spacer.gif (79 bytes)
spacer.gif (79 bytes)
spacer.gif (79 bytes)
spacer.gif (79 bytes)
spacer.gif (79 bytes)
spacer.gif (79 bytes)

The Two Captains


Volume 6 - Winter 1999-Spring 2000

(Please note: Latitudes & Longitudes are provided for armchair geographers
and are not suitable for use in actual navigation - sailors, plot your own!)
NEW - Click the images for larger versions!

ear Friends:

This posting to The Two Captains Web Site covers the period from September 1, 1999 to April 1, 2000. From now on, we are changing our format to present briefer more regular updates.


rinidad is a roughly rectangular island tucked into the profile of Venezuela. It is so far to the southeast of the island chain that, even though it is a relatively large island (1,980 sq. miles), it is often left out of the average person's mental map of the Caribbean. This probably also has something to do with the fact that Trinidad is not much oriented to the beach-going tourist trade. Trinidad's main focus is on the oil and gas industry.

Odder to me is the phenomenon of South America. It is probably a peculiarly American blind spot that this huge continent can lurk out of sight and therefore essentially out of mind in the blue haze across the Gulf of Paria. Perhaps because the coastline of Venezuela facing Trinidad across the Gulf is largely the undeveloped rainforest of the Orinoco Delta, there seems surprisingly little South American influence here beyond the tannin brown waters of the river outflow.

The north coast of Trinidad features a series of rugged headlands and beaches backed by a steep mountain range with almost no sign of development. We sailed west along this coast from Tobago around the first of September, the only boat in sight! At the Dragon's Mouth, the name for the series of four inlets into the Gulf, we rounded the "anvil head" and turned back east into Chaguaramas. There it all changed.

While it may be left out of the average person's mental map of the Caribbean, Trinidad looms large in the mental chart of Caribbean cruisers. Every summer hundreds of cruisers come to Trinidad to avoid hurricane season, like we did, and often they stay through the winter for Carnival, like we have. Most of these boats lie in either Chaguaramas Bay itself - at anchor, in a slip, or on the hard - or around the headland in Carenage Bay off TTYA (the Yacht Association) or down the coast a bit at TTYC (the Yacht Club.) Even Trinis shake their heads in wonderment at the growth of the yacht industry here. I read recently that it all started less than ten years ago when a boatyard (Power Boats) that catered to the local boaters, decided to buy a larger Travelift. To help underwrite its cost, the operator went after some of the cruiser market that was then focused on Venezuela. Not ten years later, there are now five major yards, eight marinas, and two major anchorages all filled and busy!

Coral Cove

After a few nights at anchor, we pulled into a slip in new marina called Coral Cove. We figured being in a slip would make us more accessible to the contractors from whom we'd be soliciting bids for the various big projects of Phase II of Tackless II 's refit (For Phase I details see "Engine Room- Archives".) We chose Coral Cove, because our friends Herb and Molly of Topaz were here and because there was a slip available with no wait. The amenities here were good - nice docks, a pool, cable TV, and Joe's Pizza - and we quickly found ourselves with a new network of "new best friends" (as Don refers to cruising community connections) with whom to swap project sagas over cocktails and potlucks around the pool.

e soon learned that Coral Cove has its down side. Management here has a different way of collecting its cut on the work done in the yard. Most yards take a percentage, but Coral Cove takes a per day fee. This means they control entry to the yard pretty tightly, which is good for security but pisses off the labor. The reality is that this system works to the benefit of some, particularly those whose time investment is off site, for example canvas workers, and against people like varnishers and woodworkers who actually have to come and go from the boat daily. We thought we might have to move elsewhere, but in the end we stayed and even hauled out here. This is largely due to the enterprise of Otto DeRoche who was ready, willing and able to jump on the project of building us a new hard bimini.

The idea of a hardtop is hardly new. People have been doing it for years. But only until the recent use of super-lightweight air-cores have attractively-shaped fiberglass designs become realistic and affordable. Don and I wanted something that would a) not leak; b) get rid of the tangle of stainless support bows; c) allow us access to our propane lockers (previous blocked by the bows); d) support solar panels; e) solve the conflict between the fly sheet and the main sheet on downwind sails; f) have built-in reading lights; and g) still look pleasing to the eye. We didn't know if it could be done, and we didn't think we could afford it if it could. Now we've got one, and it's just what we wanted! (See The Engine Room for details on construction.) As a bonus, we've discovered it insulates the cockpit from the sun beating down, keeping it amazingly cool!

he other large project we hoped to get started was the construction of a stern arch. These are metal frameworks that span the stern, looking rather like a cross between a jungle gym and a spoiler! Originally they were conceived to be an alternative mount for one's radar (as opposed to mast mounts), but now they are added to support all sorts of things - from wind generators to solar panels to antennas to dinghy davits to outboard hoists. Ours will have all those! Our slip neighbor upon arrival was patiently/impatiently waiting for delivery of just such an arch. It seems the Chaguaramas metal man was swamped with work; we couldn't even get him to come give us a quote.

Enter Harry Stauble. I forget now how we got his name, but Harry runs a huge machine shop in San Fernando, a city at the other end of Trinidad, that mostly caters to the oil industry. However, because he grew up with a vacation home in this area, Harry has a soft spot for yachts, and when time permits he takes on a project such as ours. Our timing was good, and we discovered that as Harry does all the big bending for the local metalworkers anyway, he makes regular trips up this way. He took the measurements before we left for our two months Stateside, and the day after our return he had it ready for our approval. To give that approval required our renting a car and driving two hours south to San Fernando. This was our first chance to see Trinidad south of Port of Spain. The geography changes abruptly from the mountains of the north to the flat expanse of the Caroni Swamp. Approaching San Fernando, however, the countryside rises again in bluff knobby hills, which reminded me of Cura?o!

therwise, September and October were pretty laid back months. The weather was very hot, and the air conditioning and cable TV very enticing. There was a lot of "limin'" around the pool at cocktail hour. Don and I were not especially disciplined about work, and we still marvel how much got done in spite of it! Other than the starts on the hardtop and the arch, we got the non-skid redone on the decks, a new fordeck awning made, and I got my first-level ham radio license, including 5wpm Morse Code, studying mostly by computer. We walked daily, discovering a network of trails locally, I hiked to Paria Waterfall with the Trinidad Hike Seekers; and Don played golf with a Joe's Pizza foursome.

Oh, yeah, and Don surprised me with a great birthday party poolside, complete with a pan band! It was quite a time, especially when several yachtie musicians brought up their instruments (trumpet, accordion and guitar) to jam with the band. Quite a combination, reggae, jazz and polka!

The States

We left Trinidad November 1, for two months in the States. We flew to Atlanta to visit friends and for me to have another Lasik enhancement (seems we finally got it right!). Then we drove to Charleston for my niece Katy's lovely wedding. Had we known how nice life in the condo on the Wild Dunes Beach was going to be, we'd have planned to stay longer. We spent the rest of November shivering in New England (yes, we know it was abnormally warm!), shopping for computers, tools and Christmas gifts in Boston, with excursions to Vermont to hike with sister Jo, work on my cousin Patty and Doyle's new foundation, and have a wonderful Turkey Day with my aunt and uncle and cousins.

n December we went to Indiana to spend time with Don's family, two weeks of dinners, movies, lunches, walks, and, of course, more shopping, culminating in our first round of Christmas celebrations, (the weekend prior to the 25th) for which Don's daughter Tiffany arrived in the nick of time. We had a terrific evening party at Don's nephew Dane's new house, with four little ones to keep us entertained, followed by the midday dinner on Sunday with the extended family of cousins. From there it was back to Boston for what was billed in my family as the last big Christmas at my sister's. The whole family made it, including Tiffany for her first. The Nutcracker at the Boston Ballet was a success for the ten of us that went, this being the first year we actually had kids to take (!), and because everyone assembled a day or two early, we really got quality time together. On Christmas Day, Tiffer flew off for her third celebration with her mother and grandmother in Florida, and by December 29, Don and I were boarding the plane, heavily loaded down, bound for warmer climes.

Our Millenium Celebration

It had occurred to us that in the course of two months post-hurricane season (although this year when did you start counting!) many of our "new best friends" might have moved on. We were relieved to find upon our return that a core group remained, only relocated out in a little marina called Fantasy Island on an island called Gaspare Grande, and that our Millenium Celebration was all planned. We were picked up by dinghy (ours still being on the hard) and settled into a tidy little motel room, providing a cool and quiet escape option should the partying get out of control. The gals had orchestrated a pot-luck table full of goodies, a chest of beer, the requisite bottles of champagne (including ours which we'd entrusted to their fridge in October!), decorations, and of course satellite TV by which to track the New Year's progress across the globe.

The chief problem proved to be the usual one of trying to stay conscious those last few hours, especially for the few who had been celebrating hourly since international daybreak! Midnight struck, the power stayed on, and fireworks went off on the mainland over Port of Spain. Before bed, Don and I wandered down to the pier to drink in the warm breeze and the brilliant stars. There we got a special treat when Ulf, a Norwegian, set off a good 20 bottle rockets from his dinghy giving us what felt like our own private fireworks show! A very nice way to start the millenium.

On the Hard

The weeks since New Year's have slipped by. Life on the hard, even three months of it, was not too hard as the boat was positioned right by the water, the pool and the heads. We heard lots of jokes about our seaside condo, but trust me, any condo I end up in needs to have functioning toilet facilities.

For details on all our projects, checkout the latest installment of Don's Engine Room.

Hiking with Snake

It has not been all work and no play. We've been hiking every Sunday since New Year's with The Hike Seekers. In fact I've become the current hike coordinator, making the announcements on the morning cruiser's net and collecting deposits. These hikes have become the highlight of our week, giving us the chance to unwind, make new friends, and see a part of Trinidad many never see.

The Hike Seekers group is led by Lawrence "Snake" Pierre, a member of the T&T Defense Force and a long-time member/leader in Trinidad's macho hiking group, the Sacketeers. The Hike Seekers is a more mellow group, well suited to our cruiser's pace. The hikes takes us into the mountains of Trinidad's gorgeous North Range and take us through various types of forest, usually ending up at gorgeous waterfalls, where is it pure heaven to plunge into all that brisk fresh water. Snake is very knowledge about trees, flowers, seeds and fruits. As much of the terrain includes old cocoa plantations, we get to sample all sorts of indigenous fruits and pods now growing wild. It is amazing to us how frequently we stumble upon small houses carving an agricultural existence miles from anything resembling a real road.

nake has a personal mission to fight the locals' fear of snakes, so he generally shows up with one or two local boa constrictors for hikers to handle! Recently, the small one had just dined two days before on a couple of chicks! It makes a pretty strange sight to see a one-inch diameter snake with a three-inch bulge in his belly! On other occasions, he finds wild snakes to show us. Once, after demonstrating the venom of the Mappapee, one of Trinidad's few poisonous snakes, he made a bag out of a T-shirt, and popped the snake into his rucksack to take home!


Meanwhile the big Daddy of distractions has come and gone: Carnival. Not just Carnival, but Carnival 2000, the first one of the century and the millenium. Although Carnival itself is only the three days and nights before Ash Wednesday, the build-up seems to start earlier and earlier, even before Christmas. Every year Jack Dausend, publisher of the invaluable Boater's Directory and editor of the monthly Boca, hosts four pre-Carnival seminars especially for the "yachties" (as we are called here) - complete with live performances. The objective is to clue cruisers in on the characters, colors, traditions, and music of Trinidad's Carnival so that we won't feel like strangers when it comes time to "play mas"!

his, it turns out, is a very reassuring thing, because Trinidad "mas" (masquerade) is a far, far cry from a little Halloween dress-up. Many of the traditional characters, on which thousands of people will base their look, have disturbing appearances and unexpected origins. For example, traditional characters include Sailors, Indians, Devils, Jab Jabs, Beasts, Imps, Dames Lorraine, and Moko Jumbies.

The Sailor category, for example, turns out to be largely based on the American sailors that staffed the US bases here during World War II and includes "fancy sailors" (officers), "stokers" (based on the firemen that used to stoke the coal engines), and drunken sailors (self-explanatory!). The costumes are wildly elaborate parodies on the original, and each has a certain rolling walk-dance associated with it. Dames Lorraines are parodies of ladies of the early French planter's aristocracy, while Moko Jumbies, stilt walkers, come straight from Africa. All the others - you really don't want us going into detail on the Devils, red or blue -- come out of the common deep recesses of the human mind.

Then there are the Parade Mas Costume competitions. These costumes are the elaborate flights of fancy of color and feathers and gravity-defying construction that you see in the pages of magazines. This starts with babes-in-arms (I'm not kidding?there's an under-three-year-old category) and escalates right up to the adults. Winners become the King and Queen of Carnival, and it is hotly contested all the way up!

(Oddly, the powers behind Carnival put a lot of restrictions on the photographing of all this extravaganza. I think it's because they sell professional photos and videos. I say this in explanation of the shortage of fabulous photos of the really extreme costumes.)

ord-play is also a fundamental element of Carnival and is personified by several roving characters: Minstrels, Pierrots Grenade, and Midnight Robbers! Minstrels, wearing white face (black folks playing white folks playing black folks, as it was explained!) rove the streets singing traditional American folk songs?and parodies thereof?and popular calypsos! Pierrots Grenade, dressed in a pelt of many colored ribbons, are "teachers" who "spell" words in humorous rhyme. Midnight Robbers dress like caricatures of Pancho Villa and glorify the art of pompous tough talk.

The music of Carnival includes Calypso, Soca and Pan. For weeks on end there are tents, competitions, and concerts of these, each of which has several sub-categories.

I think you've got the message that Carnival is a big deal here, and that a tremendous amount of energy goes into preparing for it in more ways than one. In the weeks preceding Carnival, cruisers are urged to tour the yards not just to see where the pan bands are practicing and the mas costumes are being built but to sign up with different troupes to walk with their bands in costume. Soca and pan bands have official "Launching" parties that have been going on since Christmas. Then, to prep your liver and your stamina further, yachties are invited to participate at any of the countless fetes (parties that you pay to go to) that stoke the Carnival fervor.

inally, the official events get going. For the yachties, tickets and transport are coordinated by several tour organizers who specialize in our needs. These excursions, much like going on a school bus trip, have included the King and Queen, Panorama, Yangatang (comedy), Kiddie Carnival, Soca, Calypso and Extempo (extemporaneous calypso) and even Limbo competitions, for which, of course, there are Preliminaries, Semis, and Finals!

Then, when it's all said and done?you have the three days of Carnival itself!?.J'Ouvert, Dimanche Gras, Monday Night Mas, and the Parade of Bands, and Las Lap. I imagine there are those that do it all, but we didn't!

The Two Captains started our Carnival participation with a concert at the Hotel Normandie's outside "Under the Trees" series. It was ideal for us, giving us a sampler of folk Calypso with the Lyddian Singers, a 36-member chorale group, a champion high-school pan orchestra, and David Rudder, one of Trinidad hottest Soca stars! Soca, and its close cousin Road March music, is the stuff that moves your feet whether you wish it or not! In Trinidad, it also seems to involve having one or both arms waving over your head at all times. Personally, I think it's a covert national fitness campaign!

ur next event was an all-inclusive fete. As I said, a fete is a party you pay to go to, sometimes to raise money for a particular band, sometimes for charity. There are dozens to choose from. We were invited to go to a fairly exclusive one at the private residence of the owner (we think?) of the Royal Bank. Exclusive meant only 1800 other people! It was worth going just to see the house and grounds, which were nestled at the foot of the North Range on the other side from where we'd been hiking! Don and I survived the all-inclusive nature of the fete with dignity intact?something we can't say for all the yachties we went with!

Next for us was the Red Cross Kiddie Carnival. This is a costume competition starting with toddlers and moving right up through 3-5 years; 6-8 years; 9-11 years, to 12-15, divided between girls and boys, with more competitions for floats and small, medium and large groups! All this took place in a sort of stadium, with grandstand seating on two sides of a long stage, designed, I suspect specifically for Carnival events. The costumes are amazing. Some may be made by doting mothers, but by far the majority are made in the mas camps as centerpieces for huge troupes playing mas on a particular theme! How these kids moved across the stage in some of these constructions is a miracle.

That night, going for two events in one day, we went to a Pan Jazz concert. A fairly new event in the Calypso season, pan jazz evidently appealed more to the yachties and other tourists than to the locals. But the musicianship here was top notch. The performers were Michael Bookman (he's actually a guitarist but has a pan man in his band), Ken "The Professor" Phillmore, and Andy Narell (a white guy!) Ken Phillmore, in particular, could really make his pan sing! He was most people's favorite.

he next day, we did Viey Le Cou, or "Mas n' Ting from the Past." This was a sort of country fair, again popular with the tourist contingent, featuring a day's worth of traditional characters, traditional music, and traditional food (see From the Galley). I was hoping for more Pierrots Grenade, got more devils than I ever needed, and particularly enjoyed the Tamboo Band from Tobago. Tamboo preceded pan in Trinidad's musical history. Before the gangs discovered they could make fierce noise banging on old oil drums, they used different lengths of bamboo, which resulted in some pretty complex percussion!

The next weekend celebrations came to a head with the King and Queen competition. This is the grown up version of the Kiddie event the week before. Here, the costumes were, I kid you not, 20-30' high and equally wide, and some were 10-15 deep! None of these would make it down the streets of St. Thomas. Most had some kind of carriage built in under "the skirts", although it definitely lost something when you could see it! One poor guy who was a spider with a fly caught in his web actually overbalanced and tipped forward onto his face. It took four guys to get him upright, and the commentator, in an uncharacterist bit of humor, observed that the fly fought back! Another lady had one of her wheels jam up, and it took her several minutes of gamely dancing in place before she got in forward again! Incredibly, as if the costumes weren't enough, many of them were either electrified or equipped with pyrotechnics -- smoke, flares or fireworks! This would never fly in the US!

Our next event was the Panorama finals. These are 100-piece steel-pan bands, and since it was the finals there were only fourteen bands performing (there were forty originally!) We made it through six (leaving just as, of course, what proved to be the winners came on.) Steel pan bands are pretty equipment intensive. Since they have to be mobile (for parades) they have trucks and trailers that hook up to long trains, some double-decker. Pan band music has a furious rhythm, and these vehicles really rock as the pan players keep the beat with a full body bounce. Indeed a pan band seems half choreographed dance. Anyway, each,band competing had to be rolled on by hand and then assembled into a sort of pyramid, because the audience is on two sides. Assembly took about 15 minutes per band and each piece was about 15 minutes. Add about 10 minutes to roll off, and you see things didn't happen quickly. Our seats were far enough away that we weren't deafened, but we were too far away to really enjoy the player's "dance" which is half the fun, plus I think we lost some of the fullness of the sound. Neither of us could keep our eyes open and we left about 11:30 with the hottest bands still to come!

'ouvert (literally "daybreak") is the all night-long bacchanal that officially kicks off the three-day Carnival Holiday! Groups of revelers in skimpy and gritty costumes party behind various bands through the streets of Port of Spain until dawn! It is the very soul of Carnival, but it starts at 2 am, not an hour we often see to end an evening let alone start one. We waffled daily about whether we would participate, but in the end we realized it was just one of those experiences we had to tick off our Caribbean "To Do" list.

We and most of our best buddies joined the "The Y2K Crapauds", a troupe under the auspices of the Carib Rugby Club and sponsored by Power Boats Boatyard. What's a crapaud? Eees a frog! About one o'clock in the morning we bussed to the Rugby Club (located next to the zoo, how appropriate!) on the Savannah Park in Port of Spain. There we donned our costumes (flour sacks printed with a big frog), a yarn belt, and plastic shower caps. Costumes and body were then further customized with red, blue and yellow paint, Mardi Gras beads, yarn tassels, inflatable frogs, bandanas, and glitter, all topped off with gobs of mud, collected, I was told, from a special "mud volcano"! Mud is a big thing in J'Ouvert. It's a cheap "costume".

Launched by a big fireworks display over the Savannah (Port of Spain's Central Park), we then danced from 2am to 7am through the nicer neighborhoods of Port of Spain behind (alongside or in front of) the The Scorpions, a 15 man pan band, that rolled along in a steel trailer behind a tractor. These guys played almost non-stop all night, though I don't think there was more than 2-3 tunes in the repertory (though I could be wrong). Behind the band trailer was another trailer with coolers of beer and rum punch. Oh, yeah, and ahead of and behind the band were towed two bathtubs-on-wheels full of extra mud which got added to costumes and passerbys at will through the night. Oh yes, we had a banner and several flag wavers that seemed tireless, and just when you think all might be chaos, a burly rugby player would materialize like a faithful sheepdog to herd us along in the right direction.

There were dozens of other bands and troupes at large in Port of Spain that night, yet amazingly we only crossed paths with three or four other groups, and only once did we comingle! That was a little unsettling as that troupe dispensed tar instead of mud. Fortunately they left us alone! At about four am, we ran into people we knew -- Goran and Amanda - the proprietors of Manta Dive in Tobago, watching the show from the curb. They jumped in and walked with us awhile. It's reassuring that they recognized us!

hen the sun rose we found ourselves back at the Savannah where we trooped across the stage for the TV cameras, although who'd be up to watch 150 muddy, paint spattered yachties, tourists and rugby players at 6:30am is beyond me. After the stage, the band truck which had been going at about 2mph all night suddenly sensed the barn ahead, and we practically had jog after it. We arrived back at the club, footsore and weary about 7am and bussed back to hot showers. (It all came off!! Miracles!)

After J'Ouvert, we slept all the following day! So much for any events on Monday (were there any?). But Tuesday we were up early and into town for the big finale, the Parade of Bands. We really didn't know quite what to expect. In St. Thomas there is a parade through the streets with troupes from various organizations following either music trucks blasting road marches (soca) from gargantuan speakers or the trailer trains of pan bands. In some ways, Trinidad's parade was similar, just ona much bigger scale. We had tickets that put us back in the grandstand again, which ensured us seats in the shade and a view of the troupes as they paraded across the stage (much as we did J'Ouvert morning). Before and after the grandstand, the parade continued through the streets of Port of Spain. Some of our friends watched from the street, which is probably a little more spontaneous. We spent a few hours out there, and the heat was a killer! Besides, in the grandstand were the judges, before whom the troupes and bands gave their all.

I cannot capture the amount of human energy we witnessed in the seven hours we lasted (it went on at least four or five hours longer! Troupes of hundreds...like 7-800s (that's each!) all in costumes of feathers, bangles, beads and a few swaths of colorful cloth... dance enthusiastically to one of about ten tunes that cycle maddenly all day! Each participant buys her or his costume from the mas camp for about $40-50 US, which include drinks along the way and security. It is probably 80% women. It appeals particularly since the motto of Carnival is to let go your inhibitions for one day. The costumes speak to a wild sexy glamour, and amazingly make almost all the participants look...well....relatively glamorous. Some of these ladies are not svelte. Plus, there were a lot of tourists! I heard that a lot get involved through the Internet!

ll this and there were many things we didn't do. A lot of it has to do with stamina, and some of it has to do with taste. On the whole however, Trinidad Carnival is a must-see event for anyone who loves the Caribbean, and as you can see you have to give it a lot more time than just the three official days!

March 22, 2000
I believe we have finally shaken the Carnival flu. The sore throat and cough lingered on and on, but except for various congestions we are pretty much back to ourselves! That's what we get for all that folly. Haven't had too many cracks back from people who checked out the J'Ouvert photographs -- http://www.photoloft.com/allalbums.asp?s=plft&u=49366 --, so I guess few looked. Our dignity remains intact!

We feel as though we have made huge strides with the boat. Some of this is in our heads, but some of it is on board! The countertops came out beautifully. We are really pleased. The new fixtures and associated plumbing had Don turning the air blue (how is it that the one piece that was unchanged from the previous installation is the one piece that leaked in the new!) All solved now. The new galley sink installation is a dream. Solved all my complaints about the old one!

ur new and freshly varnished wood pieces are coming back from the varnishers bit by bit. The new 40"{ bookshelf is up in the salon and I've started filling it up. Don has a double shelves for his manuals behind the nav seat. All the drawers and cabinet doors are back in place with new hinges. Today we expect the rest of the table and its matching "wine cabinet" which is also the printer and VCR stand. Also the washer drier is actually here, on the ground outside the boat. It's been there a few days awaiting the installation of something that has to go behind it. However, I think we've just decided to go ahead and hoist aboard while we still have enough friends around to recruit to help. We'll even hook it up and do a load! We just won't close it in!

The marina is clearing out abruptly. In a week or two most everybody we know will be headed out, some north toward the Virgins, some west. At least our buddies Wayne and Pam of Gallivanter...the perpetrators of the surround-sound system plan... will be hanging in. All this movement is fueling the urge to be on our way. An email from friends in Atlanta have us planning a possible shakedown cruise in mid-late May and Tiffany wants to come in June sometime. Right now having a target date feels good....that may change when it draws closer!

Our hike this Sunday turned out to be a bit more adventurous. It was in a very lush area of forest a bit east of Asa Wright. Just the road getting there in the maxi was a bit exciting. We had to push it through mud a couple of times. The trail started out as an old plantation road, but quite soon was quite thick with ferns and flowers, until the last quarter mile where it positively dissolved away! Our leader Snake and his machete-bearing pals scouted ahead, found the falls and then hacked their way back to our little troupe! The falls when we reached them were quite lovely and very much felt off the beaten track. The water was icy cold (????) There were froggies doing their chorus thing all around and butterflies of many colors!. Of the group only three were yachties. Besides us there was a photographer Ibel who'd gone with us the week before. He schlepps three camera bags and a tripod! The first week he was a bit on the serious side, but this week he opened up and did lots of snaps for the Trinis, especially a courting couple who spent their whole lunch break ina romatic pose Snake and Chester, deciding that Ibel couldn't properly see the falls where he was set up because of some low boughs, climbed up the cliffside and just hacked them away! I hope I got a shot of Ibel, tripod in stream, surrounded by greenery and debris drifting downstream around him! Snake also proved his worth when we encounter one of his namesakes on the trail, what turned out to be one of Trinidad's two poisonous snakes, the Mappapee (Fer de Lance). He caught it, opened it's mouth and induced the poison from the fangs all for our edification. Then he made a bag out of one of his T-shirts, popped it in, and stuffed it (alive, mind you) in his back pack. Welcome to your new home snake #28.

Last night we both got haircuts -- much needed -- from a fellow cruiser. None of this trim stuff, this gal took upon herself total redesign, of me anyway....and I love it!!! Very close to what I got and loved in Martinique, but even shorter!!! A long wedge, she calls it. It is almost boyish, but yet quite feminine! All for $5! Averaged out over the last three months, not bad! She also did a nice job on Don, taming the top and sides, but showing proper respect for the curls at the back.

've got to dash. I finally have a roll of film to send off to Cruising World Magazine which has taken two short pieces from me for this summer. I lost the first roll I short last week when it failed to rewind. Not really the camera's fault, more a faulty flu-brained operator.

March 28, 2000
Fast-breaking news! TII due to get wet tomorrow morning, Wednesday the 29th. Will the boot stripe be under water? Which way will she list? Will the two captains get seasick?

I am jumping the gun here a bit to announce this news-to-happen as opposed to news-as-history since Jim and Ginny Wilson will be on the road in the RV heading back north to Indiana from their winter roost in Texas. This I'll take as a harbinger of spring back there in the States. Indeed reports have been coming in from as far north as Vermont that Mr. Robin has been seen and buds are popping out!

After four days of rain, Don managed to get two coats of bottom paint on yesterday under cloudy skies that restrained themselves before, during, and after. A miracle. Jackstands get moved today, and Don will use up the paint on the final patches. Zincs are changed, through-hulls serviced, prop is greased with Desitin, and we even ran the engine which surprised us by starting right up like it'd had been underway yesterday.

We will not go around the corner to the cheaper marina as we planned, at least not at first. It turns out we have seven days credit here AND someone took the slip we had our eye on next door. Sigh...we'll just have to put up with one more week of cable TV!

Then to top off the day's collected joys, we have a sunny day and a piping wind with which to test the modifications Don made to the Heart Battery Monitor. For a year now we have seen the solar panels collecting amps and keeping the voltage up, BUT the monitor was not crediting us for amp hours earned through alternate (not engine alternator or battery charger- generated) energy sources. Today, it is working! Now we watch the monitor and amp gauges almost attentively as cable!

Speaking of wind, there isn't usually much here in the protected bay, but the other night I woke like a shot as the boat jumped beneath me. Don snored right on through! I assumed that a freak gust of wind had given the boom, which we have vanged over to one side in order to best expose the solar panels, a mightly shake, so, I lay awake waiting for a repeat and trying to decide whether I needed to go up and center things. A couple of days later I learned that it wasn't a gust of wind I'd felt but an earthquake! Now there's a cheery image for sleeping up on jackstands!

The four days of rain spanned the weekend, and thus our Sunday hike. Amazingly this dampens everything but spirits. The rainforest gets only more beautiful, with mists threading through ferns and bamboo stands, and this particular route afforded us Smoky Mountain type vistas of layered clouds in the valleys. The falls once reached was roaring, thanks to all the rain. I went right in and let myself get pummeled under the torrent, which was surprisingly much warmer than last week's. Different mountain I guess. Don watched mildly from the sideline munching on his sandwich. What? He didn't want to ge wet?

The day started with an unannounced stop at a backyard zoo. The proprietor, Larry, keeps quite an assortment of animals in pens in his back yard, including several examples of indigenous wild creatures. We got to see and touch two local deer, about the size of a great Dane, a wild boar (not friendly), several Lapi which are related to Agouti (all looking like large guinea pigs (about 2'+) with rabbit-like haunches, a pair of Amazon parrots, and two indigenous bushy-tailed squirrels, which didn't get quite the reaction from the Americans as he might have desired. He also kept families of pigs, duck, turkeys and rabbits, and the baby bunnies had all us ladies in cuddle mode! The ironic motivation for this stop was our intended post-hike visit to a food fair in the remote village of Brasso Seco, where allegedly would be served some of these wild meats. By the time we got to the fair, however, all food for sale was gone, so our hungy and wet crew had to hold on until we got to town where we made do with pizza and fried chicken.

Meanwhile, back at the construction site, we got almost all our wood pieces back from the varnishers. Our wine box is in place and already has rum in it! The printer sits nicely on top just as we hoped. All the cabinet fronts are back in place and having the door to our head back has meant we can actually go back to showering on board. What luxury!

March 30, 2000
Hey race fans, WE ARE FLOATING AGAIN!!!!!

TII splashed this afternoon in an uneventful launching (just the kind you like to have). Very little water came inside the boat both to my surprise and relief. Every time you take these damn thru hull fittings apart to "service" them you never know whether it will be better or worse than before you took them apart, new packing in the stuffing box (around the prop shaft) and a new thru hull in the bottom of the boat for the AC unit, sea strainers cleaned and serviced---this all means a lot of places the water COULD now come into the boat that was dry as hell six months ago. But to my delight, this boat Captain's luck was better than usual with only a minor tightening of the stuffing gland needed. Engine started right up (I cheated and rigged the hose to run it in the yard yesterday so all our friends and yard helpers standing around wouldn't be able to make fun of me trying to figure out why it wouldn't start after a 6 month layup), and the wind blew like crazy, but we backed right out and went about 500 feet into our new slip. Tranny worked fine, and we didn't run over any dinghies or docks getting into our slip (always the mark of a good voyage).

urrently plugged back into power, cable and the wonderful feeling that we don't have to use the bucket in the middle of the night anymore. For those of you that are a tuned to life a sea and the workings of a ships' head, you will happy to know, as I was, that both heads survived the 6-month time out and are working perfectly. I was absolutlely positive that I would spend the better part of tomorrow rebuilding both of them. AH--it just doesn't get much better than this.!!

The list is still long but the end is in sight. We are actually looking at the calendar for our "first" guests to arrive. Not only will they have to learn about the new TII and ALL her systems, but they will have to learn that their Host and Hostess have not had guests on board for about 8 months and breakfast and coffee will be ready when we are GOOD and READY TO GET UP AND FIX IT!!!!!! Now who wants to be first????

Can't tell you how great it is to be back in the water and have the boat move under us. Gwen should have the website update out soon and all the pictures will be posted along with everything.

April 2, 2000
They keep telling us this is the dry season, and it keeps right on raining. And we're not talking sprinkles. We're talking all-day soakers! In truth, actually, much of this week was gorgeous, with enough bright sunshine and piping wind to get us sunburned while working out on deck, scrubbing off the layers of yard dirt and assembling many new fittings. It took two days before the wind dropped enough in the pre-breakfast hours to allow us to get the gib back up, but having it finally out of its sailbag and up off the deck was a real lift to our spirits.

We had forgotten how different life in the slip is from life in the yard. In the slip, one chats with passersby and from boat to boat. The boat next to us is French. She speaks French and English and he speaks French and Spanish. Having confessed that I enjoy speaking French when I have the opportunity and that I am trying to learn some Spanish, they have undertaken teaching me handy little phrases such as Bon Appetite in Spanish which is Buen Provecchio (or some such soundalike). We also had pizza last night with the Gallivanters Wayne and Pam and a cruising couple from Montreal. Franz (the lady) was thrilled to have someone to speak French with, and her husband Jean Lyon teaches geography and Universite de Montreal, which is where Roger Hart was a guest lecturer! Small world!

o, when has it been these all day soakers? Today. of course, Sunday...hike day. Again! We couldn't believe it! We held the faith and drove to the mountains, and amazingly it just rained harder and harder. On the way up, Snake decided we had to abort the day's planned hike which included a water sement through a gorge. He was concerned about all the rain coming down the river. Quick to regroup, he diverted us to a trail leading down from main ridge that tooks us downhill to the Lopinot Valley. Three hikers chickened out and stayed with the maxi, but the rain slackened off about 10-15 minutes later, and they missed quite an interesting day.

We joke that Snake knows everybody, and indeed we popped out of the woods at a cocoa estate whose proprietor, Cyril, took us in hand like a scheduled tour. Actually, it turned out that Cryril is the husband of Rajji, an Indian lady who has been hiking with us the past few weeks, who made the great pelau a few weeks back. It turns out that he and Rajji hope to open several guest rooms they are building to eco-tourists. He made us coffee from his home grown beans, showed us how cocoa pods become chocolate, and let us sample several fruits new to us, including Mamey Apples. We left with a bag full of cocoa beans, cloves and nutmeg for which we have directions that allegedly will turn it into cocoa, plus an order for a pound of Lopinot Valley coffee beans to be delivered on next week's hike!

urther down the road we passed three or four water buffalo staked out one by one along the road, secured with a muzzle and ring in the nose. Massively picturesque with large curling horns, they're evidently used for heavy draft work. Further on we passed down through a residential area into the town of Lopinot.

Lopinot clearly takes some pride in itself. They have a small museum established in the remains of the house that belonged to Compte Loppinot, a French officer who brought 100 "loyal slaves" to Trinidad and forged his way up into this valley in the early 19th century to plant the original cocoa estate. The town of Lopinot (one "p") has since had an interesting history. Its population dates back in part to those Africans, then to a small group of East Indians who settled here after their term of indentured servitude, and finally to an influx of Spanish families who were relocated to this valley in 1948 when the government put a dam in the next valley. The product of this combination is that Lopinot considers itself the home of Parang, a South American style music played with quite a range of string instruments all built in the town. We had a delightful demonstration of Parang in the museum, which chased the worst of the clouds away just in time for us to climb back into our maxi and drive home! Even in the rain these days are the highlight of our week.

omorrow, it's back to work!


Don & Gwen, The Two Captains


Other Web Sites of Interest for Fans of Paradise

www.thecoverts.com/csy…………info on CSYs

www.caribwx.com…………………A weather info site produced in Tortola by David Jones, the man we all depend on for our Caribbean cruising weather.

www.flagshipvi.com………………A display of the yachts currently chartering through Flagship, the clearing house Whisper and Tackless II cleared through.

www.islands.vi……….A web page featuring the USVI with links to many businesses


home | waypoints | logbook | reference shelf
chartering | engine room | galley | contact


Published at Burlington, VT