November 2007

Ann wakes in the night to check on the boat.  We have had rain overnight and as she looks out to verify the position of the boat, she sees hundreds of tiny twinkling lights scattered on the lush hillside in our anchorage.  The lighted insects are nature’s beautiful Christmas display in Englishman’s Bay.  This was one of the many enchanting moments we had during our three week stay in Tobago.

John's hiking outfit

Tobago is a part of the same country as Trinidad, but very different in many ways.  The water is clear, there are beautiful white sand beaches and wonderful snorkeling, and the natives are very friendly and helpful.  The locals enjoy meeting and getting to know the cruisers and it makes a visit to the island even more enjoyable.  The island villages are clean and many have nice playgrounds, lighted basketball courts, and parks for everyone to enjoy.

John was still nursing his injured foot when we arrived in Tobago.  He wanted to keep his foot dry, so he went to shore with double plastic bags over his foot while we landed the dinghy.  Once we were ashore, he wore a sock over his bandage and under his sandal.  We wanted to take a tour with a group of cruising friends and Solstice, another cruising boat loaned John a pair of rubber sea boots that he could use during our hike to keep his foot dry.  John dressed for his hike and when we arrived on shore was surprised to see that his choice of clothing for the day, bright yellow shirt and navy shorts, exactly matched his knee high rubber boots.  Everyone had a good laugh from John’s outfit and one person commented that he looked like a cartoon Super-Hero!



John's color coordinated hiking outfit

Tropical flower

Our hikes in Tobago took us through tropical rain forests with beautiful flowers, plants, and birds.  We would spot several tropical birds as we walked along a road.  On a trip to Little Tobago Island, we were treated to dozens of large Tropic birds, Frigate birds, and Terns soaring in the wind gusts along the cliffs.  Several times each day we would hear pairs of bright green parrots as they flew between their feeding and nesting sites.





Tropical flower in Tobago

Tobago Mahi




The waters around Tobago were rich with sea life.  We enjoyed beautiful snorkeling with tropical fish and colorful coral in several bays.  John’s fishing luck returned and he caught black fin tuna and mahi-mahi when we sailed from one anchorage to another.  In fact, he caught three fish in a four-hour trip on one day.  John didn’t want to leave Tobago!




Mahi caught in Tobago

 Fishermen deploying a seine net

Seine nettingMany in Tobago earn their living by fishing.  Most villages have dozens of fishing boats anchored in the harbor that leave every day to fish and check fish traps or lobster traps.  A few fisherman use large seine nets that they deploy by row boat.  We were anchored in Great Courland Bay when a local fisherman decided to encircle Livin the Dream in a large seine net.  Once he had the net out, he demanded that we move our boat so it did not get tangled in his net.  We were very confused by his request, since he didn’t ask before he deployed the net.  With communication assistance from several other local boats, we identified a possible, but not very attractive place to anchor while the net was pulled ashore.  Unfortunately, the net could not be pulled ashore that day, since it was caught on something underwater.  About 30 hours after the net had been deployed, the fishermen finally pulled the net and a 75 foot tree in shore with the help of a two-engine fishing boat and a backhoe on shore!  We only saw one fish being retrieved from the net during the entire process.  We left Great Courland Bay early the next morning, before another net was set.

During November, John has worked diligently to get our watermaker operational.  The watermaker takes sea water and passes it through a series of filters and then at high pressure (800 psi) through a membrane with tiny holes which do not allow the large salt molecules to pass.  The salty residue is returned to the sea, while the desalinized water enters our water tank.  The boat had a watermaker on board when we purchased it, but it had not been used in six years and was filled with a preservative to protect the membrane.  It was highly likely that we would need to replace all the filters and the membrane (a high cost).  We had delayed this repair, since we have not had any problems finding good water and we had plenty of other boat systems to repair.  However, we wanted to try to get the watermaker running to give us more flexibility.  John began by purchasing required parts in Trinidad and discussing other maintenance that may be required.  He changed the oil in the high pressure pump, and replaced several filters and fittings.  In the clean waters of Tobago, we tried the watermaker and were pleasantly surprised to get good wonderful tasting water without replacing the membrane.

Englishman's BayBlow hole









Englishman's Bay, Tobago




Blow Hole off Little Tobago

We left Tobago around 2:30 am on November 20, and had a wonderful 12-hour trip to Grenada .  During the first hour of our trip, we were treated to a beautiful meteor shower.  In Grenada, we met up with cruising friends that we had not seen since July and also met new cruisers that we hope to travel with in the coming year.  Ann had bought a Butterball turkey breast in Trinidad and we invited Barb and Chuck from Tusen Takk II, a trawler from Savannah, for Thanksgiving dinner.  We had a wonderful Thanksgiving feast prepared by both boats with turkey, cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, green beans, carrots, deviled eggs, rolls and cranberry sauce.  We totally stuffed ourselves and went over the limit with Tusen Takk’s pecan pie.

After all that Thanksgiving food, we were anxious for some exercise.  Grenada has an active chapter of Hash House Harriers, a group that organizes hikes for their local chapters that exist all around the world.  On Saturday after Thanksgiving, there was a full moon hike.  About 150 people hiked or ran the course.  The hikes are noncompetitive and are made more fun by adding false turns to the course markings.  So there are 150 people out in the woods after sunset trying to follow a course marked by piles of confetti or flour.  You may be following along and come to a fork where there are markings ahead in two different directions.  You pick one and follow it for awhile.  If it is the wrong one you eventually come to an X marked out by the confetti or flour and then you know you need to go back and take the other path.  The people ahead are shouting “On, On” if they are on the trail.  The people behind may be calling out “Are you?” to see if they can get someone to answer “On, On”.  And then every once in a while you hear the depressing call of “On back” which means they have encountered an X and are heading back to pick the correct trail.  So it’s a little bit of chaos and a lot of fun.  We were smart enough to carry our flashlights along, although the moon provided beautiful light.  The course led us through some thickly wooded trails and some grassy pasture land.  There were several cattle and horses tethered along the route and they were often surprised as wild groups of people came tramping along, shouting and shining flashlights in the cattle’s eyes.  The hike ended with hamburgers and drinks and a ceremony in which the Hash House virgins (John and Ann included) received certificates of devirginization.

At the end of November, we hope to sail to the Grenada island of Carriacou to spend a few days before we head back to Grenada and later to Trinidad.  We are planning a flight back to the US for Christmas from Trinidad and will sail north into the Eastern Caribbean islands in the New Year.