*48Hours involving friends, problems at sea, new ports,
another projects, and more friends.
As I write this, it’s closing in on midnight on Thursday the eleventh of November um make that October. (Thanks to Alice from Ocean Star for pointing out that glaring error. Rested now, on the 14th of October.) I’m tired and should be sleeping but though my body is pooped, my mind is active. When I found myself imagining being inside of a huge bouncy room, pinging up to the ceiling and rocketing back down to land on one idea or item on the to-do list, then springing back up to the ceiling to bounce down on yet another idea or to-do thingy – I gave up and got up.
La Luna is on the hard at Peake Yacht Services in Trinidad. So far, we like the yard and the crew. As for Trini – well it certainly isn’t Grenada, but that’s why we’re here. It was time to move on, we wanted to see Trini, and we’d heard good things about the boat yards and the shopping/provisioning opportunities. (I’ve been told that they have excellent fabric stores ) EW has opted to have the boat yard crew sand, paint the bottom, and raise the waterline – what a concept . Since much of this had been my job in the past, (see here and here) I now have time for other projects – so I told him that I’d get the awning made if I could have air conditioning below. We’ve called the air conditioning guy, but don’t have it yet. We’re on the hard, parked next to the main road, with no breeze. We’re hooked up with electrical power and have two fans in the bedroom so that we don’t dissolve into puddles of sweat. The noise isn’t bad and I’m not sweating much, so why can’t I sleep?
Well, while my mind is running a mile a minute, the boat isn’t moving. This sleeping on land is a difficult thing to get used to. Some cruisers love to take a break to visit friends or stay in a hotel and “sleep in a real bed”. We are not those cruisers. I’d love to see my land-based friends and would sleep on land to do so. The lack of motion on board combined with the bouncy room in my mind, pinging from to-do list and ponging to articles and blog posts I want to share, then ricocheting off the very full day we’d just experienced was too much to contend with while curled up next to one’s gently snoring sweetie. So I’m up. Now that you know where we are, let me tell you how we got here.
By the way, I guarantee you two things:
- Gently sleeping sweetie will have no idea that I didn’t get to sleep or even that I was out of bed until after two in the morning.
- Gently sleeping sweetie will complain of not sleeping. How does that happen? I suspect he slept but woke up frequently, falling back to sleep fairly quickly.
NOTE: GSS (AKA EW) – confirmed all of the above on Friday morning. I know my GSS/EW.
Now, back to our story.
First, we had to leave Grenada. We love Grenada. EW makes music there. We have made a lot of friends there – fellow sailors and local Grenadians – and we’re not sure when or if we’ll see most of them again. That’s always the worst part for me, and I find myself prolonging our stay if I can. This time, we had a haul-out scheduled for ten on Thursday, so we had to leave on Tuesday night in order to get there on Wednesday, check into the country, and take care of some in the water chores before hauling. All of that goes under the “Best Laid Plans…“ category. We said our good-byes, visiting some folk, seeing others at our last Whisper Cove jam on Sunday and at the Canadian Thanksgiving on Monday. We hugged still more friends when they swung by the boat to wish us well on Tuesday afternoon, and talked with a few on the VHF. Lynn from Silver Heels III delivered a loaf of her spice bread “for the road”, many others made dinghy “dooryard calls” and – my favorite – as we made our way out the bay, at least two boats blew their conch horns in our honor. “Wow,” I said in awe. “We were conched.” I was teary-eyed, but bravely sailed – well, motored – out the channel while EW tied down the Fortress anchor.
The engine sputtered and died just as we were safely beyond the reef. The words “fuel management issue” were spoken and I was not pleased with EW. He quickly determined that while the tanks were low, we did have plenty of fuel, which meant that the fuel filter was clogged – probably because the line had picked up stuff from the bottom of the tanks. Neither of us wanted to motor all the way, and EW almost never consents to motor if there is any wind from the right direction. We decided to sail through the night. EW would take care of the fuel filter and bleed the engine in the morning after we were rested. We sailed slowly on in an easterly breeze of ten to twelve knots, knowing that the best-case the 9-10 hour trip would last 14-15 hours, and I mentally re-did my Day Before Hauling Out to-do list. We had dinner, he took the first four-hour watch, and I tried to get some sleep. That was a mistake as I have a hard time falling asleep at seven at night and therefore usually take the first night watch. As a result, I barely slept two hours before it was time for my watch. One hour into said watch, Casey, our auto-pilot died. We had to hand steer all the way to Trinidad – a long, boring , and tiring twenty-four hour trip.
On Wednesday morning, EW successfully tackled the fuel filter, and we turned on the engine to help us make up some time. The current was still a problem, so even with the engine and sails we were only averaging 4-5 knots over the ground. I mentally re-did my Day Before Hauling Out to-do list again. Hours later, we approached the Boca De Monos. This narrow, deep cut between mainland Trinidad and Monos Island leads into Chaguaramas Harbor. There is a hell of a rip going through there. Big time. It was almost five and we had just enough time to get into the harbor, check in with customs and immigration, paying their overtime fee, and tie up at Peake. My Day Before Hauling Out to- do list had become my Early Morning Before Hauling Out to-do list, but it was still manageable and possible. As we headed up to stow the main, we were joined by a group of dolphins. “This is a good sign,” I thought.
Our friend and fellow Maine sailor, Dave hailed us in the VHF and gave us pointers about the cut, scaring me a bit about the current and insisting that we favor the eastern, or left hand side. EW and I worked that out – it was not pretty – and we optimistically began the last phase of our journey. The dolphins dazzled us by riding the waves, leaping out of the water, and smacking their tails in glee. I enjoyed them, though at one point I told EW he was still too far to the right and that the dolphins, by dancing in the waves on the right were trying to tell us to go to the left. He was not amused. We didn’t get much time to enjoy the dolphins, take photos, or debate their mystical affinity for sailors before the engine died again. In the cut. The cut that isn’t much wider than the length of a football field. The cut that has a fierce current and standing waves. That cut. See the red star on the chartlet; that’s where the engine died.
I set the jib and took the wheel and finally agreed (after an intense but short discussion) to let EW leave me alone on deck while he began to change the fuel filter and bleed the engine. Again. In the meantime, Dave called on the VHF, saying, “Hey, where are you guys?” When I told him our situation, he was so concerned that he jumped into his dinghy and braved the cut and current and waves to come help us. Thank you, Dave. Ultimately, Dave steered so I could concentrate on helping EW bleed the engine. My part in that job takes place on deck at the controls, so we could have done this by ourselves, but it was much nicer to have a third person aboard, steering us in the cut. The current and jib moved us straight along the cut and we never saw less than 118 feet of water under the keel.
At right, is a photo of a power boat in the cut on Thursday morning.
We were beat, it was getting dark, and we were done. Dave suggested that we turn up into Scotland harbor and anchor for the night. That made sense to us. He jumped back into his dinghy and we anchored at the yellow star on the chartlet. In the meantime, folks had heard us talk to Dave on the radio and it turns out that a whole bunch of our cruising friends are here in Trinidad. A whole big bunch. A few called on the VHF during the fuel filter/cut or anchoring moments, so we couldn’t talk , but I was delighted to hear from them. I made a quick supper and fell asleep in the main salon at seven. We made it to bed at eight and slept for more than ten hours.
Above, is our view on Thursday morning. We took a very short moment to enjoy the beauty of the harbor, but of course we had to raise anchor before seven with the plan of tying up at the custom’s dock before they opened at eight. Every cruising guide quotes the rules that you “must tie up at the custom dock immediately upon entering the country”. Humph. Many sailors evidently anchor or tie up in a slip and take their dinghy or walk to customs. We tend to be “Do-Bees” and wasted a lot of time complying to the rules. We arrived at the small dock well before eight to find pilot boats waiting for in-coming crew for the oil rigs and tanker and cargo ships. We hovered in La Luna for over an hour. I started my much reduced Day/Morning/Minutes Before Hauling Out to-do list, and called Peake to say we’d be late.
Of course there is a fee to enter the country and we had no Trinidadian currency, but that wasn’t a problem as the cruising guide assured us that there was an ATM right next door to customs. Sigh. It’s been closed for 2 years. EW filled out paperwork and sent me to walk around the harbor to the nearest ATM. Remember that to-do list? Yeah. We checked in, called Peake, and were told to head directly into the slipway for immediate haul out.
I’ll tell you more about that in a subsequent post. For now, let me tell you about my Day Before/Minutes Before Haul Out to do list. Since we can’t use the shower, heads, or galley sink while we are hauled out I wanted to clean them and douse them with vinegar. I managed to scrub the shower and heads, but never got to the galley. I also never closed the port in the aft head. My bad.
For you non-sailors, immediately after your boat is hauled, the yard uses a pressure washer to clean the bottom. This was a really high pressure washer. It cleaned the bottom very well. The man operating it very nicely sprayed the hull to get rid of the bits of barnacle, weed, and sundry ocean flora and fauna that had been blasted off the bottom of the boat. When he did that some – quite a bit, actually – of these nasty bits ended up in the aft head. The clean aft head. This afternoon I spent an hour or so using Amazing Roll-Off to clean ocean bits from the head. Yep. It was that kind of day.
The sole of the head, the counter, and the walls of the shower. I have no idea how it sprayed around a corner into the shower. All of these areas had been thoroughly cleaned about one hour before.
Bits that didn’t make the post:
- When friends would call on the radio, I tried to tell them where we were anchored that first night but couldn’t remember the name of the harbor. I could remember that it was a country that began with “S”, so the conversation would go like this: I’d say, “We’re in Sweden - Stockhom -Switzerland – no Scotland harbor.” My conversation partner would laugh and suggest I get some sleep.
- Did I say it was hot here? It is. When I set out to walk to the bank the security guards at Crew’s Inn suggested I get a taxi. I ambled out to the main road and didn’t see a taxi and didn’t have local money for a bus. A woman, likely a cruiser was walking toward me and I asked her. She was a French cruiser, stepping smartly along in the heat. “Ze bank is just along there. I have just walked it. It’s nothing.” This was uttered in that charmingly disdainful way only really mastered by a French person speaking English. I walked.
- We got to the slipway to find the crew waiting to take out lines. They were delightful from the first moment when Lou smiled and exclaimed, “We’ve been waiting for you for hours!” I laughed and threw him the line. Perfectly, thank you very much.