Yacht Larus

A slow circumnavigation

Vessel Name: Larus
Vessel Make/Model: Slipper 42
Hailing Port: Southampton
Crew: Tim Chapman and Nancy Martiniuk
About: Sailing together since 1988
Home Page: Http://www.sailblogs.com/member/yachtlarus
18 June 2016
03 December 2015 | Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI
03 June 2015 | Antigua
19 October 2014 | Trinidad
04 July 2014 | Bequia
02 March 2014 | Chaguaramas, Trinidad
25 February 2014
24 January 2014 | Bequia
18 December 2013
09 December 2013
23 October 2013 | Port de Plaisance, St Martin
05 September 2013
11 June 2013
11 June 2013
Recent Blog Posts
18 June 2016

Blog is moving

There is no perfect blog site for those of us who have almost permanent internet challenges, however we're moving from Sailblogs now to a new blog site. The posts here will remain but all future posts will be at;

21 February 2016

Every cloud has a silver lining

It came to light during the Boat show that the boat's insurers were insisting that the delivery skipper had an Ocean endorsement on their Yachtmaster ticket. Tim doesn't have this. He's had his Yachtmaster for over 20 years and in those days Yachtmaster Offshore was the highest level of certification. [...]

04 February 2016

Best laid plans and all that.

Belated Happy New Year to all.

03 December 2015 | Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI

Blog 78 - Cruising once again

Having just reread our last blog, I'm pleasantly surprised to find that it was pretty much spot on.

03 June 2015 | Antigua

Work, Work and more work.

It is an awfully long time since our last blog and we really haven't been doing much other than working.

27 October 2014

On the hard Chaguaramas and crusing in Tobago

Spring this year, April to July, found us working pretty hard. Summer found us spending our hard earned gains treating Larus and ourselves to some TLC. While Tim and I visited friends and family in Canada and the UK, we left Larus on the hard in Coral Cove Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad in the care [...]

19 October 2014 | Trinidad

New paint job

Couldn't resist painting the boat at Trinidad prices. Looking gorgeous in a slightly warmer shade of white. Also rolled on 4 more coats of Coppercoat for good measure.

04 July 2014 | Bequia

We’re still here!

And by ‘here’ I mean, Guadeloupe, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Marten and the British Virgin Islands. We have been working quite a lot over the last few months, and are currently in the Grenadines doing nothing but looking after Larus and pleasing ourselves.

02 March 2014 | Chaguaramas, Trinidad

The Run Up to Carnival

Trinidad is obsessed with Carnival. I've read that between Carnivals, the Trini's are either reminiscing about the previous Carnival or planning for the next.

25 February 2014

Trinidad

With our week long charter in the BVI completed we headed back to Bequia. Again, we had a great time and many laughs with our guests on 'Faith.' We also celebrated our Captain's birthday with cake, candles and, most importantly, ice cream.

24 January 2014 | Bequia

Charters and Bequia

Both Tim and I have been out on charter. I worked for two weeks in Guadeloupe on a 70' Flagship catamaran while Tim got called out to a short notice charter in the BVI.

Blog is moving

18 June 2016
There is no perfect blog site for those of us who have almost permanent internet challenges, however we're moving from Sailblogs now to a new blog site. The posts here will remain but all future posts will be at;

http://www.yachtlarus.com

Tim

Vegetarian Chili, four days on the trot

27 March 2016

You know you’re back in cruising mode when you have the same meal day after day until it’s gone. Waste not, want not, but by day four you’re close to not wanting it. It’s not something I plan to do but it isn’t that easy to judge just how many dried beans you need to soak and cook for a meal or two. And then by the time you’ve added any vegetables that need to be used up and those included for aesthetics, taste and nutrition, it’s really easy to find yourself with a lot of chili.

Happily, this was a particularly nice chili that I serve on buttered toast with grated cheese melting on top. I do have other ways of using up chili but Tim wasn’t interested in Chili Tortilla Lasagna or Eggs Ranchero or plain old Chili with rice, just bring on the toast and cheese.

After the chili, we had two nights of Spanish Tortilla which is layers of potato and onion slices poached in olive oil. It’s mixed with whisked egg and cooked on top of the stove and then finished under the grill. We served it with Greek Salad, day one, and coleslaw with beautiful, ripe local avocados, day two. The local avocados are larger, smoother, and a brighter green than the imported Hass variety and really are very beautiful.

I’m now trying to decide on chicken or pasta, as we get asked on every flight we’ve been on recently, for dinner tonight. I’m going with pasta with a black olive tapenade simmered with tinned chopped tomatoes. I have a jar or black olives that really needs to be used up sooner than later and ditto for the currently lovely fresh Antiguan-made feta that would be really nice crumbled on top. There we go, sorted, and I’m looking forward to it already.

We are back on Larus and are now anchored Antigua after motor sailing in light winds from the BVI. We met up with friends in Jolly Harbour before moving to English Harbour for the snorkeling and walks and now we are in Falmouth Harbour so Tim is close to where his is starting his Ocean Yachtmaster course tomorrow.

A couple of days ago Tim decided to recommission our watermaker. We’d pickled it before we left for Miami and as we’ll be in the water for the foreseeable future, it was time to get it running again. Guess what? It couldn’t get up to a high enough pressure to push saltwater through the membrane to make fresh. Tim spent a couple of days troubleshooting the various parts and the only thing left that it can be are the high pressure seals in the high pressure pump. We either need a service kit to replace the seals or wait till the Larus is in Trinidad in May and have it serviced there.

Mechanical equipment likes to be used and we often have one problem or another when we’ve had to leave Larus for work or travel. This problem is more irritating than most.

But it’s good practice to be frugal with water again. It’s very easy to get used to using, within reason, as much as you like. We’ve been going up alongside the fuel berth in English Harbour to buy water and don’t want to do that more than we have too.

We’re enjoying being back in Antigua. I’m always amazed at how beautiful an island it is. It’s quiet now but the big yachts are beginning to gather for the Classics Regatta in April. It will get very busy soon but right now we’re enjoying the quiet.
Tomorrow, Easter Monday, is a special day here in Antigua because of the kite flying. Except for the fact that Tim’s course starts tomorrow, we could have made our way up to the Devil’s Bridge on the east of the island to watch. We’ve only heard of it second hand and will have to wait for another year to see it ourselves.





Every cloud has a silver lining

21 February 2016
It came to light during the Boat show that the boat's insurers were insisting that the delivery skipper had an Ocean endorsement on their Yachtmaster ticket. Tim doesn't have this. He's had his Yachtmaster for over 20 years and in those days Yachtmaster Offshore was the highest level of certification. It doesn't make any difference to our personal insurance for Larus, but it does for the catamaran so we're not going. Tim and I are disappointed as are all those who were to travel with us, but we'll just have to wait to do that particular voyage on Larus.

On the silver lining side we will both be able to visit the UK for two weeks. Sadly, Tim's father passed away suddenly last week and though Tim would have travelled back for the funeral, it was unlikely that I would have been able to. Now we will both be there and are very pleased for that.

We will be leaving for the UK in a few days for a two week visit. That seems to be where we're supposed to be right now.

Best laid plans and all that.

04 February 2016
Belated Happy New Year to all.

We have been busier than expected of the Holiday period and, pretty much right up to now.
We really enjoyed our first visit to the US Virgin Islands. The whole of St Johns is Marine Park and because of that the snorkeling was very good. You do have to use (and pay for) mooring balls daily as there is no anchoring, which can damage the sea bed, but it really does make a difference, as does being lucky enough not to get major storm damage.

We will be going back there in the near future. There is a Kmart in Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas as well as a good supermarket by the Harbour, up to four cruise ships and their thousands of passengers and quite a few more places we didn't get a chance to visit.

Once back in Tortola, we spent some very enjoyable time with Tim's brother Rupert and wife Elena who were bareboat chartering in the week before Christmas. We only had a short time with them before we were back at base to work.
Though not expecting to, I ended up working three charters as 1st Mate and deckhand. Tim did double duty by running the base and working in the office when I wasn't there to help the Office Manager, Denise, which was most of the time.

While all this was going on, a plan was forming to between Tim and HQ to deliver a new catamaran, Te Vai, from Miami to Tahiti. That plan is pretty much complete now and on Sunday, the 7th of February, we will start making our way, via St Martin, to the Miami Boat Show. Tim's brother Jon, will join us there and will sail to the Pacific side of the Panama Canal. It is also looking very good for friends from England, Ian and Jackie, to join us for the Panama to Tahiti leg of the journey. It is all very exciting, and will put our US East Coast cruise back another year.

Tim has started a blog specifically for this journey, http://catamarantevai@blogspot.com.

Te Vai Blog

For the sake of continuity, and to add photos to the text only posts we'll make while on passage, the plan is to update this blog when we have internet.
Right now, we're busy with getting Larus ready to come out of the water in here on Tortola, where once again she will wait patiently for our return.

Blog 78 - Cruising once again

03 December 2015 | Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI
Having just reread our last blog, I'm pleasantly surprised to find that it was pretty much spot on.

We finished our time in Antigua, sailed Dreamer to Gwada (Guadeloupe), flew back to Antigua, sailed Larus to Gwada, settled Larus into Pointe a Pitre, moved on to our charter yacht, completed the Gwada to Bequia voyage, chartered in the Grenadines for 6 week and completed our final 2 Voyage charters from Bequia to Gwada and Gwada to St Martin thereby ending our 6 month foray into permanent employment.

We enjoyed it but have stepped back into our role of Standby Crew and are planning on working an average of 1 week a month. Not only did we miss time with our cruising friends, but poor ole 'Larus' was sadly neglected. Boats don't like being unused. Her 4 months in Guadeloupe while we were in the Grenadines and then in our respective home countries made an awful lot of work for Tim.

In the first couple of weeks back, Tim redid all the things we had done to make her safe for sitting out the hurricane season. In subsequent weeks, he found himself fixing one problem after another.

She's in good form again, and the remaining jobs (re-stitching the sprayhood, replacing zips on the sail covers, installing an extra membrane for the water maker, refitting the galley, etc) will wait until we head down to Trinidad in the spring.

We are currently in the British Virgin Islands while we get work permits organized. If all your paperwork is complete and your medicals are up to date, the process takes a minimum of 2 weeks. It is very red tape heavy.

We've spent some time in Antigua and St Martin and will be mooching around in the Virgin Islands until the January.

Now for some photos :

001 Frazzled prepping lobster, Bequia photo m_008 09 12 15 Prepping Lobster to BBQ_zpspi057jyg.jpg

A very frazzled cook prepping Caribbean Spiny Lobster for the first time. Tools needed: a big knife that you don't love, rubber mallet and, not shown, some heavy duty wire cutters. Cloth gloves would have been a good addition, they are spiny after all. Lobster season started in time our last charter in the Grenadines.

002 Dolphins Gwada to Antigua photo m_010 11 03 15 Dolpins Deshaies to Antigua_zpspuieh8lu.jpg

Deshaies, Guadeloupe to Antigua Dolphin escort. Lots of little ones in the mix. It was quite exciting seeing them appear from the face of the large waves we had that day, but impossible to photograph. We've also seen quite a number of whales in past year, but they are even harder to photograph.

003 Smooth motoring Anituga to St Bart's photo m_011 11 12 15 Windless Passage Antigua to St Barts_zpsqm8iih7a.jpg

After time visiting and many meals with Skipper Tim in Antigua, we made an early start to St Bart's. Wind was forecast but we didn't see any until a couple of miles off the isalnd. I don't remember ever seeing the clouds reflected so perfectly in the dead calm.

004 Change in Weather Antigua to St Barts photo m_012 11 12 15 Rainbow Antigua to St Barts_zpsozlqdome.jpg

Shortly after the previous photo, wind coming before a squall darkened up the sea and as it passed gave us the clearest brightest rainbow we've seen for a while. Visibility had been really good for the whole of the journey and all the distant islands and cloud-scapes seemed bigger, brighter and much sharper.

005 More weather St Barts photo m_014 11 12 15 Rain Cloud St Barts Anchorage_zpspfehri8q.jpg

Just to finish off the local weather report on the 11th of November, there were isolated rain squalls to the north of Gustavia, St Barts. I love they way they look like giant animals on tiny legs moving across the sky in a stately fashion. They can of course be larger and darker and that sort we like to see passing us in the distance.

007 St Barts anchoragge photo m_016 11 13 15 Butterflies and Anchorage Gustavia_zpsfhjka4vs.jpg

This is Gustavia Anchorage and, though you can't really see them, thousands of white butterflies. We arrived in St Martin and the BVI around the same time last year. I knew this without checking because there were butterflies then as well. They swarm over flowering trees on land and flutter no more than a metre above the waves, going this way and that like confetti across the water. They didn't photograph very well; they never stop moving. I expect they had a lot to accomplish in a short period of time.

We walked to Gustavia's infamous airport and this view of Gustavia and the following photos were taken en route.

008 View of Gustavia, St Barts photo m_017 11 13 15 Gustavia St Barts_zpstgxepnfi.jpg

View of Gustavia.

009 Lighthouse and Tim photo m_018 11 13 15 Tim and Lighthouse Gustavia St Barts_zpsznydyrtv.jpg

A very handsome captain and equally handsome lighthouse

 photo m_019 11 13 15 Airpot St Barts_zpsqnhlo4hr.jpg

The airport and approach.

 photo m_020 11 13 15 Nancy St Barts Airport_zpsefkxwkbg.jpg

This is as much flying as I want to do in St Bart's. The runway is in a very awkward location, snuggled up to a cliff as it is.

 photo m_023 11 13 15 Airport Approach St Barts_zpstly8604a.jpg

This was taken from the anchorage, the approach side of the ridge. No plane had obliged us by landing while we were up there.

 photo m_024 11 13 15 Superyacht Toys St Barts_zpsdf07zsqp.jpg

After our walk, we upped anchor and headed for Colombier, an anchorage on the north west coast of the island. We passed a number of super yachts but this one had the best display of toys. Dinghy's, jet skis, RIB (rigid inflatable boat), two towing toys and on the starboard side of the yacht an inflatable diving platform and on the port side and huge inflatable slide. The other contender had a 20+ foot sail boat that would be craned back on deck when they were finished with it.

The slides might look like fun, but all I could think of was how grateful I was not to have to put them up and take them down.

 photo m_28 11 13 15 Tim Free Diving Colombier_zpsi4apsb81.jpg

I love this photo of Tim freediving at Colombier. He is a very good at it and can hold his breath an impressive amount of time. This is quite useful when you need someone to retrieve items dropped overboard at anchor.

 photo m_029 12 01 15 Nancy Snorkelling_zpsczj7fmuv.jpg

I take a more sedate view to snorkeling.

Our work permits are now completed and we're not needed to work until the middle of December, so we're going sailing.

 photo Virgain Islands Map_zpsqiul9gbq.jpg

This is the link to an interactive Virgin Island map - http://www.virginislandsmap.com/


We're quite excited about it because we're heading a little further west to the US Virgin Islands. Shortly, will leave the dock and head around to Jost Van Dyck, where we will check out of the BVI and tomorrow we will had down to St John's, USVI. We'll keep you posted.

Work, Work and more work.

03 June 2015 | Antigua
It is an awfully long time since our last blog and we really haven't been doing much other than working.

We're on a 'week' off, which actually means a couple days off before we start preparing for the next charter, and I was determined to take the time to let you know that all is well. We're the only boat here in Antigua so look after everything ourselves. It's more work but very satisfying.

Since our arrival in Guadeloupe in November, we worked one week in the BVI, one week off, two weeks on in Guadeloupe followed by two weeks off in Antigua, which changed to one week off as we were needed to work three weeks in BVI over Christmas and New Year, rather then two. *pauses to draw breath* During that one week off we had to decide where to take Larus. We didn't want to leave her unattended in Antigua, and had to choose between going back to Guadeloupe or sailing on to St Martin and putting her in a marina in the Lagoon. Flying from St Martin to the BVI is much quicker and easier than flying from Gwada so we cancelled our dinner reservation at Katherine's on the Beach and sailed west for St Martin instead. Come the weekend, we were back in BVI for 3 weeks of charter followed by two weeks off followed by a further two weeks charter in the BVI.

During our two weeks off charter, we delivered the 70 foot Flagship catamaran from the BVI to Guadeloupe and flew back to St Martin where we intended to hang out until we had to fly back to BVI. The 'further two weeks in the BVI' hadn't been planned when we first left Larus in Lagoonies Marina. The marina has a policy of no boat staying more than a month but would bend the rules for us. When we approached them we were told that they would have happily accommodated us for a second month, except the berth was now promised to someone else, so off you go. At this point we still had a week off before we needed to be in the BVI and nowhere reasonably priced to leave Larus in St Martin, so we decided to take her to the BVI.

Before leaving we had to spend a half a day out at anchor for Tim to scrub and scrape all the growth on her bottom. The Lagoon in St Martin is filthy and in a month we had so many barnacles, and so much coral and weed on the bottom that Tim could barely steer her through the lifting bridge to get out.

By the end, Tim was covered in tiny shrimp that had been happily living in the growth on Larus's hull. Once dislodged, they latch on to whatever they can.

We worked our two weeks in the BVI and then headed east and back to Antigua. This sail was memorable only for its duration. The wind was directly from the east with short sea and we zigzagged our way from North Sound BVI to Saba, then tacked up to St Martin, and then down to St Kitts; then tacked north and then back south toward Monserrat. Finally, off the coast of Monserrat and anticipating tacking all through the night to cover the final 50 miles to Antigua, gave up, turned on the engine and arrived at Jolly Harbour 0200 in the morning after a 39 hour sail. The journey should have taken about 24 hours.

We have now been working charters in Antigua since April. We're still with the same company but are temporarily permanent until the end of September. We have 3 more charters in Antigua which will take us to the end of June. We will then take Dreamer, the Lagoon 500 catamaran which is the only boat in Antigua, down to Guadeloupe for the summer. We will leave Dreamer there and take Further, one of the 59 foot Luxury cats down to St Vincent and the Grenadines for the summer. The journeys between Guadeloupe to the Grenadines will be worked as charters with guests flying into one island and flying out of another, as will our final trip on Further from Guadeloupe to St Martin.

We really are enjoying our time in Antigua. It is one of our favourite islands, surrounded as it is by reefs and shallow turquoise water. We're enjoying showing her off every charter as we circumnavigate the island.

On our off weeks, when we're not taking Dreamer to Guadeloupe for maintenance, we come back to Falmouth Harbour and treat Larus to a bit of TLC.

 photo 001 Larus and Dreamer Falmouth Harbour May to June 2015.JPG_zpsvx2haiu3.jpg

Larus and Dreamer, Falmouth Harbour.

It's kinda cool being a 'two boat' family, but we're looking forward to going back to cruising on Larus in the autumn when I hope to start blogging in earnest. ;)

On the hard Chaguaramas and crusing in Tobago

27 October 2014
Spring this year, April to July, found us working pretty hard. Summer found us spending our hard earned gains treating Larus and ourselves to some TLC. While Tim and I visited friends and family in Canada and the UK, we left Larus on the hard in Coral Cove Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad in the care of Nigel who was re-'Awl Gripping' our topsides and preparing the hull for more layers of our CopperCoat anti-foul.

 photo m_004LarusshoredupCoralCoveMarina_zps42c258cd.jpg

Going elsewhere while your boat is out of the water is quite a good idea. Not only do you track dirt on-board every time you climb the ladder to your boat, but ants can climb too and birds are much more likely to hang out in your rigging and poop on your deck. It's hotter than on the water as well, and there are many more mosquitos to guard against.

The summer is also the wet season and which traps you on-board a in hot closed up boat and doesn't let you get on with work outside. All in all, it's best to be somewhere else.

Once we returned at the beginning of October, we found a very shiny hull in a lovely off white colour called Oyster. We then started finishing up all the bits and pieces that needed doing before she went back in the water.

 photo m_003LarusSouthampton_zps573e49dc.jpg

Like our new lettering on the stern.

 photo m_001DeckVents_zps4ea6dc5d.jpg

Tim also replaced all our deck vents. The old ones just didn't keep the salt water out when the sailing was a bit lively and we're very hopeful that these will do a better job.

Slowly but surely we're washing down the interior of the boat. A little bit of salt water goes a long way, and any salt left on the surfaces, curtains and upholstery with absorb moisture from the air. Salt is also very hard on varnish and fabrics.

 photo m_000LarusCoralCoveMarina_zps05871bd4.jpg

You wouldn't think it would occur to ants to climb all the way up there, but we found them climbing the ladder on the first day. We think we're free of them now but are keeping vigilant.

 photo m_003LarusBackintothewater_zps8249bbf2.jpg

We were very pleased when she was finally lowered back into the water.

 photo m_002CoralCoveKittiesCovetCoconutCurry_zps7c9ce16d.jpg

While we were out of the water, I tried to keep cooking to a minimum because it was so hot. So it was particularly irritating, to go to the trouble of cooking 3 days worth of Coconut chicken curry with peas, put it outside to cool and forget about it till early the next morning. After much anguish, we decided that it was no longer fit for human consumption. It was however fit for the Coral Cove Kitties. Particularly after I whizzed it to puree and there were no peas for them to eat around.

We didn't stay long in Chaguaramas once back in the water and after a couple of days we headed to Tobago. Tobago is a little tricky to sail to; you generally have wind and current against you. We followed the recommended tactic of hugging the coast of Trinidad to keep out of the worst of the current till the north east of the island before for heading north to Tobago.

 photo m_002DolphinsChaguaramastoStoreBay_zps0282121c.jpg

The area around Tobago is teeming with fish and we weren't surprised to have dolphins come to visit.

 photo m_001DolphinChaguaramastoStoreBay_zps56187b96.jpg

We often see them throughout the Caribbean, but we never get tired of seeing them.

 photo m_001ShinyHullStoreBayTobago_zpsf561ed5e.jpg

We anchored in Store Bay, on the West coast of Tobago. Unlike Chaguaramas, the water is clean and fresh, and we were once again struck by just how shiny Larus now is. :D This is neither the first nor last time we will marvel over how darn good she looks with her new coat.

 photo m_007Stillcantquitebelieveit_zpse52efcbd.jpg

We also saw something quite unexpected.

 photo m_006UnexpectedsightStoreBayTobago_zps9d3a54ce.jpg

Really, it was straight out of James Bond and we're still not completely sure how it worked but it was very impressive to see.

We haven't seen a lot of Tobago except Store Bay and Pidgeon Point on the West Coast of the island and decided to work our way up the north coast to Charlotteville on the most north easterly point.

 photo m_m_003CastaraBayReflection_zps3c3cd312.jpg

Castara Bay was our first stop.

 photo m_m_002CastaraBayBeach_zpsd1a49832.jpg

It had pretty cottages and hotels and a really wonderful beach.

Next we moved on to Englishman's Bay. This was a beautiful beach as well, but all the beaches on the north coast were hard to access because of the swell which made great crashing waves on the beach.

 photo m_002BeachRestaurantEnglishmansBay_zps5f84f88e.jpg

We did brave the swelling to visit this beach restaurant for lunch. It was Diwali and the sarongs for sale on the beach, reminded me very much of the bamboo poles and coloured flags, part of Hindu worship, that we saw all around Trinidad.

 photo m_001CowsonthebeachEnglishmansBay_zps7d04c8a4.jpg

We don't often see cows coming down to the water to dabble their hooves in the sea.

We are now anchored off Charlotteville.

 photo m_000Charlotteville_zpsf6f7196b.jpg

The North East of the Tobago has a very different feel to the South West. The South West is quite flat and built up compared to the mountainous jungle landscape of Charlotteville.

We have only had one day here, but there are a number of things that describe this part of Tobago to me.

The chickens you see everywhere.

 photo m_001CommonFowl_zps0077834e.jpg

We haven't seen it but, we have been told that you can find 'Common Fowl' on the menu.

The very unique signage.

 photo m_002NoTeethering_zps8b6414ff.jpg

A notice at the edge of the local sports field.

 photo m_003aSayNotoDrugs_zps5f8b4e8f.jpg

A notice IN the edge of the local sports field.

 photo m_004FishingBoatsontheBeach_zps7d66516c.jpg

And the fishing boats, with their wonderful names and the decoration.

 photo m_009Pumkin_zps2349c28c.jpg

Pumkin

 photo m_006UnchainSpirit_zpsb65efe78.jpg

Unchain Spirit

 photo m_008HappyBoy_zps5ba79858.jpg

Happy Boy

 photo m_005BeenieBoy_zps14a83cc4.jpg

Beenie Boy

 photo m_010Simeon_zpse72dc676.jpg

Simeon

 photo m_007AlwaysPositive_zps4f7af3e6.jpg

Always Positive.

Fishing is a big part of this town's economy. When the days catch was brought in and ready to be sold, a conch shell was blown to alert the buyers.

It's a wonderful town and we will be sure to come back and spend more time. We'd stay longer now but need to be up in Guadeloupe for the 1st of November. From this corner of Tobago, we have a really good angle for sailing a north westerly course to Guadeloupe. We're aiming to do it in one hit, over 3 days and two nights. It should be a nice sail with light winds from the South East.

We have one confirmed charter in Guadeloupe, and a few others in the offing and expect to be there for a while.





New paint job

19 October 2014 | Trinidad
Tim
Couldn't resist painting the boat at Trinidad prices. Looking gorgeous in a slightly warmer shade of white. Also rolled on 4 more coats of Coppercoat for good measure.
Heading North now, Guadeloupe for November.

We’re still here!

04 July 2014 | Bequia
And by ‘here’ I mean, Guadeloupe, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Marten and the British Virgin Islands. We have been working quite a lot over the last few months, and are currently in the Grenadines doing nothing but looking after Larus and pleasing ourselves.

I still have a carnival post on the go, but time, wifi, uploading photos and time spent travelling and working have really put me behind. But a current update first and that next.

Tim and I sailed up from Trinidad mid-March to Guadeloupe to work four charters. It was a nice change to stay on the same boat for three weeks and the same location for four, five if you include the week off in-between charters. Normally, as standby crew, we work for a week or two and then move on.

‘Further’ was between permanent crews, which was a treat for us. We could change things around to suit ourselves without having to worry about returning everything to its original position or stepping on anyone’s toes. I also spent some time going around the supermarkets with the Ops Manager getting to know what was available. Not all bases are the same and Guadeloupe is very very French.
This is one of the tricky things about working only briefly at all the bases – provisioning is different from place to place. Things you can get in St Martin and Guadeloupe are not necessarily available in St Vincent or the BVI. Often the same products are packaged differently and it takes time (or an epiphany, ‘So THAT’s what a tin of coconut milk looks like here!’) before you recognise them.

Tim was able to picked up more ideas and options for the route we follow during the week. The more familiar you are with a place the more you can fine tune the charter for the guests.

Larus lived in the Pointe a Pitre Port du Plaisance (that’s such a lovely term for ‘marina’) while we were working. It was nice to have her nearby so we could pop over for anything we’d forgotten.
Having her near the charter base also meant that we could leave perishable food in the storeroom fridges. Not knowing when you’ll next work means throwing out an awful lot of open jars of mayonnaise.

With our last Guadeloupe charter finished we, moved back on board Larus and headed south to work in St Vincent on the following Saturday. We sailed overnight and, why we can never remember just how much current you have to battle against travelling south, I will never know. But it’s always there. Everytime. Once in St Vincent we take a mooring (two actually, one fore and one aft, to stop us from swinging with wind and tide) from Mike in the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon is well protected from sea and swell by a semi-circle of reefs. We enter between two navigational posts, keeping close to the green starboard post where it’s deepest. We still sucked in our breath as we inched in and the depth gauge read 1.8 metres which is the same as our 1.8 metre keel. We must have been close but we didn’t touch down. Once inside, the depth quickly drops down to 10 to 12 metres.

St Vincent and the Grenadines are a favourite cruising ground for us. Tobago Cays is some of the best snorkelling you will find any in the Caribbean. We saw turtles and rays and had the most perfect weather. It really was ideal. Happy Island off Union Island provided some astonishing entertainment the first week. A kite surfer was surfing straight at the island and then with very little room to spare, would turn in a huge airborne leap. I stayed back on the boat preparing dinner but I could hear the cheers of the people at bar. I’ve spent a lot of time in Bequia and it is one of my favourite islands. Unusually we had our second meal ashore at the Gingerbread Restaurant; usually meals ashore are Tuesday and Friday. We had a most surprising and delicious Thai and Indian curries, all beautifully presented.

The provisioning is a bit different in St Vincent. Much of the produce is local and the fish is quite special. The fish is frozen, as it is everywhere, but it is locally caught, cleaned, frozen and used quickly. We often have comments about how fresh it tastes. The menu here is a little different too and has some local recipes like Callaloo soup and a warm plantain salad.

Next we tucked Larus in for a longer stay on her own in the Blue Lagoon, and flew up to St Martin to complete our BVI work permit medicals. Getting work permit for the BVI is not very straight forward. The bureaucracy and red tape are truly impressive and you must arrive with the paper work correct and complete. Our time in the St Martin was short but it gave us a chance to meet up with some of the new crews and catch up with some old friends.

A week later than expected we got our work permits and were able to take Solitaire, the second oldest catamaran in the fleet out on charter. Solitaire was between crews so with no handover from someone who knows where stuff is, we were glad of the extra week to get familiar with her. Recently refurbished, she was in quite good shape for a lady of her age, although she did suffer from hot flushes, of the no air-conditioning sort. This charter was a little special because of two of our guests, a couple of ten year olds who had never sailed and only ever snorkelled in a swimming pool. Initially nervous, they had truly blossomed by the end of the week. It was most satisfying to see them fling themselves off of the top floor of Willy T’s. Willy T’s is a rather unsavoury floating venue and we thought long and hard about taking the girls there, but there’s a top floor to be jumped off! So we climbed, they jumped and jumped and jumped, and then we left.

We were scheduled for two weeks charter in BVI but as Solitaire’s new crew got her work permits in time for the second week, we handed over to them. All finished for the time being we flew back down to St Vincent and Larus.

We’re now anchored off Princess Margaret Bay near Port Elizabeth, Bequia’s main town. We’re doing chores, fixing all the little things that stop working after being left to their own devices and relaxing. Next week, we’ll start slowly working our way up to Guadeloupe for a bit more work. We intend to stop along the way and enjoy the journey. There are a lot of islands before here and there that we haven’t visited for a while.


The Run Up to Carnival

02 March 2014 | Chaguaramas, Trinidad
Trinidad is obsessed with Carnival. I've read that between Carnivals, the Trini's are either reminiscing about the previous Carnival or planning for the next.

Our first carnival experience, as previously mentioned, was to pan yards during the early stages of the Panarama competition.

Next, trying to get an idea of what Carnival is all about, a group of us went to the Old School Carnival, held at one of the University of the West Indies campuses by the Performing Arts students

The Old School Carnival gave us an idea of how carnival started in the West Indies.

This section below, highlighted in italics, was transcribed exactly from photos I took from the 'Old School Carnival Exhibition.' All credit goes to the curator, a lovely lady whose name I do not have. The posters were printed on wonderful photos of the characters mentioned. The posters were also very large and glossy and did not lend themselves to be displayed in such a small format, which is why I took the liberty of writing it out in long hand. The photos included where taken by Bruce, Willi and myself.

Many of the characters are no longer played in present day carnival. Either they do not sit comfortably with our modern sensibilities, or times have changed and they are no longer relevant.

Some of the characters are mentioned below and were played by students, some were not and some were who weren't mentioned at all made an appearance. Anything I add extra will be written in plain text.

About Trinidad and Tobago Carnival

Through the Cedula of Population, French planters and others settled in Trinidad towards the end of the 18th century. The French Caribbean planters brought with them their unique culture which reflected the traditions of their French past. Carnival was a season of gay and elegant festivities extending from Christmas to Ash Wednesday. This season consisted of dinners, masked balls, concerts, hunting parties and 'fetes champetre/country feast'. Leading members of society, dressed up in disguise, would drive around the streets in their carriages and in the evenings, they would go visiting friends accompanied by bands and musicians. It must be noted, that up to and for some time after Emancipation (1838), society was severely stratified into upper, middle/working and lower classes which were further divided into whites, free coloureds, indentureds and the enslaved. The lower classes began to participate in the festivities after the Emancipation Bill of 1833 was passed. One of the things they brought to it was their portrayal of 'Canboulay' (derived from the French 'cannes brulees'. Cannes brulees had its genesis during slavery. Whenever a fire broke out in the cane fields, the slaves on the surrounding properties were rounded up and marched to the spot, to the accompaniment of horns and shells. The gangs were followed by the drivers cracking whips and urging them, with cries and blows, to harvest the cane before it was burnt. Along the way they sang songs of defiance and also danced kalenda/kalinda as their ranks were made up of stick fighters. Today this procession is re-enacted Carnival Friday morning. As the coloured middle class became more involved in the festivities, Carnival on the streets underwent a transformation which jolted the gentry, who distanced themselves from the festivities. There persisted a constant stream of upper-class criticism in the press about the low standard of Carnival which was now referred to as the "Jamette Carnival" by the French and English elite. 'Jamette is derived from the French word diamtre, which implies below the diameter of respectability, or the underworld. Numerous accounts in the press claimed that Carnival was becoming 'more thoroughly contemptible' and dying a natural death. Accounts of Carnival during this period were described as vulgar, obscene and loud. From the early 1890's, however, historical reports indicate an upward movement to the form of Carnival that is known today. The festival was usually celebrated three days preceding Ash Wednesday, but, after objections to the desecration of the Sabbath in 1843, it was restricted to the Monday and Tuesday. Carnival not only showcases the retention of our history; it is symbolic of freedom. It has ritualistic significance, which is entrenched in the experience and the celebration of our deliverance from the bond of slavery. Though there may be characteristics shared with other Carnivals, Trinidad Carnival was moulded from historical and social pressures during the early nineteenth century, thereby, altering it into a local product in form, content and inner significance.

Dame Lorraine

The Dame Lorraine or Dame Lorine masque started in the 18th and early 19th century by the African slave who would a way to parody the French planters, who were the ruling class at the time. The house slaves spent a lot of time observing the attitudes and behaviour of their owners whom they were forced to serve. These slaves were also taught European style dances as their native dance was considered to be barbarous. Little did the ruling class realise that the slaves were taking back all they learnt and observed to their barracks or compound. This type of masque was not played on the streets as it was more a show with two distinct scenes with the audience on three sides of the stage. In the first scene a slave is seen peering through a window at the local planters dressed up in elegant costumes of the French aristocracy and paraded in groups at private yards from midnight Carnival Sunday. The guests, who all bore French names, were introduced by a very fussy man wearing French aristocratic clothing. He was also responsible for ensuring the scene was properly set, that is, the house is set for a lavish party. The second scene was a parody of the first. The yard was transformed into a schoolroom with the masqueraders exaggerating different parts of the anatomy depending on the vulgar name being used. This exaggeration stemmed from the slave's intimate knowledge of the elite and the perception of their habits: lazy, greedy, unhealthy and predatory, thus giving rise to the characters portrayed. This included: Misie Gwo Patat (Miss Big Vagina), Monsieur Gwo Koko (Mr Big Testicles), Gwo Buden or Big Belly, Misie Gwo Tete (Miss Big Breast) and Gwo Bunda or Big Buttocks. The liberated slaves recreated the physical characteristics. The event was presided over by a schoolmaster who introduced each character, who had to be imaginative in the way they displayed their masque each year to keep the audience happy.


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Misie Gwo Bunda, , photo by Willi.

The major Dame Lorraine performers of recent years merge two different characters, Mise Gwo Tete and Gwo Bunda.

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The show behind this character has been lost through the years with a few females individuals portraying her. The music and dance which became associated with the modern day Dame Lorraine's' still exists whenever they appear in groups at cultural events.

King Sailor and Fancy Sailor

This type of masque dates back to the late 19th century, when British and American warships paid regular visits to Trinidad, and crewmen on shore leave were a common sight in Port of Spain. The masque varies from realistic depictions of navies to fantastical conceptual representation of varied subject matter through costume song, dance and mimetic movement. The main types included Bad Behaviour Sailors, the Long-Nose or King Sailors and the Fancy Sailors which is the masques' current portrayal. The Bad Behaviour sailor masqueraders wore a white uniform with tight-fitting jumpers, wide collars and neckerchiefs with an exaggerated bell bottom pants. This dance was meant to mimic the actions of the drunken sailors which they accomplished by standing sometimes eight to ten feet apart and lunging ing diagonally to the left of the right creating a 'rocking of the ship' motion or they even tumbled. This character was a loose cannon as he made crude jokes, leered at women and threw powder in the spectators faces. George Harding was responsible for the creation of the Long Nosed Sailor or King Sailor.

George Harding of Belmont, popularly known as "Diamond Jim", was the unofficial king of sailor masque. He devised more and more elaborate headpieces that varied from fish to airplanes. The most important part of the masque was the nose on the cap which mimicked various animals and eventually delved in to surrealism.


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King Sailors by Willi.

These caps were initially decorated using papier-mâché after the shape was made by bending wire. The colour of the sailor outfits was no longer white as it was changed each year to reflect the theme that was being portrayed. The King Sailor dance was quite entertaining, their hands and buttocks were pushed out and they made circles with their feet while moving forward. This character was sometimes seen flying kites, driving motor cars or even grating cassava.

The Fancy Sailor masque developed from the Long Nosed bands and by 1956 was depicting a variety of themes. Jason Griffith is credited with the resurrecting of this type of masque in 1969. Jason Griffith was one of Harding's early apprentices and creative heir. In 1949, he launched his own band, USS Sullivan. The most important part of their costume is the magnificent crowns or head pieces of papier-mâché, although today it can be made from bamboo or 3D wire covered and decorated to look like birds, plants or animals.

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Photo by Willi.

The sailor dress is decorated with medallions, rosettes, braiding and other embellishments. Their characteristic dance is a combination of the movement of waling on a rocking ship and the mariko dance.

Baby Dolls

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Photo by Willi.

The baby doll character was played up to the 1930's. As Jeff Henry indicated in his book, the interpretation that has been passed on is that of a single youthful mother of African descent, who has an infant in her arms, and is desperately searching for the father of her child. She is depicted as a young, shallow, unthinking, promiscuous female with a child from a man she met briefly. The tryst was committed in the spur of the moment and she is now a confused young mother who is unable to care for her child. The Masqueraders who portrayed this character is usually dressed in a knee-length skirt covered with flounces and frills, wearing a babies bonnet on her head with the tassels tied below her chin; she carries a doll cradled in her arms and keeps searching for its father. The unlucky male spectator who is chosen for this role has to pay alimony or be subjected to public abuse for having abandoned his bastard child.


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The unlucky male spectator, in this case, is Derek, our driver, minder and information provider. Photo by Willi.

Baby Doll as Henry indicates is one of the most explosive of the traditional characters in the Trinidad and Tobago Masquerade as it symbolizes the sexual exploitation of women from the days of bondage, when slave owners saw it as their right to demand sexual favours from their bond women.

Jamette

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Photo by Willi.

The Jamette woman, or prostitute, who were said to be "matadors" or retired prostitutes gone respectable, were understandably always masked. They wore beautiful dresses of the traditional douillette type with many starched and embroidered petticoats over which their skirts were draped and caught up into their belts. They wore long large hats decorated with a set of flowers and feathers over their head-ties, or men's fedoras over which a wreath of croton leaves had been placed. Their most startling habit, at least in some epochs and then only in certain streets was their habit of throwing open their bodices and exposing their breasts.

Their male counterpart, the Jamette man (currently "sweet man") had trousers of serge or flannel worn low over the hips, and held up by two belts or rope or leather from which hung multi-coloured silk kerchiefs and ribbons similar to the Monday costume of batonye. Sometimes the jamette men wore a "guri" or cummerbund. They also wore their brightly -coloured silk shirts unbuttoned to display the chains and gold jewellery around their necks. They completed their costume with Panama hats decorated with feathers, and with gold fobs and key chains, this foreshadowing the Saga Boys (Trinidad zoot suiters) of the '40's. They were also the ancestors of the Silky Millionaires, Railroad Millionaires, Nylon Millionaires and Tourists that are still played occasionally on Mondays. Both men and women danced and strutted through the streets, and talked to the bystanders in low, sultry voices while they collected money.

Jab Molassie & Imps

Jab is the French Patois for Devil and Molassie is the French Patois for Molasses, the Jab Molassie is the Molasses Devil. This character is one of several varieties of devil mas played in Trinidad and Tobago carnival. Devil characters came into Trinidad's carnival because of the olden religious association between the devil and music and dance.

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Photo by Bruce.

Jab Molassie came out of Cannes Brulees/Canboulay. The costume consists of the knee length short pants, mask and horms and a wire tail. In keeping with the devil portrayal, the Jab Molassie would carry chains, wear locks and keys around his waist, and carry a pitch fork.

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Photo by Bruce.

Traditionally he smeared his body with molasses but now grease, tar, mud or coloured dyes (red, green or blue) are used. The Jab Molassie performance is very crude as he "wines" or gyrates to a rhythmic beat that is played on tins or pans by his imps.

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He demands payment (pay de devil) from well-dressed spectators whom he threatens to dirty or fight.
And I paid! Photo by Willi.

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Photo by Bruce.

He is restrained by another Jab Molassie who holds on to either a chain or rope that is attached to his waist. An Imp is a character who wears a pair of scaled pants or kandal over his skin tights.

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Photo by Willi.

The Imp is the least important character in the devil hierarchy as they are either servants or messengers.


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Photo by Willi.

Imps are often used for political or social commentary. This Imp is making reference to a recent drugs bust in the US where the cocaine was smuggled in tins of orange juice. At the moment, cargo is only searched when it comes into Trinidad, not when it goes out.

He wears a simple devil mask with horns over his face. He usually moves about in a sprightly manner, swaying his hips and making sudden leaps and high kicks. This character often appears with the Beast as they hold on to chains fastened around its waist, taunting him and restricting his movements. Imps fall into different categories depending on what accessory they carry which includes axes, horns, playing cards and bells.


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I think this is an Imp and a beast but I can't remember the commentary that went with it. There was a LOT going on, I can tell you. The dragon figure is often used in Mas. This dragon had a rope trailing from its waist and the Imp had to grab it to gain control. He put up quite a fight. Photo by Willi.

Red Indians / Guarrahoons / Warraouns

One of the most interesting and oldest of the traditional carnival bands are the Indians, who in the variety and fantasy of their costumes set the tone of carnival. The Guarao are a South American people who live on the lower Orinoco River rainforest of Venezuela. They came to Trinidad by canoe and brought beads, parrots, hammocks and other products to barter. As Henry highlighted in his text, the "Red Indian" masquerade portrayed by half-Indian peons was later adopted by Negro maskers who acquired from the peons a repertoire of songs and speeches. This repertoire developed into short scenes acted in the street and tents at Carnival time. Red Indians traditionally wear a short red satin skirt, a merino dyed red and decorated with painting, feathers, or sequins, and on the head a long, tangled wig of frayed-out hemp rope, a high crown of wire covered with red paper, ribbon and artificial roses, or a war bonnet made from large chicken feathers dyed and painted, or a wire and paper effigy of a fish, a bird or even an airplane. Sometimes the merino is replaced by long underwear dyed red and the feet are always left bare. The face is painted or dusted with roocoo, and long strands of beads made from Jumbi beads, cashew nuts or "Job's Tear" was worn around the neck. When attired, the Indians dance single file though the streets, in a serpentine procession lifting their knees up high at every step and bending their upper bodies forward and then upright, in time to their handclapping and shout of make a yodelling sound by slapping their mouth with their hands while emitting a piercing shriek. They also sing traditional songs of a very attractive melodious nature, the words of which are in "Red Indian Language".

The Bat

The figure of the Bat has been a popular part of Carnival since the 1920s. It is also one of the most enigmatic characters that appear in the mas; dark, mysterious, nocturnal and foreboding, the Bat has been a creature of wonder in almost every culture around the world, linked with everything from magic and the afterlife, to destiny and good fortune.

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Photo by Bruce.

In the Mas of Trinidad, the Bat is a glorious, fanged creature, portrayed as figures of both primal fear and beauty. Most Bat masqueraders are tightly fitted in black or brown suits or leotards which are often highlighted in silver or red, with expansive wings in excess of 12 feet, and large-eyed, expressive clay or modern papier-mâché headpieces. Claws are sometimes attached to shoes. Unlike other characters, Mas Bats rarely move in the main group of the band, seldom 'jumping up' to the music, but dancing on their toes. Bats will sometimes form little groups, seeming to perform in unison as they make their way down the road ahead of the rest of the band. It is usual, however, to see a single Bat blowing their whistles lightly, daintily dancing around the band or hovering just out of reach of the spectators. This is due in part to the nature of the creature, and partly to the delicacy of the costume itself. The large, webbed wings must be handled carefully, because they can easily be blown about in the wind, which can detract from the grace of the performance. Though the presence of the Bat in Mas has seemed to decrease in the 21st century, there are still families of avid performers who work to keep this Carnival character flying.

Moko Jumbie

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Photo by Bruce.

One of the most eye-catching of sights during the carnival season is undoubtedly the figure of the Moko Jumbie. Taken neither from the French Culture, nor originating in the islands themselves, the character and form of the Moko Jumie is almost a complete cultural transplant from Africa, surviving trans-Atlantic journey and given new life and meaning through tales and portrayals of former slaves.

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Photo by Willi.

The Moko Jumbie of earlier traditions was seen as a ghostly walker, striding the boundary or life and death; the word Jumbie can be translated as 'spirit' or 'zombie'. Unlike the bright celebratory figures in Trinidad Mas, African Nymom Kwouya was used in ceremonies to mark a person's passing. When Carnival celebrations were made public in 1840, this character took to the streets along with his brethren. Somehow, the skill of stilt-walking was preserved by the slaves, and it soon transcended the idea of mourning and became part of the celebration. Moko Jumbies are comples characters to play; before the portrayal, the art of walking ever-increasing lengths of stilts must be learned. Children start from as young as three years old learning to balance and move on two foot elongated wooden legs; experienced masqueraders can be seen on stilts as high as 10-15 feet. In the past, these stilts were often brightly painted in alternating stripes, though now it is common to cover the stilts themselves in long wide-legged, stalking-like (sic) pants or a full skirt. Gone also are the wide-brimmed Admiral's hat, many past Mokos used to wear. Today, they can be seen in virtually all forms of colourful regalia.

Princely Pierrot

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Photo by Bruce.

Thought by some to be a Prince amongst players, the Pierrot has been a staple in Trinidad Mas since its inception. Through the decades, the Pierrot has evolved, spawned various descendants and taken on new forms as it moved from the European aesthetics to the West Indian sensibility. Originally an unimportant, comical character in the Italian 'Commedia dell Arte," the 19th Century Pierrot of Trinidad was by contrast a bright, articulate central figure, grandiose in their speck ant attitude. The Pierrot's lavish nature is evident even in his costume which is finely detailed in rich colours of satin triangles over a fine satin gown, chest plate and beret, with a dictionary in hand. With their eloquent words, quick wits and elegant dress, these figures became major attractions at the parties of the rich upper-crust. Lower class coloured and the enslaved Africans of the time took note of the character's traits and performance, and when Mas brought to the streets, they created their own version of the character. In time, the Pierrot became almost solely identified with the Afro-centric portrayal. Considering himself the "Master of All He Surveys", the Pierrot was also portrayed by most masqueraders as a skilled, daring fighter with his whip.

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Photo by Willi.

A particularly good player would often have a large following of supporters who fought on his behalf against other Pierrot groups contesting for supremacy of the same area. Due to these frequent, fierce outbreaks, a law was passed in 1896 demanding a special license for any masqueraders seeking to play this character. This would eventually lead to the Pierrot's suppression and banning in 1898 by the colonial government of Trinidad.


This band of Pierrots fought each other with short whips as well and making fantastic individual displays, posturing and cracking their long whips.

Midnight Robber

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Photo by Bruce.

Perhaps the most verbally menacing and visually distinct of the traditional Carnival characters, the Midnight Robber none the less remains popularly portrayed. All the personal taste and embellishments of specific masqueraders aside, the Midnight Robber is widely recognisable for his distinguishing garb, bombastic attitude, boastful speeches and highly intimidating demeanour. The Robber character as we know him evolved around the turn of the 20th century, taking the general appearance of the American Wild West Cowboys and eventually developing into a black-clad night bandit with a penchant for lyrical violence and nearly supernatural powers. The basics for the portrayal of the Midnight Robber rarely alter too greatly; an elaborate costume of a large-to-extra-large brimmed hat, very similar to a sombrero, a long, sinuous cape in the colour of dark night; a black shirt and black loose-fitting pants or trousers, held in place by a p to 'gun-belt' which may have e to three arms, a dagger or sword, and an elaborate buckle. Completing this outfit, either on the hat, the belt-buckle or worn around the neck with a whistle is a skull or skull and crossbones. Other additions may include white gloves, an eye patch or head tie, a money box, various other skull representations, fake beard and elaborate tassels or fringe on everything from the hat to the cape.

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Photo by Bruce.

Their garb not only emphasized their connection to the night and thievery, but also flows with the quick, feline-like movement these often agile characters could make in an instant. Midnight Robbers tend to move crouched down in 'ready to pounce' stances, always on the alert, save when they are regaling the crowd with tales of their 'badness' and daring.

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Photo by Willi.

The greatest aspect of the Midnight Robber, however, remains his ability to extol about his deeds.


The two Midnight Robbers verbally duelled for us. Each would start is piece by blowing a whistle to get our attention. He would then talk himself up and when he was done he would blow his whistle again to announce he was finished. They would posture slowly and menacingly until the next Midnight Robber would blow his whistle and take his turn.

There were a number famous characters here. The Midnight Robber with the statue of the FIFA World Cup on his hat and the elderly King Sailors were well known and well loved by the crowd having performed in Mas bands since the 1950s.

Other Characters

There was so much to see on at the Old School Carnival and I'm not quite sure how to categorize all the characters we saw. Willi's and Bruce's photos are so good that I think you should see them.

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This Brown Devil, by Willi, could move his wings by pulling lines attached to them. It was fluid, natural and fascinating to watch.

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Huge scary marionette, by Bruce.

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The King of the King Sailors by Bruce.

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Donkey Rider by Bruce. This is a current recurring Mas theme and we saw seen herds of Donkey riders at the Children's Carnival on Saturday. A donkey is used rather than a horse because they less grand and Mas did start out as satirical mimicry.

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Gorilla and willing victim by Bruce. The crowd loved this band of very naughty gorillas.

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They were eager for audience participation but Tony wisely declined, by Willi.

There were a number of characters who 'played' in character the whole day. They were quite fascinating to watch.

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This was one of my favourite characters, the Thief, by Willi. She wandered about, looking innocent but with sideways looks that made you know she was up to something. When she could, she'd grab and run only to be chased by The Policeman.

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Madam Coocoo. This young actress kept in character switching between manic and depressive all day long.

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Monsieur Mal Jambe. He has a swollen knee, poor thing, and begged help from passers-by. I think he was injured in a fight.

There weren't necessarily only one of these characters. There were lots of Jamettes, Dame Lorraines a few Monsieur Mal Jambe other characters who I didn't recognize. In the Mas parades, there are sections 'playing' each type of character.

And last but not least, I need to mention the food we had that day.

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As we arrived at the venue, Derek pointed out a Doubles stand that was reputed to have pretty special Doubles.

I've enthused over Doubles but haven't had a hand free to take photos. This was Bruce's double.

It starts with two circles of softly deep fried bread.

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It is then topped with chickpea curry, grated cucumber, tamarind sauce, garlic sauce and a touch of chilli sauce.

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They are quite wonderful.

Tonight I am 'playing' J'ouvert with the usual suspects from Coral Cove Marina. It's the opening Mas and we've been told it's the best part of Carnival. We have a good idea what happens but we are so often surprised, I'll say more later.

Trinidad

25 February 2014
With our week long charter in the BVI completed we headed back to Bequia. Again, we had a great time and many laughs with our guests on 'Faith.' We also celebrated our Captain's birthday with cake, candles and, most importantly, ice cream.

Every charter is quite different, but one thing remains the same.

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We do spend an awful lot of time in airport waiting rooms. This is the transit lounge at Barbados Airport, which is one of the 4 or 5 airports we pass through traveling to and from each charter. That is Tim by window snoozing.

We finished the charter on Saturday the 1st of Feb, flew out of the BVI at 0700 in the morning on the second and arrived in Bequia nearly 12 hours later. We stopped at St Martins, St Kitts, Antigua, Barbados and finally St Vincent where we got the 1730 ferry. We arrived in Bequia almost 12 hours after we left the BVI. It was a long ole day.

We rested up for a whole 3 days in the company of Skip and Madeline on 'Saralane' and Skipper Tim on 'Stormbird' before heading off on Tuesday the 4th for Trinidad to collect our new dinghy, last reported to be in Grenada. We expected to be waiting for us when we arrived.

But while we arrived in Trinidad, our dinghy was redirected Santiago, Chile.

Trinidad is a great place to get work done. During the summer, the Chaguaramas area of Trinidad is full of yachts avoiding the hurricane season and many take advantage of the expertise and reasonable prices. You can get just about anything done here.

While waiting, we moved into Coral Cove Marina and had Shawn from Superb Covers measure Larus up for a cockpit cover. We also had our cockpit seating replaced with sustainable teak and are having the aft hatch made of teak and plexiglass replaced.

We've been enjoying the society of Coral Cove Marina where we have a number of friends met here in Trinidad and in different parts of the Caribbean.

We're also taking the opportunity to see a more of Trinidad. Many of the trips we've done (are doing) have been organised by Jesse James of the Maxi Taxi (mini buses) firm called 'Members Only.'

Just a brief as side about how things work here. To facilitate communication between the cruisers themselves as well as the local businesses many sailing destinations have a Cruiser Net. The Net here in Trinidad is run by the Cruising Community with input from local companies. It allows cruisers to get help and information or find parts and services and get to know other cruisers by listening on VHF 68 every morning at 8.

Members Only arranges sightseeing trips and trips to sporting and cultural events as well as trips to the markets, malls and supermarkets. With Carnival fast approaching, Jesse has arranged trips to events we wouldn't necessarily know about as a tourist. Jesse also liaises with the local authorities about issues concerning and of concern to the cruising fraternity.

Now on to the photos!

Our first excursion was to the main Port of Spain Market early one Saturday morning.

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This is Poppi, our Maxi Taxi driver. He picked us up at 0600 and then collected us at about 0830. He made me wait to take the photo until he had shaken his dreadlocks free of the ponytail they'd been tied back in, I suspect for sleeping purposes. I greatly enjoyed the ride to the market as I got the chance to ride shotgun in the front seat. Poppi has a bright yellow race car driver steering wheel and I amused myself, and hopefully Poppi, by making engine rev'ing noises whenever he changed gear.

The first part of the market you come across is the area where you can buy meat and fish. I bought some gorgeous big shrimps/prawns that were a 100TT$ for 2 lbs. They use every bit of the animal here and you could buy anything from ear to hoof. (Our Trini neighbours at the marina shared their leftover curried chicken necks with us. Delicious but not very meaty and rather unexpected.)

My favourite part of the market was open air fruit and veg market.

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As well as stands and stalls, people also sell from crates and the back of trucks.

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Beautiful arrangements of Scotch Bonnet Peppers, bananas and Shado Benni which is a local herb that tastes exactly like fresh cilantro/coriander.

They also sell some clothes, groceries as well as home-made condiments and you can buy the local delicacy 'Doubles' for a post shopping snack. Doubles are usually eaten for breakfast and bought from street side vendors from coolers - the various parts are made at home and constructed to order. They are made up of two soft fried circles of bread dough with a spoonful of channa (chickpea) curry, some grated cucumber and a variety of sauces or pickles served in a square of grease proof. I like mine with just a little tamarind sauce and a judicious dash of hot sauce. The correct 'Double' eating stance is to well lean forward with your feet clear of any curry and sauce that might escape.

Eating Doubles is a messy business which is why there are no photos at this point. You need both hands to deal with your 'Double'.

Our next day out was with Derek, a Members Only Maxi Taxi driver, avid cricket supporter and darn fine cricket explainer for those of us who needed it, to watch Trinidad play CCC (Caribbean Campus and College) at the Queen's Park Oval.

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We showed up early to get a good spot.

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Maybe a bit too early, but you really don't want to show up too late.

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Trinidad trounced CCC but CCC is made up of young players learning and perfecting their game so it was not a great surprise. Tim and the other guys went the next week to see Trinidad get trounced by Barbados.

I went on my first Carnival themed event to see the Panarama 2014 Northern Large and Medium Band Semi Finals.

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We saw three bands play.

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They put on a great display with lots of choreographed jammin' and lots of enthusiasm.

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These are the Renegades who were the favourites to win.

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They really are made of old oil drums. The pan yards, where pan is played, were parking lots or areas between buildings and they were decorated and filled with spectators and food and drink stands.

We travelled with Jesse by Maxi Taxi to various Pan yards where the bands practiced and waited for the judges arrive. It really was a great experience.

We rented a car for a few days with Tony and Jane from Capisce, who are also in Coral Cove Marina. As well as shopping and buying diesel in 25 litre jerry cans from the local gas station at 1.50 $TT a litre (about 15 pence a a litre) in 100 litre batches, (The 100 litre limit is supposed to stop boats buying diesel this way. Diesel bought the marina's isn't subsidized and much more expensive.), we drove south to visit the Pitch Lake.

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We were the only visitors there and with our guide Wayne, had the place to ourselves.

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The floral and fauna living in and around the Pitch Lake were a real surprise. With some skilled whacking, Wayne was able to present Jane and I each with a lily.

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Mine was blue.

I also saw my first cashew tree.

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They look very much like almond trees but the cashew fruit is much sparser on the tree which explains their high cost.

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We followed a winding path of tar down toward the lake itself.

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Bulldozers pile the tar near these hopper cars. The tar is moved via hopper to a conveyer that takes the tar up to the processing plan.

After this point, we were told to follow directly behind Wayne.

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Unless you knew what to look for, you might well end up in one of these areas where the tar was liquid.

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So follow we did!

The forms we saw were as unexpected as they were amazing.

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These folds of tar were formed by the weight of rain water ponds. As the water dries up, the tar rises upward and its surface will eventually become smooth and flat.

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The water was surprisingly pro-life. Tiny fish and algae could be found in many of the pools. Tony even went for a swim, which is one of the Lake's attractions.

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That's not gold at the bottom of the pond, but liquid tar with some sort of film between it and the water.

The tractors collecting tar stopped and waited for us to pass.

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It was interesting to see how far the back wheels had sunk in in such a short time.

However it appears, this tree stump is rising from the tar.

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Whatever goes down, will circulate back up again in time as part of the decay process.

It really was very interesting and if you get a chance go and see, if you can.

We did get lost both coming and going in San Fernando. In the same area to boot. The signage to the motorway left much to be desired.

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'Haven't we seen this before?' Yes!

The Pitch Lake was our furthest destination so as we worked our way back we went in search for the Temple in the Sea.

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Denied permission to build Hindu temple in Colonial Trinidad, Sewdass Sadhu painstakingly built his Temple in the Sea.

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It is gratifying to see that the temple is well used to this day.

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I loved the sign on the approach to the temple admonishing people not to sit or lean on murti. In Hinduism, a murti is an image in which the Divine Spirit is expressed.

On our way to the Temple in Sea, we were side tracked by signs advertising a statue of Hanuman, the Hindu Monkey God.

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It was well worth the detour.

Our last task with the car was to pick up our new dinghy from Customs.

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It finally arrived on the 19th of Feb, which was a long enough delay for TNT to refund the cost of delivery.

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The Captain and crew both heartily approve.

16.00 25/02 - Our new Bimini has arrived! Our new bimini has arrived! It is amazing. I will post photos soon along with ones of our visit to the Old School Carnival last Sunday.

Tonight at 1800, we are off to the Carnival Kings and Queens Semi finals, so not time now. But I will get them posted asap. :D

Charters and Bequia

24 January 2014 | Bequia
Both Tim and I have been out on charter. I worked for two weeks in Guadeloupe on a 70' Flagship catamaran while Tim got called out to a short notice charter in the BVI.

Working on the Flagship was an experience. With 10 guests and up to 5 crew, including trainees, an new menu and a number of serious food intolerances, it was a challenging, but very satisfying, two weeks. It's nice to have to 'up your game' every now and then.

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Definitely, the biggest galley I have worked in so far.

Tim had a more restful week with 4 guests, 2 training crew and a Dive Master First Mate. It wasn't all smooth sailing however. Although Tim arrived in the BVI in time to start the charter, his luggage did not. It wasn't until the middle of the next week, that he was able to collect his bag from the airport.

We've now been in Bequia for almost two weeks deciding what to do next. Initially we had two options. We could go North to Antigua to visit with friends and relatives or south to Trinidad and Tobago to visit friends and fill up with VERY reasonably priced diesel.

While we pondered which direction to take, an additional reason for heading south popped up. The Christmas winds haven't let up and we use the dinghy a lot as we're at anchor. Our dinghy is small and light and easily stow-able, but it's also slow, quite tender, and we often get very wet when there is any chop, so Tim started researching the 'what, where and how much?' of a new dinghy.

The cheapest option was to order a dinghy from the UK to be delivered to Trinidad. As a yacht 'in transit,' we don't have to pay duty and even with the delivery costs it was by far the cheapest option.

So Trinidad it was, until yesterday when we were asked to work this weekend up in the BVI. Once the charter is finished we'll head straight for Trinidad.

But so far, here we have sat anchored in Admiralty Bay, off the lovely town of Port Elizabeth on the beautiful island of Bequia.

We did some sightseeing on foot and last Sunday, Tim and I walked up to Fort Hamilton.

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The magnificent view of Admiralty Bay. It's well worth the steep walk up hill. Larus is the yacht with two masts and blue sail covers in the lower right corner of the photo.

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Some of the infamous cannon.

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Cannon detail.

We also discovered how to tell sheep from goats. Up until then, I'd always thought that all the goat-like critters we saw tethered in various fields and gardens were goats. Not necessarily! Goat's tails stick up and sheep's tails hang down. Sheep also never have horns said the gentleman who was minding the sheep.

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This is a sheep. A particularly stupid sheep, it must be said. On our way back down the hill, this sheep had jumped down to the next terrace of the wall, only to find itself truly at the end of its tether. The tether was just long enough for all four feet to be firmly on the ground, but not long enough for it to move left or right or climb back up.

The guy minding the sheep wasn't there just then, but we figured the sheep would be rescued in good time and left it where it was. We also really didn't fancy man-handling a large boney sheep back up the wall.

One thing common to all the Caribbean Islands we've visited, is the love of the 'pimped up' car or minibus. There is one minibus here with 'Love is D Answer' beautifully spray painted across it's rear-end, but I never see it when I have my camera at the ready.

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This one however was having some road side work being done on it which made it easy. An intriguing choice of psalm.

We expect to be on the move later this afternoon to St Vincent and then an early flight tomorrow to BVI. Till then, we'll be packing, emptying the fridge, stowing and cleaning before closing up Larus.

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We have lots of friend in Bequia right now so she will be well looked after.
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