I don’t have anything clever to say so I guess I’ll just jump right onto my blog-hobby horse and ride. The time in Barbados was OK. I am glad that we stopped there on the way instead of sailing 60 miles to windward to try to reach the flat little island. I have to say though that everyone in Barbados is exceptionally friendly and welcoming.

We had a mediocre dinner the night we arrived from the Atlantic. I was hoping for a cheeseburger in paradise but had to settle for some sort of island substitute. That was OK as the place had free internet and we caught up on 22 days of disconnection. For Christmas we really wanted to go to a place that had great recommendations but they were closed. So I think for Christmas dinner we had rice and tuna or something on the boat. That was alright. We also went on a walk about town but naturally everything was closed. Mathew and I spent the day salting the remainder of the Billy. I never salted fish before, and neither had he, but it came out really good. I’ll do it in the future if I ever catch something large enough.

Mathew flew out the next day and my brother and I hung around. We didn’t do a whole lot while in Barbados. I ran a couple of times on the beach. Horses would swim out around the boats every morning and we had a few drinks on Scope and swapped tales of the Atlantic Crossing. Seems they had only a little more interesting time than we did, and by that I mean they spent a week in a thunder-storm with no wind or fuel to get out. We tried to go to the famous Mount Gay Rum Distillery but it was closed for the holidays.

No Mount Gay? No point in staying any longer then. We headed to St. Lucia next. The passage was about 100 miles long from Carlisle Bay to Rodney Bay. We did it as an overnighter. No problems, just jib sailed the whole thing. It felt strangely short after the long Atlantic. Rodney Bay sits at the north of the island so we saw all the sites from sea on the way up. I guess there is no shame with a little binocular-tourism. The Pitons lived up to the hype as they dominated the views on the southern end of the island.

We checked into Rodney Bay and stayed a night or two. It was nice to get hot showers and the food was alright. The place was full of ARC boats though as that is where the ARC ends. So it was sort of funny to see all these people who, at this point, had crossed an ocean but still couldn’t dock their boats. Once we were satisfied with things we headed the nine miles south to Marigot Bay.

Marigot Bay is advertised as being the most beautiful bay in all the Caribbean. With so many bays I am not sure how you can make such a claim, although it is really nice. Thirty dollars a night for a mooring ball though and a lot of bull-shit from boat boys on the way in. That night I had a few nice beers at a local beach bar and made some new friends.

The next morning, a friend from Boston showed up to celebrate the New Years. Well, sort of, she flew home early for some reason. But anyway, We picked her up in Marigot and had a nice evening in the bay and the next day moved down to the Pitons. I was given a little bit of a head’s up to use a guy named Benny as the the local contact in the park. This turned out to be the best thing possible as the whole 15 miles down the coast boat boys would chase us down and want to be our man in the park. Even after we were on a mooring ball one guy came out and told us it was reserved and had to move. Just one phone call to Benny and everything was sorted out. Pretty good this guy Benny. I wanted to give him a little money but he didn’t want anything as I think he’s really just interested in having people enjoy the park. So we ate his wife’s restaurant as a way to show our thanks.

Anyway, we spent the day snorkeling and swimming and just generally loafing around Slick. My friend really enjoyed herself I think. In the morning we hiked up to a waterfall. I hadn’t seen pictures and was expecting something massive. It was small, and the pool at the bottom was made into an actual swimming pool, or rather, a soaking pool. The friendly rasta who ran the place told us every ten minutes in the pool will make us ten years younger. Then he advised us not to stay too long as he is tired of carrying babies out of there. Ha, funny guy. It was nice though.

We then decided to hike up to the volcano. I didn’t realize it but the entire area of Souffries is a fairly large caldera. The walk up to it was up a brutally steep road, and then down into the crater where a vent is letting out the usual hot mud and sulfur-dioxide. Not the most impressive volcano I have seen but still worth it, especially for my friend who had never seen one. Then we headed back to Slick and by noon one of Benny’s boys picker her up and she was off, a whole 46 hours on Slick. Why is that something of interest? Well, mostly for all my American friends who always say they can’t come down to visit. See, if this lady could come for two days, then I don’t think anyone really has an excuse.

My brother and I moved back up to Marigot Bay for some New Years celebration. We were going to head to a bar for some fun but then we realized that the fireworks barge was all of 100 feet away. I have never been so close, and not on a boat. We decided to stay on board and it was incredible. I never even looked up, I just watched the cannons firing. It was really amazing and one of those odd time-place coincidences that makes my life interesting.

The nine miles back to Rodney Bay was a miserable slog as the wind was on the nose and against the current. It was sort of like entering Buzzard’s Bay from the Canal in the afternoon, except it lasted four hours instead of 30 minutes. We made it though, it was nice to be in port. We hung out a few days. For some reason they put us on the local docks. This doesn’t bother me, but every night the neighbor invited us to the local strip club to watch her dance. We never took her offer. As my brother was leaving she said if I felt lonely she would keep me company. I didn’t take that offer either.

Anyway, before my brother left we had a nice hike out to Pigeon Island and saw the old forts there. It provided some stunning views and we even got to meet a few locals on the way home. I think they wondered what we were doing in their neighborhood. But after a hard look or two they would come and greet us with the friendly St. Lucia fist bump. Only once did someone stop and ask us if we were there to buy some “Bob Marley” (marijuana). Then, Sean flew home. It was a good 86 days while he was here. We covered a lot of water.

After my brother left, Cress Walker and Conversations showed up for one night. It was nice to catch up and I was able to return the Ipad that was left behind by one of his crew members in the Canaries. That’s probably the last time I will see those guys as they head to Vancouver, so they will go through the Canal this year. That is one of the odd things about traveling – making friends. In the cruising life it is a little different than the backpacking life though as you see them all over the world instead of all over a country. Plus, with AIS we always know where each other is if we care to look.

I made my way to Martinique. The passage was off the wind and it was a fairly easy jib-sail. I passed the day watching Boobies chase the flying fish that Slick would scare out of the water. They are such clumsy hunters, it is amazing they actually catch enough food to survive. In Martinique, my young french friends from Carabosse were on anchor. So I have been hanging out with them and Scope a bit. I will catch up on Martinique in the next post though. After this I head up to Dominica and beyond.

So, Sean, Mathew and my Boston friend are gone. I am alone again. I was pretty sad. I guess I had about a week of single-hander syndrome. It was pretty demotivating to be handling everything by myself and talking only to myself. Single-handing can really suck, you go nuts, and you may not have many friends, everything is just that much more difficult. A big thanks to everyone who emails me. I am doing very well now though. Eventually, you have to climb out of the hole and realize you are still a captain, even without a crew.