Sunday, July 30, 2006

18 dinghies stolen here so far this season

July 30, 2006              Sunday
Coral Cove Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad

Nothing particularly interesting happening with us.  Our eldest son said our description of a marina sounds like an RV park and that about sums it up.  Judy is ready to move on; seems like three weeks in a marina is about all she tolerates.  But we need to force ourselves to sit here until at least mid-September.  The insurance company says we must stay here until November 30; but that is not possible, as other cruisers are now learning.  We arrived July 8, so we must leave by October 6.

One can only stay in the country for 90 days.  But many countries popular with the cruising community do not strictly enforce the 90 day limit.  One can apply for an extension of an additional 90 days, but that is proving quite difficult to obtain.  One can also leave the boat here (in a marina or boatyard only) and fly to another country; however, the Trinidad and Tobago immigration and customs officers will not tell you in advance that you will be allowed to re-enter the country.  They can deny you re-entry unless you have been out of the country for a minimum of 30 days.   As a result, many people are leery of flying home for a couple of weeks – they might not be allowed back into Trinidad and Tobago.  The officials here are not particularly cruiser friendly, which somewhat surprises us because the cruisers bring a significant income source to this island which has led to quite an increase in local employment.   Also, the T&T government is blatantly corrupt from the top down.  That doesn’t help the situation.

Friends on another boat planned to stay here for 6 months.  Their first 90 days ends on August 8.  The immigration and customs officials have given them a court date of August 15, at which time they will learn whether they can stay another 90 days or if they must leave the country that day.  The one week extension was granted to allow for the court date.  As their boat is in the midst of several major repairs, it will be very inconvenient if they suddenly are forced to leave the country.  This is so strange because they were in Trinidad last hurricane season and there were no problems in obtaining an extension allowing them to remain in the country beyond the initial 90 days.  We have no idea why the local officials are harder to deal with this year than they were last year.

So far this season there have been at least 18 dinghies and outboards stolen.  This sounds rather petty; but to replace a dinghy and outboard usually costs at least $5,000, more if you want something fancy.  We paid for additional insurance coverage for our dinghy and outboard; so if it gets stolen, we should only have to pay $1,000 for replacement.  We keep our dinghy up on the davits and locked with a cable.  The outboard is kept down inside the locked stern lazarette.  We are so fortunate to have this huge lazarette locker; other boats don’t have such large storage spaces.

Last night a boat in the boatyard at our marina was broken into.  Don’t know yet what was stolen but the 2 guys were caught on video walking past the guard shack entering the boatyard and they never appeared leaving.  So they must have exited by going over the fence in an unmonitored area of the boatyard. Seems like either a boat is boarded or broken into or a dinghy is stolen about every 2 days lately.  Probably to feed a drug habit.  We are glad that we installed our security alarm system before we arrived here.  BTW, our alarm system is the talk of the marina by all the other cruisers.  Everyone loves this system and how well it works.  Bill should become a sales rep for the alarm company.

On Wednesday, 3 sailboats in the Power Boats boatyard fell over due to the winds.  Heck, the winds weren’t all that high.  Seems to us that the boats simply were not chocked properly.

A note about the people of Trinidad.  Slavery was abolished here a very long time ago, way before the US got around to doing it.  Because workers were needed and the freed slaves did not want to work in the sugar fields, etc., (understandably, since they had just been freed from that requirement), approximately 150,000 people were brought over from India to fill the jobs.  This was a very long time ago.  As a result of racial inter-marriage during the past two centuries, the people of Trinidad have very distinctive appearance.  Some are quite beautiful or handsome.  The Indian influence is seen throughout the island.  It is particularly notable in the local foods.  There is a Muslim community and a large Hindu community.  The Hindu Celebration of Lights is supposed to be very beautiful and interesting.  We will be gone before that occurs this year.

It has taken 58 years for it to happen, but Judy actually now enjoys early mornings (or at least tolerates them more cheerfully).  Going to bed by 10:00 p.m. each night probably has a lot to do with this change of acceptance of mornings.  It is very enjoyable to sit in the cockpit very early in the mornings as the sun rises and before the heat builds for the day, and enjoy a cup of tea (she still misses that morning black coffee even after not drinking it for 8 months) while watching all the birds flitter about the harbor.  The parrots fly in formation somewhat like geese.  They are very loud birds and tend to fly mostly during early morning and late afternoon.  There are a wide variety of birds here and some are quite colorful.  Some smaller bright yellow birds come down onto the decks of the sailboats, have no idea what they are.  The parrots never land on a sailboat or mast; they just fly overhead in formations.  It is rare to see a single parrot, they usually fly in groups of 3, 5 or 7.  Funny.

Oh, another cruiser has been suffering nausea, dizziness and loss of appetite for weeks.  She thought she was seasick from all the rolling at these marina docks; she visited and ENT doctor and he couldn’t find anything wrong.  She finally got a diagnosis.  She has a parasite, one often found in bottled drinking water because bottled water does not contain chlorine.  Anyway, based on the doctor’s counsel, she was able to purchase Flagyl over the counter here.  That is a prescription drug back in the US.  A week’s worth of Flagyl cost here a whopping $11 TT; that is about $1.76 USD.  Makes us wonder why we bothered to fully stock a medical kit before leaving the states.

There is a tremendous amount of rolling in this harbor, even tied to a marina dock.  We are docked on the travel lift so we face bow-to most of the roll, rather than beam-to like all the other boats at all of the marinas.  Normally, we have experienced a pleasant movement – except during the tide changes.  At both low tide and high tide each day we experience the roll.  The depth where we are docked is only about 15 feet, and the tide swing is 3 ½ feet; so that is a significant percentage of water depth change.  And it happens over about a 20-30 minute period each time the tide hits a low or high.  So this morning our boat was rolling like crazy.  Bill checked and the fenders were getting messed up by the wooden dock.  There were some loose nails that were just tearing up the fenders.  These fenders are more than 3-feet long and cost about $250-$300 each.  He dug around in our stern lazarette and found that we own a fender board.  So he nailed down all the loose nails along side the dock by our boat; rigged 3 of our fenders onto the life rail; and then put down the fender board with 3 additional fenders between the fender board and our hull.  These fender boards are used often in Europe where the tides are significantly larger than what we are experiencing here in Trinidad.  It seems to be working great so far today.

Judy has a cold and feels terrible.  It is a crappy, rainy day.  A great day for watching DVDs or reading and doing absolutely nothing.

Like we said earlier in this post; just not much going on with us.

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