After the hauling out in Suriname we needed
another week to prepare the boat and say goodbye to friends and dinner
parties everywhere; why do we ever want to leave? Furthermore we had to
wait for a favourable tide to avoid a departure in the middle of the
night. On Tuesday 5th of February it was high tide at 0700 and no heavy
rain, so we casted off. Stocked up with food for two months as we now
have learned that the Caribbean is 2 or 3x more expensive and and the
availability of products mediocre, especially in the small villages on
The passage was rough again. Predicted winds were NE 20 kts but it blew
a little harder: 20-25 and at night up to 30 kts. Basically not a
disaster, but for both our autopilots that were on strike. Even Henk,
the windvane, super reliable and betrouwbaar and holds his ground in
heavy conditions, but not this time. Jammed blocks and afterwards it
appeared that the pendulum rudder had snapped off – yet again a problem
with rudders! Anyhow we steered manually for more than 500 miles.
Normally we have a watch system of 4 hours on and 4 hours off, but now
we changed watches every two hours and this was still extremely
tiring. The most unpleasant thing is that one can hardly do all the
other things that also have to be done. P has to do the navigation and
if Henk does his job, she can do this during her watch. The same applies
for JW with his cooking. Now we had to do all these things when we were
off watch, i.e. when one actually wants to rest. In short: we were
relived when we arrived on Trinidad (the north coast rugged and
beautiful in early morning) and we got a warm welcome when we came
alongside our neighbour across in Surinam. Peter is a Finnish Swede or
the other way round and prepares his boat to go long lining for tuna. We
were treated on tuna for lunch, delicious and certainly very easy.
It was already announced last year but now, after having changed
foresails three times in the first three hours of the passage, we were
fed up with it. So we altered course for Trinidad instead of Tobago to
order a true old people's furling system and sail. We got a windfall
from income taxes right before we left Surinam, so now you all know
where your hard-earned tax money goes!
Chaguaramas on Trinidad, located just under the hurricane belt, is the
place to go for hauling out and repairs: there are at least 4 travel
lifts and a choice of riggers, sailmakers and specialists in marine
The giant Budget Marine store inspired us
with all kinds of new ideas and makes renovating the boat very
attractive. Now the boat remains in the tropics, conversion from cosy
European to airy tropic style appears to be absolutely necessary. For
example, we now never use the settees in the cabin, which is a waste of
space. Anyway, to create more ventilation we wanted to mount the middle
hatch the other way round, but unfortunately the big box on deck was in
the way and we had to re-mount the hatch in its original position.
(Fortunately the shops are fully stocked with marine adhesives.) So were
are going to make an ventilating tent. We will also mount opening
portlights above our bed and in the navigation area. The cabin will
improve by replacing the table for a smaller one and widen the alongside
bench to a nice spot for “chilling”. Finally we will mount more deck
hatches in the ceiling and the hammock is already there.
Sounds as if it is a piece of cake, but things went a little bit wrong.
There were no hatches in stock and the Trini’s appear to be extremely
easy going (with the emphasis on easy), i.o.w. hard to push forward,
especially with the carnival in their even after two weeks still heavy
heads. But this did not apply to Trinidad Rigging as Jonas (from
Sweden), had the right Furlex 300S in stock and could mount the whole
system for a mere 2500 euro's. Miep was very busy receiving Valentine's
presents, because Kobe, “our” Belgian electrician whom we already met in
Surinam, came saw and conquered the problems with the electrical
autopilot on the same day (12 euro's). And his next job on board was the
installation of a battery monitor.
By the way the
battery monitor solved the electrical problem with which we struggled
for four years. We had several indications (saildrive anode vanished in
no time; one new battery every year) that there was a current leakage
somewhere. Upon replacing the same battery for the third time in 4
years, the HF-radio was the main suspect, so we mounted a heavy duty
switch between radio and battery. And BINGO: switch “on” and the battery
monitor tells us that we lose 0.4Ah. So that problem was solved as well.
So while the Europeans do good jobs, the local sailmaker Barrow
Sails is although dirt-cheap a true disaster. The guy is never in and
the manager's most important job is chasing away the customers. And
Doyle, the biggest sailmaker in the Caribbean, only has an agency here
through Soca Sails, so it takes 4-5 weeks before a new sail can be
delivered and their prices are more than 50% higher than Barrow's...
Anyway we had our high-aspect sail altered,
while we wait for the new genoa of which we still have to decide if it will
be ordered at Doyle's, Hagoort in the Netherlands or in Hong Kong.
P had to run after the
Soca guys for four consecutive days and visit them 2 to 3 times a day.
But they seem
experienced and we rather support the local economy, so there is every
chance that Doyle is going to be the one.
In the meantime we also found time for other things than chasing after our
suppliers. On Sundays it is very busy with locals who have their power boats
launched from their racks. Literally. We are moored in front of Power Boats
where they have not only a travel lift for yachts, but also two forklift
trucks to carry the boats to and from their three story racks, and launch
We also had a nice time with all our friends here, and time to visit the rest of
Port of Spain is Trinidad's capital. We were cautioned
about street criminality, but the scoundrels were obviously not awake yet.
When the maxi-taxi driver finally found his brakes when he drove nto the
city, we found ourselves for the first time since years ain a glass jungle.
Quite a shock. There are many new buildings under construction as Trinidad
is leading in the Caricom with a booming oil business. Trinidad also has
reputedly the most KFC-outlets per square mile, i.e. in the city on every
street corner. And yes: the main dish in Port of Spain is fried chicken. And
roti of course.
Downtown is bustling with street vendors who offer food and cold drinks, and
very dirty. In no time P’s toe-slipperd feet looked like having run from a
colemine. But the town has nice elements as well, for example a charming
esplanade shaded by enormous trees. P liked one tree in particular but
nobody knew it's name. Before Trinidad became a British colony (1797-1962),
it was owned by Spain and reminiscences are still there, apart from the
name. Black and light coloured granite zebra crossings inlayed in the
asphalt and some pavements and even shop's floors are decorated with
geometric of phantasy designs. The architecture is a mess: neo-gothic
churches next to taut glass office buildings, elegant iron-work underneath
corrugated iron plates. Port of Spain is well-known for its fabric shops and
we bought 10 yards of canvas for 10 euro's.
Finally we topped up our gasoil tank (€ 0,16 per liter) and sailed to
Grenada to finally enjoy a real holiday feeling.