History Log: Season 2004
Amida travels from Toronto to Trinidad.
Our first years adventure.
Log 13: Back in Toronto for the off season
Dec 24, 2004 Christmas in Trinidad!
I’m putting “pen to paper” for the first time in over five months, so please forgive me for the inevitable rustiness. This Log will
describe Amida’s Off Season, as we are still in Trinidad, getting some final boat work done. We are seriously delayed from the
initial planned schedule as we had originally wanted to have been gone by the end of September. The first part of this log will be
about our trip home to Toronto and the four months we spent there, while the second describes the return to Trinidad and the
various boat projects we undertook… not very exciting, I’m afraid.
Thanks to the many of you who sent us Christmas emails. It was wonderful to hear from you…
Toronto – July 13 to November 18 2004
It was great to be back in Toronto, at home, with all its comforts, and close to family and friends. Christine and Bill had looked
after the house superbly well, though I was very disappointed that Bill had left to go back to Vancouver in May and that Christine
would be joining him in November. Their decision was a major factor in our schedule changes… Yes, it is all their fault! Losing
them as house sitters meant we had to find someone else, which would not be easy. So, we thought that perhaps it would be a
good idea to consolidate our real estate, especially as we had heard from numerous sources that interest rates would be heading
upwards and house prices might have maxed out. And besides, Bush might win the election, put the US deeper in debt and slow
down economic growth! After much deliberation and discussion we came up with the following plan. We would sell Marilyn’s house
and Karen, her sister, would move into the Wolverleigh house to be the new house sitter. Great plan! Unfortunately, this meant
we would need to spend a good period of time getting her house ready for a sale, which is not exactly what we had in mind for
our “summer vacation”.
We made a list of things that needed to be done, such as repairing the plaster and lath staircase wall, fixing the front steps to the
porch, changing the carpet in the master bedroom, replacing the toilet and the vanity in the bathroom, finishing off the hardwood
floor by the front door, trimming the trees in the back yard, and getting rid of eight years worth of accumulated “stuff”. As you
can imagine with HGTV being one of M’s favorite channels there was also… getting rid of any clutter, touching up the paint, filling
in plants here and there, power washing everything outside, moving furniture and general all around cleaning. Why is it that we
live so long with all these “job jar” items undone, but when we are motivated by a house sale, we get them done and lament that
we never got to enjoy the end results?? Oh well. Luckily, Greg, Marilyn’s brother and Jonathan, his son, came to Toronto from
Montreal for their summer vacation and helped out. I hate to think how long it would have taken without their help. Not to mention
what we would have done without Greg’s Pathfinder in which we made the many many trips to Goodwill. Now don’t let me mislead
you, it wasn’t all work and no play! We managed to get away at the weekends to visit friends out of town or at their cottages. This
included such great events as Sarah Vallery’s wedding (Don & Janet’s daughter) in Bellwood, Howie & Rochelle’s neighborhood
Ribfest in Penetang , a weekend of watersports with the Varcoe’s, and a weekend at the beach and sailing with the Fuhro’s . A
great break from the work as well as a wonderful opportunity to catch up on news, and generally relax. I was also able to meet
up with buddies from IBM, for lunches, a game of golf, a soccer game on TV. While I don’t miss the Corp at all, we both miss the
friends who made it a special place to work.
An event to which we had both been looking forward was the annual Croquet Tournament hosted by Cindy and Keyvan. It is an
opportunity for Marilyn to meet up with many of her friends from university days and features a wonderful spread of assorted
horse doovers and a delicious dinner. The croquet itself is a lot of fun and, this year, I was a defending Champion, having, very
unexpectedly, won the tournament last year with my partner. Unfortunately, the winning streak was not to be repeated so,
instead, I enjoyed a little more wine and many more Tequilla shots! The dress code is, of course, “whites”, but to add a little
island colour, I donned a Rasta hat that M had “Rasta’d” for me. It raised a good laugh but, man, are those things ever hot on the
head, even in Toronto!
Stef, my son, and his fiancée came over for dinner one evening and during the course of the conversation casually mentioned
they were, after all, getting married… in a week! You may recall from a much earlier log that this had been their plan for August,
but like all plans, had been changed to summer of 2005. The wedding, however, had a surprising twist to it as it would be in two
parts, a civic ceremony this summer and a social one next. So, off they later went, to where else but Niagara Falls, centre of the
Wedding scene in NA, for a very private exchanging of vows. So private, in fact, that besides them, present were only two friends
as witnesses, and their small son as Best Man. Congratulations to them again and we look forward to the Wedding Reception next
summer. Interestingly, their wedding format was pretty much the same as my daughter, Klara’s, who also was married in the
Municipal Office in NYC, privately, and had a Reception some time later… Stef, by the way recently quit his job as the head of a
Kung Fu Temple in Hamilton is trying to get re-enrolled at university so he can pursue a teaching career. Hope it all works out for
Speaking of Klara, I decided to drive down to NYC for a visit (and to take a break from getting the house ready for selling!). It is
a pleasant drive of about 8 hours, plus a visit to the Duty Free, a wait at the border, and a couple of rest stops. It is incredible
that you can traverse the entire length of the I90 from Buffalo to just north of NYC for US$13, whilst a drive of a few miles on the
407 in Toronto ends up costing about half that amount once the administrative charge, the statement charge, and the Rip Off
charge are added on. The trip went well until I turned off the highway by Harlem and promptly got lost in the dusk and the need
to make fast decisions in the heavy and impatient traffic. It took me another hour to finally find my way to their apartment
building. Luckily, this is not the Harlem of old (Bonfire of the Vanities?). Klara and her husband, Elijah, managed to find a really
nice apartment there, a couple of blocks from Clinton’s offices, for an excellent price. Problem is that it has no elevator and they
live on the 5th (6th?) floor! The last flight of stairs is a killer, especially if you are carrying a load.
I never used to like NYC, but it has grown on me since I started to visit Klara there. The highlight of my stay this time was that
the Republican National Convention was on in Manhattan at the same time and a huge anti-Bush demonstration had been planned.
I decided to participate, joining Klara and Elijah. This was the very first time I had ever participated in a protest march. It went off
peacefully, and the turn out was huge. Imagine a solid mass of humanity stretching for blocks and blocks. Calling it a March is
actually a major misnomer. A Shuffle would be much more appropriate. Lots of placards and banners, some very humourous,
many with a sexual theme (Dick (Cheney) and Bush provide ample scope for double entendres!). After it finished we walked
down to the river and took a tour boat around Manhattan Island. It was interesting to revisit the path Amida had taken down the
Hudson River, along the West side, less than a year ago.
We also took a trip to the top of the Empire State Building, in which Elijah works for Human Rights Watch. Looking out over NYC,
at dark, is spectacular. I was leaning on the parapet, gazing northwards, when a slight movement caught the corner of my eye. I
turned and caught a glimpse of a cockroach scurrying along the parapet, God knows how many stories high! It has a pretty good
life, methinks. Great digs, wonderful view, free food (dropped tourists’ chips etc).
In NYC, I also took delivery of a new boat toy… a 15” LCD TV, which I had purchased over the internet at nearly half the price it
would have cost in Toronto. It will go down to Amida as watching DVDs on our laptop is lousy. There is also another toy that I
really covet, having seen Elijah’s, namely an IPOD… ….maybe next summer?
As a proud Dad, I have to mention that Klara works for the UN in NYC, for UNIFEM, the Directorate that deals with women’s
issues. She has recently returned from a month long assignment in East Timor… and is being considered for the post of the
Assistant to the Director of UNIFEM. These are well deserved and outstanding achievements for a talented young woman.
Back to Toronto to do more work on the house, get some weekend R&R, and take a fateful visit to Collingwood. We had talked of
Collingwood as the place of eventual retirement and decided to visit to check out the real estate. A real estate agent drew up an
itinerary to show us the town and its varied stock of housing. M has had her eye on a Regency bungalow, in the downtown area,
for many years now. To cut a long story short, we found one that fit the bill and went back a week later to see it. Outside, it is a
gem, but its inside is an entirely different proposition! It needs to be gutted and rebuilt. There was a lot of agonizing and
discussing, estimating reno costs, and talking to friends in the real estate or construction businesses. Of course, I had booked a
flight to the UK, to visit my sister Tereska, who was celebrating her 60th birthday in late August, not expecting that we would be
looking at buying a house, so M was faced with some of the more challenging visits to the house for inspection purposes etc.
Those of you interested in numerology should also know that the Collingwood house number is 206 (ie 8), and not only is 8 a
lucky number but I have lived in houses with a #8 for almost 40 years of my life… and my sister lived for many years in an actual
#206… and to top it off one of the front windows in this house has etched sailing vessels in its glass… fate was talking to us! I
won’t bore you with details of the offers, counter offers, cancelled offer, new offer, etc, but eventually we ended up proud, but
apprehensive owners. Fate again showed its hand as the day we finally signed the purchase was also the day Marilyn’s Toronto
house sale transaction went through… to a lady with MB as her initials!
Marilyn’s sale was timely and lucky, as after a week of low interest, two offers appeared on the same day and the house was sold
a little over asking price. It appears that we made the correct decision as the market has cooled off in Toronto. Our agent told us
that normally, his office of 60 agents has the phone ringing on average once a minute. The week after the sale was signed, that
volume dropped to one call every ten minutes! Timing is everything!
My visit to the UK was short, but sweet. Tereska did not know I was coming over, so my showing up for her 60th Birthday Party
was a great surprise. At the Party, I met some friends whom I had not seen since I left the UK for Canada, in 1977! I also spent a
few days in Manchester with my other sister, Krysia, and drove over to Blackpool to see the Illuminations. This trip took us back
memory lane, to our childhoods, as our Mum had taken us there, by bus or train, to the then, working families seaside “resort” of
choice. I wouldn’t advise you to rush over to the UK to visit Blackpool… in fact, rush to avoid it, unless you happen to be there by
necessity, or get lost driving to the Lake District. It is pretty tacky and the sea and beach are filthy, but we had a great time,
chatting and reminiscing about our childhood times.
Back to Toronto again, where we were now faced with the actual house moves… Karen, who had lived in M’s house, moving to the
Wolverleigh house; some of M’s furniture from M’s house went to Wolverleigh and the rest to Collingwood; Karen’s boxes out of
storage…etc. Karen hired movers while Stef was able to help us, and eventually, all the dominos fell into place. I spent a couple of
weeks in early November at 206 getting permits for the renovations and lining up contractors to give price quotes so we could
start work in August of 2005. During that time M got things ready in Toronto for our departure.
Then it was time to pack and get ready for our flights back to Trinidad, twice changed already and now on Nov 18th. Getting
everything into bags that met Air Canada’s size and weight limits was a major challenge, especially as all we had was the
bathroom scales, of dubious accuracy. We had heard that Caribbean flights are scrutinized for weight and size quite stringently
and the penalties for going over the limits were financially severe. We got lucky, as the four checked bags ended up being either
exactly 70lbs or a pound or two under. The carry-ons were a different story, as they were over the weight limits, but the
attendant was very understanding and stretched the rules a little…so we were off .
Trinidad Nov 18th - ???
We are stayed with Gail and her family again, and are extremely grateful for their hospitality…. and air-conditioning… and TV
showing English soccer games… (M here …almost every day!) We hurried to Peakes Marina to check on Amida, only to find she
was GONE from the yard where we had left her. Now, we’d heard of stored boats being boarded and stuff stolen, but never an
entire boat! On our way to the yard office to report the “disappearance”, we spotted her sitting in a different location as it
appeared Peakes decided to move her for some reason or other. We climbed aboard to check her out and were relieved to find
that she had survived the four months of our absence quite well. The deck and fittings were filthy dirty, and inside there was
some mildew on the surfaces, but otherwise, she was in good shape. Also no creepy crawlies! I noticed that the shore power
battery charger was not switched on and found that the 120v supply post to which our cable was connected was faulty. This
turned out to be good news as when I checked the battery fluid levels, the top parts of the plates had become exposed as the
electrolyte evaporates quickly in these temperatures! I had not expected to be away for such a long time and had neglected to
ask Ruari, Gail’s son, to check the battery fluid levels. I topped up and turned on the charger and the batteries appear to be OK…
relief! However …now began the work…
There was a list of boat projects that we wanted to do before leaving Trinidad:
- repair the broken radar
- repair leaking chainplates
- replace the Starboard plates under the engine mounts with steel ones
- repair the burn hole in the bulkhead that carried the KISS resistive load
- check the 12v electrical system (especially the KISS generator and its regulator!)
- canvas work (flaps for the sides to stop rain leaking inside the coamings)
- stop water leaks around the nav lights in the hull and around the companionway entrance
- clean the hull and apply new anti-fouling paint
- clean the deck, stainless steel (stainless ha!) and insides
- wash all the linens and cloths, and return the food to its regular place (much of the food stuffs had been sealed in large storage
We decided to pay Peakes to clean and polish the hull and to apply the antifouling. Working in the 30+ C temperatures is not at all
pleasant… in fact, it is downright miserable, especially if you have a genetic tendency to sweat. Some English wit, maybe
Churchill, apparently coined the phrase that Horses sweat, Men perspire, and Women glow… luckily, he hadn’t ever seen me, or
he would have added something like Andy soaks, though his words would undoubtedly have been a little catchier. Speaking of
Churchill, I bought a bunch of his books while in a vast used book store in NYC. They won’t come down to the boat, but will be
read once renos are over in Collingwood… assuming they will, one day, be completed.
I also decided to have Peakes do the burn hole repair by removing the back-stay chainplate off the damaged bulkhead, remove
the bulkhead itself, glass a new one in place, and re-attach a new chainplate. The estimate was quite reasonable but we soon ran
into problems in getting a piece of ¾” marine plywood from which to make the new bulkhead. Peakes repair shop didn’t have a
20” * 30” piece, nor could they apparently find one, other than buying a whole 8’ * 4’ sheet!
Similarly, I had found an outfit to change the engine mount plates and they now told me they couldn’t find the four pieces of 3/8”
by 3” by 9” steel to do the work! I offered to search for the raw material myself and found, all of a sudden, that it was now my
responsibility… not theirs. I found a supplier, but he had only 20 ft lengths… and nothing more than a hacksaw to cut it with…
Eventually, we found stainless steel plates and the machine shop drilled the four holes in each. Then we lost a day or two because
the guys couldn’t find the fine threaded bolts that were required. Eventually, all the bits and pieces were ready for installation and
it was discovered the bolts were too big to fit into the slots in the engine mounts… and this was, supposedly, my mistake, not
theirs! I tried to explain that the job was their responsibility and the only thing I had tried to do was to help source the material
and to remind the machine shop about the fine tread requirements, but to no avail. What irked me was that there did not appear
to be any “thinking” going on, which did not bode well for the completion of the job, so I decided to go to the Office and lodge a
complaint. The owner sent me back to the mechanics shop with a Supervisor and we went through some more finger pointing, but
when one of the employees called me, a customer, “ignorant”, I went back to the Office to lodge a further complaint, which now
got the Owner a little more interested in what was going on.
Luckily, the shop was able to file the slots in the engine mounts slightly bigger, so the oversized bolts would fit. They lifted the
front of the engine to replace the front two plates, then lifted the back to take out the back pair so they could have new plates
made up for them. Once they had gone for the day, I looked at the workmanship and didn’t like what I saw. The studs on the
front mounts were not at all vertical… and after some careful pondering, it appeared to me that they had put the plates on upside
down. In the morning, very politely, I brought this to their attention, and while I was not called ignorant again, they thought I was
wrong. Fortunately, the shop supervisor took a look and decided I was correct… and flipped the plates around to be correctly
orientated. So, watching everything now like a hawk, the job was eventually finished.
In the meantime, Peakes had finally found a piece of ¾” marine ply and had shaped it ready to glass back into place. Bearing in
mind the errors made during the fabrication and mounting of the engine plates, I made a point of reminding the guy doing the
work that the plywood had to be glassed in just off the boat’s centerline, so that the chainplate would end up on the centre line.
Yes, yes, he said, I know that. Well, once it was glassed in place, it was not exactly in the right place! Off to the office I go again,
and this time I got an apology and a reduction in the price charged! I walked over to a rigging shop and asked if having the
backstay being ¼” off the boat centerline would matter, and apparently, it won’t. That job now being finished, I was able to
reattach the backstay and tighten it, so when the propshaft was aligned, the hull would be in tension.
Success… the radar now works! We had, back in Toronto, taken down the mast for the winter which necessitated uncoupling the
radar cable, and its 23 wires, from a terminal block. Reconnecting them in the Spring was a simple matter. Mysteriously, when we
reached Catskill, having traversed the Erie Canal system, with the mast in a horizontal position, the reconnection led only to a
fuse in the radar display blowing. I checked all 23 wires to make sure I had not made a mistake in matching the matching colour
pairs to no avail. Marilyn then disconnected all 23 al then reconnected them again… and still the problem remained. In Trinidad,
there was an electronics dealer who specialised in Furuno radars and told me that my problem was relatively common, so I hired
him to fix it. Some $hours later, having run all kinds of continuity and component tests, he told me the problem was in my cable,
which was not good news. Poring through the Furuno manual, we discovered that 4 of the 23 wires were spares, so if we could
figure out which was the faulty one, we could replace it with one of the spares. I began the tedious exercise of reattaching the
wires two at a time and testing by switching the unit it. If the fuse popped, I would have narrowed down the offending culprit to
one of only two wires. Pair by pair, sweating profusely, lying in an awkward position, the testing progressed. After twelve were
successfully reconnected, it occurred to my that Sod’s Law (Sod is a relative of Murphy) meant the last pair would be the faulty
one. Inevitably, I got to the last few wires and started reattaching these one at a time. Guess what… in the end, all 23 wires got
reconnected and the problem had mysteriously not reoccurred!!! The radar was now operational. I still don’t know what the
original issue had been but suspect that maybe there are shorted wires, near the terminal block, which do so depending on the
way they happen to be bent. A future project, near the bottom of the job jar, is to investigate that further. It will be great to have
operational radar, especially crossing from Trinidad to Grenada, so we get warning of approaching ships and warning of rain
I was also able to post a question on the Sailnet Valiant email list about a mysterious leak that seemed to originate in the forward
corners of the opening that the sliding hatch cover disappears into. A couple of Esprit 37 owners had come across the same
problem. I couldn’t figure out how to remove the sliding hatch as it appears to have been installed, then a fiberglass section put
over it! The answer was to use penetrating epoxy… and that worked. I also removed each shroud’s turnbuckle, took off the
chainplate deckplates, cut a V around each chainplate and filled it with a compound… hopefully, the chainplates will no longer leak.
So far so good.
Hull painting with antifouling paint proved interesting as well. In Toronto, before we left, we had applied four coats of Pettit Ultima
SR, an ablative compound. Each coat took a gallon of paint, and each gallon cost C$200!!! Strangely, here in Trinidad, I was told
that just two coats would take four gallons. I became a little suspicious that maybe I would supply four gallons but the job would
take two and the other two would be resold to some other yachtie, so I watch like a hawk as they did the job. They must have put
on thicker coats because the estimate of four gallons for two coats was exactly right.
So now much of the list has been completed but, of course Murphy, had to pay us another visit! It’s been a while since the last
one and we were actually beginning to wonder if “he” had abandoned us all together! Not true, as I discovered another electrical
problem when, by chance, I touched the casing of the battery charger and got an electrical shock. A quick test with my
multi-meter showed the case was live with 120v!!!! I swopped the shore power cable to a different supply post and the problem
went away. Hummm? This problem has now been added to the others that I wanted an electrician to look into. Finding an
electrician was quite difficult. A friend of Collin’s, Gail’s husband, is a good electrician, but he had just taken on a major job and
wouldn’t be available until after the New Year. I finally found someone else and they came by the boat yesterday to take a quick
look and will be back after Christmas break, on the 29th.
The Canvas guys took their time getting our bits and pieces ready but managed to finish late yesterday, which was a good thing
as their Christmas break goes till Jan 10th! Originally, we asked them to give us a price on making up an awning that would go
over the Vberth hatch (a much bigger one than the 30” by 30” ones you can buy from Genco, which are too small and don’t keep
the rain out). The price was way more than we were prepared to pay, so we took that item off the list before heading to Toronto.
For some reason, the item was not removed from the fabrication list and when we arrived back, they had made it up. They
realized it was their mistake and offered to sell it to us at half-price, to which we readily agreed! Sometimes Murphy does "good"
One other piece of good financial news was that we phoned our boat insurance broker to see if the Annapolis bill of almost
C$4000 for a new propshaft, coupling, engine mounts etc might be covered and, to our delight, discovered it was! I had visited
E&C in Toronto one final time, but they declined to accept any financial obligation for the faulty installation work. Karen sent us a
note a few days so say that a cheque for almost $2000 had arrived… Yes!!!
A couple of days ago, Amida was finally launched, only to find that the stuffing box was leaking like a sieve. Luckily, the guys that
put the propshaft in after the engine mount work was done were on hand to tighten the adjustment nut. It’s in a really awkward
spot under the engine, with very limited access so I appreciated their doing it. We finally motored over to Coral Cove Marina,
ending up at the very same slip we had been on in July! It’s so nice to be floating again!
Other than the electrical checkout, we are pretty much ready to start packing things away, provisioning, and leaving, which will
hopefully happen before Jan 1st.
Of course, the “small item” job jar remains pretty much full. The cockpit loudspeakers that had come from L’Atttitude ended up
rusting badly and I found a new pair, on sale with a 20% reduction. Better still, the advertising blurb on the box said they were
completely waterproof and had stainless steel mounting brackets and a plastic front grille. However, having unpacked them, it
seems to me that the brackets are actually regular steel, painted white, and that the grilles are not plastic but metal, so both will
soon rust in this climate… but still, I did get 20% off the price! I sent an email to the manufacturer requesting confirmation that
their advertising was correct, and that I was wrong, but they have declined to respond so far. I think I might take them to court,
sue for damages for false advertising, and buy a new, maintenance-free, 45ft sailboat with the proceeds…whaddya think???
We’ve met a few boat owners who came here from Grenada, with damage from Hurricane Ivan . Some of the yards and marinas
in Grenada were devastated, but we heard that many of the problems were caused by negligence, as no one expected the
hurricane to go over the island. Moorings, apparently, didn’t secure their fleet, which was left at anchor, with canvas up, and their
boats broke free and wreaked havoc with others which were still secured. Not all the yards had chains linking the steel legs on
which boats are placed, so the boats toppled over easily. Those owners who were adequately insured and had sustained damage
did not appear to be too grief-stricken as they were getting new dodgers, biminis, varnish jobs, paint jobs, etc, etc. Some whose
boats were written off were able to get more money from their insurance company than they ever would from selling their boat…
Those who weren’t insured, apparently quite a few, lost pretty much everything. It is amazing how many yachties sole asset and
possession is their boat.
Speaking of insurance, we discovered by reading a letter in the local Compass magazine (Caribbean sailing rag), that the broker
in the UK through whom we had bought our insurance had been jailed for fraud. Apparently, he was taking payments from clients
and not always sending it on to the insurance company, so some poor souls, maybe even us, thought they were insured, but were
not! He’s out of business now and our policy was transferred to another company… to whom we have sent off an urgent email,
requesting a hard copy of the insurance certificate! Buyer beware.
We’ve got used to Trinidad… despite the climate. The people here are wonderfully hospitable and happy. Mind you, it is not
exactly safe here, though we haven’t had any problems. Kidnappings are endemic, with 24 so far in 2004. The victims are usually
business owners whose children are snatched for ransom. We heard of an incident where a boat couple were taken, the wife to
some unknown place, the husband first to the ATM to withdraw cash, then to the shopping mall to make credit card purchases,
after which both were released. I still have great trouble with understanding the local accent, and language. A couple of
examples: “liming” is not something to do with Limeys or limes, but means to “hang out”, usually at someone’s home. There are
some signs, eg outside bank offices, which don’t say No Loitering, but rather No Liming. Then there is “whining”, which is nothing
to do with complaining about the weather, state of the roads, politicians, or price of houses, but a culturally accepted form of
vertical lap-dancing, ie gyrating with the hips and groin, or back side, against the same of a member of the opposite sex! It’s not
something you get arrested or slapped for. Though, I am told that the accepted form is limited to a few seconds' worth, so if you
take too long, a slap could follow. At parties, and especially during Carnival Season, apparently a lot of whining goes on... or
“flexing”. Apparently flexing is pretty much the same as whining, as I have not been able to get a definition of the differences. My
own thoughts are that whining must have been declared sinful by the church, so they created a different word for the same thing,
that the churches haven’t caught up to yet… clever, these Trinis! Of course, Carnival ends with Ash Wednesday and the
opportunity to go to confession and have all those evil sins of lasciviousness and debauchery forgiven… extremely clever, these
Trinis! Carnival Season starts early this year, just about right after Christmas! We’ll miss it in 2005 but hope to catch it some
other year. I actually can’t wait for Christmas to be over, if only to seek respite from the incessant carols that have been filling
the airwaves since mid November! If I hear another Jingle Bells, I swear I’ll wrap them around Santa’s neck, and pull hard!
Actually, there is a genre of carols here that is quite interesting, called Parang, which originates from Spanish Venezuela. The
lyrics can be raunchy, in typical Trini style. Eg, one of them talks about “I want a piece of pork for my Christmas”… and the pork
in question is not from a pig, but… need I explain more?
We travel, when use of Gail’s car is not possible, by Maxi Taxi. These are numerous twelve seater vans which roam the main
streets and charge a flat fee of TT$3 per trip, or C$0.60. You wave one down, rather than having to walk to a formal “stop”, and
ask to be let off wherever you desire. They’ll even drive off their regular route to drop you closer for an additional TT$2. The
downside is that there are sometimes a lot of stops, on occasion a mere twenty or thirty yards apart, as people get on or off. You
have to watch out though, as a couple of times Marilyn did the paying, with a $10 note and was given only $2 change, rather than
$4. This never happened to me… though the additional 20c is hardly the issue.
I was able to go fishing a couple of times. The first one, we were out for over four hours and returned with nothing. The second
was more successful as I landed a 20-25lb Kingfish, the first salt water fish I have ever caught! Bringing it in was brutal. I had
“foul hooked” it, which means the hook was not in its mouth but in its side. This meant the fish came in broadside rather than
head on, and the water resistance was that much greater. Did I ever sweat buckets for the twenty or thirty minutes it took to
bring in, and did the reel ever get hot! Mind you, this particular fish (maybe it was 25 to 30 lbs, now I think about it) died happy
as it had some excellent rum poured down its gills as a parting gift from the human race. We fried up our share back home and it
was fantastically delicious! Fishing is a little like golf, at least my brand of duffer golf, where I hack around the course and hit a
good shot just often enough to keep my interest in the game going (hate this game… hate this game… love this game… hate this
game…). Fishing appears to be hours of intense boredom interspersed with minutes of acute excitement… just enough to get you
out again. One last purchase here will be a couple of lures to go with my US$5 second hand rod and we’ll see what we can catch
while we cruise between the islands.
Our plan is to head to the Grenadines, hang out there for a while then go northwards, probably as far as Antigua… then back to
Trinidad for the 2005 hurricane season, in mid June 2005. I’ll then go up to Collingwood to play at being a General Contractor,
while M will go back to work at IBM, her leave of absence, unfortunately, over. Remember how often we had the wind on our nose
during the sail south and how happy we were once we turned the corner in Antigua and it gradually went aft, till we sped along at
8.4 knots on a beam reach by Carriacou? Well, guess what… the north coast of Trinidad has what they call “Christmas” winds.
Guess where they come from? The North. Guess which direction we head to get to the Grenadines? Due North!!! So, we’ll have to
start looking for weather windows again so we can avoid the uncomfortable Noserlies.
So, its time to finish and get ready for Christmas Eve Mass. Thanks for persevering in reading this Log. Hopefully, the next one
will be more interesting as we will have been sailing up the chain for a while by then. Here’s hoping you all had a great Christmas
and that 2005 treats you well. Keep in touch, please! Thanks to the many of you who sent us Christmas & New Year’s wishes in
emails, they were much appreciated.
PS. I did hear another rendering of Jingle Bells… so if Santa didn’t visit your kids this year, it’s my fault!
PPS. New Year in Trinidad!
This was definitely not in the plan, but we’re still here. The good news is that I can prolong my access to Fox and the English
Premier League football games it shows. The bad is that the electrical work is taking far, far, far longer to complete than we had
contemplated. Also, the Christmas and the New Year’s holidays took a bunch of workdays out of the work schedule. Apparently,
my Trace unit, which controls the KISS wind generator current output, is toast and there are no replacements readily available…
and the 100A Lestek alternator which I wanted to attach to the engine (and take of the 80A Hitachi) had a mounting bolt so badly
corroded and stuck that it could not be removed and the alternator flange had to be replaced…
I’ve finished off a bunch of little projects; changed the primary fuel filter, attached fins onto the outboard engine, attached a drink
holder onto the binnacle (finally), made a new flagpole, complete with attached anchor light, attached the LCD TV to the bulkhead,
changed the engine oil and filter, installed an additional bilge pump warning lamp that will be visible from the cockpit, checked
hose clamps and set screws for tightness, put in another fan in the V-berth, etc, etc…