Saturday, October 31, 2015

New Cockpit Table

"Happy birthday to me.  Happy birthday to me.  Happy birthday to meee-he.  Happy birthday to me."

Check out my birthday present.

A brand new cockpit table.

Handmade by my wonderful husband Cap10 Tom and our good friend Kevin Haefner.   I am SO proud of Tom.  It's lovely.  Big thank you to Kevin.

Isn't it spectacular?!   We eat nearly every meal in the cockpit and spend most of our time there so it's pretty exciting to have a proper cockpit table.  Our old one just wasn't cutting it any more.

Thanks to John and Carlisle on Caliber sv Tasman for the idea of the table leaf.  This allows four people to dine comfortably and the galley wench can still slide below to dish up seconds.  Brilliant, right?!

  Thank Cap10 Tom.  I love my present. 

Trinidad - The Flag Tour -Caroni Swamp

WARNING - This blog posting has a snake pic.  I know, I know.  I do not like snakes either - in real life, videos or pictures.  BUT... I am trying to face a fear.  Actually our guide was kewl about it and asked if anyone was afraid of snakes before we even set off.  Carla and I shot our hands up high in the air proudly.  "Okay" he said.  However, he still made a point to showed us the snake in the tree.  A tree boa I think.  He explained a little about that type of snake and that after they eat, they sleep...often for a week or two in one spot.  This one had apparently had a big meal because he had been in this same spot for almost two weeks now and thus the guide could find it.  My thought was that it would wake up any second and start moving and I was therefore glad we moved along before it did..  On second thought, I really don't like when I open a magazine, or turn on the TV or open FB and suddenly see a snake pic with no warning and thus no way to avoid it so I am not going to post the snake pic.  :)  You're welcome!
Blue something bird

Guess what else we found?  Can you see him below?

How about now?  It is a caiman - small crocodile.  It was in the water and scrambled up on the bank when we came near.  We were actually able to get quite close. 
Not sure what is going on with the white on the tip of the tail
The swamp has several open areas of water with small, scrub islands of vegetation. 

So peaceful

These small islands provide a roosting place for the Scarlet Iibis, Trinidad's national bird and the reason we came to the swap.  When I say scarlet, I mean RED.  These birds are very red.  Not kind of- sort of, but completely RED.
Scarlet Ibis in flight
They fly in at dusk by the thousands.  They are approximately the size of the White Ibis.  bahahah.  Ok, the size of a smallish crane.
Settling in for the evening
The Scarlet Ibis will pick one island and then ALL land there.  Thousands!  There are four or so islands throughout the swamp that are used by the Scarlet Ibis but only one is accessible to tourist via guide boat.
Time for bed
1500 Scarlet Ibis or more.  The guide said at the height of the season, it can get to 6000.  WOW!  The island looked like a Xmas tree.  Pre-dawn, th ibis head out to feed, eating crabs that actually make them the brilliant red color.  Hatchlings are born brown and white....I think.  Once they start eating the crabs, they change color to the brilliant red and stay that way.    
Still more coming home to roost

 It was such an amazing sight and experience.

Below - another sort of bird spotted on the trip.  A funny little bird.  English I think.  Just kidding Claire!

Trinidad - The Flag Tour -The Pink Temple

We had just enough time to do a drive by of the Karya Siddhi Temple - the pink temple.  Jesse dropped us off on one side and we strolled though the outside grounds, meeting him on the other side.  It is very ornate with detailed carvings in the stone.  Beautiful and fascinating.   

When I say detailed, I mean detailed.  Take a look at the entrance behind me.  The grey things appear to be sharks eating some cross-legged dude that is praying.  HEY - I told you.  I don't know much about the Hindu religion and there was no guide! 
So colorful
There were two rows of what I would call "pews" out in front of this.  However, the below sign made it pretty clear there was limited access to go any further than those pews.  I didn't completely understand the sign  -Pradakshina Only (click the link to learn what that means - interesting stuff).

"No Exercising'  Weird but my kind of place.  Where do I sign up?
The temple is dedicated to Hanuman -the Indian monkey god.  At 85 ft, this is one of the tallest statues of Hanuman outside of India.
Hanuman is one tall monkey
This temple is also (or had in addition to) an ashram....I think.  There was a sign sort of hinting at that.  Sorry - again, severe lack of knowledge. 

Something new under construction

Trinidad - The Flag Tour -Temple in the Sea

The front of the temple
On our grand day out with Jesse James....after the Pitch Lake and lunch, we stopped at the Temple in the Sea.
The sea - the Bay of ?? to be specfic
Okay, so it's not really IN the sea but it used to be and then the land was built up to protect it from being destroyed by the sea.
The back of the temple
I know next to nothing about the Hindu religion but I am trying to learn while here.  So far it's going slow.  I am probably going to need to read something to get a better feel. 
Shoes must be removed before entering all Hindu temples
Flags are big in the Hindu religion.  We see them not only at temples but up on street corners and in nearly every yard in Hindu neighborhoods. 

The temple itself was locked but one of the side windows wasn't.  D-oh.  NO, we didn't climb through.  We merely peeked in.  Inside was so pretty and colorful.

Trinidad has a rather large population with east Indian heritage.  They were first brought to Trinidad after the abolishment of slavery.  Indentured servants aka just a different form of slavery in my mind.

Trinidad -The Flag Tour - Pitch Lake

Special Note - I am calling this the flag tour because we saw things the color of the Trinidad flag.  The black Pitch Lake and the scarlet Ibis.  Cleaver eh?  I guess the white in the flag could be the skin of the roti's we had for lunch - a stretch but oh well.

Last year I didn't feel much like sight seeing because of the various symptoms of Chicken G (Chikungunya) I experienced.  That was disappointing.  This year we are determined to rectify that.

Our first official island adventure was last week.  We arranged with Jesse Jame's (Members Only Maxi Taxi and Tour Services) to see the Pitch Lake and Caroni Swamp.  Jesse himself arrived at 9am with Calypso music playing and a big smile on his face.  sv Ocean Rainbow (Claire and James), Wild Matilda (Bruce) and sv Moody Mistress (Robert and Carla) hopped in the van with us and off we went.

Immediately Jesse began pointing out things we see on any normal trip out of Chaguaramas.....except Jesse told us the story behind whatever it was thus teaching us the history, culture and inside scoop.  The passion he has for his island/country simply pours out of him and you can't but get swept up.

As we passed the same roadside food stand for the third time (d-oh) on a roundabout, a few in the van expressed mid-morning hunger.  Jesse altered our route and headed for a place known to locals called Doubles Corner.  See the complete write up Trinidad Foods - The Flag Tour

Wading through the outer edge of Pitch Lake

Tummies happy, we continued south toward our first stop, the Pitch Lake.  A local woman was our tour guide there.  She grew up in the village by the Pitch Lake and has been a guide for 24 years. 
Gas bubbles on the surface of the lake
On the black surface of the lake there were many gas bubbles.  We could pop them with our fingers and shoes.  It was fun, like popping bubble wrap but better! 
Pieces of a popped gas bubble
We carefully followed our guide....well MOST of us did!  (no names -James)  This was so we could be sure we weren't stepping in any of the really gooey stuff.  The surface where we were walking felt like a sponge.  It had give to it. 

This is one of three pitch lakes in the world.  The others are in Venezuela and the La Brea Tar Pits in California.  
Tom gets a chance to play with the goo

Originally the pitch was used on ships.  Now it's used all over the world on runways, bridges and roads.  High quality stuff.  Oddly, Trinidad doesn't use it on their own roads.  They need to!
Note the inside of my left foot how I am sinking in
They have mapped the lake and rotate the mining so no area gets over mined.  That was not always the case in the past.  However, now by rotating, it allows the lake to "refill" with pitch.  She kept saying the lake does not grow but refills.  Hum?  I guess that means more comes up from the ground and fills back in what was mined out.  ??  Estimates are that the supply will last another 400 years. 
Footprint by Keen!
She gave us some impressive numbers in terms of the production.  I don't remember those.  If you are dying to know, I am sure you can Google it.  The government of Trinidad owns it, taking over from the British when Trinidad became its own country.  
Tom sinking down

Tom's footprints

She found a spot where we could wet our feet with the rain water and then stand (barefoot) in the warm/hot pitch.  As we stood, we quickly began to sink.  It was a weird feeling but sort of fun.  We couldn't stand too long as it got pretty warm under foot.
Neighborhood house is a casualty of Pitch Lake

The village near the Pitch Lake gave hints the lake was close.  Because of the constant moving and fluctuation of the pitch, gasses and such under the area, the road and any buildings shift all the time, as if on a....well....moving lake.  Therefore, most structures are built on a floating pad to allow for flex.  Really interesting stuff.

Next stop?  Lunch of roti's.  

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Companionway Lock

Until now, we have been using a long metal pole jammed up between the underneath wooden trim piece on the companionway hatch opening and the back of the sliding top to basically lock ourselves in at night and keep someone from opening the hatch.  The bonus is that the pole is also an handle for our emergency Oh Shit hand bilge pump thus making a long handle that allows for proper Oh Shit pumping/bailing of unwanted water.  Have you seen the standard handles?  They are no longer than 12 inches long.  Given the placement of most Oh Shit pumps, that does not work well at all.

Above is our handle for the emercency Oh Shit bilge pump.  Below is the standard handle.  Which would you rather operate for a couple of hours?......hopefully it's only a couple of hours or less!

Anyway, the pole is ok for securing the companionway but we have been thinking and searching for a better or additional solution.  Tom final found the right one for us.  He took off the underneath wooden trim piece (the one we grab as a handle to slide the hatch open and closed) and put a new longer one on.

Of course he sanded and finished it off properly  Then he had Chag Fab here in Trinidad make up a new catch for a barrel bolt lock.

Now we can lock ourselves in at night easy-peasy and save the pole for a real the Oh Shit purpose.

Improved Swim Ladder

With my Chicken G illness last year, normal boat aches and pains, and aging, we decided that our swim ladder needed an additional step (in the middle) to help us me get back out of the water safely.  Tom measured and marked it up and then had Chag Fab here in Trinidad weld it up.   Bing, boom, bang and it was done.  The result turned out nice.