Land of the humming bird

Mystic of Holyhead (successor to Lynn Rival)
Rachel and Paul Chandler
Sat 17 Oct 2015 19:38
10:40.73N 061:37.96W

We are now in Trinidad after a busy two weeks.

It was hard to say au revoir to Saint Laurent du Maroni.  In the end we stayed for the weekend and witnessed the official arrival of the Nereid's Rally boats, joining in some of the celebrations and events put on for them, including a tour of the old prison where Papillon was held before being sent to Devil's Island.

Now a tourist attraction, the prison was the raison d'etre of the penal colony now called Guyane (French Guiana)

We must have lead a sheltered existence - haven't seen the like of 'Iron Man' before

A fishy breakfast at one of the stalls participating in the rally welcome

On Monday it was time to have our last croissant and check out.  As ever Davide - and Samuel his right-hand man - made sure everything was organised (official paperwork, shopping, marina bill - very reasonable) and we were ready to sail on the afternoon ebb tide.  We motored down river and stopped for the night near the entrance, not wanting to risk the shallow bar at low tide.  The following day we left on the afternoon tide and, once across the bar, headed northeast towards Tobago. 

We were hoping to get easterly winds and a favourable current but instead the weather was stormy.  At this time of year the ITCZ (Inter-tropical convergence zone) can affect this area.  The ITCZ is where the north and south trade winds meet.  It's characterised by storm clouds, thunder and lightning, heavy rain, squally winds or doldrums.

Sunrise in the ITCZ

Fortunately we didn't get too much of either and we managed to sail through the sqalls but it was often uncomfortably hot and humid during the day.  Lynn Rival was rolling about so much that there was little by way of shade under the bimini.  We sailed the 550 miles to Tobago in under 5 days so can't complain.  And Paul had a good time fishing.  At first he caught a strange fish.  It looked so horrible that we threw it back.  Later we discovered it was a Remora (Sharksucker).  Soon after he caught another (2 supper-sized) Albacore and later on some smaller fish so we were well fed.

A serious sucker pad on this Remora - we can't comment on the flavour

'Will you just keep still for a minute?'  Filleting on a rolling yacht

One night we had a stowaway, enjoying the view from our satellite antenna

We motored into Store Bay on the southwestern end of Tobago just after dark on Saturday evening.  There was no moon but enough ambient light to see any obstacles and yachts on moorings (hence no anchor lights).  Overnight we had a thunderstorm and squally winds so the anchor was well tested.

Store Bay, Tobago

As luck would have it Tony and Janice are visiting Tobago (for their 20th time) so we joined them and spent a relaxing day at their friend Jim's apartment, overlooking the sea, before returning to Lynn Rival for another stormy night.  On Monday they took us to Scarborough, the main town on the south end of Tobago, so we could check-in with immigration and customs.  We had to wait 3 hours for the immigration official to turn up but, by way of compensation, she carried out both our checking-in and checking-out formalities at the same time.  Customs was quick - about 30 minutes - but they charged £20 for 'overtime' and they insisted we go back for another stamp two days later.  (The overtime charge arises if you arrive in their waters, or visit their office, outside the hours of 8 to 12 and 1 to 4, Monday to Friday - and is said to be the extra they would have to pay the boat crew were they to go out and inspect your vessel.  The fact that they don't make such an inspection is neither here nor there!)

In the afternoon we moved Lynn Rival 6 miles around coast (to the northwest) to Mount Irvine bay, closer to Jim's apartment.  With the wind and current against us it took two hours.  We were hoping to take Janice and Tony out for a sail the next day but it started with cloud and rain so wasn't looking hopeful.  Luckily in the afternoon the weather cleared and with a south wind we were able to sail up and down the coast until sunset.

Despite having quite a lot of stormy weather while there we could see that Tobago is a really beautiful island.  We are are planning to come back at Christmas time.  In the meantime we set sail on Wednesday night for Trinidad, arriving in Chaguaramas bay on the northwest corner of the island on Thursday afternoon.  On the way we had stormy weather with not a lot of wind so had to motorsail at times.

Chaguaramas is where all the yachting facilities are based on Trinidad, with a good choice of boatyards for haul out and maintenance.  We are now luxuriating in a marina (with airconditioned showers no less!) and will be hauled out on Monday.  The first thing we had to do here was to visit Customs and Immigration.  We had been warned that it can be a painful process.  Not a bit of it: because we'd already gone through the process at Tobago we were in and out of each of the offices in 5 minutes (finished at five to four, so no overtime!).

Lynn Rival (who put that pile in front of the name?) at Crewsinn marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad

Our next priority was to put up sunshades and hook up to mains electricity so we can run a big fan.  Trinidad has a reputation for being a hot and humid place.  The bay here is well sheltered so there's little cooling breeze.  We are now sweating buckets while getting Lynn Rival ready for her first haul out in 3 years.  Also we're getting ourselves ready for a trip back to the UK.