Grenada to Trinidad
August 5, 2008

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
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
air-conditioning. I
expect to sail in the
next couple of days.