This is part of the ninth section of our around the
Complete Trip Overview & Map
Coming from Venezuela
30/1/03 Awoke at 6 am to see Venezuela disappearing behind as we crossed the stretch of water known as Dragon's Mouth and onto Trinidad's islands. The wealthy have their mansions dotted on the coast and their yachts in Chaguaramas harbour where we landed. It took the whole day before we had the motorcycle on land. Customs no longer accept the international document, a Carnet. They told us the only way to temporarily import a vehicle is to get a customs broker, lodge a bond and register, number plate and insure the bike in Trinidad. This all takes at least a few days and the bond might be returned in about a year if at all (papers go missing and bonds get forgotten, we were told). Quite a deterrent to bringing your own vehicle. Customs, although firm on the rules, were incredibly helpful. They found a place where we could store the motorcycle, for free, until we leave Trinidad, as we had decided not to risk the bond process. Of course we had to ride it there, 5 km in Trinidad, which seems contrary to all of the rules we had just been told, and were now without transport. Immigration were not so friendly, with the shipping agent paying a bribe to clear the boat's crew. We also had problems with no onward ticket but finally were allowed entry, after much discussion.
31/1/03 The skipper of the 73 ft yacht "Monsoon" had emailed us his interest in still taking us with him to Cuba. Details were finalized today on his boat in Chaguaramas harbour. He is now in more of a hurry to get started and with the motorcycle grounded it suits us also. If countries don't make it easy for people to travel, either they won't come or won't stay long. The plan is to travel on the boat for two months, leaving in a few days, visiting many island countries, the Windward and Leeward Islands, on our way to The Dominican Republic. From there we go our own way for three weeks rejoining the yacht onto Jamaica and Cuba where our arrangements finish. That is the deal, hopefully both parties will honour it.
1/2/03 It's great to be back in an English speaking country with a British past. Even though the cultures that colonized Trinidad and Australia were similar they have been diverging since, yet underlying aspects of food, humour, friendliness and a relaxed lifestyle still exist. On top of that is the unique culture that has developed from the Africans and other migrants. Dreadlocks bundled into a crocheted top hat or hanging loose. The snappy slang of the english spoken. Outward lay back carefree attitude and the ease with which a smile or joke can be obtained. We bought some wood to use as a ramp for loading the motorcycle onto "Monsoon" and had a deserved rest in the afternoon.
2/2/03 Our minds are now towards planning the boat trip rather than sightseeing. Built the loading ramp, drew up a shopping list and organized for life aboard.
3/2/03 We are starting to realize the full capacity of the boat we have lucked into. A 73 ft ketch with sleeping for about 16 yet only three of us will be on board, the skipper, Kay and myself. We will be assisting in its sailing. Some features include, all self furling sails, large batteries allowing microwave oven plus a generator for an electric oven. Power is by 12, 24, 110 or 220 volts, ice maker and refrigerator freezer. Two bathrooms, one with a large bath, enormous lounging cabin plus a cockpit cabin. Electric winches fore and aft plus recently refitted life raft. In short it has everything anyone might need to sail anywhere in comfort. Quite a different vessel from what we were imagining for this section of the trip when we started looking for a wooden fishing boat. We were signed on as crew and given a run down of basic functions of the vessel.
4/2/03 Carnival is not officially here this year until early March, however the practising and celebrations start a month earlier, about now. Big stadiums, stalls and scaffolding are being built ready. Trinidad's carnival is second only to that of Rio's. We loaded the motorcycle without difficulty but tying it down on a boat that will lean with the wind under sail is new to us and required much thought. Our first night sleeping aboard.
5/2/03 Well tied up next to the wharf we got a womb's nights sleep with light splashing watery noises and gentle rocking. Prices of foodstuffs in the islands north of Trinidad are reportedly substantially more expensive as most imported products get transhipped through here. We provisioned with basics for a month plus perishables for a week, unusual for us as the motorcycle only carries food for a day or two.
6/2/03 Hired a cage (car) for the day for a quick look at the island's interior. A large pitch (tar, asphalt) bog, mined for a few hundred years and still bubbling up new black goo, to the island's south. Covering over 40 hectares this molasses like substance slowly solidifies and hardens into a brittle rock, dug up with machinery, reheated and melted, purified and used in products like tar paper. Also visited mud volcanoes. More than a dozen sites exist in the southern part of the island. Gasses bubble cold grey mud to the surface forming these cones. At times the whole area can erupt violently and has been known to kill livestock and destroy people's houses. The island is heavily populated and traffic is slow on winding roads so we had no time to visit the mountains in the north.
7/2/03 To prevent salt eating into the motorcycle over the next three months while it sits on the aft deck we covered it with it's bike cover plus wrapped it in plastic wrap. Boats are allowed to clear customs and immigration up to 24 hours before departure which we did today and had the motorcycle added to the ships stores list. Apparently if the bike had arrived as part of the ships stores there would have been no need to put up a bond to take it ashore. However it would still have needed insurance, number plate and registration to be used here. Monsoon's refit was cut short by our trip. With most essential work completed the skipper will continue minor maintenance while we shore leave on the islands. The boat now back in running order we depart tomorrow.
8/2/03 We left our marina about 2 pm, probably the last marina for quite a while. As the boat is big, and marina charges are by the foot, we have a water maker and generator, we plan to anchor offshore in bays and use the dingy. Just a couple of km's to Scotland Bay, afternoon snorkel and evening drinks on the quarterdeck, ready for an early start tomorrow.
9/2/03 We were underway by 7 am and with the 20-25 knot
(40-50 km/hr) winds from the east and us heading north the boat was making
eight knots (16 km/hr). Seas were three metres with the occasional one at
four breaking across the bow flooding the decks with water and the rest of
the boat in spray. The motorcycle held fast and received only a small amount
of spray with salt building up on its plastic wrap.
Move with us to Grenada
Story and photos copyright ©
Peter and Kay Forwood,