Monday, August 28, 2006

Tired of Trinidad? Let's fly to Peru!

August 28, 2006   Monday
Chaguaramas, Trinidad

Just thought we would give a weekly update.  We are both looking forward to flying home at the end of this week, and then on to Peru for our wonderful vacation.  A vacation from cruising, isn’t that a hoot!  

The cruisers meeting with the US Embassy that Bill arranged was held last Thursday night.  Bill wrote the agenda and chaired the meeting.  We felt that it was successful and that eventually there will be a positive impact.  Also present were representatives from the British, Canadian and German embassies or consulates.  Between 180 and 200 cruisers attended.  One cruiser even translated what was said into Swedish for the few Swedish cruisers here who aren’t fluent in English.  There were also short speeches by representatives of the larger marine-related businesses in the area about what they are doing to try to curb the crime against cruisers here in Trinidad.  The US Embassy already had a meeting with the Trinidad Immigration officials about their inconsistent application of immigration laws, and one of the local Immigration officers was immediately reassigned to another location.

The day after the meeting, Judy was on a maxi-taxi with several British cruisers and overheard them talking about the meeting.  The Brits were insulted by the YSATT representative saying 3 times “this is not your country” and that things move slowly here in Trinidad and that if people “did not like the way things are being handled in Trinidad then they are welcome to leave.”  The cruisers were insulted because they have cruised all over the world and certainly do not need anyone to remind them that they are in a foreign country.  And they also know they can leave, which they plan to do as soon as hurricane season is over.  If Trinidad does not get their crime against cruisers under control; and, more specifically, change the attitude of some of the local officials and businesses; then Trinidad will be losing a huge amount of money as cruisers decide to go elsewhere.  YSATT is a trade representative organization.  They are supposed to represent the businesses with the higher authorities in the government.  YSATT does not seem all that effective in this regard, in our opinions.  We hope that the US Embassy carries more clout.  The Embassy will then follow up with the police and verify that the cases get worked on and not ignored or swept under a desk.

An interesting fact was learned because of this meeting.  We spoke with a reporter from the Caribbean Compass, a magazine that is distributed throughout the Caribbean.  When the reporter first arrived here in Chaguaramas, he visited the Carenage Police Dept and asked to see all crime reports involving cruisers.  He was shown reports for only 4 dinghy thefts.  There have been 20 dinghy thefts here so far this year.  These have been reported both to YSATT and to the Carenage police, yet the police only have formal reports for 4 of those 20.  The other reports have disappeared.  One of the security representatives of the US Embassy was a police officer here in Trinidad for 23 years.  He said off the record that the police are being paid under the table by the local businesses to make sure that the crime reports don’t find their way into the official police records.  The local business owners actually think this will keep the reports of crime from affecting their business.  Man, are they living in a fantasy world!  The internet cruisers websites and discussion boards are full of reports of how bad the crime has become down here.  They aren’t hiding a thing; they just think they are.

On Friday Judy participated in a local blood drive for a fellow cruiser.  He needs 10-12 units of blood to be donated in his name so that he can have an operation.  Poor guy had a heart attack about 6 weeks ago here in Trinidad and had a stent inserted.  Then he and his wife flew to Grenada so he could recuperate at a friend’s home there.  While in Grenada he experienced pain and underwent abdominal surgery for a tumor at the site of the appendix.  He was then in critical condition and Grenada has no critical care hospitals, so he was transferred back to Trinidad.  He is in a private hospital with unexplained internal bleeding and now needs an operation as soon as he becomes stable enough.

So 13 of us went to the blood center to donate.  Of the 13, only 3 of us were accepted as donors.   Since cruisers travel worldwide, everyone else was unacceptable as a blood donor because of the countries visited.   They will not allow you to donate blood if you have visited the Dominican Republic, basically anywhere in South or Central America, Africa, the Middle East, or the South Pacific.  Really narrows the donor pool.  Another group of 7 people are going today to try to donate for this guy.  He has already received 2 units from the 3 units donated last Friday.  They can’t operate on him until they receive more blood.  Hope the people today manage to get enough donated to see him through.

Bill went up the mast yesterday for the first time, with Judy handling the winch.  He actually went up twice.  The first time the bosun’s seat became very uncomfortable and the safety belt came unclipped.  So Judy lowered him down and we got out our new bosun’s seat.  Bill likes the new seat much better; thinks it is more comfortable.  Turned out that the light bulb that we had replaced in July was defective.  This is for the anchor light at the top of the mast; the one that you are supposed to turn on whenever you are anchored somewhere so that others can see you.   While he was up at the top of the mast, Bill also removed the windex and inspected for corrosion and then reconnected it.   Judy has no intention of ever going up that mast because she does not like heights.  Doesn’t bother Bill at all.

Bill has completed all the confined water dives for his PADI training.  He also must do 2 open water dives, but the weather has not been cooperating.  The dives keep getting rescheduled because of bad weather or low water visibility.   They have rescheduled again for tomorrow.  Sure hope he is able to get these last 2 dives completed this week.  We really do not want to have to hang around here after we return from Peru just so he can complete divers certification.  Bill is scheduled to take the final written exam this afternoon.   Then he just needs to do those 2 dives and he is finished.  Wish him luck.

Chuck and Pam on S/V Helen Louise want to buddy-boat with us to Los Testigos, Isla Margarita and Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela.  They are on an Amel exactly like ours, so that would be an ideal buddy-boat arrangement as we would be sailing at the same speeds.  They also want to leave here as soon as we return from our Peru trip.  We are all ready to move on to a new area. 

Judy has been stocking provisions for the past week.  Trying to get organized and have the boat well-stocked to last 4-5 months whenever we leave Puerto La Cruz at the end of October.  When we are in the San Blas Islands, there will be nothing whatsoever to buy.  So this does require a bit of planning.  Off to another supermarket tomorrow; for canned goods this time.  Trying to fill every little hidey-hole on the boat with foods that will last a very long time.  (and don't forget the toilet paper)

Judy and Bill are looking forward to sailing again soon.  And being back in crystal clear water.  Oh, how we miss that beautiful water.  And the feeling of sailing!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Armed Boardings (not us, thank God!)

August 19, 2006     Saturday
Chaguaramas, Trinidad
In the past 3 weeks there have been 2 armed boardings of cruisers boats.   The cruisers held a security meeting about a month ago, which resulted in a nightly dinghy watch -- sort of like a neighborhood watch back home.  Someone is awake in the anchorage and looking for "bad guys" each night.  They take 2-hour shifts to make certain that someone is on duty all night, every night.  We do not think this is a great idea because one of these vigilantes is likely to get hurt or in trouble with the local laws if they try to apprehend any wrongdoer.  After all, we are in a foreign country.

The first incident was quite a distance from us; the guy had anchored as close as possible to the airport so he was just off the largest city of Port of Spain.  He was boarded well after midnight by 3 men carrying pistols.  The boat owner claims to have fended them off with belaying pins and knives.  We think he probably had his own gun (which would be quite illegal; you are supposed to declare any guns onboard to Customs when you check into the country and they take them away from you).  But maybe he really did fight off 3 guys with guns by using knives; sounds doubtful to us.  Anyway, no one on the boat was injured enough to require any medical care.

A couple of nights ago there was another armed boarding, this time here in the Chaguaramas anchorage.  We are in Chaguaramas Harbor docked at a marina.  We are far less vulnerable than the boats that are on anchor or mooring balls out in the harbor.  Our marina has a security guard 24/7; there is no guard or police protection whatsoever out in the anchorage.  A Norweigian vessel was boarded about 3:00 a.m. by 3 men armed with guns.  These men had the same physical description of the 3 men who had boarded the vessel near Port of Spain a few weeks ago.  The dinghy description used to approach both vessels was identical.

There also was the armed robbery of 2 cruisers in a maxi-taxi last month, plus several physical assaults and robberies of people walking along roadsides.  So cruisers here are in an uproar.  Several plan to leave as soon as they can complete various boat work projects, which will be in violation of the insurance requirement to stay below lattitude 10 degrees 50 minutes North.

Bill contacted the US Embassy here in Trinidad.  The Foreign Service Officer wants to become involved.  He has asked Bill to assist in arranging a Wardens' Meeting regarding both the issue of immigration difficulties and the issue of crime locally.   Bill will be making announcements on the VHF net each morning next week, and we hope there will be a good turn-out of cruisers.  We believe that the only solution to this crime and immigration problem will come from involvement of high level officials with the T&T government.  The Minister of Tourism needs to have his eyes opened with some hard facts by someone with a bit of authority.  Bill did a brief analysis and computed that the cruisers here contribute 30,000,000 TT dollars PER MONTH to the Trinidad economy.  They need to get on the ball and do something before they lose this business.  Cruisers can and will go elsewhere if something is not done soon. 

Many of the cruisers are writing letters and articles for various magazines and newspapers and online websites.  We think this will have a very negative effect.  We really wish they would wait until after the US Embassy has their meeting with the cruiser community and the local businesses and see what can be accomplished at a higher lever.  Once these letters and articles are published, the damage to the Trinidadian economy will be fait accompli. 

Apparently, Trinidad used to have a Marine Police; but recently disbanded that unit.  So now there is no police or protection entity on the waters at all -- nothing whatsoever.   The T&T Coast Guard is charged with only the duty of protecting Trinidad and Tobago.  They are not responsible for the safety and security of cruising boats within their waters.  This is absolutely nothing like the US Coast Guard.  When the Norweigian vessel gave a May-Day call the other night, the T&T Coast Guard would not even respond.  The Coast Guard finally did respond after several cruisers got on the VHF and told them that they must answer the May-Day call.  It took them more than an hour to respond, and they only had to travel about 1 mile.  This attitude is beyond our comprehension.  Guess we have been spoiled by the US Coast Guard.

Anyway, this won't concern us too much longer; as we are leaving for our Texas & Peru trip on September 1 and returning here the night of September 16.  We plan to leave Trinidad as soon as possible after our retun on Sept. 16 and will be heading to Venezuela.  As Judy told someone this morning, we plan to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire. 

BTW, Judy went shopping at a mall yesterday while Bill did a diving class.  This mall was like being back in the US.  Except there is not a waterproof digital camera to be purchased anywhere in Trinidad.  We hope to find one in Houston.  Judy did find new dishes for the boat and several new galley items.  Haven’t like shopping in malls for years but now it is something of a novelty and far more enjoyable.

We now have our own set of Mexican Train Dominoes.  Look out anyone who comes to visit us.  You will be required to learn this game.

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.

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Straaange food

August 5, 2006   Saturday
Chaguaramas, Trinidad

“Do It, Do It;   Little Sparrow”

“Alleluia!, Alleluia!;   Heresy”

“Cantana, Cantana;  Encantada”

See what we mean about some of these boat names sounding funny on the VHF raido when they hail one another?  And it gets a little confusing when there are duplicate names in the same area.  There are several boats here named Traveler and a couple named Liberty.  They waste a lot of radio time trying to connect with the correct boat.  Since we are the only idiots who named their boat Security, we never get confused with another boat.  BTW, last week Bill was talking on the VHF with Tony of S/V Columbine when an unidentified man butted in and said that Security is a very bad, bad name for a boat.  Judy said that the next time that happens that we should tell that person that his opinion will be given the full consideration that it deserves.

We have no internet for the weekend.  The local WiFi office changed some settings and now it doesn’t work, so they went home for the weekend.  We only hope that it is repaired Monday.  This is getting a bit ridiculous.  Bill already contacted the president of the WiFi company in Canada and obtained a free month of service in consideration for all the outages we have experienced prior to this weekend.

August 6, 2006   Sunday

We are coming home for a visit!!!!!

This was totally unexpected.

We had been sort of half-heartedly considering going with several other cruisers on a tour package trip to Machu Picchu October 2-11.  We were not very serious about the trip because we truly want to leave Trinidad mid-to-late September to start across northern Venezuela.  We must plan our passages between here and Panama by predictable weather patterns.  We need to make the 650NM passage from Aruba to the San Blas Islands at Panama BEFORE the winter winds begin in December, and we will be spending the entire month of October in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela.  So, if we stayed in Trinidad an extra month in order to do a group trip to Machu Picchu in early October, that would throw our schedule off weather-wise.  We need to be in the ABCs by third week of November, and enroute to Panama no later than first week of December.

On Friday afternoon Judy visited the local travel agent with the person who is trying to organize this early October group trip.  The really, really bad part about flying to Lima from Trinidad is that one must sit in the Caracas airport for 12 hours, arrive Lima at midnight and sit in that airport until 6:00 a.m. for the flight to Cusco (Machu Picchu area).  That very much did not appeal to us and there are no other options.    But, and this is a big but, we found that we can fly Continental Airlines direct from Trinidad to Houston and then direct from Houston to Lima – AND WE GET TO USE OUR AIR MILES!!!!  (You know, those frequent flyer miles that you need to either use or lose because they become more worthless each year.)  And we will arrive in Lima at 10:45 p.m. and not leave on the flight to Cusco until 1:15 p.m. the next day.  A far more leisurely paced trip and much more to our liking.  Who would want to fly and sit in airports for more than 24 hours and then go hiking around a city where most people are affected by altitude sickness when they arrive.  We want more time to slowly adjust to the altitude.

And, it gets even better.  We were able to arrange our flights so that we arrive in Houston on Friday afternoon of Labor Day weekend; then our flight to Lima does not leave until Tuesday at 4:00 p.m.  So we will have 4 days to visit with friends, family and grandkids.  Basically, we are getting two trips in one.  Judy is very excited about getting to see Zachary and Elisabeth again.  We will be able to pick up some cold weather clothing from our stash of clothes at John’s condo on our way down to Lima.  And we will have a seven hour layover in Houston on our return trip; and that will give us enough time to drop off those cold weather clothes (certainly do not need them where we sail), and possibly we will have time to shop at Sam’s for some of those hard-to-find items.

So we will be spending our 37th wedding anniversary touring Peru – Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley, and Tambopata (at a small hut on stilts in the Amazon Jungle; how romantic is that!).  This is the kind of travel that we hoped to do while cruising.  We won’t do very many of these special inland trips, but Machu Picchu and Amazon Jungle were on our list of places to see.  We had originally thought that we might sail to Ecuador next year and do this inland trip.  That would have delayed our trip to the Galapagos Islands, so this is a much better idea.  And after four months initial separation, it is time for Judy to visit Zachary and Elisabeth (the grandkids) so they can see that she really hasn’t abandoned them forever.

August 7, 2006    Monday

There are now three Amel Super Maramu 2000 boats here in our marina, plus another one on the hard in the storage boatyard.  S/V Lady Annabelle from Nice, France arrived over the weekend.  The owners are Pierre and Ellen; he is obviously French and she is Dutch.  They recently were in Brazil, where they ventured up a river and badly stained their hull.  Their boat is now a yellowish color and Pierre is most unhappy about it.  He keeps his boat immaculate, so we are sure he will have that staining removed post-haste.

Poor Tony and Sandy on S/V Columbine now feel like they are surrounded by Amels – and they are!   Docked next to them is S/V Lady Annabelle (hull #339); in front of them is S/V Helen Louise (hull #355); and behind them docked at a 90-degree angle on the travel lift dock is S/V Security (hull #387).  Considering that the Amel factory only produces about thirty boats per year, it is somewhat surprising that three boats with hull numbers so close together would find themselves docked at the same marina.

We had dinner with Pierre and Ellen on Saturday evening at Sails Restaurant.  The grilled grouper and steamed fresh vegetables were delicious.  Pierre and Ellen have been living on their boat for a little over three years.  Bill learned several maintenance tips from Pierre, so now our list of boat chores has grown.  Pierre advised us to remove the wind anemometer (we call it a windex) from the top of the mast any time the boat will be sitting unused.  He already had to replace his (to the tune of more than $1,000) because it was locked in place by corrosion.  So Bill will be making a trip to the top of the mast to check the condition of the windex before we leave Trinidad.

August 10, 2006   Thursday

We attended the monthly cruiser’s breakfast this morning.  Normally, this monthly breakfast is just for SSCA members (we are members); but as of this month they have started inviting any cruisers who wish to attend.  There was a presentation from the Pointe-a-Pierre Wildfowl Trust here in Trinidad.  Sort of interesting film and short talk.  It is the only wild fowl sanctuary in the world that is located surrounded by an oil refinery.  Beautiful birds there, but we aren’t interested in touring a swampy area and get eaten alive by mosquitoes while bird watching.  We will save that experience for the Amazon jungle part of our Peru trip next month.

They served a traditional Trini breakfast this morning.  Straaanngge food!  There was some sort of very spicy cooked tomato mixture that was served with wedges of thick Indian flatbread.  That was the best item on the buffet.  They also served a roasted eggplant mixture; some cheeses and boiled eggs served together; and a “salad” that consisted of sliced Vienna sausages and onions and pepper slices marinated in a slightly vinegary sauce and topped with sliced avocadoes.   And some kind of salt fish dish with sliced peppers and onions, which was truly horrible, horrible, horrible.  Bill tried a bit of every dish except the salt fish.  Judy took the tiniest taste of the salt fish and ruled it vile.  Will never try salt fish again regardless of how it is prepared.  How did all those English sailors of yesteryear survive on that stuff?!!  There were a lot of bread rolls with butter consumed this morning, but it was a nice opportunity to sample local food in a nice restaurant setting.

Bill registered today for diver’s training.  He wants to be PADI certified so that he will be able to do work under our boat should the need ever arise.  You cannot purchase air tanks or get them filled anywhere unless you are PADI certified.  DiveTNT is located here in our marina and is offering classes now.  Bill should be able to complete the study materials and pass the written tests and finish all the required dives before the end of this month. 

We also have 13 items on our boat chore list that need to be completed before the end of this month if we want to be able to leave here as soon as we return from the Houston/Peru trip next month.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Storm is NOT coming this direction

August 2, 2006   Wednesday
Chaguaramas, Trinidad

We received email today from persons concerned about what preparations we are making for Tropical Storm Chris.  The answer is:   nothing.  Maybe some people need a globe so that they can understand the geography of the Leeward and Windward islands.  That was the entire reason for our mad dash south during the month of May, so we would be well south of the normal hurricane paths before the hurricanes began forming this year.

We have attached a photo of the projected path for T.S. Chris.  As you can see, we are about 500 miles south of the projected path.  Don't see any way that the storm could change course and make it even half-way down to Trinidad.

BTW, sunrises are a little strange in Chaguaramas.  The sunrise is visible in the west, not in the east.  That sounds backward; but due to the hills east of our dock, the sunlight first appears on the constantly hanging low clouds to the west of us.  The sky slowly brightens to daylight, with the clouds west of us turning deeper and deeper pink, until suddenly the sun bursts forth on the east side and the clouds suddenly assume their normal white coloration.  Judy is enjoying the cool morning breezes while watching the backwards sunrise. 

And also watching all those birds.  Today there were at least 2 dozen hawks circling over the harbor for an hour before full sunrise.  As the sun brightened, the hawks flew back to the tops of the trees on the hills east of us.  Judy has also seen a couple of eagles.  That was a surprise.  For some reason, we just never thought of eagles on the Caribbean islands.

We played Mexican Train dominos this afternoon with Tony and Sandy of S/V Columbine.  They joined us in the air-conditioned comfort of our saloon.  We enjoy their company and also (much to our surprise) we enjoy playing this silly domino game.  We still do not feel ready to play in the big domino matches on Sunday afternoons at CrewsInn.  Those people take it too seriously.  But playing with Tony and Sandy is fun.

Tonight we met the family from Sealoon for dinner at Joe's Pizza.  This is James, Noeleen and their daughter Nicola.  They have hauled their boat down at IMS and should be back in the water next Monday.  They will be docking at CrewsInn right across the harbor from us (about 150 feet from our bow).  We had a fun evening visiting with them.  Also had the best Caesar salad that we have had since we left Houston.  We hope to see more of Sealoon over the next month.  They are also going to Puerto La Cruz and then onward to the San Blas Islands; same places we plan to visit.  But they might be going a little sooner than us.  We do hope to meet up with them again in future harbors.