January 28, 2006

Boat Hunting
Chaguaramas, Trinidad and Tobago

For the second morning in a row I met up with Frank and broadcast my desire for a crew position using his VHF radio to the local Chaguaramas yachties.

A few tips from Frank helped me keep the broadcast message concise and informational. Indicating my desired destination, age, U.S. passport, yellow fever immunization, and that I'm a non-smoker were some of the key points stated. In addition to calling out over the VHF radio, I also printed out and placed announcements with contact information on the half-dozen communal bulletin boards in the marina.

I got a hit from one of my ads, and spoke with 66 year old British gentleman who was seeking crew for all or part of his trip around the world. He's going to be looping around South America over the course of a year, and intends on docking in a port just north of Salvador (my Carnival destination). The only problem was that he couldn't guarantee that he'd be able to get me there in his 30 foot sailboat on time—the journey could take up to three or four weeks.

I was getting the same story from most every sailor I spoke with; the 4+ knot currents that are moving in the wrong direction keep people from sailing down the northeastern coast of South America from Trinidad. Looking at a chart of the currents, I was shown that the easiest way to do it is to sail way out east and catch another current that helps push you down to the area around Salvador (afterward the currents aren't an issue).

I was told that there was a young Brazilian couple in Chaguaramas that was looking for crew for their boat that left a week before I arrived, and I received an invitation from a Swiss guy to crew with him on a 68 foot boat headed for Argentina on my second night in Tobago (but the boat was leaving much too soon for me to take advantage of). Based on all this feedback, it's looking less and less likely that I'll be traveling to Brazil by boat.

On a different note, Andy has really picked up a strong desire to write a guidebook for the Caribbean. Our mutual disgust with the Lonely Planet guide to the island chain has left him with a real itch to create a collection of solid information for backpacking the Caribbean. I spent hours sifting though thick guidebooks back in the U.S. for this region—none of them worth their weight in information.

Andy's also fancying the idea of picking up a cheap boat. He use to sail back in the freshwater lakes of Indiana, and is enjoying the thought of unpacking for a bit, while still remaining mobile. To test his sea legs, he intends to also try and pick up a crew position on a boat heading north through the islands. With the number of boats going in that direction at the moment, I'm sure he won't have any problems finding a ride if he wants one.

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