September 7th, 1997

TTYA, Chaguaramas

Trinidad, W.I.

Dear Friends,

This Sunday morning in the anchorage at the Trinidad and Tobago Yachting Association the air is still and the water calm. The temperature hovers just below 30 degrees C. and the sun is poking through the hazy, partly clouded sky. Far to the north hurricane Erika is passing just above the island chain bringing heavy rains and gusty winds to the Virgin Islands but here and in the rest of the lower island chain the normal southeasterly trade winds are subdued to an almost eerie calm. The last three months have been hot, wet and at times a little frustrating. Now, Evelyn has returned, the planned work on the boat fully completed, the unplanned work almost completed and provisions purchased and stored. It is time to lift the anchor, shake off the ever more grasping tentacles of shore based life and head back to the sea.

The engine is running and the anchor windlass prepared to slurp up the 50 meters of chain and anchor holding us to in place but, what is that whining sound coming from the engine compartment? A quick examination suggests a bearing in the alternator. No problem, an easy and inexpensive repair. Oh, and the diodes are detached from the heat sink, a simple $20. replacement…Ok… No parts in stock….Order from the factory…Ok…What do mean one month, factory’s on holiday, no one has this part in stock? AHHHHH!

For the most part everything you need is available in Trinidad. Ordering from the States is a very simple and relatively inexpensive. This, it’s location just to the south of the more common path of hurricanes, the friendly, English speaking population and relatively low cost of living make Trinidad a very popular spot for an annual haulout. But with so many boats here to do maintenance the shelves can be emptied quickly. It often seems that they have everything except that one little item you need to complete a job. If you let the very relaxed way of life in the islands frustrate you too much then you will not enjoy your time here. It is paradise, but paradise has it’s own pace and one can not hurry it along. In Trinidad a common expression is "Just now", this can mean any amount of time from a few minutes to a few days or more. Most things will be completed "Just now"(as a little aside, I can well imagine my old boss, Mark Mueller, shaking his head now realizing that there has always been a little Trini in me….especially when he asked me to complete some Ministerial correspondence that I really hated doing…When will it be finished? Just now!).

Since my last letter at the end of July it seemed every day that I was just a day or two from heading to Venezuela. The month passed slowly and every day seemed to be busy with checking e-mail, looking for parts, arranging for small jobs to be done or helping a fellow cruiser with some minor computer problem. I have spent a lot of time with many new friends that I have made through our travels. Ole and Beth, a young Danish couple on their very small cruiser called ‘Orca’ have returned to Trinidad after a few months home in Denmark. Bob and Jelaine early escapees on their boat ‘Tropic Bird’ are relaxing for awhile after over 8 years of cruising first across the Atlantic to sail throughout Europe the Mid East and the Baltic then returning to spend some time in the Caribbean. Alex and Jette, another Danish couple on their boat ‘Albatros’. Alex runs a very popular morning radio ‘net’ on the single side band radio (4054 Mhz at 0700). I can not even guess at how many boats listen in but we have made many new friends just by ‘getting to know’ people from the morning conversations. On numerous occasions we have had people come alongside ‘Pirate Jenny’ in a dinghy to introduce themselves saying they had heard us on Alex’s Net.

The list goes on and on. There are so very many interesting and friendly folk in our travelling community. It seems no matter where we are within a short while someone we have met will anchor nearby; Always with a wave and a smile. With so many boats here in Trinidad we are surrounded by friends old and new.

Just another day in paradise

Barnacles, barnacles everywhere

Getting on Top of the maintenance

Other than a day trip to the east-coast beach I have done very little sightseeing so I have not taken many pictures. I know Mom would be impressed by how clean the boat was the day before Evelyn returned but unfortunately I forgot to take a picture and now everything is back to it’s usual state.

 As wonderful as life is here at TTYA, I feel the barnacles growing on the souls of my feet. It’s time to move on, to seek out a little adventure. Unfortunately, without her alternator ‘Pirate Jenny’ is not ready to leave Trinidad. So, we will leave her here at TTYA, safe on a mooring to wait for the needed part while we stuff our backpacks and hop the ferry to Venezuela. This year it was our intention to do some more inland travel to further explore this wonderfully diverse country. We were to sail to Puerto La Cruz and leave the boat at a marine while we traveled. In fact, the boat is even safer here in Trinidad and the amount saved by repairing the old alternator rather than buying a new one at $500. US will cover much of our travel costs.

 Tomorrow we leave on the ferry to Margarita Island. It is an overnight voyage arriving at 6:00am. From there we will take another ferry to Puerto La Cruz where we will visit with our friend Luca on his boat RORO IV for a few days before he returns by plane to Switzerland for a visit with his family. From Puerto La Cruz we will take the bus to the Orinoco delta and the Gauchero Caves. From there we hope to find a riverboat to take us up into the Amazon region (I’m still waiting to try BBQ tarantula). From there we will visit our friend Marinella who is now managing a farm on the Grand Savana. In all we will spend 3 to 4 weeks traveling before returning to Trinidad.

 Though I may be surprised by high tech jungle creatures, I expect we will not be able to access our email until we return to Puerto La Cruz. So, for our many friends who’s much appreciated and enjoyed e-mail notes have kept us up to date on their news and the news from home, please keep the bits and bytes coming. We may not be able to respond for a while but will anxiously look forward to a stuffed mailbox on our return.

Best wishes to all,

Bart & Evelyn