Posted by: bearcruzer | August 29, 2010

To Tobago………Today!

August 17 – 25

That’s how it came about.   We had moved DD back around to Hog Island.  Michelle from S/V Daniel Storey and I went for a walk around Hog Island in the morning and we talked about the other hikes we would like to take around Grenada.   But by 10:00am plans had changed yet again.   We knew that there was a group of boats headed out that afternoon for Tobago.   Mike had just finished reinstalling the repaired alternator which was now working well.    Mike said to me, “Why don’t we head out for Tobago and on to Trinidad with the group leaving today?”  I expressed some concern about making the overnight crossing to Tobago without an Auto Helm.  Mike did not seem too concerned, it was not an insurmountable problem…..we would just take shorter watches and hand steer.    We contacted Don and Heather on s/v Asseance and asked them if they would mind if we tagged along.    They said we were welcome to come if we could stand hanging out with 2 Canadian Boats and a British Flagged Vessel.   I replied that it would not be a problem if they didn’t mind being seen with an US Flagged Vessel.      We gathered our paperwork and headed over to customs and immigration to check out of Grenada.   We also picked up a few groceries at the little convenience store at the Marina.   I would have liked to reprovision the boat a little better before leaving, but there was no time as the Armada was leaving at 4:00pm that day.   The journey down to Tobago and Trinidad is safer done in a group as the closer we get to Venezuela there is a higher incidence of Piracy reported.    We dashed about and hauled  Mighty Mouse onto the Davits.  Said some quick goodbyes to friends staying in Grenada weighed anchor along with s/v Asseance, s/v Quatico, and s/v Blue Beyond.   Dancing Dolphin is the only Catamaran but they didn’t hold that against us.   We had an uneventful motor sail across to Tobago and arrived in Man O War Bay near Charlottesville at around 9:00am.   Tobago is a nature lovers gem.   It is what one might imagine looking at photos of a tropical paradise.   The verdant rainforest covered hills spill steeply down to the deep water bay rimmed by gold sand beaches and palm trees that surround the sleepy fishing village of Charlottesville.    Colorful Open skiffs dot the natural harbor each sporting either mounds of nets for seine fishing or pairs of bamboo outriggers, which look like the feelers of the lobster the fisherman occasionally return with in addition to their tuna and snapper.     The small fishing fleet has priority and the yachts must stay well clear and not anchor too close to the beach, so as not to interrupt their livelihood.   We tucked into Pirate bay on the northwest corner of Man O War Harbor.    We caught a couple of hours sleep before checking in with customs and immigration.   The customs agent told us we would have to pay an overtime fine because we had entered Tobago waters before office hours.   We asked him how far out the waters extended so we could estimate the time we came into them.   He then berated us for not checking in immediately upon arrival into the bay.   We explained that we had been up all night hand steering as we did not have a functional auto helm and so we had slept for a bit before checking in.   He then looked at us sternly and began chastising us for sleeping and not respecting the laws of Tobago.   We should have known something was up when he tried to get the puzzled looking immigration officer to confirm the overtime fees.   He had kept a straight face the whole time and when we finally began apologizing for sleeping and not knowing where the Tobago waters line was……he smiled and said he was just pulling our leg.   We paid the usual check in fees and promised him we would bring him a present of some rotten fish for pulling off the prank so successfully.   Which is not hard to do with us sleep deprived gullible Americans.     We have spent the last week snorkeling  the coral reefs around the edge of the bay, fishing, & hiking.   One day, we took a scenic, air conditioned bus ride to the other end of Tobago to the main town of Scarborough where we picked up a few fresh fruits and walked around the botanic gardens in the center of town located right next to the next to the noisy smelly power plant.   Who is their town planner?    There is not much here in Tobago in the way of a grocery stores or fresh veggies most of what is sold is offered in small stalls or storefronts and offer a random sampling of commonly used consumer goods.   We are trying to get creative with the last of our frozen goods and canned provisions.   What Tobago lacks in conveniences, it more than makes up for with its abundance of natural beauty.   We have marveled at the diversity of flora, over 220 nesting species of birds, 16 species of bats, and the wonders of a rainforest to walk about in.    There seems to be mixed feelings in regards to tourists visiting Charlotteville, as the local population would like to keep their quiet village lifestyle intact.   We have been met with both warm receptions and quiet indifference in our wanderings around the town.   We have enjoyed the camaraderie of our traveling companions Rob & Cathy on Quatico, Mark & Max on Blue Beyond, and Don & Heather on Asseance as well as getting to know a number of other cruisers who are enjoying the exotic and isolated beauty of this wonderful Island.   We are awakened in the mornings by the sound of hundreds of orange winged parrots and Chachalacas screeching as they fly in and over the forest.   Frigates, Pelicans and other seabirds fish the waters around the boat.  Schools of small fry hover in the shadow of our boat and the other day we watched as the waters around the boat boiled where schools of larger fish were forcing the fry against the hulls and enjoying a fine meal.   I could literally reach down and scoop handfuls of silvery fry from the surface of the water.   Iridescent butterflies in a variety of colors flutter out over the water and across our bow to bless our boat daily.    We have had a pretty even mix of sunny and rainy days.  Most of the showers that pass through do not stay long and give us all a welcome relief from the heat.     Walking through the streets of Charlotteville finds people enjoying the beach, or gathered on front porches and sharing shady areas with the local dogs.  Chickens have free reign to wander the streets and a large flock can always be found upon crossing the local football field enroute to the well used (air conditioned) local library where we can access free WiFi.   Life here is definitely slower paced, farming is subsistence based.  Local vendors sell homemade Ice Cream….sherbet.  We purchased a CD of music composed and recorded by a local calipso musician,  Squeezy, who was happy to sell us some grapefruits as well.      We watched a group of dolphins come into the bay the other morning to play and fish.  We continue to appreciate the numerous beautiful sunsets and sunrises.   I still have to pinch myself some days.

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  1. Yes, I can see exactly why you need to pinch yourself! You are living the dream! Looks great! How long has it been now, a year? Think you’ll keep it going for another year or two? Wishing you both well… Hugs, Wynne

  2. No Auto Pilot? that truly sucks, I hate hand steering! Had to do that on a short, 65mile trip once. As far as cats go….dont take any shit! Cats are sooo much better for island cruising. Although im a powerboat kind of guy, Ive done my share of sailing, crewing on numerous vessels as well as chartering quite a few. Ive found Cats to be…(excuse the pun) cats meow! Tabago….had some friends sailing in the BVI’s, what a great bunch of people!

  3. We really loved Tobago and enjoyed the fresh water falls for a natural shower. We even washed some clothes in the basin the falls feeds. The birds and butterflies were magnificent. That is also one of the places we did some scuba diving. Wonderful, wonderful. Keep on living the good life as long as it is the good life.


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