Saturday, February 27, 2016

Cruising - Big School of Learning

Zero hour:   -Shop Class --a hands on lab
First period:   -History and Geography
Second period: - Language Lab
Third period:  -Social Studies
Forth period:  -Human Ecology --including hands on food and sewing labs -(perfect as its right after social studies and right before lunch)
5th period:  -World Politics and Current Affairs --(after lunch so sleep can set in for some students, confusion and/or delusions for others)
Six period:  -Science -- oceanography, biology, natural science, astronomy, chemistry (hands on lab in corrosion) 
7th period:  -Economics and Mathematics -- currency exchange rates, budgets, real/black/gray and rum markets
Extra credit:  -Technology Lab --marine electronics, communications, audio visual
Physical Education:   --throughout the day weather permitting, depending on classroom setting 

*Like  many, most public school districts in the USA, budget constraints have caused the consolidation of some fields of study as observed above. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Frosty Xmas. -New Freezer

New freezer

That is correct.  We are currently enjoying a chilly Xmas thanks to a new freezer.
Old freezer

Our old freezer (16 yrs old) stopped working in November 2015.  The control module burned up.  We were not able to buy just the replacement control panel on such an old model.  This meant we would have to buy a whole new unit =$$$$.  Consulting our budget, we decided to wait a year and just make do with a fridge only.
New control module

Well, Santa got wind of our predicament and decided to treat us with a new freezer for Xmas!  Thank you, thank you Santa and Mrs Clause! 
Freezer and fridge - empty

Tom got the new unit ordered but it wouldn't make the December ship from Italy via Miami.  It would be on the January ship.  Okay.  Slight change in our cruising plans.  No worries.  We now had a reason to come back to Trinidad and oh would be Carnival time!  
Fridge part - holding plate

Tom felt confident that he could get the new unit installed and running.  However, he opted to wait until after carnival because we only arrived just before Carnival.  Nearly all of Trinidad business shuts down during Carnival.  If he needed to consult with one of the marine refrigeration experts, chances are they would be closed or unavailable until after carnival.

The stove is missing!

Missing stove found

The first step in replacing anything is getting the old out.  In order to do this Tom also had to temporarily removed the galley stove.  It gave us a chance to clean behind and under......eeew.
New evaporator plate with copper tubes - DON'T kink it or them!

Pulling the old copper lines out wasn't a big deal.  Putting the new ones in he had to be careful not to kink them while snaking them back through tiny runs and weird angles.  But of course he got it done.
Old evaporator plate

Even though there was nothing wrong with the evaporator plate on the old unit, we opted to put in the new one.  It comes as one long, straight plate.  The installer then has to bend it to fit the install location.  Bending it carefully so as not to kink it and therefore making it useless.  The installers being us.  Gulp!

Measure, mark, measure again
As usual, Tom had done much reading, research and thinking ahead of time on how to best accomplish this project.  I read a bunch of sailing blogs.  I happened to remember a blog posting from sv Soggy Paws when they replaced their refrigeration while in some remote Pacific atoll.  Note - A common definition of Cruising is fixing your boat in exotic locations!  Ha!  Anyway, sv Soggy Paws used a wine bottle to help them bend their evaporator plate.  Tom measured and marked and measured again just to be sure.  He held the bottle in place firmly and I gently bent the plate.  It was a tad nerve wracking but  we completed curve one.  Okay.  Measure, mark, measure again to be sure, hold, gently bend, curve two done.  Success.  Then Tom did a test fit in the freezer box.  "How the heck did I maneuver the old one out?"  It was a little like a puzzle but he got it in by dipping this end down first and then carefully rotating it forward and then shifting it up and to the left.  It fit!  He took it out and did the final bend on the forward port end and then put it back in - using the same contortions as before. Perfect fit - woo hoo!

First bend complete

Second bend complete
Tom hooked it all up.  This model has quick connects so that made it easier.  Then the moment of truth.  He flipped the switch.  Power - check.  The copper line going out of the pump started to feel cold.  Yay!  The plate did not.  Okay, wait a bit.  Nope.  Hum?  He checked all the connections again, not chilling.  Hum?  Think, check again, ponder, check again.  Finally, he shut it off and called one of the marine refrigeration guys.  They discussed in detail Tom's install .  "When you did the connection at the quick connect value, did you hear a hiss?"  Sherwin asked.  "No" replied Tom. "Then it probably needs charging."  This make and model is supposed to come fully charged with refrigerant from the factory but Sherwin says he has witnessed more than one unit out of the box under charged.  Sherwin arrived the next afternoon, looked things over, put his tester on it and declared "Looks good but just as we suspected, it needs charging."  He hooked up his big bottle and charged it up.  Then he flipped the switch and soon it was chilling down.  Woo hoo!

Quick connector

It has been chilling since.  We have been testing with frozen hamburger patties and bottles of water to freeze.  It's going well.  However, we need to get it filled up more with food for optimum running mode.  This Saturday we will stock up on fresh meat and fish at the fresh POS market and next week hit Price Mart (like Costco) for a final stock up.

Installed and running.  The lower area is the freezer.  Upper is fridge.

So, we are excited about our frosty Xmas present.  It will make this cruising season that much more enjoyable.  Thank you AGAIN Santa and Mrs Clause! 

Final note - On the old unit, the pump and motor were mounted vertically so the sea water could potentially leak down from the pump onto the motor.  Sea water = corrosion = leak = more corrosion.  This burned out the motor causing a voltage surge through the control module thus burning it out.  The new model has been redesigned.  The pump and motor are now mounted horizontally.  Much better. 

The Shape Of Carnival - Trinidad Carnival 2016

All sizes, shapes and ages (adults) - beautiful

I have shared a lot with you in regards to carnival in Trinidad but I must share one more thing.  It is an important item.  I want to talk about the shape of carnival.  
All sizes, shapes and ages (adults) - beautiful

I mentioned in a previous post and no doubt you noticed in the pics, that the masqueraders costumes are generally on the small side.....aka skimpy.  Trinidad is no different than other countries in the world, in that  they are struggling with expanding waistlines too.  The highest volume KFC in the Caribbean is supposedly in Port of Spain Trinidad.  
All sizes, shapes and ages (adults) - beautiful

All sizes, shapes and ages (adults) - beautiful
However, when it comes to playing mas, size and age didn't seem to matter.  We saw all ages of adults and all sizes.  ALL SIZES!  No one seemed to care that their body wasn't perfect.  They still wore the beaded up - sparkly bikini with a mass of feathers.  A 42 year old woman with say maybe three kids at home -  no problem.  She was sporting the same Brazilian cut bikini Mas costume as the 25 year old chipping next to her.  The same is true for guys.  We saw several older guys chipping along with rum guts (Caribbean beer belly). 
All sizes, shapes and ages (adults) - beautiful

Everyone here seemed to be so confident in their own skin.  It really came through.  They were out on de road,  playing Mas, chipping and having a good time.  Total body confidence with a big dose of Who Cares!  
All sizes, shapes and ages (adults) - beautiful

It was quite refreshing.  No, it was fantastic!  So much so, that it has been the topic of several discussion with various cruisers in the past week since carnival.  I really can't think of an equivalent situation in the USA where a mass quantity of women in their 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's 60's+ would feel as confident marching/dancing in a parade in their swimsuits for 12 hours.  I loved it.  Both Adventure Sarah and Sarah off sv Cape expressed how amazing and brilliant they thought it was and echoing the same.... that there isn't the same body confidence among women in the UK.  
All sizes, shapes and ages (adults) - beautiful

I am telling you it was powerful to witness and left me feeling empowered in my shape.
All sizes, shapes and ages (adults) - beautiful

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Fishing Net Dangers

sv Imagine's rudder damage
Tom = "Good morning dear.  Hey, I think Kurt's boat sv Imagine is on the mooring ball behind us."
Sabrina = "Rut-row.  That can't be good.  He should be in Grenada by now.  It wasn't there last night when we left the cockpit at midnight to go to bed.  I hope everything is ok."
Tom =  "I am going to get us doubles for breakfast.  I think I will stop by on the way back and check in with him." 
FYI - Best husband in the world.....he went and got us doubles for breakfast.  YUM!

I know you have heard me mention on more than one occasion how we have to keep a close eye out for fishing floats and how hard they are to spot.   They are usually marked with two or three small plastic pop bottles- often clear in color.....because that's easy to spot.   NOT!!  If you will remember, we even snagged a fishing float on two different occasions in season two.  These fishing floats are usually 1-3 miles off island coastlines. 

Besides these coastal fishing floats, we also have to keep an eye out for bigger fishing nets.  These are much larger and spread out over a bigger area.  Usually between Grenada and Trinidad.  These seem to be set out at night.  They might have a tiny light or two on them or they might not.  Same is true for the fishing pirogue (type of fishing boat found in the Caribbean).  Sometimes the only light is the headlamp worn by the fisherman.  Tiny lights like these are nearly impossible to see in any sort of seas other than dead-flat-calm.

Even if you spot the lights, it is very difficult to tell which way to steer to for clear water.

Deep cut by polypro line and net
Turns out Kurt sv Imagine was 7 miles off the north coast of Trinidad in the middle of the night.  He was headed to Grenada which is usually done as an overnight passage.  The wind and seas were building a bit when suddenly the boat stopped.  He was caught in a big fishing net.  The drag of it spun the boat around part way until he was stern to the wind with breaking waves crashing over the back of boat and into the cockpit.  His head sail got twisted/tangled, flailed about and eventually tore.  Oh yeah, Kurt is a solo sailor!  The fishing pirogue finally came along side, banging and scratching his hull up and denting the toe rail in a couple of places as they did.  They cut most of net free and then just left.  They didn't offer to assist Kurt at all.  He checked the bilge for leaks, thinking the net might have pulled on the shaft.  Luckily, he didn't have any water in the bilge.  Much later, he made it back into Chaguaramas but still in the dark of night and took the mooring ball behind us.  Again, SOLO.
Deep cut
In the morning light he could see remnants of the floating polyprop line and the net.  Tom grabbed his snorkel gear and dove under his boat to have a look for him.  The prop/shaft was clear.  Whew!  However, the polypro line (no bigger than 3/8" diameter) had cut into the rudder pretty deep.  No wire, polypro line and net only!  I know - crazy!  Being stern to the waves, bashing up and down, the line just sawed through it.  The only thing that stopped it from going deeper ....(read) all the way through...was the actual rudder post.  OMG, right?!

He was able to haul the next morning to start repairs.  The good news in all of this is that he is okay.  This is now the third boat we have known to get caught in these types of nets.         

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Carnival Trinidad - Pretty Mas

Pic by Kurt

Tuesday, February 9th 2016
We got up at 5am so we could be on Jesse Jame's 6am maxi taxi into Port of Spain.  This would assure we beat the traffic and hopefully allow us to get seats in some stands next to the judging booth on Ariapita Avenue. 
Love the stands - seating and shade - me and some other cruisers

It worked.  We scored seats along the parade route under a shaded tent with food, drink and toilets close by.  Woo hoo!  Being next to this judging stand meant we got to see the groups perform for the judges - those groups that do perform, not all of them do.  Plus we got to hear the parade announcers and such.   
Sarah, Tom and me

Today was the Pretty Mas Parade.  If you will remember back to the carnival definitions I gave you ....Pretty Mas is – Today’s dominant form of masquerading emphasizing beautiful costumes with elaborate decorations. Many pretty mas costumes are now decorated bikini style garments.

Typical speaker truck - Big Truck

Big truck up close
The parade route we were watching would have 72 total "bands" passing by.  Mini, small, medium and large bands but 72!  AND....this was only one of I think four judging stands.  I believe different bands had different routes as we didn't even see one of the most popular bands, The Hart Band.  But I am not really sure to be honest.  All I know is we saw a bunch of mas bands.

BIG generator running the speaker truck

Again, the definition of a Band is - A group of Carnival masqueraders with costumes designed on a related theme. A band can have 4,000-7,000 people divided into 25 or more sections, each with it’s own theme and several music trucks. Each band has a huge King and Queen costume. Carnival Tuesday will see about 20 large bands go across the Savannah stage and parade in the streets in competition.

Beverage truck or bar truck
Spoiler alert - Ronnie and Caro Mas Band won the large competition.  I read it online the next day!  See the pic above.
Another example of a bar truck
The large mas bands we saw had as many as four Big Trucks (speaker trucks), multiple beverage and food trucks, a truck to hold their feathers when they need to take them off and a Tinkle Truck for.....well exactly that.....and thus the feather truck to hold your feathers while you visit the Tinkle Truck.

Food truck - see the parade rope and the line handlers in red
The large bands had ropes stretched on each side of their mas band with line handlers as they walked along "De Road".  This basically encloses the group (loosely) and keeps them separated from the mass of people watching and walking along De Road.  The mas band members all had wrist bands identifying them to that group.....because one jewel encrusted, bikini clad, feathered up masquerader pretty much looks like the next mas band masquerader!  HA!  Not really....but sort of.... with these large mas bands they have many sections and thus many costumes so it can be a bit confusing.  Plus other masqueraders or even the crowd watching can and do "jump up" with the mas band.  The wrist bands simply allow the mas players easy access to the food, beverage and tinkle trucks for their group. 

Feather truck - no really
The parade was fun to watch.  The themes interesting and costumes spectacular.  However, the logistics of it all were what was most impressive.  The large mas band YUMA had 12 trucks in total!  It reminded us of the efficiency of the National Panorama Finals we saw on Saturday night.  I told Jesse James "Seeing your carnival up close and the logistics with which events involving massive numbers of people are carried out, I would never underestimate the nation of Trinidad and Tobago."   

Tinkle truck or um.... pic says it all
The flow of the parade was good as well.  I am not sure if that is because we were near a judging stand.  Maybe.  But the past two years we have experienced carnival on two different Caribbean island and the flow was much slower with huge gaps between groups.  Not in Trinidad.  The big trucks kept moving for the most part.  Even the tinkle trucks kept moving.  Mas players had to time their step up onto the stairs of the tinkle truck as it crept along de road.  *Can you tell I like saying "tinkle truck"?  Actually, I think it's brilliant that they have tinkle trucks.     

The one was called Wee -Wee Truck vs Tinkle Truck
This mas bank even has their own ambulance
This was truly Trinidad AND Tobago's carnival.  There were pan orchestra groups competing in the finals from Tobago and there were pretty mas bands from there as well.  FYI - Tobago is an island about 20 miles of the NE tip of Trinidad.

The 2016 Road March was "Waiting on the stage" by Machel Montano.  It's a great Soca tune.  Good thing too, as we heard it no less than 100+ times today.  I know that sounds like it would be very monotonous but it's actually a good thing.  Think about it, what if every big truck was blasting a different SOCA tunes?  That would be horrible.  This way there was continuity within the medium and large mas bands. And there wasn't conflicting music as bands transitioned along in front of us.  You saw the pics of the big trucks, right?  With that many speakers you not only heard the music but you feel it in your chest.  Trinis like their music loud.  Actually, all Caribbean people like their music loud.  And age doesn't matter.  We have seen many, many an older Trini chippin to the latest SOCA tune while singing every word out loud.

Terry checks out the costume
With so many big trucks blasting the road march, the mas players chipped their way along de road occasionally wining and jumping around in mass as their DJ demanded - HUGE energy.  I suspect that is one of the judging criteria.  If you listened to / watched the road march video above you can understand the energy that goes with that tune and what we witnessed out on de road.

Front line type costume
The previous week, we went to one of the mas camp headquarters.  It gave us a chance to see the theme for the band and the various costumes. 
Front line type costume

Two years ago I had a swimsuit custom made by Debbie here in Trinidad.  She also makes the base swimsuits for one mas band.  She told me she would end up making and fitting close to 5000 swimsuits!  5000!!!  OMG!  She only makes the base suit and then the mas camp adds the beads, sequins, feathers and all.  And before you ask..... my custom made swimsuit was NOT a carnival style suit!
Sarah with one of the costumes
While these costumes may be small, they are NOT cheap.  Front line female costumes aka those with the most feathers - can run $4000 - $8000 TT = $666 to $1,300 US!  And next year there is a different theme so no reusing this year's costume.  *And what does one do with your old Pretty Mas costume?  Is it like all the bridesmaid dresses us girls end up with in the back of our closets?  Of course we all know how many times we wore those again!!  NEVER, even though the bride insists "You will be able to totally wear it out for different occasions."  HA!  Fat chance.
Sarah with a headdress on

Although.....I suspect a few of my friends who dig sparkles (no names, right Adventure Sarah?) would probably wear their Pretty Mass costume again!
This mas band had a section that was a casino theme

Anyway, it was kewl to see the mas camp HQ in person.  We learned that most of the feathers are pheasant and they come from China.  Big surprise - not!  But they do have to be quarantined for a rather lengthy time period before the mas camps can take delivery.  Given the huge volume of feathers used in carnival, I would imagine there is a massive warehouse somewhere in Trinidad that is always chuck full of quarantined feathers.  

Masquerader with her stomach painted up
A few of the masqueraders had well done body paint as part of their costumes.  Not like kids face painting at a street fair but air brushed, Sports Illustrated Swim Suit issue type body paint.  

Masquerader and Sarah - check out his body paint

WOW - so many feathers
Previously I could never figure out why nearly every shoe store in Trinidad carried ankle and calf length boots.  Boots in sunny, warm/hot Trinidad......why?  Don't get me wrong, they were usually super cute in bright suede colors but still boots in a tropical climate?  However now I get it.  They are carnival boots!  Many of the masqueraders had these boots on as part of their costumes and for comfort.  Twelve + hours of chippin on de road is brutal on any body regardless of age and shape. 

Check out these UGGS and don't miss her bling bling drinking cup
Those of you trying to do 10,000 steps a day (it's a American health thing for you non-American readers) come to carnival and do all the various celebrations.  Chippin the days away will quickly get you to your cumulative goal.  FYI - a good friend says chippin often counts as double steps toward your 10,000 steps goal so try chippin as you do your house chores.

Pic by Kurt - King type custom

Pic by Kurt

Pic by Kurt

There were a few traditional steel pan orchestras mas bands sprinkled among the big truck mas bands.

Not sure if she was a mas player or just wearing last years costume
After a full day watching the parade, we departed at 5pm.  However the parade continued on, wrapping up after 8pm!

Kurt and friends with Tom
Pretty Mas was nothing short of amazing.