Week Ending 12 August 2007
Week Ending 12 August 2007
Off on a trip to Asa Wright Nature reserve. Trinidad has the most species of birds per 1000 square miles in the world, over 200. Lots of birds migrated to the NE tip of South America and about 11000 years ago this broke off and became Trinidad and kept all the birds. I saw a rather large iguana, larger than any lizards so far, something that looked like an enormous hamster (sounds better than mega rat without a tail), leaf ants that carried chunks of leaf 50 times their own size, lots of very colourful birds and a poisonous snake. The snake was only 2 feet long and is not aggressive, although it should be, so they just mark where it is with a red ribbon on a nearby tree. We were nearly at the end, the end farthest away, when it rained. By the time we had got to the nearest shelter we were soaked. Back at house they provided a big bag of towels. I asked if my clothes could be put in a dryer and I was told they were doing the hotel washing, so I went and had a hot shower and did what I could to wring my clothes out, but I was still very wet. I came back to find people sitting round in towels and underwear, they had got their clothes in the dryer, I think I asked before the mob.
We left early as there was nothing to do except watch the birds on the verandah, which was good, but lost out to an unscheduled stop at a big DIY store one the way to our next stop. I could not find anything to buy, which should be a good sign that I am progressing well with the boat.
Last stop was a trip into the swamp. We saw red and white parrots and other birds, but the main event was the scarlet ibis, which is the Trinidad national emblem. Flamingos are pink because they eat shrimps and these are very scarlet because of their diet of tree crabs which contain red dye. Unfortunately for us it is nesting season, but we did see them flying from one side of the swamp to the other, but taking photos was not easy. On the way back we saw a snake coiled up in the branch of a tree and then another 7’ snake, which was on a branch and slowly making its way into the tree trunk. Our guide jumped off the boat and held onto the snakes tail and tried to pull it out, but it was too strong for him.
Not only did I get soaked today, I also got seriously bitten in the swamp.
This mornings excursion has been postponed, due to events beyond our control, so hopefully this will be next week. That left me the day to sew some more cusions, I did manage to finish the 4 on one side of the saloon and the big triangular one in the forecabin.
I cut up the teak for the draining board rail and the dowel is coming along. I am darkening the wood up with the tea bag after I have finished with it.
I spent the evening on a Hunter Legend 46, very American, very smart, but too big for me. I misjudged my drink and sent the glass spinning all the way to the back of the boat and over the back into the water – oops, less gin, more tonic next time.
I took Keith into Port of Spain on the bus and bought some mosquito nets, I am determined for the boat to be mosi-free, even if they can get me in the outside world. We bought small rucksacks, mine was Nike, cost nearly £5, but I am beginning to think that maybe it is not an original. We also bought paint trays and rollers ready for antifouling, they will be much more expensive in the chandlers.
Having been lectured on my bad diet last night I bought some multivitamins, I would have bought a bottle, but you say how many you want and they count them out.
Big tidy up. There is not electricity today in all Chaguaramas, this also meant no water pressure. I managed to have a shower under the foot bath tap, one body part at a time.
I am getting all the materials I need and will do everything properly when I am at anchor. I really need to get some antifoul and finish next week. The list of what has to be done is getting shorter, even with great ideas that keep coming to me.
5pm set off for Turtle Tour, although they nest all year round, this is the last of the main season. Long drive on congested highway and then potholed roads. When we arrived there was a turtle nesting, but she had nearly finished and was quite a walk up the beach. Not long after we had set off to the left, there was another sighting of a turtle coming out of the sea to the right. We turned round and went for that one, which was a good call. She was a Leatherback and was undersize, but still 750 pounds. The turtle dug a quality hole and laid about 60 eggs and then some yolkless eggs; these are to create air gaps and stop the eggs being compressed by the sand. While she was concentrating they measured and tagged her, unfortunately they had run out of microchips; we were then allowed to photograph and touch her. When she had finished laying she spent a considerable time covering the eggs and camouflaging the nest site. Eventually she went back into the water; she did a good job and it took about 3 hours in all.
We were on our way back when it started to rain, Trinidad style. The tide was in a long way, leaving the turtles and us only the uneven and branch and litter covered part of the beach. I was getting my brolly out and trying to pick my way along the beach which when someone stopped me and said to ‘mind the turtle’ and right at the treeline there was another turtle that was digging her nest. Keen people might have stopped and watched again, but it was midnight and wet and we were not that keen.
We went back to the patrol building and they had a bucket of babies that had hatched that day. They had saved these so that we could see and hold them. Puppies have oversized feet to show how big they will grow, turtles have oversized front flippers. They flap rather like a clockwork toy, but they get nowhere. We saw one baby on the beach and it struggled on the uneven sand. It is no wonder that the birds and other predators pick so many off before they reach the sea and then there are the fish waiting for them. The rangers and this protection in Trinidad, it is illegal to kill them, has undoubtedly made a difference and hopefully the turtles will survive.
Leatherback turtles have been around since the age of the dinosaurs, have soft shells and have adapted to cope with extremes of conditions. They live in the North Atlantic and go up as far as the Baring Strait and can survive with the icebergs. Their predators, when they are mature, are sharks and killer whales. They have a brain the size of a thumb nail, but can navigate with more accuracy than a compass. Normally they come up to breathe every 15 minutes, but can stay down for over 40 minutes and deep dive to over 4000 feet. After 20 to 30 years they return to Trinidad to nest. They lay about 100 eggs each time and nest 5 or 6 times in a year. They eat twice their body mass daily, mainly jellyfish. They have to eat a lot more to be fit enough to be able to produce the eggs and go through the nesting process. They nest every 2 to 5 years. One or two in a thousand make it to maturity and can live for 100 years. They are truly magnificent and harmless creatures.
Arrived back after 1 in the morning, I was very tired and had found the journey unbearable. The bus was full, so we had a car, which was ok for 4, but with 5 it was too much. I was so uncomfortable I did not know what to do with myself.
I made the bones of my new awning, I will put this together when I am at anchor.
I made a new genoa pole with a clip on one end and and eye on the other. It is nearly 10 feet, which is really long, but has to be to flatten out the sail. It poured with rain, but I am protected in the cockpit, so have no excuse to stop. Whether it is wise to be using electric power tools on a metal pole while it is thundering and lightning I am not sure. I will not know if it is the right size until I try it, but we are not allowed to put sails up and down in the yard. I was tired and wanted to stop and read a book, but I would only have to get everything out again, so I carried on.
I took the draining board off and rebuilt it with the wooden supports and rails. I am rather pleased with it. I can now see how to build a cockpit table, which folds down and is attached to the binnacle, but not this haul out. I put the tools away and managed to put the really heavy toolbox, that previously lived under the table over the keel, in the centre of the front cabin locker. I need to make sure that it does not move or it will work its way through the bottom of the boat. I was so tired and hungry I felt very ill. I had a shower and threw my clothes away, I have enough scruffy clothes left to get me though. I had something to eat and watched a DVD. I felt a little better, but had to go to bed by 6.30, I was too tired even to watch a film.
Determined to take it easy this weekend. I put a coat of varnish on the draining board and left it under the boat to dry. Then I mended the hosepipe, again, filled up the water tank and did the washing. Ricky and Colin came to see how I was getting on with the upholstery. When I had been using the hose the water had run down the side of the boat and dripped onto my varnish. Luckily the varnish was mainly dry and it will be ok. The washing was ready when it started to rain, this saves the need for that final rinse and so I hung it out anyway, including all the clothes I had been wearing for about an hour which had got soaked in the process.
I made some plain scones and some cinnamon whirls and then roast potatoes, yorkshire pudding and Bisto gravy for lunch. Spent an hour on the internet and then watched DVDs.
Decided one coat of varnish was enough for the draining board, I don’t know how I managed for 4 years without it. The legs require more work, but they are only extra support, so I will sort that tomorrow.
Having made the boat a mosquito free zone, I am now being bitten to death when I go out. I do not like using chemicals, but I don’t think I have an option.
I will send this and then I have my Sunday afternoon treat of dominoes. I can t remember when I have done so little for so long, it is wonderful.
This should be a photo of a hatchling turtle, but I am having trouble sending photos sometimes.