Saturday, June 5
Checkers Game Match
After the First International Checkers Game Match, several American
players left early in the morning, but my flight does not leave
until early tomorrow morning. I started the
morning with a submarine ride. Excursions
such as this can be booked at the hotel front
desk. A van came by to pick me up at 8:15
am. The bus was already filled with other
people, presumably guests from other hotels.
We were transported to the Atlantis docking
station and gift shop near Bridgetown's two
bridges. The price was $65 US for a boarding
We boarded a boat from a dock. After an
airline-like safety presentation, we took
a ten-minute boat ride to the location
of the 65-foot long submarine. Our group
was the first dive of the day. Our boat
pulled up alongside the submarine, and
we crossed over by a gangway plank. After
descending backward down a steep ladder,
we came to the seating area. The sub accommodates
about 45 people plus crew. The room is
long, skinny, and rectangular, with a row
of seats facing out each side through portholes.
As we descended, we saw huge schools of
very tiny fish. The underwater coral reef
was beautiful. Colorful fish tended to
hang out in the crevices of the coral for
safety. We saw two sunken barges and a few
large sea turtles. As we progressed, we
saw more and more fish, including large
schools of hundreds of purple, medium-sized
fish. We saw a few bigger fish, but nothing
else really 'big.' We
moved out away from the coral reef and dove
down to 130 ft to the flat ocean bottom,
but the fish don't hang out in this wide-open
area. A guide talked throughout the dive
to explain things.
The dive took about an hour, and I really
enjoyed it. When we surfaced, we traded
places with people on the transport boat
who were waiting their turn to dive. As
we pulled away, we saw the submarine go
underwater for the next dive.
After the van returned back to Dover Beach
hotel, I saw Gerry Lopez, the Webster, and
Tuckers depart. Their airport shuttle came
by the hotel to pick them up. The only
other American Checkers Game players remaining are Clayton
Nash, Michael Holmes (Erin and Michael went
snorkeling for the day), and Alan Millhone
(who was having a family outing today).
These three were staying for the Barbados First
International Checkers Game Open.
I met Clayton for lunch in the restaurant,
and then we took a one mile walk through
the nearby St. Lawrence Gap. Today was
another nice day, as Barbados temperatures
usually stay within the 75-90 F range year-round.
Along the way we saw a couple beggars and
a number of street side vendors. The vendors
sold a variety of things such as hair braiding,
jewelry, wooden crafts, and coconuts. We
came across two vendors who were passing
the time with their green and white checkerboard.
One fellow picked up his checkers game pieces and slammed
down the checker with each move. We saw
a number of restaurants with outdoor seating
where loud Caribbean music could be heard.
Clayton and I saw a resort miniature golf
course that we wanted to try out, but it
was closed to non-hotel guests.
I arrived at the Graeme Hill Nature Sanctuary
to do a little island bird watching. (The
Dover hotel area didn't have too many bird
species to see--mostly mourning doves and
an occasional bananaquit or hummingbird.)
Admittance seemed pricey to me ($12.50),
but I enjoy this kind of thing, and I had
my own personal guide. Their sanctuary
featured several ponds and wetlands, where
100 cattle egret were roosting in a tree.
The lake was full of large tarpon fish
that would violently jump out of the water
if you threw in a small object. The guide
showed me the mangrove trees, whose roots
grow downward from the tree branches. Mangrove
trees have long, pointed seed pods, so
they can plant themselves when they fall.
Lastly, I walked through 3 special aviaries
that had assorted ducks and other exotic
birds such as flamingos, spoonbills, and
For the remainder of the day, Clayton and
I spent some time in the hotel gazebo by the
beach. The waves seem choppier today, and the
yellow flags were out at the beaches. On the
TV, I caught news of the passing of Ronald
Reagan. At 6:30 (just as it was getting dark)
I went to a church that was a ten-minute walk
from the hotel. Then I met Clayton, Michel,
and Erin for supper, my last meal here. There
was a continuing debate with the staff about
how much longer our meals were covered by our
hosts. It turned out this was the last meal,
but we had to order off the menu instead of
receiving our usual complete dinner. A few
fish fingers were about the only thing on the
menu that was within the allocated budget.
Clayton was anticipated wanting something more
substantial to get through the night, so I
accompanied him to the minimart where he picked
up some crackers and a bottle of white rum.
I took one last look at the hotel beach at
night, and then headed up to my room to finish
packing for my early airport ride.
Checkers Game Match Epilogue
The rest of the Barbados Draughts Festival
was a success for Ron King. Suki won both
the Barbados Open (congratulations to Michael
Holmes for nearly winning this event) and
the World Qualifier Tournament. Clayton Nash
won the Junior division, and Jan Mortimer
from New Zealand won the ladies qualifier.
My thanks to referee Alan Millhone, Erskine
Bayne, Ron King, and to many others from
Barbados who hosted us and participated
in the organization of this historic
first international checkers game match.
I had a wonderful week on the island!