longest voyage was 10 days from the Abacos, Bahamas to Kittery Point, Maine this past Spring. Usually I save the hazelnut coffee for weekends, but we didn't have any while at sea, so I splurged and made some today. We opened some long-life milk for our cereal since we can buy ice today to keep it ok.
Jerry caught up his log while I went outside to view our floating home's new surroundings. A cruise ship was approaching Bridgetown from the Windward Islands. A tug and several fishing boats were working nearby. Small fish jumped out of the water near the boat. A few blacks were walking slowly along the beach which was lined with 7 scattered palm trees. There were also runners and people walking fast. I noticed a yellow tarp over the place that had the loud music during the night. The boat was rolling almost too much to write down my observations. My notes looked really scribbled. My travel mug almost spilled coffee as it slid toward the side of the boat. At 7 AM the sun was hot already and my skin felt as though it was getting burned. I was too lazy to put up the new awning I made. It still needs four grommets in the corners. We put our old awning in the trash in NH as our sail locker is too small to store two of them.
I noticed cumulus clouds over the land. We always look for them when we're trying to spot the next island. There was a sea wall with a couple of openings for boats to enter. I saw lots of small local boats exit to go out fishing for the day. Behind the sea wall was a Texaco sign and a sign advertising helicopter rides. On later days this helicopter seemed to keep quite busy taking tourists out for an hour or so. I heard a lot of cars behind the buildings on the beach and lots of surf in front of these buildings as Arctracer slowly swung around and put me in the shade. I felt much cooler with the breeze of the trades constantly blowing. Four Barbados flags blew in the breeze on shore. The buildings along the shore were old, made of cement or bricks, and many looked unused. There were a few taller, modern buildings behind them. There was no trash floating in the water, unlike Trinidad where it is very prominent. We anchored fairly near light green (shallow) water, near the beach, but far enough away so we didn't worry about going aground. I never have been very good at estimating the distance to other anchored boats or the seashore. I generally think in terms of Arctracer boat lengths when considering a good distance to be from other boats when anchoring.
One of the steel boats near us had two folding bicycles on its side deck. Their decks were much higher off the water than ours (as are those on most other sailboats) but the bikes will undoubtedly still rust quickly. They had small frames but still were difficult to get into and out of dinghies. We've never felt a need to have our bikes, except when we first moved aboard. There wasn't enough space to store them and we felt they'd get wrecked soon. The name on the transom of this boat was Smithy and it showed no flag or hailing port to identify where it is from. The other foreign steel boat near us was flying a French flag. They had two small children aboard. Educating children while cruising must be some chore. We've talked with several cruisers and educating their children is handled in several different ways. The French boat had a wind generator, too noisy for us. I think one did come with the boat (to be hung in the shrouds, rather than being on a long steel pole at the back of the boat as set up on most cruising boats), but we've never hooked it up. There was an inter- island trader anchored near us. I used the binoculars to identify the flags flying from the backs of the other boats in the anchorage. I used the plastic-coated place mat that Pat gave us to identify some of the countries. I counted boats from the Netherlands (3), Denmark, Spain, Australia (2), Sweden (3), Italy, Switzerland, and one other from the U. S. Lots of boats flew no flag. I only saw one boat flying the Barbados courtesy flag on a halyard toward the front of their boat.
We're definitely in the trades. All morning I had difficulty keeping my note cards, the flag chart, and my notepaper from flying overboard. We turned on the solar panel to charge the batteries so I could work on typing up the last long letter.
While outside I kept watching for a dinghy to go to shore, to see where we should take ours to go to customs and immigrations and/or to go sightseeing later. Finally I saw an overloaded inflatable dinghy go by and it went behind the seawall, toward the town. Later, many others went to shore through the surf onto the wonderful sandy beach. I also watched several planes, and figured out that the airport was on the southern part of the island. I saw three large catamarans taking tourists sailing. Later I saw one of them with another group of tourists so it must do half-day trips. Since lots of cruise ships come to Barbados, I imagine a lot of these tourists are from them. We saw the same thing in St. Thomas.
As Jerry started getting ready to take the dinghy off the cabin to go check in, three policemen in a large inflatable like our U.S. Coast Guard uses, came by the boat to ask if we'd seen the customs officials yet. Of course we knew that they knew we hadn't since we still had our yellow Q flag flying. Jerry told them that he was taking the dinghy off now to do just that. They told him that we needed to take Arctracer through one of the openings in the seawall to go to customs. When Jerry told them we were having engine problems they accepted it with no problem and let us leave Arctracer at anchor. The officials on some of the islands aren't so understanding. A strong gust of wind caught our windscoop, and it started flapping vigorously, so we took it down for the day.
Procedure for taking dinghy off boat: Jerry untied the two ropes that hold the dinghy in place. We put the main throat halyard on the rope across the back of the dinghy which is there specifically for this purpose. Today we forgot to put the shackle through the loop in this rope, so the dinghy later got unbalanced as it was raised. We put the staysail halyard on the metal towing ring on the front of the dinghy. The foresail boom rested on a cushion on top of the upside- down dinghy. We raised both its halyards and moved the boom to the port side of the boat and lashed it to the lifeline so it couldn't swing back and give us a knock. I closed the main hatch door so I wouldn't fall through into the cabin. This day I had a new situation to contend with. The solar panel was located on top of the hatch where I usually stand to lift the dinghy. I decided to stand on the side deck and it worked fine. I generally pull the halyard on the back of the dinghy, while Jerry handles the one on the front. We lifted it high enough to tip it over without damaging paint, varnish, the GPS antenna or the solar panel. I need the block on the halyard I'm using to be above my head in order for the dinghy to clear everything. Usually, when we get it high enough, we turn it over so that it is ready to be lowered into the water. Today this wasn't necessary since it was unbalanced and the wind turned it over for us. Once it was turned over we pushed it towards the side of the boat, then lowered it just enough so that the lifeline kept it at the side of the boat unable to swing back towards the middle. Then we pushed it away from Arctracer as we lowered it into the water. We had to push it away so the stanchion wouldn't damage it. This time I dropped the back end of the dinghy too quickly, so one corner hit the water early and a little water got inside the dinghy. We hadn't practiced this for a while. We almost lost a new ($27) shackle which came loose and almost went through a scupper into the sea. With the dinghy tied to Arctracer with two painters, we relocated the two halyards to their "at anchor" places where the ropes wouldn't slap against the masts when the wind blows. Jerry released the foresail boom from the lifeline, put the boom crutch back in place, and lowered the boom back onto the boom crutch. Actually, I held the boom over the crutch while he released the two halyards to lower it, because the boat was rolling so much that the boom might have swung wildly.
Once the dinghy was off I removed the clay from the small square hatch over the galley. It had not been opened since we put the dinghy on board in Newington, NH on Jennifer's birthday, October 22nd. The hatch hadn't been opened for 43 days - unbelievable! We had taken off the dinghy in New Bedford to visit the whaling museum, on the ICW to kedge the anchor, and in Beaufort to get groceries and mail letters, but none of those times were long enough or warm enough to consider opening the hatch. Jerry's Mom had helped soften new clay to put around the hatch so the water wouldn't come in during our sails in the open ocean. Today, with the boat in the tropics I realized we wouldn't have to soften the clay any more until New Zealand where it might be cold again. I took off the blue and yellow clay, knowing it would mesh together and get grayer each time it was put over the cracks. I attempted to lift the hatch up, then remembered the two hooks inside which keep the hatch down. I went inside, got a hammer, and knocked the hooks out of their eyes. Once the hatch was finally open, it was a real treat to have more ventilation.
Jerry hung the Sunshower bag in the cockpit for his sit down bathing suit shower (in a busy harbor and without our splash cloths up). After his shower, Jerry came inside looking for clothes appropriate for clearing in with all the officials. He inspected two pairs of shorts and couldn't believe how faded they were, checking for mildew at the same time. I suggested that he wear the new pair given to me at West Marine. They'd been returned because of a hole in the pocket, and the friendly store managers asked if we wanted them. They looked like they might fit Jerry and I was willing to mend the pocket. He put them on and said they were fine. A few minutes later he decided that he needed a belt to keep them up. He then looked for a shirt and his wallet. He got quite frustrated with his messy clothes locker, stuffed with two wool sweaters, etc. Wool things are generally kept in the cedar closet under our bed when we're in the tropics. We needed to wash all our woolies before storing them again. After putting on suntan lotion, finding the boat papers, a pen, and some money Jerry took the oars outside and then remembered that he needed his hat. I was typing and heard a lot of mumbling. Jerry was looking all through the hanging locker for his Tilley Hat (the second free one since they are guaranteed forever). He couldn't find it and again was frustrated by the present lack of organization on the boat. I knew he'd left his hat on his bench last night, apparently too tired to put it in its normal place, so I pointed to it. We went over the list of things to do ashore: check in, call home, buy ice and oil. I decided I didn't need to buy ginger ale here as I had 3 bottles left and usually only drink it at sea. Since Trinidad is only 185 miles away, (less than 2 days by sail,) I'll wait and get it cheaper there. He thanked me, gave me a kiss, and headed off. He went alone. Generally the officials only want the captain ashore until the boat is legally cleared in. Soon Jerry was back inside getting the board that goes in the dinghy seat to keep the water out. He also remembered the cable and padlock to lock the oars to the dinghy. Then he rowed away.
I saw the young parents from the French boat in front of us paddling their rubber dinghy (not the easiest thing to row) to the beach with their two small children. The children had orange inflatable "things" on their arms and the beach looked wonderful. I decided to take a shower and pay attention to details as to how it is done in a busy harbor.
The Shower Experience I went outside with all the things necessary to take a shower, then saw a dinghy approaching, so just sat on the cockpit seat waiting for them to go by. Often people stop to talk or say "nice boat." I don't like to have my shower interrupted. There were three people in the dinghy, one well tanned cruiser, and two quite white people with soft duffel bags all around them. They went to a boat not too far away, with an Italian flag I hadn't noticed before. The two guests got out and the driver brought the dinghy back past Arctracer. He waved and later returned with two more untanned guests with soft luggage. When we have guests aboard, we make them "crew members", especially when going between countries. There are fewer papers to process and fewer fees for clearing in and out if there are no "passengers" aboard. Meanwhile, a red-hulled motor catamaran marked "Coral Isles Divers" came close, and many of the tourists aboard waved as they passed.
Finally I'm ready to take my place, sitting on the cockpit floor. At sea we take showers on the side decks so we can hang the shower bag from a shroud. In the cockpit we hang it over the mainsail boom. I removed the cockpit cushion, so it wouldn't get wet. I chuckled as I did this. Why bother? It's a boat and everything is always wet. But it might not dry before Jerry returned, and he might sit there, so I made sure his clean salt-free clothes wouldn't get wet.
I opened the nozzle and let out just enough water to wet my hair. Then I closed the nozzle so I'd have enough water to rinse, etc. I put on shampoo and scrubbed, and scrubbed, and scrubbed. I wrung as many suds out of my hair as I could so I wouldn't waste valuable fresh water. I partially rinsed my hair and used this water to soak my entire body. I used a scrubber to scrub off all the dry, loose skin that I could. I scrubbed my whole body. Then I rinsed my hair again, this time aware that the water was warm and wonderful, but once I turned off the nozzle the trade wind breeze made me feel quite cool. I thought how lucky "land" people are to have as much hot, pressurized water as they want when taking a shower. Occasionally we get to take "real" showers and I would soon in Trinidad. When home for the summer I really appreciated these "land" showers every time I took one, but I was content with the Sunshower in the tropics.
I continued putting a little water on my hair and wringing out the suds, several times, until my hair felt squeaky clean. All this time I watched the water level in the bag and considered my priorities for its use. When my hair was "squeaky clean" I put on conditioner. I had to use conditioner since my hair is so long and thick that a brush won't go through it if I don't. I rinsed out most of the conditioner and still had enough water to rinse the soap off the rest of my body. The only thing I didn't have enough water for during this shower was to rinse out my scrubber, but that can be done inside. Now I felt great! I always feel terrific after taking a shower. It puts me in a great mood!
I sat in the cockpit for a few minutes to dry off, instead of dirtying a towel. I had enough laundry already. I hadn't done one since the day before Jennifer's birthday, at her house on October 21st. It's been over a month. Trinidad, here I come with my laundry. I went inside and put my wet bathing suit just outside the hatch to dry, beside Jerry's on a belaying pin near the main mast. I put everything I used back inside, in its place. We didn't need any more disorganization. I thought about mending the splash cloth that ripped near Bermuda. When our splash cloths are up we don't need to wear bathing suits for sit down cockpit showers and we can more easily scrub ourselves. I only thought about mending it though. I convinced myself I needed some "self time" for a couple of days, dismissed the idea of work with no guilty conscience, picked up my notebook and started writing about my shower procedure.
My priorities this day (always subject to change, like our itinerary) were: (1) write and type letter to you about the voyage just completed (2) read "I Ran Away to Sea at Fifty" (3) attack the forepeak and get it organized, ready to give a lot of stuff away I need to get rid of my manual typewriter and its extra ribbon, my large pressure cooker (now that I have an oven), the wooden decoration that was on the bathroom door before we installed a new mirror, spatulas and spoons that I never use and don't have room for, and possibly my lobster pot (I decided to keep this). (4) read tourist information about Barbados (5) go sightseeing
About 1 PM I decided to go back outside to see what was going on. I saw Jerry just rowing out from the sea wall. The untanned guests on the Italian boat were swimming, probably attempting to get acclimated to this warm tropical weather. I saw a flag I hadn't seen before, perhaps German. I was surprised not to see any German boats earlier. When I looked through the binoculars I discovered that it was a HUGE Barbados flag flying on a forward halyard of the other U.S. boat. Usually the courtesy flags up front are much smaller than the flags of the home country which fly off the backs of boats. Some cruisers have their flags painted on their wind vanes or on the sides of their boats. Our U.S. flag must be too complicated as I've never seen one of those painted on any boat. I noticed that the French swimmers were back on their boat. I was becoming a nosy neighbor. I also noticed that one of the Australian boats was a modern staysail schooner. Except in Maine, we rarely see traditionally rigged schooners like Arctracer, but we sometimes see staysail schooners.
At 1:30 Jerry returned. He brought 5 liters of 30-weight oil ($17 U.S. plus a 15% VAT, expensive) and 25# of ice ($4.60 U.S., which is acceptable but more expensive than in the U.S. or Trinidad). I fixed ginger ale on ice while he told me about his adventure ashore. It sure was nice to have ice. It had been a long time since we'd had any. Before putting it in the cooler, I cleared out all the glass jars (2 jelly, olives, and mayo) that were put there to prevent breaking after a cupboard door opened at sea. I didn't need to waste the ice to cool those. I wiped out the icebox and put the ice in before putting milk, ginger ale and margarine back in.
Jerry had been told again that all boats should go into Deepwater Harbour to check in, but the officials were kind to us because of our engine problem. He talked with some cruisers from Australia (who we later had Christmas eve dinner with in Trinidad) who broke a cleat in the harbor because the surge was so bad. He processed all the paperwork demanded by customs, health, and immigrations officials. The customs officer asked for a clearance paper from our last port. When Jerry said we'd come directly from the U.S. and that U.S. boats don't have to clear out there, he said "They don't?", shrugged his shoulders and continued the checking-in procedure. In Barbados, boats have 24 hours after checking out before they have to leave. In some places you have to leave immediately after checking out. It cost $25 to check in, with no weekend or overtime fee. He called Nina's Mom and his Mom & Dad and left messages on both answering machines. He went to the Tourist bureau for Barbados information. The national buses cost 75 cents U.S. (I'll use U.S. prices throughout this letter). The mini buses run more frequently and cost the same. The lady in the tourist office couldn't believe that Jerry lived on a boat. She mostly deals with cruise ship passengers. She would never consider living on a boat.
While a lot of obnoxious jet skis were chasing about the harbor, I remembered to take our Q flag down since we were now cleared in. I noticed that our hatches looked different and remembered that the screens weren't in them.
We learned a lot by reading the Barbados tourist newspapers which included maps. There were duty free shops. (Tanqueray gin was $70 unless you had it delivered to your cruise ship. Then it was "duty free" and cost only $24. We decided not to buy any.) The banks kept the same hours as in the U.S. and some had ATM machines. Visitors should keep bathing suits on at the beach. Their wet (rainy) season lasts 5 months, from July through November. Barbadians call themselves Bajans. On the West Coast everyone needed to be aware of the ever-changing dangerous under-currents. (We saw signs all over the beaches there reminding people about this.) Driving was on the left. Cuban cigars were available. They had horse racing. They had an Atlantis submarine for tourists that does night dives at 150'. They made rotis The first British settlers arrived in 1627, and later they brought African slaves to the island. Barbados gained its independence from England in 1966. Fireworks are illegal except to celebrate Independence Day on November 30th each year. During this celebration and the Christmas holidays they make conkies. We tried to find some, but had no luck. We are always keen to try new foods. Conkies are thought to have been introduced from Africa where a dish called kenky is still made in certain districts. The conkies in Barbados are made with cornmeal, pumpkin, spices, and so on. The mixture is then wrapped in plantain leaves and placed on a rack at the bottom of a saucepan, over boiling water to avoid burning, then steamed. They are about 4" long, 12" wide, and 3/4" thick. From the newspapers we also learned about some places of interest to us, so we planned to go exploring, using the bus system.
At about 3 PM the batteries seemed to be charged enough for me to use the computer so I worked on the last 55 page letter that I sent. Out of habit, I still put the non-skid material on the table before getting out the computer. The 12- volt plug didn't work so I sanded the contacts to get off some of the rust. After a couple of hours we had one of our 60 tins of smoked mussels on our last package of crackers and played backgammon in the cockpit while waiting for the sun to set. We hadn't had smoked mussels or played backgammon in a long time. It was nice to take time to do this and to be at anchorage to do it. Once, on our trip from the Abacos to Maine we tried to play backgammon when the seas seemed quite calm, but I discovered that I didn't feel well after a little while. We haven't attempted to play again at sea. When the sun set we saw the "green flash." It is always neat to see. We finished the pumpkin soup and I made sesame noodles. Some of the larger buildings were lit up with red and green lights for the holiday season.
Again this night there was loud music from about 9 PM until 4 AM. This was a nightly occurrence all during our stay in Barbados. Usually we were tired enough so that it didn't bother us. It reminded us of Trinidad where they often party during these same hours.
Tuesday, December 9th I got up at 6:15 and decided to mend the pocket on Jerry's new shorts while I was attempting to wake up. I looked for the sewing box (a plastic fish tackle box). It wasn't in its normal cupboard so I asked Jerry if he'd seen it. He knew that it was on the bench by the GPS - a reminder of disorganization on the boat. I mended the pocket outside where the light was better, while Jerry made coffee. I noticed eleven small fishing boats out on the sea, one rowing. An Island Trader (ship) from Belize was anchored not too far from us. A local was swimming on the beach. It seemed much too cold out for me to swim. I really like the sun higher as I usually need to be hot before thinking of going in the water. I watched another cruise ship approach Deepwater Harbour. For the first time, here in Carlisle Bay the sea was glassy calm. Arctracer wasn't headed into the very light wind, but most other boats were. Our dinghy was floating beside us instead of behind us. This meant the current was affecting us more than the wind. We have a long keel and low house, while the boats pointed into the wind probably had shorter "fin" keels and higher houses. I noticed a smallish pirogue with a dive flag anchored not too far away. A freighter was leaving the island (a common sight). I was reminded that the French version of a shower is different from mine. They generally take a shower while standing up on deck in the nude, no matter what anchorage they are in. The police boat came fairly close to Arctracer. Two officers were in it, one steering and the other one taking notes in a notebook.
I measured the voltage in the batteries to see if they were charged enough for me to continue typing my letter about our Beaufort to Barbados voyage. I got weird readings. Jerry changed the 9V battery in the multi-meter to see if we would get normal readings. We didn't. He said that we really needed to run the engine today after putting oil in it. He thought it possible that another set of batteries is ruined. He had to hand-crank the engine to get it started. The engine is always loud, and we hope the solar panel will eventually mean that we won't have to use the noisy engine as much to charge our batteries. Since the engine was running I typed while Jerry read SSCA bulletins (Seven Seas Cruising Association, in Florida) and updated his log. I learned how to insert footnotes this day and I liked using them. When I turned the computer off about 5:30 PM I had a letter of 34 pages so far. I couldn't believe how long it was. While I typed, Jerry read four National Geographic magazines and two more SSCA bulletins. He told me that the SSCA bulletins had a lot of good information about Venezuela. I wondered when I would catch up with all this reading.
Jerry got some rum for himself. I couldn't think of anything we had that I wanted to drink. I had two bottles of white wine that I saved for cooking. I still hadn't tried the garlic soup recipe that Katyana gave me and was anxious to try it as soon as I got some fresh garlic. Jerry told me that we could replace the wine in Venezuela. I knew we wouldn't do it in Barbados or Trinidad because of the import taxes. Wine cost about $20 a bottle in both places. We did end up opening a bottle of wine. We ate curried lentils and rice in the cockpit, Jerry helped (which I love) me with the dishes, and we relaxed for a while.
Wednesday, December 10th I was glad this was Nico's birthday. I hadn't been ashore yet, even to get bread, but I wanted to call Sara and Nico to wish them both a "Happy Birthday." Sara's was December 14th. I wished I'd remembered to look at my calendar. Kim's birthday was the 15th and I was very late sending a card to her. While waking up I read some of the SSCA Bulletins about Venezuela. I wanted to know what things were good buys there for stocking up the boat. This morning two cruise ships came to Barbados. We saw anywhere from one to four cruise ships every day there. Jerry put water in the batteries, then hand-cranked the engine to get it started, and I typed some more. Jerry read "Ocean Navigator" (his favorite sailing magazine). By 1:30 I had a 45 page letter typed. I really wanted something to drink, but it was difficult to get to the galley with both table leaves up, so I put the computer up and thought about going ashore after being on the boat for 21 days in a row. I had to think about wearing shoes for the first time in 21 days.
I decided to wear the shorts outfit that Susie gave me this summer. We locked up the boat since we weren't sure if it was necessary or not, left the solar panel on, and decided to eat in town instead of taking time to fix something on the boat. I hadn't eaten all day and was getting really hungry.
We rowed the dinghy into the carenage, the heart of Bridgetown. This was quite a ways to row, and after this trip we usually rowed to the beach and walked the short distance to town. Rowing to the beach was much easier, but we sometimes got wet in the surf. In town, I bought some large envelopes to mail long letters. (I still have some of those addressed to our brothers and sisters. I wonder when they'll get used. Jerry has suggested that I send a disk to each family and have someone print out whatever is written. This is sounding like a good idea. I think I may try it soon.) All of a sudden I was starved. We found a fast food place advertising flying fish sandwiches. When we ordered, they were out of flying fish, so we ordered beef and potato rotis. They weren't up to Trinidad standards, but they were good. Since tables weren't provided, we stood at counters along the wall to eat our lunch. This seemed to be a popular lunch spot for the local office workers. The place had plenty of business. It was two blocks from the street with all the tourist shops, so had no tourists except ourselves. We've noticed this at other cruise ship ports such as St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and Nassau. If we go a few streets above the cruise ship docks we get to eat with the locals and pay the normal island price for food instead of inflated tourist prices.
After we ate we did some walking as it was too early to make phone calls. We walked through a large fabric district. I bought a pumpkin (synonymous with squash in the islands). The man on the street said it was three pounds. I thought he meant $3 Barbados which is $1.50 U.S., so I gave him that. He said no, 3# is $6 Barbados. I decided that I didn't want to pay that, but he insisted. I pulled the rest of the money out of my pocket, about 20 cents Barbados and said that was all I had. He asked for the change and gave me the squash. It is often the case that the locals like to charge tourists more than locals. This irritates me, and I often choose to buy elsewhere or not to buy at all. I still think he got a good deal, and I do believe in fairness. Further down the same street I bought some ripe plantains from a street vendor and she charged me 50 cents each - a fair deal, although they are much less expensive in Dominica and Trinidad. The cost of living in Barbados is higher than those two places. When I paid her she threw an extra plantain into my canvas bag. We stopped at several bakeries and never did find any good bread. Apparently it is ready about 2 every afternoon and the good bread is all sold by 3 PM. We settled for some rolls and soft wheat bread. We also bought jam tarts, meat pies, and 4 eggs which were put in a small blue plastic bag. I'd forgotten that they don't have egg cartons in most of the small shops, so I didn't buy too many eggs because of the high probability of them getting broken. I bought two postcards and inquired about photocopying.
We walked back to the center of Bridgetown to find a phone booth. Since it was hot, we were thirsty, and there was a small cafe near the phone booth, we sat at an outside table to relax and wait for Sara and Nico to get home from school, remembering that the time in Barbados is one hour ahead of the time in the Northeast. While we were seated at the table a Bajan artist approached, and recited a poem that he'd written. He introduced himself as Junior Arlington Dottin, and sat down to show us some of his water colors. We said we lived on a small boat, and while his artwork was nice we didn't have room for it. We usually tell artists this, and they often suggest that we buy presents. Jerry asked if he had published his poem. He hadn't, but immediately went looking for paper and pen to write it out. The cafe owner came by while Arlington was looking for paper and asked if he was bothering us. Jerry said that he was fine, otherwise the cafe owner would have asked him to leave. We had similar experiences with beggars in Trinidad, where the locals would immediately tell them to move along and stop pestering us. I called Sara and Nico and had a nice chat with them. Then I called Mom instead of standing in line again for the phone. It was nice talking with everyone again. Back at the table Arlington and Jerry were still talking. I asked about restaurants and island transportation. Finally, after sizing us up, he put a price on the poem he'd just written down. He said people at the hotels usually gave him $100 U.S. but he thought $50 or any donation from us would be fine. Jerry said if we were rich we'd be renting a car instead of walking, or some such line, and we looked shocked at his asking price. Jerry took out $15 Barbados, which is $7.50 U.S., and this was apparently satisfactory. I have his poem typed, so maybe I'll include it on a disk at some point. It is called "Time."
We went to the "Waterfront cafe" that Arlington recommended for both food and service. It catered to tourists and affluent locals, with entrees at about $20 U.S. It was also very noisy at the outside tables. We decided to look further. We stopped at a place called "The Boatyard," which was all tourists, on the beach, loud music, and tourist prices. We passed a lively game of dominoes while walking along the street. One of the 5 or 6 guys said "good night." This is used instead of "hello" in the evening on many Caribbean islands. They also say "good morning" and "good afternoon" instead of "hello." "Hello" seems much easier to me, so you don't have to concentrate on when morning ends and afternoon begins, etc. We rarely wear watches. Further down the street we found just the place. A local recommended it to us after we explained what we wanted. It was called "The Ibis." We had chicken stew (complete with bones that had been cut through with a cleaver), peas 'n rice, and wonderful fresh mixed vegetables. Jerry had a soda and I had water and the total bill came to $10 - just what we were looking for! On the way back to the dinghy we stopped at a gas station to buy some ice for $1.25. A guy there asked if we lived on a boat and said that he would not go on the ocean farther from shore than he could swim. We walked past "Independence Square" where a band was getting ready to play. A huge crowd had gathered. The tide was out and I had to work my way about 5' down to the dinghy. That was tricky with no ladder! Back at the boat Jerry read while I typed. I really wanted to get the letter about our 18 days at sea typed and mailed.
Thursday, December 11th At 6:30 AM Jerry turned on the Caribbean Ham Weather Net to listen to the Barbados weather. I was amused by the saying "fine and dandy" used with the typical Caribbean accent. I had the meat pies I'd bought yesterday for breakfast. I used to eat meat and cheese pies a lot when we were in the Trinidad boatyard for four months last year. Jerry rinsed the mung beans we were sprouting and we noticed that one of our oars had a scorch mark on it. Apparently it got too close to the hot engine at some point.
At 7:30 Jerry started the engine for battery charging so I could type some more. It rained enough today so that we had to close the hatches for a little while. Several boats that were in the anchorage have left. Another French boat arrived with 5 people on board. We can't imagine having 5 people crossing the Atlantic on a boat Arctracer's size or less!
Today Jerry attempted to straighten out the bow roller but with no luck. He decided to wait until we got to Trinidad and take it to a boatyard to have them do it for us. We saw the green flash again at sunset. When I quit typing today the letter was done, except for proofreading. I was exhausted from typing all day and went to bed about 7PM. At one in the morning I woke up thinking that I needed to go on watch, then I realized we were at anchor. I'm surprised that it hadn't happened previous to this particular night.
Friday, December 12th Jerry tried to format a disk to see if he could get his digital camera to work. He didn't have any luck. I decided to wear a dress to go on an excursion today, so I sprinkled it with water and hung it outside to get some of the wrinkles out. We have an inverter on board now, so I could get an iron, but I don't think we have a place to store a small ironing board, so I'll probably continue to do as I've been doing all along. I used our long mirror for the first time to see how wrinkled the dress was. I wore a necklace that I got from Susan Bomhower at the family reunion this summer. I hadn't worn it before.
This day we planned to go to Harrison Cave and then tour the east coast by bus if there was time. We left Arctracer about 10:30, took our dinghy to shore through the surf, got some meat pies for breakfast, and went to the main bus terminal on the western side of town. On the way we saw older women carrying loaded baskets, boxes of fruit or loaded canvas bags on their heads. Lots of tourists, probably from cruise ships, wandered about with video cameras of all shapes and sizes. A mailman went by with a canvas bag on the front of his bicycle. In three places there were Salvation Army people with bells and buckets. While waiting at the bus stop, two beggars approached us, but a policeman told them to go get a job and to stop harassing people. We caught a big blue government bus for $ 0.75 each. The front of the bus said "Sturges," the town just beyond the cave. People were very friendly and helped us get on the right bus. This bus and its driver reminded us of blue buses in Trinidad. Many passengers were older than us, and senior citizens had passes for riding free. The driver drove so fast we had to constantly hang on, and he honked the horn as he approached sharp corners of the narrow roads, consistently driving much faster than we would have.
During the bus trip we saw many small houses with gingerbread trim similar to those we've seen throughout the Caribbean. We noticed several colors and styles of school uniforms. Many of the girls wore jumpers over white blouses. In Trinidad the uniforms for the girls were always blouses and skirts. The school buildings were all either light pink or tan, as in Trinidad. We saw a couple of cars that dared to park on the busy road with lots of fast drivers. We went by a sign to a town called "Hillaby." We saw the "British American Tobacco Company" buildings. We passed lots of limestone walls. The bus seemed to come within a foot of some of them. The bus windows were open, and tree branches sometimes touched the bus as we passed. We saw lots of sugar cane growing. I noticed at least four different stages of development. We saw one sugar mill, not in use at this time of year. Several bicyclists were taking their lives in their hands by riding on these roads with no shoulders. We went around roundabouts with names. We saw lots of red poinsettia trees and a few white ones in full bloom which were absolutely beautiful. As we got past the suburbs and into the country we noticed that the small houses didn't have cars or even driveways. We didn't see any prominent "rich peoples' houses." There were lots of small banana farms whose trees were loaded with stalks of bananas. People burned their trash beside the road. Where the soil was recently tilled it looked very rich. Orange and grapefruit trees were plentiful, with lots of fruit. We saw half-built houses and wondered if they build houses as they get the money, like the Bahamians. The many breadfruit or breadnut trees were loaded with fruit not quite mature. We saw many dasheen plants, whose leaves are used for calaloo soup while the root is a potato substitute.
After we got off the bus to walk about a mile to the caves, we saw a large black hummingbird. Later we saw several more around the island and I hoped to find it in the Venezuelan bird book that Mom got for us, but I didn't see it. We saw two Green Monkeys apparently having a territorial discussion. We saw several more of them as we walked around the area. We passed houses surrounded by several different kinds of fruit trees, and noticed the outhouses out back. We saw many brown doves. A sign in front of the cave main building said "keep off the grass." There isn't much grass in Barbados, so I can understand why they wanted people to stay off the little bit they had there. For $ 17.25 U.S. we visited the government-owned "Harrison's Cave" near the middle of the island. This was officially opened on November 28th, 1981. We rode a tram with our hardhats on for about 1/2 mile into the cave to a depth of 160' underground, then 1/2 mile back to the entrance. Mom would have liked this. We had what the guide called "cave showers" as we rode 160' below the surface but still 700' above sea level. The advertising brochure talked about thundering waterfalls, tumbling cascades, and deep pools. There were some small waterfalls, one cascade, and a couple of pools about 8' deep. The stalagmites and stalactites were in very good condition. I didn't see any of the vandalism we've seen in other caves of the West Indies. The guide reminded us that it takes 120 years for a stalagmite or stalactite to grow a cubic inch. They had names for several formations, including "Great Cathedral," "Altar" where a lot of weddings have taken place, "Elephant," "Explorer Pool," "Great Hall" and "Village." The ceiling of the cave was natural, but there has been considerable excavation on the sides to allow trams to take people through. The emergency exit was the original explorers entrance. As we rode by it we saw some natural light, a ladder, and a dinghy for crossing the underground pool. All the water was fresh and trickled through natural filters of limestone without any extra pumps. We got off the tram in the two largest rooms. One had a cascade of water pouring out of a 4' hole in the top of the cave and falling about 30' into a pool. It was about 78 degrees F in the caves and the ventilation was all natural. They still have 2 miles of undeveloped caverns.
After visiting the caves we took a path behind the caves back to the main road. We then walked through Welchman Hall Gully, administered by the National Conservation Commission. It was once part of the Harrison cave system, but the roof collapsed many years ago to form a deep gully. In 1860 they started adding foreign plants, and now it has a fascinating collection of ornamental plants and trees. In 1962 it became the first managed nature site on the island, and it is part of the Barbados National Trust.
We saw lots of long, long, long roots. Near the south entrance a sign commemorated the visit of HM Queen Elizabeth II and HRH Prince Philip on February 19, 1975. There were hundreds of dark brown, poisonous millipedes with hard shell-like bodies feeding on decaying fruit. We saw stalactites in some places on the one mile walk through the gully. At one place there were stalagmites too, and a column about 18 feet high and 5 feet wide. It was neat to see a couple of purple orchids. We saw lots of white begonias and read in the one-page guide to the gully that these petals were edible. Later we tasted them after a local ate one, and they didn't taste bad at all. There were a couple of large stands of bamboo, which we hadn't seen in a while. We saw a swizzle stick tree. According to the brochure, cocktails or swizzles are a Caribbean innovation of the last century and the swizzle stick for mixing cocktails was made from this tree. Jerry was amused with the Bearded Fig Tree (in my opinion). The brochure explained that "Barbados is reputed to have gained its name from this tree. Los Barbados (Bearded Ones) is thought to refer to the hanging, beard-like roots of this once common tree." We passed termite nests, some quite large, which we hadn't seen since last in the tropics. We saw breadfruit trees again too, and trees of bay leaf, clove, nutmeg , guava, avocado pear, and golden apple. We saw more hummingbirds, but couldn't identify the types. (We couldn't believe how many kinds of hummingbirds there are in the bird book!) Under the Red Sandalwood trees we collected scarlet discus seeds that are used as Goldsmith's weights in India and in local handicraft in the Caribbean. Later we saw some in handicrafts back in Bridgetown. I'm hoping to use some to make jewelry. I'll wait until Jerry has time to design something for me. He's great with his ideas!
While we were collecting the red seeds Dalton Marshall, a caretaker at the Gully, approached us and started telling us more than we'd seen in the brochure. Our walk was almost completed at the time, but we did some backtracking. He pointed out a mother Green Monkey and her baby. That was really neat to see, and we wouldn't have seen them without him. He knew what sounds to listen for and where they might be. He took his machete and cut the husk off a coconut for us. (I still have this coconut and its milk to use. I'm thinking of making coconut bread even though I can't find a recipe. I think I'll make a yeast bread with the coconut water instead of regular water, grind up the coconut meat and knead it into the dough.)
After leaving the Gully we walked down the road about a mile, past penned peacocks, grapefruit trees, and loose chickens to a small fruit stand. I was really hungry and wanted to buy a grapefruit. Here we met Ibo. He sold us a grapefruit, then gave us an orange and a shedock (which is like a grapefruit). He gave us a tour of the bamboo buildings he and his partners have been working on for four years. The bamboo is mostly varnished, and includes woven screens, carvings, and a vine wrapped around a post with a mahogany seed head which makes it look like a snake. Ibo seemed to be a Rastafarian, and was into "natural" things. He gave me some "Joe Sail" seeds and said I should plant them. I have no idea what they are. Ibo lived in Toronto from age 7 until about 21.
Riding a small bus back to town, the driver stopped to get a soda, a passenger played his personal boom box (one of the songs was about someone with dreadlocks), we were passed by a small pickup truck full of hogs attempting to stay on all fours, and we noticed that unleaded gas was 77 cents per liter. When we got back to town we walked through an outside market where I bought green peppers, tomatoes and onions. We saw sorrel blossoms for sale, which we bought in Trinidad last year at Christmas time and used for their traditional holiday tea.
At an artist's shop we saw artwork which incorporated sandbox seeds and flamboyant seeds. He also had paintings of a chattel house that he was "keeping alive." At "Pelican Handicrafts" I bought two 8" baskets and three mats that I can use for trivets, all made locally from pandanus leaves.
We listened to Christmas music coming from the bar on shore while we read aboard. It was almost midnight before we got to bed. I read about the "Soroptimist International of Barbados" but can't figure out what the word Soroptimist means. Anyone know?
Saturday, December 13th I took a picture of red mace around a nutmeg, red seeds from the Sandalwood tree, and the gray "Joe Sail" seeds that I got yesterday. We had French toast with maple syrup and hazelnut coffee for breakfast. I like having our special coffee on weekends and try to remember when it is Saturday or Sunday. Jerry had to switch propane tanks today. We've used three so far, but two have been refilled.
A Polish flag was flying on one of the sailboats today. I'd never seen a sailboat flying that flag before. A huge British boat was anchored way out in the bay. It had a paid crew for sure.
At about 9:30 AM Norman Faria, a freelance journalist from Barbados, came aboard Arctracer. One of the papers he writes for is called "The Caribbean Compass." He wanted to interview us for it because he thought our boat was unusual. Whether he'll actually print anything about us or the boat we don't know, but he took our address and said that he'd send us a copy of what he writes. He also gave us a copy of the December issue and we learned from it that some people we met last year in Trinidad had been robbed at gunpoint in Grenada. We got to know them quite well because A.O. used to be captain of a schooner and he wanted to go sailing with us. We took them sailing one day and had 20 knots of wind, so he had a great sail. The local people in Grenada were very helpful and they got their dinghy back, but the inside of their boat was a shambles and it was a very scary experience. In the article he reminded people to anchor with other boats. They had gone off to a cove by themselves because of loud music near the anchorage they had been in with other boats. Norman told us about donating stuff to the Salvation Army so it inspired me to clean the forepeak to get stuff ready to deliver to them. Norman took our manual typewriter himself.
I cleaned the forepeak for over 6 hours. When I got done we could get in and out of there easily, could see the floor, and had many things identified to give or throw away. I found proper places for many of the things we just stuffed in there while in the yard in Newington. Several baskets of fruits and vegetables are on one of the forepeak berths so I now have more counter space in the galley. For a while I had a huge pile of dirty clothes in the forepeak, but even those now are washed and put away in plastic bags. I aired out the two mattresses as they were quite damp. What a task! I hope we don't let it get that cluttered again for a long time! I really like having floor space to maneuver around in there again. I found two pairs of leather shoes that were quite mildewed, but they are okay now. I had dish towels and sheets in there that had gotten wet. I dried them out temporarily in Barbados and have now washed them in Trinidad. I hadn't remembered that they were even in the forepeak. I thought they were in the cedar closet. I threw out all the clothes I'd used in the boatyard for two months.
I hung up some pine cones that I found in Binghamton and Weare. I also hung up a Christmas potholder that I'd found on sale for a quarter somewhere and never used. I finally finished reading "I Ran Away to Sea at Fifty." Now I'll have to remember to send it back north with someone when they visit. Jerry finished reading the last letter I wrote and made some suggestions, but we decided to stop making changes and get it in the mail. We finally went to bed at midnight again.
Sunday, December 14th This morning I did a spell check on my long letter. It took quite a while since I hadn't done it as I went along. At noon we got on a big blue bus to go to Bathsheba on the very curvy roads of Barbados. We passed many old windmill bases. Some students from the Barbados 'Pathfinder' band were on the bus. Apparently they had already played in Bridgetown and we never did find out anything about this band. We saw a lot of breadfruit trees, especially on the East Coast. We saw traditional wooden chattel houses, some mixed in with the modern concrete homes. There were many sugar cane fields. We learned from Norman that most of the sugarcane here is used for sugar, while some of it is used for rum. We saw many trees with long bean-like pods. We passed the Andrews Sugar Company, inactive at present, as sugar cane will be ready to be cut again sometime in February. We saw cement mailboxes in the country, and cricket fields. We went around "S" turns down to the eastern shore. As we descended the air got much cooler. We saw large banana farms. There were large poinsettia trees in full bloom and about an acre of green pepper plants with peppers on them. About 3/4 way down the hill we could see the dark spots of coral out in the sea. Hens were running loose everywhere and there was a heifer in the road. Houses had black plastic water tanks on platforms for gathering water caught on their roofs.
We got off the bus at the foot of the long hill and walked along the beach where long rolling waves were breaking. We watched half a dozen amateur surfers who looked like tourists. We walked under Australian pines that had lots of birds and nests, some kind of colony. At the Edgewater Inn we saw another green monkey. We walked back up a steep hill in the hot sun to catch another bus to Speightstown on the west coast. On our way up the hill we saw two people cutting up a hog on a crude table outside. At the bus stop we met a guy from Wales and a woman from Cornwall who had just sailed from the Canaries to Barbados, just behind the ARC rally. It took them 21 days to go about 2700 miles, but they motored in the calms.
On the way to the west coast we passed through the Scotland District. It really did remind us of Scotland. There were lots of goats, more than we'd ever seen in one place before. Most of them were brown with some black. We came to a cow with a rope around her neck tied to a stake on the opposite side of the road. The bus ran into the rope and stopped. Then, instead of backing up to release it, the driver went forward and broke the rope. This amazed us, but nobody on the bus made any comment. The cow appeared to be ok. We saw our first bromeliads as we neared the coast. The roads were VERY narrow, with no shoulders. Several times we came very close to stone walls.
In Speightstown I found my first limes so we bought some. In the late afternoon we ate at The Fisherman's Pub on the beach. I had flying fish and Jerry had baked pork. Both dishes came with peas 'n rice, macaroni, fresh mixed vegetables, and salad. There was plenty to eat. Then we walked to a new marina which is being constructed on the northwest side of the island. We saw 10 rowing boats which had been rowed by one or two people from the Canaries in a race organized by Chay Blythe. A New Zealand boat arrived first after just 45 days. They were about 20 feet long with enclosed cabins, much larger boats than I thought they'd be. There will be others arriving until probably mid-January.
About 4:30 we caught another bus back to Bridgetown. We passed a golf course, the first we'd seen on Barbados, and a place called "Nico's."
Monday, December 15th At 10:30 AM we had the 55 page letter printed out once on our printer. It seemed to take forever. At noon we headed into town to get copies and mail them. It cost about $10 for the 55 pages, and I decided the letter wasn't worth that much, so I decided not to send it to our brothers and sisters at that time. I had large envelopes all addressed to them, but... I thought it might be less expensive in Trinidad. I think they all have or will have copies soon, from what I've understood from phone conversations, so I don't plan to mail more copies to anyone. Each copy cost $ 4 to send, so that wasn't too bad. I just hated to pay more than 10 cents a page for a photocopy, since that is what I was used to in the States.
When we got to Barbados Business Machines to get copies made at about 12:15 there was a sign on their door saying that they would be closed until 2 PM for their annual Christmas luncheon. While waiting for them to open we had beef and potato rotis again and dal patties at the same fast food place as before. We also inquired unsuccessfully about other places to get copies made.
We found a used bookstore on the way back to the dinghy. We were very good and only bought 4 books. I bought a copy of the "Odyssey" to read even though I have a copy in Norwich. We found "An Ocean to Ourselves" written by a Trinidadian named Harold LaBord. He was the first, and perhaps still the only, Trinidadian to have sailed his own boat around the world. We haven't met him yet, but we have now read the book. It was really interesting to us. It tells how he built his own boat and took off on a very limited budget in 1960 to sail across the Atlantic with his wife. Later he built another boat and sailed around the world, but we don't think he wrote a book about that.
Tuesday, December 16th At noon we caught the bus to St. Patrick in the southern part of Barbados to see a rum factory. We'd never visited one. On the way we gave away our large pressure cooker, a basket I had used for my silverware before having more drawers built in the galley, some utensils I never used, and some clothes I hadn't used for a couple of years. On this trip we saw a lot of solar hot water heaters on house roofs. There didn't seem to be any water catchment systems in this area of the island, perhaps because of the elevation and fresh water wells.
At the rum factory and Heritage Park we learned that the last windmill used for the sugar industry closed in 1944. We saw photographs by Euchard Fitzpatrick who was born May 11, 1899 and died sometime in 1995. He had several exhibitions during his lifetime and there was one here.
We saw a cane hoist that was built in Glasgow, Scotland in 1928. It had a lifting capacity of 5 long tons. We got a pamphlet called "The Story of Rum" which I would like to put on our CD with the World Book Encyclopedia, if that can be done. We had our free rum punch that came with our admission tickets while waiting for the next tour through the distillery. The rum factory officially opened on November 17th, 1996. We learned that the 10 tanks near the end of the line each held 20,000 gallons of 95% alcohol rum, which was watered down to 43% alcohol content to make a million bottles of rum at a bottling plant about a mile away. They liquefy the carbon dioxide, a byproduct of fermentation, and sell it to soda companies. Some of the sludge is used for fertilizer and some is sold to add to food for animals. The water is evaporated from it and used for irrigation and to enter the water table. They seemed very conscientious about recycling. We visited a 250 year old building to look at some local artwork. The building was beautiful, with limestone walls 1 and 1/2 feet thick. We met some people originally from Barbados who lived in Ontario 40 years and are now retired, spending 6 months a year in Barbados and 6 months a year in Ontario. Their daughter and family were visiting from Ontario.
At the 'tasting' barn I tried a liquor called Felernam for the first time. First I tasted it by itself, then I had it with what is called "Corn 'n Oil." It had an interesting taste so I bought a liter to have on the boat. It is quite sweet, so should last quite a while. We walked through a park to see the equipment that was in the buildings before the recent remodeling. We saw a vacuum pan which was used to boil syrup to massecuite, which is the 'mother liquor' containing crystallized sugar. We also saw a centrifuge which separated the sugar from the liquor.
We learned that sugar cane was first in India. From there it went to Asia, then to the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, then to North Africa, and finally to Spain and Portugal about 850 AD. The Spaniards took it to Hispaniola and the Portuguese to Brazil about 1500 AD. A brochure that we read said that the word 'rum' originated in Barbados. The same brochure also said there was a good market for Rum in New England and Britain and also in the British Navy, where Admiral Vernon instituted the practise of giving each sailor a daily ration of Rum. This practise lasted for over 200 years and was not discontinued until the 1960's."
I found a recipe for cooking flying fish which I tried that evening for dinner. At 3 PM we caught a bus back to town. This bus was a yellow bus and took a slightly different route, so we got to see a little more of the island. After arriving back in town, we bought peanuts with their shells (which are sold everywhere on the streets), limes, tomatoes, sorrel syrup, vanilla and almond essence (extract), green peppers, scallions, and fresh parsley. Jerry wrote postcards to Sara and Nico.
Jerry went to the fish market to buy some flying fish for dinner and mailed the postcards at the post office. As he watched people filleting the fish he decided they were artists. He couldn't believe that they charged only 60 cents for each one after all the work netting them, scaling them, and filleting them so that there were no bones. We had curried mung bean sprouts that we'd sprouted, rice, and flying fish for dinner.
When we went to bed early there was no loud music, but by 10:30 the soca music from Trinidad's carnival last year was blasting. This went on until 4 am as usual.
Wednesday, December 17th Seeing the rum factory and eating flying fish were the last things that we wanted to do in Barbados, so it was time to go. At 10 AM Jerry went back to the Port Captain, customs and immigration to check out. When he checked in he had to see a health officer, but that wasn't necessary to check out. He also decided to use up the rest of the Barbados money that we had, since most cruisers don't go that way and we probably won't be returning for quite a while, if ever. We found Barbados to be a lot like Trinidad, but more expensive, so there's really no reason for returning (in our minds). I started this letter while Jerry was ashore. I also attempted to stow everything that needed stowing to get ready to sail to Trinidad this evening. Since it is 185 miles, we think if we leave at 5 PM we should arrive in Trinidad in the daylight on Friday.
Jerry returned with almond extract, which is priced much more reasonably here than in the states, some Barbados rum, and some other groceries. He managed to use up all the left over money and even bought a small bottle of gin even though it was expensive. He bought another phone card and called his Mom & Dad to tell them they could forward mail to Trinidad.
We got the dinghy on board and tied down. I had time to mend our rag rug. We ate a good afternoon meal of Indian spiced potatoes and ripe plantain (one of Jerry's favorite vegetables).
After being in Barbados for 10 days we sailed away about 5 PM, on our way to Trinidad. The trade winds were at their best and the sailing was magnificent! It was so magnificent that we got to Trinidad after 27 hours and had to heave-to for a few hours to wait until daylight to go through the "dragon's mouth." There are several islands off the northwest tip of Trinidad and the passages between them are quite narrow, so we like to do it in the daylight.
Thursday, December 18th During my watch from 1:30 AM until 7:30 AM I saw lots of airplanes and a couple of very bright shooting stars. After daylight I saw lots of brown boobies, a couple of frigate birds, and lots of flying fish. By 11:30 AM we saw Tobago and some fishing boats. We had fried potatoes and eggs for breakfast. One large freighter crossed our path. We trolled and had a couple of bites, but lost the fish. We had sandwiches for dinner while watching the sunset and hove-to from 6 until about 2 AM. I read "Galapagos" by Kurt Vonnegut and Jerry read it a couple of days later. It was the first book I'd read by Vonnegut.
Friday, December 19th When we entered the Boca de Monos in the morning we saw many ball-shaped jellyfish, including baby ones. Sara and Nico will remember them. We brought some aboard in pails when they visited us. Sometimes they were so thick in Scotland Bay that we didn't care to go swimming. At about 9 AM we were anchored at TTYA (Trinidad and Tobago Yachting Association) near the Navy Yard where a lot of their boats are being worked on. Jerry cleared us in at customs and immigrations for about $8 and we paid $15 to anchor and be able to use the facilities here for a week - laundry, drinking water, showers, guards, trash disposal, etc. We bought ice for less than $1 per bag. It sure was nice to be back in Trinidad.
Between the 19th and Christmas Eve we got the laundry done, got fresh fruits and vegetables from the vegetable lady who brings her truck around a couple of times a week, listened to Trinidad's loud music ashore until the wee hours of the morning, read, worked on our annual letter and this letter, ate out on our anniversary, filled our water tanks, went to a Christmas Concert, took our bow roller to IMS for straightening, read local newspapers, researched and read about the best times to go through the Panama Canal (if El Nino doesn't change the patterns of the trade winds in the Pacific too much), read about the Galapagos, Easter Island and Pitcairn Island, I cut Jerry's hair, successfully started using some of the toilet tissue rolls that I'd dried out in the sun, went to the large local grocery store to stock up on some things that are inexpensive here, bought two cases of ginger ale, played backgammon, and called the bank which incorrectly charged us almost $ 300 last January when we use their ATM machine just as the power failed.
On Christmas Eve, Jerry made some business cards with a computer sketch of Arctracer. Many cruisers have them for exchanging names and addresses, so we decided to 'go with the flow.' He did a really nice job with the design, which was no surprise to me. Water tyrants (small birds like swallows) discovered our triatic stay between the two masts. We see lots of pelicans and frigate birds daily. The pelicans fish quite successfully right near our boat. We went for a Mexican dinner on a boat named Kachina with a couple from Arizona. Having corn bread, chili, nachos and guacamole are a tradition in Arizona from what we hear.
On Christmas day we read. Jerry read "The Perfect Storm" which I gave him for Christmas. At 3 PM we went into TTYA to have a potluck dinner. For about $ 2 each, turkey and ham were provided along with the dishes that everyone brought to share. Over 50 people attended this affair. We sat with some Canadians who gave us a lot of good information about Venezuela. They have been there several times. I ate so much that I was uncomfortable and we returned to the boat about 7 PM. I went to bed early with my FULL stomach. I won't eat that much again for a long time!
On the 26th I addressed about 100 envelopes by hand, and we had a backgammon marathon - 12 games. On this day there was a major eruption of the Montserrat volcano and the next morning one of the locals said that we were having hazy skies because of the volcanic ash. We aren't sure this is true, as the wind was blowing out of the southeast and Montserrat is to our north. On the 27th I started writing short notes on all the annual letters. This always takes a few days. Jerry formatted some disks and finally got his camera to work. He had taken the computer to land to a 110 volt outlet to do some work on it. We had kingfish, a common local dish, and french fries for supper while playing 8 hours of bridge with a cruiser from Seattle and a cruiser from South Africa. We had a great time, won, and didn't bid too badly. We still need lots of practice. This was the first time we'd played bridge while cruising. After playing bridge until 8 PM we went back to the boat to change into some red clothes. We went to one of the Carnival band-launchings and heard lots of different Soca bands and performers until 4 AM. We stayed that late because we wanted to hear David Rudder. Of course his hour performance was from 3 until 4. I really don't know how the Trinidadians party so much. I can't begin to keep up with their pace. On the 29th we found a small fish and about an 8" squid on our deck. This was very unusual. I don't remember ever finding them while at anchor before. We went to another pot luck in the evening and met a guy on a boat from the Netherlands and we met a couple and their two adorable girls. The wife is from Argentina and the husband is from Connecticut. They have just finished a job on a 171' boat from Germany. He was the captain. He was also a captain of the Clearwater on the Hudson River and works for Greenpeace. He said that Globe Wireless is not the way to go with email and had some other suggestions for us. I wonder if we'll ever get it? The girls, ages 2 and 1/2 and 6, speak both fluent Spanish and fluent English. They only speak to their father in English and only speak to their mother in Spanish. She decided that she should speak to them in her native language since that is the language she is best at. The couple met in Germany while working for Greenpeace.
Today is Jerry's birthday and we have dentist appointments in town. We want to get all the annual letters mailed, so I'll enclose this with the annual letter. We had a nice New Year's Eve (Old Year's Night in Trinidad). We ate at a Chinese restaurant with a cruising couple who lived in Holland over 30 years, and another cruising couple (American and English). We had champagne on one of their boats at midnight while loud music came from two big parties on the shores near by.
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