We were lucky that Trinidad had opened their borders to yachts just as we were leaving Guyana so we had a wonderful easy sail back to the Caribbean. We entered Chagauramas harbour at 2am, dropped the hook in front of Peake Yacht club and fell into a deep slumber.
The next Morning we met up with Yvanna to check into the country. Yvana runs the Peake Boatyard and we think she has been the best liaison between Yachtie and authority we have encountered. She actually came with us to customs and immigration herself, which was only a short dinghy ride away, and smoothed the way for a completely painless entry. We then docked on the jetty as there are a few jobs we needed to do.
We didn’t feel safe on the jetty – the winds were pushing us into the dock and the wake from the speedboats was making it very uncomfortable. We needed a new chain though so we had no option. All the facilities a boatie needs are here but because Trinidad had been shut for so long, the shops had run their inventory right down and a lot of things had to be ordered. Our chain was available but we had to order the gypsy from Spain which was to take another 2 weeks to arrive.
We also ordered a new 4000 watt inverter from China – another weeks delay.
Our friends Paul and Kirsten from Ikigai and Hank and Annette from Moondance were both here so we had some company while we waited for our parts. Every evening we met at the green table outside the office for drinks as everything was still shut – all the bars and restaurants and even the beaches were closed. One day we bought a couple of beers from a shop and he said we could sit round the back with the local guys and drink it – as long as we kept it in the plastic bags to prove it was a take away beer!
One day we took our scooters out and visited the Bamboo Cathedral. This is an area of bamboo which forms an arch walkway. Being shaded by the huge bamboo trees, we made our way to the top of the ridge and looked down over the Caribbean sea. To the south of Trinidad is the Atlantic and there the waves were much bigger – quite a stark difference.
While waiting for our parts to arrive we decided to visit Tobago which is only 50 odd nm to the north of Trinidad
These two islands are totally different from each other. Trinidad is very wealthy with high rise buildings and a modern lifestyle as it has oil. It also had a thriving boatyard business with many cruisers opting to get work done on their boats over the hurricane season. With their borders shut for 18 months, the boat industry collapsed but everything else still worked. Tobago on the other hand, is their smaller sleepy neighbour who relies heavily on tourism – and as they are the same country tobago had also been shut. We sailed in to a completed deserted Scarborough – which was a bit weird. You have to check in to Tobago , so we duly took our paperwork in and discovered that we were the only yacht here and the first to arrive in over a year!
Tobago is beautiful and is also know as Robinson Cruisoe Island. It is very friendly and very green. We asked a local taxi driver where to get internet and ended up having a long chat with her. She said things were very bad, with many of the other caribbean islands open, Tobago had missed out on the tourist dollar and everything was still shutdown. We hired her for a day to take us around the island and asked if she could pick us up in Buccoo bay.
Buccoo Bay is delightful – usually packed but obviously empty of yachts now. We visited the village and met the local fishermen who told us their lives had changed dramatically as not only the tourists had gone but even the locals were not allowed on the beaches and to the bars etc. We walked around the deserted streets, and it all seemed very sad.
We bought some fish off a guy called ‘Marley’ (they are all called Rasta or Bob or Marley) and bbq’d it that night. It was very windy so we chose not to go and snorkel the reef as we were worried about the dinghy.
True to her word – Nina our taxi driver turned up to take us round the island. She kept thanking us for giving her the job and how it will help her – it saddened us to hear these hardships stories, though she did tell us the Trinidadian government had helped some people but only for a short time.
We visited the famous Englishman’s bay – but we weren’t allowed on the beach – as no-one was around she said we could go down and check it out. It was a typical Caribbean beach with the colourful shacks, the beach bars and coconuts everywhere. It would have been a fun place to hang out on busier days.
We basically went up the coast visiting all the bays. At Castara Bay we met some locals who had just put their nets out. In a few hours they will all get together and pull them back in from the beach. This type of fishing is called Seine net fishing and they offered to let us help them haul in it but we had to go back that evening. Sadly we couldn’t but it would have been fun.
We visited many bays, all deserted and we even tried to go to the waterfalls but they too were shut. It was here the taxi overheated so Ian replenished the water in the radiator for her and we had to wait for it all to cool down. she told us she couldn’t afford to get it fixed or get new tyres – we really felt for her.
We went back to Scarborough and visited Fort King George. High on the hill overlooking the bay, we were impressed to see it so well preserved and the original canons still guarding the island.
Nina showed us the places most tourists want to go to, like the walkway along the beach where the hotels are located and a rather flash hotel that the rich frequent. She was very proud of her island and knows the tourists will return but she had invested in a sewing machine to start a business making clothes as she knows she can’t rely on her taxi anymore.
Back in Buccoo Bay we spent a wonderful couple of days relaxing, swimming and enjoying the clean water as Chagauramas Bay in Trinidad was filthy, but all good things come to an end and our parts were arriving soon so we headed back to Trinidad.
Our goods had arrived so we were able to sort out our new gypsy for our new chain and pick up our new inverter. As all our business was concluded and as the bay was so dirty and it was staining our boat, we decided to head for the islands of Los Roques – which are a part of Venezuela but very safe. Friends of ours had recently been there and said they were stunningly beautiful but very poor. We had to do a huge provision as there are no shops in Los Roques and we had thought we would be about 3 weeks there. We also loaded up with duty free wine and Mount Gay rum – bottles for the customs officers in Los Roques to speed up our check-in process and on our last night had one last drink around the green table.
The next morning we headed west for the islands of Los Roques.