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Caribbean, part 1

Barbados - no stress country!

 

All of a sudden, we are there. The brisk trade winds and the equatorial current have pushed us across the Atlantic fast. As Barbados comes over the horizon we are not yet ready to arrive, ready for firm ground, people, busy-ness.

In the large commercial harbor in Bridgetown we step on land for the first time in 11 1/2 days and as always this feels strange - very hard ground and it is always a bit too far away…

The immigration and health officers even stay after hours to check us in. Only the customs officer went home and needs to be seen the next day. We transfer to the anchorage in Carlisle Bay and are enjoying all the friendly and helpful people in town. „This is no stress country!“ is the comment we get.

We rent a minibus to take us to the Atlantic side of Barbados in the wild northeast and hike along the seashore which is wonderful. Walking along the beach, through the high grass, bushes, and under trees from Bath to Bathsheba is more demanding than expected. The warm climate and the crossing make themselves felt.

Out of appreciation for the safe passage the crew invites me to a fancy dinner and the next day Franzi leaves to fly back to Germany. Thanks much, co-skipper!

 

Tobago

 

We decide to sail the 120nm to Tobago over night. The next morning we arrive in Man of War Bay and check in at Charlotteville, a rather sleepy little town in northwest Tobago. This always requires patience but it is the first time I have to fill in more than a dozen forms! What is more, the officials would like to know where we will stay each day…

There are about two dozen sailboats in the anchorage, all of which have recently crossed the Atlantic. Our Swedes notice that there are a lot of Danish boats. There is definitely an overhang of friendly blondheads here. Right behind us there is a reef which teems with life. Every time I dive on it I can discover a new species of fish!

Elisabet and I have decided to take a diving course. Richie, a local dive instructor, has us practice in a hotel pool first. It is so murky that Elisabet gets lost on our first dive.

The first dive in the sea is a really great experience. It almost feels completely natural to breathe under water.

Anton and Mirjam are along for the dive and we explore the reef in Castara Bay on the northwest coast of Tobago. We observe a turtle, a large stingray, next to innumerable species of fish and coral.

In between we take a guided rainforest tour with Roachee, a local nature guide. He is full of energy and stories. He sees birds long before I can make them out and knows their name as well as if it is a male or female! He also knows all about ants and plants. At the end of a visit to a place it is about the encounters with people that makes them memorable. People here are very open, friendly, and curious, always ready to laugh and joke. English is the official language but the local dialect is totally unintelligible. „Ya, man! ‚No’m’sayn?“ (Do you know what I am saying?)

 

Carriacou and the Tobago Cays

 

After successfully completing our diving course we decide to sail overnight into the New Year to Carriacou, the low-key island just north of the spice island Grenada. The night is clear and mellow, wind and waves are soft and the current moves us forward invisibly. First there is a sliver of moon, later the stars light up the sky. The milky way starts at the bow, reaches high over the mast top all the way to the stern. Magic!

We all enjoy our night watches and arrive on New Year’s Day more or less rested. This clearly cannot be said of the officials at the check in. One is keeping up his duty and is even wearing a uniform. The other is complaining that he is obliged to work on a holiday - for which they are charging us extra. The two vacant chairs are taken up by two young ladies that are taking a snooze in the air conditioned office.

After a short stroll in Tyrrel Bay at 32 degrees centigrade or 94 Fahrenheit we retreat to the local supermarket with its chilled air and free wifi - everything else we cannot really afford in there. We sail on along the lee shore of Carriacou to Palm Island. The white sand beach of the island next to Union Island is enticing us and we drop anchor right in front of it. But what a different vibe here compared to Tobago!

Another sailboat cuts us off and drops anchor exactly where we intended. After we squeeze between it and the next boat I greet him all the same in a friendly manner - no reaction! After a first swim ashore we realize that right behind the beach there is a posh hotel resort and we are definitely not welcome in our swimsuits. Back on the boat we decide to move for the night - more space and less swell. Here as well I greet our new neighbor, again no reaction!

The next day we motor a few miles north to Tobago Cays. Probably one of the most famous places in the Caribbean. Behind a large horseshoe-shaped reef and between tiny green islands there is a large anchorage in crystal clear turquoise water on white coral sand. We share this beauty with a hundred or so other boats, but all is rather peaceful. The many turtles and stingrays do not seem to mind much and we can observe them up close while snorkeling. It is like living in a holiday advertisement!

 

Back on Carriacou I bid farewell to my crew who are traveling on to South America. Mirjam, Elisabet und Anton - many thanks to you all for being part of Moira’s and my journey. You are a great crew!

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