Monday, 20 September 2004

Humming Bird Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad, Sunday, Septembe

Stein is actually at a medial conference today, a meeting of the Trinidad and Tobago Medical Association, with a lot of interesting lectures on the agenda so he has gone to get a taste of the local medical attitudes. Meanwhile I have done a bit of cleaning and tidying so that we are ship-shape for leaving for Venezuela in 2 days. I am now sitting in bikini at the chart-table, one towel under me and another to wipe away the sweat, glass of cold water within reach and a fan blowing beside me. Did you guess that it is hot? Yes, 36 degrees Centigrade to be exact, or about 90 Fahrenheit. It is also humid, and there have been thunder-showers most afternoons. We have learned the hard lesson that we cannot leave the small, side hatches open to get some air while we are out, as we are still drying out books that got wet a few days ago, when an incredible amount of water came in from these showers.

I arrived here ten days ago from Canada, having first had to delay my flight to Miami by three days because of hurricane Frances, then sit in Miami Airport for anther two as the flight to Trinidad was cancelled because of Ivan. So it was great to get here, and we are very happy that we chose to leave our boat in this almost hurricane-free island. We have seen boats limping in from Grenada, with holes in the hull, or rigging torn down, and these are the ones that survived, most of the others are lying in broken heaps, together with their owners destroyed dreams of cruising. One of the boats here which is awaiting expensive repairs was selling off their unnecessary items the other day, so we are now the proud owners of two folding bikes, something which we have been thinking about for some time. So, family and friends who are thinking about a sailing holiday, we can now offer cycle-trips as part of the fun!

White Admiral is getting better all the time, and this is the reason for staying so long, here in Chaguaramas one can get anything done on a boat. In fact it is a dangerous place to be, and it is time we move on before we use any more money on her! We now have a more efficient fridge, which Stein has rebuilt, its salt water cooling pump is also replaced, and have had a targa built at the stern. This is a stainless steel arch over the back of the boat where our new solar panels can get good exposure, and the latest acquisition is a wind generator which Stein wired up last night. This is a locally made product with a very good reputation, called KISS, which stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid! There is no wind blowing at the moment, so we don’t know yet if this will solve our electricity needs… Running a fridge in the tropics presents a big power problem for every yacht.
We have become fonder of Trinidad since our return. People are friendly and helpful, and one doesn’t feel like a tourist all the time. We visited the local market on Saturday morning, an impressive array of fruits, vegetables, fish and meat, with prices clearly displayed, smiling vendors who didn’t mind having their photo taken, and no hassle to buy. Quite a change from some of the other islands.

We have had a day trip to see some of the island, including the Asa Wright nature centre. With our guide Jesse James, a local taxi driver who has become the yachting community’s friend, advisor and tour operator, we did a round trip, sampling some of the island’s culinary delicacies on the way. We now know what “doubles” and “bake and shark” are; the first a chick-pea curry wrapped in a dough-like pancake, and the other a soft bun with deep-fried shark with various spicy sauces and toppings – Mmm! The nature centre is renowned for its plants and birds. There is a large feeding area which is alive with thousands of birds of different species, including many brightly coloured humming-birds. No doubt the group of serious ornithologists in their khaki shirts and shorts knew the names of many, as they peered through their large telescopes on tripods. We also saw butterflies, iguanas and the large rodent called agouti. The road home took us along the breath-taking north coast road with steep cliffs, tropical rain-forests and occasional beautiful beaches like the Maracas Bay. Stopping to view the scenery we were given impromptu performance by the local Calypso Man. A calypso is really a ballad, often on contemporary and social issues, and the experts can sing and rhyme away on any given topic.
We are now lying in a small marina called Humming Bird Marina, a casual family run business, where we came in to have the welding work done to put up the wind generator, but have stayed as it is cheap and pleasant. We even have Norwegian neighbours, Tommy and Susanne Andersen from Halden who are sailing on “Con Amore”, a 37 foot Bostrøm. Yesterday, they shared some wonderful, large shrimps from the market with us, and we will be able to enjoy their company again as we are taking the same route to the islands off Venezuela.

Tomorrow, we check out, pay our bill here, and sail round to Scotland Bay, for one last night in a lovely, quiet anchorage with an old friend, German Utz Müller-Treu in his Norwegian-registrered Colin-Archer “Frøken”. Utz normally lives aboard in Bequia, but is sheltering here in Trinidad in the hurricane-season (a good choice considering the damage Ivan did further north!). He is a now 72 year old, has sailed round the world alone two and a half times. We first met him in New Zealand 24 years ago. He is an old sea-dog, fond of the hard stuff, and full of tales of the oceans.
Then we are off to try out my newly acquired Spanish in Venezuela!

Ps
This is Stein back from a whole day of medical lectures at the Crown Plaza Hotel, Port of Spain. My head is now jammed with facts about the health situation in this part of the World! The conference was well attended and the standard of lectures and posters was excellent, even the food was good! The meeting was honoured by lectures from overseas visitors as well as local dignitaries like the Minister of Health, Mr John Rahael and the President of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago, His Excellency Prof. Max Richards, himself a past medical doctor. And both these men were also good speakers!

20 Sep 2004 by Stein & Diana

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