I set off hopefully one morning heading for Tobago about 90 miles away to windward. I had tried to time my start to coincide with a favourable direction of the current that runs through the channel between Carriacou and Grenada. It didn’t work quite as expected: sometimes it performed as I’d hoped and we ran merrily along at a thrilling 6 knots, then it would decide to work against us for a while and a few hours would be spent barely making 2 knots and unable to lay the course for any point along the coast of Tobago. At last, in the evening, it changed miraculously and sent us easily on our way, with Charlotteville now a distinct possibility. Next morning we started falling off again and for the last couple of hours I motor-sailed to avoid a full day of tacking back and forth.
We arrived in the lovely bay at Charlotteville at noon, 29 hours after leaving Tyrell Bay. I was happy enough as I had originally thought we would have to make landfall at Store Bay on the southern tip of the island and then work our way back along the coast.
There is a lovely anchorage at Pirates Bay and 5 or 6 boats were there, fairly close to the shore. I moved a little way off and dropped the anchor in 15m. The bottom falls off steeply. Oh well, my anchor windlass is pretty efficient and I have plenty of chain. I let out 50m and felt safe enough. The water is crystal clear and I could see the chain descending steeply to a blue infinity.
It is extremely important to arrive in Trinidadian waters during weekday working hours (8-4) as overtime rates apply at all other times. These times apply to the actual boat arrival time as well as the time that you clear in at the customs office. Woe betide those who dare to heave-to a few miles offshore and wait for the dawn. A massive fine could be imposed if you are spotted. All part of the anti-drug war, but a bit inconvenient for sailors on small junk rigged boats that don´t move accurately to time constraints. Fortunately, I was seen to arrive at noon and although I only managed to get to the customs and immigration people the next morning, I was not charged the overtime rate of US$40 to clear in, but the normal (more like abnormal) rate of US$10.
Once the official stuff was done, I took the dinghy across to the beautiful little beach at Pirates Bay and spent some time paddling along the shore before climbing the steep slope through the woods and on to a track that leads to the village. There are concrete steps all the way up the steep slope which make it relatively easy, and a few benches strategically placed half way and at the top. While I was taking a breather at the half-way mark I spotted an exquisite long-tailed bird with a turquoise crown on a high branch of a mango tree. From my description, a local bird man identified it for me as a blue-crowned motmot. I was thrilled and now peer hopefully around for more whenever I go for a walk.
Walking along the track I had a magnificent view of the bay. I also concentrated on collecting some mangos which are normally just left to lie on the track until they rot or get eaten by the wild creatures or ants. It was lucky that I had been looking at the ground for pickings, as I managed to avoid tramping on a brilliantly coloured caterpillar at least 6 inches long. He posed for a close-up. I would love to see the butterfly or moth that eventually emerges. Goats were grazing on the steep slope and breadfruit trees were heavily laden with almost ripe fruit.
I wandered on along the main beach that runs in front of the village. There is a long concrete jetty for the fishing boats and visiting dinghies. When school is over for the day, the kids have a great time jumping off the dock and swimming near the shore.
Hoards of laughing gulls wait patiently on the beach for scraps of fish from where the fishermen are cleaning their catch. They are very bold and just shuffle a little out of the way to let me pass.