Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The ITCZ and various musings

August 16, 2006   Wednesday
Chaguaramas, Trinidad
Nothing much to say today but thought we would give a weekly update.

Bill is progressing in his PADI diving classes.  He has done two pool dives and is scheduled for dive number three tomorrow.  They are supposed to do one or two open water dives next week.  He is enjoying it.  Judy has infinitely less than zero interest in learning to dive.  It will be a test of Bill's salesmanship skills to convince Judy that this is something that she should also learn to do and that it might actually be fun to dive together.  Today is a dreary rainy day, so this is a good time for him to read another chapter of the dive book.

According the the VHF morning cruisers' net weather guru, the ITCZ has been bulging into the Trinidad area during the past week.  The ITCZ is the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone.  It is located near the equator encircling the whole earth.  It normally extends five to ten degrees lattitude both north and south from the equator, but it changes seasonally and bulges out further in a few parts of the world.  Right now it is bulging northward here in the Trinidad area.  When this happens, the area will experience exceptionally still air with sporadic tiny squalls passing through.  It has been unusually hot and still all week.  Today it is finally raining a bit, so we are hopeful that the ITCZ is retreating southward again. 

Another ITCZ bulge typically occurs between Panama and the Galapagas Islands.  That is why that 850NM passage is known for being unpleasant.  One tends to think of South Pacific sailing as all downwind, but it can be a hard beat to the Galapagas.  That is tentatively on our itinerary for next March/April.  Judy has been studying historical global weather patterns so that we can plan our passages accordingly.  Bill seems to be leaving this decision entirely up to Judy; he wants her to do the reading and then tell him what our best options would be for the next specific area that we plan to visit.  He does not want to be bothered with any long-range planning.  Anything more than this week is considered long-range at this point.

The Trinidadians drink some strange sodas.  They bottle Fanta drinks here in Trinidad.  We bought a bottle of red soda, thinking it was probably strawberry flavored.  Nope, it is Sorrel.  And it is way too strong of a taste for either of us.  It is made from the flower of the sorrel plant.  One thing we have also noticed (please pardon if we have mentioned this previously in our logs) is that Pepsico produces all their drinks bottled here in Trinidad with plain, old-fashioned sugar.  They do not use that awful high-fructose corn syrup that is in literally every product sold in the US.  If you don't already know about all the negative health concerns about high-fructose corn syrup, you should do some research on it.  Judy thinks it should be illegal to sell the stuff as it is causing epidemic diabetes and obesity in the US.  Your body actually metabolizes it totally different that normal corn syrup or any other sugar.  It should be avoided as much as possible, but it is the cheapest sweetener to use so the food processors will continue to use it.  Check it out for yourself.

Last Saturday night we joined six other cruisers for a great evening out.  We took a taxi (van) to Jenny's Chinese.  Jenny's was a very nice surprise.  We had no idea that restaurants of that caliber existed on Trinidad.  Very nice place.  The food was okay; not outstanding, not still good.  Judy had a vegetarian platter that was wonderful, and something called Kar Har Noi Nip soup.  Could not identify one ingredient in the soup but it was quite tasty with lots of chewy/crunchy tiny tidbits in it.  This was a dressy evening and Judy again wished that she had brought a pair of high-heel sandals.  She has a long black skirt and a silk top onboard for these rare dressy occasions, but just doesn't feel "dressed up" when wearing flat sandals.  Maybe she can find a pair of her better shoes in our stuff stored in John's attic when we are in Houston next month.  Bill is fine with the clothes he brought.  Clothing choices are so much easier for men.

There is a high-speed huge catamaran ferry from Trinidad to Tobago.  It only costs 50TT each way (8 USD) per person.  We do not know the speeds traveled, but it goes total of 85NM in 2 1/2 hours.  That is pretty darn fast for a boat!  We would very much like to go over for a few days.  Tobago is supposed to be beautiful and totally different from Trinidad.  In case we haven't mentioned it earlier, the actual name of this country is Trinidad and Tobago.  The country consists of only those two sister islands; and they are supposed to be complete opposites.  Tobago is much, much smaller and is supposed to have beautiful beaches and reefs for snorkeling and popular with tourists.  The water there is clear blue and green.  Trinidad is more industrial with the oil refineries down on the south side.  We have not seen any of that area; we have stayed on the NW area of the island.  The water in Trinidad is pure brown, caused by sediment dumped by the Orinoco River in Venezuela into the Atlantic.  This western side of Trinidad is not a pretty place.  We miss the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean.

There is a real problem with Immigration in this country.  They want to strictly enforce the rule of allowing people to remain in Trinidad for only 90 days.  They are quite happy for you to leave your boat here for as long as you wish in a marina or a boatyard, but they don't want the boat owners to remain here.  That is so stupid!  When the boat owners are here, they are spending money -- on all kinds of things from boat parts, food, taxis, labor, clothing, tours, etc.  The Immigration officials just don't get it.  Seems incredibly dumb to us.  But we will be gone before our 90 days is up, so it isn't a problem for us.  It is becoming a big problem for lots of other people.  Our friends, Tony and Linda on S/V Columbine had their hearing yesterday.  Immigration made it as difficult as possible and it looked like they would be denied an extension; but they have been granted approval to remain in the country until late November.  Their boat is somewhat torn apart with many work projects being done simultaneously.  It would have been very bad if they had been told that they had to leave the country immediately yesterday.

This happened to another cruiser within the past year.  His application for extension was denied and he was told to leave the country immediately, even though his boat was not in sea worthy condition.  He also was in the middle of several work projects.  But rather than go to jail, he left Trinidad enroute to Grenada.  His boat sank 30 miles outside Grenada.  He was rescued by some Grenadian fishermen.  That man is now back in the states and traumatized by what happened to him.  He lost everything that he owned.  The immigration officials here in Trinidad don't care.  Nice people, aren't they?  Officialdom at its best.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comment will be posted after we confirm that you are not a cyber stalker.