LEG5: TOBAGO TO GRENADA
January 11th-12th: We woke up gingerly after an uninterrupted sleep. There are 20 boats at the anchorage, Charlotteville town and its pier, and a wide beach can be seen a little further ahead. Local fishing boats are anchored here and there. The bay is surrounded by a rainforest, with strange shrubs, bushes and trees. The air is filled with the scent of the forest. One minute it rains, the other minute the sun shines vigorously. We left our drowsiness in the sea and after a nice shower, took the dinghy to the shore. We found the immigration police and the customs office very easily. The clearance procedure costed us TT$ 50 (equals US $ 8), and no time at all, and this enables us to stay in republic of Trinidad and Tobago for one month. The GSM's do not work, but it is possible to buy a companion card for international calls, to use with the public telephones. We have seen a couple of internet signs, but the cafes were closed and locked. We got some local currency from the only bank of the town. Charlotville is a sleepy little village with a population of 300 people. There are just a couple of shops and fast food corners here and there, and a gas station. Small gingerbread houses, a hospital, government offices, a school and a sport center can be seen here and there. At noon we went into a fast food center, and were served fish and chips by a fat black man with a torn and dirty T-shirt, but the fish was excellent! This peaceful town was an excellent place to make our first landfall, after 17 days of rocking and rolling in the ocean. We decided to stay here another day to swim, walk around the town, buy some fresh fruit and vegetables from the street vendors, fill our water tanks with canisters as we go ashore. After two delightful sunny and rainy days, we cleared off from the customs and we took off to Scarborough (11 10,8'N, 60 44,1W), the largest city of the island.
January 13 th – 14 th : Scarborough is situated a couple of miles east of the southwest corner of the island. We first motored northeast against the Atlantic waves, and than changed our route to take the waves from the stern. The distance is only 25 miles , but the waves, squalls and limited vision made it an unpleasant cruise. We were soaking wet when we arrived in the port of Scarborough , and we could hardly see where we were going under the pouring rain. The port was crowded, but not with sailing yachts. There is a big passenger terminal. The rain brings a lot of debris into the port, so the water looks muddy and dirty. When the rain ceased, we went ashore with our dinghy, and went directly to the immigration and customs offices. Everyone was very helpful, and the formalities were completed very quickly. The city has a population of 20,000, and that Friday afternoon it looked as if everyone was out having fun. We did some shopping at a nearby market, and had dinner at a fast food restaurant. The anchor place was not very comfortable, but we are used to rolling. Saturday morning Nilgün went ashore and took a long walk to discover the city. She went to the marketplace to get some local food and came back with a big bucketful of crabs, plantains, cassavas, dasheen leaves, things that we are seeing for the first time. In the afternoon we took a walk together and climbed up the hill to visit Fort King George. On our return we were invited by people at a Panyard, and watched the young people playing the national musical instrument of Tobago and Trinidad , the Pan. We enjoyed talking to the people who are trying to get ready for playing at the steelbands in the carnival, walked some more through the streets and returned to the boat to eat our crabs.
January 15 th – 18 th : We decided to move to a tourist resort at the western end of the island called Store Bay (11 09,5N, 60 58,8W). It was a big surprise to wake up in the morning to find that our water tanks literally dry! All our water had gone into the bilge through a leak, the location of which is yet to be detected. We jumped into the dinghy, cleared out with the customs, and talked to the port authority about the possibility of filing our tanks with water. In the afternoon we came alongside to the port, and filled our tanks with water upon paying TT$ 19 (US $3). We departed the port at 17:15, sailed 8 miles to our new anchorage, Store Bay . The bay is really well protected. The surrounding coastline is covered with hotels and beaches. That evening we listened to the Pan and percussion sounds coming from the hotels. The next morning we took our laundry ashore to find the launderette/internet café mentioned in the pilot book. It was very convenient to get connected to the internet while our laundry was being washed. We walked towards the airport through large big and luxurious hotels, beaches and a large park with bungalows selling souvenirs. The next day we walked towards the opposite direction to the Pigeon Point, which is a private beach, right next to a rainforest. A small fee is charged for entrance. Inside, there is a beach with very fine sand, bars, souvenir shops, jet skis, glass bottom boats that visit the nearby reefs, and of course, a lot of tourists. We bought king fish slices on our way back for dinner at Vagabond. We worked on the boat the next day. Ali climbed up the mizzen mast to dismantle the broken wind generator, and we discovered the location of the water leakage, which came from the copper pipe that carries hot water to the front head. We will sail southwest to Chaguaramas bay (10 48 N, 61 38.1W) of Trinidad Island which is 60 nautical miles away. Our pilot books indicate that this place is a perfect spot for repairing and maintenance for the yachts.
January 19 th : We started off at 6:40 to Chaguaramas. The sky is partly cloudy, and the 15-knot wind comes from between ENE and NE. We approached Trinidad easily with the wind on our beam. The north coast of the island is covered with a rainforest, just like Tobago. The ocean waters are greenish, in some places even brownish. It seems the waves beating the shore disturb the plants and change the color of the sea. We turned the northwestern corner of the island at 5:00PM, and were shocked by the view of thousands of sailing boats scattered all around the bay in shipyards, marinas and moorings. This bay has been a naval center for the USA during the second world war. We found a free buoy, and tied Vagabond with the help of our neighbor. The keeper of these buoys, YSATT boat came and collected a fee of TT $ 30 (US $ 5) for one night. We lowered the dinghy and went ashore to the Crews Inn marina. Surprise! We heard some Turkish spoken! Two young men from s/y Mavera from Marmaris have been here since two weeks. After walking around the marina/hotel/workshops compound, we ended up at a very elegant Lighthouse Restaurant and had an excellent dinner. We will stay here at least two weeks and will do some repairs and maintenance. We will naturally tour around the island, as well.
January 20th – February 10th: After clearing from the customs and the police, we visited the numerous marinas of Chaguaramas to haul out the boat. Rocking and rolling on the ocean passage, and a couple of uncontrolled gybes caused some damaged on the rig. Besides, the bottom was invaded by barnacles. ‘Power Boats' boatyard gave us the most reasonable price,. They have agreed to haul out the boat, and put it back into the water after five days . This will cost us US $ 300. The travellift had a hard time taking Vagabond out of water, so the boatyard manager dove into the sea and personally checked the belts. We found Clinton (AK) to paint the antihauling. AK worked efficiently between sun and rain, and finished the painting and cleaning errands in five days. This time we have used ‘Jotun' antifauling. We will see how it works in these waters. We changed our old copper water pipes that have been leaking. We took our torn spinnaker and our mainsail that started chafing in the places where it touches the stanchions to a sailmaker. They reinforced the mainsail, but could do nothing about the spinnaker. It was 20 years old anyway, and we will try to get a new one. We found Budget Marine Rigging company and told them our problems with the rigging. Neil, who used to race in regattas in his country, Australia , is an expert on rigging, and he came up with logical solutions. He installed a very simple preventer for the main sail boom, that will prevent Vagabond from uncontrolled gybes. The baby stay which was deformed with the pressure of the staysail boom was replaced. New blocks for the genoa sheets were installed, the gooseneck that was cracked was repaired. The wind generator bracket was fixed in its new place on the mizzen mast. The electrician at the Crews Inn boatyard fixed the wind generator by importing a regulator from USA . In the meantime we fixed the leaking water pipes and traveled around the island. There is a net on the VHF channel 68 every morning at 8:00. Here it is possible to obtain all kinds of information. We took advice from other yachtsmen to travel around the island with Jesse James, the most popular maxi taxi driver in Trinidad . One evening we joined a group of yachtsmen and women to watch the carnival preparations in Port of Spain . We first visited workshops that manufactured the carnival costumes. We were enchanted by the amount of work involved to get ready for the carnival which takes only two days. The costumes both for men and women were magnificent. After dinner we drove around the city to watch the rehearsals of the steel band orchestras. Many new music is composed for the carnival each year, and the members of each band (up to 90 musicians) play with an astonishing discipline and energy. Although there is no visible maestro that leads the orchestra the synchronization is flawless. We felt the enthusiasm of the carnival deep inside. Port of Spain is the capitol of Trinidad and Tobago . These islands have been under the rule of Spain , England , Netherlands and France since the time of Christopher Colombus. Finally they achieved their independence in 1962 by putting an end to the English rule. Their main income is petroleum. Another tour that we took with Jesse James was to “Asa Wright Bird Sanctuary”. After a two hour trip, we arrived at a beautiful house/hotel in the midst of a rainforest. During our walk of two hours we have come across many species of birds, ants, reptiles, flowers and trees. In a rainforest it is inevitable to get wet, and it is impossible to deviate from the paths. After lunch in the Asa Wright house, we were taken to Caroni Swamp and transferred to a wooden boat. We motored through tunnels lined by mangrove trees watching birds and snakes, and we reached to a clearing with an island in the middle. When the sun was setting, large groups of white and scarlet Ibises filled the sky. The Ibis is the national bird of Trinidad . They are big white birds when young, but they change their color to bright red as they get older, caused by the crabs that they feed on. Our last tour was visiting a fresh produce market. The maxi taxi took us to the marketplace at 6:30 AM. The enormous market ground was vibrant with people, fresh fish, tropical fruits and vegetables. Nilgün talked with the vendors to get information as to how to cook these vegetables. Every boatyard in Chaguaramas have its own restaurants and markets, therefore one does not have to go to Port of Spain . The fact that Trinidad and Tobago are outside of the hurricane region, invites many American boats to spend months here. The majority of the sailors are from USA , UK , Canada , Scandinavia , Netherlands and Germany . Nilgün invited the American sailors John and Sue from s/y Stardust and Dick and Pat from s/y Mad River to watch her Black Sea Yacht Rally 2004 film. As Dick and Pat have joined Kayra 2001, they were very impressed. Having finished all our work here, we parted from this beautiful island with friendly people and beautiful landscapes a little unwillingly. We recommend Trinidad to everyone, especially those who have repair and maintenance on the boat. Our destination now is Grenada Island 80 miles north.
February 11 th – 18 th : On the 10 th of February we cleared from the customs and left the marina in the late afternoon to get some diesel. After filling up our tanks with 300 liters of Trinidad diesel (the price is very reasonable: 0.30 US $ per liter), we anchored out. Early Saturday morning at 2:30 AM we started off in a very pleasant weather. We wish to arrive early in Prickly Bay (11 59.5'N, 61 45.9'W), which is in the southern part of the Grenada Island . We can do the formalities in this bay. Grenada has a population of 120.000 together with Carriacou and Petit Martinique. As we got farther from the island, the waves on the head grew bigger. The wind was from the east, and we motorsailed towards the North. Sailing under the moonlight, the current was in our favor; but it reversed after the dawn. We reached our anchor place at 3:30 PM, wet and salty from the waves on the nose. The marina was sold and was under construction. We took the dinghy to the marina and took a walk to change some money (Eastern Caribbean Dollars EC $). A heavy rain washed the boat off its salt. Sun and rain take turns in short intervals, just like in Trinidad . The whole island is green with overgrown plants and flowers. The nickname of the island is Spice Island . The capitol St. George's is 20 minutes by car. The customs officer said that we need to get a visa from St.George's, so we had to take a cab to the town and had a nice walk after obtaining the visas. Hurricane Ivan has caused a great deal of damage in September 2004, and many buildings still had no roofs. When we returned to the boat, a Turkish lady came by boat to say hello. We have invited Aysel and John to Vagabond and had a wonderful time. This couple met in Fethiye and started off from Turkey in September 2004 in their boat s/y Quest. They are taking their time in their journey westwards. John is half Danish, half Haitian, and is a very well informed and experienced sailor. He gave us a lot of valuable information. They also have a very talkative parrot aboard. Two days later we went to visit them and had a very enjoyable evening. We hired a taxi for a full day island tour, and first went to the Concorde Waterfalls. Then our driver Rolf took us to a Spice factory where various spices were processed. At another factory we have observed how nutmeg, the main product of the island, was processed. Nutmeg was first brought here from Indonesia , and was successfully grown, and although Hurricane Ivan damaged many trees, the production goes on. After lunch at Sauteur in the northern tip of the island, we visited the hill that the native Caribs jumped down to the water and were killed instead of surrendering to the French. We were then taken to the rum factory where we have watched the production of rum from cane to the bottle. The samples we have tried almost knocked us down. Then came the most interesting part, the chocolate factory. We have sampled and bought the darkest and most concentrated chocolate, which was produced organically. Passing Grenville, the second largest city of the island, and the Grand Etang Lake , we did some shopping at a supermarket and went back to Vagabond after dark. In the meantime s/y Katama and our friends Turkan and Kerem have arrived in Grenada and anchored in the lagoon of St.George's. We sailed and anchored at the lagoon to meet them. It was wonderful to see them again and talk about our adventures, while having dinner at Katama. The next day we invited both Katama and Quest crew to have lunch with us at Vagabond. We had a jolly day, despite the tricks that the wind (or lack of it) played to the neighboring boats in the lagoon. When the wind stops blowing all boats turn to different directions causing close encounters. The lagoon is a noisy place with traffic and discos around. Grenada yacht Club Marina might have been more peaceful. After some more shopping we said goodbye to Turkan and Kerem, and filled our tanks with diesel and water, and started off on Saturday, the 18 th of February. Our destination is Carriacou Island 30 miles north.