There were six of us, the New Yorker pioneering crew who charged thru poison stonefish, deadly urchins, monsoon rain and “reefs with teeth” at South Point & Freights. Elisa “Elbows” Bates, Andreea “Stay Salty” Waters, Juliane “The Rosel Rocket” Camposano, Jeff “Taste My Spray Kook!” Waters and Max ”Santo Jinete” Waters, all named by George Bates, our storm watch mad scientist and sanity voice, “That’s An Easy Paddle Out; You’ll Be Just Fine”.
November 19th, 2014 surfing began. Freight’s Bay started taking shape with a South East swell. That and lots of hard core rain. The bay is sheltered creating off-shore winds. Freights is the longest left in Barbados, great for long boarders and perfect for learning to surf. Over 6’ the wave becomes hollow, the bottom is mostly sand and reef. For the next three days we were wet more than dry. Waves and rain was the forecast. We surfed tropical waters in all our layers, trekked through mud, and our cars were soaked and smelly. George was smart, as always in tune with the weather activity he was the only one dressed appropriately.
“Barbados was my first real surf trip and I caught my first real wave early in the week. And as if that’s not enough, the people, the food, the drinks, the air, the rain, the sun, the energy, the ocean, the trees, the sounds, and just the place itself were all extraordinary and beyond any expectations. I can’t wait to go back.” Elisa Bates lives to tell.
Zed’s Surfing Adventures was our sweet, warm home for nine days. Set on the beach at Surfers Point, you fall asleep to the sound of the ocean and wake up in the tropical glow and salty smell. You become part of the local family, indulging in home cooked food by Shareld and sharing surf stories with the instructors, friends and visitors. Dominos is the local game which goes really well with a Banks, the legendary Caribbean Beer, a pilsner style lager.
Barbados traditions are drawn from the West African and British cultures that shaped the island. The majority of the population is of African origin however the island was a colony of the British Empire for over 300 years so the English influence is very strong. The people are friendly, fun loving and warm. Barbados has natural charm.
Soup Bowl at Bathsheba on the East Coast is the famous surf break, a heavy right barrel. The waves break on a rock shelf that sticks out into the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of Kelly’s Slater’s favorite wave in the world and the most powerful Caribbean wave. You can cross the island East to West and reach it’s North and South points within an hour. Surfer’s Point is a forty-five minute drive from Soup Bowl and ten minutes from the Bridgetown airport.
Watching the locals surf is like poetry. As a photographer I get mesmerized in their art and wave riding, always chasing them with my camera. During the storm Surfer’s Point was 8’+ and messy. One afternoon, I saw one rider brave the madness. Of course I ran for my camera and found Zed Layson playing in the stormy waters. He is the brain behind Zed’s Surfing Adventures, a former professional surfer, fifth generation Barbadian and awesome guy. Zed’s ocean knowledge and passion for sharing the art of surfing are remarkable.
The sun after the storm was a treat and we ventured to the East Coast. Bathsheba is breath taking, total wildness and beauty. Soup Bowl was blown out but there were still a few surfers enjoying some fun rights. We watched the break from across the street, cocktail in hand and walked the beach at sunset. Delicious! To get there was a small adventure, mostly driving on unmarked back roads that we navigated with a paper map, no Internet service. A very local and charming Bajan experience.
The last couple of days we surfed South Point on the West Coast, a reef break, hollow and fast. It picks up swells from the Atlantic Ocean, when Soup Bowls is on-shore, South Point is the next best place to surf.
“At the airport and chilling. I can’t believe how perfect this vacation was!! So amazing to be with everyone and the every day incredible surf. Even the monsoon-like rain, that hit us, didn’t affect the energy and fun of this amazing trip. Dreaming of going back again soon,” shares Juliane Camposano aka Lady Slide/Rosel Rocket.
I have a thing for island life, Bajan spice, salty water and tropical glow. I want to go back many times to explore the layers of the land, ocean and people. I am dying to photograph Soup Bowl when it’s firing. Put me on a plane…
“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” Anais Nin