Posted by: catamarantwooceans | July 12, 2008

October 2007- Grenada to Trinidad and Tobago

17 October 2007: Back on the boat after more than five month. Fears that you’ll find all sorts of disasters are always present. Will she be wet and mouldy? Will the batteries be flat? Will the engines start when we put her back in the water? Entering, everything seems to be fine. On the chart table I can see a “care taking” log with entries for airing the boat and charging the batteries. Good! It is 2130 so a quick burger and beer and off to bed.

Oct 18th. With daylight I am beginning to discover the things that were not so good. The fiberglass repairs on the starboard keels were not done, they simply slapped anti fouling on. The yard manager is sick at home but Frankie is now in charge and he sends a guy who quickly does the work. Lockers opening handles corroded and broke and the piston rod that keeps the deck port locker upright when opened seized. I’ll deal with that later. People from the metal workshop come, take the stanchions that were damaged in Dominica and in three hours put them back – repaired.
The crew of “Turbulence” the sail makers are putting the main and jib back on and are starting to reinstall the bimini’s fabric cover. At 4 p.m all work stop, they’ll finish tomorrow. I notice that they did it all wrong and in the process covered the solar panels…

Oct 19th. The launching is set for 1 p.m. Can we finish everything in time? I get up before sunrise (0520) have breakfast and start working on the bimini. Admittedly it is a difficult setup involving dismantling part of the structure, the one that the walk on is connected to as well as the solar panels and then sliding the fabric top and stretching it to position. As I pull a rope on the bimini cover the fabric breaks, I fall backwards and am saved by the newly installed lifelines. I shudder to think what would have happened if they weren’t there!
I am still recuperating from a fall on a friend’s boat a month ago that left me with a sprained rib. This time I am lucky and there is no damage.
At 1300 the travel lift arrives. I just finished filling up water and am ready to go. First- the office to close the account, and once again I see how simple things that one could do by himself are costly when a yard does the work. “Two Oceans” is then lowered into the water. The engines are started but the starboard one does not pump sea water. As another catamaran is waiting to come up, I have to go out using the starboard engine only for a short period and come back later. Desmond’ the mechanic is diving into the engine compartment’ takes out the water pump and replaces the impeller. Beer for Desmond and then I go out and anchor in the bay. Now I can relax, I have a few days until a friend, Doron, who lives in Martha’s Vineyard will join me on Wednesday to sail to Trinidad and Tobago. Doron is a special guy and if he allows, his story will be told.                                   

Prickly bay

Prickly bay

Oct 20th. Working on the boat at leisure and trying to buy some groceries. There are no tomatoes or
cucumbers to be had anywhere. How am I going to make a salad?
Gili tell me on the phone how to make Caesar salad.

Oct 21st – After the rain ceased I decided to go out for a “test flight”, see how everything works, especially the sails and the reefing lines. When the time comes to raise the main sail I see that the halyard is entangled in the upper crosstree. I try to free it but the sea is a bit rough and I sail with the jib only. Out of the bay the wind pipes up and we are speeding along just fine, the newly painted, clean bottom makes the boat go fast. I sail for about two hours and go back to anchor near the boatyard. Dinner is chicken in vegetable curry. Of course I cooked and ate too much…

Oct 22nd – Today’s project is engines oil change. Those of you who experienced it know that it is a dirty and frustrating work. As much as you try not to spill oil around the engine compartment, always one of the pipes of the oil pumps manages to jump out of place and squirt black drops everywhere. Surprisingly this time is different and I finish the job quickly and cleanly, but it was no fun! The temperature was 30 C and the humidity 94%! I checked the gas bottles. We have two on board, one for the top and the other for the oven.
The first is almost empty, so I take it to be refilled. Every morning Monday to Saturday there is a cruiser net here on channel 68, giving the weather and all sort of information for cruisers. The net controller directed me to the laundry business on the other side of the bay near the Prickly bay marina, a small operation with big plans for the future. The condo’s are already in building. Good news! My daughter and her partner (they do this now instead of marriage) are coming to St. Lucia at the same time that my son with his wife and three kids will join the boat. That should be an experience! I never had more than three people on board at the same time.

Oct 23rd – Having gone early to bed last night I am up with the sun. The main halyard is in place and I go out. Beautiful morning with light wind and flat sea, not the norm here but really nice. Full sails pull the boat nicely and I let out the trolling line, for this is my secret mission- I want a fish for dinner! I did not have to wait long, a 60 cm barracuda volunteered to come aboard, but are they safe to eat around here? No Ciguaterra? I am trying to ask the cruiser’s net but am too far out from shore and cannot hear any answer. Looking for help in the Doyle’s guide I am assured that Cuda of this size is safe. We’ll see tonight…Turning back to the bay it suddenly occurs to me that I do not have to go to the same bay at all. I aim the bows towards Clarkes Court bay which looks nice on the chart and where Wi Fi should be available. On the way another fish is caught and lost and as I get  near the entrance I start the starboard engine and then the port – refuses to start. I consult the guide as to the presence of maintenance facilities in this bay and the result is that I have to go back to the boatyard. The electrician is part of the sailmaker operation (Turbulence) and he will call me on the VHF after lunch. Lunch is sacred in Grenada and everything stops for it. Not me, I decide to check the starting battery and find that it shows 11.2 Volts and that the other engine is not charging it. Experimenting, I replace the battery with that of the other motor and sure enough it starts and is being charged. The battery is more than 5 year in service so it is time to buy a new one – and save the expense of the electrician. This done I proudly motor back to Clarke’s bay and anchor. Typically for the region out of eight boats in the bay five are catamarans. One of them is a Leopard that is so clean and tidy looking as if it came from a chocolate factory. All those orange covers everywhere!

Chocolate Cat

Chocolate Cat

Oct 25th – Yesterday Doron arrived. We planned on having a car but the rental company provided a car that was un-serviceable so we gave it up. We heard news on the cruisers net that there was some kind of a jam session in Whisper Marina so we sailed there and anchored near Hog Island intending to leave in the evening for an overnight sail to Trinidad. Whisper marina is a small operation, at present only the owners catamaran (a French couple) is moored there, but they have a nice bar/restaurant and the characters that came to the music happening were colorful representatives of the cruising community.

Whisper Cove marina

Whisper Cove marina

Jamming

Jamming

At 5 pm we went out into a south-southeasterly wind having to sail due south. We motor sail in the desired course under a full moon. Far away we can see storm clouds with occasional lightning streaking towards the sea. Just before 2330, the time Doron has to start his watch, the wind veers to the south and is now 12-15 knots. Checking the distance to Tobago, the bearing to which is now 115, I can see that it is almost the same as that to Trinidad. Quickly a decision is taken, we change course for Tobago and can now sail using canvas power instead of the engines.

Oct 26th – During the night the wind and sea play their usual tricks the worst of which is a period of short steep waves- washing machine ride! In the morning,just as we are starting to reef, and are quite far from any land, the depth meter is showing 6 and then 4.5 meters. The reason becomes apparent as a big group of dolphins surrounds us and as we finish our maneuver they decide to go elsewhere. Later the fishing reel sings as a big fish is hooked but unfortunately breaks free. You should all know that Doron is an enthusiastic and expert fisherman. We have big fish hopes on this trip. The approach to Scarborough, the entry port into Tobago is quite tricky due to reefs and shoals, we navigate with caution and at midday enter behind a French singlehander and anchor in the harbour. Here starts a saga of Officialdom at it’s disgusting worst. A coast guard man questions us and says we have to go first to Customs and then to Immigration. The custom people say we have to go to Immigration first. At the Immigration office a formidable lady with an unclear function shows us the two forms we have to fill in quadruple copies and one, the health declaration, just a single copy. After sitting and waiting for quite a while an Immigration officer (of Indian origin) takes us to his room and gets busy with the paperwork. From time to time he goes to another office to get a stamp, another form or writing material. Some notations have to be in red ink and some in blue, it all takes to long but finally a stack of papers is stapled and we are instructed to go to Customs. In there another officer (of Indian origin) is going through similar moves. Here we need to pay 50 TT dollars ( 9 US) but he hasn’t got change from a 100. After all is done and all the papers we got in Immigration disappear in the tray of the custom man I realise I have no proof that I ever visited the former agency. Asking the Custom man he says: The Immigration should have given you two copies of this form and not only one, go back to Immigration”. Tierry, the French sailor, who joined us for the bureaucracy trip is telling us that in Brazil he had to do this in and out of each harbour he visited and that it took a full day each time! The Immigration officer, when hearing our complaint, ruffles through the papers muttering:”My god, my god” and then fishes the required document and hands it to us. All this paper shuffling seems so pointless and of course there is no computer or copying machine to be seen.
Scarborough is a noisy town in the extreme, music at top volume is blaring from every corner and from passing cars, Reggae mixed with political propaganda. Back to the boat, we are tired and pissed off so it is happy hour, dinner “at home” and early to bed.

Oct. 27th – We go back west, round the south west corner of the island and anchor in Store bay, aptly named in our case, because we need to do some shopping.

Doron shopping

Doron shopping

There are quite a few yachts at anchor in front of a big hotel complex and south of the underwater high tension electrical cable that reportedly carries 330000 volts from Trinidad to Tobago. (“Fancy a swim, dear?”, “Careful with that anchor, mate”).
After shopping, anchor up and we go to Buccoo bay, rounding Buccoo reef, a part of the local marine park. We enter the bay gingerly, in front of us a beautiful sandy beach, full of vegetation and in the left corner of the bay Buccoo village. We anchor in 4 meters and go snorkeling in the reef nearby. We see some nice reef fishes, a grouper, a nice puffer and others. Later, some work on the boat, mending a few things that the sailmaker people neglected to do correctly, then we take the dinghy and go to Bon Accord lagoon and then to  the village. The first person we meet ashore is a drunk taxi driver who wanted to take us sightseeing waiving a beer bottle merrily. We pass the famous Hendrix Sunday School, which is really a bar, a little restaurant proclaiming to be a “Catering service to weddings, social events and funerals” and a place that makes the playing instruments for the steel band, out of oil barrels.

Hendrix Sunday school

Hendrix Sunday school

Steelband Factory

Steelband Factory

Buccoo village is also famous for two other events. The first is the local Goat Race and there is a special arena for it.

Goat Race arena

Goat Race arena

The second is the “Sunday School” a big all night party  that takes part every Sunday evening and supposedly goes on till morning. To this event we are cordially invited by Tasha, who presented herself to us, holding the inevitable bottle of beer. ” I have two boyfriends in Germany” she says “Ube and… ” She forgot the name of the other one. “And a boyfriend in French Guayana” She is a lively lady all right.

Tasha

Tasha

In the evening the rain starts and cancels our plans for eating ashore. We make do with what we have on board and go to bed early.

Oct 28th – A morning swim reveals a fish caught by a hook with barracuda pieces put by Doron yesterday night. What we both really want is to catch a nice fish trolling. We leave the anchorage and set sail to Grand Riviere in east Trinidad. In order to help the fish catch up with us, we sail with second reef but still have speed over ground of 7 knots. In preparation for the big fish I take out the special belt that has a receptacle for the rod’s end and is very helpful when fighting fish that do not wish to participate in your culinary plans. It goes without saying that no fish took our lure at all!
At midday we enter the bay and it is fabulous. On the right – the jungle comes down to the water. Eagle type birds circle above and pelicans are diving for fish. The beach is long and sandy and we can see a stream blocked by a sandbar on the eastern part of it. The guide book says you can eat at Mt. Plaisir estate “if you manage to get ashore” what’s this supposed to mean? There is also a fall not far and I pack my camera to go sight seeing. First we dinghy to take a look at the jungle.

Entrance to the bay

Entrance to the bay

The bay

The bay

Then we search for a good landing spot. There is some swell running and it is apparent that we must time our approach to shore carefully. We are in a “GO” mood and full of confidence in our abilities but the sea has other ideas. As we start our run to the beach a big wave towers above our heads and flips the dinghy over. A I roll in the water and have time to hope that the motor will not hit any of us and am relieved as I stand up unharmed to see that Doron is O.K too. Doron is quick to call for putting the boat right side up again. He is mindful about the outboard being underwater. We do it and the consequences are slowly entering my brain. The motor, the camera, my cell phone – all in the drink! Later I discover that my sunglasses (optical) and the dinghy’s anchor also disappeared. Surely the camera and cell phone will be ruined but what about the outboard? Luckily for me I have Doron with me and he is the ultimate handyman. We drag the dinghy back to sea, this time having good timing, and row back to “Two Oceans”. Doron gets to work on the motor, washing it with sweet water, cleaning and spraying with WD 40. He succeeds in getting the ignition to spark but it does not start yet. We will let it dry some more and tomorrow work on the carburetor. Before we went on our surfing trip Doron left the fishing rod with barracuda pieces on the hook. The line is moving erratically and we have a fish! It goes into the bucket and a little later Doron reels the line in and it’s a small, one foot, shark! He lets it go back into the water. I cook dinner. We are having fish with Italian herbs baked in the oven and Okra curry with Basmaty rice. After dinner Doron checks the fishing rod and brings out another small shark and another strange fish, equipped with extra long dorsal fin and four other long fins that  probably serve as sensors. Both of them are released. Sorry! no pictures!

Oct 29th – 0630 we go out. Our destination for today is La Vache bay 25 miles to the west. We see no boats around us and as we go on our tasks on board – fishing, sail tending etc – a small fishing boat materializes suddenly from between the waves with it’s net spread across our path. Quick break to the right and we are lucky to miss it by a few meters. We pass close enough to be able to apologise to the fisherman. From time to time a cloud passes overhead to remind us that it is the wet season here. We tack down wind to keep the sails pulling nicely, all the time waiting for the music of the reel. It does not come in spite of changing the lure twice and finally to the MEGA lure, the one killer whales tremble from. As we near the bay a group of about eight big dolphins joins us for a few minutes.  Right in the entrance a big cloud appears out of nowhere and dumps tons of water, reduces the visibility and makes judging distances to shore very difficult. We proceed slowly, following the guide book instruction and anchor quite close to shore in 10 meters. When the rain stops the beauty of the scenery is evident. Slopes, almost vertical, covered by jungle trees and ferns are right on the water edge. Those eagles, pelicans,terns are flying all around us. There is some swell in the bay but we are already accustomed to it by our Grand Riviere experience. Doron starts working on the outboard again but it soon becomes apparent that we need an expert advise. So he turns to fishing and just a few minutes ago he landed a nice, plate size fish for dinner.
1630 – I feel like a drink and so does Doron. I pour whiskey on ice for the both of us and then Doron says:”Do you have the stamina for a few outboard start attempts?”. Rising to the challenge I pull the cord with no expectations whatsoever. Vroom! It comes to life! We let it run for quite a long time. At high power it runs all right but when we try to go down to idle it sputters and dies. We decide to change the fuel in the tank, fearing some water ingress. This will be done tomorrow morning.

Oct 30 – On to Chaguaramas bay where there are a lot of yards and marinas – and of course a mechanic for the outboard. We also hope to arrange a tour of the island. On our way the regular cycle of rain followed by sunny spells go on. We still don’t catch any fish! Frustrating. We enter Chaguaramas where a huge number of yachts and ships are at anchor. I call a few marinas for available space but all of them are full, unbelievable! We anchor and are surprised by the strange behaviour of the boat at anchor. The tidal streams are working againt the wind and the boats around us are turning in all directions at the same time. I plan to row to the boat yard but Doron says I can try and put it into gear at high power just this time. I do it and gratefully motor to “Power Boats” the yard the mechanic is located. Getting to the dinghy dock I am prepared to see the outboard fail again at low power. Throttle back – it ticks like a Swiss clock. I am astounded and call Doron on the portable VHF with the news. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” he says. The outboard is working perfectly (touch wood) at the time I am writing this. There must be some scientific explanation, but who cares? When we anchored we saw near us a James Wharram “Tangaroa”, that’s one of his old designs, a 34 foot catamaran. It has a very short mast, a fact that will be explained to us later on. Now Doron and myself are both former Wharram cat builders and have a warm  corner in our hearts for boats of his design. We approach this boat and invite the occupants, John and Nicole to come over for a drink. John tells his story, which is an amazing one, the missing parts are due to the fact that I am not interrogating but merely listening. John bought  “Taraipo” on the beach in Portugal. He sailed her to Madeira, the Canaries, Cape Verde islands and then across the Atlantic. During the crossing the mast broke and he, with the crew he had on board, continued under jury rig, using the boom to reach Brazil “With no maps”. He succeded in obtaining a mast that was way short than the one he really needed (the original design is Ketch rig, that’s two masts) and proceeded on to the Caribbean,  then via Venezuela, the ABC islands to Panama. He transited the Panama canal and went on to the Galapagos, tried to go to Easter island but weather forced him to turn to the Maraquesas. Pacific, Indian ocean, South Africa and across the Atlantic back to the Caribbean. All this in a very spartan and small boat with what looked like half a mast. Somewhere on the way Nicole came aboard and together they plan to go on cruising. You cannot but admire these man and woman for their exploits in such a vessel. This is really fantastic.
Today is the first day I have INTERNET! So hopefully this will be on the web in a few minutes.

Oct 31st – The plan for today was sightseeing. Yesterday we called Jesse James (yes, that’s his name, right out of the wild west) who organizes tours but he has only a tour on Friday. What we do is catch a Maxitaxi, that’s the sort of taxi the locals use here. He takes us to the golf course from which there is a path to a 600 feet waterfall and we agree that he will come back later on. As we begin walking it starts to rain. We walk through the rain forest that is thick with vegetation, including large clumps of very tall bamboo, we are partly protected by the tree’s canopy but still get wet. The way to the fall is very nice and not so difficult, it took us half an hour each way. The fall itself is indeed very high but almost devoid of water… It seems that it is at it’s best a the hight of the wet season. What? All this rain and it isn’t even the “Hight”?
Back to the boat and it is still raining, so we decide to stay put for the day. Doron is going to cook tonight. Shrimps Italian or Chinese style, he will make up his mind later on.

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