07 May 2012 | Bridgetown, Barbados
The sea never felt so safe as when we had Georgetown out of sight. We had steady trade winds out of the northeast, making the 380 miles to Barbados our longest upwind passage on the entire circumnavigation. With the autopilot continuing to throw fits, Bubbles managed to sail herself directly towards Barbados without even having to lock the wheel (a well balanced boat can steer herself but generally only when sailing upwind).
On our second night out a sea we approached what seemed to be a floating alien city, a cluster of bright lights illuminating a tower that soared several hundred feet into the air. When closer I guessed it might be an oil rig, but the charts indicated none and even more mysteriously it seemed to be moving. There was a lead ship nearly a mile in front of its path and when it appeared we might be on a collision course I decided to call them up. When they didn’t respond to ‘floating alien city’ I tried ‘oil rig, oil rig’ which got their attention. They were indeed an oil rig, being towed from Brazil to Texas and on learning the captain of the operation was Dutch I put Carine, also Dutch, on the radio so they could share a couple stories from back home in their native tongue. The moving oil rig stayed in our view for several hours that night.
Besides being a psychotherapist (which meant nice deep talks whilst sailing), Carine is also a meditator and so much her time was spent ‘ohm’ing. Diego spent much of his time singing to the fish so we could catch one and by day three it worked. We pulled in a colorful four foot mahi mahi, breaking our three month dry spell. Killing the fish while sailing to weather blood sprayed everywhere leaving the cockpit looking like a murder scene. Diego filleted one side and I the other before Diego performed a short ceremony of thanks to the sea, giving back the carcass. Coconut fish curry over steamed rice was the meal that night.
Barbados is a well lit island and the many bright lights left our imaginations running wild with what treasures the island might hold as we approached on our fourth night at sea. By sunrise we found ourselves pulling into port next the King of Qatar’s megayacht Katara (the 13th largest in the world) complete with helicopter on deck. I joked with the Katara crew telling them that the Bubbles chopper was in for repairs but could be expected back anytime. While checking in we had to wait for the immigration officer to finish stamping the 3,000+ passports of cruise ship that had arrived the same time as us. Once finished with them we watched cartoons with him as he dealt leisurely with our stack of three. The customs officer slipped us some cash to go and buy him duty free alcohol, the very thing his job was to regulate.
Once officially in Barbados we moved the boat over to Carlylse Bay and swam to shore (we have no dingy) where we were greeted by the commodore of the local cruising club, Dr. Mike. The white sand beaches and pretty azure waters was the best we had seen in months and an excellent change up from the muddy river waters we had grown accustom to. It was good to be back in the Caribbean.