11 || Big Fish-Small Pond
Tuesday 11th February St Lucia - Barbados
We’re going to Barbados
Back to the Palm Trees
We’re going to see the Consulate
In the Sunny Caribbean Sea …. “
We were due at the American Embassy for an interview for our Visas. The trade winds had shifted slightly towards North which meant we could make the journey in one fetch. We upped anchor at 05:45. The wind was blowing which forced Iain to do the unthinkable, we reefed! However we were heading straight into a large Atlantic swell which was slowing the boat to between 7-8 knots and creating an uncomfortable lumpy motion - the boat was underpowered! By midday, I had fallen asleep and Iain changed the sail configuration to full main and jib. Speed was increased, the boat steadied and we flew along in a much happier motion arriving at 19:00 in the dark. Never the best option, but we anchored and went to bed. In the morning, we surveyed the anchorage. Iain’s chest swelled, he grinned, we had arrived, we were the largest yacht in the anchorage at last!
Whenever we arrive in a new place, we always try to visit the local yacht clubs to get a feel for the yachting scene. We went to the Barbados Yacht Club and they allowed us a weeks membership as we had recently crossed the Atlantic! I didn’t say I flew over it, didn’t seem necessary. Iain signed the register.
It was the most impressive book to date. Filled with wonderful entries going back decades. Beautiful hand writing with ink pens, I was enthralled by the paper and the binding, I was feeling nostalgic about this Club and building when it was first opened in the 1920s.
We spent a very romantic pre dinner Valentine’s evening here for another Happy Hour. This time, I did not drink both, I did not need to, I did not speak to any strangers because I couldn’t. Needless to say, the very best rum punches we have ever had to date. This lady knows her onions!
One of sour(lime juice)
Two of sweet (sugar syrup)
Three of strong (Barbados or Trinidad Rum)!!
Four of weak (ice)
A dash of Angustura Bitters
Grated Nutmeg on the top
A few days later we had our interview. It was a long, very formal affair. We had to pass through many different sections before arriving at the final window. I was scarred. Iain had filled in my form while I was with Ann drinking Prosecco and laughing, without a care in the world.
They say, everything has a price. Well, the price was Iain made up the answers on my application, so I had to remember his answers to give to the very scary lady behind the screen without hesitation. I was a bag of nerves, the lady could tell, but obviously a convincing liar as we both left with the reassurance the visas would be ready for collection within a few days.
While all of this was going on, our very dear friends, Clare and David Maris had been tracking us and spotted we were in their old stomping ground. Back in the day, David was head of the Caribbean Branches of Barclays Bank and lived on Barbados with his very young family. David mentioned to his oldest friend we were in the bay on a very smart, large blue yacht with a carbon rig, couldn’t miss us and perhaps it would be fun for us to meet up.
As you know, I love a bit of a chat and Mike and Christine Littlepage, were going to the Yacht Club on Sunday Morning to meet some friends and suggested we join them. I agreed we would meet a total stranger, his good lady wife and their friends at 11:00 in the beach bar. I said we would arrive by dingy so they could not miss us. We were nervous. Not about meeting Mike and Christine, just about our entrance in the dinghy.
The breaking waves on the beach were quite significant. On our romantic Valentine’s evening we were having so much fun we didn’t notice the sun had set forcing us to leave in the dark.
It would be fine! All we had to do was count the waves to calculate which wave should be the smallest before setting off. My counting is not the best, and when I’ve had a drink, well, anyway, I was told to concentrate. I did. I counted, Iain counted, we repeated the count to make sure, eight was the right wave. On the third rotation we launched the dingy, I jumped in and moved to the front. I crouched, I made it! I was in. No wait, in but very wet, I was covered by a wave from the front or was it the side? Anyway, perhaps Iain hadn’t noticed. I did not flinch or make a sound, I held on waiting for the command to move back once the boat was on the plane. All was fine. We arrived at FatJax in one piece. Iain had not noticed.
Actually, Iain hadn’t noticed because, as he pulled the pull-cord he rotated backwards and fell out of the dinghy, still securely holding the pull-cord, but he wasn’t going to make a sound in case I hadn’t notice, which I hadn’t! The first either of us knew of the total soaking we both received was when we were standing on the back deck of the boat!
So with this in mind, I had taken instruction on exiting the dingy, but this time in the day light and with a crowd watching.
We decided to go a five minutes early to give us a chance to get the landing right. Luckily all was fine. We managed a spectacular entrance to one side of the Club without detection from anyone, we hoped.
I asked the excellent lady at the bar to point out Mike and Christine Littlepage. She obliged. Mike was standing up, looking out to sea. I said hello. Mike nearly jumped out of his skin. His first remark was, “You’re early, we didn’t see you arrive”. Oh dear me, I was embarrassed. However, Mike introduced us to everyone around the table, and we started to make polite conversation. Then, Mike asked if we were from the blue yacht in front of the Club. We hadn’t seen another yacht, we were concentrating on getting to shore dry. We turned. There was indeed a large blue yacht with a carbon rig right in front of the Club. It was Vertigo! The 67.2 meter, super yacht. The tenth largest super yacht in the world which just happened to arrive that very morning. We started to smile. Secretly, my heart sank, my poor husband. Of course we put their minds at rest, we were from the small, big, blue yacht with the carbon rig on the other side of the bay which couldn’t be seen from the Club.
It was very funny listening to the group. When they arrived at the Club and looked out to sea, Vertigo could not be missed at anchor, the group panicked. Why had Clare and David asked them to meet these people? What could they possible have to say to them? Oh, but would these people invite the group back for drinks on the yacht? Should they go home to change?
We had such a wonderful morning with Mike, Christine, Pricilla, Sally and Reg. We had lots to talk about, and so many wonderful stories were exchanged of our friends Clare and David and of Christine’s Boarding School days in Norfolk and many tales of sailing and flying around the Caribbean. We stayed for a delicious lunch, followed by high tea at Pricilla’s stunning apartment overlooking the sea and then pre-dinner drinks at Mike and Christine’s idyllic beach fronted home to watch the start of the sunset. We didn’t make the same mistake, we left before it was dark secretly hoping our visas would not arrive so we could spend more time with such delightful new friends.
The visas arrived and we moved on, however, we have taken our group with us in our hearts. Mike follows us on the tracker and we regularly have updates of life in Barbados. We cannot help but smile fondly at our short but memorable time with these very giving and encompassing folk. We will return next season to spend more time together.