Monday, August 27, 2012

All work and no play,well not really

1st –30th June 2012

We’ve now been full time residents in our apartment at Power Boats yard for the past two and a half months and are adjusting to life on the land quite well. The last few weeks have been lovely hot sunny days, which has been great for the work that’s happening on the boat. But just lately we’ve noticed the weather patterns starting to change.


The wet season is slowly beginning to kick in now and most days, come late morning, the tell tale dark storm clouds roll over the hills surrounding Chagauramas bay ( where we are) and we have a torrential downpour lasting an hour or more. This creates havoc around the boatyard as the workers and owners run for cover to escape the deluge falling from the heavens. It is also starting to have an adverse effect on the  time schedule of our work, mind you our guys still assure us that GWTW will be finished by our agreed date in the middle of July.

Life for us is now getting more and more sedentary. GWTW has had her doors and hatches covered over with protective plastic, paper and reams of masking tape and it has become increasingly harder for us to have access to the interior during the working week, although we do tend to sneak back on board on Sundays when the contractors are having their day off. We even managed to set up our BBQ in the cockpit one time and enjoyed a fabulous lamb roast, the seating left a bit to be desired though.

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The work on the boat has been coming along nicely but we are starting to get cabin fever and felt the need to get out of the “house” and experience a little more of Trinidad than just the area around Chagauramas.



As we mentioned in an earlier post, Jesse James, the local guy who looks after most of the cruisers’ needs down here, also organises day tours, so we along with ten others signed up on what Jesse calls “A taste of Trini” tour. It is an all day eating fest starting at 9am and sees you returning absolutely stuffed at around 7pm. The one big thing that no one had told us is that we needed to abstain from all food at least 24hrs before the tour ‘cause otherwise you will just explode! Apart from the eating, there is a common driving force on each tour and that is to beat the number of dishes consumed by the group on the previous one. Our magic number was to do better than 50 tastings. Now to be clear, the tour takes in only food items grown, made or produced here in Trini, so processed foods and the likes of Macas and KFC are definitely not on the agenda.

Armed with our cameras and appetite Jesse, complete with his undying sense of humor and armada of local knowledge, picked us up in his shinny silver van right on the bell of 9am and off we set on our culinary adventure. The day ahead would take us from Chagauramas through Port of Spain, the capital of Trini, past small towns and fields and over to the east coast of the island. Travelling down the coastline  we stopped at palm tree lined Manzanilla beach and made many stops at out of the way villages, where most tourists never visit, and then snaked back through the teak forests and winding roads of the central highlands and swamplands to the west coast  ultimately arriving back home to the marina after dark.



Our first stop was a small shop not far from the boat yard and on the menu was Coconut bread with Smoked Herring and Salt Fish. A Trini breakfast staple apparently. It was a very tasty little morsel but left us with that not so popular waft of fishy after-breath. Would we choose this for brekkie normally? aahh, probably not. Next up was another breakfast dish, Doubles. Now this one we had indulged in before and it is an absolute treat. It’s a very messy concoction of flatbread overflowing with tasty chickpeas all mixed up in a mild to hot pepper sauce depending on what your taste buds can cope with. Doubles are a true Trini favorite and you see heaps of roadside stalls set up with long lines of patrons hoeing into them wherever you go in the morning. Stopping roughly every 15 minutes to top up our tummies, by lunch time we were bursting at the seams and yet there was plenty more to come.

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Jessie came well equipped providing everyone with bottled waters, plates, paper towels, (a must), and cutlery. We sampled delicacies such as Curried Duck, Rose Bake ,which is Bok Choy leaves with a tamarind sauce, BBQ Pig Tails, Cow Heel Soup, another favourite of the Trinis, very tasty though  a bit of a chewy texture for us, Boiled Chicken’s Feet, Sugarcane, Polouries, a sweet dough with mango chutney and an assortment of Indian pastries just to name a few. After a long day in the saddle we topped off the night with birthday cake and scoops of vanilla ice cream. Cruisers love a celebration especially when it’s someone's birthday.



The day was a great success and we managed to ingest 52 different types of foods. Luckily I kept a record of all the dishes we ate so the tally was legitimate. When I read over the list I really don’t know how we did it. Below is what we ate that day and hey, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!

Coconut Bread; Smoked Herrings; Salt Fish; Doubles; Cow Heel Soup; Beef Pies; Cheese Pies; Rose Bake; Desheen; Stewed Chicken; BBQ Pig Tails; Chickito-figs; Kitchorie- split peas; Aloo Pie-Potato; Chicken’s Feet; Silk Bananas; Cocorite; Brazil Nuts; Sugarcane; Cashew Nuts; Pineapple Chow; Milk Fudge; Fried Plantain; Green Fig Salad; Boiled Cassava; Fried Casava; Geera Pork; Roti; Bake & Shark-kind of a hamburger; Stewed Beef; Curried Mango; Curried Pumpkin; Curried Goat; Dahl, Rice; Sadia Roti; Buss up Shut Roti-another messy dish; Curried Chicken; Bignan Choka; Fried Boti Beans; Sorrel and Moubi drinks; Watermelon; Soursoup; Polourie, Mango Chow; Roasted Eggplant;  Coconut Turnover; Sweetbread with Raisons and Cherry; Barfi-an Indian sweet; Kurma; Ice Cream and Chocolate Cake. What a mouthful…literally!

But our day was not without incident. Rain and winding country roads don’t always mix. Rounding a bend we came across an accident which had just happened. A collision between a truck and a glass carrying ute blocked the road completely. It was all hands on deck as the men folk leaped out of our van to lend a hand to help clear the mangled mess.The driver of the truck was shaken and cut badly from the broken panes of glass on the ute and Annie gave him some much needed roadside first aid. The utility had driven over a couple of downed power lines which had flicked up and caught around the truck’s front tire pulling the truck into the path of the passing glass carrier.The two vehicles then became firmly wedged together and took a lot of manpower and over an hour to separate.




Eventually the power company arrived and cut away the offending cables from the truck and everyone was once again on their way.So as you can see even when we’re not working on boats there’s always something to keep us all occupied.

And that folks was our day out. We had a really fun trip with Jesse and all our fellow sailors and are already looking forward to booking on to our next mini escape from life in the boatyard. Oh and just so you know were so full we didn’t need breakfast or lunch the next day, now that’s gotta be a first.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Life on the Hard in Trinidad

April & May 2012

Hauling out “Gone With the Wind” is always a stressful time for us. I mean it’s not like haven’t done it before. Since her launch back in 2004 we’ve done this six times, so you would naturally assume that we’d be used to it by now. I guess it’s more the fact that our house is being taken from her normal liquid environment to a totally foreign one, terra firma .And, having the travel-lift operator disagreeing with us on where the lifting straps should be positioned, followed by our pride and joy dangling in mid-air for what seems an eternity, does absolutely nothing for our composure. Finally, when she is moved to a more stable home on top of some wooden chocks and a few upright supports, we start to relax. The adrenaline running through our veins slows down, we shift our perspective and in the blink of an eye realise that life on the land for the next few months has begun .

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Last year during Carnival we spent a couple of weeks in Trinidad but this time we’ll be living here from April until late July, and that’s a long time for us not to be in our familiar watery surrounds. The work we are having done is very extensive and we won’t be able to live aboard as we’d hoped, so we’ve opted to move into an apartment in the the boat yard next to ours. Peakes Yacht Services, where we are having the work done, does have a couple of apartments but the ones at Power Boats yard are bigger and have better facilities for the same cost. As we arrived in Trini with a fridge and freezer full of food, it seemed sensible to take the room with the oven, full size fridge, cable TV, wi-fi and small balcony. Might as well be as comfortable as possible! 



During the first two weeks we were pretty busy choosing / organising contractors and packing up GWTW. Our project is a huge one and involves serious preparation to all the surfaces from the bottom of the keels to the top of the coachouse. The hulls will be re-gelcoated and the decks, smooth surfaces and roof re-painted. We’ve employed two teams to do the job. Colin from Dynamite Marine will tackle the hulls while Davy from Peakes will be working on the decks. But before any of that can start the two of us have to take off all the deck hardware, winches, cleats, sail tracks, turning blocks and solar panels. Meanwhile inside the boat, all the walls and benches  have to be washed down with a water and vinegar solution to try and combat any mold that might grow due to the heat and humidity  that Trinidad is famous for. Also, everything inside needs to be covered with drop sheets and plastic in an attempt to keep all the dust that finds its way in off the beds, lounge and furniture. Lastly, all the outside gear has to find a new home inside, turning GWTW’s  interior a massive obstacle course!



So while we were working on our tasks inside and out on the deck, the boys started working on the hulls. First up was Mikey with the most horribly dirty job of all. He had to sand back the antifoul and gelcoat under the waterline to the bare hull. It was a task that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.The fine black dust was like soot clogging up your mouth, nostrils and stinging your eyes.

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Mikey, working alone and dressed in what looked like chemical warfare gear, could only endure a few hours a day of the dust and heat before he had to call it quits.

His sanding took two weeks and everyone, especially him, was glad when it was over. Next up were the boys from Dynamite Marine. Perched up on scaffolding Colin and his guys took to the hulls above the waterline with sanders. This would be a very long and labourious process involving sanding, filling and re-sanding. With the wet season rapidly approaching we decided to have a tent erected over the boat. This would allow the guys to continue working in anything but the most torrential rain and give them some much needed  protection from the intense heat of the tropical sun.

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Work on the boat progressed well during the first couple of weeks and slowly Liam and I had less and less to do, boat wise that is. As time went on Davy’s guys, working  up on the decks, taped up all the hatches, fittings that we just couldn’t get off and our cockpit doors, effectively locking us out of the boat. Needing something to stop us going stir crazy, we signed up for a couple of nature hikes with some fellow cruisers. Most of the area surrounding the boat yards here in Chagauramas is National Park and there are lots of trails to explore. Our first hike took us along a riverbed and through a Bamboo Forest.  P5053897

Thick with dense foliage this is a lovely shaded area where huge Bamboo grows over a trail forming what is known as The Cathedral. We heard that on some weekends wedding parties come here to have their photos taken while others come along and set up the whole reception. Leaving the forest the trail led through river beds and up to a cliff top escarpment which overlooked part of the north coast.Trekking back down to sea level we emerged from the bushes at pretty Maqueripe beach where most of the group dived in for a quick cool off. The following weekend our second hike, a slightly more strenuous four mile trail, brought us out at the old radar tracking station built by the American armed forces back in the 1950’s. Not much is left of the station or the support buildings, but it looked to have been a very large facility in its day.

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Over the next couple of weeks we are planning to venture further a field. A local guy who looks after just about all the needs of the cruising community here is Jesse James, yes that really is his name. He has a maxi taxi service and regularly organises shopping trips to the various malls as well as some great outings which gives everyone a nice break away from the boat yards and their boats. We’ll also be updating the blog with how GWTW’s facelift is going. We have our fingers and toes crossed that all  the work goes to plan so stay tuned,