Chaguaramas, Trinidad: August 2-25, 2012

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

As we mentioned in the previous post, we moved to Trinidad when Tropical Depression #5 threatened to a) become a hurricane and b) pass near or over Grenada.  We had a reservation at Crews Inn, and have been tucked into slip C40 for the entire month of August.

Here are some facts about Trinidad and Tobago, culled from tourist brochures and Wikipedia:


Trinidad is larger than most of the islands we visit in the Caribbean; it covers approximately 1864 square miles, has a population of about 1.3 million and contains three main mountain ranges.  There are a number of industries in Trinidad, but by far the largest contributor to the country’s growing GDP is the exploitation of oil and natural gas.  In fact, Trinidad is the leading exporter of liquefied natural gas to the United States.

Trinidad is one of the wealthiest and most developed nations in the Caribbean and is listed in the top 40 (2010 information) of the 70 High Income countries in the world. It has one of the highest GDP per capita of USD $20,300 (2011) in the Caribbean.

The capital city of Port of Spain, population approximately 270,000, is the focus of many interesting and entertaining events, including the raucous Carnival celebration each year, which takes place on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.  Closely associated with the Carnival are Calypso, Soca and Chutney, and closely associated with these musical forms is the Steel Pan.  Developed here in the late 1930s, the Steel Pan is the national instrument of Trinidad and is claimed to be the only acoustic musical instrument invented in the 20th century.    There is a web page that lists all of the pan yards (home bases of sponsored pan bands) in Trinidad; there are 197 in the list!

Ethnic groups

Indo-Trinidadians (a local term - primarily immigrants from Tamil, Telugu and Bhojpuri-speaking regions) make up the country's largest ethnic group (approximately 40%). They are primarily descendants from indentured workers from India, brought to replace freed African slaves who refused to continue working on the sugar plantations. The Indian community is divided roughly half-and-half between those who maintained their original religions and those who have converted to Christianity or have no religious affiliation. Through cultural preservation groups, Trinidadians of Indian descent maintain many of their customs and rites.

Afro-Trinidadians make up the country's second largest ethnic group (approximately 37.5%).  Although African slaves were first imported in 1517, they constituted only 11 percent of the population (310) in 1783.  The majority of the African slaves were brought in the last few years of Trinidad's Spanish Colonial era, and the beginning of the British colonial period. The Cedula of Population transformed a small colony of 1000 in 1773 to 18,627 by 1797. In the census of 1777 there were only 2,763 people recorded as living on the island, including some 2,000 Arawaks. During this time there were many African slave owners. In 1807, the UK Parliament passed the Slave Trade Act 1807 that abolished the trading of slaves, and the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 abolished the practice of slavery.

Remaining ethnic groups are: mixed 20.5%, white 0.6%, Chinese and other 1.2% (including descendants of the indigenous Caribs).


Roman Catholicism 29.4%, Hinduism 23.8%, Anglicanism 10.9%, Muslim 5.8%, Presbyterianism 3.4% and other (includes atheist and agnostic) 26.7%.


Contrasted with the factual information, here are our subjective opinions about Trinidad:

In contrast to most of the other Caribbean islands, where newspapers are barely better than mimeographed weekly fish wrap, Trinidad has a vigorous and vital free press.  Three (!) daily newspapers crammed full of local and international news and sports and pages of signed editorials and articulate letters to the editor.   Unfortunately, much of the local news concerns local crime; so far in 2012 there have been 262 murders committed in Trinidad.   Such statistics have the effect of keeping many cruisers from coming to Trinidad, which is really a pity, because, unlike Venezuela, the crime almost never affects cruisers.   True, there were a number of dinghy thefts last season, but this year, ironically, there have been virtually none, unlike historically benign Grenada!

The music and cuisine and cultural diversity make this a very interesting place to visit.  The large number of pan bands means that there is any number of concerts and events and competitions to attend.   We have attended Hindu celebrations (the festival of light called Dewali) and visited ornate Hindu temples.  Bollywood films often appear on some of the local TV stations as well as in one or more of the theatres in the movie complexes (which are as modern as any in the States).  The newspapers give extensive coverage to the cuisine and rituals and meaning of the holidays of the East Indians and Muslims and Christians.

We have patronized a few of the restaurants that feature fine dining, and they were very good.   But we also very much enjoy the food available from the local eateries and street vendors:  rotis and buss up shots and doubles and shark ‘n’ bake and callaloo and macaroni pie and corn soup and geera chicken and pork and aloo pies, to name a few.

Trinidad is also one of the best locations in the Caribbean for getting work done on a boat.   Early in August we spotted another Krogen that had just arrived.  Turned out it was Hobo, crewed by Larry and Lena, here for some major work on their 42 Krogen.

Another Krogen! Hobo, here for some major refitting.

On August 7 Barb and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary by going out to dinner at an elegant restaurant in Port of Spain just across the street from the Savannah Park:  Chaud's.  Very nice; we recommend it to anyone looking for a special night out.

We have had a number of trips to Port of Spain; I mostly to our Trinidad dentist, and Barb for any number of chores, including getting prints made of some of my fish pictures so that they can be displayed on our walls.  Here are a few of the pictures Barb took on an excursion downtown with Cathy and John (Oceana) on August 17:

Cathy and John (Oceana)

Aboud's huge fabric shop

Getting ready for the nation's celebration of 50 years of independence

Waterfront in Port of Spain

Two reasons for Barb going downtown without me:  I cannot do much walking because of arthritis in my ankles and I have been busy varnishing major portions of the interior of our boat.

On August 25 the annual Great Race took place.  Barb and I took the dinghy out to the Boca to watch (and photograph) the motor boats as they sped by on their way to Tobago.  There are separate categories depending upon the maximum speed of motor boat; the fastest category was for 120 mph vessels.  The race begins in Port of Spain, comes up past Chaguaramas and through the Boca, and then out into the open sea for the 22-mile run to Tobago.  Here are some of the pictures I took that morning:

Spectator boats crowded along the shore of the Boca (Barb photo)

Helecoptors buzzed back and forth through the Boca, transporting professional photographers covering the event

This boat went on to win in its class

We were not the only dinghy in the peanut gallery (Barb photo)

We have had some terrific rainstorms this month.  One such caused major flooding on the island and a number of landslides (called "landslips" by the locals), resulting in two deaths.  Every time it rains heavily junk discarded by locals along roads and streams washes into the sea and is then pushed by the winds into the harbors.  Staff members at Crews Inn (and the other marinas) are kept busy scooping the mess from the water.





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