Thursday, July 13, 2006

Do It, Do It, Do It; Mighty Sparrow

July 13, 2006  Thursday
Chaguaramas, Trinidad

Several people have emailed me with requests that we continue posting to our blog even though we are just sitting in a marina for the next few months.  So we will try to post at least weekly.

We were saddened to learn this week that the husband of Judy’s eldest niece was killed in a car wreck on June 21st.  He apparently fell asleep while driving and veered into the path of an 18-wheeler.  It will be hard to be a widow at age 26 with two children; so our sympathies go out to Tonya, and especially to Kayla who has lost the only father she has ever known.  The other child is too young to understand what has happened.

Trinidad is not what we expected.  Not sure exactly what we expected, but this isn’t it.  This morning Judy told Bill that everything here is just too much.  Too many boats in too many marinas and too many boatyards.  WAY, WAY, WAY TOO many people talking on the VHF radio.  It is auditory overload all day long.  And there are not nearly enough VHF channels available for use because they reserve 7 channels for Trinidad Coast Guard and customs and other governmental people.  Then there are all the oil and gas platform workers using several of the channels.  And the North Post Station uses a few channels.  So there just aren’t enough channels left available for general public use.

Very few people use their dinghies here because there are so few places where you can tie up.  So most everyone uses the water taxis.  They cost only $5TT (I think).  You hail one on the VHF radio to come pick you up and tell him your intended destination.  A water taxi usually arrives within 2 minutes.  Then when you have finished with your errand, you hail him again.  And this goes on all day long for hundreds of people with multiple destinations.  We get tired of hearing this radio chatter all day, but if we turn off the radio then we would have no way of knowing when one of our friends is trying to contact us.  So it is an annoyance that must be tolerated, but it begins to wear on your nerves by the end of the day.

We put our dinghy in the water today and went goofing off around the harbor.  Just to get out of the boat.  Then we went over to the large marina across from us and checked out their shops.  They are one of the few places where there is room to tie off about 8 dinghies.  We were quite pleased to learn that they have a very decent little grocery store, much better than the little store in our marina.  Heck, this is almost like being back in the states.

On Tuesday we took the free van from our marina to a shopping mall in Port of Spain.  It was just like being in a shopping mall back in Houston.  That night we took the van to MovieTowne and saw Superman Returns.  That theater complex is just like one at home – stadium seating and 10 or 12 big screens.  Tickets are $25TT for evening movies; that is $3.88 USD.  The complex also had all kinds of familiar fast food establishments:  Burger King, Subway, Quizno’s, Long John Silver’s, TCBY, etc.  This is the first time we have seen any of these type eateries since we left Houston.  The only other fast food place we have seen in the entire Caribbean was KFC, and that was only in Grenada.  There are many KFC joints down here in Trini.  We have not visited one yet.  We ate dinner Tuesday night at Ruby Tuesdays.  It was great but a lot more food than we have become accustomed to eating at one meal.

This afternoon we walked down to Budget Marine to shop for items needed for two boat projects.  They didn’t have what we wanted, so we continued to Peake’s Chandlery; then to Power Boats Boat Works; then back to Budget Marine; then way down the road to Echo Marine; and then back again to Budget Marine.  This was the most walking we have done since moving on the boat.  At least the land was flat this time.  And we still did not get all the items we need to finish either one of the boat projects.  We hope to take a maxi-taxi on Saturday and try some more shops down towards Port of Spain.  This will be our first venture on a maxi-taxi here in Trinidad

Oh, and we got a gift today from someone who was having his boat hauled out on the travel lift that we are docked next to.  This guy had a Magma propane grill that he didn’t want anymore, so he asked if we would like to have it.  Of course we would!  This is a slightly larger grill than the one we have, and much nicer than ours.  We have a somewhat smaller Magma propane grill, so all our attachments, etc., will work with this gifted grill. It looks brand new.  The man said he decided that he is just not a grill kind of guy.  He was from Switzerland, so that doesn’t really surprise us that he prefers not to cook on a grill.

We have met some really nice people here in our marina; one couple in particular.  They are teaching us to play Mexican Train dominos.  Okay, I can hear our kids and brother and sister-in-law laughing their heads off over that statement.  We never in our wildest dreams thought we would ever play dominos.  (Judy’s dad played dominos all the time; it never appealed to her in any way.  And anyone who knows Bill will recognize that he is in no way a game type person.)  But Mexican Train is a big past-time with the cruisers, so we figured we might as well learn how to play.  When in Rome…….

 July 14, 2006   Friday

This is something that we talked about this week and planned to mention on this blog, but Bill beat Judy to the draw and already emailed it to several family members.  So some of you have already read the following:

It seems more and more like we are in some kind of old-fart retirement community.

- Most people play dominos
- There are domino tournaments
- There are bridge tournaments
- There are scheduled buses to the mall
- They make sure all of the people get back on the bus before leaving
- There are signs around the marina telling you what you can and cannot do and what time you can do it.
- It seems most conversations are about where you can get the most for less
- People complain about everything

Where is the damn concrete shuffle board?

I long for that time when we were all 20 - 30 something where the women would sun around the pool in bikinis and the guys would drink beer and talk about the women.

I guess the only difference between a retirement community and this place is: When we get fed up with all of this crap, we can and will leave and get pounded around in high seas acting like we are teenagers.


Here is another note about the VHF radio for those readers who are not boaters.  The proper procedure for hailing another boat is to say their boat name three times, followed by your boat name two times.  Sometimes this sounds rather funny because of the pronunciation; sometimes you cannot understand at all what is being said, especially when people try to get too cute when naming their boats.  Here is an example of a few hailings that we have heard here in Chaguaramas:

Tixie-Lixie, Tixie-Lixie, Tixie-Lixie;  Dommabomba, Dommabomba

Amazing Grace, Amazing Grace, Amazing Grace;  Alleleia!, Alleluia!

Wasabi, Wasabi, Wasabi; Caliente, Caliente

Mobely, Mobely, Mobely; Bagheera, Bagheera

Anger Management, Anger Management, Anger Management; South of Reality, South of Reality

And my all-time favorite:
Do It, Do It, Do It; Mighty Sparrow

Now, our boat name causes somewhat of a problem; we were actually surprised that the Coast Guard allowed us to use this name for our boat, although there are eight US documented boats on file named the same.  The reason we thought the name we had chosen would be denied is because there is a mariners’ navigational hazard VHF hailing call:  Security, Security, Security.  You are supposed to make this call to bring unusual navigational hazards to the attention of other boaters.  For example, if you saw a semi-submerged container lost from a freighter floating somewhere; or if there is a sunken vessel in waters shallow enough that it could cause a hazard to other vessels transiting through that area.  The correct pronunciation of the advice to mariners hail is Se-cur-i-tay, not Se-cur-i-tee; but it surprises us how many people do not know the correct pronunciation.  We have heard it pronounced incorrectly many times the farther south we have gone.  When we checked in with Trinidad customs, the officer did not like the fact that our boat is named Security.  But there wasn’t anything he could do about it because we have our USCG official documentation that reflects that the name of the boat legally is Security.

It does cause others to hesitate when hailing us.  They normally say “sailing vessel Security, sailing vessel Security; whatever, whatever.”  Not one person has hailed us by repeating our boat name three times as is customary.  This is one of the reasons that Judy is lobbying for a name change for this boat.  Plus, Security sounds really tight-ass.  We need a name that more correctly reflects our feelings about living aboard and sailing to different locales.  If anyone has any suggestions, please feel free to send them to us.  So far, Bill is not buying into the idea of changing the boat name but maybe there is some name that will change his mind. (Note: we later changed the name to BeBe)

A diver has just arrived to place a black bag over our prop since we will be sitting here at the marina for several months.  This bag is supposed to prevent the barnacles from growing on the prop as they did in Grenada.  We might hire him to also wax the topsides of our deck smooth areas and polish the stainless steel life rail and stanchions.  We are so lazy; most people do this type work themselves.

July 15, 2006  Saturday

Yesterday afternoon we cleaned out our sail locker and auxiliary anchor locker which are located on the bow (or bows for the correct nautical terminology, even though there is only one bow).  Apparently someone had sailed at one time without tightly securing the deck hatches for these two lockers – could have been us or could have been previous owner.  Either way, there was a small amount of old sea water down in both lockers.  Lovely smell. 

The anchor locker on the port side contained two anchors which have never been used, rope rode for both anchors, anchor chain for both anchors, and our asymmetrical sail.  Luckily, the sail was inside a sail bag and still sealed in a heavy plastic shipping bag so there was no water intrusion.  The anchor chain had been in cardboard boxes, which had disintegrated into a mushy, smelly mess. 

The sail locker on the starboard side contained the forward ballooner sail (size of a 150 genoa) (not in its sail bag) and the mizzen ballooner (properly packed in its sail bag), the storm sail (still sealed in its heavy plastic shipping bag), and sheets (ropes) for all three sails.  The forward ballooner sail had been used and not repacked into its sail bag.  It was wet with old sea water, and the bright red and blue colors had faded and stained the white sections in many places and mildew was starting to form.  Good thing we opened this locker now and didn’t wait another month because the entire sail locker would probably have been full of mildew.

These lockers are watertight, so we emptied the contents and sponged out the sea water.  Then Bill washed the interiors with fresh water and dried everything.  Cleaning the mushy cardboard out of the links of the anchor chain was a laborious process.  Cleaning the forward ballooner was kind of fun.

We spread the sail out over the deck and draped as much as possible over the mainsail boom; we tied it down as best we could on the windward side of the boat.  Then we washed the entire sail with fresh water, twice.  Then we flipped the sail and did the same for the other side.  This sail is a light-weight sail and we did not want to spread it out over concrete or rocks, so the best place to do this cleaning seemed to be on our own boat.

After the sail was cleaned, we raised it on a halyard and tied off one corner; so it was flying like a huge flag.  We did this to dry the sail; did not want to pack it away with any moisture still present.  Of course, just as it was almost dry; it started to rain.  So we quickly pulled it down inside the forward hatch into our forward cabin – affectionately known as “the library.”  Judy put towels under it just in case it might fade; certainly did not want to stain the upholstery or the carpet.

Today we went into Port of Spain on a maxi-taxi.  Tony and Sandy of S/V Columbine accompanied us to show us how to get around the area on the maxi-taxis.  We walked a bit around downtown and then happened upon the street of local produce vendors and meat vendors.  Don’t think we will be buying any meat down there; we are more the supermarket type (less flies and less smell); but we regret not bringing our canvas shopping bags for some produce.   

We ate lunch downtown and then took another maxi-taxi to yet another marine supplier that is located halfway between Chaguaramas and Port of Spain.  They had the correct type faucet/spigot that we need for our watermaker project.  What a relief.  That is what we had walked all over creation searching for a few days ago.  We want to install a diverter valve and spigot so that we can dump the first few gallons of desalinated water down the sink because it contains very high salt content.  We want to then divert the desalinated water to our water holding tank, and to collect the last few gallons to use as bottled drinking water.  The last few gallons is always the best tasting water.  Bill has quite a little plumbing project to do.  We are very pleased with the faucet/spigot that we bought today, and look forward to having this job completed.

When we returned to the marina, Tony and Sandy came over to our boat and we sat in the air-conditioned saloon.  We had a very enjoyable afternoon playing Mexican Train dominos while eating mango and peach sorbet with brownies.  We are both surprised that we are enjoying playing this game, at least with Tony and Sandy.  Don’t think we will ever want to play with any of the serious players.

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