Monthly Archives: April 2011

Security in Trinidad

The Internet is a buzz of details regarding the security and general safety of Trinidad specifically Chagaramas. There was a report of a sailboat being boarded as they came in past the oil rigs, suggestions to only travel at night or when the winds were above 10 knots. Almost everyone we meet above Grenada sure mentioned to be safe in our trip to Trinidad.

We were cautious but sailed the rhumb line down splitting the oil rigs. We only saw a couple of work boats and one fishing boat tied up to the larger of the rigs. We were on high alert just in case. Not that we really had a plan other than to fall off the wind to go faster in the wrong direction.

As we approached Trinidad the weather turned to torrential downpour that hid the island from view. Trusting the gps and last visual of the narrowest of channels to just west of the main island we motored on in spotting several fishing boats that wanted nothing to do with us.

Found the mooring balls and scurried aboard as all crew members have to be present at immigration in Trinidad which is unlike the normal where just the captain goes ashore. Leaving the boat within minutes of arriving seemed odd but we had just 30 minutes till immigration closed. We cleared customs without issues the nice folks on the the end were mist helpful. I returned to the boat just to a fix the bridle and back to shore where the stories of rampant dingy theft and we parked and locked the dingy in the same dock where the thefts were supposedly happening.

Ours is not a big engine desirable dingy. There were several other higher horsepower dingys there all were locked to the cleats as well.

After hauling the boat we actually stayed in Port of Spain in a nice hotel called Kapok. Taxi service can supposedly take over 2 hours for that 20 mile ride. I guess we were lucky but all 4 of our trips were less than 30 mins each as was our early trip to the airport which also has a reputation of 2 hour potential.

We didn’t go exploring the streets like we might have in Grenada mainly because we were tired. We did walk the streets of Chagaramas to get from our yard to the main marina, about a 20 minute walk on a narrow 2 lane street in broad day light past a bunch of locals setting up for beach side day of fun.

When Christine was doing laundry at Crews Inn she met some ladies who told her of a couple of purse/bag snatching in the past week, we don’t think that was first hand knowledge so no telling how long ago that was. Our yard guys/taxi driver also talked about the reputation that is actively being addressed. The last yacht that was boarded was over a year and a half ago and there are just some places you don’t want to be alone at night, just like any city. Single females should probably not venture far from stable areas.

Our experience was excellent we didn’t overly expose ourselves to being targets or victims. It might have been the holiday weekend, although I have never know thieves to take holidays off, or the fact that we are early in the season to be dropping a boat off that normally starts in June. Either way we had an enjoyable time for our short stay in Trinidad and it looks like it’s going to be a good starting point for our next adventure.

One thing to note is there is an abundance of trash on the streets that eventually makes it’s way into the ocean. Where on salt island I picked up the trash and took it with us, Trinidad needs a little of a mind set change or at least a Do Not Mess With Trinidad campaign.

On our way back

Our chipper taxi driver was eager and showed up at 4:30 instead of 5:00, so we had 2 wake up calls.

We now sit outside of security pondering do we go in or wait out here then I find this wifi zone so we will burn 30 mins here.

Let the travel begin.

Paperwork and Mainsail removal.

Christine had negotiated well with the local taxi driver, and got us about 1/2 price on our 3 trips required to complete our paperwork and final touches on the Shack as we leave the country.

Taxi showed up early this morning as we wanted to beat the heat to remove that mainsail. It came off with not issues, but now the boat that normally has a sail bag sporting the Sugar Shack name, its just a bare white boom. The 10 year old screws and pins came out without force, while Wayne undid the battens, I tamed the reefing lines and Christine removed the battens from the mast cars, and folded up the lazy bag and lazy bag cover. The down side is we learned that the top 2 battens of the 7 were shattered, luckily noone was injured with all those fiberglass shards everywhere. We’ll get them replaced when we go back up. All in all it only took us 1 hr, of course we told that taxi driver to pick us up 5+ hrs later, so we had lots of time to burn.

We walked the 15 minute walk from Catamaran Village to the Customs/Immigration office over new Crews Inn. Had a couple of beers to cool off while watching the bustling activity on a holiday weekend. Lots of locals heading out for day cruises or to secluded beaches by boat for a picnic. We cleared the country and paperwork required, you have to have extra forms ready for when you come back into the country with a one way ticket, and leave by boat. Paperwork the boat yard helps with, but you still have to do the clear off the boat roster and show your outbound airplane tickets.

We also learned that the boat yard closes for 3 weeks around Christmas, so we’ll have to be back here by Dec 18th, if we want to sail for the New Years/Christmas break. Sounds like thats going to mean more time off without pay – doh!

We are heading to an early dinner after a nice siesta in the air conditioning and some speed vision this afternoon, trying to get back in to the normal swing of things. With an early taxi ride, 5am to the airport, it should be an early evening. We get back to Texas somewhat early tomorrow and see what we missed while we were gone.

Back from a nice pleasant outdoor dinning experience, next to the hotel pool that we didn’t know existed.