We arrived in Chaguaramas at 21:30 local time on Friday 30 January 2009. The final approach passage via the narrow channel known as The Boca (Dragons Mouth) was done in pitch dark with Adrian at the helm and myself acting as "pilot". There was a strong current against us but Adrian manoeuvred the boat flawlessly through the channel and then through Chaguaramas Bay and the anchored and moored vessels, ending with parking Oceans Dream on the customs jetty without a hitch. Well done to Adrian as the bay and approach is a nightmare in navigation at night.
We spent the first night tied up to the customs dock after clearing customs. Fortunately the immigration office was closed and thus we could sleep the night tied to the customs jetty and then moved to CrewsInn Marina on Saturday morning after clearing immigration.
Luke and I will be spending the week here as our flight out is only on Sunday 8 February. So, we are assisting with rectifying some problems on the boat in between sampling the local brew and local food. Talking about the local brew, the humidity is so high that a person really needs a copious intake of fluid throughout the day to ensure your body does not get dehydrated. The photo above is Luke in his new disguise - beard, short hair and, of course, attending to his fluid intake.
So, from a wet Chaguaramas (yes, the heavens are still ensuring fresh water for the island), I bid you well and hope you have enjoyed my ramblings over the last month and a half. Until the next delivery, may you all keep well. John
Okay, I said the next and final blog report would be when we had reached Chaguaramas, but I thought a quick one could be fitted in before we arrived.
Firstly, we are about 45 nautical miles from Chaguaramas as I type this and remember that we are six hours behind South African Standard Time and four hours behind GMT/UTC - it is now just past noon, local time. Since last night we have had rain squall after rain squall. Everybody has had a good soaking during their watches! And we have just started our section along the north side of the island of Trinidad and . . . it is still raining!
Luke has just gone on watch in his full foul weather gear and has just spotted a huge leatherback turtle, its head about the size of a rugby ball. We have seen a number of turtles over the past two weeks but this one takes the cake for size.
Over the past few hours we have had a dramatic increase in shipping as we headed towards Galleons Passage, the channel between Trinidad and Tobago. These are ships heading not only to and from the coastal countries up ahead, but also to and from the Panama Canal. Adrian has been in his element checking each ships data that comes up on the AIS system - he really loves his gadgets!
So, from a wet crew (just spotted another monster turtle) to all the readers, greetings - I will post another (final, final) blog report after we have arrived and settled the boat in Chaguaramas - John.
I have caught some mighty fine fish over the years - and had a few small ones as well. However, the little trigger fish pictured above must be the most unlucky fish that was. Yesterday evening I rolled in our fishing lines only to find the little fellow had been impaled by one of the hooks on our lure. Not only that, a trigger fish is normally (as far as I am aware) a reef fish. What he was doing far out in the north Atlantic, I would not know.
And then today we had a line out again and hooked a nice sized Marlin. We brought him to the boat and cut it free from the line as they are unpredictable and not to be played with as that pointed bill is a lethal weapon.
Our weather has improved slightly and we have been making good daily miles, although with a lot of banging still going on as we crest swells and have them thump under the boat. Also, we are still experiencing squalls every few hours. They bring a lot of rain and wind, the wind not always from the direction we want! At noon today we had 142 nautical miles to our next waypoint, situated at the start of Galleon's Passage, the section where we enter the Caribbean Sea between the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. From there we have another 71 nautical miles to the customs dock in Chaguaramas, Trinidad. So, if we can keep a good pace over the next 24 hours, we may even be able to reach our destination late tomorrow afternoon. If not, we will wait at sea to enter the pass to Chaguaramas at first light on Saturday morning. An update in the next blog report.
I have just downloaded the latest weather forecast and it looks like we will loose our wind as we get closer to Trinidad - lets hope the forecasters are wrong! If they are correct, we will have to rely on the diesel sail to get us the last hundred miles or so.
So, what to do in Chaguaramas? A lot really. The boat has a number of problems that need to be sorted out - some minor but a number major, which will need specialists to have a look at and repair. For this reason Adrian has booked a week in one of the marinas in Chaguaramas and Luke and I will assist in repairing some of the minor problems. We also need to clean the boat to get the salt and grime off the boat, and do some of our laundry. Then, of course, we need to sample some of the local rum and food - both of which are pretty good.
At this time Luke and I start our journey back home by taking a ferry from Trinidad to Tobago and then flying to London on Sunday 8 February. We then have a direct flight back to Cape Town.
But, enough for now. My final blog report for this delivery will be posted after we arrive in Chaguaramas. Greetings from all aboard - John
For the past few days we have been experiencing rain squall after rain squall, making being on watch a wet affair. Not only that, the wind is persisting from the north-east which means that the seas are on the beam (side of the boat), making a terrible noise as they hit us each few seconds. It's really, I imagine, like being in a washing machine. The result of all the above is that it is hard to sleep properly and everybody is a bit irritable at the moment. Also, due to the rain and spray, we cannot open our hatches and the boat is like a sauna inside.
Yesterday, Sunday 25 January, we had a dramatic change in the colour of the sea as we passed from the clear ocean into the outflow of the Amazon River - this was whilst we were over 100 nautical miles off the coast! There was a clear line in the ocean and everybody watched as we sailed over it. All quite amazing!
Once again, whilst off the Amazon Delta, we had a couple of visiting Noddies trying to land on the boat at night, I am not sure if any were successful due to the wind and motion of the boat.
As I write this report, we are now four to five days out of Trinidad - we expect to arrive there around noon (local time) on Saturday 31 January if we can keep up a daily of over 144 nautical miles, which we are exceeding at the moment. Remember that Trinidad (and the rest of the Caribbean islands) are 4 hours behind GMT/UTC and 6 hours behind SAST. At the moment we are approaching our last time change, which we will most likely celebrate with a double happy hour tomorrow night.
Thanks once again to Shaun, ZS1RA, for keeping me updated on the blog comments and also the local SA news. Regards from all aboard, John
On Thursday, for the entire afternoon, we had thousands of what appeared to be Bonito (a fish of the tuna family) jumping out the water. They were obviously feeding on something and enjoying what they were eating! However, to us four humans stuck on a forty foot plastic sailing boat, it was a remarkable sight - they seemed to be happy and so were we.
Then the sun started setting and just after our evening dinner (bacon, onion and cheese tart), we crossed from the southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere. Out log records the event as happening at 18:39 local time (21:39 UTC/GMT/Zulu or 23:39 SAST) and at 42 degrees 31 minutes west. Instead of the normal bubbly to celebrate the occasion, we opened a bottle of good South African Muscadel wine and enjoyed the sweet aromatic wine, remembering to each give a little to old Neptune in appreciation of bringing us safely to the equator and ensuring a safe journey to our destination.
So, we are now off the Amazon River delta (which will take another day or two to cross) and expect to arrive in Trinidad on Saturday 31 January. However, in a day or two we will experience the changing of the colour of the sea from blue to a green/brown, caused by the massive outflow of the river. Then, as we head further north, we will encounter the ITCZ, better known to most as the "doldrums". Hopefully there will be some breeze to keep us going but on most of my previous trips up this coast we have had a day or two (or sometimes three) of motoring.
At the moment the wind has changed slightly and is out of the east at about 14 knots, giving us a good push. Lets hope it stays like this for a few days more as we need to have a some more of good noon-to-noon runs. We are still experiencing heavily overcast skies and the occasional rain squalls.
A good weekend to all out there - regards from Jackie, Adrian, Luke and myself, John.