Life at the Drill Hall
By Carlos Atwell | Fri, April 13, 2012 - 11:30 AM
The beach called the Drill Hall has been described as a dead area as people seem to have all but forgotten it.
Located behind the Barbados Defence Force’s St Ann’s Fort headquarters, the beach still holds sway with surfing enthusiasts who use it for training for the more treacherous surf on the eastern side of the island.
A National Conservation Commission (NCC) general worker and a ranger, who both requested anonymity, said more benches and more advertising were needed to make the beach popular again although activities tended to pick up a little on weekends.
However, when the Street Beat crew visited, there was a lot of activity on the beach, or at least around it – such as a Barbados Youth Service contingent doing a clean-up.
“This is part of a two-week community project,” said senior instructor Ricky Springer.
He said about 20 students collected more than 40 bags of refuse.
Also on the beach was Nick Donawa, who heads the Caribbean Surf Network. He had a group of children teaching them the basics.
“I really want them to get started with the foundations,” Donawa said. “These days, I find there is a lot of quarrelling in the water; people don’t have surf etiquette any more, but the social interaction is the real joy of surfing, not just competing and winning.”
Donawa said his school was mostly for intermediate level surfers to try and facilitate their “step up” to the competitive professional level.
“We have rich white boys and poor black boys. I tell them forget all that, we move as a team. We’re here every day because this is where the swells are.”
While not on the beach, the Ocean View Tennis Club was holding its Easter tennis camp close by.
Organizer and administrator Caroline Lopez said they had a proud tradition of teaching some of Barbados’ most talented tennis players.
“It’s an annual camp for all ages and levels. Most of the top coaches and players came through this club, such as Darian King [who recently competed in the Davis Cup] who passed through ten years ago,” she said.
In the 22 years since the club started, Lopez said she had seen a lot of change in tennis here.
“Tennis is more popular now. There are more benefits and more kids play it. When we started, there were smaller numbers than now,” she said.
Further along, at Needham’s Point, behind Hilton Barbados, a lifeguard was keeping a keen eye on a group of children with boogie boards in the water, despite several red flags posted on the beach.
He said the area could be dangerous but people, including tourists, did not always want to listen to reason.
“Sometimes, people give us a lot of stress and don’t want to pay us any mind. There are rip currents here, one which takes you to the rocks and one which takes you out to sea, and sometimes, there are big waves here too. Every other week, we have to rescue somebody,” he said.
The lifeguard, who requested anonymity, painted disturbing tales of a wave causing a man to collide with a woman who got cut on her head, and of another time when a wave knocked a woman’s head onto the sand below, resulting in her being unable to walk for a while.
As for the children frolicking before him, he said: “They are encouraged by their parents. They will only listen when something happens.”
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