History Log: Season 2004
Amida travels from Toronto to Trinidad.
Our first years adventure.
Log 12: St Lucia to Trinidad
June 30th, Amida reaches Chaguaramas, Trinidad and we come home to Toronto
We reached Trinidad, finally, after a voyage of nine months… and this is the last Log that I’ll be writing for this segment of our
cruising life, although Marilyn may do one for our visit back home. I hear them… the thunderous sighs of relief that you won’t
have to read about our exploits, in excruciating detail, any more. Thanks, however, to the few of you who did read every word
and those who just skimmed through the sentences, thereby participating in our adventure. It was hard work at times but we
had a blast! I am actually writing a few last words from home, Toronto, where we arrived on June 13th. It was sobering to think
that it took us nine months to get to Trinidad yet the flight back was a mere five hours. Guess what we did immediately upon our
arrival? We drove down to our yacht club to participate in a regular Tuesday night race! Talk about being gluttons for
punishment. Our return to Amida is scheduled for Sept 6th which will be followed by two or three weeks of “boat work”. The plan
is to sail over to Tobago for several weeks and then head back northward, first to the Grenadines, and eventually to the Virgin
Islands before coming back to Trinidad for the 2005 hurricane season. We’ll have nine months for the trip, which will allow us
lots of time to explore all the islands, instead of just rushing through them as we did on the way down, do some snorkeling, take
our Scuba check-out dive, and relax on the beaches. This more leisurely schedule will also give us the opportunity to be hosts to
more of you as visitors.
Since the last Log:
We stayed in Rodney Bay, St Lucia, for several days as it is a friendly place with good facilities (pool, several bars and
restaurants, showers, etc). Allways Sunday declared that they were now free of a “schedule” and decided to make this a really
long stop in order to take advantage of the excellent trades people who are hungry for work at this time of year. It was quite
refreshing to see them show up when they said they’d do so and focus on the job rather than be juggling several projects all at
the same time. The Colonel decided he needed to get going to Grenada and left the next day after we arrived. We, on the other
hand, were now faced with the challenge of juggling both weather and soccer windows as I wanted to see as many of the Euro
2004 football games as I could. Luckily, in Rodney Bay, the sports bar was showing all the matches. After the first phase, the
round robin, we left Drury and Jennifer and headed to St Vincent. The sailing was excellent with the wind on the beam but just
north of St Vincent the waves became rather too large for comfort, at 10 – 12 feet. Not only were they high, but they were close
to each other and their shape resembled a square wave rather than the more familiar sine wave profile. Not at all pleasant for
about an hour. The wind was also quite variable, 15 – 25 knots, so steering was quite a challenge as compensation was required
both for wave pressure against the rudder as well as Amida’s heading up as the wind pressure increased, then down again as it
decreased. The autopilot found this very confusing… as did I!
We reached the anchorage in Chateabelair in the early afternoon and, according to the cruising guide, chose the location we the
least amount of swells. As we were dropping the hook, a local “boat boy” approached and offered his help as to where the best
location would be, to avoid the rocks on the sea bed. This sage advice cost us EC$10, about CDN$5. We asked him to bring over
some ice, which was a further CDN$7.50! We were not too upset by this as the area is very poor and we were the only boat,
and source of income for the day, in the bay. After he left and we were getting Amida tidied up, another boat boy showed up
and tried to sell us his wares, fruit primarily. He left empty handed and then a third one arrived… I don’t mind helping out the
local economy with one fellow, but it gets a little tedious to have to fend off multiple visits, especially as you are trying to do
boat work and get supper ready.
Next day was the leg from St V to Bequia and the sailing was again excellent, with full main and genoa, wind on the beam, and a
max boat speed of 7.7kn on the clock, another record! I liked Bequia a lot… very pretty, courteous officials, several internet
cafes, a bunch of restaurants and bars, one of which showing Euro 2004!!! We stayed for a few days and, unfortunately, had to
leave the day England was playing Portugal. I thought we’d make it in time to Carriacou and find a bar there, but we arrived too
late. This was our fault as we didn’t leave till around 9:00. The good news was that we established yet another speed record…
8.4kn, while under a rain cloud with a wind of 27kn, with all sails out, thought the traveler was way down and the main sheet let
off. Amazing and exhilarating to the max! Yet again, we were the only boat at anchor in Hillsborough… the season really is over.
We were now in spitting distance of Trinidad and the only decision was whether to go directly there from Carriacou (120 miles)
or to stop off in Grenada. Marilyn badly wanted to be in Trinidad for Tuesday, June 29th, as this was when her Godson, Ruari,
was celebrating his High School graduation. The weather, unfortunately, did not cooperate as squalls of 30 – 40 knots were
forecast and we decided to make the shorter hop to Grenada instead… in 10 – 15 kn winds. On the way, we came across a
reason for why it pays to study the charts carefully as our route took us close to an active underwater volcano! There is an
exclusion zone of 1.5 kms when it is “mildly” active and this is widened to 5 kms when circumstances merit, as per the web site.
Unfortunately, we didn’t know these “minor” details until after we left, when internet access from the boat was not possible! I
figured we should float over the top of the volcano for an hour or two and get the hull steam cleaned, but M didn’t think this was
a terribly sound idea.
There was one other memorable part to this leg which was my spotting a turtle. At first, I thought it was some debris floating in
the water, right in our path. I observed it very carefully, as hitting some partly submerged object could be a major disaster.
When we were some 15 yards away, I identified the head and torso as it swan away and then dove beneath the surface. The
shell must have been three or four feet long… enough on that baby to feed all of Toronto’s homeless with exotic soup for a
month! I forgot to mention in the last Log another really cool incident which occurred as we left Jolly Harbour, Antigua. We
chanced upon a pod of dolphin that must have numbered in the 50 – 100. The water depth was around 25 feet so they were
very clear and visible as they played and cavorted. Absolutely magical. It always pays to keep a look out for sea life. Drury and
Jennifer tell us that turtles are often seen where there is sea weed/sea grass floating in the water.
Grenada was disappointing. We dropped the hook in Hartman Bay, which is just East of Prickly Bay, and is more protected from
the swells. Moorings Charters used to have a base in Hartman Bay (sometimes known as Secret Cove) but moved to Carriacou
so the hotel was closed and the Marina has very limited facilities. They offer only pizza to eat, except for the Friday night BBQ,
but, and this is a major big but, their TV was able to pick up Euro 2004! Yes! So, I missed watching England and France be
eliminated, but did see Holland and the Czechs go thru to the semi-finals.
We had company from Grenada to Trinidad as we caught up to the Colonel and also came across Chula Mula, whom we’d met in
Luperon. It is amazing how often the threads of our different paths end up crossing… We left at 1800 and had the same old,
same old, variable wind of 15 – 25 knots just forward of the beam. The waves were very well behaved and in the 4-5 foot
range. All in all, very comfortable sailing at an average speed of just over 6 knots. This speed saw us approaching the islands
off the west coast of Trinidad around 0630 and I awoke Marilyn to the sight of a veritable cauldron in the sea ahead of us. The
islands form fairly narrow channels between Trinidad and Venezuela and we had mistimed our approach because the tide was
rushing out between the gaps. With our oversized engine working the hardest we have asked of it, at 2900 rpm, our speed
dropped to below 3 knots, with a momentary crawl of a mere 1.7 kn!
So, we are now on a slip in a marina, getting Amida ready for a haulout on July 5th. We will then fly to Tobago to join Gail, Colin
and their kids for a few days of R&R and then catch our flight to Toronto on July 13th. Leaving Amida here in “wet season” needs
almost as much prep as for the winter months in Ontario as she has to be protected against damp and mildew! We’re sleeping
over at Gail’s place, which is great as it is air conditioned, as on board Amida is pretty uncomfortable right now, given the high
humidity. It rains every day and the wind is pretty much non-existent. The result is that almost any physical effort results in
copious amounts of sweat appearing on faces and torsos. Not a pretty sight. This is where a 46ft boat with a generator and air
conditioning would be a definite plus!
As I write these last few words of the log, I am eating the final slice of Christine’s Christmas Cake, which is still moist and
yummy, and watching CNN on TV. Funny, things haven’t changed one iota in these last nine months, as the news appears to be
exactly the same as it was just before our departure!
We’re really looking forward to getting back to Toronto and, hopefully, seeing most of you.