The Rally Seminar in Trinidad

The high-life in Trinidad

The high-life in Trinidad

Trinidad has grown on me!

Now that I spend less time slaving away in the yards of Chaguaramas and more time out and about, I’m content. It turns out that organising pre-rally seminars is even more fun than I had previously imagined… I’m in my element… Honestly… Just look at how much fun everyone is having.

I'm the one sleeping at the front!

I’m the one sleeping at the front!

This year, not only did we have a Guyanese delegation, but not to be out-done, the French came too! Even if only 3% of the people present understood what they had to say. Perhaps it was the free beer I offered to lure the audience there in the first place that was to blame (rather than any language difficulty)!

No matter, we had it all translated to English just to make sure.

The French Guiana delegation supervising from the rear.

The French Guiana delegation supervising from the rear.

The most difficult part of the whole affair was picking up the television for the delegations power point presentation.

You may recall that last year I had to purchase a new 40 inch TV for the show, and I’d given it away, but on the condition that I could use it again this year.

So far so good. The only trouble was that the family I’d given it to live in Arima. Not only is this a long drive from Chaguarams but…

Sunset in Trini

Sunset in Trinidad… Time to drive to Arima.

Picture this…

Late at night… white man in Arima… leaving locals house…. with their TV in tow….

I felt a little conspicuous to say the least, but it was all for a good cause and I can add that the TV was brought back to where it now belongs pronto!

Maybe they will even let me borrow it again next year.

Waiting waiting and more waiting….

Sailing East to Tobago doesn't look good...

Sailing East to Tobago doesn’t look good…

I’m loafing about Chaguaramas waiting on the weather, which is about as dreadful as I feel (or look, according to some).

Despite the weather, it seems I’m the only sailor not making the most of my visit to Trinidad. How? By indulging in boat maintenance of course!

But why should I? Knowing full well how delighted I am at the prospect of productive labour, I’ve opted to postpone that necessary evil.

Besides, Eileen is in fine shape for sailing, though I’ll admit that she could use some cosmetic work to look her best. Sorry Eileen, it will have to wait…. for now.

You see, I’m on a mission! (Queue Mission Impossible music here…)

It’s all about spending the new year in Colombia… or was it about Aguila beer, I never seem to remember, but what ever the reason, it’s obvious I need to get moving!


Why the rush?

Much as I am enamoured by the regular operatic overtures of the Chaguaramas 8am radio net on VHF 68, the 6am group hikes of ornithological discovery into wilderness areas, and the 9am sharp joint bargain shopping expeditions to PriceSmart. My interests lie elsewhere, (lie being the operative word here), slumber being my preferred state of consciousness at such uncivilized hours.

Not that that saves me from the ubiquitous evening pot lucks, where newcomers are always welcome and apparently delight in feeding the likes of the half starved economy sailor, or the culinary challenged who have arrived with their contribution of popcorn…. once…

Never fear, I’ve found ways to avoid that dubious pleasure too!


If I appear exasperated with the customary anchorage rituals, it’s only because biding my time waiting on the weather is my second most hated thing about sailing .

The first is of course undertaking boat maintenance!

Eileen of Avoca sails back to the Caribbean

I live to work another day!

I live to work another day!

While on route to Trinidad, I spent the Maya “end of days” and Christmas alone at sea.

I survived both…

I should have paid more attention to arts and craft lessons...

I should have paid more attention to arts and craft lessons…

However, neither event spared me the from the labor of an annual boat haul with its myriad of maintenance torments…

Check the graffiti for EIleen of Avoca...

Check the graffiti for EIleen of Avoca…

But this time I made a point of hiring some liberty (note the car in the photo above) for that essential evening lime in downtown Port of Spain.

steel band

Yet another steel band struts its stuff

Or for catching up with the 2013 Panorama steel band competition in Arima.

Albatros Feliz

Albatros Feliz

And while I was busy doing all this…. I missed out on the largest yacht to visit Saint Laurent du Maroni yet. I did however catch up with the 25m Albatros Feliz for a photo opportunity in Chaguaramas Trinidad.

On Thursday the 17th of January, EIleen of Avoca returns to the water and her Caribbean adventures continue as I point her toward the Dominican Republic.




I’ve been in prison!

My cell block comes with a view.

Here I am doing time with hard labor in Chaguaramas prison… Well it may not look like prison, but it certainly feels like it!

It’s  hot here… much too hot. I’ve never been anywhere where I’ve suffered the heat as much as in the yards of Chaguaramas, and that includes the deserts of Egypt and Australia.

Not the slightest hint of a breeze. The sultry air saps your strength so that just walking between the yards and the chandlers is exhausting, and here I am hoping to carry out maintenance work on Eileen of Avoca. Absurd isn’t it?

Another dawn in sultry Trinidad

The smart people leave their boat with a to-do list for the yard and fly back home until the end of the hurricane season.

The not so smart (smart here being a synonym for wealthy), live aboard, hire an air conditioner, and deal with their own to-do list before the end of the hurricane season.

Then there’s me….

Eileen of Avoca entering the stocks in Trinidad

I don’t even have a fan on board, I think someone’s dog ate my to-do list, and I’ve apparently confused hurricane season with leopard hunting season… 🙂

Unfortunately Trinidad is under a declared state of emergency.

What does this mean for wandering yachtsmen? It means that after you’ve labored all day in the stifling heat you get to stay in your boat all night to enjoy more of that stifling heat, plus a swarm of mosquitoes and cockroaches as a bonus. Did I mention the stifling heat?

It’s lock down by 11pm or a 5000 US dollar fine and possible imprisonment if you’re caught wandering about at night.

To top it off, sailors are falling ill with dengue fever by the dozen, and there is at least one death a month through yard accidents…. Will I survive the hazards of boat maintenance in Trinidad?

Well, here is what I’ve been busy with during the day…

I've removed the propeller shaft and rudder


Replaced the old stuffing box with this...


Machined a new rudder pin and cutlass bearing...


Bolted it all back together...


Now I just need to give Eileen a new coat of anti-fouling

And this is what I’ve been doing at night.

Nightlife in Trinidad

If anyone is reading this, please post bail and get me out of here….

Perhaps I should have done a little more research, because Chaguaramas is:

  • Uncomfortable…. NOTE: Understatement of the century…
  • Expensive! Watch out for poor quality work…
  • Bureaucratic to say the least. BTW, should customs officers really be hinting at extra storage fees, overtime, and travel expenses when clearing goods?
  • No longer tax free, unless you are willing to wait months for your ordered “yacht in transit” goods. Items stocked by chandlers incur VAT.

Moreover, Trinidad in general:

  • Is rather dangerous and currently under curfew to curb crime… (may it only briefly remain so). But if the street gangs don’t get you, perhaps the dengue will…
  • Is not in the least bit tourist friendly… I’ve been accosted in the street just for taking mundane holiday snapshots. The only other place this has ever happened to me was in Suriname.
  • Is almost clueless when it comes to “customer service”. Fortunately there are occasional exceptions (so perhaps there is still some hope)…
  • Doesn’t have any leopards… (so much for that glimmer of hope)…

Does Trinidad have at least one saving grace?

Might things be looking better after all?

Or perhaps two?

I appear to have my hands full....

Nah, they never did call me back after my phone was stolen… 🙁

Final verdict on Trinidad and Tobago?

Get me back in the water a.s.a.p.

I liked it so much that I’ve decided to give up on the Caribbean and sail back to South America for Christmas. I suspect that the lure of the leopards and continued PBBS are to blame.