The passage south to Trinidad was fairly uneventful. After an excellent last meal in St. Martin on Saturday, we set out early on Sunday morning. Although we were able to beat into moderate winds on Sunday and Wednesday, light winds forced us to motorsail on Monday and Tuesday. There were several notable events during the passage. Due to the malfunctioning jib roller furling, I had to go aloft to the top of the mast in the bosun’s chair a couple of times while the boat was underway. The manual fix was effective, but swinging 60 feet above the water while the boat is driving forward is not something that I want to do any more than is necessary.
On Tuesday, while becalmed, Dad and I went for a swim to cool off. It was the first time that I have gone for a swim during a passage and, with all of our sails up, a gust of breeze would have sent Audentes sailing on towards Trinidad without us – a development that would have put a damper on an otherwise refreshing swim. Finally, during a watch, the fishing line that I was trolling with snapped and I turned around in time to see what I think was a four foot marlin jump out of the water three times as it tried to free itself from the line and tackle. I assume the leviathan was successful; either way, I missed out on a catch that could have redeemed my entire fishing career.
We finally arrived in Chaguaramas, Trinidad on Thursday morning after waiting out the night for enough light to guide us into the harbor. To my great distress, Thursday was a public holiday in Trinidad, meaning that nearly everything was closed, including The Roti Hut and Joe’s Pizza. Apparently, they celebrate something called Corpus Christi, which I assume is some kind of religious holiday (if I was truly forced to guess, I would bet that Corpus Christi is the feast day celebrating the founding of the Sacrament of the Eucharist and that the direct Latin translation means “body of Christ”). After observing the French taking a day off from work last Monday for Pentacostal Monday, I have reached the conclusion that Americans are getting gypped. While America abounds with religious fervor, foreign countries that do not appear very religious are enjoying vacation days.
The boat was pulled on Friday morning and returned to the friendly confines of the Power Boats boatyard. Dad was finally able to enjoy the transcendental experience that is The Roti Hut and Joe’s Pizza and he seemed suitably impressed with both. After being hauled out, Friday and Saturday were spent repairing the boat and preparing it for storage. Since Chaguaramas offers nearly every service and product a sailor could desire at a reasonable price, it was nice to have everything needed for our maintenance projects within walking distance. As usual, even during the most uneventful passage, things tend to break and it is a constant battle to simply tread water by trying to fix things as quickly as they break in order to literally stay afloat. I have come to the conclusion that the expression “swear like a sailor” is apt not because sailors traditionally have a poor education or lack a large vocabulary, but, rather, that they are constantly pissed off because shit keeps breaking.
As I write this entry, I am awaiting my flight back to the U.S.. It is with mixed feelings that I return to the home country. It will be nice to visit friends and family, enjoy good food and a stable bed, and, hopefully, earn some money so that I can afford some of the upgrades to the boat that I have fantasized about for the past few months. I am sure that my reentry into civilization will have its difficulties and I am already dreading the panic of waking up in the middle of the night to see lights outside the window only a few feet away before realizing that the house isn’t going to sink. I will miss my floating home and will be praying that the hurricanes season is a tame one, with the major hurricanes staying north of Trinidad.
During my return to the U.S., the updates to the website will likely be either biweekly or monthly, depending on whether there are any interesting events to recount. These entries will probably focus on visits with family and friends. For those readers interested solely in the sailing and travel portions of this journal, the updates will resume in the late summer when I return to Trinidad. Finally, at the request of several readers, I have included below a ranking of the islands that I have visited thus far, along with a few of the highlights from the past seven months. It should be noted that my opinions of various islands were colored in a large part by my sailing experience and the condition of the boat at the time of my visit.
Ranking of Islands
- Trinidad – affordable, good food, and a vibrant sailing community
- French Islands (Martinique, St. Martin, & Guadaloupe) – good food, inexpensive wine, and the most civilized place I visited
- The Grenadines – nice to visit with my parents; what I expected the Caribbean to be
- Virgin Islands – easy and fun; feels like America
- Antigua – nice anchorage
- St. Lucia – too many American honeymooners; didn’t help that everything on the boat was broken
- Grenada – dirty, looks like Hurricane Ivan hit last week
- Dominica – all of the interesting activities ashore were prohibitively expensive to get to and it was unsafe to leave the boat unattended
Francis Bay, St. John’s (USVI) and Tabago Cays, Grenadines
The Bitter End, North Sound, Virgin Gorda (BVI)
The Roti Hut, Power Boats, Chaguaramas, Trinidad
Jost Van Dyke (Foxy’s and Soggy Dollar)
Fort-de-France, Martinique and Bequia, Grenadines
Goat Path, Falmouth Harbor, Antigua
Most Attractive Women
Marigot, St. Martin
Best Cup of Coffee
Best Local Beer
Best Local Mixed Drink