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Swingin' on a Star
Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".
Christmas Candle Light Concert
12/09/2007, Port of Spain

Randy and I attended the Trinidad annual Christmas Candle Light Concert tonight which was held in the President of Trinidad's front yard (it is a big yard!). Randy and I took the Jessie James Members Only taxi service with 6 other cruisers to go to the charity concert.

It took about 40 minutes to get to St. James (a suburb of Port of Spain) where the President lives. It is across from the Botanical Gardens and a huge National Park where many people were playing soccer. We bought charity hot dogs and popcorn and sodas and candles and still only managed to spend about $20 US dollars.

When the concert started everyone lit up their candles. It was kind of wild. The chairs were very close together and there were lots of kids with candles sitting right behind ladies with long hair. Some kids were melting their candle holders for fun. By the end of the evening no one had caught on fire which I thought was remarkable.

As it got darker the audience with all of their candles made a spectacular sight. It was really beautiful. The first half of the show had kids performing carols and fun island Christmas tunes. The second half of the show was more of the local professional talent many of whom were tremendous singers. There was a Venezuelan influence in some of the songs with wonderful Latin rhythms. Every few songs the audience was asked to sing along. It was a marvelous evening and a nice chance to absorb some of the local Christmas flavor.

Trinidad and Tobago
The Farmer's (Green) Market
12/08/2007, Port of Spain

There are many "Green Markets" in Trinidad and Tobago, where local farmers sell fresh produce. The weekly trip from Chagaramas run by Jesse James takes you to a very large market with a tremendous selection of fresh fish and produce. In Tobago you can only get fresh produce at the green markets, the grocery stores only carry packaged products.

Trinidad and Tobago
12/07/2007, Tropical Marine

We had dinner with the crew of Pegasus today. Pegasus is a Saint Francis 48. Daniel and Natasha will be taking her up island in a few days. She is a beautiful boat and very similar to the 50. Daniel and I spent the evening talking boats in excruciating detail (excruciating to everyone but us of course).

We ate at the restaurant at Tropical Marine. The restaurant has various barbeque specials on different evenings. We went for Rib Eye and Shrimp night. Hideko has tried Shark and Bake night, which seems to be a highlight of Trinidad cuisine. Hideko loved it so we may have to come back for that one, although a beach on the north coast is supposed to be the best spot to do shark and bake.

Trinidad and Tobago
12/28/2007 | Pabs
Hideko, What does Shark taste like? Don't say chicken.
Peake's Haul Out
12/04/2007, Peake

The Peake travel lift can haul fairly large catamarans as well as large mono hulls and motor yachts.

Trinidad and Tobago
Peake Yard
12/03/2007, Peakes

The Peake Yard is very large and much cleaner and nicely organized than many I have seen.

Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad Contraban
12/02/2007, Port of Spain Airport

So I have collected my baggage (which extends beyond my ability to carry) and have begun shuffling boxes and duffels and chart rolls across the floor towards the final barrier, customs.

Hideko had emailed me a document declaring my presence on the crew list of Swingin' on a Star, which saved me a big hassle at immigration. I didn't think about it when leaving because I had a round trip ticket. The problem was it was a round trip ticket that left me in Trinidad without a return flight. They don't mind you going but they get concerned when you show up without a way home. Hideko's email from the Chagaramas immigration office whisked me right through.

Customs was another story. As I approached the ominous officials at the counter their collective expressions darkened. At first I though they didn't like the look of all of my "personal affects". Well, that too, but they were really bent up about my pants.

Rewind 24 hours. I'm in Target in Fort Lauderdale trying to buy everything on Hideko's list that I can still cram into one of my bags. It then strikes me that it is going to be cold on the plane for many hours due to the insane air conditioning settings (Is it just me? Am I ranting? Or does everyone wonder who's wasting millions of kilowatts a year refrigerating public places so that only the Inuit feel at home?).

When you are on a boat pockets are good. When I'm on deck I need to have my knife, perhaps a flash light, possibly a hand bearing compass, the list goes on. If I'm going ashore, particularly with Hideko, I need my wallet, a flashlight, my knife, maybe a cell phone, hand held VHF, keys to the boat, etceteras. So this whole cargo pants fad is pretty handy in my opinion. The shelves at Target are getting picked over already so I only found one pair of good full length cargo pants that fit, and they happened to be camouflage. These would keep me warm on the flight and also work out on those rare cool days in the tropics.

Flash back to Customs, Port of Spain. "Sir we have to confiscate your pants."

To which I reply, "are you serious?" Wrong thing to say, now two of them are coming my way fixed on my pants. I begin looking for the police, but they are the police.

"Camouflage is only for the military my friend you can't have those in Trinidad."

They really wanted me to give them my pants. Right then and there. Then I realized that if they searched my bags they were going to find my favorite and most comfortable pair of shorts, also camouflage. It was at this point that I began to plead I think.

After some time they finally agreed to allow me to go to the bathroom to change. I switched to my most professional looking outfit (which is to say not very) and presented myself to the authorities. They wanted my pants. I offered every assurance that I would not display them in public for one instant while in Trinidad or Tobago. Sometime later, exhausted more than moved, they allowed me and my assurances to go.

If you're coming to Trinidad, leave your camos in the footlocker.

Trinidad and Tobago
12/28/2007 | pabs
HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! Man that sucks! An American + camo's = disater near south America or anywhere near. A pair a Levis Jeans would have gotten you stripped searched. Next time wear those pink shorts, you'll get out faster... I think.
Licensed Captain
12/01/2007, Fort Lauderdale

Somehow I passed. Whew. It was an intense 17 days. Denis (pictured here at the helm of Celtic Mist, the training boat) and I studied some fairly long hours together and became good friends during the course. Denis also passed and I think he is now running a charter boat in the BVI with his girlfriend. Not a bad way to go...

It feels good to be done and I am really looking forward to getting back to my family but also my boat! It will be nice to get sailing on Swingin' on a Star again. I do have some new checklists to go through when I get home, not to mention 5 tons of ships stores from the US to unpack.

Trinidad and Tobago

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