Shame and Embarrassment

Date: 15 January 2014

Position: 12°27.352N 061°29.249W, Tyrrell Bay, Carriacou

I am covered with shame and embarrassment. I understand that Pet Officer Snoopy took it upon himself to post a blog about our winning some prize or other. I have told him in no uncertain terms that he was completely out of order. It smacks of boasting, and that is absolutely not on. The poor little fellow was distraught so I couldn’t get too cross, but really I can’t apologise more.

As you may have gathered, Pet Officer Snoopy isn’t with us this year. I asked him if he would like to come along, but he refused. “Oil be buggerrred if oi be joynin’ youse this year, with arl them poncy Harliday Yachts” (he seems to have affected a Cornish Seadog accent – God knows where that came from). Well, I know how he feels, but I also think it has something to do with the fact that he still refuses to take off his polar outfit, hand-knitted by my sister Linda from Falklands wool, and in the constant heat of the Caribbean it would probably be the death of him. So instead he’s appointed himself Chief General Manager of Mina2 Expeditions Base Camp HQ. This is as meaningless of course as the Ed Milliband Policy Unit, but little Snoopy does love his titles, so I played along.

Meanwhile, Mina2 is now underway at the beginning of our island hopping up through the Windward Islands, thence the Leeward Islands to our first rendezvous with friends in Antigua.

First stop was here in Tyrrell Bay in Carriacou. A 37 nautical mile passage from Prickly Bay in Grenada, it took us 7 hours. We were expecting to have to motor into the wind most of the way, but we were just able to hold a sailing angle, albeit very close to the wind, for most of the way which was good.

We came to Carriacou for a couple of days last February when Peter and Maggie came to join us for a holiday. We all went on a scuba diving experience with the delightful Gary and Alex from Deefer Diving, which Maria and I enjoyed sufficiently for us to enrol on a PADI Referral diving course in the Putney Municipal Baths last month to do all the theory stuff and the practical exercises in the pool. All we now have to do is four open water dives to qualify us. So back here again, we arranged to go out with Gary the following morning.

But first we wanted to explore the tiny island. Rather than going for the easy option of simply hiring a taxi tour we decided to go by local bus. On all of the islands we’ve been to so far, they have a network of mini-buses which are manned by a driver and a young lad who rides shotgun, shouting out of the window touting for business. The signal for anyone who wants to get off is a loud rap on the metal roof. Reggae blasts from the tinny speakers the whole time, whilst a constant stream of a cross-section of the community get on and off; young women with babies and buggies and large bags of supplies are welcomed aboard by everyone rushing out to help her whilst her young charge with big white eyes and a cheeky grin set in a tiny ebony face is plonked on my lap during the loading process; some arrive with a live chicken or two, and the occasional toothless Rastafarian is shovelled onboard, so stoned he hasn’t a clue where he is let alone where he wants to go to. When school breaks, there is a sudden influx of young kids all immaculate in their crisp white shirts and school ties with all of the girls wearing a white ribbon in their hair chattering away on their way home. When the bus is half empty it meanders serenely down the lanes looking for more business. When the bus is full and no more money can be earned, it hurtles at breakneck speed to its destination. It’s certainly the best way of immersing yourself in the community.

The chatter on De Number One bus or whichever it is, is endless and sadly for me unintelligible. The language they speak in most of the islands of the Caribbean is English, but not as you would know it. Those who want to make themselves understood by me will speak in a vaguely understandable Caribbean accent, but they moment they start talking amongst themselves, they could be speaking Martian for all I can tell. But it matters not, the whole thing is the most delightful experience. On De Number Eleven bus back from the charmingly sleepy village of Windward (on the windward side of the island) the taxi driver insisted on taking the entire bus and all of its passengers on a diversion to a particularly spectacular vista and made me get out to take a photograph of the stunning view over the island and off lying coral reefs and outlying islands of which they are rightfully proud. There was not a word of complaint from anyone about their unexpectedly extended journey.


Tim Barker is a sailor and occasional adventurer. Since 2004, Mina2, his Oyster 485 yacht, and he (with the Downstairs Skipper and a wonderful bunch of friends) have sailed from the Arctic to the Antarctic and many places in between. Come join their adventures and read Tim's award winning blogs and journals from the comfort of your own computer screen.

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