Video – Trinidad to Antigua

After a challenging start in Chaguaramas (we had to pull the boat back out and get if fixed over night) we got into the swing of things, sailed over night to the Grenadines and enjoyed a couple of days of island hoping before continuing to Antigua.

The roughly 400nm route looked like this:

We did not capture as much footage as usual. Hopefully the video below still gives somewhat of a flavor of the places we visited:

And they sailed into the sunset

First of all,
yes, they finished all the work in time and we launched in the afternoon. And yes, we made it past Venezuela without a pirate encounter!

While Dynamite marine took the depth sounder out of the hull, cleaned the hole and rebedded the sounder with a new custom-built foundation, Cow’s crew worked until 03:00 in the morning to grind out the old material under the stuffing box, fill it with expoxy. From then on the new structure had to hard quickly and then barrier coat and antifouling were added.
In the meantime, we had another breakfast at one of the road vendors that sold “Doubles”. A typical Trini breakfast (very flavorful and messy to eat). From there we went to the bamboo cathedral, a beautiful coastal walk through a troplical forrest with lots of bamboo, followed by another swim at our local beach. We tested our new snorkeling masks and also managed to finally get the correct courstesy flag for St Vincent and the Grenadines.
When all was ready, the crane put us in the water, checked for leacks (there weren’t any), started the engine and prepped the boat for departure.
Unfortunately, the gas station was out of diesel and we left with what we had.

This time we did sail into the sunset…

When in Trini

“When in Trini, you have to eat well” is what the nice lady at the stall on the road to Powerboats said (the Roti store on the boatyard is closed over the weekend).
Overall, we are getting more adjusted to the lifestyle and culture in Trinidad. The strong English accent no longer sounds like a totally different language, it is perfectly normal not to have hot water as regular water works just fine for a shower in this warm climate, people go the extra mile to keep their customer happy (we did not ask to get the windlass polished, the motor for it painted or some forgotten vegetables removed, but it just happened anyways…)
and most importantly, we no longer turn on the wiper instead of the indicator when driving on the other side of the road (with our locally organized older rental car we already look like locals).
Apart from that, the boat was fully prepared for the awlgrip job tomorrow, we removed more of the cracked bottom (it looks like a previous owner had some repairs done and use autobody filler instead of epoxy), we got our basic supplies from the local Budget Marine store, had a test flight with the done to confirm it worked again (after a significant amount of time spent on upgrading all involved components duringt the winter) and most importantly, our crew arrived.
Cathy and Peter arrived first, followed by Corinna and Lauren.
We got some groceries and dinner before heading back to Chaguaramas to finish the day off with a cocktail in the local bar.

Video – Lanzarote to Trinidad – now in HD

We updated the YouTube video quality after some initial technical challenges. Updated link below.

A summary of our 18 day transatlantic sail from Lanzarote to Trinidad. Unfortunately, we could not get the drone to work in Spain and therefore did not capture any aerial footage during this trip. It is fixed now, though, and we will try again when back in Trinidad in April.

All good things must come to an end

We were down to a crew of only 2 after Jake and Josh left early in the morning to fly back to Boston.
When we came back to the boatyard, the Dynamite Marine team was already waiting for us. We got the remaining mattresses, cushions and sleeping bags off the boat and they got going uninstalling windlass and other hardware on the foredeck.
We agreed to install a shrink-wrap tent to make sure work can continue without interruption (we are at the end of rainy season but never know how much rain to still expect) and that tent will be installed tomorrow.
Of course we had to visit our favorite offices in Chaguaramas, Immigrations and Customs, one more time to get the required permissions to leave Tioga here while we were out of the country. Although our attempt to check out  felt like it was prolonged with deliberate suspense, time went by quickly as we observed hos a poor British sailor suffered through the inquisition (read tearing apart) by one of the chief immigration officers.
Customs, on the other hand, went surprisingly fast and was a very pleasant experience.

We changed the oil, washed all linens and towels and enjoyed a nice Roti lunch at the local hole in the wall.

The most notable thing happened at 12:30 today: it did NOT rain. Over the previous 4 days you could set your clock as the rain started exactly at the same time every day.

There was a can drive to benefit the poor in Venezuela yesterday and we donated a laundry basket full of cans. Today, we cleaned out the fridge and found thankful takers on the fishing vessel next to us. We are not sure, if they will use the ham or cheese themselves or go fishing with it – but in either case it is better then throwing the food away.

We had our final dinner on board today and are enjoying our last gin tonic in the cockpit before heading to the airport early tomorrow morning.

This place has a good vibe. There are lots of friendly people that seem very skilled. No day went by without someone helping us with our chores or offering their services. The yard is protected by security guards 24 hours a day and as we type this post, the golf cart has come by at least twice (might be just a sign of how slowly I am typing…).

We’ll be back in the end of March/early April to continue living life to its fullest.



In the jungle

We got all planned boatwork done by lunchtime, had a quick meal on the boat and then headed out to the Tamana Bat Caves.

While we were quite excited about the adventure of seeing hundreds of thousands bats, including vampire bats, as well as all the other things to expect in such caves, such as enormous amounts of guano or cockroaches, we also weren’t sure we had the appropriate equipment.
We therefore dug out 4 pairs of our rubber boots, lots of headlamps and flashlights, long pants, made ponchos out of our large heavy duty trash bags etc.
As mentioned before, transportation in Trinidad is not straight forward. Neither is finding your way on these narrow, often unmarked roads through jungles, tiny settlements, dirt roads etc.
During our first attempt we found the mountain, but not the path to hike up to. After talking with numerous locals, we finally got to the trail, put our “equipment on” and went for a hike (sweating like crazy). And what a hike it was. Lots of green vegetation, with bananas, oranges, limes, coconuts and other fruits.
The goal was to get in and out of the cave to see the bats during dusk when they leave the cave.
Unfortunately, we never found the caves. The drive and hike alone made for a very nice adventure, though.

A local burger (chicken, pineapple, cheese with lots of local spices) and a beer in the cockpit rounded of the day.


Just like in Tobago (where there are many bus stops but apperently no buses), transportation is not easy in Trinidad either. We managed to book a rental car at the airport (more or less the only option in the entire country) and then talked one of the local workers to drive us there for a fee. After a 45 min drive we arrived at the airport and got our car.

We started with a drive through the capital, Port of Spain, and saw a couple of their older buildings, nicely situated across from the very large park. As we were told that one of the traditional lunches in Trinidad is Bake and Shark, we went north to Maracas Bay, to sample the local lunch fare and body-surf in decent waves while the deep bass of the local music was humming in the background.
A tropical rain shower kept us cool enough to enjoy are our soft liming session at the local bar.
Great atmosphere, good music and cold beers – what more can you ask for.
The shark, by the way, was very nice (and not as chewy as expected at all). However, we felt somewhat guilty eating shark, as they play an important role in the ecosystem (but so do the other fish, we thought and usually eat).
The drive to and from Maracas Bay was quite picturesque; narrow roads winding up and down the Northern Ridge through dense tropical forest.
Not being used to driving on the left, Josh quickly adapted his style and started to miss some of the potholes as he improved.
After driving through quite a selection of barbed and razor wire installations, we got a little nervous that we would not make it to the Blue Basin. We parallel-parked our car next to a burned out vehicle and started following the path into the jungle. A waterfall and freshwater pool were a nice reward at the end. A few rope and vine swings later, we were back in the car.
As it was getting darker, we reached the largest Hanuman statue outside India (there is a significant number of Indians living here in Trinidad, ie of the app 1.3M inhabitants about 460K are Indian, roughly 37%), observed some of the Hindu procedures and then moved on to drop Ben off at the airport.

Our attempt to then lime hard miserably failed as we did not fit into the “system”, it seemed. The main centers of night life, Avenue (in Port of Spain) and St James (on the way to Chaguaramas) had a less to offer and expected quite a different dress code than our worn out shirts and flip-flops.
We stopped at about every marina or establishment on the way home, just to find weddings, private boat parties etc.
A cold beer at Zanzibar in the boatyard next door was all we managed to get. Maybe we will pull our foulies out tonight and try one more time…





Sweat equity

Trinidad is a pretty hot place. Add a lot of humidity and quite some work and you get the idea what we went through today.

As planned, we got under the crane at 8:30 this morning. As soon as the boat was out of the water, the Dynamite Marine guys were all over us. We unloaded three truckloads of equipment into their storage facility, washed all the sleeping backs and foul weather gear, got the outboard dropped off for service and the inflatable picked up to dry.
Our crew got the manual bilge pump repaired (with Ben spending a significant amount in the whole (at unprecedented temperatures)), the remaining winches serviced, all areas under the teak deck cleaned out, some zincs replaced and lots more.

Mark reviewed all work items that we are looking to get the fixed while the Power Boats team power washed the bottom. We managed to get shore power installed and continued troubleshooting out energy management.

After a perfect Indian lunch, Roti, at the little shop in the corner of our yard, we came back to dry sleeping bags and foul weather gear, while the Dynamite Marine team installed a mobile air conditioning unit on Tioga! Yes, we have air conditioning now. Sleeping last night was a challenge given the high temperatures and this seemed to be the only way to get some rest over night.

As we made it far enough down our action item list, we will take tomorrow off and go sightseeing. There will be enough time on Sunday to finish the remaining items.

Despite the ambition to go and party tonight, we all are quite tired and will get some rest instead.

The final step to Trinidad

After a couple of hours sailing along Tobago in the dark and seeing surprisingly few lights ashore (the northern shore is not as populated as the southwest), we finally reached the point where we could jibe and point to Trinidad.
The breeze had calmed down and the gennaker came up one last time at 3:30 in the morning.
A couple of dolphins pods came by and we enjoyed the nice sunrise of our last sailing day. We made good time and reached the Bocas del Dragon (the cut down south between the main land and a chain of islands to the West) by 11:00. The currents there were quite strong with about 2-3kn. Freighter traffic had increased and oil platforms showed in the horizon.
Turning a few corners and Chaguaramas, our final destination, was at sight. As we did not encounter any pirates, we were able to keep our cabbage cannonballs and squash.

Chaguaramas was packed with all kinds of vessels, freighters, tankers, oil platform service boats, lots and lots of cruisers and powerboats, some Navy ships, a couple of marinas and quite a few boats yards (there are more boats on land than in the water – most of them getting boatwork done.).

After making it past Customs and Immigration, we were able to get to the dock of Power Boats, the marina where our boatwork will be performed.

The shore team of Dymamite Marine was waiting for us and quickly started inspecting the teak deck etc to come up with a plan to replace it. We reviewed various facilities & suppliers, compared boatyards and settled on the next steps.

When the typical tropical rain kicked in (we have about 29C/90F and mostly cloud cover throughout the day), we were happy that we had already taken the main and genoa off during the sail under gennaker. That way we got them into storage before they got wet.

The amount of boats and boatwork that is going on here is overwhelming. We believe that we are in capable hands and hope that the work gets done by the end of March.

We went to celebrate our arrival in the bar next door as well as for dinner in the restaurant in the next boatyard.

Facilities are good and secure, internet is fast, people are very friendly and a Carib in this hot climate never tasted  better.

Our hall-out is scheduled to 8:30 tomorrow. Let’s see what happens next.