Sunday, September 8, 2013

Leaving the Windward’s, Hello Trinidad!

August 27th 2013  

Position 10° 40.749’ N
             61° 37.899’ W 

Granada to Chaguaramas, Trinidad

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Our cruise from Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou to Prickly Bay, Grenada was one of those perfect events where weather, seas and mechanics all came together. Our new day tank was put to the test for the first time on a passage and performed as expected; Stonewall Jackson didn’t miss a beat! Then the weather performed as well with calm seas and virtually no wind. The 36 nm trip flew by, we trolled a line for most of the time but I guess the only disappointment of the day was that we were completely skunked. We left at 06:30 and arrived in Prickly at 12:30, an average of 6 knots. As we entered Prickly Bay Judy on ‘Fairwinds’ hailed us on the VHF, she had seen us enter the bay and coincidently they were upping their anchor to leave for Tobago so invited us to take their spot in the anchorage, which we did. Sherman was on the bow and we did get in a wave. It was sad to watch them leave as we had not seen them in 6 weeks and would have loved to have had a get-together; we will catch up, another time, another island. 
St. Georges, Grenada
Approaching Grenada
Once we were secure John from ‘Out of Africa’ popped over in his dinghy to welcome us to the bay and quickly brought us up to speed on the geography, i.e. where the dinghy dock was and the cruisers bars, most important, Budget Marine and the routine for getting to the grocery store. He invited us over for sundowners at 17:00. Steve and Jan from ‘Sealacious’, Jim and Tammy from ‘Sweet Chariot’, who followed us down from Carriacou, where all there too and as usual we all had a great time; time flies when you are having fun and we called it a day at 20:30. Before parting company we agree to meet up the next night at Prickly Bay Marina for dinner, and dancing as they had three different bands scheduled, oh, the cruising life... 

Friday 23rd. We ventured ashore with Jim and Tammy to the grocery store in Spice Island Mall and stopped on the way to browse Budget Marine. Low and behold while we were there John and Jen from ‘Aeeshah’ happened to be in the store so we had a quick chat and arranged to see them for dinner at Prickly Bay Marina that evening. The bus from Spice Island Marine took only 10 minutes and was EC$2.50 each. The IGA supermarket was exactly as one would expect in a large US town and had just about anything one wanted. We were low on everything so a dilemma arose of how much ‘stuff’ we could carry back to the bus and the boat which would provide the limitation of our haul. Everything to do with boating is a little harder, more walking and more carrying, one just doesn’t realize the convenience of driving a car to the store and driving it home. The hardest part is just unloading the car in ones garage and carrying the haul some feet to the kitchen. Boaters have to get the shopping to a bus or carry it on a long walk, then load all the bags and back packs into the dinghy and then drive the dinghy back to the boat which could be a mile or two away. Then lifting everything again out of the dinghy in a rolly anchorage onto the mother ship is another adventure requiring good timing as the dinghy rises and falls. In other words it is all a little harder on a boat! 

Dinner at Prickly Bay Marina with the crowd was great; we had a great curry and sat with John and Jen to catch up on their lives. The last time we saw them they were in Tyrrel Bay with their two delightful grand children onboard, Rhianna and Ethan who have now returned to their parents in Bermuda where they all live.  
Leaving Grenada
The coast of Trinidad
A whirlwind three days passed quickly and our short visit to Grenada was over. We had planned to leave at 16:00 on Monday 26th August which would give us an early morning arrival in Chaguaramas, Trinidad the next day Tuesday. Our weather window was excellent with hardly any wind and flat calm seas. Since we had left Florida back in February we had not had a more enjoyable calm cruise. The day tank again did its job and we successfully covered the 83 nm at an average speed of 6 knots without incident. We actually arrived a little early for the Customs and Immigration so slowed our speed at the end so as to be able to check in after 08:00 so we did not incur overtime fees! The approach to Trinidad is guarded by the Bocas, the dragons’ teeth as the islands are known, and we entered from the Caribbean Sea to the Gulf of Paria between Monos and the Diego Martin peninsula, a narrow channel but deep. Off to the east in the channel is Scotland Bay which we planned to visit during my son Anthony’s stay. Once in the Gulf of Paria a sharp turn to port revealed the complex of Chaguaramas.  

Pink Ibises
A Hummingbird
Green Parrot
Our view of the lighthouse from
our slip in Crews Inn
Chaguaramas is a busy port as well as a haven for yacht storage and repair. Our destination was at Crews Inn which is situated on the south perimeter. The majority of the working yards, Peake, Power Boats, Tropical Marine and Coral Cove are all on the north side. Crews Inn has a full service marina and hotel which is accompanied by a grocery store, swimming pool and several restaurants; a very nice facility. A short walk to the north side there are more restaurants and two large chandleries plus every marine facility, and business one could wish for. We checked in with customs and immigration which was a very pleasant experience and cost us a fee of TT$50! We made friends with the senior officer in the Customs department and on the following Saturday night, Trinidad’s Independence Day we were invited to their party. Riad, the officer we made friends with, was also being promoted to the main office a little further down the coast towards Port of Spain so it was a double celebration, it was a fun evening.  

I fast forwarded there for a moment as on Friday 30th my eldest son Anthony arrived for a vacation from his home in Jacksonville Florida. We met him at the airport and then drove the long drive back to Chaguaramas with our first exposure to Trinidadian traffic...terrible is the only word to describe it! There are just too many cars on the roads for the roads. Most main thoroughfares are just two lanes and with gasoline priced US$0.91 there is no restraint in usage. The fuel is heavily subsidized by the government and has been the same price for the last 20 years! For us cruisers the price is different and brings the cost to more than in the USA US$4.54 per gallon. As I mentioned before Saturday 31st is Trinidad’s Independence Day and we joined in the festivities during the day by hiring a taxi and guide to take us to Port of Spain and the pan yards. Pan yards are areas where steel bands congregate and play their music. Steel bands originated in Trinidad and this pastime is enjoyed by all the population and is taken very seriously.

One of many pan yards around Port of Spain
Seriously in as much as the bands vie for popularity and the fame and fortune which accompany it. Some of the pan bands have as many as 200 members and the remarkable thing is that all the musicians can play in sync, incredible. We joined in the fun and bumped shoulder to shoulder with the locals for two hours. At two o’clock we left the pan yard and walked to a local restaurant and sampled a roti, we all had shrimp and, believe you me, it was delicious. Sated for the journey home we boarded the taxi and drove back to ‘Partners’. We were hot, wet, it had rained hard and soaked us, and tired so just laid low for the rest of the afternoon before venturing out for some dinner and the visit to the Customs and Immigration departments party. A full day...

Anthony and his rented bike
Anthony is an off road cycling enthusiast so before arriving in Trinidad he had been in contact with several of the cycling clubs here and had researched many of the riding trails. Coincidently most of the good challenging trails were within a mile or two of Crews Inn, ‘Partners’ home here in Trini. Anthony was planning on bringing his own bike but due to expense and the inconvenience to transport it, endorsed by the inexpensive bicycle rental fees in Trinidad, he decided to rent when here. The plan turned out perfectly and he was able to ride many of the trails during his stay. His last day he rode to an observatory 1,700 ft up a very steep mountain, I was impressed! 

When we arrived here in Trinidad we were still fairly low on day to day provisions and with Anthony’s visit looming we listened to the cruisers net on channel 68 on Wednesday 28th August, our first day, so we could glean some information about where and how to shop. We quickly found out that Jesse James is the man, a local character who has made a reputation and living for years by providing excellent services to the cruising community. After the net we immediately contacted Jesse to arrange, first, a taxi to the airport so we could meet Anthony upon his arrival on Friday and then also signed up to join the shopping trip Jesse had set up for Friday to the Hi Lo supermarket and the Mall. Surprise, surprise Trinidad is just like the US, MacDonald’s, Burger King, KFC they’re all here and the stores are just like home, the prices are just less. Trinidad manufactures and supplies much of its own food and produce so the brands we are familiar with are supplemented with the local Trinidadian ones, the choice is huge. We stocked up ready for the hungry sons visit! 
Cruising the Gulf of Paria
Oil and gas well drilling ship
This is what you call rain!
Anthony swimming in Scotland Bay
It is now September 7th and Anthony left us this morning at the crack of dawn to catch his flight back to Orlando, FL. We had a packed week and managed to fit in a two day cruise around the Bocas passing within six miles of the Venezuelan coast as we ventured out into the Caribbean Sea to do a little fishing. We also anchored for one afternoon and night in Scotland Bay which is protected from weather on all sides with the bonus of wonderful and spectacular scenery. Unfortunately, true to form, we tell it as it is, the beach area at the head of the bay plus all the other coves and beaches in the vicinity that we explored in our dinghy, were disgusting. The floating trash and

Scotland Bay
discarded rubbish just spoiled the experience and we will probably not revisit. We are hoping that the government will sponsor a clean-up and a campaign to educate the population so as to improve the garbage disposal habits of the people. We have never seen a country which has a worse problem than here. Scotland Bay is the local playground and at the weekends the locals visit in numbers. There are no facilities what so ever in Scotland Bay so a start would be to arrange some trash cans and an emptying schedule of same. For an oil rich country this would not be too much to ask we feel.

The techno for this post is the RO pump and the anchor light repair. The anchor light is a quick rant. While we were in Scotland Bay for the night I turned on the anchor light, you guessed it, nothing. Well, this morning I climbed the mast to find the bulb laying, disconnected from the socket, the light assembly is an Aqua Signal Series 40. Considering that the light is an expensive one I feel that the socket could be of a little heavier build. The socket is flimsy and I had to bend the contacts to hold the bulb in the socket so it would not vibrate loose which is obviously what happened before. 

The RO pump is the other rant. When we bought ‘Partners’ she had just had new fuel tanks installed which had entailed the dismantling of many of the systems in the engine room to be able to reach the outboard sections of the hull where the fuel tanks are located. One system which was removed was the water maker. Once our purchase of ‘Partners’ was complete I asked Sailcraft Service, in Oriental, NC, to reinstall the water maker and test it. FOJ (First Officer John) and I tried to make water during our return to Sarasota and were unable to get the system going. A long story, after much time and effort, John worked tirelessly and finally we got the water maker going. Fast forward to Carriacou, Granada last month, the RO pump began to leak oil and water! Here in Trinidad we met Chris who used to work for Echo Marine the big water maker people here in Chaguaramas, Chris quickly informed me that the red transportation cap, ensuring no oil leaks from the pump during transportation, had not been replaced with the orange cap which allows the pump to ‘breathe’ i.e. allows the pressure build up to escape as the pump is in operation. Because of the wrong cap the pressure had ruined the seals in the pump and that is why it had developed the leaks. I am not the expert here but want all of you reading this to be aware that when you employ someone who purports to be an expert ask them how many systems they have worked on. Sailcraft is a sailing boat yard and very few sailing boats have water makers, enough said! Within a couple of hours and US$200 later we had a rebuilt fully operational pump. The outstanding thing here was not only the great service Chris provided but was also that in its rebuilt state the RO pump was now making 37.5 gallons of beautiful RO water and hour or 900 gallons per day. We were happy with the 21 gallons an hour the pump was making before it started to leak, the equivalent of 500 gallons per day. Soooo, thanks to Chris we have discovered we have a 900 not a 500 gallon per day water maker and we didn’t know it! 

We have settled in to Crews Inn, home for ‘Partners’ while we are in Trinidad. Now Anthony has departed and we are alone again we will begin our exploration of this big island. Lavinia is all excited to go to the movies; yes they have a movie theatre! There is also an Apple Store so I am hoping to get my iPhone repaired after its dunking in Tyrrel Bay! 

September 8th. Yesterday Bill Miller of ‘Ann Louise’ ( contacted me to say he and Ann would be arriving back in Chaguaramas on the 11th. Their boat, a 48’ Kadey Krogen is on the hard being stored in Peake Yachting Services while they returned back to their home in South Carolina, USA for the summer. We are looking forward to our cruising buddies return and can already taste the celebratory beer! We have not seen Bill and Ann since they continued on their journey to Trinidad from Culebra, Puerto Rico where we started to suffer from a series of mechanical and electrical failures which prohibited us from accompanying them south. 

'Ann Louise'

'Partners' & 'Ann Louise'
More to come from Trini soon...