Friday, July 15, 2016

Swallowing the Anchor

This is a difficult post to write.  

Bill and I will soon become CLODS.
We have a few months left, but that departure time will be here before we know it.

Some readers (sailors!) will know that acronym.  For the non-sailing folks, a CLOD is a Cruiser Living On Dirt.  The other oft-heard expression is that we are 'swallowing the anchor.'  Either expression tells you that we have reached the end of our cruising years and it is time to retire back to land.  I would continue cruising for another year or possibly 2, but Bill is ready to call it quits now.  And we each have always believed that when one partner is ready to stop cruising, then it is time to stop.  How awful it would be to live on a boat with someone who does not wish to be there.  We have seen that situation in some other cruisers and it never works out well for either partner.  Plus, there are so many things that I physically cannot do anymore due to my painful arthritic hip and damaged knees.  Boat life has become increasingly difficult for me physically.  It is time to quit and find an easier lifestyle.

Lori, Bill and Dan with BeBe in background
BeBe already is under sales contract to soon-to-be new owners, Dan and Lori Carlson of Chicago.  Dan and Lori flew to Trinidad last Friday and spent several days with us going over BeBe.  They presented us with a sales contract and we accepted.  

Bill sent an email to about 20 people who had contacted us over the past 18 months looking for a boat like ours.  All these people were looking to purchase an Amel, preferably a Super Maramu 2000 model such as BeBe. Five people responded that they were interested in seeing BeBe and might be serious buyers.  We did not want to show the boat to anyone until late September as there were several things we wanted to do first -- such as clean carpets and empty some of the overly stuffed lockers.  It is amazing how much junk one can accumulate living on a boat for 10+ years.

But Dan was insistent that because of employment commitments mid-July was the only time he and Lori could make the trip to check-out the boat.  We finally said 'okay' but that they would have to stay in a hotel because we did not want company on board while our 2 grandchildren were with us.  And they would have to understand that the boat has not been cleaned and prepped for sales viewing.  Dan said they wanted to see how we lived aboard anyway; they had already looked at several Amels listed for sale over the past few years but those boats had all been emptied.  They wanted to see ours while still filled with all our 'stuff' -- to see how real cruisers live.

While they were here in Trinidad they had the opportunity to join the cruiser group playing Sunday afternoon Mexican Train Dominoes.  And our friends, Simon and Jenny aboard Fenecia, joined us all for dinner one evening aboard BeBe so they had a small opportunity to see what the cruising life is all about -- the people one meets out here.

Bill and I will be flying home to Houston with the grandchildren for the month of August, then we will return to Trinidad and begin trying to figure out what should be shipped back to Texas and how.  We will sail BeBe north to the US Virgin Islands where we will meet Dan and Lori in early January and spend a few weeks familiarizing them with the unique sailing characteristics of this Amel Super Maramu 2000.

And then Bill and I will be retiring to our little bungalow in Galveston.  Bill has a number of activities planned for retirement:  1) he has been appointed Vice Commander of the Galveston Squadron of the Texas Navy; 2) volunteering at the Texas Lone Star Flight Museum doing maintenance on those old WWII airplanes; and 3) volunteering on board  the tall ship Elissa, where he crewed before we began this round-the-world 10+-year sailing adventure.  I have no idea how my time will be occupied once we are CLODs next winter.

Return to Trinidad

The overnight sail from Le Phare Bleu Marina on the southern coast of Grenada south to Chaguaramas, Trinidad, was far better than we ever would have hoped to experience.  The last time we made this passage in 2006 both Bill and I were either seasick or on the verge of being seasick most of the way because conditions were so lively.  Back then we did the rhumb line which took us between the Hibiscus and Poinsettia offshore gas rigs.  Since we had grandchildren aboard this time we opted to take the route recommended by the Trinidad coast guard.   Well....almost.  The coast guard recommends going 10 miles east of the Poinsettia gas rig.  I think we went about 5 miles east of that rig before angling southwestward toward the cut between the islands to arrive in Chaguaramas.  Wind was from 80 degrees true and sailing conditions were quite nice.  Even little Damien, who is prone to motion sickness, managed to enjoy the trip without incident.  I did not feed him dinner but instead allowed him to eat granola bars and ginger cookies to his heart's content while limiting water consumption to sips.  We were all extremely pleased that he did not get seasick and enjoyed the trip.

Funny thing is that last December when we made the reservation the marina required a starting date for the season contract.  It is impossible to plan any sailing 6 months in advance but we made a wild guess and noted on the calendar that we would sail overnight from Grenada to Trinidad on Sunday, 26 June, thus having the berthing contract commence on Monday, 27 June 2016.  And that ended up being exactly what happened.  Surprised us.  Usually plans made that far in advance do not happen as originally planned.

Chaguaramas has changed a bit over the past decade.  It is more built-up with shipping facilities.  The pleasure yacht berthing has not increased but the facilities for commercial shipping have increased.  There *might* be a few more moorings in place; impossible for either of us to remember how crowded that mooring field was 10 years ago but it does appear slightly larger and more crowded today than it was back then.  

Last time we berthed in Coral Cove Marina because we were unable to get into Crews Inn Marina.  This time we were able to book Crews Inn Marina 6 months in advance.  And everything is now switched!  Previously, even as recently as 3 years ago according to our sailing friends, most of the cruisers berthed at Crews Inn Marina.  All the social activities were held at Crews Inn.  Today, all the social activities are over on the Coral Cove side of the bay, mostly near Power Boats at the Roti Hut.  The only cruiser social activity still held at Crews Inn  are the Sunday afternoon games of Mexican Train Dominoes.  Even the ATM machine is now located on the other side of the bay. And there no longer are any water taxis!!  It is a long, hot walk around to that other side.  At least the little supermarket is still open on the Crews Inn side.  And Jesse James still operates the Members Only Maxi-Taxis for shopping trips and island tours.  So far we have not gone anywhere.  The Crews Inn Marina is home today mostly to local power boats.  Cruisers arrive for a day or 2 and then have the boats hauled out while they fly home for a month or 2 or 3.  It is very different here in Trinidad for cruisers than what we experienced 10 years ago.  Things always change.

We attempted to get the grandkids interested in taking sailing lessons while here in Trinidad but neither kid wants to do that.  One is too young to form an opinion, but the 14-yr-old nixed the idea because the type of sailboats used for lessons here are not like what her school at home uses so she sees no point in learning to sail these.  We tried explaining that knowing one kind of boat would benefit her in learning another type of boat but teenagers resist reasoning sometimes.  We saw no benefit in forcing the kids to participate in an activity, so there will be no small boat sailing lessons for them this summer. 

Last evening there was a manager's cocktail party for cruisers berthed in Crews Inn.  That was very nice of the management.  Food was good (West Indian spicy!) and beverages aplenty.  Even the grandkids enjoyed the function.

For about a week a boat which had crossed the Atlantic with us last January was berthed next to us here.  We very much enjoyed catching up with Simon and Jenny aboard Fenecia. They moved over to Power Boats this morning so we won't be seeing them again much.  We do not want to put our dinghy in this dirty water of a commercial harbor and get it covered in the fuel slime that floats in patches all over this bay.  We will be flying home to Houston in about 2 weeks and do not want to have to clean the dinghy in order to store it on the mizzen deck when we leave, so it will just stay on that deck and remain clean and we must walk around to the chandleries and whatever else boat-related that we might want to do.

Red streaks for the young girl.
Elisabeth, a/k/a BeBe, and I each had our hair colored at the salon here at Crews Inn.  Me to cover the sparkles of gray and she to add trendy streaks of bright red.  Nice that there is a hair salon on premises that does good work.

We have made no island touring trips yet.  The kids were not interested in seeing any of the swamps, nature preserves, the pitch lake or even the trip to watch turtles lay eggs.  They liked the idea of the turtle trip until they learned that it is done very late at night.  Nothing we have suggested has interested either of them.  The young one has enjoyed the hotel swimming pool on days when the rain stops.  It has really been a rainy season so far this month!   I hope to at least take the kids on a day trip somewhere to sample bake and shark.  How can anyone visit Trinidad and not try that famous Bake and Shark!  I also would like them to sample doubles but that also probably won't happen.

Bill and I will fly with the grandkids to Houston in early August and return to Trinidad in early September.  There are a few boat chores that we want to do while here in Trinidad; one of which is to re-paint the deck stripes.  I had planned to do this job myself as I am the one who did it last time in New Zealand in March 2009.  But Bill knows how painful my hip has become and he thought painting the deck stripes might be too hard on me.  He contracted with a man yesterday to do this work next week -- assuming the rain abates for a few days to allow exterior painting.  So that painting might or might not get down next week.  This is the rainy season, after all.  If not, then surely the rain will be less frequent in October and the deck stripes can be painted then.  Stripes will be painted an ivory cream color this time.

The newly replaced valve.  Good thing Bill does not
have painful hip or back like me.  Contorting the
body to do this work is beyond my physical ability.
VERY glad that one of us is still physically able.

As soon as we arrived at this dock Bill worked a full day replacing a valve which is glassed into the hull.  A very nasty, nasty job!  This was the valve in the aft head which dumps contents of the black-water holding tank into the sea when offshore.  It had started leaking a few weeks ago and we were most anxious to get this leak fixed ASAP.  My trusty MacGyver husband came through once again!  I am very pleased to have that leaky valve replaced.  

Oh, the joys of owning a boat!