On December 9th Element was 5 miles outside of Barbados, at 2:00 am we had the worst storm of our entire journey across the Atlantic. We had 35-40 knots of wind. There was hail, wind, rain and lightening. It wasn’t my watch but I came up as I heard Shaun and Wayne talking loudly. It turns out that they needed some help. Once I finally got out of my pjs and into my foul weather gear we reefed the jib enough to get the boat under control.
Barbados port control would not let us drop our anchor, so we had to sail for 6 hours before we were able to dock in the shallow draft. We sailed back and forth in Carlisle Bay at 1-1.5 knots with a coast guard vessel ghosting us.
Finally, the time arrived when we were able to contact the marina and the port authority and were given the go-ahead to cross the finish line and dock the boat. We were greeted by Jojo and the Odyssey group with clapping, whoops and photos. It was a proud moment in my life to have crossed an ocean by boat with my family.
|the crew of Element's arrival into Barbados|
|what is left of our spinnaker|
As Shaun got off the boat to greet everyone and to check in at customs, he looked under our boat and noticed that our starboard rudder was MIA. At that point it didn’t matter that it was 8:00 AM I wanted a drink to calm myself down. It turned out to be an expensive crossing for us (torn main, blown apart Spinnaker and a missing rudder).
The difficulty with the shallow draft was that there was no easy way off the boat. We had to hop into the dinghy from the boat and then hop up on to the dock. There was no ladder close by and if the tide was low it was difficult. I ended up in the water with my backpack on (yes, there were electronics in it, luckily my laptop was on the boat). I wrecked Jordan’s Nintendo DS and an Apple charger….. I did learn to always remove my backpack before attempting to get onto the dock.
Later in the day Sacre Blue arrived into the shallow draught. Paige and Jordan were very excited because Madelaine and William were aboard to play with. For lunch we all headed over to a local restaurant near the dry dock area. It was nice to socialise and be less stressed. The rally organisers were right when they told us we would be different people upon our arrival. Less stressed, but very proud!
|Christmas decorations yay!|
|the crew of s/v Jojo, Sacre Blue and Element|
|from left to right Madelaine, (s/v Sacre Blue), Paige, William (s/v Sacre Blue), and Jordan|
Marnie, Shaun and I headed into town while the girls played at Sacre Blue. We walked the 10-15 minutes and found the centre of Bridgetown along with the carrenage (the centre marina). We ended up stopping at Brighouse for a drink before taking a taxi back to our boat.
|on our way into town I we found a little café with my mom's name on it|
Later in the week a bunch of cruisers were heading over to the Barbados Cruising Club for dinner. We found our way there and to our delight the atmosphere was awesome. Super casual and the view of the beach was amazing. Shaun was happy to see a foosball table (or as our friend Manuel would call it, a kicker table). There are servers however, all food and drink are ordered at the bar. A number is assigned to you that is placed on the table and when the food is complete the servers find your number and deliver the food. The food was excellent. After dinner Marnie and I took a leisurely walk along the beach in the rain. It was very relaxing.
|our walk to grab a taxi to the cruisers club|
|the cricket field|
|the blurb about the club|
|the beach view|
|foosball game with William and Madelaine|
On one of the days before Marnie left she successfully washed most of our clothes. It was a daunting task as there were no dryers available. Element looked like a laundromat with clothes hanging from every available spot. We were very happy to have had clean clothes.
The following day we decided to jump on a local bus and head up to Welchman Hall Gully (http://www.welchmanhallgullybarbados.com), a natural rain forest valley that people used to grow fruit, spice and coffee as the rest of the island was used to grow sugar cane. Sadly, most of the island was clear cut and replanted with sugar cane for the rum industry. Many flora and fauna were lost during this time.
We walked to the bus station and found our bus, paid our 2 Barbados dollars and waited for the bus to leave. We mentioned to the driver where we were headed. We sat back and enjoyed the ride. It was a great way to see the island for a reasonable price. When you would like to get off a string was pulled or a button pressed and the driver would stop at the next bus stop.
The driver stopped just outside of the entrance to Welchman Hall Gulley and explained that a bus would come every 30 minutes in the same spot. We headed in and paid the entrance fee. The lady behind the counter gave us a brochure that had a brief description of the flora and fauna growing in the valley. Each was associated with a number along the way. We decided to set a meeting time with Marnie and Wayne so that everyone could experience the sights at their own pace. Our family decided to head along the path. The brochure was extremely helpful, each item had a small paragraph that was to the point yet very informative. Before we got too far along the path we noticed that the monkeys were being fed. We had never seen monkeys behave so well while waiting for a meal. They sat patiently while the staff member prepared the bananas.
Throughout the walk we saw fruit trees (which had a hard time keeping the fruit due to the monkeys), loads of millipedes (one such that is native to Barbados, the rest are native to Africa), different varieties of palm trees, stalagmites/stalactites, birds (one crazy rooster), spice trees, coffee trees and much much more. We ran into a fellow that works there and he explained that the millipedes are a necessary critter for the valleys survival. We reached the end of the path and turned around to make our way back to the entrance. We decided that we needed a well deserved Banks beer. As we purchased the beer we asked the lady if there was a taxi to the caves. She explained that there was a shortcut but that it was at the end of the path that we had just come from. Off we went again along the beautiful path. We were very thankful for the shade as it was a very warm day.
|several species of birds that live on the island|
|one of the roosters, not the crazy one|
|the tropical forest|
|the well behaved monkeys waiting for their dinner|
|along the pathway|
|a view up the path|
|near an ornamental palm|
|under the nutmeg tree|
|vines reaching for the ground|
|an interesting tree|
|a pretty flower|
|another cool flower|
|the roof top of a collapsed cave that used to connect to the caves Paige saw later in the day|
|Paige's photography skills|
|above ground roots of a tree , they look like worms|
|a well deserved Banks beer before the walk back along the trail|
|one of the many brown doves|
|the view across the island|
|another shot of the view|
|the short cut exit from the gully to the caves|
We made it to the end again and walked up to the caves. By this time, Jordan was extremely tired. Marnie, Paige and Wayne decided to enter the caves and Shaun, Jordan and I went in search for food and drink. We wandered down the street to a small home where several food items are served. The owner had sold out of everything but threw together a cheese cutter (the Barbados version of a cheese sandwich) with coconut bread. We signed her book and chatted with her. We learned that she wakes very early each morning to bake, cook and prepare her dishes, then brings them to the small home/café. A lovely lady.
|goats along the way|
|an odd sheep|
|an explanation of the caves and gullies of Barbados|
|collection of water in the caves|
|a cool view|
|a large collection of water|
|view from above|
Once we had our rest and snack we headed back up to wait for the others. Upon their arrival we waited for another bus back to town. The bus we caught this time was a full size bus. We soon realised that the driver thought himself to be a rally driver. I had Jordan on my lap as the bus was full. She fell asleep so I did not have any hands to hold on. I certainly got a full body workout on the way back LOL. Along the way the bus picked up several school aged children. They very much wanted to speak with Jordan however, she was passed out. One of the girls was standing behind me and at one point exclaimed “your hair is so soft”. It was very cute.
We finally arrived back at the bus stop and parted ways with Marnie and Wayne as they wanted dinner. We headed back to the boat.
The following day we hung out at the boat. Paige & Jordan snorkelled with the kids on Sacre Blue as the water was exceptionally clear. Earlier in our stay we saw the resident sea turtle. Paige saw several varieties of fish while snorkelling.
|hanging out with the Sacre Blue kids|
Our crew flew out on December 14 and on the 15th there was a rum tour and a welcome party at the Yacht club, for everyone that had arrived. We had fully intended to join everyone at the rum tour but, the crew of Lilly invited us over for a beverage. Shaun then brought out the Turkish Raki that we were going to drink upon crossing the Atlantic and one drink led to another. We did make it to the party but missed the rum tour. Fun was had by all.
|from left to right: Shaun, Thomas and Lilli (s/v Lilli)|
|me with the other crew of s/v Lilli|
|Jordan swimming with the crew of Lilli|
While we were at the party all the kids that were available received a certificate for Jimmy Cornell for their participation in the crossing.
|receiving their certificate|
Follow our video adventures on our YouTube channel: Video adventures of s/v Element