Sunday, 9 September 2018

27 August Taste of Trini Tour

 Jesse James is alive and running the Members Only taxi and tours service based in Power Boats yard. He's not a bank robber. He's a very nice man who does a full day Taste of Trinidad tour for groups of cruisers. It's an island tour with history and stories and multiple stops to pick up samples of as many different flavours and dishes as you can possibly eat. We began the day with bakes at 8 o'clock from a stall at the entrance to Peake Marina and ended at 7pm with pork stew, chicken, beans, vegetables from a restaurant in Port of Spain.

in the mini bus

How it works is Jesse give each couple, or single, a plastic plate, plastic cutlery, a plastic cup and napkins. When we reach the roadside food stall he hops out and buys one or two portions of each food which is then divided between us. Sometimes it was a mouthful, sometimes two mouthfuls each. On the day we went we tasted about 70 items from breakfast, through to lunch sitting by a sargassum covered beach on the east coast, fruits, drinks (no coffee) afternoon pastries and cakes, pre dinner fried chicken and dinner. The cost was was TT 585 (£67) each. No one said Trinidad was cheap.
Here are the photographs with captions where I can remember what it was.  Apologies for the blurred images - not easy to take a shot on a moving mini bus.
coconut bake, pumpkin, chow mein

Salt fish bread, salted fish

Chickpea double

meat pie

chapati, calaloo, beans, chaote

cow heel soup

macaroni pie

potato pie, beef pie

fried salt fish bake

fish pie?

aubergine, chick pea and?

tapioca ball

Jesse collecting the next taste

cassava, pasta, pork

sorrel drink

veg, barbecue pig tail, and ?

sweet and fizzy drink

lunch of duck, pork, chicken, provision

sweet, liquid peanut butter

watermelon on the east coast

doughnuts in spicy mango sauce

sugar, ginger and sugar

snack between meals

local Topic bar

fruit cale

shredded coconut cake

red and sweet

fried chicken wings

chocolate and coconut balls

And finally, for those who still had room, dinner from a restuarant eaten on your lap as we drove back to Chaguaramas at 7pm; stewed pork, stewed beef, pork ribs, mixed vegetables, chick peas, pasta salad, potatoes.

After this I couldn't eat another thing, not even a wafer thin mint, until lunch next day. Burp!

17 August Chaguaramas, Trinidad

After our ocean crossings a trip of 90nm is a short hop. The consensus is that Prickly Bay to Trinidad is best done as an overnight passage because you want to arrive during regular office hours to avoid large overtime fees. We tied up alongside the Customs dock (10°40.79N 61°37.88W) at 11.15am, did a quick change in to smart clothes, and raced up to the Immigration office. There was another boat ahead of us and despite filling in th mutliple forms before midday the lady didn't call us forward until after 12. Overtime! No. She didn't charge us anything.
Then I made a mistake and arrived at Customs before 1pm. More form filling and a charge of TT324, or U$53, for infringing upon the luncheon hour. It's a no money, no clearance system and the nearest ATM is 5 miles and a bus ride away in Glencoe. Catch 22. By a fluke of coincidence we had exactly $53 to be able to pay. Next day I borrowed TT100 from Peake Marine office to catch the bus to the Mall and an ATM.
For the first week we were anchored and for the second picked up one of the mooring buoys. The currents in the bay are unpredictable, can be nothing or up to 4 knots depending on the moon phase. We were advised not to pick up the one brown ball with a metal bar through it; this marks the mast of a sunken yacht less than a metre below the surface.
Chaguaramas is a busy harbour for oil industry support vessels who come in and out collecting provisions and gear.
For reasons unknown the anchorage is a popular spot for Venezuelan fishing boats to anchor. (It's only 14 miles to the coast of Venezuela). They arrive in the morning with eight men on board, anchor, do a lot of boat and three or four will row a battered dinghy ashore using planks of wood for oars and then they pick up there rope and anchor and depart. For fishing boats we didn't see any nets or fish....
Far more unsettling than foreign fishing boats was a 7.1 magnitude earthquake which rumbled for almost two minutes. We were below and felt the boat shake. I did the meerket thing popping my head up to check and saw no tankers approaching, but what I did see was the masts of boats in the yards swaying alarmingly, rigging clanging. We felt much safer on the water. Despite this being the strongest earthquake felt in Trinidad for many years (epicentre was 70 miles away off the coast of Venezuela) there were no casualties and no boat damage. The shop, restaurant and fuel dock at Power Boats were damaged and closed for a few days while repairs were carried out.
We were 'Bonded' – shaken but not disturbed.

12 August Grenada Carnival

 The second weekend in August is Carnival. It celebrates the abolition of slavery by Britain in 1838 and the Grenadians have made this into a gloriously colourful and noisy celebration which lasts four days, from Saturday to Tuesday. Pre dawn on Saturday kicks off the party with a horde of people descending into Georgetown dressed in devil hats and old clothes. Old clothes because tradition dictates you're going to be covered in a black, oily liquid. We opted to stay in bed and hear about from those who did go.
On Saturday and Sunday the steel bands compete for best in show title. Monday is more competitions for the dance groups and floats. The grand finale of the whole Carnival weekend wraps up on Tuesday afternoon with a long, swaying, singing, dancing snaking parade of everyone who has competed, dance groups, community groups, floats, bands, kids, families, tourists.  We went and I took many, many photos. Here are just a few which I feel capture the day.

3 August Prickly Bay Marina

Yesterday we returned to the Caribbean; one of the two most popular cruising grounds in the world. Our first impression of Prickly Bay was that there are many more boats here and more mooring balls filling the east side of the bay. The Spice Island marina haul out facility is jam packed full. The Tiki Bar next to Prickly Bay marina office is still here. As is the conveniently situated Immigration and Customs office.
Immigration and Customs were our first stop, second Budget Marina chandlery. A large and well stocked boat shop is the equivalent of Hamleys Toys for a child and cruisers are just big kids. Third stop an ATM half a mile away and then back to Prickly Bay, the Tiki Bar and Happy Hour.
During the first week we were here we cycled to Clarks Courts Bay Marina. There been a big change here. The small restaurant and dock facility is now replaced by a large storage yard, hurricane home to some of the biggest catamarans inThe  the Caribbean.
Fort St George and Carenage

Georgetown harbour

We hopped on a number 1 bus in to Georgetown for a stroll around the Carenae, lunch at the Nutmeg restaurant and picked up some fresh fruit and veggies at the market.
On another day we walked to the faux lighthouse which overlooks the headland to the east of Prickly Bay. There's some serious real estate in this part of the island.
Writing of the island, we called in to sample the beers of the micro brewery up the road from PB marina. They were seriously good and, dare I say, better than the beer we used to brew on board!

One family owns many businesses and we share the same family name (my maiden name was Hubbard). I just couldn't pass up on this photo op.
this is my building!

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

2 August Are we nearly there?

Yesterday we were sailing around the world. Today we have sailed around the world. No longer nearly there - we are there.
As we sailed into Prickly Bay on the south coast of Grenada we crossed our outward track from August 2009. In 2009 we were bound for Venezuela, certainly not somewhere you would choose to go to today, and points west. Today we've taken four days to come from French Guiana.
The circumnavigation by numbers; 52,000nm and 52 countries in 9 years and 9 months and one great boat. Jackster has been superb: a comfortable home and a safe boat to cross the oceans in.
David had the ambition to sail around the world before I met him in 2005. We met on a diving holiday in Galapagos which is where he revealed his idea to sail and dive around the world. I said 'Perhaps I might be able to join you for a week or two.' Look where that got me! Married to a sailor.
David has realised his ambition and now I've realised an ambition I didn't know I had!
And the adventure isn't going to stop here....more places to see, people to meet and more diving to do.

29 July Leaving St Laurent

Depth and current are the influencing factors on the best time to leave St Laurent and make the trip back to the sea.
Today's HW at St Laurent was at 7.00am, sun rise 06.30 and HW at Les Hatte 07.30am. Meaning if we dropped our line at 6am we'd have the first light of day and be at the shallowest part of the river where outflow meets the sea at half falling tide.

Pre dawn is my favourite time of day; it's a new start, quiet. This was a beautiful morning without a ripple on the water as we slipped away down stream. For the first 2 hours / ten miles there was a knot of current against us. But for the last two hours we had up to 3 knots with us. The stream was fast as we raced out in to the sea, past channel marker leaning over in the current. The journey took us four hours from mooring to safe water mark.
As we motoring down the river we asked ourselves if the time and effort of a 50nm round trip up the river was worth it to see visit a scruffy town with two days worth of things to do (prison and market)? I would say no. It's not wonderful, not a 'must see' in my personal bucket list whereas I rated our visit to Ils du Salut highly. Definitely recommended. However there was a redeeming factor for St Laurent. Being self confessed gourmands the Super U store was The Redeeming Factor. Where would we next be able to buy all those naughty, wonderful French foods and French wines at cheap prices?
So it's good bye to St Laurent du Maroni, French Guiana and good bye to South America. Next stop Grenada.

Monday, 6 August 2018

26 July Prison visit

This afternoon we went on a guided tour of the prison. Being the only English speaking visitors we had a private tour with Robbie as our guide. You can walk around the outer building at no cost, the guided tour takes you inside and costs €6 per person.
Prison kitchen and admin buildings

despair of the inmate

In the maximum security area we were shown the isolation cells and the communal dormitories where the men slept forty to a room in a space intended for 20, side-by-side shackled at the ankles. For the first two years of their sentence all prisoners had to do hard labour for twelve hours a day and were slept in these dormitory cells.
solitary cells

high security

Robbie and David enjoy a joke

Prisoners who infringed prison rules were tried by the judges and could be given solitary confinement or the death penalty. Robbie told us sixty prisoners were executed here and showed us where the guillotine would have been placed in the middle of the yard and all prisoners forced to watch.
Those that survived the first two years were moved from maximum security to the outer prisons, or Class 2 and 3 cells, which were larger and less prisoners per room. They also earned 'lighter duties'.
regular inmate accommodation