Nigel North
Thu 22 Nov 2012 10:48

Position:  Ashore on the Hard, Chaguaramas, TRINIDAD

Monday 5 Nov 2012 (continued)

The Bimini

This bimini order is not looking good from Calypso - still no word. Someone was supposed to get back to me today, as they were on friday. Dont think its going to happen somehow. Its just a sunshade over the cockpit and I already have one which came with the boat, but its not a lot of use as not only is it very fiddly to put up but once its up you can't use the mizzen sail at all, and its covering the rear end of the cockpit - which is not where people sit. I wanted one that covered the cockpit forw'd of the mizzen mast up to the dodger, and most importantly, could be used at sea with the mizzen in use. So to prove the design in my head I'd reversed the one I've got and removed the rear part of the metal frame - just a lash up, but it worked. However, a better version was what I was hoping to have made here. It was not to be!

I am thinking of putting PW back in the water in about 2 weeks - it will be cooler and more air flow hopefully, plus the fridge would be working again - a major step forward. Imagine cold milk mmmmmm..... (Fridge has a heat exchanger on the underside of the hull, so only works in water) Here in the boatyard its hot, and no fridge means if I open it, I eat it. All of it!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Not much achieved again yesterday - fell asleep pm. Hot and humid. Finally roused myself later and bought some antifouling and brushes. Discussed bimini with Joe from Calypso - he wasn't much use, just there to measure for a quote. Scraped off the underside of the keel and Fertan'd it. Not much, but something done!

Slept badly last night, up several times, and finally at 7am.

I'm thinking my plan is not a good one and wont work ie sail up to Chesapeake. What happens then? My visa will run out prob August. What if I can't leave the boat there? When am i going back to UK? Winter?!!! Its crap. I need a better plan. If I'm going to sail back down to Trinidad again when must I leave Florida?



I have had two 'waves' on the crew finder website: A Brit, 63 which I rejected - one sextogenarian is bad enough, me - and a young Brazilian, 25. I am considering him... It would be good to have him in many ways, but would really complicate going to the USA. More visas!


Thursday, 8 November 2012

Slept better, but numerous bites through my clothing mainly on the bum - serves them right. I wear track suit legs and a long sleeved shirt to sleep, and just lie on top of a sleeping bag with the fan on for six hours usually. But the track suit doesn't stop the mozzies..

Evening: steak and kidney tonight, as its a lot cooler due to heavy rain most of the day, and needs to be eaten. Listening to local 97.1fm, which is wall to wall sloppy Xmas honestly, every single song. Groan.. 'To get you in the festive mood', the syrupy presenter annoyingly keeps saying. Sleigh bells, the whole works for goodness sake.

Cruiser Net

The Cruiser Net here is very active - organised tours etc - but I dont seem to want to get involved. I don't want to be organised! The net operates every day at 0800 on the VHF radio, has a volunteer Cruiser to host it, and covers Security issues, Announcements, Treasures of the Bilge (things for swop or free) and general wants and needs of the audience. The women dominate the net!

I've got a feeling there's going to be problems with the visa. But I am relaxed about it, whatever happens happens. I shall change the plan if I have to, a shame but not the end of the world.

Have finished washing down the sides, with vinegar to clean off salt.

Tomorrow I'll polish, if its not raining, then go to Tims.

The bloke with the white antifouling came round -wants US$100 for it! Thats the same as UK prices, and this has been opened and used. Hmmm... (I need some for the white boot top line around the waterline)

Friday, 9 November 2012

Polishing the sides... (between heavy rain and thunder!)

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Out for a meal with Ed and Elizabeth of SKYLARK, in Sails waterside restaurant, Power Boats. Meal was ok, nothing brilliant. Too much if anything, but the location and company were excellent. They are finally leaving here after nearly five months, bound for Tobago initially, an Atlantic crossing and probably Portugal and the Med, taking Lunar the dog with them.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Nice sunny day..

Still rubbing off the polish - last 25% but tired and listless . Tried to have a sleep pm. Went to office about the big 6' scratch, waiting for the Yard manager to discuss - 3 hours later still not arrived.

Pretty disappointed with the results of my hard labour - rubbish!

Losing heart today a bit. Only progress is in getting some water in.

Funny day...


Saturday17 November 2012

Well the weekend was good - went to an amazing outdoor gig in the grounds of a golf club, tickets only, very well attended and the band were excellent. However, unbelievably loud too. I realised at one stage that the music was actually physically moving my trousers around.


Sunday Tim and I walked up to EDITH FALLS, starting from a golf club near Chesapeake. The trail was like a stage set, with huge roots underfoot and lush vegetation. The Falls were not exactly a torrent, as it hadn't rained for a day or so. Tim walked though them anyway, fully dressed, as he does.


Monday 19 Nov 2012

Up early at Tim's place after a restless night and I'm off to find the US Embassy around 7am. Strangely despite hours of trying, it proved impossible to locate it on Googlemaps the night before - it just doesn't come up!

Joined the queue outside the grey, squat and quite grubby building, and I was the only European. About 8 the sun started to get us, and people hid their faces behind the only thing they had - the folders of documents allowed into the building. No bags, or electronics allowed. There were two queues in parallel, one proper one by the Embassy wall, and another, looser one by the concrete bollards. Someone said one was for the 0715 lot, and the other for 0800 - me. I moved across, slowly realising my mistake; by opting for the 0800 time I had put at least 40 people ahead of me.

The bloke next to me in the queue started jabbing a finger at me, pointing at something. I saw nothing. I looked, and looked again, then dimly noticed the outline of a US guard on the inside through the thick metal mesh that should have been a window. He wanted to see my passport and other documents, then told me to put them inside the passport. He just didn't want to get hot in the sun like we all were by coming outside to do it.

I actually got in, being near the end of the second batch, about 0900.

Inside was faded and tatty, the cubicles marked with hand drawn lettering A-F on squares of paper sellotaped over each. A Cattle Market. Go to 'F' I had been told by the guy at the door. There was no air con, just ceiling fans and another massive one blasting away inside horizontally, like sitting next to a hovercraft. A big sign said 'Wait your Turn' - as if we had any choice. Another sign said Step One: check in at cubicle F. Step Two was Wait to be Called. Trying to understand what was said on the tannoy was hopeless - it might as well have been in Mandarin - but after a while worked out that if the voice was male you went to B, female it was C. I went to C 3 hours later when called, but actually understood her tannoy.

The 'interview' was brief..

'So you're sailing in Pinball Wizard' said the cool American pleasantly from behind the glass screen, her voice surprisingly loud with the mike. 'Like the name..'

'Oh. You like The Who then.'

'Well actually yes I do'.

I told her briefly, unasked, where I was headed and that was it. I dont think she cared. A full 2 minutes. Most others lasted more like ten minutes. I almost felt welcome...

But quite a few didn't get could tell instantly by their faces. One little old Indian lady was clearly pretty upset, shaking her head as she passed. Its a tough old world...

Step 3 was pay $50TT for the privilege of being able to collect my passport when ready - a 'pick up'.

So...I was wrong; no probs with the visa then. Good!


Took a maxitaxi ride back to the boatyard. Maxitaxis are minibuses for public use - white with a big wide yellow band so easily recognisable - and are everywhere, being the prime means of transport for those without cars, like me.

There are bus stops. The trick is knowing where the bus that has just screeched to a halt in front of you, is going? Not easy. Some, its true, might have a small sign somewhere in the windscreen, but not many. And they go all over the place, so I asked someone in the queue how you knew - as they all seemed to know.

'Ah, yes. Its a thumbs up and pointing back you want', she said, demonstrating what I knew as a hitchhikers thumb. She went on to tell me of a couple of other signs, like a thumb and forefinger shaped like a gun meant something else..

Ahha! Valuable information.

Cars stop to pick up too, and demand the same amount of money as the maxis - not much. My 12 mile ride into town from Chaguaramas, for instance, costs TT$5 - about 50p. Bargain! Cars with a 'H' on their number plates are for hire.

Unlike UK, Trinidad uses $1 notes. At first I cursed this, as my wallet bulged with dozens of $1 bills - worth just 10p each. But then later I began to keep a roll of just $1 bills separate in one pocket, and larger notes in another, and found this works very well, and is a lot easier than our system of carting round a pocketful of coins. The Maxitaxi drivers drive one handed, the other clutching a well ordered wad of mainly $1 notes which are passed to and fro across the back, as people get in and out. You could not do this with coins. It works!

Tuesday 20 November 2012

10am the Embassy rang. Visa ready for collection. Wow! Impressed

Hot. I fix up the redesigned bimini properly and tie it down. Just need to figure a way of holding the frame together now - think I've got a plan.

Delayed the relaunch until next Tuesday, as things were becoming a rush.

Also rerigged the mozzy net - newly bought in an Indian shop selling everything - and had a good nights sleep despite the fact that, having checked my emails, I found out that the 'cheap' antifouling I had just bought three gallons of, were $300 EACH - and thats US $, not TT $ as I had thought. Thats about £600 worth..


Wednesday 21 Nov 2012:

The Scratch:

Whilst I was away back in UK, someone put a scratch more than half the length of Pinball, mostly underneath where it matters not, but 6' of it on the green gelcoat. I have twice asked to see the manager about it - who came and looked a while back but hadn't come up with a solution so I have been agitating for one. Today I went to the air conditioned office to complain again, and this time he came round as I was touching up the iron keel with some two-part paint prior to anti-fouling. Tomorrow he's sending his paint guru to check it out. I am not hopeful.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Last night I decided I would have to re-polish the port side as it looked worse than before I did it. I think I left the polish on too long and it baked on in the sun? However, in my defence, lots of others seemed to do just that. But they all have nice electric polishers, and a nice man to do it for them. So anyway, after the sun went down - it had been nearly 40deg all day - I had a go at the bow again to see if I could improve on it. I was glad that I had seen sense and delayed the relaunch until next Tuesday, I needed that time.

Afterwards, as usual, took a stroll down for a wonderful shower before bed.

Woke early, 4am, to find myself bitten again. There was a mozzy INSIDE the net! Leapt out of bed and rifled through my medical box looking for insect repellant, having used up two Autan's. One left... Might as well stay up now, and get some work done at dawn.

Why can't someone invent a mozzy spray that kills them instantly if they so much as sniff it?!

The Plan:  

Having re-read all the relevant guides on Caribbean sailing, it was clear that the only safe time to make a return journey from USA to the Caribbean would be November - after the hurricanes, and before the winter storms further north.  Quizzing Ed on such matters, he told me there were many hurricane shelters along the Eastern seaboard of the US, and thought there wouldn't be a problem finding somewhere safe to put the boat if needed in the summer season - the hurricane season.  So I have reverted to Plan A, which is to sail up to Chesapeake Bay by the start of the hurricane season, maybe further, returning south in November.  Plenty of Americans do it, so I will too.   If I wanted to cross the Atlantic instead, then May/June would be the best time. For that I would need a crew of at least one other.  So, we'll see what happens..