An emancipating catamaran cruise in Barbados - Reggae music strong in the Eastern Caribbean
The sounds of Pluto Shervington’s I Man Born Yah echoed through the speakers of the catamaran on which the The Gleaner set sail early on Emancipation morning on our first get-together to celebrate Crop Over, the most popular and colourful festival in Barbados.
It was a rib-tickling moment for the those familiar with the 1980s track, specifically the Jamaicans present on board the 67-foot luxury vessel, because the fact that, none of us was born where the morning-into-afternoon exploration was taking place – in the Eastern Caribbean island of Barbados.
The reggae singer’s music must have been a favourite of the disc jockey because it continued with more from the era with singles Dancing Mood and Your Honour. The popular Ram Goat Liver was missing, but its colloquial phrases would have probably been to hard to comprehend for the non-Jamaican passengers.
Musical vibrations remained in the tune of reggae, as Ernie Smith’s Ride On Sammy played in the background as the captain of the ‘Spirit of Barbados’ catamaran, James Joseph, introduced the passengers to the crew. Then the real bacchanal began – first with the beat of the dancehall-infused soca track Sexin’, by Konshens, and finally, the rhythms of steel pan and the sounds of the soca heavy hitters like Machel Montano, Alison Hinds, Skinny Fabulous, and Destra chimed in.
Akeal Simpson, a crew member on board the catamaran, explained that reggae and dancehall tend to dominate the airwaves for most of the year.
“Our soca artistes only get a time to shine during the Crop Over period, and even then, there are events that people will go to and still feel the strong presence of reggae and dancehall,” Simpson said.
He disclosed that the biggest celebration of Jamaica’s music, and one which boasts the attendance of a wide cross section of people, is the Barbados Reggae Festival, which includes the Reggae Beach Party, Vintage Reggae Show and Dance, Reggae Party Cruise, and the popular Reggae on the Hill, which takes place at the historic Farley Hill National Park.
SUN AND SAND
A day like today, celebrated as Emancipation Day, he adds, is to bask in the sun and sand. “Of course, any good music is welcomed. Maybe a little dancehall from Popcaan might play. Bajans love Popcaan so much that when he came out with the track about Jordans ( Fresh Jordan) two or so years ago, the town was filled with persons looking for a “fresh” pair of the sneaker brand,” he said, laughing. “So the dancehall and reggae genres will still be heard even as it is soca’s prime time.”
Prime time on the cruise, which covered about five miles of the island’s northwest end, was passed by participating in snorkelling at the reef, swimming with the turtles, tanning on the deck, and when the temperature became too hot to handle, the cabin dance floor was open to persons who wanted to ‘wuk up’. However, most seemed keen on soaking up the sun and staring in awe at the sea – the most emancipating part of the cruise.