A Few Cruising Sights SeeN

When we started our cruising life, we expected most of the sights we'd see would be on the water. We didn't anticipate spending so much time staying at any single place. Oh well--we learned! We found that we sometimes spent many weeks in a harbour waiting for visitors or appropriate weather before moving on. However, this turned out to be an opportunity to go exploring on land and learn about new cultures - summaries are in our travel logs/journals. This page gives details of two of the sight-seeing highlights we enjoyed. And, others we made into pages of the Photo Album.

Table of Contents for this Article
                   1.  Climbing Pico Duarte         2.  Touring Barbados

1. Climbing Pico Duarte

Five cruisers anchored in the bay near Luperón, Dominican Republic, ascended Pico Duarte in early August, 2002, on an all-inclusive 5-day trip arranged by Dimi of Vista Mar Tours. Pico Duarte, first climbed in 1944, is the highest mountain in the Caribbean. This article describes our impressions and experiences during the excursion. First, we summarize the trip, then we describe some of its highlights, and finally we make suggestions for others who may decide to make the climb. All of us agreed that this was an experience of a lifetime, and we wouldn’t have missed it for anything.

We left Puerto Blanco Marina at 8:30 am sitting on the cushioned benches in the back of Dimi’s truck. After a pleasant airy drive through the countryside, we made one stop in Santiago for a few supplies, another at a roadside stand for some coco frio, and then took a break for lunch at a restaurant in the pleasant town of Jarabacoa in the Cibao Valley. After lunch, we headed to the town of Manabao and from there began our ascent to the village of La Ciénaga, at the base of Pico Duarte. The first stretch of road from Manaboa has been black-topped, and the middle section was in the process of being paved. The final section of road to La Ciénaga is unpaved and rough. The scenery was spectacular, as we wound our way up, through, and along the hills above the Rio Yaque del Norte. After a beer at the village colmado, we set up camp in the grounds of the headquarters of the Parques Nacionales Armando Bermúdez, on the edge of La Ciénaga.

The following morning our guides and mules arrived early. After breaking camp and loading our gear onto the mules, we began our ascent. Some of us were on foot and some of us rode. As the terrain became more and more difficult, we all rode on mules at least part way so as to be able to keep up the pace needed to reach the campground at La Compartición by mid afternoon. The trail from La Ciénaga to La Compartición is 17 kilometers (about 10 miles) and rises through 5,300 feet. On the third day, we arose before dawn and completed the ascent to the summit of Pico Duarte. This last part of the trail is 5 kilometers (3 miles) and climbs through another 2,000 feet. Since the summit was shrouded in clouds, after some brief picture taking we returned to the campground at La Compartición for a late breakfast. We then considered how to use the remainder of the day. After discussing our options, we decided to stay put and rest up in preparation for our descent back to La Ciénaga. We broke camp early the next morning and arrived back at the La Ciénaga campground in the afternoon just ahead of a major thunderstorm. On the last day we left our friends at La Ciénaga right after breakfast, loaded the truck, clambered aboard, and returned the way we came to Luperón, arriving back at the Marina in mid afternoon.

Trip Highlights were as follows:

We offer a few suggestions for others who might consider making this trip:

2. Touring Barbados

In November, 2003, we decided that rather than retracing our route north from Trinidad to Grenada, the Grenadines, St. Vincent, and St. Lucia we would go into the Atlantic, east, by way of Barbados. After leaving Chagauramus in Trinidad, we stopped along the north coast of this South American island at La Vache Bay, and Grand Riviere before crossing to Scarborough, the capital of the island of Tobago. The anchorage in Scarborough is small, with room for only a few boats--but it is quite well protected by a large breakwater. Anchored boats must keep out of the ferry channel, and the Coast Guard will politely ask you to move if necessary. From Scarborough, we headed west and passed between Drew Banks and Tobago to reach Store Bay, a large pleasant anchorage on the southwest corner of the island. From there we stopped at Parlatuvier on the northwest coast, a small village on a spectacular little bay surrounded by cliffs on two sides. There is a place to tie up a dinghy on the north side of the fishing pier. About 20 fishing boats were anchored there, so we stayed on the outer edge of the bay, where it was quite rolly. There were no other cruisers there. Ashore at Parlatuvier was lovely, and we climbed up the concrete stair/path from the south end of the beach to the top of the cliff, from which the view was spectacular. From Parlatuvier, we went to Charlotteville, anchoring only long enough to go ashore and clear out, and to provision at the well stocked grocery, and from the fruit and vegetable stands along the beach. There were almost 20 sailboats anchored in Charlotteville, a well protected rather deep bay.

We motor-sailed northeast overnight to Barbados, a not unpleasant trip against fairly light trade-wind conditions. After receiving permission from Bridgetown Port Control, we tied up in the harbor along the cruiseship dock. Fortunately someone was on hand to assist us with lines, because it is impossible to reach the dock's cruiseship bollards from a sailboat. After clearing in, we left the harbor to anchor in Carlisle Bay, a few miles to the south. There were about 20 sailboats in the bay, carrying flags from all over the world (Norway, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Canada, France (many), and Switzerland). We seem to be the only US flagged vessel. Barbados is outside the usual Caribbean cruising routes, and is visited by only about 300 boats each year--most having crossed the Atlantic from the Cape Verde or Canary Islands. Few make the passage from the Carribean island chain. Sailboat services are correspondingly limited.

Carlisle Bay is the primary anchorage on the island, ringed by a lovely beach with very clear water. The beach is lovely, and the water very clear. However, the bay is not well protected, being wide open to the west and apparently very rolly when the swells swing round to the north. After we left, the swells did just that and apparently two boats went onto the beach. We talked to Kamaloha in Martinique, who were in Barbados after we left and they said the wind also came round to the west about the same time. The Boatyard restaurant has placed several moorings for boaters, which seem pretty well secured and are free. The anchorage is very noisy with loud music from the beach and the Boatyard restaurant, some nights almost until dawn. But if you want to visit Barbados, Carlisle Bay is the only place to anchor. The Boatyard is very helpful to cruisers, even although its primary market is the cruiseship and shore-based visitors, with whom it was packed when we were there. Showers are available free, trash can be dumped, and one of the staff (Wally) will do laundry for you. The Boatyard has a large pier from which 2 replica pirate ships (Jolly Rogers) take customers on harbour and coast tours. On the north side of the pier, there are steps down to a dinghy dock, which has rusty metal parts on it which significantly aged the appearance of our dinghy. Three blocks north of the Boatyard restaurant is Gig-@-bytes, an excellent Internet cafe with expresso, roti, and home-baked snacks. The internet connection is fast, and cost us $2 (US) for 15 minutes.

Barbados is very different, both geologically and culturally, from the other Caribbean islands. It lies 100 miles to the east of the main island chain--all of which are formed volcanically. Barbados, on the other hand, is the top of an Atlantic ridge, and is constructed of coral and limestone. It's topography is quite different from the other islands.

We decided to rent a car, from Coconut Car Rentals, 5 blocks south of the Boatyard along Bay Street. The minimum rental was for 2 days, and it (as everything in Barbados) was not cheap. However, it was well worth it. With the use of a good map (Insight Fleximap) we circumnavigated the island, and wound our way around the interior. We got lost in a few places, since roadsigns are sparse, but the island residents were unfailingly helpful in getting us back on track. Some roads are good, but some are in poor condition. Driving is on the left, and we found that generally drivers are courteous of each other and of pedestrians. Many places we went to had admission fees, most of which were worth it--tourism is a major industry in Barbados. We thought the following attractions were well worth visiting:

In addition, we spent several hours wandering around Bridgetown, a busy city in its own right and swelled by visitors from the many cruiseships that stop in Barbados. We visited the Fish Market, the Cheapside vetegable market, and the Careenage. We found excellent supermarkets and some good, quite cheap, local food at Leon's, Da Kitchen, close to the Boatyard, and the vegetarian Pure Food Cafe in the center of town. Diesel was available in the Fishing Harbour, but after looking it over, we decided to wait until we got to Martinique to refuel. In the Fishing Harbour there were two fuel docks, both very high and without friendly attachments. Neither fuel dock appeared to be manned. and there was not much turning room once inside the breakwater -- the harbor was packed with fishing boats. Water was not available at the fuel docks, but it can be jerry-canned from the Boatyard pier, where it may be possible to tie up to re-water.

By the time we left Carlisle Bay there were about 40 boats there, presumably waiting for the end-of-year holidays. We did get somewhat acclimatized to the noise in the anchorage, but wanted to be in Martinique for Christmas, so we didn't wait to see how it was during the actual holidays. We had a leisurely and somewhat rolly beam reach most of the way to Martinique, until the winds died around in the wee hours of the morning, so we motor-sailed the rest of the way. We are happy we visited Barbados, and recommend it as a stopping point--noting the caveats mentioned above, however, about the anchorage.

Visit the Photo Album to see more photographs.


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Bill Dillon (KG4QFM)
Pat Watt (KG4QFQ)
This page was last modified on August 9, 2009

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