Grenada to Trinidad
August 5, 2008
Aloha Captain Koo,
This is the first web update since March in Bequia. As I edited the pictures I realized that this 4 months say a little cruising life and a lot of boat repair and updating. I got new sails, new dingy and dingy davits in Grenada; new LP paint and bottom job in Trinidad. There were also a lot of repairs that won’t get press here.From Bequia I dropped down into the Grenadines visiting a few islands and hanging around in the Tobago Cays a lot. The government of the Grenadines has made the Cays a park, mostly for yachts. It is a big area with gloriously beautiful waters. It was great for swimming and snorkeling but scuba diving is not allowed unless you are guided by a dive shop on Union Island to the south. I spent a week here then dropped down to Union Island to meet up with Francis La Ross (you and I met him in Australia) who arranged to stop a while on his way back to New York from Trinidad, where he had been for Carnival and the Trinidad Marathon. Union is a beautiful island with a number of nice dive sites including the reef that protects the harbor. The town is sadly a run down Rastafarian style mess that looks to have had little clean up or investment since the 70s. We did a lot of diving at sites on Union, Palm and Petite St Vincent Islands, mostly pretty good. There was a hop back to Tobago Cays for snorkeling and free diving for Francis. My aging body doesn’t do well free diving past 20 feet or so. It was great having Francis around for the fellowship, more energetic water sports and food. He is a great cook! After a couple of weeks Francis headed north and I set off for Grenada after a few day stop at Tyrell Bay, Carriacou.Carriacou is a nice island in a lovely part of the Caribbean that manages to feel it has escaped from tourism. There are some resorts on the windward side where the anchorages are poor. Tyrell Bay is a safe harbor and the town of Hillsborough is charming. I had been trying to arrange for new sails over the Internet without success, so decided to head for the Spice Island, Grenada, where there are a number of marine services.I arrived the town, St Georges on April 8 after a brisk day sail past the famous “Kick em Jenny Rock”. This is a nice plantation era city surrounding two good harbors called the Careenage and the Lagoon. I arranged to have sails made at Turbulent Sails, ordered a new RIB dingy from Budget marine and stainless steel dingy davits from Spice Island Marine. I cruised the nice south coast of Grenada, many nice bays, while waiting (forever) for those jobs to be done. This is a part of the world where almost nothing happens near when committed. The work I had done was good and reasonably priced, but to those following in my wake, I counsel patience. I also wanted to get a new Awlgrip topside and deck paint job as well as bottom work. I was not impressed with the work or prices quoted by the Grenada yards, so decided to save those jobs for Trinidad. Grenada took up 2 months of cruising and waiting time. All the south end bays were nice but visibility for diving was a disappointment.My favorite stop, other than St George’s town was tiny Whisper Cove Marina at Clarks Court Bay in the town of Woburn. The Marina is a bargain, serving about 12 yachts and run by Luke, a fine French chef and great guy. The food was reasonable and gourmet. Luke is already to help offering a free ride for shopping 5 days a week. There is also an island bus about 1/8 mile away. Even one as restless as I am could easily get stuck at Whisper Cove. After 2 months on Grenada I rose in the dark June 8 to sail the 85 miles to Chagauramas Bay on Trinidad. I had a great fast sail in company with another west coast US boat passing through the Boca, or Dragons Mouth to the big bay. There are a group of small rugged islands that reach across the Gulf of Paria to within 7 miles of Venezuela. Paria is a large body of water, fed by tides and the Orinoco River delta about 50 miles to the south. For those reasons the currents between the islands were considered very dangerous during the age of sail. We had no trouble and picked up a mooring in busy Chagauramas Bay late in the afternoon. This is a busy place, known for yacht repair. It has 5 large repair yards and jams up with business in the summer months because of having competent and well priced yard skills and because it is south of the Caribbean hurricane season. It would be a beautiful jungle landscape but feels very waterfront-industrial. In addition to the repair yards, there are large dry storage areas where many hundreds of American and European Yachts are stored during the hot summer months while the owners go home for the summer. The idea of a Part time yacht, left on the hard for part of the year, was new to me. Owners seem to complain a lot about the difficulty of getting their yachts working on arrival. Surprise. I once calculated that I need to spend 1 ½ hours daily doing boat work. If I left the boat 5 months, that would be 225 hours of saved up workload. Nice vacation! I arranged to be hauled at the Power Boats yard and selected one of their contractors to do a new Awlgrip paint job, grind the bottom the bare glass, fill a few blisters, grind and fair the keel with epoxy filler, epoxy fill and prime the bottom and put on new bottom paint. It was to be a three-week job, took six weeks, was super frustrating, but the final result looks great as you can see from the pictures. Living at the top of a ladder in a dirty boat yard is not a lot of fun, but I believe that the job might have been finished in time for Halloween had I gone away. I did complete a long list of other work at the same time, keeping me involved with the workers. I probably got a better job as a result. Much of the tardiness was due to less than urgent attitudes, some due to the rainy season, which seems to take away at least part of each day. Trinidad-Tobago is a country of about 1,5 million, blessed with oil, beautiful scenery and a very high murder rate largely due to the drug gang problem. This means that a lot of people die from gang related murder (314 year to date on August 5) but mostly they are seen to just be thinning out the bad guys. Guns are all illegal here, but most all the murders are drive by shootings. Is there a lesson here???  The people are the descendants of African slaves and Indian indentured workers brought in when slavery ended in the 1830s. The population is about 40% each with the remaining 20% Caucasian and Chinese and a few others. Political leadership is racially oriented parties, but most people seem to get along without racial violence. The government is oversized, but supported by the oil and gas wells. 90% of exports come from oil wells. It was a plantation island, but that economy has gone away. The mountainous land and beaches are potential, but there is not much of it. I have done some mountain travel and gone through the swamps checking out the scarlet Ibis and other birds that help make this a pretty interesting place. Now I am at 10.4 degrees north and it is pretty hot and muggy here, better in the low islands off the coast of Venezuela to the west that are exposed to trade wind air-conditioning. I expect to sail in the next couple of days. More later mon. Love, Denny