Saturday, March 15, 2014



Trinidad is a large island off the coast of Venezuela.  It’s a cruising destination mainly for boat maintenance and cultural activities, as well as getting away from the hurricane belt.  Cruisers don’t go to Trinidad for the beaches or snorkeling because there really isn’t much of that.  There are some beaches on the north side of the island, but not nicely protected ones.  The ones on the east side of the island have no anchoring areas and people go there by land mainly to see huge leatherback turtles lay eggs on the beaches. 
There are two main anchorages, both in Chaguaramas.   One is at the Trinidad and Tobago Sailing Association.  There are moorings there and room to anchor.  The other area is off most of the marinas and boatyards.  There are also moorings there as well as anchoring space.  Other anchorages are near the Yacht Club on the road to Port Of Spain and one at Scotland Bay, which is a deep bay near the Boca coming into Trinidad. 

The Trinidad people are warm and friendly and it seems that when cruisers go to Trinidad, there’s always something to keep them there longer than they think they will be.  It has some of the best provisioning in the Eastern Caribbean and quick access to boat parts.  It’s well out of the hurricane belt, so it gets crowded in the summer.  The food is great and inexpensive, - but beware of the hot sauce.   Trinis love HOT food!  Most of the food is made mild and they add sauce to it, so it’s usually not a problem at restaurants. 
My favorite is roti, a curried mix of chick peas, potatoes and chicken (or goat, shrimp, or just more veggies) wrapped up in a roti shell, which is like a tortilla but with a totally different texture and taste.  A Bake ‘N’ Shark is usually found at one of the northern beaches, carnival or other events and is basically a fried fish sandwich.  The combination of the freshly made bun and fried fish with whatever else you want to put on it is just a wonderfully unique flavor.  Another staple usually found at markets and on the streets is a “double”, another curry favorite.  There are two small pieces of flat bread, different from a roti skin, but similar, with curried chick peas on them and rolled up.  Sloppy to eat, but very good. 

Carnival is a great time of year and there are events for two weeks leading up to carnival.  I tried to attend most of them, including J’Ouvert – which starts about 4 in the morning.  Loud music, groups of people in costumes marching (they use the word chipping) down the street, some with painted faces, some covered in oil (yes, motor oil), and some with mud on them.  We were told it was a “special” clean mud.  Part of the fun of this event is knowing that sooner or later you will get mud, paint or oil (or all of it) on yourself.  Everyone has been warned in advance, so we always wore clothes that were close to being rags anyway.

Carnival music is blaring everywhere for weeks (months) before carnival and if you’re there for any length of time, you’ll find a favorite or two.  There’s new music every year and I have CDs from the two times I was at carnival in Trinidad.  For the parade days, Monday and Tuesday, most businesses are closed and streets are jammed with people, bands and parades.  There’s really no way to see it all.  But we always wore ourselves out trying to see as much as we could.
To contrast all that activity, one of my favorite places was Chacachacare.  This was an old leper colony on an island about 7 miles from Chaguaramas.  It’s mostly a deserted island now, except for the lighthouse keeper, any visiting cruisers or partying Trinis.  There are still buildings there and we went exploring to find many abandoned items from the leper colony, including medical records, x-rays, drugs and equipment.  For further information, see my blog about the island -

I spent so much time in Trinidad that I felt like it was home, and went back so much that our usual maxi-taxi driver, Jesse James, always gave us hugs and told us “welcome home”.  It’s not your usual tropical island that you think of when you think of Caribbean islands, but it’s got almost anything you need. 

Check out a few of my slide shows of Trinidad…..

Chacachacare –

Trinidad - Carnival/Kid’s version -

Trinidad Carnival -

Trinidad Flora and Fauna  -




Thursday, February 13, 2014

Fish Tale


This is a fish story, but not a common one.  I'm not going to exaggerate the size of the fish, but it was a nice one - a wahoo.

We were traveling the south side of Margarita, an island off the coast of Venezuela, trolling a line.   Seems that sailing is about the right speed for trolling most of the time.  The line hooked into a wahoo, a heavy fish.  Since I was at the helm, I slowed the speed of the boat while my partner tried to reel him in.  By the time all the sails were down and the motor started, the fish was still fighting and my partner yelled to back down on the fish.   Oh, great, I'm thinking fishing line in the prop.  I backed down so that the fish was closer, but he was way too big to try to gaff and bring aboard.  We had lots of freeboard - meaning we were not very close to the water level. 

All cruisers have a dinghy, and we were no exception, so my partner got in the dinghy and I handed over the rod that I'd been trusted to hold on to. I also handed over the gaff, hoping for no damage.  Our dinghy was inflatable and I was hoping that it would survive this procedure without any punctures or other damage.  After what seemed like a lengthy time, with much mumbling and grunting, the fish was gaffed and dragged into the dinghy.  Luckily, the dinghy was still inflated, much to my relief.

We were close to our anchorage, so we just motored in while we towed the dinghy with the wahoo's tail sticking up in the air.  After we anchored, the next problem was to get the fish on deck so it could be cleaned.  As we anchored, the cat knew we were done traveling and it was safe to come out on deck.  She had to do her usual tour of the deck, up one side and down the other.  She stopped at the back and stared at the dinghy with the fish staring back at her.  We had caught other fish and she absolutely loved it, so she looked up at us and demanded to know why we were not yet slicing up some fish morsels for her. 

My partner finally heaved the fish onto the back deck, with more mumbling and grunting.  The cat decided we were moving too slowly and decided to take matters into her own paws.  She went over to the fish and tried to take a bite.  Unfortunately for her, and strange as it seems to me - her mouth just wasn't big enough to bite off a piece of flesh, she couldn't even break the skin.  She was so insistent that I had to lock her in the head when the filet knife came out. 

As my partner cut the fish up into steaks and small chunks for the cat, we knew we didn't have refrigeration capability to keep it all, so I got on the radio and put out calls to other cruisers we knew in the anchorage.  I told them what we had and if anyone wanted some fresh fish, to bring baggies over.  By the time they started arriving, I had let the poor starving kitty out of the head so she could overload on fish pieces.  As she was inhaling them, she noticed we were handing over packages of her fish to people in dinghies.  She came over to me yelling about it and slapping my hand as I handed over a full baggie to a cruiser.  Guess who was caged back in the head?

With this much fish, we all decided to have a cookout on the beach with other cruisers we knew.  Everyone brought their drinks and a dish to share and we had a great evening.  And people wondered what we did all day!