After an eventful last 24 hours we are anchored in a beautiful, quiet bay in Tobago. We had an accidental gybe late yesterday. A gybe is when the stern of the boat passes through the wind and the mainsail has to move from one side of the boat to the other. Accidentally gybing can dismast a boat. Fortunately we just had a broken batten and Hasler wind vane, plus my last dry pair of jeans are no longer dry. When we checked the log this morning it showed 2,181 miles. We then managed a star shot which showed we actually done 2,400 miles. There were only 60 miles to go. We knew we would arrive today. The island was covered in cloud as we approached and we couldn’t really see much, but we knew we had completed our voyage, and in an amazing time, just under 14 days.
We have anchored in a lovely bay. Unfortunately we are not able to go through immigration here, so we will have to move the boat around to Scarborough, the capital of Tobago, to sort that out. We have managed to fix the centreboard, so moving won’t be a problem. It has been pouring with rain all morning, as a consequence I have not got a single dry garment to my name, still it does not matter too much as it is warm and the wet clothes are warm too. Mike is saying he wants to stay on Tobago for a while. Anthony and Andy have decided to leave the boat when we get to Scarborough and go to Port of Spain, Trinidad, by ferry. We are two months later than expected and they are both need to return to England soon. I shall stick with Mike for a week or so and see what he decides to do.
I think Maya likes it here. We had a lot of difficulty raising her anchor to sail to Scarborough. It took four or five goes before we could drag it up, but when we did we had an easy and pleasant sail down the coast. We are now anchored in Scarborough harbour. The rain has stopped and the sun is shining so we have opened all the hatches letting fresh air and sunlight throughout the boat. The only mirror on the boat had been in darkness for the Atlantic crossing. As I walked past the mirror today there was now enough light to see and I glanced at my reflection. I quite literally took a step back from what I saw there. With the water restrictions I had stopped shaving when we left Africa. I had just seen myself with a beard for the first time ever.
Anthony and Andy have packed and left. They got the ferry to Port of Spain where they hope to see some of Trinidad before heading back to England. Our detour to Africa means we are much later arriving in the Caribbean than intended and they both have commitments back home, so if they want to see anything they needed to do it now. I can’t imagine a better way of seeing the Caribbean than by sailing boat so I will wait a few days before deciding what to do. Equally I cannot imagine coming all this way and not seeing some of the Caribbean. If I have to do it by myself then I will. It seems very quiet on the boat now.
My mattress is drying on the netting. We found a small crack where the deck meets the side of the hull by my bunk which is where the water was coming in. Mike had some fibreglass mat and resin, so we have repaired that. The broken mainsail batten has been replaced with a spare, and we have fixed the broken wind vane. Still lots of little jobs to do, but we are pleased with progress.
My bed tonight will be a reclining seat on the overnight ferry from Scarborough to Port of Spain, Trinidad.This morning I packed all my belongings and said farewell to Mike and Maya.Maya has been my home for the last four months and we have seen fabulous things and been to wonderful places on her. I felt extremely sad to be leaving. The next part of my journey starts here, and I am really looking forward to it.
I have arrived in Port of Spain, Trinidad. My first stop was the Post Office to check if any letters had arrived for me. There were a lot. Also in the Post Office, also checking for letters, was Andy. He flies back to England in a few days, and Anthony’s fiancee arrives in a few days for a bit of a holiday before she and Anthony return. Before all that happens they have decided to have a trip round the south of the Island. I am going to accompany them. We start tomorrow.
This morning we left Port of Spain and got a bus to San Fernando, and another from there to a place called La Brea which is famous the world over for its ‘pitch lake’. I had not heard of it but Anthony and Andy had. Edward, a professional guide told us all about it. It is a large area of land where the tar seeps out and solidifies. Tar from here is used for road surfacing in England, and most ofthe rest of the world. There are only two or three similar sites in the world. The people in Trinidad are very friendly. They have a passion for calypso music, which pours out of every juke box all the time. There are lots of juke boxes. pitch lake 2pitch lake 3 Edward
Yesterday we met a man in La Brea who let us sleep on his garage floor for the night. It rains a lot here and as the alternative was the beach we gratefully accepted. He gave us breakfast the next morning and a lift into San Fernando where we got a bus to a place called Princes Town. We were heading for the east coast of Trinidad and we were told you could get a bus from there. We arrived at about 10 o’clock, and waited until 4 o’clock for THE bus, which was full when it arrived. We had a very pleasant day talking to the shop keeper outside whose shop the bus stopped. She gave us a lovely lunch of fish roti. It did not particularly matter about missing the bus as they have things called Route Taxis which are quite cheap. They are just like ordinary taxis, except that they follow a set route and pick up people and drop them off anywhere along the way. We got the taxi to a place called Rio Claro where we caught up with THE bus. By now it had emptied and we were able to board. The bus took us to the east coast at a place called Mayaro. Here we made friends with a restaurant owner who let us have a sort of beach hut, but not on the beach, for the night, and promised us breakfast tomorrow.
We have been living on Rotis, the indian answer to a cornish pasty, for about a week now. Well almost. They are a kind of savoury pancake, consisting of a curry, usually chicken, wrapped up in a pancake. Nice to eat, inexpensive and very common here. We are catching the bus back to Port of Spain today. Anthony and Andy will have to go back to Tobago because they didn’t follow the correct immigration procedures. When they return Andy will be flying off to England and Anthony will be waiting for his Fiancee. Before he left Mayaro Anthony booked a beach front apartment for a week and kindly invited me to join them for a few days before I fly to Grenada. I will explore some more of Trinidad first.
Anne - Glad you are back on track - looking forward to the Grenada section x
I don’t regard cruising the world in a sailing boat as a qualification for being a seaman, but the Seaman’s Lodge in Port of Spain apparently do. The beds here cost 75p per night, but they are all full so I get to sleep on the couch for 25p a night. I have a problem with luggage. The bag I have is designed to take up as little space as possible when empty so that it can be easily packed away. It is really just a nylon sack with handles and is not easy to carry. In it I have a set of oilskins and a lifejacket, neither of which are much use on land. I don’t want to throw them away because they are expensive and the oilskins were a present from Mum and Dad. The Lodge has said I can leave my bag here and pick it up when I return, so I just need to take enough with me for travelling for a few days. My sleeping bag I have tied up with string so that can be slung over my back. I have bought a small overnight bag, and ingeniously converted a leg and the waistband from my falling to bits jeans into another bag. I will set off tomorrow to explore more of Trinidad.
Anne - Ok - so how did you turn the jeans into a bag and are those the smelly old oilskins that were hanging on the back of our garage door for years? Me - Those are the same oilskins. Cut the bottom off a leg and sew up one end. Cut the waistband off and sew it on as a strap Tessa - This could be the start of a new jean-bag fashion trend I think!! Me - I should have marketed it, missed out there
This morning I sorted out the last of the immigration issues and then set off for a place called Blue Basin to see some waterfalls. As I got close to the falls torrential rain started and I took shelter under a tree. The rain kept on falling and I kept on sheltering. After a little while the door in the house opposite my tree opened and a young man invited me in to shelter from the rain. I gratefully accepted. He and his wife gave me a drink and asked what I was doing and where I was staying. I hadn’t organised anything so they kindly invited me for a meal and said I could sleep on their sofa for the night. The rain had now stopped so I left my stuff with them and walked to the waterfall. The falls were not particularly spectacular, but they were fairly inaccessible and therefore completely unspoilt. I had a nice swim in the warm water at the base of the falls before walking back to my new friends for the night. I discovered there was another member of the household, a delightful girl of about two years old. Her parents said she loved to dance whenever there was music to be heard, and to prove it they put a record on. As soon as the music started she was on her feet waving her arms and jumping around completely out of time with the music. Unbelievably cute.
I went back to Port of Spain with the intention of catching a bus to Maracus Bay, but it seems buses only go there on weekends and public holidays. I got a bus to Salybea Bay instead where I found. a nice quiet beach, and had a lazy day.
This morning I came into the village of Toco. It was a nice day so once again I headed for the beach, but the beach was occupied. Like a scene from the Alfred Hitchcock film it was covered in large black birds. I almost turned and left them to it, but decided I had as much right as they did. I walked on to the beach and they moved away and left a space for me to sit and relax. I caught up with some letter writing and had another quiet day.
This morning I returned to Mayaro where I met up with Anthony and his fiancée, Cathy. I had met her briefly in England but only to say hello to. She seems like a really nice person. Typically French, slim, pretty and elegant. Anthony seems very happy with her. It seems it is Anthony’s birthday today. Cathy brought him some presents from England, a jar of home made marmalade, a box of peppermint creams, and a bottle of Pimms. We have been sharing them throughout the day. As my present to him and as a thank you to them both for inviting me to their beach hideaway I took us all out for a meal. We are all getting on very well and have had a lovely day. I think we are going to have a fun few days together.
I have climbed many trees in my time, but they all had branches all the way up. Palm trees only have branches at the very top. Today one of the locals tried to teach us how to climb a palm tree. First you need a circle of rope about 18 inches in diameter. Stand close to your tree, facing the trunk. One foot is placed in the rope circle, the rope twisted through 180 degrees, the other foot inserted at the other end, and the rope pulled taught between your feet. You now have the rope in a figure-of-eight with one foot in each loop. Take hold of the tree trunk with your hands a little above shoulder height, then jump your feet onto the trunk. Your feet and the rope stretched between them provide plenty of grip on the trunk. Move your hands up the trunk, then jump your feet up further. Continue effortlessly until you reach the coconuts. Alternative ending for the three of us. Follow all of the instructions above, but fail to progress more than a couple of feet. Provide entertainment for the locals. Gratefully receive coconuts picked by others.
Anne - Brings back memories of failing to climb the gym ropes at school
After an idyllic few days it was time for me to leave. I packed my bags, said my goodbyes, it was getting to be a habit with Anthony, and jumped on a bus back to Port of Spain. I had left my large bag at the Seaman’s hostel, so I returned there and booked myself in for one night. Tomorrow I fly to Grenada.