By the middle of September I had been in Trinidad for my allotted 3 months and had to decide whether it was time to leave and brave the remainder of the hurricane season in the more vulnerable islands further north or apply for an extension of my stay for a further 90 days after which it would be a safer time to leave. Ever cautious, I opted for the extension. It involved a visit to the immigration office in Port of Spain and an outlay of $TT500, four hundred of which, being the penalty for having a South African passport. One tries to get used to it.
Once my extended stay was assured, I arranged to get hauled out for a quick antifouling job and a few other routine maintenance issues. I had spent a month anchored in Carenage Bay just around the corner from the Chaguaramas anchorage. The Trinidad and Tobago Sailing Association has their clubhouse there and it was a comfortable place to be. A nice floating dinghy dock, bar, shower facilities and swimming pool. What more could one want? Unfortunately it is also wide open to the prevailing wind and swell. All the club boats are on fore and aft moorings facing into the weather. Visiting boats may anchor outside the mooring field, which is what I did. All was fine until the first time the wind picked up and then the anchorage became almost untenable. I would certainly have moved on if I hadn’t already paid to stay for a month. But I grinned and bore it and on the bad days had to just stay on board as it was too rough for me to row ashore.
When the time came to move to the Travellift dock to be hauled out I found that the prop had become so fouled with barnacles that we were unable to move under power. Not able to even make progress against the tide. Sailing through the mooring field against the tide was not an option. I quickly dropped the anchor again and as the club launch happened to be passing at the time, they agreed to tow me in.
Time spent on the hard is always a bit of an ordeal and this occasion was no exception. Heat, mosquitoes, dust. After two weeks I’d had enough and decided to leave all non-essential jobs for ‘later’.
It was bliss to be floating again and as soon as I’d packed away the fenders and ropes needed for the relaunch, I sailed off to Chacachacare, a small island about 6 nm from Chaguaramas. The sail looked beautiful and it was downwind all the way. It was a weekday and I was the only boat there. While having a celebratory cup of tea in the cockpit I noticed a biggish white bird perched high on the branch of a tree close to the waters edge. I had a good look through the binoculars and saw that it was a big white hawk with mottled black wings. My birdbook identified it as an immature White Hawk. What a thrill – a completely new bird to me. The water was clear and I was able to swim again – a real treat after being anchored in the filthy water surrounding Chaguaramas.
I spent a few days relaxing in the tranquil surroundings and then had to head back to town for supplies as I’d left before doing any shopping, so desperate was I to escape the turmoil. It was just a short stop and soon I was off again to another quiet spot on Monos Island where my friends on Saoirse Mor and Voyage were hanging out. A wonderful place to be with a small beach and lots of coconut trees. There was much foraging for limes, coconuts and grapefruit. Too early for the soursops and guavas. There must have once been a small farm on the island. Now there are just a scattering of upmarket holiday places and a few more simple dwellings with permanent inhabitants. There is an influx of people at the weekends but nothing like the chaos of Scotland Bay.
I plan to base myself here until I’m ready to leave. Now and then a quick visit for the day to go shopping in town and then back to this lovely spot. The others have left now, heading up to Grenada for Halloween so I’m pretty much alone.
After experiencing how quickly the prop became covered with tenacious barnacles I resolved to find a better way of protecting it. Up to now I have always used the same antifouling paint that I used on the hull, but with the spinning of the prop it doesn’t last very long. No problem in water that’s clean enough to swim in as it’s easy to reach and I can get in and clean it off when necessary. But when the water looks too toxic this is not something that I enjoy doing. Before relaunching I sprayed the prop with an epoxy based zinc spray made by Petitte. It’s probably too soon to tell if it’s really as effective as I’ve been told it should be, but so far, after a month, it seems to be working. Just to be safe, as I plan to spend a few weeks at a time here in Monos, I have also tied a black plastic bag around the blades of the prop. I have been told that this should totally prevent anything from growing there. It will be interesting to see how it works. I’m not so sure about getting into the water in Chaguaramas to tie a bag on the prop, so anchoring there will have to be restricted to just one or two days at a time. Well, it’s a good idea to keep the boat moving anyway.