Archive for September, 2007

Entry for September 26, 2007

September 26, 2007

The potluck on Sunday night was very small but Laura’s cream-puffs were a big hit (as usual).  One guy even accidentally dropped his on the floor then picked it up and ate it anyway.

We met John from Panacea at the potluck and he told us several stories about our boat which he had seen as far back as 1995.  Panacea is a sister ship (same 1981 43’ Endeavour ketch) to Second Wind and is in fine shape.  John has sailed her over 50,000 miles throughout the Caribbean many times over the past 15 years. 

Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to firm up our plans over the weekend which was the reason we decided to stay at the marina.  All the businesses in Trinidad (and the Caribbean) close down on the weekend and this was even worse because it was a holiday weekend in Trinidad & Tobago – Republic Day.  31 years ago this country was born.

We lounged around Monday then had D and Don over for cocktails along with Devi and Hunter from Arctic Tern.  Devi and Hunter have just returned to their boat from an extended trip back to the U.S. so we were able to pick their brains about the ins and outs of leaving our boat here.  They were very positive on Peakes Boatyard so we decided to try them first.

Bright and early Tuesday morning, we walked around the bay to Peakes and made reservations to have Second Wind hauled out of the water and stored on-land. It all starts on Monday, October 15th when we return to Peakes with the boat and they will haul us out.  We will spend the following 2 days on the boat (out of the water) getting her ready to leave “on the hard” for 3 months.  We’ve already started our list of jobs we want to get done during that time.

We looked at many different places and marinas to leave the boat while we were away and finally decided that not only was Trinidad very simple (because we were here) but it was out of the hurricane zone and the flight costs were not too bad.  I had a spreadsheet going with marinas from Aruba to Puerto Rico and we called or emailed most of them.  Puerto Rico definitely has the cheapest international flights of the Caribbean but it would have been a lot of work to get the boat there and we hadn’t found a good place to leave her after making an afternoon of phone calls.

Here’s our tentative travel schedule – On Wednesday, October 17th, both Laura and I will leave Trinidad on the same 7:30am flight to Miami.  I will continue on to LA then Auckland, New Zealand while she flies north to JFK then on to Seattle.  16 hours after leaving Port of Spain, Trinidad, Laura will arrive in Seattle to visit her daughters Jennifer and Paula.  14 hours later, I will land in Auckland.  Actually, when she arrives in Seattle, I will still be in LA waiting on my flight to depart to Auckland – that’s weird.

We will leave the marina today (Wednesday) and spend the couple weeks touring around the anchorages of Trinidad before coming back here on October 14th for the haul-out.  D and Don on Southern Cross will be leaving in the next couple days for Margarita and we were supposed to be leaving with them.  It will be a sad good-bye as we’ve been with them, on and off, for the past 2 months.  But, cruisers seldom say “good-bye”.  Instead, it’s, “See you soon” as we always seem to meet up again down the road.

Sorry we haven’t posted any pictures in awhile.  Here is the coast of Trinidad as we approached from Tobago.  Enjoy!

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Entry for September 23, 2007

September 23, 2007

Our two days in Crews Inn Marina have now been extended to eight.  It’s Saturday morning and we just moved the boat into a slip that is available until Wednesday.  There is lots going on so I’ll try to keep it all straight.

The biggest news is I’ve accepted the offer to crew with my friend Jack and Todd (the boat owner) on a boat from New Zealand to Hawaii in late October to December.  If you’d like to read a little about the boat I will be sailing, the web site is http://www.cordill.net/voyage/capaz/the_boat.asp.  Laura will spend some extended, quality time with her family while I am bobbing over the waves in the South Pacific.  We’re working diligently to find the best place to leave the boat until mid-January when we will return from Christmas with our families to continue our cruise.

At this time, Puerto Rico looks like the best place to leave the boat if we can find a good weather window to cross the Caribbean Sea in one shot.  That trip will be approximately 4 days (about 400 miles) depending on winds if we decide to sail from Margarita to Puerto Rico.  Also, we have to keep in mind that it is the middle of hurricane season even though the past few weeks have been very quiet weather-wise.  We’d have to be very sure there is nothing coming off the African coast that may turn into a tropical storm before we left for Puerto Rico.  Fortunately, hurricane forecasting is very good now-a-days and we seem to have 5-8 days notice when anything might be coming our way. 

We decided to stay in Crews Inn marina over the holiday weekend (Monday is a civic holiday in Trinidad) so we could firm up plans and book flights.  We are also looking at the option of leaving the boat here in Trinidad or one of the other islands in the southern Caribbean but the flights in and out are more expensive than San Juan.  We’re still looking at all options on where to leave the boat and hope to finalize plans before leaving this marina next Tuesday.

On the maintenance end, I’ve completed all the repairs on our electrical system after really pushing the guys at the local electronics store to get our alternator rebuild in record time.  I guess they got tired of my walking up there every couple hour to see how it was going and decided to push my work order to the top of the pile.  They had it done yesterday just before they left at 5 pm (everything around here – except the restaurants and bars – closes down at 5 pm) and I most of last evening mounting it back on the engine and putting on new belts.  I’ve also completed the redesign of my 12v charging system and removed the failed battery isolator along with the battery separator.  Everything seems to work fine and I’m glad I was able to simplify the configuration as well as get everything fixed in just a couple days.  Trinidad is a great place for boat repairs as everything is within walking (or water taxi) distance and you can find just about anything you need here. 

We’ve also kept busy this week with enjoying the local establishments and Laura has made a couple trips to Port of Spain while I’ve been working on the boat.  Before we left Grenada, Stokley have us a phone number for his friend Gary in Trinidad.  Laura called him a couple days ago and made arrangement for Gary to show us around a little and take us to the local mall for some shopping.  Laura, D and Don went to the mall yesterday while I re-installed my inverter and made sure it was working ok before the electronic techs left for the day.  We are also making arrangements for Gary to give us a mini-tour of the country on Monday.  The boat is all fixed so I can go on that trip.

 

Saturday and I (Laura) was up at 5:45 to get ready to pick up a bus to the open Market in Port of Spain. A gent by the name of Jessie James caters to the yachting community and has this trip set up on a weekly basis. The market was amazing. We first entered a building that housed all the sea food and meat items you’d want to choose from. Our first stop was at a booth that had wonderful looking shrimp available. Very large(still with the heads on) were only 35 TT (less than 6 US $) per pound!!  Two pounds should be good to start with. Then on to the next building and all the tables in between and outside the buildings for just about any fruit or vegetable you can imagine. It was very difficult knowing at first if we got a good deal on certain things, as we really didn’t have much time to “compare” shop. But as we went along, things looked very good and after getting some of the “salad staples – tomatoes, cukes, lettuce, onions, etc.. some native fruits were next. A fresh coconut, mangos, limes, and sweet star fruit were filling my carry bag. Potatoes and other root type veggies were everywhere, along with HUGE baking type pumpkins. It seems strange that even though it’s hot year round down here, there still are the “growing seasons” to most of their veggies. Mango season is just about over, while the tomatoes, potatoes, green peppers, green beans (much longer than the stateside beans we know) and some other root veggies, seem to be in abundance at this time. After only about an hour, my bag is full and overflowing and its time to pick up the bus. We head over to a grocery store for a quick stop to pick up those things not at the market and before 10 am we’re back at the boat, unloading all the goodies. Oh, one thing I did forget, as we were heading back to the bus, D and I walked back through the meat building. D was taking some pictures and we noticed a few ducks lying on a counter, feathers still on and we were thinking, ready for sale. As D snapped a picture, one of the ducks picked up its head and looked at her, both of us about jumped and D’s eyes were bigger than saucers. It was quite an adventure.

Today, Sunday, has been kind of laid back. We’ll be joining in a Pot Luck dinner this evening. With all the marinas in this bay, there’s many activities and things to do.

Entry for September 17, 2007

September 19, 2007

We are in a beautiful Trinidad marina called Crews Inn (www.crewsinn.com) for a couple days while we recoup from our overnight trip.  The cruise from Tobago was beautiful.  Southern Cross and Second Wind left the anchorage at Store Bay just after 10 pm and stayed within a mile of each other throughout the night.  We motored almost the whole way because the winds were so calm but the great side affect was no waves or swells on the ocean.  55 miles over the Caribbean Sea was just like a day on the Intercoastal Waterway in Florida.

The only excitement we had was around 9 am.  It was very warm in the boat as the Sun beat down on us from clear skies and no wind to cool us off.  I happened to glance over at the voltage meter on the engine console and it read all the way to the top of the gauge.  I immediately went downstairs to investigate.  Our Link2000 showed the house batteries at 12.2 volts and they were discharging (they should have been full or charging with the alternator) and the starting battery was at 18.3 volts (YIKES!).  I stuck my head in the engine room and could smell burnt electronics – not good.  After opening all the engine room doors to let everything cool down, I found the wires on the battery isolator were so hot I couldn’t touch them.  I quickly dug out some tools and disconnected the starting battery from the isolator.  The Link2000 showed the starting battery voltage back to normal but the house batteries were still discharging.  I guess the battery isolator shorted out the alternator to the starting battery side and was not letting alternator current into the house batteries. Since the alternator monitors the house batteries to tell it how much to put out, it saw they were low and was putting out everything it had into the starting battery.

I ended up connecting the alternator directly to the house bank of batteries so they would stay charged.  I left the starting battery out of the circuit for now.  It will be fine on it’s own since it could probably start the engine 100 times without any recharges.

I jumped in the shower to cool down and rinse off all the sweat from working over a running engine in 100+ degree heat.  Laura later told me she mopped up pools of sweat from the floor under where I had been working.  Oh well, all in a day’s cruise….

I’ve been wanting to simplify the alternator charging circuit to the battery banks and this is a good excuse to do it.  I need to do some more research but I think I can just remove the battery isolator and combiner and keep the alternator connected directly to the house batteries.  A special circuit in my inverter called the “echo charge” that will keep the starting battery charged.

I have created a shared photo album on the Kodak Gallery to let all our friends and families view the pictures from our blog in full size.  The web link is http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=i6cayud.12zc7ew5&x=0&y=-f6rjhc and I will try to upload all the pictures that we post on the blog to this site. 

Entry for September 15, 2007

September 15, 2007

On Friday afternoon we headed back to Store Bay from Plymouth. It was a beautiful sail as the wind Gods decided to be friendly today and gave us a great beam reach with 10-12 knots of wind. We sailed along with jib, main and mizzen all working together to push the boat at 7 knots on a very calm sea. It felt like we were hardly moving as the only sound was the bow slicing through the tiny waves.

D called us on the radio as we rounded Pigeon Point. She said, “You guys look great with all those sails up!” but I think we were too far away for a good picture. They were already anchored in Store Bay. Don had taken their dinghy to a local dive shop to see about filling up their scuba tanks and D was just hanging out on Southern Cross. We were on a tight schedule to check out with Customs in Scarborough and D thought he’d be back soon. She mentioned to me on the radio that Don didn’t even have a VHF radio with him. We anchored a bit farther out from the beach from the last time here as there were quite a few boats anchored already close in.

After finishing the anchor duty, Laura and I put the sail cover back on the mizzen to tidy everything up. As I was standing on the deck box securing the sail cover, I looked out over the ocean behind us to see if the sunset was going to be a good one. There were some big clouds blocking the Sun so I didn’t think we’d see much at all. One thing on the ocean caught my eye and I went below to grab our binoculars. About ¾ mile off the beach I saw someone rowing a small boat with the engine up out of the water. “Someone is in trouble” I thought because this person wasn’t getting any closer to the anchorage with the wind and current against them. Laura and I quickly dropped the dinghy and I grabbed the portable radio. I zoomed off in the direction of the wayward boater which I thought might be Don. As I got closer I saw that it was Don and he seemed pretty happy to see me. He threw me his dinghy painter (line attached to the bow) as he disgustingly said, “I blew a fuel line and didn’t bring any tools with me.” I motored slowly back to Southern Cross with Don and Dinghy in tow. When I was within a hundred yards, I called D on my radio. “I’ve found a wayward boat and was wondering if you wanted it”, I said as she looked out over the stern. “Yes”, she said, “I’ll also take the contents.” A few minutes later Don was tied up to the big boat and he breathed a sigh of relief. We talked for a few minutes about how lucky he was I spotted him rowing in the distance and that neither of us carry spare parts or tools in the dinghy because we don’t want them stolen when we go ashore. I’m going to give some thought into how I can carry some of that stuff with us in the dinghy and still keep them secure.

Don left the dinghy repair for later and we headed into shore with our dinghy. We must be a sight with 4 people in our dinghy because it’s only 8 feet long and we’re pretty crowded. Anyway, after tying up the dink, we walked to the road and within a few minutes hailed a taxi into Scarborough. This wasn’t a “real” taxi as it seems anyone on Tobago can pick up passengers and make a few bucks by acting like a taxi. Our driver, Lene, was a young man who drove us at breakneck speed along the crowded main roads. At times he was going over 100 kph (the speed limit was 50) while slowly nursing a Stag beer. It didn’t seem dangerous and I was laughing inside while thinking, “Nobody back home would believe this…” Locals in even the English speaking parts of the Caribbean are usually difficult to understand because they have an unusual British kind of accent and talk really fast. I sat in the front seat and Lene kept asking me questions while the radio was playing at full blast. I kept saying, “What?” over and over until I could pick out a few words. He finally turned down the radio which seemed to help a little. I think D, Don and Laura in the back figured Lene wasn’t speaking English.

He took us into Scarborough, about a 30 minute ride, for $6 TT (about $1 U.S.) each. He obviously wasn’t going to get rich with this business. He was very anxious to give us a ride back and kept asking, “Should I wait for you?” (or something like that). We finally convinced him that waiting wouldn’t be a good idea because we didn’t know how long Immigration and Customs would take. He seemed very disappointed until D asked for his phone number and said we would call him for a ride back when we were ready.

Immigration and Customs were very easy with NO FORMS since we were only clearing out to Trinidad. We were very happy and it took only about ½ hour for both agencies. We walked around the busy, hot downtown Scarborough and stopped at a very nice fruit market where we bought a large bunch of bananas, 2 green peppers and 3 cucumbers for $30 TT (about $5 U.S.) Then we stopped in another small grocery store and bought eggs and a few other staples which I carried in a small canvas bag.

We were ready to head back so D eventually found a public phone to call Lene. It was more expensive than she thought so she had to go and find change. You would think this would be an easy process but between finding a phone that worked, getting the right change and making Lene understand where we were it took us over an hour before I heard his “Hey!” from across the intersection. We quickly piled into the car as he drove the long way around Scarborough so he could pick up another beer from a group of locals with a roadside cooler.

We got back to the dinghy around 6 pm and found a couple guys sitting on it smoking a joint. “Thanks for watching our dinghy.” I said as we struck up a conversation. We dropped off D and Don as we made plans for dinner and dominos together on Second Wind.

D cracks me up when she shows up for dinner. She always brings a huge bag, full of food and wine, which she can barely carry. It wasn’t different this time and she even brought dehydrated broccoli that tasted pretty good mixed in with our fried rice and left-over tuna. They also brought some fresh fish (snapper and grunt) they had purchased on the beach yesterday. We grilled them up and had a feast. A long game of dominos (Don won) and fresh watermelon for desert saw us finally to bed around midnight.

We will depart for Trinidad around 2 am Monday morning so we can arrive in the early afternoon. The cruising guide shows 60 miles from Store Bay, Tobago to Chaguaramas, Trinidad. The winds should be light so we will probably have all our sails up just to make 4 knots. We plan to stay in a marina for about a week so we can shop at the great stores there to restock our fridge and obtain a few boat parts before heading on to the island just off the coast of South America and continue our trek west.

I called our friend Jack yesterday morning on Skype when we had our computer hooked to the Internet. We had tentative plans to meet in Trinidad as his boat is out of the water there while he is home in Portland, Oregon. He said he had a change of plans (not unusual for cruisers as we seem to change plans daily) and would not be back to Trinidad until mid-January. He is crewing on a friend’s boat for a 2-month passage from New Zealand to Hawaii in November and December. I said something like, “Wow! That sounds like a blast.” and he mentioned they were looking for a third crewmember. It’s a possibility that we will think about over the next few weeks. Laura is planning to visit her daughter Jennifer in Seattle when she has her next baby in November and we had planned to leave the boat in Puerto Rico for a trip home at Christmas. I might take a couple months off of cruising and see some of the South Pacific on a 4,000 mile cruise. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

The picture is the lil’ tunie that decided to join us for dinner.

Entry for September 14, 2007

September 14, 2007

Sunday late afternoon, we did go for that walk and found the bird sanctuary way up a twisty winding road. It was a lovely place with trails, so we decided to follow a loop that would bring us back to the bird feeders. The Bamboo trees were just magnificent, as well as a few birds that we saw. I’m not really into the bird watching thing, and the fact that we were heading deeper and deeper into a rain forest area, we could hear the birds above us, but couldn’t see anything. We got to an area in the trail that look like it ended, obviously, there hadn’t been very many people taking this trail lately. Bill trudged on through the thick overgrown weeds and broken down bamboo trees and we finally reached an area that once again looked like trail. And it lead us back to the feeding house. It was around 4 pm (feeding time) and there were all sorts of birds flocking in to get their share. After a bit of watching and photo shoot, we headed back down the steep winding drive and when we hit the top of the hill, decided to stop in at the Ocean view Bar and have a cold one. There was a Pizza Boys right across the street, so after a few minutes we also decided to order a pizza for dinner. A super deluxe, that was just wonderful! After chowing down, we hurried back to the dinghy as the sun was quickly setting and got back to the boat just as darkness fell, which tends to happen suddenly once the sun sets, no lingering twilights here. We finished the night with a hot game of dominoes, Bill won.

Monday, we were on the move again, heading to Plymouth Bay only about 2 miles northeast of Mt Irvine bay. It didn’t take too long, about an hour, but we did run into some showers on the way. We could see all the clouds around us, and hoped we’d miss it as the sun was shining in the bay where we were headed. But one shower came over land and then right over us. It was done and over with within 10 minutes. At least we didn’t have to anchor in the rain. But more storms and squalls were predicted to be heading our way for overnight and Tuesday, so we put out two anchors to make sure we wouldn’t be dragging all over the place. Sure enough, by 3 or 4 am, a lightning and thunder storm woke me up, along with the mad rocking of the boat in the swells. I must be getting used to the motion though, as it didn’t take me long to fall back to sleep.

We were up bright and early Tuesday morning as Don had set up a tour of the island with an old gent that was listed in the cruising guide, Dave Rooks. A shower and a quick breakfast then off in the dinghy to pick up D and Don. As we beached the dinghy, Bill said we should try to get the dinghy up onto the beach quickly as the swells were coming in. Dee, Don and I jumped out and while we waited for Bill to secure the engine, a large wave came onto the beach and into the dinghy. Bill was soaked and he had to take a quick trip back to the boat to change clothes because the salt water wouldn’t have dried for several hours. He wasn’t too happy with us for not pulling the dinghy up quicker.

David Rooks is a quite famous naturalist and has even worked for the U.S. government, and at least one president, as a consultant. The tour was about the history of people on Tobago which started around 2,500 BC. It was very interesting but expensive – $65 U.S. per person – and we think the major value of the tour was just being with David for 4-5 hours and being able to ask any question about Tobago from someone who knows everything. We were back at the dinghy around 3 pm and the high tide had pulled it away from the beach and the waves were crashing over the side. It was still tied to the large rock so we pulled it in, emptied the water, cleaned it out and finally got back to the boat after dropping Dee and Don off. Plymouth is not a good place to bring in a dinghy as there are no docks and the beach is not very high.

Wednesday we sailed with Southern Cross up the coast about 8 miles directly into the wind. We had a “tacking duel” with them for the whole day which they won hands-down. They left Plymouth about 1 hour after us and arrived at Englishman’s Bay about 1 hour before us. We figured we sailed 16 miles, close hauled, to make good 8 miles into the wind. I always have tried to sail as close to the wind as possible when beating but the boat doesn’t go very fast because the sails luff when you get too close. We probably average only 2.5 – 3 knots as we try to keep the boat within 35-40 degrees off the wind. Don, on the other hand, beats at 50 degrees off the wind which allows for a much higher boat speed. Even though he travels a longer distance, he is sailing at 5-6 knots which more than makes up for it. We learned a great lesson by sailing with them today.

Oh, I almost forgot that we broke a snatch-block on the port jib sheet that was cranked all the way in with 25 knot winds. The bolt on the block had cracked with the salt water (I assume) and it let go like a rifle going off right next to Laura. The pressure of the sail pulled the sheet enough to bend over one of our stainless steel lifeline rails before we could loose the sheet. We quickly rolled in the jib and Laura moved the snatch-block from the starboard to the port jib sheet so we could get back to sailing.

The anchorage at Englishman’s Bay was very small and a northeast swell made itself known when we anchored. The boat was jumping around pretty good and we didn’t sleep very well trying to hold onto the bed so we didn’t get thrown on the floor. It was too rough to even launch the dinghy safely off the davits so we never went to shore and left early the next morning for Parlatuvier Bay just 1.5 miles north. This bay was also small, windy and had rough water with a swell coming in. We anchored and had lunch while watching the boat move around near the rocks as squalls came though for over an hour. I didn’t think it would be safe to leave the boat there so we could go ashore and check out a nice triple waterfall a short walk away so we left around 1:30 pm and sailed back south to Plymouth. Once again it seemed like the wind Gods were not friendly to us. When we sailed up here, the wind was 20-25 knots right on our nose. We figured it would be a great sail back with these winds behind us. It was not to be as the winds died completely and left us bobbing around on a 6-7 foot, long period swell. We started the engine but left the main up to stop the roll. We put out the fishing pole and not more than 30 minutes later it went, “Zing!” and we pulled in a small bluefin tuna about 4 pounds. These tuna can be several hundred pounds so I was happy with this one as it supplied us with a great dinner including leftovers for tomorrow. We love the leftover tuna in mac salad and fried rice. Yumm.

Friday morning was clear and calm as we listened to the 7 am weather report on our HF radio and heard about another named storm, Ingrid, moving into the Caribbean over the next several days. Ingrid is supposed to go north and not affect our weather at all so we missed this one. Yea! We are going into town shortly and will walk to the local phone company office to use the Internet for updating our blog and making a few phone calls. Then we will sail down to Store Bay and meet Southern Cross this afternoon so we can take a taxi together into Scarborough and check out with Customs and Immigration. We’ll probably sail to Trinidad tomorrow or Sunday. This is another weird think about Tobago and Trinidad. They are one country but we have to check out of Tobago and check in to Trinidad. It’s even a little worse than that because we are supposed to check out of Scarborough and obtain clearance from Clarancetown (another bay on the northwest shore of Tobago) if we sail northeast on this coast. Maybe we bent the rules a little by not doing that but we will go back to Scarborough today to check out anyway.

The picture is Laura and I at Fort King George which protected Scarborough Harbor for many years in the 18th Century. How do you like the haircut Laura gave me a couple days ago? I think it’s better than the one I received in St. Thomas by a barber who had never cut straight hair before….

Entry for September 10, 2007

September 10, 2007

It’s Sunday afternoon and we’ve decided to hang for another day in Mount Irvine bay. D and Don are still with us and we may take about a mile walk up the road to see a bird sanctuary that the cruise book talks about.

Yesterday, we pulled up the hook around 9:30 and sailed up to Pigeon Point, only a few miles away. Anchoring was rough, as there was only coral in the area. Our anchor was hooked on a fairly large piece of dead coral and Bill had to actually brace his feet on the sea floor and yank it with both arms to release it. Mind you this was at about 25 feet underwater-no diving equipment, only snorkel gear. He was able to get it to a better place and we held fine, as we were only planning on being there a few hours anyway. We prepped for snorkeling and since D and Don weren’t quite ready, we went exploring, scoping out a good snorkel place. At first we only saw a few rocks and mostly grassy areas, so we headed out to where the water was starting to breakon the reef, figuring the coral had to be there. Sure enough, there were many different types of coral, more than I’ve seen in one place at a time. And the number and variety of fish was superb.. Once again, we saw a huge French Angel. It seemed very interested in us, and would come as close as 2-3 feet, but then scurry away if we reached out or made any kind of move. The eyes are so intense and the way they turn sideways to look at you is really cool. There were schools of Parrot fish- we call them crazy Parrot-heads, from a song we’ve heard about them, but their parrot colors and head shape still amazes me, they are beautiful. A few more trumpet fish and lots of sergeant majors (largest ones we’ve seen yet) and a few good size groupers or Jewfish – we’re not really sure which, but they are certainly in that family. Mmmm could have been dinner.. Bill got water logged after a while, and hiked himself up in the dinghy for a little snooze while D, Don and I still mingled among sea life. A bit later, we headed back to the boat for lunch. Around 1:30 we were hauling anchor again, and on our way to Mount Irvine, to anchor for the night and get some fish for dinner. We actually had our pole out, trolling, and had a hit but no hangers on.. argggg.

Our sail was slow, as wind died down, but we saw some dark clouds up ahead, so we hoped we’d get some of the wind, and not the rain. We could see the rain about a mile out and northeast of us, and since the winds were East/Northeast, we figured we’d be spared. As we were slowing moving toward the anchorage, D hales us on the VHF radio, her voice having some urgency in it.. after acknowledging her call, she frantically says “LOOK BEHIND YOU!” Both of us turn and the picture attached is what we saw.. a water spout only about a mile behind us.. It hung there for quite some time. Within 10 minutes time, D hales again, “We’ve got a spout right on our tail” she hollers. We look off our port stern and sure enough, we saw the funnel forming in the clouds, but the water was also starting to spray upwards right behind them. Bill hales, “Time to put the pedal to the metal” as he pushed up the throttle, I’m sure Don already had theirs as high as it would go. After only about 10 seconds the funnel dissipated and the water settled down. We were both very thankful that it didn’t continue to form, that’s a bit too close for comfort, especially for Southern Cross. Although all of this happened out of one good sized cloud, we never ended up getting rained on. The weather can be a dangerous and amazing work of nature, without warning, on your left, while still being sunny and beautiful to your right.

So, Second Wind and Southern Cross anchored in some nice sand about a half hour later in calm waters off the beach. The guys took off to buy some fishes, we could see the fishermen with their catches on the roadside, while D and I did a little tidying up. The boat tends to get ignored when we’re out having fun (haha). Dinner was grilled snapper and a light side dish for us tonight. After quite an exciting day, sleep came quickly.

Sunday AM and all is pretty quiet and relaxing on Second Wind. After breakfast, I made some banana bread. Bill worked on the dinghy painter (the tow line) making a nice spliced loop in the end just big enough to hook onto the cleat, we need to make sure we don’t ever lose it as we tow it. Don came over and changed out our shaft zinc. This is a piece that fits over a part of the shaft by the propeller, holds it all together and keeps the shaft and prop from “rotting.” Don has diving equipment and was able to change it out with no problem. A quick dip this afternoon cools us down before we decide to head into town for a walk.

Entry for September 7, 2007

September 7, 2007

The past few days have been very nice with some visits to local businesses (Internet café, grocery store, gas station, etc.) and hanging out with Don and Dee from Southern Cross who came into the harbor from Grenada a couple days ago.  Trips via taxi are very inexpensive here – $6 TT (about $1 U.S.) for both of us each way.   We took one to the gas station and filled up two 5-gallon jugs.  What a pleasant surprise!  The bill was $61 TT which was just over $10 U.S. for about 10.5 gallons of gasoline.  Wow!  I thought I was back in the 1970s!   Trinidad & Tobago (they are one country) is a fuel producer with off-shore wells so the local fuel is cheapo.  Venezuela is even less expensive and we’ve heard the diesel is 33 cents / gallon delivered to the boat.  I can’t wait for that!

Tuesday morning Don and Dee sailed into Store Bay and we welcomed them a few hours later with a dinghy ride into the beach so they could take a taxi to Scarborough for check-in with Customs and Immigration.  Laura and I walked around the local area a little and did a little shopping at a convenient-type store.  We also purchased fruits and veggies from a small shop near the road.  We had Don and Dee over for dinner – Tuna ka-bobs – and talked about where we had been and what we had seen.

Yesterday (Wednesday), we decided to do a major grocery run as we were running low on many staples.  We took a taxi to the Pennysaver (biggest grocery store in the area) and again were pleasantly surprised at most of the prices.  Things like Triscuts and Wheat Thins were very much less than even in the U.S. – about the equivalent of $1.50 U.S. per box.   Cheese was a little more expensive than Grenada but most things were much less.  Meats looked pretty good and they had a few interesting things like Goat’s neck (cut into steaks) and Ox tail.  We caught a taxi back to the beach and loaded up the dinghy.  Total bill was about $1,050 TT ($170 U.S.) including the taxis.

Last night we got together with Dee and Don again for a mini-pot luck dinner and dominos.  Dee brought over chicken marinated with Stokley’s great homemade sauce.  We grilled potatoes and onions (my brother-in-law Tom’s secret recipe) and did a veggie stir-fry.  It was excellent and we played dominos after dinner to almost 11 pm. 

I was thinking the other day how different our life is from last year.  We haven’t driven a car since Puerto Rico (about 4 months ago) and we don’t have the option of just jumping in our own car and driving to the grocery store or other shopping.  Our dinghy is our car but there are many places it can’t take us so we have to obtain alternate transportation for most trips except for snorkeling.  I’ve just about gotten used to sitting in a car (taxi, bus, etc.) while they are driving on the wrong side of the road but I’m not sure I could drive myself without getting screwed up at the intersections.  Grenada was “left side” just like Union, Tobago and Trinidad. 

We went snorkeling in the afternoon with Don and Dee.  We tried a few spots and some of the corals were beautiful but the fish were not as abundant as the Tobago Cays.  I hope the Tobago Cays Park hasn’t spoiled us for snorkeling in other places. 

Today (Friday), Laura and Dee are going into the Clothes Wash Café where Dee will catch up on laundry and Laura will make some phone calls with Skype on the computer.  I think I will walk to the gas station with my luggage wheelie and one jug to top off my gasoline storage.  Tomorrow morning we are heading a little north to Pigeon Point which is right next to Buccoo Reef for more snorkeling.  Later in the afternoon we will head more north and again anchor in Mount Irvine Bay for the night which is only about 5 miles further.  We plan on going ashore to buy more fish from the roadside stands.  We told Don and Dee about our great score with the 6 pounds of tuna for about $16 (U.S.) and they want to stock up a little too.   On Sunday we will head to Englishman’s Bay (10-12 miles north) and stay there a few days for sightseeing.  Englishman’s Bay is part of Englishman’s Bay Estate which is a nature preserve.  The scenery is supposed to be awesome and we’ll finally get a chance to see some of the 210 species of birds on the island.

Two nights ago we had some thunderstorms pass north of the island just before sunset.  As they preceded west, the sun set behind them and we had this beautiful sight of the clouds backlit with the bright red setting sun.  Isn’t this picture cool?

Entry for September 3, 2007

September 3, 2007

It’s Monday morning and the start of another week of our cruise.  The past few weeks since we’ve left Grenada have been quite different from the rest of our trip and, at the same time, very enjoyable.  With no deadlines or specific places to see, we sail to different harbors when we like or as the weather dictates.  Both Laura and I have been reading a lot.  I have probably read 40 books in the past 3 months and am currently re-reading the Empire / Robot series by Isaac Asimov.  This is a series of 14 books and I am on book #11.  It is very much like visiting old friends.

On Saturday afternoon we took the dinghy into the beach at Mount Irvine Bay and walked about 1 mile to several stores and restaurants.  We purchased some staples (milk, eggs, etc.) from a small grocery store and were pleasantly surprised at the low prices in Tobago.  I’m sure the few things we bought would have been twice as much in Grenada.

On the way back from our walk, we spotted some fishermen with their fresh catch near the beach and our dinghy.  They were setup on tables near the side of the road and many cars had stopped to purchase the fresh fish.  We watched they clean fish for a while then decided to purchase a small tuna.  The tuna weighed 9 pounds which they charged $10 TT per pound for $90 TT (about $16 U.S.) total.  I asked him to filet the fish and about 10 minutes later we walked away with 5 ½ pounds of tuna meat in a zip-lock bag.  For dinner we grilled a nice size tuna steak with spinach noodles and tomato sauce with zucchini.  It was awesome but our eyes were definitely bigger than our stomachs as we only ate about ½ the fish we grilled.  Last night we had the rest of that portion mixed with fried rice.  We still have about ¾ of the tuna left so I figure we will get 7-8 high-class meals for $16 U.S. worth of fish.  And, it couldn’t be any fresher.

Yesterday we sailed from Mt. Irvine Bay to Store Bay – only  about 6 miles south.  It was a beautiful downwind sail as we waited until the morning thundershowers subsided before leaving.  After anchoring in Store Bay we took the dinghy into the beach and walked around the small town.  There were many resorts and restaurants as this is a popular place with great beaches.  I continue to be pleased with the prices.  We stopped outside a very plush restaurant and look at the menu.  It seemed like a VERY high-class place as they only has valet parking.  The dinner prices were less then $20 U.S. and we might go there to celebrate my first year out of work which occurred on August 28th.   I can’t believe it’s been a year already.  We’ve certainly packed a huge amount of work and play into the past 12 months.

We found a “Laundry / Internet Café” and paid for ½ hour of Internet time so we could check email / voicemail and post the blog for the past week or so.  We are going back there shortly to do a few loads of laundry.  Right now we are running the Honda generator for a couple hours to charge our batteries and run the watermaker.  I need to find a gas station and fill up a couple 5 gallon jugs for the generator and dinghy motor.  I’m down to about 6 gallons left on-board which will still last me probably a week or so.  We didn’t see a gas station during our walk yesterday but we’ll ask at the Laundromat if there is one nearby.  We will also scope out the taxies into Scarborough which we were told run about $6 TT ($1 U.S.) for a ride to the malls. 

The picture is the fish I caught on the way to Tobago.  Only kidding – this is the place where we bought the tuna on the side of the road.   HA!

Entry for September 1, 2007

September 2, 2007

It’s Friday and when we listened to Chris Parker this morning, the first forecast we heard didn’t sound too great for us, squalls later today with 30-40 knot winds!! A Tropical front was coming in and this was the first we heard of it. The winds would be from the South/south-west that meant that we’d be getting quite a bit of swells just about anywhere we’d anchor. Tobago doesn’t have any really “good” hiding anchorages. So we decided to stay in Mount Irvine, but we would move closer to shore and put out two anchors to assure that we’d have holding in just about any wind direction. After running the refrige for the hour and charging up the batteries, and making water, we hauled up the anchor and moved about a quarter mile, setting two anchors. It went very easily, and I was surprised, as sometimes it can be a real hassle doing that. We had planned on going into town, not that there’s much here, but maybe a market and some place to buy some bread and eggs. Shortly before we planned to leave, the winds and dark clouds began to roll in. We hung around to make sure that the anchors wouldn’t drag. The rains came down but the winds didn’t seem to be that bad. We had been rolling some though and turning around on the anchors. When there was a break in the rain, about an hour later, we untangled the anchor lines as we had done a total 360. By the time we were done messing with that, it was time to start supper. We had a poor man’s meal today – shepherd’s pie. It had been a lot of years since I had made that, but Bill remembers when his mom used to make it, and he had been thinking about it for about a month or so. It turned out just as he remembered it. Not that it’s a very hard dish to make, and it’s a good one for when supplies are getting low. With dinner and the dishes done, we plan to sit back and watch a movie. Another hard day in Paradise..hehe

Entry for August 30, 2007

September 2, 2007

The boat is glistening with dried salt but we are cleaned and rested the day after our 1 ½ day trip to Tobago.  The salt will be washed off when the next rainstorm but today is sunny and beautiful.  We’ve just gotten back in the boat after a refreshing swim off the stern.  We spent the morning cleaning up the engine room because we had an overheat on the engine during our trip.  I’m not sure yet why it happened and the engine has been running fine.  The engine room smelled of antifreeze so I know it overheated somewhat during our trip.

We departed Petite Martinique around noon on Tuesday and sailed out onto the open ocean for our anticipated 95 mile trip to Tobago.  The winds were a little brisk, maybe 15-18 knots, but from a good direction for our sail on a close reach to the southeast island.  We started out with all our sail up (jib, staysail, main and mizzen) and kept them all up for most of the trip.  Only once during the night, when we were passing a few rain squalls, did we pull in the main because we were overpowered for the 25 knot winds.  The seas were a little close and steep at times but I don’t think we had anything over 5-6 feet so we were never too uncomfortable.  The close seas moved us around enough to keep us from sleeping during our 2 hour off-shifts. 

The sunset was at 6:30 pm and the full moon rose at 7:00 pm.  It kept the sea lit up all night except for the few times a cloud came by and blocked it out.  The moon was so bright the stars were hard to see at times.  Around 3 am we started seeing the lights of Tobago in the distance.  I told Laura, “Oh boy.  We found another island in the dark!” and she laughed.  We motor-sailed around the south end of the island as we needed to go to Scarborough on the eastern shore for check-in with Customs and Immigration.  Rounding the southern end we were open to the fast moving equatorial current which slowed us down to less then 2 knots at times.  It took us 4 hours to travel the last 7 miles.  That’s part of sailing we’re still not used to.

Just before entering Scarborough harbor, we were joined by another sailboat called Sea Biscuit.  I could see another squall approaching from the east and we stayed out of the harbor and motored around until it passed.  We followed Sea Biscuit into the harbor and the tiny anchorage.  There was just barely enough room for our two boats in the very unorganized harbor with moorings, tugboats and barges blocking off most of the good anchoring spots.  We dropped the dinghy and used our block and tackle to take the outboard off the port rail and drop it onto the dinghy stern.  I saw that Sea Biscuit was taking their time with their dinghy so I motored over and offered them a ride into town for clearing in.  Alan was very grateful and the three of us were on our way in about ½ hour.

It took us awhile to find a place to tie up the dinghy and walk a few blocks to Customs.  Of course, they told us we needed to check-in with Immigration first so we walked a few blocks farther to Immigration.  There were no signs and again I thought the whole process very unorganized.  Alan had his paperwork completed first and went into an office.  He came back out a few minutes later and said Immigration wanted to see his wife so he had to go back for her.  I told him to take our dinghy and we’d meet up with them later.  The Immigration officer was very nice and explained everything to us.  The “officialdom” of Tobago reminded me a lot of the Dominican Republic.  Lots of paperwork and different officials to see but none of the “tips” everyone in the DR requested.  It was all very professional and after filling out 12 forms and paying our $50 TT (Trinidad and Tobago dollars – $1 U.S. = $6 TT) we were checked in for a month of sightseeing and cruising.

The anchorage in Scarborough was so bad that we decided to sail to another anchorage even though we had been sailing for over 24 hours with not much sleep.  We left at 3:30 pm and sailed back to the east at 6-7 knots with the current with us this time.  It was dark by the time we sailed into our planned anchorage and in hindsight (always 20/20) I probably should have stopped somewhere closer.  A boat called us on the radio as we were trying to anchor and told us of a good spot in the harbor.  We went where he told us and were anchored by 7:30 pm.  Neither Laura nor I were hungry enough for dinner so we just grabbed a snack and relaxed for a few minutes on the sofa.  I couldn’t keep my eyes open so we went to bed and I slept soundly for over 12 hours.

As I mentioned, today I spent some time checking out the engine while we were charging the refrigeration with it this morning.  I couldn’t find anything wrong but tweaked a few things that might have caused an intermittent problem (cleaned sea-strainers, filled the heat exchanger overflow, etc.)  The engine room had been getting pretty dirty from the past 3,000 miles so we (really me) decided it was time for a good cleanup so we would be able to spot any leaks easily in the future.  Laura climbed down into the bilge and worked cleaning under the engine (that has been Rob’s job in the past) while I cleaned the top and sides of the engine room.  I also cleaned the raw water sea strainer and adjusted the stuffing box that has been making noise lately.  We removed the “diapers” from under the engine and put in clean ones I had in storage.  Now it looks spiffy and we’ll be able to see and quickly fix any oil or water leaks over the next couple days.

Today (Thursday) we will stay in Mount Irvine anchorage and probably sail south tomorrow to check out places with more activity so we can check email and post the blogs.  The rest of the day we’ll just be relaxing with naps, snacks and swimming off the boat.  A fitting reward for a long overnight cruise to a different

The picture is the Tobago Cays in the Grenadines which are one of our favorite snorkeling spots for the trip so far.