Journal 1 -
Gibraltar to Canary Islands
Journal 2 - Across the Atlantic
Journal 3 - Barbados to Canouan
Journal 4 - Tobago
Cays to Trinidad
Journal 5 - Trinidad to
28 February 2006/Tuesday/Coral Cove Marina,
James' Members Only maxi taxis and coaster buses were here to pick us up at
0730 this morning. One group had already been picked up at 0700 and
delivered to the Queens Park Savanna venue. They sat in seats in a shaded
area. We chose to go with the "street group". Sharon and Jesse said they
thought we would be able to get better candid photos there. The buses
dropped us off and we walked two blocks to Aripita Avenue, Adam Smith
Square. This was the site of one of five judging points for the parade.
Today, all the bands/groups of people were to be in their formation wearing
their entire costume. Each group has to pass by all five judging points, so
they started 3-4 bands at each judging point. In effect, there was a huge
route that ended for everyone at the Queens Park Savanna.
We were literally on the sidewalk near a judging
point. This was a safe area to be in because each judging point was staffed
by many policemen and policewomen. Dave, David, Sarah, and I picked a spot
where we would meet if we got separated. There were thousands of people
lining the street. I spent most of the day standing on the sidewalk, "limin'"
(hanging out) with Diana from ZEPHYRUS. Dave, David, and Sarah were off in
the crowd and in the street taking photos and video.
Each band/group would stop in front of the judges and
do a presentation or portrayal (the word the locals use). The big trucks
with huge speakers would be blaring out music. The band/group members "jump
up" (jumping and dancing to the music) and do basic routines led by someone
at the head of their section. Some of the people were "winin' ",(rolling
their hips from side to side with the beat of the music). The judges noted
which of the five competing songs was being played. The winning song was the
one we heard played most often. We were wearing ear plugs. The music was so
loud that when the truck went by us,we could feel the bass notes vibrating
in our chests. We couldn't understand all the words, but there was a lot of
rhyming of "Carnival", "bacchanal", and "festival". We heard the five songs
so much during the day that we are still humming the tunes! Our favorite
song of the bunch won. Each band/group had music trucks and booze trucks
with people dispensing alcoholic drinks, non-alcoholic drinks, juices, and
water. Security men walked around the bands/groups.
Once past the judges, the bands/groups were passing
where we were standing. The participants didn't always keep jumpin' up or
winin' with quite so much enthusiasm as they showed in front of the judges,
but the crowd was "jumpin' up" and clapping their hands, so the different
sections of the bands/groups still were doing a lot of moving. There were
anywhere from a few hundred people to several thousand people in a
band/group. Different sections had different costumes that all hinged on a
main theme. "The Might Of The Roman Empire" was the theme for the band/group
that won. One of the guards here at Coral Cove, Winston, was in that band
and he is very proud of the portrayal of Roman times and people they gave.
He told us how hard they worked studying ancient Rome so they could make
their costumes as authentic as possible. The people who pulled huge
masquerade/costume structures were allowed to have help moving down the
street. In competition on the stage, they had to move the structure by
Speaking of guards at Coral Cove, their presence is
why we wanted to be in a marina during Carnival. The marina has
round-the-clock security guards on duty. We wanted EXIT ONLY in a place
where we knew she would be safe. There seems to be a lot of robbery during
Carnival time on the island, because so many tourists are out enjoying the
activities and their lodgings are left empty. As far as we know, there were
no problems in marinas at Chaguaramas.
stayed downtown until 1600. We were able to buy cool drinks from vendors on
the sidewalk and from local restaurants on that street. I took some food
from home, so we could eat when we got hungry. They did have bleachers you
could pay to sit down on, but we were having so much fun on the street, we
didn't want to go sit down. Toward the late afternoon, people on the street
were allowed to blend in with the costumed bands/groups as they "chipped"
(walked with a dance step to the beat of the music) down the street. Dave,
Sarah, and I "chipped" along with a couple of bands/groups so David could
get us in the video shot of the parade.
What fun! We had a great time, but when 1600 came, we
were ready to go home. It was a long day out in the hot sun, but we would do
it again in a minute. My favorite things about Carnival are: 1) This is the
real thing, not a "tourist event". You are welcome to come and watch or
participate, but they would be having Carnival whether tourists came or not.
This is their "thing" and Port of Spain, Trinidad is very proud of having
the best Carnival in the Caribbean. 2) All ages are included. You can be 8
or 80 and walk in a band/group, play a pan/steel drum, dress up in a
costume, etc. It is for everyone. The man who pulled the winning King of
Carnival masquarade/costume, "The Might of the Roman Empire" is
67-years-old. Quite a big deal was made of his age whenever this man was
David is getting ready to put up photo galleries of
Carnival on the website. He will be doing a big upload before we leave
Trinidad to head north. We think these are some of the best photos we have
taken on the trip. We will let you know when he does the upload, so you can
see the colors, the people, and the spectacle that is Carnival!
27 February 2006/Monday/Coral Cove Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
getting in late last night (really, early this morning) and talking to David
and Sarah a short while, it was early morning when we finally got to bed.
While we were going to sleep, many of the cruisers were donning costumes and
gathering at the gazebo on the shore at the end of our dock. These folks had
paid money to "play Jouvet". The word "Jouvet" means "daybreak" or "day
opening". It is the official beginning of Carnival at 0400 on Carnival
Monday. Some of the participants will be dressed as creatures of the
night...bats and devils. Jesse James' Members Only picked up people at 0200
to go into Port of Spain to join Trevor Wallaces' band (group of marching,
walking people). The participants paid a fee that included a sailor
costume...shorts, t-shirt, hat, and scarf. At the band camp (each group has
their own gathering area), they were served a big breakfast of hot dogs,
rotis, doubles (a local bread and filling like a fried sandwich), and rum
punch. They were given a clay-mud mixture to use to decorate their face,
arms, and legs. The Jouvet parade began at 0400 and lasted until 0800. Each
band provided security men to protect their "players" and to make sure no
one got too carried away with celebrating. The groups wended their way
through Port of Spain and tried to put some paint, oil, or clay-mud mix on
anyone they saw in the street or watching from the side of the street who
was not already "decorated".
We opted to skip "playing Jouvet". It sounded pretty
wild and the idea of being out until 0100 to see the Dimanche Gras, then
leaving at 0200 to "play Jouvert" didn't sound like something we would
enjoy. The people who did go told us afterwards they had a great time. The
police turned out along the parade route in big numbers and there were
security men walking on the perimeter of each band/group. We read in the
newspaper today that several incidents occurred at some of the Jouvet
activities in other parts of the island. The newspaper reported that if the
police saw a troublemaker in the parade, that person was removed from the
scene. There is a lot of gang violence and there are many kidnappings on
this island. Most of the killings and attacks seem to be people seeking
revenge for past killings and attacks. We did not hear of any cruisers
having any problems "playing Jouvet".
Things were pretty quiet around the marinas today.
Those who slept part of the night were ready for a quiet day and a little
rest and relaxation felt good. Those who "played Jouvert" came home around
0900 and went to sleep. The maxi-taxi and coaster drivers would not let the
people covered with mud, clay, and oil get in their taxis until they covered
themselves with large garbage bags. They were told to bring the garbage bags
with them or they would not be allowed in the vehicles. The marinas told
everyone they had to hose off outside. They were not to get in the showers
and try to wash the mud, clay, and oil off.
Most of the shops and restaurants were closed today.
This is sort of a national holiday in Trinidad and Tobago. Even if shop
owners wanted to stay open, there was so much traffic that it would take
extra time to get from one place to another. The recommendation from Jesse
James' Members Only was this was a good day to stay home. We did just that
and had a leisurely lunch on the boat. Tomorrow is the big, final Carnival
Parade of Bands and we are all looking forward to going downtown to see
26 February 2006/Sunday/Coral Cove Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
got a late start on this day after coming in late last night. We had another
late night tonight. Dave and I went to Dimanche Gras. This is the final
competition to choose the King and Queen of Carnival 2006.
David went out to the airport at 1900 to meet Sarah's
plane at 2030. Sarah works 4 days, then is off 4 days, so she managed to
work in a quick trip to Trinidad to see David and see a little of the
Around 1730 this afternoon, Jesse James' Members Only
Tours picked everyone up at the marina where they are staying or where they
leave their dinghy if they are anchored out. Dave and I were picked up with
the group at Coral Cove Marina where we are staying in a slip. Off we went
in a large coaster bus to the Queen's Park Savanna. This is the same
location where we watched other events. Jesse James and his wife, Sharon
Rose, have a trips and tours company that basically deals with the cruisers
who come and go in Chaguaramas. They have a small office located in the
Tropical Marina office building and they tell about their trips and tours on
the cruisers net at 0800 daily on VHF 68. This is handy for us, because it
is located next to Coral Cove. First of all, Jesse and Sharon Rose are just
plain nice people, but after that, the cruisers really like to go places
with Jesse because he takes care of us. He tells us if something is
dangerous or not a good idea. He takes us to places that serve good local
food that we can eat without getting sick. He takes us to places that are
safe, he watches over the group to make sure it stays safe, and he doesn't
leave unless everyone who came with him and his drivers is accounted for.
There is no way we would have been out half the night in Port of Spain,
Trinidad, if we weren't with Jesse and his drivers. The drivers who work
with/for Jesse are also nice guys.
Gras is the Grand Finale of all the seasons's competitive shows. There have
already been semi-final rounds for the King and Queen of the Bands (meaning
the large, elaborate King and Queen costumes that lead the band of people or
group of costumed people in the parade next Tuesday). Tonight, the 10
finalists for King and Queen competed for the last time. The single winner
that was chosen tonight is the official King of the Bands and Queen of the
Bands for Carnival 2006. There were other final round contests tonight
including the Calypso Monarch Contest. Calypso is a type of music that is
near and dear to Trinidad and Tobago hearts. They say this art form defines
who they are because the words that are written to each song are a social or
political commentary about the world as they see it today. Some of the
popular topics were subjects like "fighting crime", "raising kids right",
and "the government--what it should be doing", etc. New, appropriate lyrics
are carefully crafted for each round of the competition. Verses to the songs
are changed or amended to draw the attention and praise of the crowd and the
judges. Most of the songs are sung in the local English patois, so I must
admit I understood about 50% of the words that were sung. It was obvious
when the crowd approved of the words, because there would be a big shout and
clapping from everyone around us.
We also hear the winners of the Panorama competition
that we attended last night play again tonight. We heard big bands, medium
bands, and small bands play. The size designation is based on how many drums
and people are in the pan band. The "pans" or "steel pans" are the steel
drums that are organized into "pan bands". A Pan band plays music on steel
pans/drums and is a musical band. Another kind of band is the one that
dresses alike to portray a theme. This is a group of people marching in the
street in the Parade of Bands next Tuesday. This will be the big street
parade of Carnival 2006. The Ex-Tempo champions sang tonight. These singers
are given a subject, then within seconds must sing an impromptu song about
the subject. The songs and their delivery are judged. The Junior Calypso
Monarch was 15-year-old. He sang his winning calypso song.
We left before the show ended because it was 0030 and
our buses were there to pick us up. We had seen and heard the most important
events of the evening and we were ready to go home. David and Sarah were at
the boat when we arrived at Coral Cove. David had gone to the airport at
1900 with a driver to meet Sarah's plane at 2030. Sarah brought a copy of
the 26 February 2006 Lexington Herald Newspaper with her. Karla Ward, a
reporter for the Herald, had written a large article about us and our trip.
There were photos and text on at least three pages of the Lifestyle section.
It was a very nice article and the photos brought back many memories.
25 February 2006/Saturday/Coral Cove Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
haven't been going to Carnival activities for a few days now, but tonight we
went to the Panorama Finals. With several Carnival activities coming up in
the next few days, today was a busy day doing boat jobs.
Coral Cove Marina has a laundry room with three
washers and three dryers, so I was able to get a couple of loads of laundry
done mid-day. There are a lot of people here using the laundry, but it was
easy to find a time when the washers and dryers were available. The office
sells tokens that fit in the machines.
Pick-up time for the Panorama Finals was at 1730. We
were taken down to Queen's Park Savannah to the shaded, open-air stage where
we saw the Kiddie Carnival. Steel drums are called "pans" and a group of
steel drums playing music is called a "steel band". The final competition
between steel bands playing music is called "Panorama". The winner of
Panorama will be the "Best Steel Band of 2006 Carnival". There have already
been many preliminary competitions among the steel bands in the past months.
The preliminary winners went to the semi-finals, and now the best of the
best competed on stage competed on stage tonight in the finals.
We learned a lot about steel pans and bands today. We
learned there are small, medium, and large bands depending on how many
people play in the steel band and how many steel pans are used. We learned
that there are "single pan bands". "Single pan" means each person in the
band only plays one pan/steel drum. Many of the bands have some people
playing one pan, and others playing 2-6 pans, depending on what section
(tenor, bass, etc.) of the band they are in. We also quickly learned to wear
ear plugs when the bands are playing. We like the music, but the bands play
very loudly. We are still wondering how the people in the band keep from
losing their hearing.
of the steel pans are mounted on rolling platforms with welded holders for
the steel pans/drums. These platforms are probably ten feet wide and 15 feet
long with a trailer hitch at one end. These rolling platforms holding
pans/drums are put on big trucks to move them through the streets from one
place to another. Once at the destination, the platforms are taken off the
truck and rolled up a huge ramp to the stage. A few of the single pans/drums
are carried onto the stage along with a small welded holder. These
pans/drums are set on the holders while the platforms are being rolled into
position. It took some time for one steel band to roll off the stage on one
end and the next competing band to roll onto the stage from the other end.
We actually could hear a difference in how some of the
bands sounded. We could also see by the looks on their faces that some of
the bands were more relaxed than others. We noted which bands we liked the
best and it will be interesting to see if we picked some winners. Jesse
James' maxi taxis were there to pick us up and take us back to the boat at
0030. Our ears were still ringing as we went to sleep.
24 February 2006/Friday/Coral Cove Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
I went on the 0900 Hi Lo Supermarket Members Only trip this morning. This
trip brought back so many memories of riding the shopping buses at KKESH in
Riyadh, although the preparations here are a little more involved. The
yachties arrive at the bus with "grocery gear". They have folded-up woven
plastic bags for carrying things, canvas bags with sturdy handles for
carrying things, and thermal bags for putting cold products inside. Three
maxi taxis with 22 passengers headed for the big Hi Lo next to West Mall.
After shopping and filling all those shopping bags,
each person wrote the name of their boat and the name of the marina where
they want to their groceries to be delivered on every bag. There are lots of
marinas in Chaguaramas: Trinidad Tobago Yacht Club, Trinidad Tobago Sailing
Association, Crews Inn, Tropical Marine, Coral Cove, Tardieu, Hummingbird,
Calypso, Skinners, , Power Boats (which mostly caters to sail boats now),
William Marine, Peakes Marine, Mariners Haven, and I.M.S. There are hundreds
of boats in the water and out of the water on the hard. Some boats are
hauled out doing work and some are in long-term storage. The boats that are
anchored out in the bay have their groceries dropped off at the marina where
they tied up their dinghy.
Trinidad is a good place to buy groceries. The prices
are the cheapest we have seen in a long time. The variety of available goods
is excellent. They produce a lot of food products here in Trinidad, plus
they import products from the States and Canada. There are a lot of fresh
fruits and vegetables grown here on the island and they also import good
quality fruits and vegetables that are not grown here from South America,
Central America, the States, and Canada. Food is very easy to find,
purchase, and transport to the boat. I am trying hard to buy food as we use
it instead of filling all the nooks and crannies with supplies again. This
is a hard habit to break. I see an empty space on the shelf and think I
should fill it. That is what we did for so long in many places.
Dave has been making his way around the marine
chandleries and shops seeing what is available. There are many boat parts
and pieces available here, but the taxes and VAT added to the cost make some
things quite pricey. We won't be buying any big ticket items here. Dave has
also talked to several sail makers about re-cutting our mainsail and
replacing the protective strip on our foresail. A couple of the lofts are so
busy, they don't want to take any small jobs right now. Soca Sails, at Crews
Inn, showed interest in doing the job. They came by in the afternoon and
took the mainsail with them to their loft. Dave is having the roach on the
sail reduced (the fullness) and wants batten pockets put on so we can use
the battens from the old mainsail. We have been running without battens
since Mallorca and the sail doesn't hold its shape in the wind nearly as
well as when the battens are in place. Soca Sails is going to try to
continue working through Carnival, but they said if they need any supplies,
the Carnival traffic almost will make it impossible to move around. Then, if
they are able to drive somewhere, the supplier may not be open, because so
many people take a holiday and close-up for several days through the
23 February 2006/Thursday/Coral Cove Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
First thing this morning before it got hot, Dave and David cleaned out the
cockpit and washed everything down. The boat is looking better everyday. We
are located in the second slip from the shore, so we could easily see people
setting up the book swap at 0930 on the tables under the shade cover. The
marina calls this "the gazebo". It is a small shaded area with tables and
chairs next to a small swimming pool. Lots of people from all the marinas in
the area brought books to swap. Diana and Harold from ZEPHYRUS were there,
so we got to talk to them and catch up.
After a lazy morning for me, I pitched in and did
something for the good of the boat. I got tokens from the marina office and
did two loads of laundry. There are three washers and three dryers in the
laundry room. It is just a few steps from the boat to the laundry room, so
it is handy and of course, so much easier to use the machines than do the
laundry by hand.
We ordered pizza for lunch again today. It is really
good pizza and eaten with a fresh salad makes one of our favorite meals.
Sitting in the cockpit, we can see the marina pool and gazebo, plus the
Coral Cove boat yard on one side of us, and look across the water to see
Crew's Inn Marina. Behind our boat is the local fishing pier where the
medium-size fishing boats come in between runs. We have seen boats from
Trinidad, Martinique, Venezuela, and Korea.
Dave walked down the road checking out the many
chandleries located in the area. There are quite a few marine stores here to
From 1700 to 1900, Coral Cove Marina sponsored a
Carnival Soiree (their word) around the pool for all the marina workers and
guests. They had cold drinks and finger food. East Indian-type rotis and
Chinese steamed buns are very popular here, so that is what they served. We
are starting to see the same people around the marina and on the maxi-taxi
trips, so we are getting acquainted. There are a lot of USA boats here, but
there are more European boats. We had no idea so many people from the Med
came across the Atlantic, spent time in the Caribbean, then will go back
across the Atlantic.
22 February 2006/Wednesday/Coral Cove Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
hooked up the hose to the fresh water on the dock this morning and gave EXIT
ONLY a good wash. There are so many pretty, shiny boats here. Many of them
are fresh from the boat yard and have new paint and varnish on them. Someone
told me these pretty boats are called "marina queens". Here we come from
across the sea looking rough and tough, and not particularly pretty. We are
very pleased with EXIT ONLY's performance as she took us across many seas,
but we owe it to her to clean her up a tad, so that is a high priority for
us while we are in the marina. Dave has a "to do" list for us to do and a
"to do list" for some of the marine shops in the area.
We ordered pizza from Joe's Pizza, conveniently
located at Coral Cove Marina. We heard the pizza was good and we heartily
agree. I made a salad while Dave went to Joe's and ordered a pizza to go.
Twenty minutes later, he walked for three minutes from the boat to pick up
the pizza. What can I say? A marina with good pizza is about as good as it
David and I decided to go in to Port of Spain after
lunch. I suppose everyone does this...once. Now, we know that it is a much
better idea to go into town in the morning and return to Chaguaramas in the
early afternoon before the school kids get out of school and the office
workers get off at 1600. Since we didn't know all of this when we went to
town, we did our errands, then showed up at the maxi taxi stand to go back
to the boat. We were shocked to see hundreds of people there milling around
waiting for maxi taxis. We could see there was no line to stand in. Everyone
sort of grouped around the place where the maxi taxis usually stop to fill
up before leaving to head northwest. We watched many people start moving
quickly to th end of the short pavement where the maxi taxis were arriving
and letting passengers out. These folks were jumping in the maxi taxi right
there, so they came by us already full. We stood where the maxi taxis stop
if they keep moving. After four came through, the fifth one stopped right in
front of me. I was the first person in, David the second. It is everyone for
themself! We vowed then and there we would never come to Port of Spain in
the afternoon again.
On the way back to Chaguaramas, we passed two sites
where huge stages are being built in preparation for big shows connected
with Carnival. The speakers were stacked so high, we knew the volume level
is going to be unbelievably loud. We will probably be able to hear the music
at the marina, far away.
21 February 2006/Tuesday/Chaguaramas, Trinidad
We woke up to an overcast day today. It rained off and on. The wind was
blowing lightly, but it kept coming from one direction, then another.
Chaguaramas Bay anchorage is one of the most difficult anchorages we have
ever been in. There are two high tides and two low tides every day. The
currents are very strong, so when the wind is blowing one way and the
current is going another way, the boats all react differently. In most
anchorages, all the boats swing together in basically the same direction at
the same time. Here, when they don't swing together, this can mean boats
that haven't anchored with enough space around them to swing, may (and DO!)
hit each other. There are too many dramas like this out here. We had a boat
come out by us this morning and anchor too close to us. When we ask them to
move farther away, the man refused to leave, even though their boat was
moving closer to us as we talked. Unfortunately, this meant we had to have
someone on board our boat to watch the boats, because the two people on that
boat both got in their dinghy and went to shore. Fortunately,this unpleasant
interaction was limited, because we went into Coral Cove Marina in the
Dave stayed on the boat while David took me to shore
to go to the pick-up point at Coral Cove Marina. On Tuesdays, Jesse James'
Members Only Maxi Taxi takes people to Long Circular Mall on a shopping run.
I thought I would go along and check it out. It was pouring rain by the time
we arrived at the mall. There were two maxi taxis full of cruisers. I saw
Diana from ZEPHYRUS in the other bus. They are on a mooring at Trinidad
Tobago Sailing Association. We knew each other was here, but hadn't seen
each other yet. We last saw each other in Barbados, so it was good to
I didn't really go on the trip to shop. I wanted to
look at the Long Circular Mall, which is actually a four-story high square
building. Go figure! Chris, from England on REVERIE, was also just looking,
so we walked around and checked things out. We found a Rituals Coffee Shop
and had Vanilla Frappes. After that, we went into True Value, the grocery
store attached to the mall. It, also, was square. I didn't buy anything, but
the store was well-stocked. It was still pouring rain when we all loaded up
into the maxi taxis to go to the Malabar Meat Shop, the next stop. This
shopping trip is free to cruisers, because the grocery store and meat store
pay the drivers to bring us to their stores. If you buy more groceries than
you can carry, you pay the driver $5 TT ($.90 US) to deliver your groceries
to the dock at the marina you write on your grocery bags. Everyone carries a
permanent marker to mark their grocery bags.
We ate lunch on the boat, then at 1400, we moved into
a slip at the marina. At 1430 I was taking a hot shower! We really do not
mind anchoring out, but we decided being in a marina for Carnival would be a
good idea. The marina has round-the-clock security guards. The Carnival
activities sometimes will go late into the night and we would rather not be
running around in the dinghy in the middle of the night. We won't have to
deal with boats anchoring too close to us. Sarah will be coming to visit and
it will be convenient for four people to come and go from the boat if we
don't have to use the dinghy. We have to have some repairs made to our
mainsail and foresail, so it will be easier to get someone to come take the
sails off the boat if we are at a dock. There are lots of good reasons to be
in the marina right now, so we are going to enjoy it while we are here!
20 February 2006/Monday/Chaguaramas, Trinidad
First thing this morning David and I went to the Members' Only (trips and
tours) to finalize the arrangements we made for tours in the coming week.
David gave them the details for the airport runs to pick up and deliver
Sarah to the airport when she comes next week.
Dave dropped us off at Coral Cove Marina dinghy dock.
David and I went out to the main road and caught a maxi taxi to town. It is
easy to catch a ride because so many maxi taxis run along the road all day
long. We rode all the way to the maxi taxi stand downtown. From there we
walked about two blocks to get to the main downtown area. Port of Spain did
not have many tourists in it when we were there. Cruise ships do come here
occasionally, but this town certainly does not look or feel like a big
We looked around and easily found the three main
streets...Frederick, Henry, and Charlotte. The cruising guides and tourist
guides advise visitors to stay on these three streets and not to move
farther east. That was fine with us. We walked through several "malls". That
meant we walked inside large store areas that were divided into small suq-like
shops with wide aisles between them. They have a Starbuck's copy cat shop
called Rituals. The vanilla frappe tastes the same at Rituals and costs half
as much! We ate panini sandwiches at Rituals for lunch, then headed back to
the maxi-taxi stand to find a ride to Chaguaramas. All of the maxi-taxis
going north are white with a wide yellow stripe going around them. The
drivers and people waiting for a ride were very helpful when we wanted to
make sure we were getting on the right taxi. It costs us $5 TT or $.90 US to
ride all the way, maybe 10 miles that usually takes about 40 minutes.
We called Dave on the radio to come pick us up at the
dinghy dock. Before going out to the boat in the anchorage, we stopped by
the HiLo Grocery that is located right on the water by Crew's Inn Marina.
There is a dock right by the store, so it is a few steps from buying
groceries to having them in the dinghy. This store sells mostly to cruisers,
so they have items that aren't usually found in the grocery stores where
mostly locals shop. As I said, things are really handy here in Chaguaramas.
Dave talked to Coral Cove Marina office today and they
said we could move into a slip in the marina tomorrow. That is one day
earlier than we expected to move in. This will be our first marina slip
since Marmaris, Turkey. We are looking forward to hooking up to fresh water
so we can give everything a good rinse off.
19 February 2006/Sunday/Chaguaramas, Trinidad
After getting back to the boat after midnight last night, the morning seemed
to come very early this morning. Today we signed up to go to Viey La Cou. "Viey
La Cou" is patois for "Old Yard". Everyone kept saying this is the old style
Carnival, like it used to be. The brochure describes this event as a street
fair that was started up by theater folk so the finest theatrical practices
would be kept alive.
The tour bus picked us up at 1200 and carried us to
the Boy Scout Campgrounds. A large grassy area was lined by wooden board
bleachers on one side and small booths with striped tarps on the other side.
The booths were selling souvenirs, handcrafts, and local food and cold
drinks. The organizers were still nailing the board seats in place when our
buses arrived. We got seats in the front row of the bleachers right next to
the covered area set up for the Prime Minister and his entourage to view the
activities. After the Prime Minister came and left, we moved into those
chairs in the shade.
parade of characters made its way one group at a time from one end of the
grass area to the other, then returned the same way.
1) We heard the Minstrels, based on the American
minstrel shows, singing popular songs of the day as well as songs written
to comment on what was going on in the country at that time.
2) There was an exaggerated lady named Dame Lorraine.
This character is based on the French planters who lived here in the early
19th century. The costumes and dances were done to portray daily life of the
We saw the Jab Jab. These characters were dressed in satin knickers and
shirt and decorated with bells. Each Jab Jab, or Devil, carried a whip of
plaited hemp. The grown-up Jab Jabs put on quite a display of cracking
whips. A couple of the younger Jab Jabs also did whip cracking, but it was a
little frightening as we weren't sure how well trained they really were.
There were no problems, but those of us in the front row seats were glad
when the ship cracking was over.
4) The Moko Jumbie, the stilt walker, is a character
out of African tradition. "Moko" is a god in Africa and "Jumbie" means
"ghost". The Moko traditionally would collect money from people watching the
parade from upper story balconies.
5) The Fancy Indians were based on the Native American
Indians. The headpieces were made of feathers covering wire frames and
decorated with mirrors, beads, feather work, papier-mache masks, totem
poles, canoes, and ribbons. They used languages adapted from the Black
Indians (African Indians) from the New Orleans Mardi Gras, the Red Indians (Warhoons),
and the Blue Indians which have links to Venezuelan indigenous people.
6) The Jab Molassie is the Molasses Devil. This
character wears knee length pants with a mask and horns. He carries chains,
locks and keys, and a pitch fork. His body is smeared with grease, tar, mud,
or colored clay. He has imps with him trying to hold him back.
7) Pierrot Grenade represents a scholar who is
descended from Pierrot, the famous elegant masquerader who dresses
beautifully and recites passages from Shakespeare. He entertains the
audience with recitations and tells stories to amuse them.
The Bats dress in black costumes with bat wings. The detailed mask
completely covers the head and the wearer looks out through the mouth. There
is a precise dance done by this character to imitate the movement of bats
flying through the air.
9) The Midnight Robber was one of the most colorful of
all the characters. This character comes from African tradition and tells
stories. He blows a loud whistle to emphasize his tales. His costume is
influenced by American cowboys and wears a large broad-brimmed hat. He
carries a dagger, gun, and sword...and demands money.
The Blue Devils were the only group we really did not enjoy seeing. The rest
of the characters had been quite entertaining. The Blue Devils came out and
immediately started "working" the crowd. These people were painted with a
blue paint all over their bodies. Several had something in their mouth that
made them look like they were frothing. One man carried a huge cane toad,
while a younger child carried a crab. They stuck these in children's faces
and made them cry. They stuck them in adults faces and wouldn't take them
away until you gave them money. This part of the presentation went on and
on. We didn't like it at all. It was one thing to participate and give some
small change once or twice. They just kept coming back for more. I finally
told the kid with the crab to leave me alone or I was going to take the crab
away. He left.
We got back to the boat about 1800. It was a long day,
but we all enjoyed everything but the Blue Devils. The Prime Minister came
with his group and stayed about 30 minutes. He was sitting less than 10 feet
away from us. As soon as this special group left, we moved into the shade
and sat in chairs to enjoy the rest of the show.
18 February 2006/Saturday/Chaguaramas Bay, Trinidad
crew of EXIT ONLY slept well last night. We are catching up on the sleep we
lost on the overnight trip down here, plus staying out to the early morning
hours last night. I am feeling good again, so the late night wasn't a
problem. Pick up for today's tour was at 0945 this morning.
We went in a coaster to the area of town called
Queen's Park Savannah. This is an exhibition venue. Today's feature at this
site was the Kiddie Carnival Parade. We got there about 1030 and were able
to get in the third row from the stage under a large cover for shade. It was
open seating and not many people arrived "early". When Jesse told us a bus
would pick people up at TGIF Restaurant, a 10-minute walk away, at 1700 and
1800, we all looked at each other and wondered how in the world we would
stay there until late afternoon watching a children's parade. Believe me, we
did and it was fascinating.
parade started at 1130 with children under 6-years old. Some of these
children were too young to walk alone and were carried by their parents or
in decorated walkers. Some parents were pushing decorated strollers and
prams. These were mini-Carnival outfits, just like the adults wear. Watching
these parents try to get their kids to make an important stop in front of
the judges' table, then another stop in front of the press cameras was quite
amusing. To make a short summary, the day continued with different age
groups, 6-11 years boys, then girls, 12-16 years, boys, then girls. There
were also small, medium, and large "bands" (the groups of marchers following
steel pan (drum) groups). Mostly, these were school groups dressed to match
a chosen theme. As a teacher, I could appreciate how hard it was to get all
those kids to stand where they were supposed to stand, let along get them to
march together, stand still to have their make-up and costume put on, etc.
What an amazing behind-the-scenes group effort! Stiff competition and the
winners were extraordinary! Dave and David took turns taking digital photos.
We had to pay for a camera permit, but then, they were allowed to go right
to the edge of the stage with the regular press cameras. The photos of the
kids and costumes are really professional level. We are going to put a photo
gallery up on the web site of just kids at Carnival. We all got into the
spirit of the day and clapped hard for our favorites along with the local
crowd. The locals around us were happy to answer questions we relating to
what we were seeing around us.
The costumes were individually designed, but many of
them used themes like Rome, Egypt, American Indians, animals, the sea, outer
space, Arabian Nights, the Orient, sailboats and sailors, fruits, flowers,
Africa, and India. One band (a school group) represented the local natural
gas and oil industry. Another group represented the ethnic background of the
country...French Creole, Spanish, Asian Indian, Dougla, Chinese, and
we were impressed that this is not something done for anyone but themselves.
You are welcome to come along, but they are going to do this anyway.
Carnival is a cultural thing that ties families and neighborhoods, schools
and groups, the whole island together focusing on teamwork and doing your
best to win a prize. Within two weeks of this Carnival ending, the work for
next year's Carnival will begin. Carnival is a part of Trinidad life from
the beginning to the end. One of the prize winners today was a very small
baby wrapped in a papoose-type bag that was shiny green with stuffed
glittering peas inside. The baby had a hat on that made it look like one of
the peas. The name of this costume was "Peas In A Pod". A very proud dad
carried the baby around and made sure the judges and press cameras got a
good look. We have photos of the baby that will be put up on the web site.
The last category ended at 1720, so we headed to the
meeting point to catch the shuttle back to Coral Cove. What a fun day!
Everyone was tired, but happy. We were all amazed how entertaining all of
those children were. If the Kiddie Carnival is this good, we must be in for
a really special treat when we see the adults and the huge costumes they
wear. We bought a pizza and calzone at Joe's (Coral Cove), took them back to
the boat, and looked at the photos while we ate supper Dave and David got
pictures of the individual costumes as well as the bands where many were
dressed alike. Best of all they got some close-ups of beautifully costumed
children's faces...smiling, pensive, mostly happy. What fun!
17 February 2006/Friday/Chaguaramas Bay, Trinidad
Every morning at 0800, there is a Trinidad Cruisers' Net on VHF 68. It is
very organized and gives everyone a chance to ask for information, report
problems, find out what is going on today and in the upcoming week, etc. We
listened to this net this morning and quickly figured out there is a lot
going on here with the Carnival, but we needed to go to Members Only and
sign up for tours. Immediately after the net, David and I got in the dinghy
and went to Tropical Marine where the Members Only office is located. Jesse
James and his wife, Sharon Rose, basically are famous among members of the
Caribbean cruising community. They run tours too malls, museums, carry
people to the airport, do Carnival tours, etc. They help people do whatever
they want or need to do in Trinidad. Of course, right now the main focus of
their tours all have to do with the build up to the big Carnival parades on
27 and 28 February. We are a little confused by the Carnival
vocabulary...pan, band, soca, etc. Everyone we have talked to says going on
tours with Members Only is the only safe way to go participate in Carnival
activities. Sounded good to us.
Good thing David and I went straight to Tropical
Marina to the Members Only office at 0830. There is a dinghy dock next door
at Coral Cove Marina (where we have a reservation starting 22 February). It
is a good, safe place to lock up the dinghy while we are out and about. We
were second in line to talk to Sharon Rose. Within minutes of arriving at
the office, there were four more groups in line behind us waiting to talk to
her. Sharon Rose patiently went over the "Carnival basics" with us and we
chose to sign up for six activities. She told us what venues required camera
attachments (permits) and how much each permit would be. They get our entry
tickets and pick us up to go to the venue and bring us back after the
activity is over. We left to go across the canal in the dinghy to get money
from the ATM to pay for the tours and camera permits. Back to Member Only
and more waiting now that we were at the end of the line again. We paid our
money and received our tickets for the different activities at exactly 1200.
It took a long time, but now we are set for the upcoming week.
David and I went out to the main road and waved down a
maxi-taxi. These are mini-buses that run from Chagauramas to Port of Spain
all day long. They cost $5TT ($6 TT= $1.00 )US. David and I rode to the West
Mall, about half way to Port of Spain, because that is the location of the
nearest pharmacy. The outside of the mall looked like a construction site.
Then, we realized, it IS a construction site. They are renovating the
outside of the mall. Inside, the mall was modern and David says it is "just
like Miami". It was very nice inside. We ate lunch at Blimpie and had TCBY
for dessert to celebrate our landfall. The food court also had Pizza Hut,
Burger King, KFC, Chinese food, Indian food, and bagels. It has been a long
time since we have seen most of these places. We looked around at a few of
the mall shops and went in the outer buildings to check out the huge HiLo
Supermarket and Super Pharm. We didn't buy much more than fresh bread, but
it was fun to look around.
Back at the main road, we hailed a maxi-taxi returning
to Chagauramas. We dinghied out to the boat. Dave stayed on the boat today
to make sure we were anchored well where we are. He doesn't like for all
three of us to leave the boat until he is confident the anchor is stuck in
At 1830 all three of us joined a coaster bus from
Members Only that was full of other cruisers. This tour went to mas camps
and pan yards. We learned that "mas camp" stands for "masquerade factory".
This is a location where hundreds of costumes for Carnival are designed and
manufactured. "Pan yards" are outdoor places where people playing steel
drums practice playing for the Carnival competitions. A "band" is not a
musical group here. Instead, a "band" is the group of marchers that marches
in front of the steel drum group they are associated with. When this all
comes together for the big activities, the people in the "band" will be
dressed alike using some theme decided on for this year. There are prizes
for small, medium, and large "bands"...how they look, how they "jump up"
(move to the music), how their costumes look, etc. There are prizes for the
steel drum group...how they play, how they sound, how they look. The bus
drivers, Jesse and Ronald, took us to see two mas camps and four steel drum
groups practicing. In between, we stopped for a snack or meal at at a local
food restaurant. We ate French fries, thinking of our friends on DUETTO who
"when in doubt, order 'chips' " (they are from New Zealand). The "chips"
were so good, we ordered a second plate!
I cannot tell you how loud those steel drums are when
everyone is playing. It is deafening. I put in ear plugs. It was evident
even to us "novices" that some bands are better than others, some are less
stressed and having more fun when they play, and not all steel drum music
sounds alike. It was fun to see the groups and camps are made up of everyone
from young kids to people older than me. Everyone pulls together in a big
team effort to win the various competitions. It was also neat to see
something that is going to happen whether the tourists are here or not. This
is first and foremost a local event. If others come, that is OK, but this is
not something staged to entertain outsiders. We were out and about until
midnight, so we immediately could see that travelling with Members Only is
the best way for us to participate safely in Carnival. We were back at the
boat by 0030.
Already, we are liking Trinidad. It was fun to "jump
right in" to the Carnival activities and we are meeting lots of other
cruisers. Chagauramas is the main place cruisers go into marinas or anchor
in this area. There are a multitude of yachting services including parts and
repair personnel. All of this is within easy walking distance of all
facilities, so this becomes a small ever-changing community of boats. Right
now, the population is high because so many people, like us, have come for
16 February 2006/Thursday/Chaguaramas, Trinidad
Welcome to Trinidad, Mon! We are certainly glad to be in Trinidad! That
overnight trip was one long overnight. The squalls came and went every other
hour all night. The winds were in the 30's during the squalls and in the
20's when the sky was clear. The sea swell was from the northeast, hitting
us on the port stern, then on the port side, then a big splash as the bow
rode up on a wave and came crashing down. Dave was outside in the cockpit
all but three hours of the night. During those three hours, David was
outside on watch while Dave caught a little sleep. I was no help with the
watch. The movement of the boat was like being in a tumble dryer and my head
was spinning. The constant movement made my head hurt so much, I felt ill if
I sat or stood up. I did both of those things as little as possible and
stayed laying on the salon seat all night. It was a rough ride, a rough
night, and one we are already dreading repeating as we head north after
Carnival. Once again, EXIT ONLY proved herself a very sea-worthy vessel. She
took it all in stride and never faltered.
It is funny, now that we are at the end of our
circum-navigation. We have had such rough times in the Red Sea and coming
from Gibraltar, etc., that rough wind squalls for a limited time don't phase
us like they once would have. We say, "This is bad, but remember outside
Safaga (Egypt)...etc.". We have been through some really rough weather, so
our perspective has changed. My stomach felt queasy in the night, but as
long as I stayed laying flat, I was OK. About 0600 I woke up with such a
head and jaw ache that I knew I had to take some Tylenol and an anti-biotic
pill. I got up and went down to the galley for the pills and a glass of
water. Mistake. Ten minutes later, it all came up again. At least I wasn't
thinking about my sore jaw for awhile! I haven't been sea sick in so long, I
don't remember the last time it happened.
We arrived at the northwest point of the island around
0800. I am sure there was no one to officially report that arrival, because
rain squalls were all around us as we went through the narrow passage
between the island of Trinidad and Monos Island. The water was dark green,
very deep, and there was a strong current making standing waves. The guide
book says you are supposed to take your boat immediately to the Custom's
dock to sign in. Since this is Carnival month, there are many more boats
than usual here, so the anchorage is quite full. We decided not to take EXIT
ONLY into an unknown area with all of these boats here. We would anchor out
and go in by dinghy to check out the situation.
Slowly, Dave went behind AQUAVITE, a Canadian boat,
and asked the man in the cockpit if he thought it would be alright to anchor
out and take our dinghy in to check in. He said he thought that would be
fine. He called out a VHF channel and came up to give us some general advice
about anchoring in this bay. The bottom is mud and rock, but the tides and
currents are strong and change twice each day. The boats swing differently,
so it is important to give yourself plenty of room to swing. We thanked him
on the radio for his help. Then, we proceeded to put down our anchor. It
dragged, which is very unusual. We brought our anchor up...and with it, we
brought up the anchor of the Canadian boat! This is a one in a million shot
that this would happen, but it did. Now, he had to re-anchor. We felt
terrible. Once we got anchored and got our paperwork together to go sign in,
we put some of the banana bread I made for our trip on a plate to take to
them as a peace offering. They were extremely nice to us when we stopped by
their boat on our way to check in. We exchanged boat cards...our "Abbott"
for their "Allott"
. I was still not feeling "right", but everyone on
board has to show up to sign the boat in. The officials were very pleasant
and checking in went well. Some people who were checking out gave us some
local advice while we were standing there in the office. The cruisers all
have the same advice..."Talk to Jesse James". Jesse James and his wife,
Sharyn, run Members Only, a business that arranges trips, tours, airport
runs, doctor visits, etc. Whatever you need, they make it happen. This
company organizes groups for Carnival activities, so we are going to check
with them tomorrow about what is available.
After we were checked in, we stopped by the small
grocery store at Crew's Inn Marina Village to get some fresh bread and a
cold drink. We sat on the dock and ate some ice cream. It was good to be
here and good to stop bouncing. Right across the way was Coral Cove Marina,
the one where we have the reservation next week. We decided to stop by there
and tell them in person that we are here. We also mentioned we would like to
come to the Marina earlier if anything opens up. Dave is not happy with the
anchoring where we are now. The tides are very strong and the wash from the
work boats going in and out to the oil rigs is a force to reckon with
several times a day.
Back at the boat, I went to bed and slept for four
hours. That is why I am up typing while Dave and David are fast asleep
making up for the sleep they lost last night. While I was sleeping, David
went in to see if he could find Jesse James. He didn't find him, but met
some cruisers from Annapolis. He ended up having a cold drink with them and
getting lots of local information. He said they were very helpful. Here at
the boat, one of our neighbors at anchor in a 64-foot boat, came over. The
guy told Dave his wife had seen us pick up the Canadian boat's anchor and
basically the guy was trying to find out if we knew what we were doing and
he needed to worry that we might hit him...or something. Dave could see
relief on the guy's face when he told him we were finishing a
circum-navigation, etc., etc. The guy invited us to go into Joe's Pizza for
supper with him and his wife! Dave told him I wasn't feeling well and was
asleep. Still, we have already met some mighty friendly people here.
15 February 2006/Wednesday/sailing
The question of the day again today was "Should we leave for Trinidad
today?". In the morning, the rain squalls were blowing through regularly,
now they were here, now they were gone. Our dilemma today is we need to
arrive in Trinidad by Friday if we don't want to pay weekend overtime
charges. We had to go to Trinidad tonight or tomorrow night at the latest to
avoid overtime charges, or...we have to wait to leave Grenada until next
Monday. We don't want to check out here on the weekend and pay overtime
charges to Grenada either.
I wasn't feeling much better today, but I realize we
need to go, and it is only an overnight sail. Famous last words. We decided
to go into Budget Marine to buy the British flag, then order pizza at De Big
Fish for lunch. After tying out dinghy up outside De Big Fish, I asked to
order a pizza. The girl said, "What time is it?" I told her it was 1142. She
said they didn't make pizza until 1200. I said I would go to Budget Marine,
then return at 1200. She said there wouldn't be any pizza at 1200. I had to
ask why when no information was forthcoming. She told me the pizza oven
wasn't working. I wanted to ask if the oven wasn't working or she wasn't
working, but decided this was a no win proposition. It didn't matter. There
was not going to be pizza for our lunch today.
Back at the boat, I fixed lunch for Dave and David. I
didn't feel like eating. My jaw was sore and starting to swell. I was taking
the anti-biotics and hoping they would hurry up and make the swelling go
down. After lunch, Dave and David took the motor off the dinghy, stowed the
dinghy on the davits, checked to be sure everything on deck (fuel jugs,
kayak, wind surfers) was tied down securely, etc. We checked the weather
sites on the internet and all of them agreed that there was a chance of
showers in Grenada and Trinidad, but the winds would go down to 10-15 knots
overnight. Sounded good. Dave went over to Customs and Immigration at
Prickly Bay Marina and checked out. We decided to go for it tonight.
We were talking about how everyone was telling us all
the marinas were full in Chagauramas and how we wished we would have pursued
information about the anchorage and marinas sooner. An Australian man was
telling us this morning how he accidentally hit a boat there when the tides
changed and had to pay for their haul-out and repair. We were sorry we
hadn't done more research about possibilities for moorings or marinas.
Talking about Carnival activities, we realized we could end up coming and
going from the boat at anchor in the dinghy at all times of day and night.
We are not fond of riding in the dinghy after dark. Even carrying lights, it
is hard for other boats to spot a moving dinghy. We got out the Trinidad
cruising guide and made a list of all the marinas in Chagauramas mentioned
in the text. We wrote down the phone numbers and David started calling on
the computer phone line. The first lady we talked to actually laughed when
we asked about a slip. She nicely said, "No way, it is Carnival." The second
place we called has moorings and doesn't take reservations. The third place
we called we had read about on FREE RADICAL's web site, Coral Cove Marina.
Just this morning, one of the cats at their dock (they have 40 slips) told
them they would be hauled and put in storage 22 February. We made a
reservation for this slip starting 22 February. We are all very happy about
this arrangement and Dave is amazed. He wished us well in our endeavor, but
he can't believe we actually found a slip for a catamaran during the month
of Carnival. I would certainly advise other cruisers not to wait so late to
try to make slip reservations. We have not been in a marina since Turkey, so
this will be a nice treat.
We left the bay at 1600 right after a big squall went
through followed by brilliant blue sky. That blue sky lasted for about an
hour until the next white-out squall came through. We ended up having
squalls about every-other-hour all night long with winds in the squalls
gusting to 30-35 knots. The rest of the time the sky overhead was clear and
the winds were blowing at least 20 knots steadily. Good thing we have been
through much worse and we kept telling ourselves "It is only an overnight
sail". It is still not fun.
14 February 2006/Tuesday/Prickly Bay, Grenada
We thought we would leave for Trinidad in the afternoon today. It is roughly
85 miles from Prickly Bay, Grenada to Chagauramas Bay, Trinidad. You are
supposed to arrive off the northwest point of Trinidad after 0800 (when
Customs and Immigration opens) or they chage overtime...we have heard this
from several people who have experienced paying overtime charges. We wanted
to know how anyone would know when you reach that point, but we were assured
a Coast Guard boat is sent out to check for boats sometimes. Anyway, we will
leave Grenada in the late afternoon to arrive in Trinidad the next morning.
So, we were thinking of leaving today...until the rain squalls started
coming through and it was pouring rain off and on, but mostly "on". Also, I
really wasn't feeling good today, so I voted against leaving.
I did manage to make biscuits and gravy for
Valentine's Day lunch. That is a real treat for us, since we have not bought
sausage for a long time and I don't make gravy and biscuits often. We
decided at lunch time we definitely would not leave today. After lunch, I
laid down so I wouldn't move my head and make it hurt worse. Dave and David
took the kayak and dinghy over to the surf and Dave shot some photos of
David riding the surf in the kayak. He got some really good action shots of
the splashing water.
In the evening, Dave and David went over to visit with
CARPE DIEM, Denis and Marie The. I wasn't feeling well enough for visiting.
They live on an island off Brittany. They came from the Canary Islands to
Grenada in a 35-foot boat. They are going to Trinidad for Carnival, too,
then will put their boat up on the hard while they return to their French
island to work for six months. Nice people...and they like American
13 February 2006/Monday/Prickly Bay, Grenada
We spent most of the morning on the boat using the wireless internet
connection that our antenna managed to capture for a few minutes, then it
was gone, then it was back...we had to be very patient. The rain squalls
coming through kept the boats moving to and fro, so the wireless antenna was
having a hard time "catching the wave". To solve the uni-directional antenna
problem, we have asked Sarah to bring an omni-directional antenna we heard
about from another cruiser with her when she comes to visit David at the end
of February. Right now, many places frequented by cruisers are installing
wireless internet. Within the next year, it will be available everywhere.
Right now, having wireless is the latest way to compete for the cruiser's
(and travelers in general) internet dollar. It is big business.
After lunch, Dave and I went to shore. We stopped in
the chandlery called Budget Marine at Spice Island Boat Yard. It is a small,
but well-stocked chandlery. It has been so long since we have seen some of
that hardware, Dave had to inspect every single thing in the store. We found
a piece a small piece of hardware he wanted for the kayak and I found a
British flag. Our flags really take a beating when we fly them day and night
through all these rain squalls. Since we are Cayman Islands/British
registry, we always need to have a undamaged British flag on board. When we
went to check out, we were told we had to pay the price on the object, PLUS
38% Grenada tax unless we could produce our entry-into-Grenada papers that
prove we are a "yacht in transit". We didn't have our boat papers with us,
so we decided to come back and buy the flag when we had the boat papers with
We left that boat yard and took the dinghy across to
the other side of the bay to check out the Prickly Bay Marina. This marina
is very small and basic, but they are building condos on the site right now
that are going for 1.5-2 million $US. We have noticed a real effort in the
islands to attract the "upper level tourist" (I read that in a
brochure...and I knew it wasn't me!). Somebody, somewhere must have money to
buy these condos. Right now, Grenada Customs and Immigration is located at
this marina in a very basic wooden building. There is an outdoor bar, a
small chandlery, and a small mini-mart where I bought postcards and stamps.
The lady at the check-out showed me the basket where you put outgoing mail.
Small, basic, and friendly. I can't imagine someone paying 2 million US$ for
a condo and wanting such a place right outside their front door.
Dave and I decided to take a maxi-taxi (minibus) from
the roundabout to the Grand Anse area we went to the other day. We got out
where we got out before, but turned right instead of left this time. Dave
wanted to go by the ATM at the bank and I wanted to check out the Grand Anse
Food Fair Supermarket. We weren't grocery shopping, but just looking and
buying some bread. I know we are going to leave for Trinidad any day now, so
I am trying to keep fresh bread on hand for the trip. We also found a Diet
Dr. Pepper, so that was a treat.
Back at the boat, I laid down because my jaw was
really hurting when I walked around. The pain level is much lower when I
don't move. I started taking anti-biotics today...the same ones I took in
Greece, so I hope they help me as much now as they did then. David took some
brownies over to CARPE DIEM (the French boat) to thank them for the
mahi-mahi they shared with us. They invited us over tomorrow evening.
12 February 2006/Sunday/Prickly Bay, Grenada
It rained off and on all night last night. I have been asking Dave to get a
PVC fitting to put in the middle of a plastic tarp to rig up a small rain
catcher. There is so much "free" fresh water falling from the sky, I reckon
we should try to catch some of it for our five 20-liter jugs we carry in the
cockpit. We don't drink the water, but use it for filling the sun showers,
"wash" water for hand-washing clothes when we don't have access to a
laundromat, or we use the water to give the cockpit a fresh water rinse.
I woke up feeling rather lethargic today and my jaw
was hurting...just like it did in Greece when I had a blocked parotid gland
in my lower jaw. The pain is very intense if I move around, but not so bad
if I sit or lay perfectly still. Dave says I should wait 24 hours and see
how it goes before I start taking medicine. Mostly, I laid in the bunk
reading and not moving most of the day.
David wanted Dave to take pictures of him riding the
kayak in the small surf at the opening to this bay, so that is how they
spent the afternoon. Several of the people off boats anchored in the bay
have surf boards and they go out to the breaking surf and "ride the small
waves". David said he was the only one out there with a kayak. He was also
getting the most rides and the longest rides on the waves. Dave had his
hands full trying to maneuver the dinghy into good photo position and
actually take photos. My jaw was hurting too much for me to be out riding
around in the dinghy, so I was no help. In the end, Dave got some good
action shots of David riding the waves.
Everyone keeps saying, "It is supposed to be dry
season". Somebody, somewhere doesn't seem to know that, because the rain
squalls are coming through regularly. They don't last too long, but they
pack a punch while they are here.
11 February 2006/Saturday/Prickly Bay, Grenada
This seems to be a fairly quiet anchorage. There are at least 40 boats in
here, but the large bay has plenty of room for everyone. Prickly Bay Marina
is located on the east side of the bay. Customs and Immigration are located
there, so that is where we will go to check out of Grenada. The northwest
part of the bay is where Spice Island Boat Yard is located. This is a
haul-out facility where boats are stored and where you can do boat work.
Their lift is large enough to haul catamarans, so that is always good
information to tuck away.
Dave and I took the dinghy over to the boat yard area
after we ate mahi-mahi for lunch today. There is a restaurant on the water
that makes good pizza (we hear). That is where we tied up the dinghy. We
won't be ordering pizza until we use up some of the meat and fish we have in
the refrigerator. That is a good problem to have...too much meat and fish.
We walked around the boat yard to have a look and
discovered there are washing machines and dryers available. There is a
Budget Marine chandlery on site, too, but it wasn't open because it was
Saturday afternoon. We walked out of the gate and up the small road to the
big road, about a five-minute walk. There, we caught a minivan "bus" over to
Spiceland Mall. This small mall has a good grocery store and a good hardware
store. We bought a few groceries, but not much, because we had to carry
everything back from the bus stop to the dinghy. Dave thought the hardware
store was very good, but we didn't need to buy anything there today. We
walked from the mall out to the main road and easily caught a minivan bus
going back to where we started. We found out the minivans drive a route
called "number 1" and the stop where we got on is the "end of the line".
That is easy to remember.
While we were in the Spiceland Mall, we walked by the
small food court. One sign at the second restaurant stall caught my eye. "Jayro/Donna
Kebab for sale after 3:00 today". Jayro? Donna Kebab? We figured out these
were new and different spellings for words we know as "gyro" and "donar
kebab". A gyro is a Greek sandwich made of thinly sliced lamb wrapped in
flatbread. A donar kebab is a Turkish sandwich. Thinly sliced chicken, beef,
or lamb plus sliced fresh vegetables are wrapped in flatbread. Now, we know
about the Caribbean version of these sandwiches...jayro and donna kebab.
Back at the boat I read the newspapers I bought at the
grocery store. I bought two Grenada newspapers. One is very serious and
talks a lot about local politics. It was interesting to read about big money
projects here on Grenada that are being funded by China and Japan. The other
newspaper seems to offer shorter articles about a wide variety of topics.
Both papers come out once each week. I also bought a Trinidad/Tobago
newspaper. Everything in that paper is somehow related to the upcoming
carnival, even if it is an advertisement...it is a "Carnival sale". They
seem to have a lot of reports of people being killed...in Trinidad and all
over the world. At least it seemed like a "lot of reports" to me. Drugs and
the underworld control of drugs seems to be a major problem, probably
because Trinidad is so close to South America. There is a British Navy ship
moored here in Grenada right now. The newspaper said they made a big drug
bust in the past week or so. They confiscated over three tons of cocaine
from a cargo ship near Grenada. One of the first suspicious things the cargo
ship did was leave port one color with one name, then out on the ocean, they
painted the ship another color and changed the name on the stern. I won't be
buying many more of these newspapers, but it is interesting to try and
understand what is important to these people and find out what local events
10 February 2006/Friday/Prickly Bay, Grenada
Yes, we were impressed with how handy everything is here in St. Georges...It
is really handy!This morning Dave saw footprints made by dirty feet on our
starboard scoop at the stern of the boat. Someone boarded our boat in the
night and climbed onto the scoop, then stood on the two stainless steel
rails located in the scoop. They climbed over the lifelines and stood at the
back of the cockpit where they could easily look at the dinghy which was
hanging on the davits, up, out of the water. We reckon they came in a dinghy
because if they had been in the water, their feet would have gotten clean.
Our engine was attached to the dinghy and the gas container was in the
dinghy, but both were locked with a chain to the dinghy. We did not have any
loose gear in the cockpit. The salon doors were locked. The hatches were
locked. Nothing was taken. Still, the idea that someone had come on board
did not make us happy.
We spoke to the people anchored next to us on sv/CLOUD
NINE and told them we had been boarded. They told us that made three nights
in a row of problems. Tuesday night someone reported being boarded, but
nothing taken. Wednesday night, one boat left their companionway open and
someone came in the night, went down into the boat, and stole money out of a
After hearing all of this, we decided to get our
business taken care of in St. Georges and move around to Prickly Bay at the
south end of Grenada. We gathered the laundry and took it into the yacht
club. I stayed with the washing machine while Dave and David walked around
the lagoon to a stationary store to see if they could find a new computer
mouse. The one we have been using didn't work. We took the clean laundry
back to the boat to hang it out later in the sunshine to dry. Meanwhile, we
headed across the Lagoon and into the commercial part of the port of St.
Georges, called the Carenage. This is a picturesque bay lined with shops and
filled with local wooden fishing boats and small freighters that move
between the islands. There is a stainless steel U-shaped bar mounted in
cement near a convenient step located at the edge of the bay. Dinghies can
be locked to the stainless steel bar and the step makes it easy to get in
and out of the dinghy. There is a well-stocked grocery store called "Food
Fair" near-by. I went into Food Fair to have a look around. I found products
from the States that I haven't seen in a long time and the prices weren't
too bad. Dave and David stopped by the fire house and talked to the firemen.
They took photos of the specially-outfitted red Land Rovers the fire
department uses as mobile pumpers. They have long hoses that go into the sea
to pump salt water when and where it is needed. We bought Breyer's Mint
Chocolate Chip Ice Cream and went straight back to the boat to enjoy our
treat before it melted.
After lunch, I hung the laundry out to dry while Dave
and David went to the Island Water World chandlery located across the street
from the Lagoon. The laundry dried quickly, because the washing machine spun
the water out so well. Dave and David came back from the chandlery with
fishing gear...a new "shark slayer" to replace the one the marlin took in
the Cape Verde Islands. They also came back with an 8-foot-long plastic
kayak that was made in North Carolina. It holds one person who gets wet
while kayaking, because the plastic has eight holes in it for self-baling.
We all had a go at paddling around and it was easy to maneuver. We will
enjoy using that in warm water.
At 1500, we took up the anchor at St. Georges and
moved seven miles south to the bottom of Grenada. We put down the anchor in
Prickly Bay at 1630. The people we know on sv/KITTYWAKE saw us arrive and
came over to say hey. As we were sitting in the cockpit talking, the people
on the newly arrived French boat next to us called over and asked us if we
wanted some mahi-mahi. They had just arrived from the Canary Islands and
they caught a large mahi-mahi on the way in. They shared their fish with us
and KITTYWAKE. When it rains, it pours. Having been to the grocery store, we
have hamburger, sausages (I want to make biscuits and gravy), left-over
lobster from Carriacou, and now, mahi-mahi in the refrigerator. We are going
to be doing some fancy eating for a few days.
We will be staying in Prickly Bay for a few days
before we sign out of Grenada and do an over-night sail down to Trinidad
sometime next week.
9 February 2006/Thursday/The Lagoon, St. Georges, Grenada
We took up the anchor at Tyrell Bay on the east end of Carriacou Island at
0755. We sailed south to Grenada. It is about 16 miles from the south end of
Carriacou to the north end of Grenada. There are no good anchorages between
these two islands, because there is an underwater volcano. The volcano is
presently 602 meters underwater, but occasionally erupts and "grows" up
toward the water surface. It grew 75 meters higher between 1962-2002. The
volcano has erupted 12 times between 1939-2001. The last eruption was 4
December 2001. Eventually, this will probably be a new island. This volcano
has been named "Kick em' Jenny", If you sailed over the volcano when it was
erupting, you would certainly get a big "kick"! The Grenada government has
declared a 1.5-kilometer exclusion zone around the volcano when it is quiet,
plus there is a second 5-kilometer exclusion zone when the volcano is
active. We were careful to remain outside the 5-kilometer exclusion zone.
One of the small islands we passed as we headed south
is named Isle de Ronde or Rhonde Island. I have read the history of this
small, inhospitable island, but can't seem to remember where I read it. I
will tell you about this island when I find the information.
We arrived at St. Georges, Grenada, at 1335. As you
approach St. Georges, there are two bays. We anchored in the one to the
right called "The Lagoon" with 20 other sailboats. The Grenada Yacht Club is
a small clubhouse and small dock in one corner of the bay. Lagoon Road, a
main access road into the center of St. Georges, goes around the Lagoon.
Several stores are located across the street from the Lagoon and they have
put out dinghy docks, so their cruising customers can literally tie up
almost at their front doors.
David and I took the dinghy and went over to the
dinghy dock across the road from Foodland. This is a medium-size grocery
store filled with North American products we haven't seen in a long time.
The prices are not bad compared to Mediterranean prices. There were many
products imported from Trinidad on the shelves. Someone told us we could
take the dinghy around to the other bay, called the "Carenage", and chain
the dinghy to a stainless steel bar put in the sidewalk for that purpose. We
followed those directions and easily found the place to chain up the dinghy.
The Carenage is a working port of call for local boats and many of them were
tied to the cement alongside the sidewalk we walked on. We walked around the
edge of the Carenage, then followed Young Street up and over a high hill to
the main part of town located near the cruise ship dock. There was
construction going on everywhere, so many building were looking quite new or
refurbished because they were. Grenada was hit by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and
Hurricane Emily in 2005. They are still repairing damage done by the
Back at the boat, everyone was hungry because we had
sandwiches for lunch while we were sailing. We purchased the fixings for
Mexican dinner when we went to the grocery store today, so we enjoyed our
supper as the sun set over St. Georges, Grenada. The anchorage was quiet and
we were impressed how handy everything was to get to from the boat.
8 February 2006/Wednesday/Tyrell Bay, Carriacou Island
The music was over by 2230 last night! Quiet and calm returned to Tyrell
First thing this morning, David and I went in to shore
to get fresh bread and ice cubes from the shop called "After Ours". They
have good ice, but don't sell bread. I had to go to the other grocery store
Simon, one of the local fishermen and vendors, came by
asking if we would like any lobster. We told him we would buy a couple of
small ones, but didn't want the huge ones. He came back with two small
lobsters. We told him we only wanted the tails, so he cut the tails off and
kept the rest. While this is happening at the stern of the boat, Dominique
arrived at the bow of the boat and was looking at the damaged bow pulpit. He
cannot get the exact size stainless steel tubing here that they used in
France. He suggested that we contact Alliaura Marine (they bought out
Privilege several years ago) in France and ask them how much it would cost
to have a bow pulpit shipped from the factory to St. Martin (a French island
that is duty free). We looked Alliaura up on the internet, got their phone
number, and called them. We are now communicating with them by e-mail and
they are going to give us an estimate of what it would cost to send a bow
pulpit to St. Martin. We will be going to St. Martin on our way north.
Dominique said he can do the welding that needs to be done for the ring that
is attached to a plate at the end of the bow for attaching out parachute
anchor when and if we need it. We are going to check into having the work
done in Trinidad while we are there, too.
After our lobster lunch, we took the dinghy over to
the yacht club. Dave dropped me off so I could take some books and exchange
them at their book swap. Meanwhile, he took some photos out in the
anchorage. After he picked me up, we went back to the boat and picked up
David and the video camera. There is a huge mangrove area to the north of
where we are anchored in the bay. This is supposed to be one of the best
hurricane holes in the Caribbean. We took the dinghy back in the mangroves
to have a look. There were several birds back in there plus two boats that
obviously didn't make it out after Hurricane Ivan ripped through in 2004.
So far tonight, we haven't been bombarded with reggae
music. We are thankful for the quiet.
7 February 2006/Tuesday/Tyrell Bay, Carriacou Island
We were struck as we came in here yesterday that this was an entirely
different anchoring experience than we have been having lately. The boats in
this bay seem to be all privately-owned cruising yachts, older boats,
32-42-foot range...boats like we remember seeing long ago when we were in
the Caribbean. North of here we were seeing the shiny, sleek charter boats
and bigger cruising boats with a "cast of many" on board. The boats in
Tyrell Bay seem to be folks who are staying around here for awhile. There
weren't so many boats anchored on the south side of the bay when we came in,
so we went over there. When the music started roaring across the water from
a local restaurant at 1930 last night and went until 0130 this morning, we
thought we knew why there were fewer people on this side of the bay.
Today is Grenada Independence Day...a national
holiday. The early morning (after 0130) was so quiet. I awoke to cows mooing
and donkeys braying somewhere in the small village. What was that I said
about this being a calm and quiet bay? The same restaurants on shore started
playing reggae music at a blaring level around 1130 today and this went on
until midnight. Happy Holiday! We like reggae, but we have had enough today
to last for a long time.
The local dive shop on the shore does have wireless
internet available. We paid for 24 hours of wireless interent, so the three
of us have been taking turns using the computer. This is the first time we
have used wireless interet while sitting aboard the boat.
This bay is well-protected, so much so, that we don't
have as much wind as usual. I decided to go in to shore and see if any of
the shops selling ice were open today. I found only one shop open that had
ice. They opened their huge freezer and showed me the Pringles cans lined up
on the bottom. The fill the cans with water and make cylinders of ice. Since
they were so proud of their ice and they sell it for a reasonable price, I
bought two cylinders and put them in the thermal bag I took shopping with
me. Since we didn't know the source of the water, we were afraid to break up
the ice and put it in drinks. Carriacou does not have fresh water on the
island, so they catch rainwater in cisterns. That is probably where the
water came from, but we couldn't be sure. We put cans of pop next to the ice
in the bag and cooled them down that way.
Dave and I went for a dinghy ride over toward the
Carriacou Yacht Club, located at the other side bay. It was closed today for
the holiday, but we did see where Dominique has his workshop and talked to
him about the repair work that needs to be done on our boat. Dominique is
the man who does stainless steel work and he had been recommended to us for
repairing our bow pulpit. He has taken a 50-foot long trimaran and built a
workshop on top of the deck. The workshop boat is tied to a permanent
mooring. If he is working on your boat, you bring your boat over and tie up
to the workshop. He works in his shop, then fits the pieces to your boat
right there. He said he will come look at our damaged bow pulpit tomorrow.
6 February 2006/Monday/Tyrell Bay, Carriacou Island
We started this day in Clifton, Union Island. Union Island is the most
southerly island in the Grenadines...the group of small islands affiliated
with Kingston, St. Vincent Island, as the capital. We all went into shore
this morning. Dave went to Customs in town and Immigration at the airport to
check out of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Meanwhile, David and I took Elvin and went to the
grocery shops. We were specifically looking for Diet Coke, long life milk,
and cereal. We went to three or four small "supermarkets" (that is what the
signs say) and found the milk, cereal, and no Diet Coke. We found Diet Coke
at the fourth shop we went in. The plastic bottles we bought (no cans
available) were from the Coca Cola factory in Trinidad. On the way to the
"supermarkets", we passed the delightfully decorated wooden kiosks in the
town center where fruits and vegetables are sold. There are 7 or 8 wooden
kiosks, brightly painted and decorated with cut wood or "gingerbread". The
lady from "Kathy's Fruits and Vegetables" spotted me pulling Elvin along and
yelled out, "Are you coming to buy fruits and vegetables today?" "I will
stop on my way back," I found myself shouting back. "Don't you go to anyone
else...promise?", Kathy yelled again. "Cross my heart, I will come see you
on my way back!" I shouted.
David went to talk to the people at the Internet place
while I went to buy some fruits and vegetables from Kathy. She was out in
the middle of the small street when I came along. She said it was time to
buy fruits and vegetables now and I agreed. She walked with me toward her
kiosk. "How do you like my stand?" she asked. I told her I thought it was
really delightful and I wanted to get a picture of it. She told me she was
going to change the roof from dark green to bright yellow and wondered if I
thought that would look good. Of course, I said it would look good. I bought
what I wanted and as I was finishing, Dave came along with his camera. He
took a picture of Kathy and me at her kiosk. She was pleased to have us take
the picture. We bought bread at the bakery on our way to the dinghy.
Back at the boat, officially checked out and loaded
with Diet Coke, we left Union Island at 1005. We thought the island was
quite nice, but the anchorage made us a little nervous with all the coming
and going of all the boats that were not holding well. It was good to move
on. At 1130 we put the anchor down at Hillsborough, Carriacou Island.
Carriacou belongs to Grenada. This is a new country, so we had to check in.
Since it was around lunch time, we decided to eat lunch, then go into town.
The cruising guide says the officials take a long lunch break. We made
submarine sandwiches with the freshly baked bread from Union Island. We
stuffed the bread with a variety of sliced fresh vegetables from Kathy's
After lunch, all of us went in the dinghy to the big
town pier. Customs was located at the head of the pier, but the man said we
had to go to the police station to the Immigration officer first. The police
station was located across the street. We walked over to the closed office
and waited by the sign that said the Immigration office would open over a
half hour ago. As we stood there waiting for the office to open, several
other people came to wait with us. These folks were checking out of Grenade,
because they were going to ride a mail boat/ferry that goes up to the
Grenadines. They were back-packing through the Caribbean. All of these folks
were as old as me or older. I popped across the street to the local grocery
store while the waiting continued. I didn't really need groceries after
shopping at Union Island, but I always like to have a look at what is
available everywhere we stop.
The Immigration official showed up, we got checked in,
and went back to Customs. Another paper or two filled in and we were
welcomed to Grenada via Carriacou. We decided to leave the anchorage at
Hillsborough and move to the west end of the island to an anchorage called
Tyrell Bay. Tyrell Bay is a more protected anchorage than Hillsborough. As
we were leaving the anchorage at Hillsborough at 1220, we passed two local
open wooden fishing boats with both gunnels fully lined with pelicans. We
thought this was so comical that we took photos and video of the birds
sitting there, then flying away as we came near. Funnier yet was the
surfboard tied to a buoy that we passed. Standing in two perfect rows facing
into the wind were 10-12 sea gulls. It looked like they were surfing! We
took their picture, too.
We arrived in Tyrell Bay at 1450. This huge bay seemed
so quiet and calm after the windy anchorages we have been in lately.
5 February 2006/Sunday/Clifton, Union Island
We left Saline Bay at Mayreau around 1010 this morning and we were putting
the anchor down at Clifton, Union Island at 1045! This is fun cruising! As
we were heading into Clifton, we met several boats heading north. One of
them had "Lexington, Kentucky" written across the stern, but we could not
read the name of the boat. The anchorage at Clifton is open to the wind, but
protected from the sea swell by a huge curving reef. It is a bit
disconcerting to be anchored so near a breaking reef. Having said that, the
anchorage was full of boats and a lot of the charter boats were dragging.
That made it more exciting. We had too much entertainment watching boats
dragging and getting too close to other boats. It was "entertainment" when
the dragging boat was "way over there". After they took up their anchor and
started moving toward us, it wasn't so "entertaining". The dragging anchor
dance carried on all day into the dark of evening.
David and I read in the cruising guide that the Anchor
Inn, with its own dinghy dock on the shore, made wood fire pizzas. We
decided to go check that out for lunch. We tied the dinghy to their dock and
walked into the open air restaurant. Hardly anyone was around, but we were
assured they would make pizza for us. While we waited for the pizza to be
ready, David and I walked past the airport runway, then through the town.
The runway is for small airplanes that bring tourists to Union and Palm
Islands. The airplanes come in so low, you don't walk near the fence at the
end of the runway when a plane is landing. There was one main street in
town, so it didn't take long to have a look. A few shops were open and a few
people were wandering around. We went back to pick up the pizza and took it
out to the boat to eat for lunch.
In the afternoon, Dave and I took the dinghy into the
same dinghy dock, then walked through the town. By now, every shop that had
been open earlier was closed. We walked the length of town, saw nothing open
and saw hardly any people. We decided to go back to the boat and come into
town tomorrow morning before we move on.
4 February 2006/Saturday/Mayreau Island
We took up our anchor at the Tobago Cays at 0910 this morning and headed to
Mayreau Island. The distance between these two places is so short, we could
see Mayreau as we left the Cays. Fifty minutes of sailing brought us to Salt
Whistle Bay at Mayreau Island. This is a pretty bay with a resort tucked in
among the trees on a white sand beach. We thought there were two many boats
packed in to too little space, so we decided to move on a couple of miles to
Saline Bay. There were six cruising boats in Saline Bay along with one of
the Club Med cruise ships anchored farther out in the bay. The guide book
mentions that the day the cruise ship is in, the beach looks like Coney
Island, but as soon as the ship leaves, the island's 200 people go back to
living a quiet life up on Station Hill in the village above the beach.
As we anchored in Saline Bay, we could see the cruise
ship passengers on the beach, shopping at the stalls selling t-shirts,
pareaus, etc. The tenders were making trips back and forth carrying
passengers back and forth from the ship to the beach. A local wooden boat
stopped by EXIT ONLY and held up a huge lobster. He said the lobster costs
$20 EC ($7.70 US)/lb. and the one he was holding up cost $150 EC ($58 US).
We don't have a pan large enough to cook a lobster that big! A few minutes
later, another local boat came by with medium-size lobster and we asked them
if they had small lobsters. We bought two 1-pound lobsters and asked the man
to give us the tail only. I looked up information in one of my cookbooks
about cooking lobster. It said to boil the lobster in salt water for eight
minutes per pound. We did this and the lobster was cooked perfectly. We ate
it dipped in mild garlic butter and all agreed it was quite a nice treat. A
big rain squall came through while we were eating lunch.
In the late afternoon, as the last of the cruise ship
passengers left the shore to return to their ship, people started getting
off the cruising boats and going into the cruise ship dock in their
dinghies. The three of us went in, but Dave did not like the roughness of
the dock. He was afraid our dinghy would get caught underneath the dock and
might get damaged. He decided to drop David and me off, and he returned to
the boat. David and I took the digital camera and headed up the steep
concrete road from the beach to the village on the hill. We found ourselves
walking slowly, but surely, up the steep hill with ladies carrying bags of
t-shirts on their heads.
Mayreau Island is a privately owned island that
measures less than 2 square miles. One family owns all of the island except
22 acres that are owned as a private resort and the village is owned by the
government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The tidy village sits high on
Station Hill overlooking the crescent beach of Saline Bay below. The island
did not have electricity and telephones until the late 1990's. David and I
found it ironic that we could not get a good picture of the boats in the bay
below us because there were so many electrical lines and telephone lines
running everywhere, they were always in the frame when we tried to take a
picture. Vehicles are a recent addition to the island. There were a few
small 4x4's and pick-up trucks. The vehicles seemed to be used to carry
goods and people from the village down to meet the ferry that comes three
times each week carrying supplies and passengers for the island. The ferry
arrived while we were walking to the village.
We climbed higher and higher through the village,
walking on the concrete strip that serves as a large sidewalk and narrow
road. At the top of the hill, above the village, we came to the Catholic
church. The church is made of tan hand-made bricks. The windows are colored
in bright colored. The decorations around the windows and doors are painted
maroon. Next to the church is a replica wattle and daub house built of
sticks and mud on a wooden frame. This is a craft center built in the style
of the houses in Mayreau fifty years ago. Today the houses are built of
concrete. The church located on a grassy hilltop makes an excellent picture
subject, but if you follow the sign that says "Tobago Cays" and points
around to the side of the church, you are suddenly overlooking the aqua blue
reef-strewn waters looking northeast toward the Tobago Cays and south to
Union, Carriacou, Grenada, etc. We could look back and see where we were
anchored last night. The sun was shining, the clouds had cleared away, and
the view was awesome.
We got lots of good photos of the distant islands and
the ocean. We also got close-up photos of the cistern system used on the
island to collect water. The islanders have covered huge areas of the
slanted hillside with cement or bricks. When it rains, the water runs down
this surface and is collected in a trough at the bottom that directs the
water into a large stone cistern. There is no fresh water on the island, so
the locals are dependent on the cisterns for their water.
By nightfall, there were 18 boats anchored in Saline
Bay for the night. The wind went down to 10-12 knots, so we had a very quiet
evening. It was good to have the boat sitting so quietly once again.
3 February 2006/Friday/Tobago Cays
The wind continued to blow all night, a steady 18-22 knots, but all of the
boats held position. There were only 20-25 boats in the anchorage
tonight...half of the number of boats in here when we arrived. There was no
drama until many of the boats started taking up their anchors and moving out
of the anchorage between 0830 and 1000. We heard a loud flapping noise
around 0930 and rushed out to the cockpit. There was WIND SONG II, a
chartered 40' monohull with a Grenadine captain and crew screaming through
the anchorage from their spot at the front of the pack. This is the boat I
mentioned yesterday that went by us to the front of the anchorage, sailing
at 7-8 knots with two sails up, moving between us and the 36' DuFour
monohull chartered by a German couple. We had moved away from the DuFour
because they anchored too close to us. WIND SONG II was too close to us and
the DuFour yesterday, and this morning, when they tried to sail out of the
anchorage, they hit the DuFour. The bow pulpit on the DuFor was damaged and
the lifelines were destroyed. The hull seemed to be alright as far as we
could see. WIND SONG II's crew pushed off the DuFour and they kept right on
going out of the anchorage, presumably back to Union Island. One of the
local crew members from another crewed charter boat came over to the DuFour
and gave them a mobile phone. They called someone. We feel sure the locals
all know each other, so we are hoping the good Samaritan with the mobile
phone helped the folks who got hit call the company that sponsors WIND SONG
II. Then, they would have to call Kiriacoulis Yachts (flying French flag),
the company they chartered from, and tell them the bad news.
We all went in to the small island of Baradel, the cay
we are anchored by, this morning. Dave and David took the video and digital
cameras with the big tripod and did some photography. The east end of the
small island is flat and has has several palm trees growing on a small white
sand beach. The west side of the cay is a large hill is rocky and covered
with brush and cactus. There is a path leading to the top of the hill and
they view of the surrounding aqua waters with reefs breaking all around is
spectacular. You can easily see Canouan Island, Mayreau Island, Union
Island, Carriacou Island, and several small islets in the distance. Dave and
David saw a huge bright green iguana on the path. He slowly moved away from
then and hid in the brush, blending in with the green color of the bushes
and trees. A smaller green iguana was not so shy, and they have several nice
pictures of this one.
I stayed down on the beach, waded in the warm water
and watched for sea turtles. The turtles are such good swimmers, they don't
seem to be bothered by the snorkelers in the water. If a snorkeler gets too
close, the swish of a fin sends the turtle quickly to a safer distance.
We went back to the boat to have lunch. After lunch
David jumped in the water and did a quick bottom scrub. The grass starts
growing quickly in the warm waters of the Caribbean. The angel wing
barnacles seem to like cruising from island to island attached to our
sterns. While David was scrubbing, Dave and I went snorkeling off the boat.
We found several sea turtles grazing on the short grass right in front of
our boat. We just floated above them, watching them eat. We think these are
green turtles. We also saw nine squids and a flounder.
The Tobago Cays are one of our all-time favorite
stops. We need to keep moving south right now, but will stop here again when
we are heading north.
2 February 2006/Thursday/Tobago Cays
We had a gentle roll going on all night and this morning the wind was
blowing a steady 15-20 knots. We decided to move up into the shallower
aqua-colored water from the deeper, darker blue water where we anchored at
first. Several of the boats anchored here last night took up their anchors
and headed out this morning. In the distance, we could see sailboats headed
this way from Mayreau and Canouan. We moved up and got our anchor down just
as a couple of charter boats came into the anchorage. One of these boats, a
36-foot DuFour monohull with German charterers on board, anchored quite
close to us. They went snorkelling and we moved our boat farther away from
David went snorkelling right off the boat in front of
our bow. There is white sand all around us with short grass growing up ahead
of us. He saw sea turtles swimming around him. We can sit on the boat and
watch sea turtles swimming around in front of us. Judging by the size of
their shells, we think most of these turtles are about 4-6 years old.
We ate lunch in the cockpit watching all the boats
coming and going. One charter monohull came whizzing into the anchorage and
went between us and the 36-foot charter boat under sail. We rushed out into
the cockpit and the local captain turned and lifted his arms as to say
"What's the problem, mon?" We cannot figure out all this rushing around with
sails up in crowded anchorages. Practically all of the charterers put their
full mainsail up while they are at anchor, then take up the anchor and the
boat takes off like it is possessed.
Even though it was windy, David went up the mast with
the video camera and the digital camera to take photos from a different
angle...to get a different perspective on things. He got some great shots of
the boat in this gorgeous aqua water. David had a safety harness on. Dave
was manning the winch, standing on deck. He would send the cameras up in
bags and bring them down. I got in the water and snorkeled around the boat
while they were doing their photography project. I saw two sea turtles
swimming along with me. I am sure there were many more turtles moving
steadily in the opposite direction as I came toward them. The water was a
nice temperature, but the visibility wasn't great due to the wind stirring
1 February 2006/Wednesday/Tobago Cays
We left Canouan Island at 0855 this morning. The wind has gone down to
around 14-18 knots and the seas are much smaller this morning. We headed
south toward Mayreau Island, then turned east to miss the rocks and reefs
strewn around this area. We were headed for the small uninhabited islands
called the Tobago Cays. These four islands, Petit Rameau, Petit Bateau,
Baradel, and Jamesby are protected by Horseshoe Reef. The water and reef are
an unbelievable mix of blues and greens...clear shallow water lapping white
sand beaches. The Tobago Cays are officially a national park belonging to
St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Yachts are allowed to anchor in clear sand
only...not in coral. The Tobago Cays are advertised as the "best of the
I know I said the islands were uninhabited, and they
are. On the other hand, we certainly are not alone out here. There are over
50 yachts that stayed here for the night tonight. At least half of that
number are charter boats. There must have been more than a dozen large boats
that came in carrying day-trippers out of Union Island. These folks leave
before dark. Add to these numbers the local vendor boats zooming around from
yacht to yacht selling t-shirts, woven Rasta hats, freshly caught lobsters,
fruit and vegetables, bread, ice, etc. The locals seem to come from Union
Island and Mayreau Island in the morning and leave before dark. Their wooden
boats have big 75-horse Johnson outboard engines to carry them back and
forth across the sea.
As we approached the Cays, we made a big circle that
included all the anchoring areas to take digital and video shots. We
anchored away from the big group anchored between Baradel and Petit Bateau.
Our anchor was holding well and we liked where we were anchored behind the
reef until the tide turned in the afternoon. The current and tide made us
sit beam-on to the seas, so it was not comfortable. We decided to move over
with "the group" and moved to the left side of the group of boats. We heard,
"Hello, EXIT ONLY" and there was BLUE IGUANA, a 40-foot monohull from
England with Judy, Andy, and Jack aboard. We met each other in Bequia after
hearing each other on the radio net crossing the Atlantic.
David and Dave set up the wind surfer in the afternoon
and David went wind surfing. He asked BLUE IGUANA if any of them wanted to
have a go. They all came over in their dinghy for a visit while they took
turns trying to wind surf. Their nephew, Luke, was with them. He is twenty
and is spending a month with them. He said this was his first trip out of
England, first time on an airplane, first time on a boat, first time
snorkeling, etc. He was having a ball. We told him he was sure starting at
the top of the list of good places to go on a boat! They told us there are
sea turtles all around here that we will see when we go snorkeling. We love
seeing the sea turtles. They have such big odds against them when they are
born, that we cheer for the ones we see and wish them well.
The anchorage became a little rolly in the evening.
Andy told us there seems to be two times each day when it gets rolly in
here...early morning and evening. Otherwise, it is pretty quiet in here. We
will stay a few days just because it is so pretty and we like it so much.