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For the second time in less than 6 months Rebecca and I have found ourselves in a foreign country without our passports. This ranks right up there on the I-feel-naked list of situations as far as I’m concerned. The first time occurred when we were in Grenada and we had to send our passports off to, you guessed it, Barbados to have them renewed. This time our passports remain in the hands of some officials at the US Embassy here in Barbados, waiting to have official US Visas added into them. Yes, the reason for our trip to Barbados was to apply for non-immigrant US visas, a supposed requirement for our new occupation as charter boat crew.

The necessity of having these visas was never 100% clear to us. We heard and read multiple things from different people and were afraid to go right to “the horse’s mouth” for fear of triggering any unwanted attention. I ultimately made the decision that we would just go for it even though “going for it” was neither a cheap nor an easy process. We spent a number of hours completing an extremely detailed online application, booked plane tickets and accommodations and made arrangements for One Love to sit safely at a marina in our absence.

You already read about our flight to Barbados. Our time at the embassy was equally patience testing. It took us exactly four hours from the time that we arrived until the time that we had our 5-minute interview. The officer (?) that we spoke to was very nice and helpful and even expedited the processing of our visas to work within our travel plans.

  • Note: The interviews are conducted in a relatively public setting with the applicants standing at a booth with a glass barrier between them and the agents. Although we were not intentionally eavesdropping it was not hard to hear some of the conversations. We saw several people have their visa applications denied and it was not hard to see why in some cases as they came there completely unprepared.

I am writing this post at 6:45 AM in the morning on Wednesday and we are to be at the airport at 11:00 AM. In between now and then we need to make another trip to the embassy to pick up our passports and, assuming they were actually approved, our visas. Getting in to the embassy is no small feat as they have pretty high security there. Hopefully the little note that the agent gave us will speed up that process.

As we had a day in between our interview at the embassy and our departure day, Rebecca and I set off to explore a bit by taking the public bus into Bridgetown to walk around. I specifically wanted to make it to the waterfront to see the one and only yacht anchorage that I had read about. Sure enough there were a number of yachts in the harbor and at least yesterday, they did not appear to be rolling around too badly. I understand that that can be an issue at other times. Perhaps one day we’ll sail here to really explore the island. At this point all we can say about Barbados is that every person who we’ve interacted with has been extremely friendly toward us.


  1. Hope you get the “clothed” feeling today!

  2. don’t feel too bad…the US embassy in London is the same…loads of glass fronted desks (like a bank..) and you can hear everything two or three away on each side.

    And I agree about preparation, preparation, preparation. When we went to the immigration building here in Long Island for my green card interview (I’m British and married a native…) I had a carry on suitcase full of documentation with duplicates of everything in case they needed to keep anything. I was in a suit and my wife in a business outfit. The guy in front of us was in jeans and had a roll of tatty papers in his back pocket.

    We had finished and the nice lady who did the interview took my passport up and had the temp stamp put and and gave it back to me right away. The other guy had been sent back and was on his phone trying to arrange for a lawyer to come and help him out

  3. We love Barbados. Some of the most beautiful and friendliest people we’ve met anywhere in the Caribbean. Did you have a flying fish sandwich?

  4. Do you yet know if it was necessary, advisable, or precautionary to get the visas? And will they prevent you going some places, eg Cuba in the future?

    Why was it necessary to go to Barbados for anything to do with USA? They have nothing to do with USA. I would have thought Charlotte Amelie would be more logical.

    Sorry if I am being thick, but I don’t understand.


    • Necessary!

      Cuba doesn’t care. Americans can even go there if they want. It is the US that cares.

      Why Barbados? That is the way it is. The embassies (Canadian and US) that look after all of the Caribbean are located there.

  5. Mike – It would not surprise me that every single one of those boats you eye-balled in Carlisle Bay were: A. on a mooring ball, and B. Barbados flagged. When we stayed in Carlisle Bay for 2.5 weeks in early April 2012, we were rocking day and night and there were exactly 5 foreign flagged visiting “yachts” in all of Barbados. You must have spied the anchorage during a pleasant period, without any swell coming in. We were very impressed with downtown Bridgetown, the inner canal system and the security.

    Just curious — did anybody ask you if you wanted a TAXI? We were asked nearly every 5 minutes that we were ashore!

    • I do remember your post on Barbados, Wade. Vividly.

      As for the taxi, yes, we were asked a thousand times. Politely, of course. I joked that I needed a T-shirt that said, no thank you, I do NOT need a taxi.

  6. Sounds almost like what happened to us in Ireland. We wanted to stay a year, and wanting to be all legal and above board, applied for an extended visa. Our friends said nooo. Now they will know where you are! 5 months in, knock @ the door and it was the police saying we’d been denied, give us your passports and we had 10 days to leave the country. When asked what could be done, the Gard replied “I guess you could go on the run”. It all worked out, with great effort on my wife’s part. But still, sometimes the urge to do the right thing gets us in trouble.

    So, good luck!

  7. So you needed a US Visa to work where ? USVI’s?

  8. I’ve always wondered why the boats traveling across the Atlantic don’t stop there first? Given what a beat it is to get back there once you are downwind…. A rolly anchorage?

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