Saturday, October 5, 2013


October 5th 2013

Position 10° 40.749’ N
             61° 37.899’ W

Chaguaramas, Trinidad

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Port of Spain, Trinidad
 It is Wednesday 11th September and our friends Bill & Ann Miller are returning to their boat Ann Louise in Trinidad today! I had mentioned before we have not seen Bill & Ann since we had to leave them behind in Culebra, Spanish Virgins in order to seek help with our broken generator, so this was an exciting day! Coincidentally, it so happened, that Crews Inn Marina, our home here in Chaguaramas, was holding a Managers cocktail party that evening. Perfect! We contacted Bill & Ann and suggested they met up with us at 17:30 so we could all go together, enjoy the cocktail party and then celebrate their return and catch up. The day was filled with boat chores, laundry, dusting and still putting things away which we had pulled out from their storage places for Anthony’s visit, extra pillows, sheets etc., Lavinia did most of this while I spent most of the day in the ‘holy place’ futzing around polishing fuel, cleaning racors, changing fuel filters and generally ‘inspecting’. I did find two hose clamps that had fatigued. All the important hoses attached to the through hull sea water feeds such as the ones to the engine, generator, water maker and air conditioning all have double hose clamps for security. Everything else looked good although I have ordered new mounting brackets for the main engine heat exchanger and also end gaskets and zincs. The zincs disintegrate and pieces of them collect in the ends of the heat exchanger which can restrict sea water flow. In other words I am in preventative maintenance mode getting ready to cruise again!

The anticipation of this lifestyle is exciting, just talking about the possibilities of where we can go next for a visit and to explore pricks the hairs up on the back of one’s neck! While we were together with Bill & Ann we discussed going to Tobago for a while, apparently people have told us it is like the Caribbean was 20 years ago, exciting! Many of our friends are in Tobago now, the ones that we met in Mayreau and Carriacou and those who don’t have insurance companies that require them to be below 10° 50’ N for the hurricane season i.e. Trinidad. Some have already sailed back to Grenada which provides good hurricane protection in the many clean clear water bays on its south coast. Grenada really is the cruisers favourite island for the hurricane season. We are looking forward to Tobago and Grenada and also catching up with cruising friends. You can’t imagine how exciting it is to cruise into a port, even a remote anchorage, and see a boat you know. In other words it is not only the travelling to places unknown, meeting the local people and sampling their culture which is our motivation it is also all about the great people we meet that make up the cruising community.

We paid our first visit to the Long Circular Mall and the Malabar Meat Store. Jesse James runs a
Very modern Cinema
Academy for the performing arts
Traffic jams!
The National Museum of Trinidad & Tobago

maxi (the name for a bus in Trinidad) every Tuesday to this mall which is very big and contains a True Value grocery store as well as all the shoe, clothes and electronic stores one would find in any Mall back in the US. We had not eaten so made our way to the food court for some breakfast. What we noticed was that the usual fast food restaurants we found in the Falls Mall at West Falls where we went last week like MacDonald’s and Burger King were absent, instead all the vendors were local franchises with only one exception, Subway. All the choices looked good especially the Indian food counters...I can eat Indian food any time of day. I remember when I was at sea, we had Goan stewards and a mix of Indian and Pakistani crew so enjoyed their food any time I wanted. Chapatti with ghee and strawberry jam for tea, yum!
September 19th. The past few days has seen many of our sailing boat cruising friends unexpectedly arriving here in Chaguaramas, ‘Out of Africa’, John & Jo, ‘Sealacious’, Steve & Jan also Doug & Meyka on ‘Banjo’. Unfortunately ‘Sealacious’ suffered a breakdown of their transmission and ‘Out of Africa’ accompanied them from Granada to Trinidad, after their successful sail down, ‘Out of Africa’ towed them through the Bocas into Chaguaramas harbour. Judy, a friend we met in St. Kitts, flew in from Tobago where her husband Sherman and their boat ‘Fairwinds’ is anchored. She is here on a visit to see her friend Meyka on ‘Banjo’. With this many cruisers who know each other all in one place a get-together is inevitable and sure enough last night John, ‘Out of Africa’ arranged a pot luck barbeque at Coral Cove marina so we could all get together and have fun. We took our friends Bill & Ann along to meet everyone and a good time was had by all.

The latest ‘chat’ is about a flotilla of boats heading further south to Guyana and Suriname, both these destinations are remote and unexplored; Guyana in particular is trying hard to encourage yachting in their country and is promoting the country in the hope cruisers will come. We discussed whether we should go and decided that this year is a little soon for us. I want to get a few more miles on our new day tank just to make absolutely sure we have reliability back in our propulsion system. Guyana and Suriname as I said before are both extremely remote and both require river transits in strong tidal conditions. Engine stoppages are not what would be needed here! It seems that every year there are one or two cruises planned for this trip so we will consider going next year. In the meantime we are making ready for our cruising season and replenishing the supplies we will need. Spare engine parts have been ordered from the US and will arrive in the next ten days which will enable me to finish the servicing in the ‘Holy Place’ and put us in a ‘go’ state. We are still exploring the refuelling options open to us including a trip to Venezuela where diesel is only US 4c per gallon; we could take on 500 gallons there costing US$20! The FM is not keen! The price to locals in Trinidad is US .91c per gallon but to visitors is US$4.54! Much black market fuel is available at the lower price and we will probably get some delivered, everyone seems to get it without consequence. The saving is too high to overlook. I will write more on this later.

Lavinia, Judy and Meyka went on a day trip to the Asa Wright Nature Centre, Judy is an avid birdwatcher and Trinidad is a unique place for seeing a huge variety of birds and other flora and fauna. The Asa Wright Centre was created over 38 years ago and has received much acclaim since. Please take a moment and check the link here you will be fascinated... there is a lodge where one can stay and it is our plan to spend two or three days here next year when we return for hurricane season. It is US$150 per night per person which includes accommodations in a beautiful room with three meals a day and tea in the afternoon served on the terrace which overlooks the jungle and rain forest. Doesn’t that sound relaxing and civilized? Credit for the bird pictures published here goes to Judy Sundin the Birder of the group!

Our aft deck view
Yesterday Sept. 20th we spent most of the day in the engine room
replacing the sound proofing material on our generator sound shield box. Back in Carriacou Jim from ‘Sweet Chariot’ had given us some insulation material which we glued in the panels which did cut down the noise considerably but not to the level proper sound proofing material does. Anyway, Budget Marine, here in Chaguaramas, happened to have proper sheets of sound proofing material so we bought two. It is not a difficult job; just a time consuming one and the removal of the old insulation material was the hardest part. Let me tell you, the 3M aerosol spray on glue works! Once off we cut all the pieces we needed for the panels and began to glue them on. It took four hours in the end which for us now is considered a full day’s work! The rest of the day, after clean-up, and a long cool shower was spent watching the Americas Cup racing on the television, having cocktails at 5 o’clock and then enjoying a lovely dinner al fresco under candle light on the ‘back porch’. Our aft deck is facing the coffee shop and restaurant complex here in Crews Inn so we have ‘life’ to watch across the marina canal as we relax.

A word on the difference between sub-tropical and a true tropical climate...the temperatures in the summer time are pretty much the same but the climate here is equatorial and hardly has any change, there is a wet and dry season however. When the sun is out one really feels the power, the feeling of burning is ever present and is apparent immediately one becomes exposed; the humidity is thicker and it is easy to see how the pace of movement must be slowed to avoid exhaustion. Frequent submersion is a daily requisite and enables a revival to continue activities. We are lucky as cruisers to be able to take a cool refreshing dip right off the back of our boats. One becomes used to the constant presence of sweat, yes, stickiness is your companion and quickly you realize that the dress code that you planned for when you packed your suit case is quite different. Here in Trinidad we are only 60 miles from the Orinoco river delta, one of the great rivers of the world and the third longest in South America, third only to the Amazon which runs from Peru, Columbia and finally through Brazil and the ParanĂ¡ which flows from Brazil through Paraguay and emerges as the Rio de la Plata in Argentina. The region is tropical and quite different from the eastern Caribbean Island chain, having lived in Florida for the past 33 years one tends to think that it is ‘tropical’ well it isn’t, here the same plants are bigger and more spectacular, the wild life is far more exotic and there is a feeling of being an intruder to natures prolific accomplishments. Nature as most people know it is larger than life here, the jungle is always close; as one drives through habitation, a small village or town, it is only a minute before one is back to being accompanied on each side of the road by the impenetrable undergrowth of the rain forest and jungle. Trinidad is developed and Port of Spain, the capital, is a sophisticated grand city with wide boulevards and distinctive architecture that one would associate with any other established historic city of the world. Civilization as we know it abounds, shopping malls, cinema complexes and the trappings of wealth are evident. For long now the nation of Trinidad and Tobago has prospered from natural resources which include oil, natural gas, pitch, coffee, sugar and most other agricultural cash crops which are fuelled by the equatorial climate. Trinidad is a Caribbean ‘heavyweight’ is an influential Caricom member and is certainly very important to the development of the Caribbean islands.

I have just risen from the edge of my chair where I have been ‘glued’ for the past two hours watching the America’s Cup finale, wow, unbelievable...the comeback of all time. I think that the odds one could have received two weeks ago against the American boat winning and retaining the cup would have been huge but they did it! This is one of the most exciting events I have watched in years...well done USA ‘Oracle’!

Lavinia and I have decided to return to Florida for annual medical checkups and a visit to friends and family, so we have reserved flights to go on the 29th October returning November 12th. We are in a great marina where we feel ‘Partners’ will be cared for in our absence plus the timing is right so the tickets are booked. Our friends Carol & John in Sarasota have kindly offered us a bed so we are all set. With the internet it is possible to do so much, and we have a good connection here, appointments have been made with doctors, dentists and arrangements to see family and friends are all planned. We will fly into Miami and stay with our youngest daughter Georgina for a couple of days so we can go to the Ft. Lauderdale boat show on the opening day, Thursday 31st before driving across to Sarasota. We are excited; we have a short list of ‘essentials’ that we will go shopping for while there, things which are hard to find in the Islands. We will have been away cruising for nine months, which incidentally seems like no time at all and already we are realizing how important it is not to waste time; life is too short and the opportunity for adventure is small so we intend to use our time well, packing in as much adventure, exploration and travel as we can before we fall apart with old age! Yes, there will come the time, sadly, when we physically can no longer continue with this dream. Hear me folks, get out there and make it ‘your time’ as soon as you can! Tempus fugit!

Ann at the Saturday Market
meeting a very excited vendor!
Yesterday four of us bought tickets for the government bus, a large single deck air conditioned nice bus, and ventured into the heart of Port of Spain and the Saturday farmers market. We set off at 7:30 AM to travel the 30 minute journey from Chaguaramas to Port of Spain costing TT$2 each way, the equivalent of US$0.32! Bill, Ann, Lavinia and I laden with our backpacks and insulated shopping bags were ready for this experience. The market, only held on Saturdays, is huge, I am guessing that it covers at least three acres and has a thousand vendors all with their own stall nicely laid out and set up with the produce they have. Most of the market is vegetables, but there is an indoor section where there is a fish and meat market too. One of the main undercover barns contains a vast selection of clothing vendors as well. I don’t think I can remember ever seeing such a large market and it was bustling. The vendors, unlike many places we have visited including America, were controlled and did not hassle you to buy their wares, instead they were friendly and all, say “Good Morning” as you approach, it was very welcoming and definitely made us feel relaxed and able to stop and ponder each vendors wares. We bought shrimp, tomatoes, watercress, avocados, fresh lettuce, potatoes, spring onions and much more. As a cruiser getting fresh produce is not always easy and in most of the islands the produce is not grown there but arrives by ferry which only comes occasionally, so here in Trinidad we are indulging! From the bus station to the market was probably a mile walk which was, with empty bags and backpacks, easy, the walk back was a different story, however! Because of our excitement at seeing the choice we bought too much of course. A few steps into the walk back I couldn’t help imagining having a camel of two to carry our load which would have been wonderful! We made it and all by 9:30! The bus was on time at 10:00 and we were on our way back to Chaguaramas arriving at 10:30. For lunch it was such a treat to have a fresh watercress, vegetable and citrus salad with a little fresh blue cheese sprinkled on the top, Um!

Yesterday Oct 30th HT gave me a hair trim, I sit on the dock, no hair on the boat, in one of our aft deck wooden folding chairs and she cuts away. Yesterday she forgot the razor to shave the hairs on the back of my neck and had to step back onboard to get it. What luck, the washing machine and dryer where going and the next thing I heard was “quick, we have a fire”! I rushed on board and the washer and dryer had stopped, I assumed there was a safety switch that had shut it down. The boat smelt of burning and was full of smoke, I immediately thought it was the dryer which had caught fire because of fluff which was blocking the exhaust flew and had backed up finding its way to the heating elements. I immediately went to work dismantling the exhaust pipes and cleaning them out. Once complete the moment of truth did the dryer still work? Lavinia turned on the circuit breaker and we winced as we turned on the worked just fine and because of the clean out I think it was working better. We resumed the completion of my haircut! Later in the day HT remembered that there was still washing in the machine and went to resume the cycle...oh dear, yes the burning smell was from the washing machine not the dryer! The washer was ‘dead’! We have had a problem with the washing machine; one of the stabilizer arms to the drum has broken so on the spin cycles it tends to wobble and bang! We decided to look for a Frigidaire dealer, the machine is a Frigidaire, so that if it is not worth repairing the same company can supply us with a new one; a project for today.
Tonight we have the sailing boat crowd coming onboard for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres which will be a blast. There will be eight of us, John & Jo from Out of Africa, Steve & Jan from Sealacious, Doug & Meyka from Banjo and us. We wanted to have a get-together before all of them trek off to Guyana and Suriname next week. We would love to be going with them and think we will do the passage next year.
Splendide Stackable Washer Dryer
Our investigation into the washer and dryer replacement turned out to be more difficult than just replacing the unit we have with a new one of the same. The latest version is now made by Whirlpool and is the same width and depth but is 5” good! Even with the services of a carpenter there is no possibility of gaining any height. We need something which is no taller than 65⅝” tall. We scoured the internet and after several days where the washer dryer replacement project dominated our thoughts and conversations, a decision has been made. We found that the new Splendide stacked washer and dryer units total a height of 65⅝” and should fit! The only minor problem is that the washer, which once installed, will be the lower of the two units, and will require the steps up to the salon from the lower companionway to be removed in order to load and unload the washing machine. Lavinia says she is okay with this. The steps are made to be removed and the operation is a simple one, they are just heavy and awkward so guess who is probably going to be involved in that operation? Our friends Bill and Ann used a company called Marine Warehouse to purchase and ship some items from the USA to Trinidad and the service, so they say, was hassle free and pleasant. Lavinia and I walked over to their office yesterday and talked with Fanny and the project is under way, we are just waiting to see if they can get the two units at a competitive price. The way Marine Warehouse work is they buy the items one needs and in that process make a little profit by buying at a discount and then they profit a little more from the freight charge. All in all though the prices supposedly are competitive and the big plus is the ease of the operation for us. The liability of a satisfactory delivery is all on them! We expect to hear back from Fanny in a day or two. If per chance they cannot help us, sometimes they cannot purchase the items at a price which makes sense for them and the customer, in this event we will just buy them ourselves and arrange shipping through a freight forwarder. 

October 3rd. Thursday is Pot Luck dinner night at Crew Inn. Every Thursday the resort provide a table and chairs, with table cloth, and also the charcoal for the barbeque pit, in fact they even light it and get the fire going! Eight of us from five different boats gathered for the get-together. The location, the breezeway by the bar in the hotel part of the complex is ideal as it is weather proof! The breezeway is just that, a tunnel through the main hotel building providing cover and we hoped a breeze. Cover we got although it didn’t rain, the breeze we didn’t get on this occasion! The evening was great and was filled with much food, constant conversation and concluded with an agreement to an encore next week.  
Port of Spain at night
You can see that there is plenty going on here in Trinidad and it is all too easy to get stuck here enjoying almost all the comforts of home. While at the dock we get a complimentary newspaper delivered and have the use of a gym, library, coffee shop, duty free wine and spirit store, a bakery plus a comprehensively stocked grocery store. You all are probably not that impressed...well, compare getting a small supply of grocery items and the whole operation taking 30 minutes here to a dinghy ride to either a rickety dock or a beach where one has to exert oneself pulling the dinghy up the beach so it doesn’t float away while you take the long walk to the grocery store in 90° heat! Counting the trip back to ones anchored boat this is an expedition which could take three hours or more. It is nice for a change to be in a marina but we are beginning to get ‘itchy feet’ and are talking about our cruising plans for November and beyond. We have already learnt that trying to plan too much and too far into the future is a waste of time as, because ‘Partners’ is our home and the fact that some of the places we visit we really like, affords us the option for us to stay put for a while. Usually a minimum of three months is granted by most immigration departments. You may remember me saying we liked Tyrell Bay in Carriacou and before we knew it we spent 7 weeks there! In other words because we have ‘Partners’ our little white ship and home, we can travel to and stay in places we like for a long time. It is just so exciting talking about all the places we are going to visit and the possibilities we are afforded by our choice of being cruisers. Just imagine looking through a travel brochure every day! 

This will be my last post from Trinidad this year, the next rendition will be from another island, either Tobago or Granada, you’ll have to wait and see...