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
2006/Friday/Fort de France, Martinique
started today in Cul-de-Sac du Marin on the southwest corner of Martinique.
Dave was on shore by 0710 signing into Martinique, which is a full
department of France. We are now flying the French courtesy flag after
We gathered our laundry together and went in to the dinghy dock near
Centre Commercial Annette. The Centre is a group of shops built around a
medium-size grocery store named Champion. In a small building near the
grocery store, there is a laundry named L@vnet, where you can leave your
clothes or use the machines yourself. They cleverly incorporate the internet
sign in their name because they have a computer where you can check internet
while you wait for your laundry to finish. We chose to use their commercial
washers and dryers ourselves. With a little help from the lady at the
counter, we figured out how to run the washer by reading the French-language
sign posted on the wall. After we went through all of the translation and
trial and error, the washing machine was loaded with clothes, soap was added
in the top of the machine, and the wash cycle began. Then...we spotted the
second smaller sign that was an English translation of the larger French
sign that tells how to operate the machines. I have no idea why the lady
didn't point out the English sign to us. I choose to think she thought we
were doing so well in French, we didn't need to read the English sign...or,
just maybe, she was having a good laugh at our expense.
While the washer washed clothes, I went to the grocery store. Dave and
David went to the patisserie to find pain au raisin (a sweet roll with
raisins) and pain au chocolat (sweet roll filled with chocolat). We looked
in the librarie (news stand) and bought a newspaper so we could find out
what the rate of exchange is between the Euro and US Dollar (1.21 Euros =
$1.00 USD). It is just a tad better than it was when we were in the Med
The washing machine spun the clothes out so well, that they were almost
dry coming out of the washer. I loaded the huge commercial-size dryer and
started it running. That gave me 20 minutes to go looking in the shops
again. I went back to the grocery to buy cucumbers and courgettes. I took
them to the check out and the cashier calmly got off her chair and walked
over to the vegetable department to weigh them. I didn't realize I was
supposed to weigh the vegetables myself, so had not done it. We have done
this before in French countries, but I forgot about it. The cashier was very
nice about it. I told her "Je suis desole'e" and "Je ne sais pas" ("I am
sorry" and "I do not know" and she nodded. I also told her "Demain, je vais
alli" ("Tomorrow, I go there") as I pointed to the scales and she smiled. I
know the French isn't great, but most of the people don't speak English, so
they try to understand whatever we try to say.
We had baguette sandwiches with lots of vegetables and fresh basil for
lunch. We decided we like Marin, but if we need to keep moving, we would
like to spend time in Fort de France, the capital city. We also plan to stop
in St. Pierre to see the town destroyed by the volcano in 1902. If we want
to see these places, we better head north. We left Marin at 1245 and had a
nice downwind sail to Fort de France.
The anchorage in Fort de France is right off the town beside the slab
wall of an old fort. There are actually two forts...one has been renovated
and is still used today by the French military. The other fort is an
historical site. We arrived at 1720 and joined a dozen boats anchored off
the town. The anchorage has good protection from the winds, but the ferries
going back and forth from here to Trois Islets make quite a wake when they
go blasting out of here at high speeds. We feel like we are back in the
anchorage at Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. At 1800 the bells of the Cathedral
were ringing across the valley. The volcano, Mt.Pele'e , can be seen in the
distance. We will get out and do some exploring tomorrow.
30 March 2006/Thursday/Cul de Sac du Marin, Martinique
Bon Jour! We left Pigeon Island/Rodney Bay in St. Lucia at 0830 this
morning. We had a 12-15 knot wind blowing mostly from the east, but the seas
get pretty mixed up ("mashed up" as they say in the islands) between the
islands. It is roughly 28 miles from Pigeon Island to Cul de Sac du Marin,
Martinique. We actually sailed the whole distance without the engines
running. Between the two islands, I spotted a huge head sticking out of the
water. I thought it was a dolphin, but it didn't jump up out of the water.
It was a huge leatherback turtle that was at least six-feet long. The
turtles head was bigger than mine.
Dave is very happy with the new mainsail now that it has been re-cut and
the battens were put back in place. Catamarans don't get as much drive off
their mainsail as the foresail, but having the main with too much roach
(rounded too much on the edge) and flapping back and forth was unpleasant
and not helpful. We love the new stack pack sail cover, too. When the
mainsail is lowered, the fabric falls inside lines (lazy jacks) that direct
the sail into a blue Sunbrella-cloth holder that is permanently attached to
the boom. When the whole sail is inside the blue stack pack, a zipper closes
the two sides of the pack together and the sail is protected from the sun.
No sail ties to hold the sail in place, no sail cover to put somewhere else
when it isn't in use, etc.
anchored off the Marin Yacht Harbor and the small town of Marin at the end
of the Cul de Sac du Marin on the southwest corner of Martinique. The Cul de
Sac is a deep indented by surrounded by hills and lined with mangroves. The
town of Marin is the largest yachting center in Martinique and a dozen
charter companies have their boats based here. This island is extremely
popular with French tourists. The marina has slips for 600 yachts and there
are probably 150-200 yachts anchored outside the marina. Some yachts have
people on board who are traveling through and some are anchored out by
locals who live and work on the island.
After eating lunch, Dave and David got in the dinghy and went to sign in
to Martinique. They found the Customs and Immigration office, but no one was
there. They were told the officials come and go from Fort-de-France, the
capital city, so "`a demain" or "come back tomorrow". There are no overtime
charges here, so it suits us to go back tomorrow morning when the officials
will be here.
We are planning to anchor here, at Fort-de-France, and St. Pierre on this
island. Martinique is 47 miles long and 22 miles wide. The volcanic island
is famous for the still-active volcano Mont Pele'e. The town of St. Pierre
was destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 1902. In 10 minutes, the town had
almost diappeared beneath hot flowing lava and almost 30,000 people were
dead. We will go see old and new St. Pierre when we anchor there.
29 March 2006/Wednesday/Rodney Bay, St. Lucia
We decided this morning we would finish up the errands we wanted to do in
Rodney Bay and sign out of St.Lucia. You can sign out and then you have to
leave the country in the next 24 hours.
Dave and I went to the shops at the marina this morning and did a little
shopping. We had spotted some items we wanted to pick up, but to get the
"duty free" price (minus hefty import taxes), we had to bring in our
passports and boat clearance paper. We bought a couple of t-shirts we liked
and more spray to waterproof the bimini. Dave used up one bottle of
waterproofing yesterday and he thinks another coat of it would be a good
idea. I bought bread at the bakery, then went by to say "Good-bye" to the
folks we went on the tour with yesterday. Dave went to Customs and
Immigration and checked out of St. Lucia for Martinique.
Back at the boat, Dave and David moved some fuel from jerry jugs into the
tanks, Dave checked the engines, and rearranged some of the gear in the
forward lockers. They made a trip to drop off garbage at the bins. When they
were returning to the boat, they saw QUARTERDECK come into the lagoon. We
haven't seen them since Barbados and it was nice to see them again. Dave
told them we would drop by after lunch.
On EXIT ONLY, I made up a quick grocery list. I know all of these islands
have food, but it is much easier to buy things when I can easily get to the
grocery store here. I never know how handy the next store may be. David and
I took the dinghy to the dinghy dock by the shopping center. He went to
Domino's to order pizza for lunch and I went to the grocery store for a few
fresh fruits and vegetables.
After lunch Dave and I went to QUARTERDECK to catch up with their news.
They had been in St. Lucia and Martinique while we were in the islands south
of here. Sandra and Paul gave us some tips about things to see and do in
Martinique. We told them some things about Grenada and Trinidad. They have
been in Grenada and Trinidad, but it was quite a few years ago.
We pulled up the anchor in the lagoon about 1600 and moved out to the
open part of Rodney Bay. We took video and digital shots of the Rodney Bay
Marina and the local buildings we passed as we made our way out of the
channel to the bay. We passed two huge square-rigged pirate ships at anchor.
These are the actual ships used in making the movies (1-2-3) "Pirates of the
Caribbean". Johnny Depp/Captain Jack Sparrow was not on board.
Pigeon Island is now officially a peninsula because it is attached to the
mainland. In 1970, when they dredged to build the marina, they put the dirt
they dredged between the island and the mainland to form a causeway. The
island is now a national park. In the 1550's , a French pirate named Jambe
de Bois (Wooden Leg) used the island as a base for attacking Spanish ships.
The British fortified the island in the 1700's. In WWII a small signal
station was located here. Dave and David went in the dinghy to the island to
climb up to the remains of the stone buildings that made up Fort Rodney. At
the top of Fort Rodney Hill, there was a small well-preserved fortress with
cannons and a spectacular view. They took the cameras and got photos and
video from the fort.
We stayed at anchor off Pigeon Island tonight and plan to go to
Martinique tomorrow morning.
28 March 2006/Tuesday/Rodney Bay, St. Lucia
The group of
eight people from EXIT ONLY, CLOUD 9, MIRUS, AND KYNDA met at 0930 this
morning to go on a day tour of St. Lucia. We left the marina and headed
south. We stopped and took photos at several overlooks where you could see
the central mountains and the beaches meeting the sea. The island is very
green and has dramatic volcanic topography, so everywhere you look is a
beautiful picture. We drove through Castries, the captial city, and up above
the city we stopped at another overlook. We could not see Rodney Bay any
longer, but we were looking over the city and the bay where the freighters
come into the commercial port.
We drove south, seeing more beautiful scenery and stopping at a wood
carving shop. We stopped at a local bakery where they make cassava bread
using flour made from cassave roots. The dense round breads look like a tall
pancake and are baked on a banana leaf over a very hot fire. They offered
different flavors...cherry, cinnamon, ginger, plain, salt herring, and
banana. We bought cherry and cinnamon. Cherry was the best. We stopped at a
fishing village named Anse La Raye. It was interesting to hear that the
older people in the village want to build new concrete block houses up on
the hillsides and leave the wooden houses on the beach. The younger people
want to keep fishing and stay in the wooden houses on the beach. We saw
fishing boats made from tree trunks like dugout canoes. Dave and David got
video and photos of one of the fishermen singing using a fish as a
"microphone". Talk about creative ways to earn a little money.
We continued south to the town of Sourfriere where we checked in to St.
Lucia. The town sits at the foot of the two famous Pitons, two pointed
mountains that are right beside the sea. Some of the people in the group
wanted to eat lunch at a resort restaurant, Dasheen, that had been
recommended to them. We went there and found ourselves in an open air
restaurant looking out onto both Pitons, up close and personal. The setting
was lovely, but the service was quite slow. We ended up using a lot of our
afternoon waiting for our food.
After lunch we drove to the local "drive-in volcano". The area is a live
volcano with sulfur springs, boiling bubbling mud, and steam rising from the
ground making a fascinating picture. A guide came in the car with us and
told about the history of the area and gave basic facts about volcanoes.
There are viewing platforms where we could stand and look down over the area
where the earth is breathing. Impressive.
It was getting late, so we had to give the botanical gardens a miss. We
drove an hour and a half to get back to the marina and just made it before
dark. It was a long day, but we had a good group of people who were enjoying
a day out.
We will probably move out of the Lagoon to the outer Rodney Bay anchorage
tomorrow so we can dinghy over to Pigeon Island. If we can "do" Pigeon
Island National Park and clean the bottom of the boat tomorrow, we will head
for Martinique on Thursday. It is only 26 miles from the north end of St.
Lucia to the southern end of Martinique.
27 March 2006/Monday/Rodney Bay, St. Lucia
had sunny weather today. Occasionally, a sprinkle comes down on us, but most
of the moisture in the clouds seems to be captured by the tall volcanic
mountains in the center of the island. After all the rain in Trinidad's
"dry" season, it is nice to have bright sunny days again.
David and I took Elvin and went to the small grocery store across the
road from the marina to refill the pop locker and pick up a few groceries.
On the way back to the boat, we stopped by CLOUD 9 at the dock to talk to
them about going on an island tour. We met Diane and Don on their boat in
St. George's, Grenada, on our way south. They are moving from Trinidad north
to Martinique, then will go back to Trinidad for hurricane season. One of
the local men, John, had come to our boat this morning asking us if we
wanted laundry done or wanted to go on a tour. We asked him details about
what there was to see and how much it would cost, etc. It turned out that we
organized a tour with John for tomorrow. Diane found three more cruisers who
wanted to go, so we had a group of eight.
We ordered a pizza from Domino's for lunch and David took the dinghy over
to pick it up. I went to JQ's Supermarket for ice while David picked up the
pizza. We were back in no time. That pizza was delicious. It received ten
out of ten points on the "pizza scale".
While we were gone off the boat, Dave was working to stop a leak that has
recently developed right over our bunk. We discovered the leak after a short
rain shower. When I went to get in the forward bunk, my side of the bunk was
damp. We could see where the drip had come in and run down the wall. We have
had such a dry boat, that this leak was a surprise. Dave says he thinks we
will have to have all the hatches removed, cleaned, and re-bedded when we
get to the States just because the boat is almost 13 years old now with a
lot of miles under the keel.
Dave and I went into the marina to check out the marine shops. Island
Water World is a group of shops located on several islands that carry a wide
variety of boat materials and gear. We are looking for a new container for
gasoline. The one we have is getting old and brittle with age. We also
spotted a spray bottle containing sealer we can spray on the bimini to make
it more waterproof. Again, time and wear and tear have made the Sunbrella
fabric of the bimini porous. We did the spray treatment on our first bimini
and it gave us another year or two, so we are hoping this treatment makes
this bimini last longer, too. We didn't find a gasoline container Dave
liked, so we went into the very well-equipped hardware store across the road
from the marina. It is certainly nice to have easy access to supplies.
26 March 2006/Sunday/Rodney Bay Lagoon, St. Lucia
This is a very quiet anchorage. The marina has a of boats in it plus there
are a lot of boats anchored here in the lagoon and more anchored out in
Rodney Bay. People are coming and going in dinghies, but it is relatively
quiet. The wind has come up again, but we are tucked in to a nice spot.
We spent the morning on the boat. After lunch, David and I took a few
books in a bag and headed away from the marina in the lagoon to check it
out. Our goal was to find the St. Lucia Yacht Club. We located it on our map
and took off to explore. There are several restaurants with dinghy docks on
the far end of the lagoon. We saw a big building with several dinghies at a
dock, so went there. After locking our dinghy to the dock, we followed the
walking path through a grassy area. When we arrived at a paved road, we
looked left...to Burger King. We looked right...to Domino's Pizza. We stood
there and stared, then started laughing. Civilization. We turned right and
walked along the edge of the road that goes to all of the hotels and
condominiums used by the tourists. There were many restaurants and shops in
this area for tourists. We found the yacht club on the beach. The book swap
was on shelves in the eating area. Several tables were full of cruisers
playing Sunday afternoon dominos. We exchanged our books, then looked at the
beach. It is a pretty beach, but the water is deep right off the beach. Most
volcanic islands are like that.
Walking back the way we came, we went to the shopping center where Burger
King was located to see what shops are there. Everything was closed except
JQ's Supermarket. We walked in to buy some ice to take back to the boat. I
didn't go through the store, but it is medium-size and looks like it has a
lot of groceries for sale. I will check it out when I have more time. Nice
to have such a nice grocery store so close by.
Back at the boat we decided not to get a pizza today, but we did have
popcorn and a movie. Tomorrow we are going to do some more checking around
to see what tours are available and what we should see while we are here.
25 March 2006/Saturday/Rodney Bay Lagoon, St. Lucia
had a good night's sleep in Marigot Bay last night. We are all tired from
pushing so hard to get north, so we may spend a few days in Rodney Bay to
catch up on our sleep and get a few boat jobs done. One of our eye bolts
holding the starboard trampoline is broken, so Dave needs to fix that. I
need to clean out the frig and give the galley a good wipe down. We cannot
do boat jobs while we are sailing, because the boat is moving too much.
We left Marigot Bay at 0845 and arrived at Pigeon Island at 1025. Pigeon
Island used to be a real island, but they built a causeway out to it. It is
literally a peninsula now, but still called an island. This area is a
national park with a history dating back to the 1550's when the famous
Frenchman, Jambe de Bois (Wooden Leg) used the island as a base to attack
passing Spanish and British ships. In the 1700's, Admiral George Rodney
fortified the island and used it to monitor the French fleet in Martiniique,
26 miles north. The British fleet under Admiral Rodney left from Pigeon
Island to join the famous Battle of the Saintes (small islands off
Guadeloupe) in 1782.
The beach lining Rodney Bay is called Reduit Beach. This is the premiere
tourist beach in St. Lucia and is a lovely 2-mile-long tan sand beach. There
is a narrow channel that goes behind a spit of developed land to the Rodney
Bay Marina. This is the marina where the ARC (Atlantic Race for Cruisers)
boats arrive from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria Island each year. We are anchored
in the lagoon off the marina docks. We can take our dinghy in to the marina
and tie it up there. David and I studied the map in our cruising guide, then
went into the marina. We sussed out what was available there, then walked
out the front gate and turned right. We walked for about ten minutes to a
restaurant called Key Largo. The owners are from Rome, Italy, and the guide
says their pizza is the best on the island. We ordered two pizzas to go.
Back at the boat we had pizza for lunch. It was good, but not the best we
every had in the Caribbean. Very thin crust, very little sauce, and very
little toppings. Tasty though. We will keep looking.
Dave and I took the dinghy into shore in the afternoon and left it at the
marina. We walked out to the road and turned left. We found a small grocery
store and bought some fresh bread. Walking on the side of the road looks
dangerous. There is not a lot of room to walk beside the road and there are
a lot of cars going quite fast. We decided we would take a maxi taxi if we
are going to go any distance. That is probably safer than walking with all
We will probably stop here for a few days. We are at anchor. The land is
easily accessible. We need to catch up on our sleep.
24 March 2006/Friday/Marigot Bay, St. Lucia
left Chateaubelair Bay at the north end of the west coast of St. Vincent at
0500 this morning. Dave woke me up at 0215 this morning and asked me if I
thought since he was awake we should go ahead and leave. I wasn't fully
awake, but I woke up enough to say, "No", and go back to sleep until we did
get up and leave at 0500. It was still dark, but the bay was easy to exit
and sunrise came in an hour or so.
Today the wind still had a little easterly component, but it wasn't as
good for sailing as yesterday's wind. We motor-sailed all day today. The
passes between the islands are particularly rough with the currents swirling
around, and the wind whistling through instead of having to go up and over
the volcanic mountains. There are often standing waves where wind and
current are meeting and the waves actually get tall. The surface of the
water can look like a pot of boiling water. St. Lucia is so steep at the
edges, that we could move along in deep water just a quarter mile off shore.
The island is 27 miles long and 14 miles wide. History records 14 changes of
flag over this island before the Treaty of Paris gave the island to the
British in 1814. The British used the island as a naval post to watch the
French on Martinique, which is 26 miles north of St. Lucia.
first stop on the west coast was the town of Soufriere at 1210 to check into
St. Lucia. This town sits on the edge of a large bay and was founded by the
French in 1746. Most of the western coastal area has been designated a
Marina Management Area by the government of St. Lucia. There are mooring
balls at anchorages in this designated park area and cruisers must pay for
renting the mooring ball plus pay for a permit to moor, so using the mooring
balls can get expensive. Soufriere Bay was close to the Pitons, the two
famous volcanic peaks that are the highest on the island. Their green
covered distinctive triangle-shape makes them very photogenic as they rise
above the sea into a bright blue sky filled with puffy Trade Wind clouds.
We decided not to pick up a mooring in Soufriere Bay, so Dave and David
put the dinghy in the water. David dropped Dave off at the town dock, then
stayed in the dinghy back by EXIT ONLY. I stayed at the wheel of EXIT ONLY
and drove the boat out into the open middle of the bay. I let the boat drift
for awhile, then returned to the middle of the bay again. Dave found signing
in to St. Lucia quite easy. David and Dave took the gasoline jerry jug to
the Texaco station located on the edge of the bay for dinghy gas after Dave
came back to the town dock. After they returned to the boat, we thought
about staying on a mooring, but decided the moorings left open were too
close to the reef and the rock walls of the bay for our boat to sit there
safely. We headed north at 1300.
At 1445 we arrived at Marigot Bay. This is a small bay with a dog leg
around a spit of land with palm trees on it. All of the guide books mention
that a British admiral hid his fleet from the French inside this bay. They
put all the ships behind the palm trees and tied palm fronds in the rigging
and to the masts of each ship. The French supposedly didn't see the British
ships and sailed right by. This bay is quite small and Dave decided to pick
up a mooring ball instead of anchoring. The boats at anchor were packing in
tightly. Boat vendors came out to sell us anything and everything. We bought
some bananas. Then, we could tell every other banana vendor we already had
David and I went ashore in the dinghy to see if there was a grocery store
so we could buy fresh bread. There is a huge condominium building project
going on in Marigot Bay right now and there are no shops. There will be
twenty shops when the new buildings are finished. Now, we were told to walk
15 minutes uphill to the village to buy bread. We did the walk and it was
straight up the hill. We did find some heavy wheat buns and bought them. I
reckon they can be sliced and toasted. This was a very quiet anchorage after
the construction workers stopped for the day. There are restaurants all
around the edge of the water catering to the charter boats full of
charterers on holiday who don't want to be cooking.
23 March 2006/Thursday/Chateaubelair Bay, St. Vincent
The wind blew strongly all night. Every time I was awake in the night, the
wind was blowing over 20 knots. The wind was still blowing hard when we got
up around 0700. We couldn't decide whether we should go out and get bashed
around some more like we did yesterday, or sit in the Tobago Cays until the
wind went down or changed direction. We ate a leisurely breakfast, then
noticed the wind was down. Then we noticed the wind was not only down, but
it seemed to be coming from the east-northeast. We decided to leave and
ended up having one of our best days of sailing! We brought up the anchor at
Tobago Cays at 0825. Once we were through the reefs and away from any
islands, we put up the sails and turned off the engines. The easterly wind
gave us a swift beam reach. The seas were not built up, so we kept moving at
6.5-6.8 knots. The seas were smooth and gave us a comfortable ride. After
yesterday, this was most welcome.
About 0930 there were two catamarans motor-sailing behind us off our port
side. The people on board were obviously pushing those boats and we thought
the second boat, particularly, looked like the people on board were on the
edge of control. We thought the boat had too much sail up and was going too
fast for the sea conditions. The hulls were coming high out of the water and
slamming down again over and over. The first catamaran passed us with a good
space between us. We were laughing thinking how good they must be feeling as
they obviously wanted to "beat" us. There isn't much of a race between a
fully outfitted circum-navigation cruising cat and a chartered cat with
nothing but the charterers and their swim suits on board. We stayed on our
course moving north along the coast of Canouan Island. The second catamaran
had three men on board. They were pushing the boat and kept coming at an
angle toward us. The sensible thing to do would be to cross our track behind
us. Instead, they came dangerously close to our port side before crossing
dangerously close in front of us. When they passed in front of us they were
yelling in French and pointing excitedly behind their boat. The message was
they were trailing fishing lines and didn't want us to run over them. We
always wonder what the charter company would say if they saw such
shenanigans. If we had hit them or their fishing lines, they would have said
it was our fault.
We spent the day moving easily along on a beam reach past Canoun Island,
Mustique Island, Bequia Islnd, and came to St. Vincent. We have been advised
by many cruisers to avoid going to St. Vincent, because the "teefs" ("thiefs"/thieves)
often take whatever they can use or sell from sailboats that are passing
through. Since we are "yellow flagging" our stops, we aren't leaving the
boat, so we thought we could make it through one night anchored in St.
Vincent. We went along the western shore of the island passing several
anchorages. One of them, Wallilabou Bay, was where the town dock shots for
"Pirates Of The Caribbean" was shot. We didn't stop there because you have
to pick up a mooring if you go in there. We anchored at the northernmost
anchorage on the west coast, Chateaubelair Bay. This bay lies at the foot of
Soufriere, St. Vincent's volcano. We anchored with five other transient
yachts in the eastern part of the bay where the cliffs are covered with
vines and palm trees. We took lots of photos of the volcano and the green
slopes that come down to meet the sea. Several boat boys came out, but we
told them we didn't need any... ice, fruit, bread, tours, help with our
lines, t-shirts, etc....and, no, we didn't have any beer for them. Everyone
was asking for a cold beer.
There was a mega-yacht anchored off this bay. We saw the people on board
taking off from the helicopter pad on the top deck in a helicopter to go get
a close-up view of the volcano. Stowed amidships on the second deck was a
sleek sailing yacht, probably 30-feet long with a full mast sticking up
above the top deck. Some folks never go anywhere without a helicopter and an
Tomorrow, we will be in St. Lucia!
22 March 2006/Wednesday/12.37 N/61.21 W
We left Prickly Bay, Grenada at 0610 this morning. There was a little bit of
east component to the wind today, so we motor-sailed all day with the
tiniest bit of easterly help. We had some protection from the wind as we
passed the leeward side of Grenada and Carriacou Island.
We came into the Tobago Cays through the southern pass in the reef in the
late afternoon. The light was behind us, so it was easy to spot the reef in
the clear blue waters. We put the anchor down near where we anchored before.
This time there are about half the number of boats anchored here. Last time
we anchored here, it was high season for the charter companies and the
number of boats anchored here was quite large. Fortunately, there is a lot
of room for lots of boats to anchor here. It is such a beautiful place, it
is no wonder everyone wants to come here.
We are yellow flagging this stop, too, as we will be staying a short time
and will remain aboard the boat.
20-21 March 2006/Prickly Bay, Grenada
left Chaguaramas, Trinidad at 1330 today. This morning we did a few errands
in Chaguaramas, topped up the water tanks, rinsed off the boat with fresh
water, did one last small load of laundry, and spent all our remaining
Trinidad and Tobago Dollars ($TT). We left the dock in a light rain with
gray, overcast skies above. Not an auspicious beginning to the long trek
north! This was a significant about-face as we stop heading south or west
and head north toward Florida.
The weather did clear a tad as we headed away from Trinidad. The sky was
overcast with a reddish tinge. We think the Sahara sands were mixed in the
clouds. We motor-sailed overnight. The sky cleared and there were lots of
stars shining. The moon is a little less than half-size and rose and set
within a few hours, so it wasn't much help letting us see the sea around us.
The winds were from the northeast, so we were going into the waves on the
quarter. That is not our most comfortable point of sail, but the boat
handled it well. It was hard to sleep with the thumping and bumping as we
went over, around, and through the swells.
We arrived in Prickly Bay, Grenada at 0900. After we had omelettes and
toast for breakfast, we cleaned up the cockpit and salon. Dave and David put
the dinghy in the water and put the engine on intending to go to Customs and
Immigration and sign in. We started talking about what we wanted to do in
Grenada and how long we would stay, etc. Basically, we decided we have
x-amount of time to get north and we would rather spend our time farther
north where we have not been yet. Grenada is a very nice island, but we
decided to "yellow flag" Grenada. That means we can stop at an anchorage to
rest, but we cannot get off the boat. We have to fly the yellow flag, which
shows we are "in transit".
We slept away quite a lot of the day because all of us were up and down
taking watch last night. When we were off watch, it was hard to sleep
because the boat was "jumpin' up" (like the Carnival bands in Trinidad).
More rain today in Prickly Bay. This is the official dry season in this part
of the world, but it has been very wet this year. Everyone is wondering what
it all means.
19 March 2006/Sunday/Coral Cove Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
I baked a cake this morning to have it ready to take the carry-in BBQ
tonight at Coral Cove. This will be our last Sunday evening here.
Dave and I walked 15 minutes over to TTSA (Trinidad Toboga Sailing
Association) to meet Diana and Harold from ZEPHYRUS for lunch. They
completed their circumnavigation here upon arrival in Trinidad. We sailed
with a group that included them from Thailand across the Indian Ocean, Red
Sea, Med, and Atlantic Ocean. We will miss seeing them anchored somewhere
along the way as we head north. They are going to stay in Trinidad and
Grenada for hurricane season this year. We had a nice lunch together and
enjoyed one more visit. Who knows where we will cross paths again.
Dave and I walked back to Coral Cove in the late afternoon in time to get
organized for the evening BBQ. I had marinated pork chops for Dave and
David, so they cooked those on the grill provided by the marina. The meal
turned out to include a nice variety of dishes to be shared. The guitars
came out and this time Tom brought maracas for some of us in the crowd to
"play". We had another enjoyable evening singing "oldies" after a nice meal.
We heard some very sad news today. Tony, one of the men who did the work
on our sails and sail cover for Soca Sails, died last night in a boating
accident. The story went that he was going home to the island in Chaguaramas
Bay where he lived late at night. There was little moon and it was dark.
Evidently, he steered his boat between two boats...one pulling another with
a line. Tony was killed when he hit the line between the boats. Of course,
we were all very sorry to hear this sad story. A lot of people at the dock
So tomorrow afternoon we will head for Grenada. It is roughly 80 miles
from here to there. We want to arrive after daylight in the morning.
18 March 2006/Saturday/Coral Cove Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
Our time here is really winding down, so we are trying to fit in last minute
things we want to get done. The boat jobs we had someone else do are all
done and all the pieces of the puzzle are back in place. We will wash the
decks and cockpit down one more time with fresh water while we are at a
dock. The last of the TT Dollars will be spent on things we see on the
shelves in Trinidad that we know we won't see again until we get farther
north in the Caribbean. Two more loads of laundry are done, so we will be
leaving fresh and clean.
I always end of liking places where we spend time, so it is always a
little hard for me to leave. Being in Chaguaramas from 16 February to 20
March seems like a long time compared to most of the places we have been.
Being at the dock at Coral Cove has made a big difference in the amount of
interaction we have had with other cruisers. We have gotten to know a lot of
people and sharing the bigger-than-life Carnival experience has made
Trinidad very special. I have especially enjoyed the infrastructure set in
place by many locals to make being in Chaguaramas so convenient.
Jesse and Sharon Rose James run Members Only Services, conveniently
located at Tropical Marine. Their tours to all of the Carnival "happenings"
made it possible for us to enjoy the venues knowing it was safe for us to be
there and we had transport to and from the event no matter what time it
happened, day or night. They were helpful, introducing us to the whole new
vocabulary we had to learn to understand Carnival. Sharon helped us sift
through all of the activity options and helped us choose a balanced variety
of experiences, both "traditional" Carnival and "nouveau" Carnival. We
learned about steel pans (drums) and heard enough pan music so we could
distinguish between good and great music. Jesse and Sharon shared the love
and pride they have for their island with us and we have many good memories
to carry away.
We spent the afternoon getting the boat ready for leaving on Monday.
17 March 2006/Friday/Coral Cove Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
I got brave today and went into Port of Spain by myself. I rode the maxi
taxi to the station at the waterfront, then walked two blocks to the main
street. I have done this a few times with David, but not by myself. I had a
couple of errands I wanted to run in town before we left and we are quickly
running out of time. I did my errands and a couple of hours later I was on a
maxi taxi returning to the marina. The main streets of Port of Spain are
safe in the daytime, and I did not go in areas we have been told to avoid.
Back at the boat David had his steel pan drum lesson from Kendall Lewis.
Mr. Lewis came thinking he would have to start from ground zero with David,
but when he realized David understands music theory and is a percussionist,
he was able to cover a lot of ground and answer any questions David asked.
David had a really good time learning from this man. The Merry Tones won the
small band competition at Carnival this year, so they are a very good band.
Mr. Lewis does the arranging for the band. A lot of their band members do
not read music, so the arranger has to play the part for the section leader,
then the section leader has to play the part for the people in his section
and help them learn their part.
While David was playing steel pans, Dave went to the machine shop to pick
up the engine. The machinist was able to drill out the corroded screw and
replace it with a new one. We were very happy to have the engine ready to go
again. Dave also picked up some small PVC pipe and cut it in lengths to make
light, but strong stands to hold David's steel pan drums. He made the two
PVC stands the right height to sit on the cockpit table and hold the two
drums side-by-side for David to play them. Pretty creative thinking.
David met Ami and Rick on TARAVANA, a catamaran at Power Boats a few
nights ago. Ami played a tenor steel pan in one of the steel bands. They
called us and asked to meet us at Joe's Pizza and Italian Restaurant for
supper. They live on a catamaran and have been in Trinidad for a few years.
They are considering going around the world and wanted to ask some questions
about our experience traveling on a cat around the world. We met them at
1800 and had a nice evening visiting with them. We are sorry we won't get to
see more of them because we are leaving.
16 March 2006/Thursday/Coral Cove Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
We were picked
up at Coral Cove at 0900 this morning. We arrived at a small building on the
north side of Port of Spain where steel pan drums are manufactured about
0930.. A man from the factory gave a talk about steel pan drums. He told how
during WW II the fuel drums were made into musical instruments and the steel
pan was born right here in Trinidad. Today, they still use similar drums,
but these drums have never held fuel. He demonstrated how the note pads are
bent into the pan, then tuned. He mentioned there is a move to standardize
where each note is placed. He said the people in the north may not place the
notes the same way the people in the east or south do. The "north", "south",
and "east" he referred to are all here on Trinidad. These factories may not
be physically far apart, but they each don't want to give up the way they
make their hand-made pans. Many schools in Trinidad are using pans in their
music programs, so this fact alone is making the manufacturers realize
standardization would make it much easier for the pan students. Steel pans
are an intricate part of the Carnival scene, so students have a lot of
incentive to learn to play the steel pans well. There are separate
competitions for school steel pan bands at Carnival time, plus many students
play in the large competititve steel pan bands that include people of all
ages. We were allowed to take photos and video of the factory and the man's
Our group left the pan factory and went to the east side of Port of Spain
to the Angostura Bitters factory. This is a modern factory that is the only
one of its kind in the world. Every bottle of Angostura Bitters sold
anywhere in the world, comes from Trinidad. We did not know what Angostura
Bitters were, but figured out that is because alcohol is used in the process
of making them, so they wouldn't be sold in Riyadh. We had lunch in the
employee cafeteria before we started our tour. I asked the man behind me
what kind of soup they were serving. He told me "coweel", or that is what I
thought he said. I asked the lady for soup without meat and got a nice broth
with lots of vegetables. Later, I was telling someone the name of the soup.
They laughed and laughed and laughed. I ate "cow heel" soup, made with cow's
After lunch, a guide took us through the Angostura Bitters museum located
in the factory. Angostura aromatic bitters was first made in 1824 in the
small village of Angostura, Venezuela by Dr. J.G.B. Siegert. He was a
medical doctor working as the surgeon general for Simon Bolivar's troops. He
used the bitters in ginger ale to settle upset stomachs. Dr. Siegert died in
1870 and his sons, Carlos and Alfredo, took over the company. They moved the
factory to Trinidad in 1875 and began shipping the bitters around the world.
Today there is a secret council of five people who know the exact
proportions of botanicals (the word used by the guide) that must be used to
make Angostura Bitters. Someone knows who all five people are, because it is
their job to make sure these five people are not on the same airplane or in
the same location at the same time in case tragedy would strike and the
secret could be lost. When it is time to mix a new batch of bitters, one of
the council members comes to the factory and goes to a secret room on the
second floor to measure the botanicals for the next batch. The measured
botanicals are sent down a funnel directly into the grinder on the first
floor. The factory has permission from the government to import over 100
botannicals, but they only use part of them. This keeps anyone from figuring
out the exact formula. The too-large label on each bottle won an award for
the worst label and appearance on the shelf. When given the award, it was
also suggested they don't change, because the too-large label is so unique.
The guide told us the original labels were too large for the bottles, but it
was too late to order more, so they used the ones that were too large.
We were given a recipe leaflet that suggests using Angostura Bitters in
soft drinks, cocktails, soups, salads, vegetables, gravies, fish, meat,
fruit juices, grapefruit, cut mixed fruits, stewed prunes, stewed figs,
preserved fruits, jellies, sherbets, water-ices, ice cream, sauces for
puddings, hard sauces, plum pudding, mince and fruit pies, apple sauce, and
all similar desserts. At the end of the tour, our group was invited to order
drinks made with Angostura Bitters. We tried the non-alcoholic popular local
soft drink called "LLB" (lemon, lime, bitters). It was very good and tasted
like a fruity Seven-Up.
15 March 2006/Wednesday/Coral Cove Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
Soca Sails came back today with our stack pack. They added the fabric where
Dave asked them to add it, and we are really pleased with the result. The
stack pack looks neat and tidy and it works very well. There is a separate
piece of Sunbrella fabric that zips on to both sides of the mast-end of the
stack pack. This holds the front end of the stack pack firmly against the
mast. A cover zips along the top of the stack pack covering the whole sail.
To use the sail, we have to unzip the top zipper and remove the fabric
around the mast. The sail is ready to be raised. We had to pay fees again
today for the vendors to be on our boat. They told us their boss at Soca
Sails told them not to accept any more jobs at Coral Cove Marina because
they are not going to pay fees to work on boats. We are all glad we have our
nice new stack pack and glad the job is done.
Later in the day, the rumor started going around that the marina is going
to stop asking for fees until 1 April. I have no idea what will happen after
1 April, but we will be gone, so it won't affect us. I hope the new rules
are a lot different than the ones that popped up two days ago for the sake
of those who will be here.
Dave went by to see if the machinist was able to get the screw out of the
engine mount, but he hasn't been able to work on it yet. We are going on a
tour all day tomorrow, so we will be checking on the engine again on Friday.
We had thought about leaving for Grenada tomorrow, but Members Only Services
arranged a tour to a steel pan factory tomorrow and we were all interested
in seeing that. We decided to stay, which meant staying until Monday. If we
left for Grenada on Friday, we would arrive on Saturday and have to pay
overtime to the Customs officers for checking us in on a weekend. We can't
leave Sunday because we have to sign out from Trinidad and that would mean
signing out on a weekend...and paying overtime to Customs here.
David and I went into Port of Spain in a maxi-taxi today. David wanted to
find Steven's Music Shop on St. Vincent Street. We knew where the street
was, but had to walk quite a few blocks to find the music shop. There were a
lot of people walking on this street, because many government agencies and
departments were located here. We walked into the music shop and David
starting asking the lady at the desk questions about double tenor pans and
malettes. A man was sitting on a chair near the desk and started joining in
the conversation about steel pan drums. He introduced himself as Dougla. He
told David he is the manager for the Merry Tones Steel Pan Band. He and
David talked about Carnival and steel pans for awhile. Dougla gave David his
card and invited him to come to the Merry Tones pan yard to a practice
session this evening. He said he would stop by and pick David up at Coral
Cove, then see that he was safely returned after the practice. David was
really excited about going and all went as planned. David got to ask all the
questions he could think of about steel pan drums, double tenor pans in
particular. The people playing in the band showed him a lot of techniques
for playing the pans. David met Kendall Lewis, one of the arrangers for the
Merry Tones. He made a plan with Mr. Lewis to have a private lesson using
his new double tenor steel pans at the boat on Friday. Wow! All this
happened because we went to the music store today.
It was still raining today, but only a shower now and then.
14 March 2006/Tuesday/Coral Cove Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
It rained all day today, so that affected everything we did. There were
times when the rain lightened up, so we had a chance to get the dinghy motor
off the boat and to the machine shop. Dave and David carried the Yamaha 8
down the road to the shop. One of the screws in the mounting plate is frozen
and needs to be drilled out, then replaced. Dave has worked on it for days,
and had no luck. The machinist says he can get the screw out, so we hope he
can. The whisker pole had its new fitting and was ready to be picked up, so
we got that back and stowed where it belongs.
There is a lot of talk going round at the marina about their new rules.
The people who stay for months at the dock have been upset because if anyone
comes to visit them at their boat, the new marina rules say they have to pay
to have their dinghy at the dock. I am certainly glad we are short-termers
and won't be involved in all of this for many days. I do hope the complaints
from the businesses and people on the docks are considered, because this is
a nice marina in a good location. Someone said not as many boats came this
year as came last year to stay for the hurricane season, so these charges
are an effort by the owners of the marina to make up "lost" revenue.
This was a very wet day that again made us wonder...if this is dry
season, wet season must be a deluge everyday. We will be leaving next Monday
afternoon to do an overnight sail to Prickly Bay, Grenada on the south end
of the island. We hope we have better weather going north than we did coming
13 March 2006/Monday/Coral Cove Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
Cove Marina had a big surprise for everyone at the dock today. New signs
were nailed to the dinghy dock that stated everyone using the dinghy dock
would have to pay for using the dock. A new charge for vendors coming on the
property was announced. We happened to have two people from Soca Sails
working on our boat with the stack pack. They brought the new stack pack to
see how it fit and what adjustments have to be made. The office personnel
were instructed by the manager of the marina that each worker had to pay a
25 TT fee to come on the premises. That meant Soca Sails had to pay 50 TT
every time they come to fit the sail cover. The cover wasn't big enough
today, so Dave asked them to add fabric to both sides. I went upstairs to
talk to the people in the office. I told them it wasn't right to make us pay
every time the Soca Sails people came to make an adjustment to our sail
cover. They had already come three times that we didn't have to pay for, but
in total, the cover was going to involve six trips, which by their rules was
300 TT. The desk personnel told me I don't have to pay the fee, the vendor
does. I told them the vendor doesn't care if they have to pay 100 TT every
time they come, because they will just pass the cost along to the consumer
when we get our bill. No one had an answer to that. It isn't like we are
taking business from a sail maker at Coral Cove Marina, because there is no
sail maker there.
Joe's Pizza and the other businesses that rent space from Coral Cove
Marina were not happy with the new rules. They didn't know anything about
this until today either. Joe's is a very popular pizza and Italian food
restaurant. People come by dinghy from all over the area. That won't be
happening so much now. Dave talked to the manager of Joe's Pizza and he was
very unhappy about the new rules. Evidently a lot of people went and talked
to the manager.
We won't be having any more work done on the boat. Dave did take the
whisker pole that has a broken fitting on one end to a machine shop to have
a new fitting put on. We needed to have one more small repair done our
dinghy. The man from the inflatable shop told us he would stop by and do the
repair in 15 minutes right on the deck. Dave went to his shop to tell him
about the new marina rules about vendors coming on the property and asked
him not to come to the boat. Dave, David, and Joe carried the dinghy back to
the shop to have the repair done so we wouldn't have to pay 25 TT for the
vendor to come to our boat.
David went hiking with Joe and Amanda. Dave and I continued to do the
small boat jobs we can do ourselves to get the boat ready to leave. We are
planning to leave for Grenada one week from today.
12 March 2006/Sunday/Coral Cove Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
We met Jean and Tom off JEAN MARIE at TTSA (Trinidad and Tobago Sailing
Association) for lunch today. They kindly offered to educate us about the
Inter-Coastal Waterway (ICW) in the eastern United States. Dave and I
decided we do not want to pay the extra money our insurance company wants if
we have our boat located south of the Florida-Georgia line during hurricane
season. We would rather spend that money on something else. We figured out
we could move the boat north in the ICW and it would save us money, we would
see new territory, and we would be in the United States so we could visit
family. When we told Jean and Tom about our decision, they asked some
specific questions about our knowledge of the ICW and quickly knew we knew
nothing about it.
We ate lunch at the restaurant on the TTSA grounds. You get a plate
heaped with local foods...chicken or fish, macaroni pie, salad, pullao (rice
and split peas), and greens. You all get a bowl of callaloo soup made from
dasheen leaves (elephant ear plant). After lunch Tom pulled out a chart book
of the Virginia Beach to Chesapeake part of the ICW and proceeded to give us
an incredibly thorough briefing of traveling the ICW. He and Jean succinctly
helped us understand what the parameters are and what decisions have to be
made as to time vs destinations on the Waterway. We heard many names of
places we never knew before and learned about boat yards where catamarans
are hauled. We were assured that being in the States without a car isn't a
major problem from the ICW. The historical sites along the ICW are
highlights. They told us there is a whole group of boats that migrate north
and south on the ICW with the seasons. There is even an ICW radio net that
is on every morning to help people enjoy the experience. We really
appreciated the time and effort Jean and Tom made to acquaint us with the
In the late afternoon we hurried back to Coral Cove, about a 15 minute
walk away. The people at the dock in Coral Cove have a BBQ on Sunday
evenings. I had pork chops marinating for Dave and David. I made a chocolate
cake and frosted it this morning, so that was what I took to share with the
group. This carry in dinner turned out to have a better variety of dishes
than the last one. After the meal, Tom on ANNIE B got out his guitar and
played songs while everyone tried to sing along. David played his guitar,
too, and sometimes the harmonica. Most of the songs were from the 50's and
60's and we all knew some of the words, but not all of them. Vicki on ESTHER
N started reading the words out..."When you're weary, feeling small..." and
we would all sing it, then "And tears in your eyes;;"and we would sing. I
guess you would call this "audio karaoke". It certainly was a funny way to
sing songs, but it worked. Toward the end of the evening, a German lady and
her husband off SPURR, came with their guitar and accordion. Three guitars,
a harmonica, and an accordion made quite a band.
11 March 2006/Saturday/Coral Cove Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
I got up and went on the Members Only fresh market run at 0630 this morning.
This is a very popular trip and there are usually 2-4 maxi-taxis full of
10-12 people going to the fresh fruit and vegetable market first thing in
the morning. This is the biggest market of the week. I bought a few things,
but mostly I went to take photos. I took photos of the people as well as the
artistically arranged produce. There are also stalls selling food, coffee,
spices, and flowers. Anthiriums are popular flowers sold everywhere. People
buy them and enjoy them for weeks. I didn't find the stall selling flowers
today, but I asked where the flower stalls are located so I can find them
The worst part of going to the market for me was walking through the meat
building. The lady who showed me the way, said I had to go through there.
The building is neat and clean, but still the smell of raw meat pervades the
air and there are bits and pieces of beef, pork, chicken, fish, and seafood
everywhere. At the end of the morning, I discovered you can walk around the
side of the building to get back to the front. I also bought Carnival music
CD's at the market and a newspaper.
group stayed at the market for an hour and a half, then we were picked up at
the front gate and whisked away to Chaguaramas. Our caravan made one more
stop at the large HiLo Supermarket next to West Mall. We were told we had 30
minutes in the HiLo. This is only a quick stop. Members Only makes a long
shopping trip to this store on Fridays. Everyone was back in the vans and we
were back at Coral Cove Marina by 0930.
David went on another hike today with Joe and Amanda. They followed a
road that became a trail and a trail that ended at a river that became a
creek flowing through a narrow gorge. They found a waterfall and slid down
smooth rocks into the pool formed by the waterfall. They took some photos
and video clips, so we got to see the waterfall, too. I am glad I didn't
have to walk all the way there, but they thought it was one of the best
hikes they have done. Joe is from Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Amanda is
from Blacksburg, Virginia. Walter is the captain of MARNIE and he is from
Virginia Beach. We first met Walter in Gibraltar. He is the first person who
told us we should try to go to Trinidad for Carnival.
We also go the laundry done today. Another easy chore to do when you are
at a dock and the marina has washers and dryers a two-minute walk away from
the dock. We learn to appreciate the small conveniences.
10 March 2006/Friday/Coral Cove Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
David and I
took a maxi taxi to the steel pan shop on Gallus Street near the stadium
outside Port of Spain this morning. David went here the other day with Joe
and Amanda. Lincoln Enterprises is a well-known steel pan shop run out of a
garage behind someone's house. They sell steel pans that are made here on
Trinidad. David had already talked to Curtis, the salesman, about the
different types of pans available, so he already knew he wanted to buy
double tenor pans. This is a set of two steel drums.
We have been reading and learning about steel pans. In the beginning when
people created steel pans, they tuned different steel drums to sound like
different instruments in an orchestra. They beat different notes into the
the different pans. Some have high notes and some have low notes. Each
different kind of pan has its own part to play. Together, they make music.
Some parts are played on one drum and some parts are played on two or even
six drums. David told Curtis he would buy the double tenor pan set, but he
didn't have the money with him and would return between 1400 and 1500 this
afernoon to buy the drums.
After we left the pan store in the morning, David and I caught another
maxi-taxi and continued on into downtown Port of Spain. We had lunch at
Rituals. This is a coffee and sandwich shop copied from Starbucks. We
ordered the panini sandwich and hazelnut chiller. The chiller is like a milk
shake or frappecino and really tasty. Next, we did our errands in town. We
wanted to catch a maxi-taxi to return to Chaguaramas before the schools were
let out for the day.
David went back to the drum shop in the afternoon with the money to pay
for the drums. Curtis asked a neighbor living near the drum shop to carry
David and the two large drums to Coral Cove for a taxi fare. We were glad to
see him and the drums back at Coral Cove safely. Trinidad is not a place to
carry large sums of money around. There are a lot of robberies, so we all
try to use common sense and be careful. Dave and David are already thinking
creatively about what they can use to build stands to hold the drums so they
can be played. The heavy metal stands sold at the drum store don't lend
themselves to being used on a boat. The stands were also quite expensive and
David was sure he could come up with something that would do the same job
for a cheaper price.
9 March 2006/Thursday/Coral Cove Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
David went for a hike with Joe and Amanda, the crew on MARNIE. They hiked
from the Chaguaramas to Macqueripe Beach on the north side of the island.
They enjoyed getting the excercise, then having a refreshing swim when they
got to the ocean.
I took Elvin and walked down the road to Power Boats to have a look at
the small grocery store located there. I have to walk farther to go around
the end of the water to the small HiLo shop we have been going to by dinghy
from the marina. Since our dinghy is at the repair shop, I thought I would
walk the other way on the main road. Since the shops here are used to North
American and European customers, they had quite a few products that these
folks would be familiar with. It is always fun to go in a shop and see what
Dave continued to work on the smaller boat jobs today. It is handy to
have all the chandleries close-by if you find you need something to complete
a job. Dave has walked through all the chandleries like I have walked
through the grocery stores.
Soca Sails came by and picked up our foresail today. They are going to
replace the strip of Sunbrella that is sewn on the edge that is outside when
the sail is furled. This strip protects the sail from sun damage. Dave also
talked to them about making a stack pack for the mainsail. I am really happy
about that, because I think it is such a good way to cover the sail. We
notice that all the newer boats have stack packs, so it must be a good idea
that has proven itself.
8 March 2006/Wednesday/Coral Cove Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
PITCH LAKE ADVENTURE
We left at 0900 this morning with Jesse James' Members Only Services to go
on a tour to the pitch lake located in the southwest part of Trinidad. We
headed south and drove through Port of Spain, then passed Chaguanas, which
is the heart of the Asian Indian population on the island. Passing through
we saw many Hindu temples and fields full of citrus, coffee, cocoa, and
bananas. Farther south we came to San Fernando, the second larget city on
the island and the center of the oil and gas industries. We stopped at a
roadside stand for snacks mid-morning. Jesse ordered doubles for everyone.
These are two fried pieces of bread dough with various fillings in the
middle. These doubles had chutney inside. As he handed out the doubles,
Jesse carefully opened each one and looked at it. I wondered what he was
looking at or for. When he handed me my double, he said, "Don't eat the big
seed inside". I would have started eating not knowing about the big seed if
he hadn't mentioned it. Turns out he was warning us about the tamarind seeds
and hot peppers in the chutney. They are used for seasoning, but you aren't
supposed to eat them.
Pitch Lake is locate 36 miles south of San Fernando near the village of
La Brea. The 99-acre expanse of asphalt is 295 feet deep at its center where
hot bitumen is continuously replenished from a subterranean fault. This lake
is one of three in the world and has the single largest supply of natural
bitumen. The miners take out as much as 300 tons daily, digging down to six
feet below the surface. It takes six weeks for the earth to replenish what
Our group walked on the surface of the lake with a guide. She showed us
pieces of cooled bitumen that looked like wrinkled elephant skin. In the
rainy season the whole surface of asphalt is sometimes covered by a shallow
depth of rainwater. The mining continues. Today, the surface of the lake was
dry except for a few puddles of water. These collections of water are
thought to have healing properties by some people. While we were there, one
group immersed themselves in the water of one puddle. We had to walk through
calf-deep water to get off the lake surface at the end of the tour. Jesse
was waiting with the van on the edge of the asphalt. He had to keep the van
moving back and forth so the tires did not sink into the asphalt.
After we left the lake and headed north, Jesse asked what kind of rotis
everyone wanted for lunch. He took the order and called it in on the mobile
phone so the rotis would be ready when we arrived. He said they restaurant
had chicken and goat rotis with bones. Everyone but me ordered. I asked if
they had something without bones and he said they had "Rasta rotis". Rastas
don't eat meat, so these are potato rotis. No meat and no bones. It was
Still heading north, we stopped at Waterloo Temple. This is a Hindu
temple at the end of a causeway sticking out 285 feet into the sea. Siewdass
Sadhu Shiv Mandir, was grateful for a safe return trip from Trinidad to
India and back. He committed himself to building a temple and started
construction in 1947 on state-owned land. The government officials destroyed
his building, so Sadhu began building a causeway off the edge of the land
out to sea. He carried each stone on his bicycle, adding to the causeway
each day. He died in 1970 and the work was incomplete. In 1994 the Hindu
community completed the causeway and temple in memory of this man's faith
and commitment. Within sight of the temple on the shore, we saw several
Hindu funeral pyres burning.
Our last stop was at another Hindu temple where an 85-foot high statue of
the Hindu God Hanuman towers over the Dattatreya Yoga Center and Mandir. The
yoga center was a huge pastel pink building with white trim. The family that
takes care of the site was happy to see us and wanted all of us to see all
sides of the main building and walk around the tall statue.
This was another interesting day in Trinidad.
7 March 2006/Monday/Coral Cove Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
I went on the free maxi taxi to Long Circular Mall. The True Value
Supermarket and the Malabar Meat Market pay Members Only Services to bring
people there, so the people don't have to pay. Right across the street from
the mall and supermarket is a used bookstore, so some of us went there to
check it out. The shop was tidy and full of books, but the prices were what
one would pay for new books elsewhere.
The vegetable man came to Coral Cove today. He parks his truck in front
of the main building. Just another thing that happens in Chaguaramas for the
convenience of the cruisers. We have never seen a location that is so handy
for cruisers. Some of the locals have done a good job of seeing a need and
filling it. It is easy to see how people come here and don't want to leave.
Everything that can be difficult to do from a boat is "no problem" here.
Soca Sails came by today and picked up our main sail. They are going to
cut off the extra roach, put the battens back in, and replace the large new
cars that attach the sail to the mast with the old smaller cars from the old
main sail. We are thinking about having a new sail cover made called a
"stack pack" or "cradle". This style of cover stays on the boom and catches
the sail when it is let down.
More rain fell off and on today. Everyone keeps wondering when the dry
season is going to happen. We are beginning to think it rains all year
around here, some times harder than others. This is a very green island, so
we are pretty sure it really rains here every month and when the locals say
"dry season", they may mean less than "wet season".
We are enjoying our time here and using the handy facilities to get a lot
of boat jobs done.
6 March 2006/Monday/Coral Cove Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
been working hard going through all the Carnival photos he took. He goes
through and removes the pictures he doesn't want to keep, then saves the
"keepers" onto discs. Next, he chooses which photos will go into the photo
gallery on the website and has to put them into the basic format they use
all the photos in the different galleries. The photos from Carnival are so
colorful and different from anything else that they are going to put more
photos up than they usually do. Several people asked Dave if they could have
a copy of some of the Carnival photos, so he has copied some of the best
photos onto discs the people gave him. This whole process has taken hours to
do, but the results are worth the effort.
Now that it is Monday, the various marine shops in the area opened and we
were able to drop off the dinghy, the whisker pole, the sails, etc. Dave and
David carried the dinghy over to the repair shop that is conveniently
located next to Coral Cove. Our departure from Trinidad will depend on when
these jobs are completed and we get our gear back.
The variety of cruisers we have met here has been interesting. Some folks
are blue water cruisers like us, coming in from the Med. Those of us who
left from the East Coast USA have almost completed our circum-navigation.
Those from the west coast USA still have to go through the Panama Canal and
up the west coast to finish their circum-navigation. Some cruisers stay in
the Caribbean and go north and south in the islands with the seasons. Some
cruisers go north and south in the islands for awhile, then decide to head
west and up along Central America before going through the Panama Canal into
the Pacific. Another group of people uses their boat as an island "cabin".
They come to Trinidad for a few months each year and live on their boat in a
marina. When they are not here, they store the boat on the hard. I read in
one of the guides that around 3,000 cruising boats are in Trinidad each
season and around 1,000 of them stay in the area, either in the water or on
There is a lot of competition for the cruising dollar in this part of the
world. Since Trinidad and Venezuela have traditionally been out of the
hurricane zone, many boats choose to spend hurricane season there. Grenada
was also considered out of the hurricane zone until Ivan hit in 2005 and
damaged 90% of the buildings on the island. Many boats were damaged or lost,
both on the hard and in the water. Venezuela has a lot of large marinas on
the northern coast, but these days the political situation there may make
life tough for people from the States and piracy is a problem when you are
moving in some areas along the Venezuelan coast. Grenada is rebuilding, so
they are going to have bigger and better marinas when they are done.
5 March 2006/Sunday/Coral Cove Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
Today was a sunny day with just a few passing sprinkles now and again. This
is supposed to be dry season, but it has never really stopped raining this
year and everyone is talking a lot about the weather. It seems to us like
everywhere we have sailed, people were saying, "It isn't usually like this"
or "This is very unusual weather we are having".
Now, Carnival is officially over and we will be able to get some of
repair jobs on the boat done. We have already given our foresail to a sail
maker to renew some of the stitching and put on a new Sunbrella strip on the
edge that forms a cover when the sail is furled on the head stay. The same
shop is recutting and sewing the old slugs on our new mainsail. The new
slugs were much bigger than the old ones and Dave likes the smaller slugs in
the mast track. We are also going to ask how much it would cost to have a
new mainsail cover made for the new sail. The old cover does not fit this
sail. I have been wanting to get a stack pack/cradle cover. This cover stays
on your boom all of the time and "catches" the main when you let it down,
then you zip a long zipper to close the top. An additional piece wraps
around the front of the mast. We need to take one of our spinnaker poles to
a welding shop and have the fixture on the end repaired/welded. A small
piece broke off when we were at sea. The dinghy engine has a frozen screw in
the area where you attach the motor to the dinghy. Dave has been using WD40
and a mallet trying to free the screw, but he is not making progress. He
says the screw is going to have to be drilled out at a shop. The dinghy is
already at the dinghy repair shop having the rub rail glued on.
Chaguaramas has shops that fix anything and everything on boats, but you
need to be here for a long time to get major work done. We are going to try
to get all of these small jobs done before we leave.
Every Sunday evening, there is a BBQ at the gazebo at Coral Cove Marina
for anyone who is in the marina slips or the boatyard. We went to our first
BBQ in the evening. You take your meat to grill and a dish to share, your
own drinks, utensils, and plates. The day was very hot, so I decided not to
bake the cake I was going to take. Instead, I put together a very elaborate
layered Mexican dip that had 6-7 layers and took tortilla chips. I thought I
was being creative and making something special. Six groups of people showed
up for the meal and it was one of the funniest carry-in dish affairs I have
ever been to. The company was great, but the food variety left a lot to be
desired. The dishes to share were lined up on the wall. There were three
potato salads, one green salad, and TWO layered Mexican dips. Can you
believe that? I guess everyone thought it was too hot to bake!
4 March 2006/Saturday/Coral Cove Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
I was up, dressed, and off the boat by 0620 this morning. Jesse James
Members Only Maxi Taxi Service does a regular 0630 run to the fresh fruit
and vegetable market in Port of Prince. There were enough people to fill
three maxi taxis this morning. I went along to suss the market out and
didn't plan to buy many fruits and vegetables this trip. I took the small
digital camera along and got some great shots of the market and people, plus
pictures of the beautifully displayed produce. We arrived at the market by
0700 and stayed there for a little over one hour. I bought beautiful
tomatoes, cucumbers, and a couple of pineapples. Next week I am going to
look for the bright red and pink anthurium flowers I saw people carrying and
some of the fresh basil they bought that has variegated purple and green
Back in the maxi taxis, the drivers took us toward Chaguaramas. We made a
40-45 minute stop at the big HiLo Supermarket. It is just enough time to
pick up a few items that aren't available at the mini marts in the area
where the marinas are located. I was back at the boat by 0945.
evening, David and I went with Members Only to the "The Champions, The Last
Lap". This was an after-Carnival show that advertised it was made up of the
winners in all the major Carnival categories. It turned out to be a lot of
the winners, but not all of them. We went to Queen's Park Savanna, to the
open air stage surrounded by chairs under cover. This was a nostalgic night
for Trinidadians, because it was the last time the present venue will ever
be used for Carnival. This was mentioned over and over again by the older
participants and the younger participants wanted to be noted for being a
part of the last Carnival show held there. We had paid for General seats,
the cheapest, but got there early enough to be in the front row right behind
the press area. To our left, one meter away, was the end of the row in the
front, center section, the most expensive seats. About a third of the way
through the show, David took the digital cameral forward to the edge of the
stage where others were standing to take photos as people came across the
stage. A little later, I moved over to the section of padded VIP chairs near
where David was standing, so we didn't get separated in the huge crowd. The
VIPs had been sitting in those chairs earlier in the evening, but once they
were honored and recognized in the program, many of them left. I sat on a
padded chair up front next to the stage until we left.
Jesse rounded all of us up to return to Chaguaramas at 1230. The show
still wasn't over, but we had seen everything but the last three acts. It
was a fun evening, but we had seen what we came to see. We were back at the
boats around 0100. This will probably bring my being a night owl to an end
3 March 2006/Friday/Coral Cove Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
We dropped off our empty propane tank at the Coral Cove Marina guard shack
first thing this morning. A driver will come by in the afternoon and take
all the bottles to be filled. He will pick them up tomorrow and return them
to us at the guard shack. We were supposed to make sure our boat name is
visible on the propane tank (we already had "EXIT ONLY" written all over the
tank from previous fills in far, distant places) and we pay the posted price
when we drop the tank off. So many services for yachties are so handy here!
David went on a hike today with Joe and Amanda, who crew for Walter on
MARNIE. They are all from the Virginia Beach area. They all like to hike and
Joe even carries a machete if they need one on the trail. I spent the
afternoon fixing Mexican dinner because we invited the MARNIE crew over for
supper tonight and promised them Mexican food. We thought they were going to
be leaving in the next couple of days, but the plan changed to hauling out
and doing a bottom job instead of leaving this week. We had a nice visit
with Walter, Joe, and Amanda over supper. We first met Walter in Gibraltar.
We met Joe in Barbados. Amanda has just joined the crew here in Trinidad, so
she hasn't done any offshore sailing yet. MARNIE is a 54-foot classic design
monohull ketch. Walter is the one who first told us we should try to be in
Trinidad for Carnival and got us interested in coming here. We had never
really thought about actually going to Carnival until he started describing
a lot of the activities and telling us how much fun it was to be here during
Carnival. Now, he has told us we shouldn't miss the Family Regatta in the
Exumas, Bahamas at the end of April. We are going to try and meet up with
A funny thing happened when we were eating Mexican dinner. Right before
everyone sat down, I had asked David to remove the napkins I used to soak up
the juices in the bowl of the chopped tomatoes. David took the one on top
off, but didn't know there was also a napkin on the bottom of the bowl.
After we passed the toppings and put them on top of the chili and tortillas
chips, I noticed a funny looking topping on people's plates and
investigated. They had torn the napkin when they served the tomatoes and had
pieces of wet napkin in their food. I quickly told everyone what happened
and the pieces of paper were easily removed as we had a good laugh about it.
For dessert, I layered two flavors of instant pudding with crumbled cookies
and put sprinkles on top. I noticed everyone eating the dessert very
carefully. I started laughing so hard. I realized they were trying to figure
out what the crunchy pieces in the pudding were and if they were supposed to
be there. I told them there were crumbled cookies in the pudding and they
were edible. I assured them there were no pieces of paper in the pudding!
Everyone enjoyed their dessert more when they knew what they were eating.
2 March 2006/Thursday/Coral Cove Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
James of Members Only Maxi Taxi Tours picked 10 yachties up around 0915 this
morning to head out for a day of sightseeing. The three of us went armed
with bug repellent, rain gear, the digital camera, and the video camera.
Jesse told us a little about the Chaguaramas area as we drove south to Port
of Spain. During WW II the Allies used Chaguaramas Bay as a staging area for
naval vessels. The US Navy built the first roads coming up here (Chaguaramas
is on the southern side of the northwest corner of Trinidad). We passed a
bar at Point Cumana that became famous in WW II when the Andrews Sisters
sang a song about this bar and the local women "workin' for the Yankee
dollar" selling rum and Coke to the sailors. None of us in the taxi had ever
heard of the song.
We continued to the south side of Port of Spain past the Angostura
Bitters factory. This product was developed many years ago by a Trini in
Venezuela to ease stomach aches. Every bottle of Angostura Bitters that is
sold in the world today comes from this factory. Jesse said he is trying to
set up a tour of that factory for sometime soon. Jesse turned east heading
inland and went near Chaguanas. This is a large metropolitan area where a
lot of people of Asian Indian heritage live. These folks came over to
Trinidad as indentured servants to work in the cane fields. Trinidad's
population is made up of 40% African heritage, 40% Asian Indian heritage,
and 20% Spanish, French, Italian, and Syrian. There are
churches/temples/mosques everywhere and 45% of the islanders are Catholic,
25% are Muslim, and 20% are Hindu.
We arrived at Asa Wright Nature Center at 1130. This place used to be a
coffee and cocoa plantation. Now the main house is the headquarters of a
nature center that attracts bird lovers from all over the world. Out
buildings are hotel rooms where people can stay overnight so they can see
the morning birds and the evening birds, too. The sign at the entrance asks
everyone to "Take nothing but pictures, Kill nothing but time, and Leave
nothing but foot prints". We had a hot meal of local food made of local
products in the dining room of the house. After lunch, we went on a guided
nature walk in the woods. The guide was very knowledgeable and pointed out
plants, birds, mammals, reptiles, etc. It was a very interesting walk. We
had time to sit at our leisure on the veranda of the main house and look
down over the multitude of bird feeders where the activity was constant and
the participating birds flew in and out without ceasing. The real "birders"
were rapidly ticking off the birds as fast as they could on the lists in the
big bird books they were holding. Those of us who did not have books, just
looked and enjoyed the peace and quiet and beauty of the place and the
animals. Large tiger stripe lizards and rodent-like agoutis came to clean up
the food under the feeders that the birds dropped. Hummingbirds were
literally inches from our faces slipping their long straw-like beaks into
the specially designed hummingbird feeders. Their feathers gleamed with all
the colors of the rainbow. It was easy to see how being there in the early
morning when the birds are most active would be special.
Leaving the nature center around 1440, we drove west toward the coast and
north toward Port of Spain. Before we got to the big city, we turned west
into a huge mangrove area called Caroni Swamp. We climbed into a large
flat-bottomed boat and a local Trini guide took us slowly through the three
types of mangroves...red, white, and black (the guide pointed out these
happen to be the three colors of the Trinidad flag). He pointed out several
birds, mammals, trees, and plants, plus a tree boa constrictor curled up in
a knot on a tree limb and a silky anteater or two-toed sloth resting high up
in a tree. We also saw an 8-foot-long cayman (looks like a small crocodile)
sunning himself on the edge of the bayou. The highlight of this swamp boat
ride is being in place as the sun sets to see the thousands of birds coming
in from feeding in the swamp to roost in the trees on the mangrove islands
for the night. We watched five types of birds come flying over our heads and
into the trees to sleep. These birds were: the tri-colored heron, the blue
heron, the snowy egret, the great while egret, and the scarlet ibis (the
national bird of Trinidad and Tobago). The white and red birds sitting in
the trees looked like Christmas decorations. It was truly a beautiful sight
to see groups of anywhere from 25 to 100 birds swooping over our heads and
then some were dipping down and skimming the water. The variety and beauty
of the different birds rivals the variety and beauty we have seen when
snorkeling among thousands of fish.
Jesse told us in the morning we were going to have a quiz on what he told
us about Trinidad and what we saw today. He asked us the "quiz" questions on
the way through Port of Spain going to Chaguaramas. We got all the answers
correct and our "prize" was we got to stop for ice cream. In Carenage, a
small village on the main road, he pulled the maxi taxi over to the edge of
the road and left it where everyone else had to drive around us. There is
not an edge to the road, so that is what everyone does when they want to
pull over. A lady beside the road had a freezer box with several kinds of
homemade ice cream inside. We chose from coconut, cookies and cream,
chocolate, vanilla, rum and raisin, peanut butter, and cherry vanilla ice
cream. It was the perfect end to a thoroughly enjoyable day. Jesse is very
business-like and professional about organizing and doing the tour, but he
also makes you feel like you are having a day out with a Trini who wants to
show you his island. He loves Trinidad and wants you to love it, too. We
arrived back at Coral Cove Marina at 1940.
1 March 2006/Wednesday/Coral Cove Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
were alarm clocks going off all over the boat at 0320-0330 this morning.
David and Sarah got picked up to go to the airport for Sarah's 0830
departing plane. Members Only booked the taxi early because they said it can
take awhile to get through all the check-in lines, security checks, luggage
check-in lines, immigration lines, etc.
This was an extremely quiet day in Chaguaramas. Almost all the shops and
restaurants were closed. It was explained to us that this day is not
officially a national holiday, but since yesterday was the Grand Parade and
it was a national holiday, those who participated in the activities need a
day to recover. We also heard this is a day that lots of Trinis (locals) go
on picnics to the beach. The maxi taxi drivers we have gotten to know
through Members Only recommended staying home today and not trying to go
anywhere. It didn't sound like public buses or maxi taxis would be running
We didn't mind having a quiet day at the boat. Although we thoroughly
enjoyed Carnival, it was nice not to have a schedule and have to be
somewhere at a certain time today. We got some laundry done and that is
always a good thing. Yesterday was a big day being down at the parade almost
all day and tomorrow we are going on a tour to a nature center in the
mountains, then to a swamp near the ocean to see more birds. We will be
leaving at 0830 and will be gone all day. A quiet day at the boat was a good