Hibiscus Gas Platform some 25 miles north of Trinidad

The overnight voyage south to Chaguaramas, Trinidad was uneventful with only the changing colour of the sea to a Scottish loch shade of browny green and further south to something more akin to liquid mud being of note. The waters around these parts are full of sediment from some of the world’s major rivers including the Orinoco and the Essequibo, definitely not bluewater sailing. The light winds off Grenada eventually petered out, completely at odds with the forecast of Easterly 10-15 knots so we motored most of the trip, passing the gas platform Hibiscus around breakfast time and arriving mid-afternoon with a bit of help from 2 knots of current in the Bocca Monas channel. T&T dollars are not available outside of the country so not having the alternative of US dollars, a trip to the ATM on the other side of the narrow creek was required to furnish the skipper with the 50$TT (about £5) to pay our customs dues after we’d cleared immigration.

Boca Monas approaching Chaguaramas

Having been previously advised by all and sunder not to risk anchoring off Chaguaramas (you’ll soon understand why if you carry on reading) we briefly enquired about berthing in the Crews Inn marina by the customs post – at eighty odd US dollars per night a hotel room would be cheaper! On our walk to the ATM we popped into Coral Cove to see if they had a berth; yes until Saturday afternoon and at $21 US it seemed by comparison a bargain. A marina berth would enable us to see the lie of the land or rather alternative options for anchorages, whilst permitting us to do a few bits that required 220v AC without using the inverter. Temptress’ stern gland was still leaking, the motor down having not cleared whatever crept in during our two months on the hook in Prickly Bay so Kevin welcomed a relatively calm spot to try and sort it out.

A huge floating dry dock confronted us
as we turned into Chaguaramas

The island of Trinidad is a roughly a fat back to front C shape with the top arm extending out west towards Venezuela. Chaguaramas lies on the southern side of this top peninsula, so is reasonably protected from the easterly tradewinds. It is very pretty with a scattering of green islands in the bay and rain forest clad mountains rising steeply behind. Coral Cove is squashed in at the eastern end of the main run of dockyards and yacht repair/storage facilities that line the shore, just before the fishing harbour at the eastern end of the narrow creek. The hills dip down beyond the creek head funneling cooling breezes down the creek and through our hatches.

Temptress’ berth is unique in our experience – two Baltic style mooring posts at the outer edge for tying the bow to  (one pole on either side), a fixed concrete quay to tie back to and, along our port side a wooden pier that just about reaches Temptress’s widest point so we can step ashore. The wash from a myriad of tugs, pilot boats, fishing boats and other fast vessels even in the harbour beyond the creek sets all the boats bouncing up and down as well as rocking and rolling so mooring far enough back in the berth to step off the transom onto the quay is not advisable. Tucked deep into the marina we are comfy enough now we’ve sussed the no-see-um problem with mossie nets and lots of repellents. And thankfully Trinidad’s temperatures seem lower than those of Grenada though the rain is just as fierce with the added interest of regular thunderstorms; the humidity is very high.

On the other shore just outside the creek is an oilfield supply dock where very large and often strange shaped ships frequently come and go. Our current neighbour Global 1200 is a pipe-laying vessel with a humongous white tower supporting an even larger crane plus a helicopter pad on top on the accommodation block – not pretty but interesting. You can see pictures of her here.

On Thursday morning after a trip into Port of Spain to get a Digicel SIM card, Kevin and I finally met up with friends from Dubai, Symoniez and John, whose home is here although John’s current contract has him working 5 week stretches across the Atlantic in West Africa. John treated us to a slap up curry lunch at Shiann’s – it was lovely to have a really excellent curry again as we have been missing the delights of Ravi’s, Eric’s and our other favourite Indian eateries in Satwa and Karama. Friday was Emancipation Day, the second national holiday this week Tuesday having been Eid, so the four of us plus Sym’s young nephew Enrique headed to the beach. Maracas is a long narrow curve of tree fringed sand on the north coast of Trinidad popular with local families; Trini has a very mixed population of Afro-Caribbeans, Indians and a smaller number of people of European descent. It being a holiday everyone was at the beach with their buckets and spades and surf boards (not that there was much surf), beach loungers are about £2 per day. On the other side of the road are a collection of restaurants all vying to sell Bake ‘n Shark the local speciality. At lunch time Sym took us to Uncle Sam’s for what she claims is the best on the island. It certainly was tasty and we had great fun directing Kevin as he loaded the fried shark filled buns with salads and various dressings – he was particularly heavy handed with the garlic sauce but the spicy batter around the shark still won out! It was a good job we were at the beach as eating a Bake ‘n Shark is a messy business, a quick dip in the sea soon washed off all the sauces that had escaped.

Piling on the extras watched carefully by Enrique modelling Sym’s sunhat
and tasting some enroute

The best bake ‘n Shark in the world – maybe!

Later, on returning to Coral Cove, we joined our fellow berth holders for a bring and share BBQ ashore. It was great to meet some of the cruisers we had heard on the radio in recent weeks as well as meeting new faces. And to finally meet up with Willie (and her husband Mark) who I’d met via Facebook but had never actually been in the same harbour at the same time! 

We’ve been learning new words too:

  • Provisions – not the food in Temptress’ lockers but carb laden foods like yam, breadfruit, plantains and potatoes served with curries in addition to veg and rice!
  • Bakes – bread, particularly bread rolls.
  • Hops – not what you use to brew beer, these are small bread rolls such as the soft whole wheat ones we purchased in the local supermarket. 

Saturday we’d booked a trip to the fabled fruit and veg market so were up at 05:40 but after hanging around at Coral Cove’s gate for some twenty minutes a phone call revealed the driver to be still in bed. No idea what happened to our booking. However we decided to take advantage of the cool early morning air for some exercise in the form of a walk along the main road past the other boat yards. Hundreds of yachts are hauled out here so we enjoyed “yacht spotting” through the fences as well as making a recce of the services on offer. Trinidad has set itself up as a yacht fixing venue so there are plenty of chandleries, skilled labour, boat hoists and more; all the improvements we have been putting off for lack of supplies can probably be completed here if we have sufficient funds.

At 9am Kevin called one of the other yards to see if they would have a berth for us, then we walked up to Coral Coves office to check out. The guy at the desk said Temptress could stay for at least two weeks more – so much for having to leave by Saturday noon as the berth was booked and the marina full! Regardless we walked along to Powerboats to see what was on offer and to wish Happy Birthday to John working hard fettling Orion II. The marina there is midway along the bay and more exposed to the wash than Coral Cove plus there is no “swimming pool” so we decided to stay put.

I say swimming pool advisedly – it is clean and cool and well…tiny; just a few strokes propel you from one side to the other as it is all of say five by five metres. The water is just deep enough to submerge to shoulder level when standing on the bottom. More of a lounging pool than an exercise place but we’re glad it’s there as the oily waters of Chaguaramas are not at all inviting and we do love our afternoon dip.  Now having settled in we are getting back into our favourite activities; Kevin has already done a stint as the net controller this morning Sunday (Chaguaramas Cruisers Net is on VHF 68 at 08:00 every day) and after lunch we plan to head off across the creek to play dominoes. And we have plenty to keep us occupied in the coming couple of weeks; for the Nereid’s Rally we need Yellow Fever vaccinations and there are a few sewing projects that can be tackled now we can purchase canvas and sun screening.