Magic's Adventure

21 April 2009 | Georgetown
17 April 2009 | Mayaguana
11 November 2008 | St Croix
07 November 2008 | St Croix
22 October 2008 | St Croix
21 September 2008 | St Croix
15 September 2008 | Chaguaramas Bay, Trinidad
15 September 2008 | Chaguaramas Bay, Trinidad
14 September 2008 | Chaguaramas Bay, Trinidad
07 September 2008 | Scotland Bay, Trinidad
21 August 2008 | Clarkes Court Bay, Grenada
09 August 2008 | Clarkes Court Bay, Grenada
06 August 2008 | Clarkes Court Bay, Grenada
06 June 2008 | Bequia
05 June 2008 | Bequia
02 June 2008 | Bequia
28 May 2008 | Bequia
27 May 2008 | Bequia
26 May 2008 | Bequia
25 May 2008 | Guadaloupe


07 September 2008 | Scotland Bay, Trinidad
It's Sunday afternoon, September 7th and we are sitting at anchor in Scotland Bay on the north-west coast of Trinidad. It is the first time in over two months that we have been at anchor and we are relieved to be out of the hustle and bustle of Chaguaramas and into the relative calm of the bay. We say 'relative' as this is also a popular spot for the local Trindadians to bring their power boats and 'lime' - generally hang out, chat, drink and play loud music. They also like to water-ski, which can make for a noisy and uncomfortable time on a sail-boat, but at least it's Sunday so by 5pm they will all have left leaving us to share the peace of the bay with the few other non-local yachts also anchored here. So in the meantime we're just sitting, listening to the howler monkeys bickering in the surrounding rainforest and watching the green parrots as they fly overhead back to their roosting spots, chattering to each other all the way.

Well that was the plan. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your point of view, a squall with winds up to 33kts came out of nowhere to hit us about 20 minutes ago which sent the locals fleeing for cover . A soaked Dave is standing watch in the companionway keeping an eye on the couple of boats closest to us. We have dragged a little ourselves, that is for sure, not enough that it's causing a problem right now, but sufficiently so that we may have to re-anchor once the conditions have settled down a bit. It is now still pouring with rain and the thunder and lightning has followed the wind so we're reluctant to venture on deck until we have to. At least Magic has stopped heeling. Being at a 45� angle when we're sailing is one thing, having to hang on while moving around an anchored boat is quite another.

It's close to 4pm and the winds have finally started to subside. But the tide must be on the turn as 1 - 2 ft swells have started rolling up the bay. Magic is beam on to the swells, and with her 6ft draft acting as a pendulum she has started to roll, violently. We've scrambled to stow items which had been left out of lockers and to secure crockery so that we will suffer no breakages, and have tried to get comfortable to ride out the roll, but it's a frustrating motion and tempers are starting to fray.

5.30pm and the swells are finally starting to calm down. The rain, however, still hasn't stopped and there appears to be no sign of a break in the downpour. But at least Magic is steady enough for us to start dinner and after we eat we've decided to watch a movie before we head to bed.

Monday morning, and we've woken to a totally different scenario from yesterday. The wind is still brisk, it's been gusting all night and has woken us periodically, but the sun is shining and the breeze is a welcome relief from the stifling heat. We were up early enough to hear Eric, the Trindadian weather-man who broadcasts on local TV but who also delivers a weather report to any listeners on SSB at 6.30am every morning. It appears that the nasty weather we experienced yesterday was courtesy of Hurricane Ike who, although several hundred miles north of us, was strong enough for us to feel his outlying effect here in Trinidad. The good news is that the weather for our area for the next week or so looks to be reasonably settled. After that, who knows? If there's one thing that has been confirmed to us during our cruising life so far it's that weather forecasting is more art-form than science.

Back in Chaguaramas early Tuesday morning we find that our discomfort over the weekend pales when compared to the experiences some of our friends have had. It appears that many of the boats on the moorings and anchored in the bay had to flee to find whatever cover they could, the waves and swells entering the bay making the anchorage untenable. Our good friends Tim and Linda on Matsu were forced to watch in horror as their boat rolled in her slip at Coral Cove Marina, her mast colliding with the mast of the boat next to her. It was too dangerous to actually be aboard 'Matsu', so they just had to hope that her lines, and the cleats on the dock, would hold long enough to prevent her smashing herself against the pilings and pontoons. Paul and Susanne on 'Thankful' were not so fortunate. Also in Coral Cove, Thankful's forward cleats were ripped out of her deck during a particularly violent roll and although the damage could have been worse there are now additional repairs for Paul to make before they head out again. Over the next few days we heard many other horror stories and were grateful that, on this occasion, by chance rather than design we happened to be in the right place at the right time.

So, what are we doing in Trinidad on the first place? Our original plan when we set off from Annapolis last November was to lay Magic up in Grenada for the summer. However, as we approached the dreaded hurricane season we were uneasy about the number of tropical waves rolling off the West African coast, and moreover the fact that it was early in the season to be seeing these waves with such monotonous regularity. Although 'officially' outside the hurricane belt, Grenada had been devastated by 'Ivan' in 2004 so after much discussion we decided to head for Trinidad which is situated just that little bit further south and therefore, theoretically, just that little bit safer.

We were not at all sure what to expect of Trinidad. As for most things in the cruising world when you ask the opinion of other 'yachties' some hate the place, some love it. And we have found it to be a place of contrasts, from the warm welcome of folks like Jesse James (no, seriously) who run businesses relying on the yachting community to the graffiti 'Yachties Go Home' sprayed in black paint on the walls of a local township. From the heat, dirt and hustle of Port of Spain to the relative cool, peace and beauty of the Asa Wright Nature Centre situated in the northern Trinidadian rainforest. To us, in a way, it's been reminiscent of the Dominican Republic; sometimes we love it, sometimes we don't. But Trinidad has certainly been an experience and one we won't forget in a hurry.

We arrived in Trinidad on July 1st after a 15 hour passage from Prickly Bay, Grenada. The conditions were perfect and we had great sail marred only by the necessity of running our engine every few hours to top up our ailing batteries. We were moored at the Chaguaramas Customs dock by 7.50am and safely on a mooring in the bay by 8.30am. We had a couple of objectives for our time in Trinidad. The first, obviously, was to keep Magic safe for the hurricane season. The second was to haul her, get up to date on routine maintenance tasks, bottom paint etc., and the third was to take delivery of new batteries we had ordered from the US which were to be delivered shortly before we were due to be hauled which, in turn, was due to happen shortly before we flew back to the USA for a few weeks.

We left the Customs dock and picked up a mooring in the bay. After a belated breakfast we sat down to plan our course of action over the next few weeks. We had a lot to accomplish before Magic was hauled, so although we had had very little sleep the night before we dropped the dinghy and headed ashore to speak to possible contractors and confirm our haul at the Power Boats yard.

And then we started to feel the heat. If there's a breeze in the evening, which there often is, the overnight temperatures in Trinidad can be pleasantly cool (well, just below 80�). However, as soon as the sun comes up the temperature climbs into the 90�s and the humidity soon reaches into the late 80%'s. Dave somehow managed to cope with the heat and humidity, at least in the early morning, and continued to work on deck. For me, though, these conditions were unbearable and I confined myself to chores below deck, cleaning out and re-arranging lockers and taking stock of our remaining provisions. After a few days on the mooring the conditions became too hot even for Dave to bear and we took the decision to 'bite the bullet' and head into the marina. Oh bliss! Air conditioning! Plugged in to mains power we could run our A/C and also keep our now terminally ill batteries topped up with juice. It meant that we could work for a few hours in the morning and then head below into the cool for a few hours before going out again to run other errands. Among other things, we had sails and canvas repairs to arrange and we needed a survey for insurance purposes.

For the next few weeks our routine continued in much the same way; work on deck in the early morning, retreat below for lunch and a break, run errands or relax in the afternoon and then around 4pm we would take a dip in the small marina pool before dinner. We occasionally broke our routine with trips to the fresh produce and fish market on Saturday morning, or to the HiLo grocery store or even to Movie Towne to see a new release and on Sunday afternoons Dave would venture to Crews Inn for the regular weekly Mexican Train Dominoes tournament! However, one of the highlights of our stay in Trinidad, and of the whole trip so far, was our visit to Matura Beach in north-eastern Trinidad to see the leatherback turtles lay their eggs. The whole experience is one that neither Dave nor I will ever forget, and I have written a separate log note as such an event certainly warrants a tale all of its own. So read on and see for yourselves the magnificence of the severely endangered giant leatherback turtle.

And yes, there was one other break from 'the norm' that I debated whether or not to mention, but decided that it really needed to be included - the July 4th party. We had expected there to be several announcements in the days leading up to Independence Day for parties, but were surprised that no US boats were advertising any activities at all. This couldn't be allowed! We called over to our good friends Jake & Carol on 'Offline'. Weren't they preparing a party for July 4th?? No, they hadn't really thought about it, but give him an hour, Jake said, and he would see what they could come up with.

Less than an hour later, Jake was back on the radio. OK, the party's on! Jake & Carol had hot dogs and buns, we agreed that we could get some salads together, and we all started working the radio to invite anyone we could reach. At 4pm we all gathered in the pavilion at Coral Cove. DJ Jake in the space of a few hours had put together a medley of American songs ranging over the last � century. At first the non-American attendees even outnumbered the US contingent, but as the afternoon wore on, and presumably word (and music) spread, the numbers evened up. The food was barbequed to perfection, the drink flowed and the music was great. Everyone was dancing (the less said about Dave's back injury caused by some somewhat less than sensible gymnastics, the better!), and at the end of the evening almost everyone ended up in the pool. We have to say that it was probably one of the best July 4th parties we have been to, and that's saying something as we've attended some dandies!

All too soon the date for Magic's haul-out was upon us. Even though we had had almost three weeks to prepare, there was still the usual last minute scramble to get the final tasks completed. At 8am we prepared to leave the slip to head for Power Boats. Dave put Magic into reverse to back her out of the slip and ................... 'Houston, we have a problem'. We had almost no power! We limped out of the slip and made our way slowly, very slowly, down the bay to Power Boats. We now had an interesting maneuver to perform; we had to reverse Magic into the haul-out pit in 25kts of wind with almost no help from the prop. Luckily, Tom (Sojourn) was on board to help us, and as we were approaching the pit Mike and his son Phillip (Adamo) were coming along in their dinghy. With some nifty maneuvering by Dave, and some added help from Phillip pushing Magic's bow with the dinghy, we managed to get her into the pit and secured. As usual when we haul, the back-stay had to come down and then the travel-lift was put into position. At this stage of the process, Dave did his usual disappearing act. He cannot stand to see the boat lifted from the water and taken to the spot where she will be secured on stands. Only when Magic is in position, and the stands are in place will he appear again. It is a ritual we go through every time the boat is hauled, and then the same in reverse when she is launched again. At least on this occasion, as soon as she was lifted from the water we could see what had caused our power problem. Magic's prop was covered in about �" of barnacles! We had cleaned our prop in Grenada shortly before we left, so the build-up had occurred in a period of just over three weeks. Trinidad is notorious for the rapidity of barnacle growth, and it appears that the notoriety is more than justified.

In less than 30 minutes Magic was secured in the prime spot in Power Boats yard - directly in front of the roti hut! In the short space of time that we had been in Trinidad, Dave & I had become devotees of the lunchtime roti ritual. Curried chicken, potato and chick peas wrapped in warm Indian flatbread may not sound like much of a gourmet treat, but they are absolutely delicious. And the Power Boats roti hut serves the best around. If you hadn't got your order in by noon, chances are you'd be out of luck as everything is sold out quickly. We would be greeted every morning by the smell of spices, garlic and bread cooking and our mouths would water. At 11.30am we'd head down the ladder from Magic to the hut and place our order. We'd then spend a very pleasant hour or so chatting with friends over our lunchtime treat, until it was time to head back to work once again.

We had rented a room at Power Boats as we were not looking forward to leaving aboard 'on the hard'. The heat as well as the inconvenience of going up and down the ladder a dozen times a day (not to mention in the middle of the night!) incentivized us sufficiently to treat ourselves to accommodation ashore. The rooms were basic, but functional and we at least able to indulge in a long shower after a hard days work on the boat. As it was, we only had three days to put the finishing touches to Magic before we flew out back to the US. Under normal circumstances this would have been easy to achieve, but we had to keep reminding ourselves that we were leaving Magic in the tropics in the middle of the rainy season and extra precautions therefore had to be taken if we wanted to find her in perfect shape when we returned. So we worked our way through our task list, and when our taxi came to pick us up at 4am on the morning of July 29th to take us to the airport, we were ready to go. We had an 18 hour journey ahead of us, but our good friends Mike & Roberta would be waiting at Baltimore airport for us when we arrived and we were looking forward to seeing them. At 4am we waved good-bye to Magic and loaded our bags in the car. We were Annapolis bound.
Vessel Name: Magic
Vessel Make/Model: Baba 40
Hailing Port: Ipswich
Crew: David & Donna Glessing