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5th March, 2017


With a long and fast run over from Santo Domingo it was always going to be tight at the pilot station for Bridgetown, but in actual fact we were alongside 30 minutes before schedule. There were just a few intrepid Saganauts who were on their starting blocks for a prompt escape to maximise their time ashore prior to our six sea day jaunt over to the Azores.

The remainder took the slightly more sedate pace of taking one of the scheduled tours, and there was plenty to choose from. Snorkelers went off for a turtle encounter, plane enthusiasts could go and take a look at Concorde G-BOAE, now a museum. A drive around the island, a descent into Harrison’s Cave, or an amble around the delightful gardens built into a sinkhole by Anthony Hunt were also available.

With friends just arrived, Mrs R and I went over for a bite to eat at the Sunbury Plantation House in the county of St. Philip. Here, among the cane fields, is an old house originating from the 1600’s that has passed through various families over the intervening years. In 1981 the house was separated from the sugar plantation and bought by the Melville family who opened it to the public in 1984.

Despite a disastrous fire in 1995, the house was restored and is now a wonderful example of how life must have been. The carriage museum in the cellars, where once yams and other root vegetables were strung up, now houses the largest collection of antique carriages in the Caribbean. Upstairs the various rooms have some magnificent artefacts and old furniture, including a huge polished antique 18 seat dining table, several four poster beds, old maps of the island and photographs of the people who lived there, trunks, wardrobes and rattan cane chairs. A children’s room had many dolls, some rather grumpy looking I have to say, and also an unusual looking ‘punishment’chair. I can just imagine that thirty minutes sat on that hard seat with straight back, trying not to fidget, would have been punishment enough.

A final Caribbean steel band played on the after deck in the cooling trade wind before we departed, sailed up past the inviting lights of the west coast and eventually turned to the north east. We have had the most remarkable run of excellent weather, hot and steamy at times, but just a delight. Two months of sunshine, but now, less than two weeks left to go before we return to Southampton, the sea temperature will gradually reduce and our bodies must gradually acclimatise to much cooler climes. The fun though, is not quite over.

Captain Philip Rentell

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