Friday, January 25, 2013

Trinidad the Island of Trinity

The first passage of the season with Katherine from Grenada to Trinidad overnight went great with moderate winds and waves. Earthling sailed so fast that we had to reef and slow down before entering the Boca de Monos channel because it was still dark.
Since we arrived to Trinidad, our friend Dana has joined us. The three of us got a fair taste of Trinidad in the past 12 days. The carnival is coming up on Feb 11th and the heat is on for some of the best steel drummers in the world. The practice for the bands take place at different pen yards around the country. The Carnival in Trinidad is one of the oldest and the second largest after Brazil. It’s an important event for celebrating life to Trinidadians. Today, Friday we are attending a Fete party to the carnival held at the main cricket stadium in St. James. We are looking forward to “winding” along with the “Soca” music. We have been fortunate to connect with a few locals such as our new friend Eron. He has been very hospitable and kind to us, driving us around to the best areas and taking us to great restaurants. Eron is a DJ at the local radio station and tonight before we all go the Inferno Fete party, we will be spending time at the radio station while he is working.

Maracas Beach

This island is occupied by colorful people from different ethnicities. Trinidadians could be black or white and from East Indian decent, Latin Americans, or and Chinese. Since they have been here for centuries there are interracial mix in between all, which makes Trinidad a unique place in the world.

Cost of living is very low here. The crew and I rented a car for $15 a day and a full tank of fuel for $12. We drove on the mountains on the northern Trinidad, which are extremely scenic. There are some amazing beaches such as Marcas Beach, considered to be of the best and most famous here. By Maracas Beach we indulged ourself with the traditional “Bake n Shark” sandwich, very tasty. 

Another view of Pitch Lake
Pitch Lake
Trinidad is a gas and oil producing nation and therefore an industrial country. In the Gulf of Paria, there are hundreds of cargo ships and barges from all over the world among tons of oil rigs. Most of the rigs are on the south part of the country, where we also visited Pitch lake, a natural lake of asphalt. Pitch Lake might not be the most scenic your might imagine, but a unique dot of the planet worth to see.      
Charlotte Street
Last Saturday we loaded up with vegetables from the stands on Charlotte Street in Port of Spain. As locals have been telling us, Charlotte street is a dangerous place to go to, but we found it to be ok. It’s after all the line between the east and west side of Port of Spain. Crime seems to be high according to media, people are shot in Trinidad everyday. But there are people shot in Chicago everyday as well. All the locals we’ve interacted with have been friendly and helpful to us. You can tell that even the Trinis fear the crime. I believe this to be exaggerated and based of fear factor like many other places in the world! There is a lot of wealth as well as poverty. You see multi-million dollar homes and luxury cars, but no one can go without noticing the less fortunate, which is the reality of the world’s current social system. Today on our planet there is NO good social system, since all the systems are run by governments and thereafter controlled by a few.

Katherine polishing hatches
Chaguramas is the yachting center in Trinidad and a great place to work on your boat. Labor is cheap and boat parts are best priced than most other island. I’m still in a work mode and have been working on Earthling half of the time we been residing here. It is certainly helpful to have additional crew to help with chores. Katherine and Dana have been assisting with polishing windows, sanding, sewing, cooking, cleaning and giving Earthling love. Earthling spend almost two weeks being tied to land in Coral Cove Marina and Peake’s. Even though, I don’t like to stay at marinas for a long time but it’s has been convenient with the female crew and the work. In addition, I’ve never docked in marinas as affordable as in Trinidad. At Coral cove we paid $22 US and Peake’s $12 US per night, including water, shore power, and other amenities. Now we are on a mooring that is marked 30TT a night, but we learned that it is free. The unmarked moorings might be privately owned. Earthling is in the best condition she has ever been in and eager to make her second passage for this season westbound towards Aruba early next week. 

View the complete photo album of Trinidad here

Love from Trinidad

Friday, January 11, 2013

Moving Forward

Prickly Bay
The more experience you gain the more you try to prepare and prevent. On a boat, projects are never ending, the lists are long, and they always need to be prioritized. During the last month I have worked the most on Earthling since I left Chicago. Every year she gets more equipped and ready. Most of the upgrades and repairs is now accomplished. Such as the waterline and blisters, installment of Windlass, overboard drainage and foot pump for the shower inside, strengthen the solar panels and wind generator, fixed leaks, installed a new control panel, new cutlass bearing, new faucet at  sink, through hull for saltwater with a small electric pump and filter, and many other small upgrades. Never in my life have I crimped so many wires, or installed numerous hoses and hose clamps, drilled tons of holes and screwed zillions of screws in all kind of abnormal places. All these physical labor made me realize that I might be suffering from  Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. A few days in a row, I would wake up with pain in my arms and with numb hands. It’s good to know so I don’t over due it next time.
Lofran Tigres Windlass
I’ve gone through tubes of 5200 sealant and silicone and epoxy and ran of screws and connectors several times. The experience gained from all these projects is priceless. I could stay here and work on Earthling for another several months, but I got to get moving!

Katherine joined Earthling on New Years Eve and since then we have been anchored in Prickly Bay, which is the busiest anchorage in Grenada. The weather has been unusual for this time of the year. It’s supposed to be dry season in the Caribbean but it has rained on and off almost every day, which put some work behind. We are looking for a weather window on Friday, today to make an overnight passage to Trinidad. You can check our crumb trail on spot connect. What’s in Trinidad? Well, Trinidadians are there and it’s a big island. I have heard less pleasant things about this Island, but I have been interested to see Trinidad for a long time. All the way down from Virgin Islands, locals have asked me if I’m from Trinidad! Now I’m interested to see why I look like a Trini. The distance is only 90 miles, so why not check it out. In addition, we are picking up a new crew member that is flying into Port Of Spain from Chicago.

The agenda for the 4th leg of Earthling adventure includes sailing west towards Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, and further to Colombia and San Blas. We will most likely stop at a couple of Venezuelan Island groups, such as Blanquilla and Ros Roques. 
Just to refresh your memory, first leg of the voyage was from Chicago to the Gulf of Mexico through a range of rivers (1300miles).
Second leg was from Florida to Virgin Islands through the Bahamas Islands, Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico.  
Third Leg was from Virgins Islands to Grenada through Leewards and Windwards, and now Earthling is ready for the fourth leg.  All I’m praying for is fair winds and good health for Earthling and the crew aboard.

Love from Prickly Bay