Baraka is moored at Crews Inn Marina in Chaguaramas, Trinidad, happy to be at rest after 34 days nonstop from St Helena, and over 2 months passagemaking from Capetown, South Africa. The lighthouse is the background is not functional, though it marks the customs/immigration dock where we tied up to clear in.


May 7 - Decompression

Whew! These easy days pass quickly. We have started the boat chores. Yesterday and today I put on my fins to clean the passage scum off the hull (we had a mottled green skirt of growth and goosenecks halfway up both sides). Today I accidentally kicked a curious turtle who'd been keeping me company. Dave got a local man to charge up the air conditioning, which is working, yea! He returns tomorrow to check for leaks. I have been shopping a couple times, finding American products I haven't seen for years. And we are relaxing, sleeping and eating at normal rhythms, a huge change. It is delightful. One big change aboard is that we are back in 110/60 cycle land, after using a 220 transformer since 2008.

May 10 - Decadence

We are working through the list of shoreside boat chores and starting to make plans for the next leg. We haven't seen much of Trinidad, content to enjoy the novelty of Crews Inn marina amenities, internet, good showers, laundry, pool, potlucks, and shuttles to American-style groceries. Dave polished the rusty stainless and is working on a muffler/water lift leak. I have started some teak work and finished small sewing projects (bimini restitching and courtesy flags). Very nice to work in the heat, then come below to cool down in the A/C. Another week of this somewhat expensive (for us) R&R, and we'll feel ready to tackle the next leg, 4 days offshore to the ABCs, Dutch Antilles, first stop Bonaire.

It is interesting to meet the Caribbean cruisers, who mothball their boats each year and head home. There is a large community of yachties here, with a different focus from the offshore cruisers we have been travelling with since SE Asia. Although boat maintenance is a universal language!

May 11 - Sad farewell, and outboard woes

Today marks another in a series of sad farewells as we part company with Priscilla, after having sailed through several oceans and a dozen countries, and shared both amazing and amazingly awful experiences. The bonds we make cruising seem more intense than those we forge shoreside. We come to depend upon these friends as deep resources for parts, information, and encouragement. We have shared a couple truly horrible anchorages with Priscilla, and also some wonderful times. We will somehow meet again, though not likely afloat.

Yesterday the outboard waterpump impeller lost its ears and the engine overheated! Inconveniently, as Dave was across the bay with 6 jerry jugs of diesel - a long, hot row back against the wind. Today Dave has it apart, and seems to have the needed parts to rebuild the lower end. We used the outboard hoist and the main halyard to muscle it into the cockpit where Dave can work on it without losing tiny parts into the briny deep. Our marina days are flying by, as the to-do lists slowly shrink to a manageable size.

May 16 - Preparations

Nice hiatus here, but we are feeling ready to move along. Today we rented a beater car and drove into Port of Spain where Dave scored some needed parts for the outboard. It is finicky unless he feeds it genuine Yamaha parts. We hit the gas station to fill the final 3 jugs, then the grocery, where we could buy familiar label foods, delightful after being gone from the western hemisphere since 2008! Prices don't seem bad either. Or maybe when I find Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, price doesn't matter!

Back at the boat, Dave carefully showed the original Yahama packaging to the outboard, but it still won't idle, so now he is checking the easy stuff, fuel, filter, and debating whether he must take the carburator apart, last done in Simons Town.

Tonight we will have a farewell pizza meal with Promesa, first met at Cocos Keeling almost a year ago. Tomorrow we will check out and stow the boat. Saturday is looking ok for departure. Using the internet we have downloaded weather, cruising info and google earth views of the islands in front of us. We expect a 3-4 day passage to Bonaire, which feels like (ho-hum) nothing compared to the ocean passages now behind us. Live is easy!

May 18 - Still at Trinidad

Almost ready to clear out, we started having problems with the outboard. First the water impeller, which Dave quickly fixed, then it wouldn't idle. Dave worked on it a bit more, then took it to Jeff's Outboard hoping for a quick fix so we could leave as planned. Turns out the problem is a dead fuel pump. No replacement available on Trinidad, but we may be able to get one overnighted from Florida... so we told the marina we will stay until the middle of the week. Ok by me - I am still working on the bits of teak I stripped and need to get them covered with Cetol. And this is no great hardship - we are very comfortable here at the dock.

We haven't felt inclined to tourist around. Dave says its a big mistake that the marina provides a free newspaper. Every day the headline is the fresh murder count, and stories of corruption in government and industry. The big attraction for yachties is that Trinidad is just south of the hurricane zone, season starting soon, with secure marinas and a lot of boat services. Thousands of boats are hauled out here at Chaguaramas while the owners travel home for hurricane season, returning late fall to continue cruising in the West Indies. We are an exception, headed westward.

May 23 - almost ex-pats

Tomorrow we will have been here at Crews Inn for 3 weeks! We should have been on our way by now, but the outboard parts ordered from the states got caught somehow in the storms that spawned the Oklahoma tornadoes, and are delayed in shipment. We paid extra to expedite, oh well.

Not a bad life, with pool and gym just ashore, but we are now restless to move along. With good internet we've researched the ABCs, and are looking forward to some new landfalls.

May 26 - stuck to the dock

The boat-part saga continues, Fed Ex has apparently lost our outboard parts. Now it is a holiday weekend in the states (Memorial Day), to be followed by a 4-day holiday here in Trinidad, so it is unlikely we can get a re-order delivered for weeks. Frustrating. We are using the opportunity to work on those boat projects easiest to do at a dock, though this is hampered by the rain squalls that roll through every few hours! I washed some of the cushion covers but can't get them dry.

Last night we rowed across to "Shark and Bake", a local specialty at a restaurant, where we joined 4 other couples for a fun evening. A lot of cruisers have now pulled their boats onto hard storage, and are getting ready to fly home for the season.

One of many haul out yards at Chaguaramas.

There are several thousand boats mothballed here at Chaguaramas for the summer season, since Trinidad is just south of the hurricane zone and considered safe by both owners and insurance companies. Most boats will sit six months, and are covered by shrink-wrap plastic for the rainy season.

Nice pool at Crews Inn Marina helps pass the time.

This cannon is pointed directly at Baraka.

June 1 - sittin on the dock of the bay

wastin' time... -Otis Redding.

The days drift by a bit aimlessly, unusual for us, as we wait for parts. Tracking shows them in Puerto Rico, yippee, getting closer.

Dave stays busy, refinishing the oars which are dried and splitting, motivated by the price of new oars. New project today, the fresh water pump has died. Replacement is readily available here, but Dave will take it apart and see if it can be fixed. This is "cruiser mode".

On our occasional visits home we find ourselves a little appalled to see how quickly things are thrown away when broken, or even more distressing, rendered obsolete by an upgrade. We Americans are a throw-it-away society, quick to toss anything when something newer, faster, slimmer, trendy comes along. While cruising, it is often either difficult and expensive, or impossible to buy replacements for equipment that breaks, we have become frugal repair masters. Our parents, who experienced the Great Depression, would approve! Dave keeps bins of broken parts and can often find some material to effect a repair, even fabricating parts from starboard when all else fails. We now read about 3D printers. Sounds very sci-fi, but maybe in another dozen years we won't need to carry a spare parts inventory!

June 3 - Stayed too long

As if we needed confirmation that we've overstayed here at Trinidad, a young pair of birds is now building their nest-home inside the end of our boom. Each morning the deck is littered with twigs and leaves, and they divebomb Dave as he works in the cockpit. Something's gotta go. I think it's us.

We've stayed too long. Birds are nesting in the boom.

Newly varnished oars get baseball-stitched leathers.

June 4 - Getaway attempt #2

Yesterday the outboard parts arrived! Dave called Fed Ex dozens of times, and no one seemed to have a clue where they were. The tracking system seemed to fall into some Caribe Vortex, but the parts did come this time. Dave quickly installed the fuel pump and test-drove the dinghy around the harbor, coming back with a big smile. He then spent a couple hours under the hull, scraping barnacles that sprouted while we were parked here, and added a fourth coat of varnish to the oars.

We've booked a beater car for tomorrow, for a run to town to stock up on groceries, and started running weather reports. Looks like a bunch of thunder-showers today and tomorrow, then a more favorable window, so we are planning an early Thursday getaway.

Time to start stowing! After a month living at a dock, dozens of small things have wandered out of their proper offshore places.

June 5 - Port of Spain

We hopped into the beater rental car and tooled into Port of Spain in some of the most confusing traffic we've seen since Thailand! Fortunately, drivers seem tolerant and courteous, even though who has right-of-way is a mystery. We took several wrong turns and had several close calls, but all worked out, and we arrived safely home with groceries. Highlight of our day was finding Peake's Trading, where we bought a 110 fan and a blender (yippee, more fruit smoothies!). Back home we started stowing the decks. Dave ground off a few teak deck plugs from his last project, then we both worked on re-running the 3rd reef line through the boom, ganging together round battens to feed the messenger line through. Took several tries. We'd done this before in South Africa, but got it wrong, twisting the reefline around the outhaul line.

We visited Immigration and Customs, and got our exit clearance, then spent the rest of the day stowing and setting the boat up for offshore. There's a long list of last minute tasks, topping off tanks, running jacklines, and securing everything. Even though this is only a 3-day passage, the boat has to be in the same state of readiness as a longer trip. Weather looks ok - a little squally, a bit windy. Should be fast.

Click here for our earlier South Atlantic passage journal,

or here for our next Netherlands Antilles journal.

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