Log - 9/13 - 12/1/2003 Trinidad to Grenada

In this log Alan describes refitting the boat in Trinidad and sailing north to Grenada and Carriacou. This page includes the following sections:

  1. Return to Trinidad
  2. Trying Times in Trinidad
  3. Outside the Boat Yard
  4. North to Grenada
  5. Marauding Cats of Carriacou

Return to Trinidad (Sept 13, 2003 10°41´N, 61°38´W)

It took seven minutes to check in at the America West ticket counter. But now we know why you are supposed to be at the airport two hours before our departure time – it provides ample time to track down George (Katherine’s dad) and have him return to the house and pick up the Katherine forgotten carryon bag and deliver it to us at the airport. The overnight flight to New York was fine, but things started deteriorating with the final leg on BWIA (British West Indies Airlines). The packed BWIA jet left New York an hour late, took the scenic route around hurricane Isabel, added an extra stop in Antigua, and lost one of my bags somewhere along the way. This put us in Port-of-Spain during rush hour traffic, and the marine customs office after hours. Luckily the customs office is happy to accept a reasonable overtime fee and fulfill our cravings for bureaucratic hogwash after 5 p.m. Four hours later than expected, we arrived at the boatyard tired, hungry, and bitchy.

Trying Times in Trinidad (Sept 14, 2003 10°41´N, 61°38´W)

The next day we became reacquainted with my sailboat. It was hot, dirty, a little moldy, and a little buggy. But after renting an air conditioner, washing the beast, and two days of menial toil the boat started to become habitable – except for the cockroaches – these tenacious demons weighed heavy on Katherine’s soul. Then, Gabriel (of s/v Tango) solved our crisis — with a single application of a product called "Goliath". Application only required about five minutes to distribute a drop of Goliath in each of about twenty nooks and crannies. Two weeks later, the boat was cockroach free; this French product is truly a miracle!
Alan suits up and squeezes by the sampson posts to work on the forward bulkhead.
Shifting into project mode, we recommisioned the boat, and began making a host of improvements. The details would bore most of land folk, so nonsailors may want to skip to the next section. During the time in the boatyard we:

  • Replaced four shrouds/stays and associated turnbuckles.
  • Filled in the below-waterline lapstrake groves with epoxy and had additional epoxy barrier coat added near the water line.
  • Hired painters to sand, prime, and paint the hull topsides with Awlgrip 2000 (a two-part polyurethane).
  • Hired canvas makers to construct new dinghy and mainsail covers.
  • Inspected the stainless steel chain plates, and fabricated two replacements.
  • Removed the original, deteriorating forward bulkhead, and fiberglassed in a stronger replacement.
  • Removed and sold the wind vane steering rig, then repaired the vane attachment holes in the rudder.
  • Pulled the propeller shaft and had it smoothed and trued.
  • Replaced the cutlass bearing.
  • Repaired the sacrificial zinc mounting area and installed new zincs.
  • Applied new antifouling (bottom) paint.
  • Removed some toe-stubbing hardware from the floor of the dinghy and made appropriate fiberglass repairs.
  • Installed new vinyl lettering for the boat name and and hailing port labels (on both sides near the stern).
  • Held a short christening ceremony; my sailboat is now named Squiz (the previous owner had named it The Good Neighbor).

After launching, s/v Squiz moved to a marina and the work continued for five weeks. In addition to a hundred little maintenance chores we:

  • Tuned the standing rigging.
  • Installed a new VHF radio with a secondary control unit in the cockpit.
  • Had the boat surveyed.
  • Sold or gave away some of the spare parts that were taking up too much space.
  • Found a tailor (one of the few bargains in Trinidad) to make four new shirts and two sets of sheets for the V-berth.
  • Replaced three halyards, three sheets, and the dinghy lifting lines.
  • Rebuilt two cracked cockpit hatches seats and recaulked the teak nonskid in the cockpit.
  • Replaced the aging canvas/Sunbrella bimini.
  • Constructed a fiberglass dodger top, and contracted for new canvas side panels and plastic window for the dodger.
  • Purchased a few months of provisions, propane, and gas.

In short, a great deal of worthwhile and well-done boat work was accomplished. (Although I am disappointed in the quality of the canvas work done by the Trinidadians.)

Outside the Boat Yard

One evening we visited a predominately Hindu town, to get a taste of the Diwali celebration. Diwali is a Hindu festival (held in late October and November) celebrating Lakshmi, goddess of light and wealth, as well as the Hindu New Year. The festival, whose name means "garland of lamps," is marked by the lighting of lamps and candles (inviting the goddess into the house), feasting, and the exchange of gifts. Diner consisted of a variety of yummy, unidentifiable, vegetarian mounds served on a big leaf and eaten with your fingers. Then we wandered around town looking at the lights. The local women were often dressed in splendid saris (smile); the local men usually wore T-shirts (yawn). It was a real nice escape — until the traffic jam of vehicles trying to get in and out of town bogged down our uncomfortable taxi-van (and we averaged 2 MPH trying for 1.5 hours). Ah, the unexpected joys of cultural diversity.

Monday, November 10th, we finally completed the host of exhausting boat projects and escaped Chaguaramas. For her maiden voyage, s/v Squiz motored five miles west to Scotland Bay (still in Trinidad). Surrounded by forest and inaccessible by road, Scotland Bay is world away from the sounds, sweat, and expense of the Chaguaramas boatyards and marinas. We rested peacefully at anchor, with sonic color supplied by twittering birds and buzzing insects and macabre howler monkeys.

North to Grenada (Nov 20, 2003 - 12°01´N, 61°41´W)

We waited two days waiting in Scotland Bay for a nice weather forecast — a 10 knot breeze out of the ESE. I planned for a late afternoon departure for the 80 nautical mile crossing to Grenada, so we could arrive in during morning daylight hours. Leaving Trinidad, Squiz was accompanied by a couple rain squalls and choppy seas. Luckily, conditions soon mellowed out. 7-15 knot ENE winds and four foot waves made for an easy passage to St David's, on the south shore of Grenada.

I located the door open to the unlabelled customs and immigration office. Entering at 12:30, I found the customs officer asleep with his feet propped up on his desk. I quietly retreated and knocked on the open door. He eventually awoke and as me to return in after 1 PM.

After checking into customs and immigration and rested for the night, we moved a few miles over to a nearby bay where we had the anchorage all to ourselves (a rarity in the busy Caribbean)! We probably were blessed by this peaceful, solitary anchorage because the popular cruising guide states "the entrance by yacht is tricky and should only be attempted by experienced reef navigators". (I think the entrance was straightforward if you keep a good eye out for reefs). It is great to be cruising and swimming again; although the underwater life and visibility is disappointing so far.

Continuing along the south coast of Grenada, we visited the popular Hog Island and Mt. Hartman anchorages. Then, on a squally day, with variable winds and rains, we motor-sailed up to the small island of Carriacou — located in the southern Grenadines. The long-term forecast was unfavorable for our next big passage north to Martinique; so we anchored in well-protected Tyrrel bay and prepared to stay a while.

Marauding Cats of Carriacou (Nov 27, 2003 - 12°27´N, 61°29´W)

The blustery, rainy weather continued. On Thanksgiving afternoon an announcement on the VHF radio indicated two catamarans in Tyrrel Bay were dragging their anchors. Peering through the driving rain we saw a large Catana catamaran 100 yards upwind of us dragging quickly down toward us. I hopped in the dinghy and pushed the unmanned marauder sideways as Katherine deployed some fenders and prepared to take evasive action. With the help of another cruiser in a dinghy, we were able to force the dragging catamaran to the side until it bumped past Squiz (with no damage). Then I climbed aboard the catamaran, let out more anchor chain, and deployed their second anchor. Meanwhile, the second unmanned dragging catamaran was bearing down on two other monohulls. Using similar tactics we fended off the second unoccupied beast, until the monohulls safely weighed anchor and moved out of the evil catamaran's path.