January 26, 2006

Chaguaramas, Trinidad and Tobago

Andy and I couldn't have asked for a smoother departure from Tobago. We both slept through the twisty bus ride back into Scarborough, and didn't have any problems catching the morning ferry to Trinidad. By 10:00 we were in the port city of Chaguaramas.

There are thousands of boats in the area—many of which are currently being stored on land. One of the terms I've learned to describe this place is "hurricane cove," a facility that is capable of storing boats during the off-season.

Andy and I started `hunting for a place to stay near the "yachties" (boat folk), so that we could keep me near the action while I searched for a ride. A local boating electronics store didn't have much advice to offer up to us on an affordable place to stay, just a warning to stay away from one place in particular (a seedy joint known for prostitutes and drunken sailors). Andy and I looked at each other and thought the same thing—perfect!

The Cove Hotel

Andy picked up a room for us for five nights at this place. It's really not that bad (although the grounds are pretty dilapidated), and much to our disappointment there are no drunken sailors or prostitutes to keep us entertained; however, there is a 24-hour porn channel in our room! At $50 a night it's not cheap, but it's fairly close to the main marina, the living area is large, and shower is hot. This could be a really decent place if it got a new name, some air conditioning for the rooms, and a new coat of paint.

For as badly as everyone speaks of safety in Trinidad, I actually feel safer here in Chaguaramas than I did in Crown Point. Sure, my room is much less secure, but the lack of sketchy guys roaming about has a noticeable impact on my comfort level. In the late evening back in Tobago, I was walking home with an empty beer bottle cupped in my hand.

Sailing towards Brazil?

The same as in Charlotteville, Andy believed that I would be better off searching for a boat by meeting people if I ventured out on my own—and he's probably right—I don't have many issues with walking up to folks and starting a conversation. I ran into a guy named Frank in a yachtie supermarket who helped me to get a good start on my search.


Frank is a French-Canadian in his early 50's who's been sailing winters in the Caribbean for about the last 15 years. I joined him on his boat (dry-docked and ready for sale a few hundred feet from the water) for a couple beers and several hours of insight and stories. He's an entertaining guy who has a great wealth of regional knowledge that he was happy to share with me. Most importantly, he agreed to let me come back the next morning (for as many morning as I wished) to use his VHF radio to broadcast my availability on the "net" that occurs daily from 8–8:30 in the morning. The net is essentially a moderated time and channel that all the yachties tune into for weather, security, and other general announcements for the day.

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