Trinidad & Tobago: November 3-19, 2007

Click on the above thumbnail for a map during this time period

More Music

Steve and Ann (Receta) organized a trip to a night club/bar (the former Mas Camp Pub, now known as D Nu Bar) in Port of Spain for an evening of calypso and soca.  The evening was built around the introduction of a new album ("Sperm Running Wild") by DeFosto, but there were a large number of other calypso artists who also each performed a number or two, including such calypso notables as SuperBlue, who sang a medley that included his famous "Get Something and Wave", Rem Bunction, Heaven "Snakey" Charles, and Crazy.   Interesting contrast of styles.  We cruisers had trouble understanding all of the words, but it was clear that many of the songs were surprisingly risqué.  Crazy sang "Doh Waste Your Wine", which urged that women not let their wine go to waste, but that they share it with the singer, who opined that he hated "dry wine", but loved "full, juicy, rich wine" that dripped in his face.  None of this made too much sense until Steve explained that during carnival the popular dance movement used by females  involves a lot of hip movement and is called "wining" (pronounced "wine - ing").

Our musical tutors from Receta also arranged for a second visit to the restaurant that features parang (Christmas music in Spanish) every Friday from now until Christmas.  So, same venue as two weeks ago, but a different band - Los Tocadores.  Almost the same set of cruisers in attendance.   Crowd much smaller.   Band perhaps not as good, but they had some really peppy numbers.   A local couple in attendance that danced to virtually every song.  They were dressed plainly, but man could they dance.  So we didn't enter the dance contest -- the only other couple to enter were the winners from our last visit, who were blown away by the new couple.  The prize was a case of beer.   (Whimper.)

Los Desperados band

Lead singer

Lead male singer

Another featured singer

Some of the crew -- crouched down to the side out of the blare of the too-loud speakers

Area where interesting food was available

Always busy bar

Winning couple in the dance contest



On 11/03/07 we traveled back up to Tobago, leaving at 5:30 AM and arriving at Store Bay about 2:30 PM -- too late to take a taxi over to Scarborough to check in, or so we were told by other cruisers who were in the anchorage.   Not just any cruisers, but Amanda and Kevin on Solstice, with whom we have shared many an anchorage and adventure.  And John and Ann of Living the Dream, who we fist met in Georgetown, Bahamas, oh so long ago, and with whom we socialized some back in Trinidad.   Steve and Linda (Seamans' Elixir) had been there earlier, but had just left that morning for anchorages further north.  Fairly early the next morning -- Sunday -- we caught a "route taxi" (which means it was a tenth the cost of a "regular" taxi) in to Scarborough to check in.   Happiness was discovering that both Immigration and Customs offices were open (and, but for the skeleton crew, deserted), so we were in and out in no time.  The roads in Scarborough were jammed, however.   It was the day before national elections, and the dominant party of Tobago had their supporters out in force.   All wearing the red T-shirts of the PNM party.   Flatbed trucks with mega speakers.   Utility trucks filled with young men and woman with noisemakers -- making as much noise (music?) as possible.   Cars filled to the overflowing with red-shirted flag-waving supporters.   Traffic at a near standstill.   Fortunately, after a brief walk through the open market section -- also clogged with red T-shirts -- we were able to find a route taxi back to Store Bay.   How much does a route taxi cost, you ask?   That trip cost $6 TT per person -- which is slightly under $1 USA.

When we got back to Store Bay, we started the generator, and for the first time in many weeks (since we had either been at a dock with free water or at an anchorage with water too dirty for water-making) ran the water maker.  This might seem like a rather routine event to include in a blog, but the next day we discovered it was not, for when it next became time to recharge the batteries and make water, the water maker refused to come up to pressure.  Meanwhile, Steve and Linda called us on VHF and we learned they were only a few miles north.   So we hopped on up to Plymouth and anchored next to them.   The next morning Steve and I attempted to analyze/fix the water maker -- with no success.   Solstice joined us in the anchorage, and we (Tusen Takk II, Solstice, and Seaman's Elixir) went on a not-too-long walk to a private sanctuary called "Adventure Farm", where we found a number of fruit trees, most of which were not labeled, contrary to the propaganda in the travel guides.   There was a nice hummingbird feeding area, however, but after Asa Wright in Trinidad, it seemed rather pale in comparison.   So, sooner than expected, we left and went in search of the "Waterwheel Restaurant" which was supposed to be just down the road a little further.   It was much further, but, what the heck, good exercise for folks that spend too much time on confining vessels.  It turned out the restaurant is only open for dinner, but the nice lady there consented to sell us drinks before we reversed course and found lunch at a beach resort near the Adventure Farm.


Plymouth anchorage

Sign at the Adventure Farm

In Tobago, potatoes grow on trees!

Not really. This is a seed pod on what the locals call a "cedar" tree. Not the same as a cedar tree in North America.

Hummingbird at the Adventure Farm

This grass tries to make its tiny seeds conspicuous

When last in Savannah, I gathered up my macro lenses, and now I just cannot resist taking pictures of LITTLE things

Another tiny bloom found on the side of road as we trudged along toward the restaurant

Fungi growing under the trees at the Adventure Farm

Land snail along a path at the Adventure Farm

Strange mask perched on a pole along the road-maybe voodoo

Entrance to the Waterwheel restaurant

Furnace, etc. at the Waterwheel restaurant, site of a former rum factory

Boil pans at the old rum factory


More machinery at the former rum factory

Remaining foundation of one of the buildings at the old rum factory

Enjoying a drink at the Waterwheel restaurant

There were bats in a number of the buildings at the restaurant!

Steve and Linda on the way back from the Waterwheel restaurant


Back to Trinidad

At about midnight of the day of our Plymouth walk, we pulled anchor and headed back toward Trinidad, where there is a dealer for our brand of water maker.   Several hours into the trip, there was suddenly a vessel right behind us.   It had approached so rapidly Chuck hadn't noticed it on the radar.   Turned out it was the TT Coast Guard in a patrol boat that featured four (4) 250-horse outboards.   They requested that we put the boat into neutral and then said they wanted to board us.  Of course.  We have nothing to hide.  We should have asked that we be permitted to put down fenders first.   Theirs were inadequate, and they banged into our hull when they put men aboard and when they re-boarded their own craft.   Plus, they stepped on the newly-laid varnish on the cap rails with their combat boots!   :-(   But they were generally courteous and friendly, if you discount their AK-47's.  Our first boarding while underway.

We arrived back in Chaguaramas fairly early, checked back in without incident, and called Echo Marine about our water maker.   Chuck picked up one of their technicians early in the afternoon, and he removed the low-pressure pump so that it could be taken back to their shop for testing.   Next morning the word was that the problem was NOT that pump, and so the next step was to rebuild the high-pressure pump, also known as an "Energy Transfer Device", for some reason.   Picked up the technician at 9 AM, and by 10:30 AM they had the rest of our water maker on shore.   Said they would do their best to get it rebuilt that day (Thursday), since the next day was a holiday: the Hindu holiday known as "Divali", and they would be closed, along with the rest of the nation.   (More about Divali in the next section.)   They never called back, and so we are spending the weekend waiting and hoping that they have been successful and will be able to re-install the beast on Monday morning.  On Monday morning, the 12th,  we learned that the key technician has been sick and things have not progressed as intended.  They expect to have the water maker back to us by Wednesday, which will be a full week from when they started on it.   At least we are in a place we enjoy, so can't complain too much.  There is a good weather window later this week to get to Grenada, so we are hopeful things get wrapped up on Wednesday.

YSATT Shuttle Update

We mentioned previously (in passing) that the YSATT (Yacht Services Association of Trinidad and Tobago) shuttle had temporarily and mysteriously closed down.   Very little was ever said publicly, but sources report that private conversations with YSATT personnel shed considerable light on the situation.  There were two main issues:  a large number of complaints about the drivers being irresponsible -- promising to pick someone up at such and such a time, and then forgetting -- and secondly a strong suspicion that some of the shuttle fees were being siphoned off by one or both of the drivers.   So YSATT held a number of meetings and attempted to find a solution.   There was talk of a ticket system -- one would have to buy tickets at any of the local businesses and then just present the ticket to the driver, who would collect and then present the tickets back to YSATT.   This idea did not take hold, perhaps for obvious reasons.   It would require that a large number of businesses to assume the responsibility of selling the tickets, and it would be inconvenient for the passengers.  The ultimate solutions was a surprise, however.   The shuttle service was privatized and bought by a local which severed it from YSATT.   Most surprising was that the person who took over as driver/pilot was none other than the former night-time driver for YSATT.   It was our impression that most of the complaints about irresponsibility had been generated by precisely that person.  He certainly does seem a lot more cheerful these days, however.

The new operation goes by the moniker of "Chaguaramas Shuttle".   There was a fair amount of chatter on the VHF about that combination being somewhat of a tongue twister.  What we hear now, when the shuttle is being hailed, ranges from "Chaguaramas shuttle" to "YSATT shuttle" (he seems to have given up correcting them) to "Chaguaramas water taxi" to just plain "water taxi" (my favorite.)   So, for those of you who have been here before, and for those of you who will be using old guide books:  be advised that the YSATT shuttle is no more.   The new operation looks a lot like the old, but since there is only one operator,  the hours are somewhat more restricted.   Unfortunately, the price has doubled to $10TT per trip.

Water Maker Update (added 11/19/07)

We also mentioned previously that our water maker developed a problem while in Tobago.  We did not have the necessary replacement seals to repair the pump that we suspected was the problem, and so we needed to find a service center for our Sea Recovery system.  We had two choices -- 60 miles back to Trinidad or 210 miles north to Martinique (which is a French-speaking country that uses the Euro).  We decided it made more sense to backtrack and go to an English-speaking country where the US dollar exchanges quite nicely as compared to the Euro.  Within a few hours of our arrival back in Trinidad, a technician came out to our boat in the anchorage to evaluate the problem.  After a quick demo, he too agreed that it was a pump problem.  He disconnected the suspected low pressure pump and took it back to the shop.  Later that day we got word that the pump was fine.  The next morning two technicians were back to take out the rest of the unit so they could get to the internal high pressure pump.  It took them a couple of hours to remove it.  We learned that they did not have the rebuild kit (i.e., seals) for that pump and would have to order it from the States.  Chuck was happy to report that he had a rebuild kit in his spares kit.  He had purchased one last year at the recommendation of Tom on Cocoon.  Thanks Tom!

The technicians had hoped to get the repair done that day (Thursday), since the next day was Divali Friday and then the week-end.  Unfortunately, the key technician got sick and it didn't get finished.   On Monday and Tuesday we called to get a status, but got the runaround.  We were beginning to get worried that we might be in Trinidad for a while -- especially since we had just missed a good weather window to go north.  On Wednesday we went in to their office to see what was going on and that seemed to get things started.  They explained that they had to file down the facing of a valve plate that had worn and then replace the seals in the pump.  Halfway through they discovered that some of the seals in our rebuild kit were not the right size.  (We had been sold the wrong kit!  :-( )  They ended up taking apart another pump they were working on and borrowing the necessary seals.  They expect to get new seals in before they have to return that pump to its owner.  We really appreciated their willingness to go above and beyond.  They had the unit back to us Thursday morning -- almost a week after Divali -- and had it working three to four hours later.  Chuck later went in to pay the bill and discovered it was a whopping $284 US.  What a deal!

By the time the repair was completed the wind and seas had picked up so we decided to wait until after the week-end to head to Grenada.

Clouds over the dramatic mountains of Trinidad as we approach in the early morning

Trinidad/Tobago ferry goes rushing by us

Morning at the Port of Spain market - vendor selling pieces of pumpkin which is a very popular vegetable here

Barb checking out the christophene

Chuck buying some vegetables

Barb checking out the pig noses, tails and who knows what else for sale

Meat vendor slicing off some meat for us

Another of many meat vendors

Fish monger ready to cut up our kingfish

Entrance to War Museum in Trinidad (Chuck w/our tour guide)

Tour guide showing us one of the instruments of torture used in war

Moth Chuck saw on a men's room wall

Old army jeep at museum

Inside of jeep - a bit of a mess

Miniature pistol that actually works in museum - note quarter next to it

Dinner with Paula & Ron on the Krogen Dovekie



On November 9, Trinidad and Tobago celebrated Divali, a Hindu holiday marked by Hindu communities decorating their homes and adjoining streets with lights.  Jesse James arranged for multiple buses to transport about 150 yachties to a Hindu temple in Felicity, where we were entertained by dancers and drummers and then fed traditional food (in an adjoining building) served on banana leaves and eaten with no table ware.  We had already become quite fond of many of the items in the dinner, since we have been frequenting a Roti stand in the Power Boats marina and regularly ordering "buss up shot".   Yummy!

By the time we had eaten, it had gotten quite dark and perfect for joining the throngs of strollers and automobiles out in the street admiring the displays of light.   Most of the light came from candles, called "deyas", composed of small clay pots filled with oil and in which a single wick floats.   These are sometimes placed in patterns on the ground, and are sometimes "glued" with clay to strips of bamboo.   There are also a fair number of strings of small electric lights put to use -- in another place and time they would be called Christmas lights.  Most of the women walking the street were in colorful saris, and some of the men wore the typical East Indian white linen smock and trousers.  Families gathered in chairs in front of their homes, and greeted the observers, sometimes offering small packets of traditional Indian sweets.   Some of the displays were very elaborate.   One resident had two huge (two-story) murals hanging on the front of their home.   One was a painting of a waterfall, and plumbing had been installed so that real water fell down the falls.  They also had installed a large circular pool which featured two multi-level off-set concentric circles of framework for lights (and water).  The outer circles were fixed; deyas burning on the tops, and water dripping down to the pool.  The inner multi-level circles were on a floating frame that rotated in the pool and were adorned with yet more deyas.  The fences for the yard were thick with additional deyas.   Spectacular.   There was always a large crowd gathered, rapt with admiration and awe.

Greeted by drummers when we arrived at the Hindu temple

Drummer - note he drums on both ends of the drum

Jesse James - the organizer of our trip to Felicity, Trinidad to participate in the Divali celebration

About 150 of us attended

Inside the temple where we were entertained

Temple scenes

Temple statutes

And more

The Hindu "priest"

Charming dancer

Same dancer in another outfit

Two dancers who are sisters

The dancers invited the yachty kids who attended to join them

Jane of Shian and Barb in the temple (note the shawls they had to wear to cover bare shoulders)

Chuck in the temple (note the required bare feet)

Room where we had a Divali feast

Divali feast served on a banana leaf with the roti "bread" used to pick up the food - delicious!

Barb enjoying the feast

Typical deya - a coconut oil candle that is burned everywhere on the night of Divali

They use split bamboo poles and dobs of clay to hold the deyas

Individuals light up their homes

Another beautiful home lit up for Divali

And another

And one more

Barb walking down a back street

Little boy dressed up

Charming family

Chuck on the main street

Drummers entertaining on the street

This family went all out with a waterwheel - the photo does no do it justice - it was quite beautiful