Sunday, March 13, 2016

Tobago - Argyle Falls

A short walking distance (approx 3 kilometers) from the bus stop in Roxborough at the edge of town we found Argyle Falls.

It is basically a series of three falls with pools at each level.  It was not crowded  - 6 other people besides us.  They all hung out at the first pool and didn't stay long.

Not content to just stay at the first level, we immediately headed off for the top fall and accompanying pool. 

The view from the top was nice. The top fall and pool lovely.  And....we had it all to ourselves!

 Of course we got in!

Not the largest falls we've seen in the Caribbean but decent size.
See Tom on the rocks to the right of the fall?

It was quite refreshing. 

After a thorough soak and exploration, we climbed back down.

One last look up at all three.

The hike in and out was easy.  Large clumps of bamboo and big trees gave us shade.

Cocoa trees were abundant.

Yummm - chocolate

Teak trees as well.  Teak is the preferred wood of most sailors. 

Yummmm - teak
One side of the driveway in was lined with beautiful teak trees and the other side was lined with cocoa trees.  What a great address that would be!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Tobago - Let The Adventure Begin

map via
We are currently anchored near the airport in Store Bay on the SW corner of the island. 

The island is approximately 300 sq kilometers,  21.6 nm tip to tip and 5 nm at it's widest part with 60,000 people living here.  While not as mountainous as Trinidad, there are some pretty good sized hills.  There are many lovely beaches, snorkeling/diving sites, five waterfalls, doubles and roti's, and a goat racing stadium.  We plan to stay a month so we can fully explore.
Special note -You read correctly.....there is a goat racing stadium.  I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am about this but those of you that know me can surely guess.  AND.....hold on to your hat......the annual Easter Goat Races are coming up March 24-27.  We are SO going.  Technically it's Goat and Crab Races, but I couldn't care less about the crab races.  There is no skill in that - drop some crabs in the middle of a square and see which one crawls out first.  Big deal.  Train it to crawl into a pot and I might be interested.  However, goat racing had my full attention.  It is an established sport(?)/event that has been going on for nearly 80 years.  And yes I said skill above.  These goats are apparently bred and trained to race.  I don't know how but I intend to find out.  Stay tuned for a complete report on this with pictures from the stadium and races.  No, there is not any "official" betting but if we do find some "side betting" we will put $10 TT down on one for you.  Do you think the losers become the next day's curry goat special?  We shall see.  If you are as excited as us and you just can't wait, click Tobago Goat Racing to learn more.  

Passage from Trinidad to Tobago

Sunset from Store Bay Tobago
Tobago is part of the nation of Trinidad and Tobago.  The island is approximately 20 miles north of the NE tip of Trinidad.  The important factor in that statement is EAST - to windward.  Common sense would tell a sailor to visit it when coming south for the season.  Yep, common sense.  Visiting Tobago has been on our list for the past two seasons but we always seem to run out of time at the end of the season.  So we went to option B - go from Trinidad to Tobago.  It can and has been done.  We talked to several cruisers who have done it.  Step one was to get our attitude set correctly - it's going to be a motor sail.....plain, simple fact.  Two, depart in the best conditions possible (d-uh, something we try to do on each passage). The best conditions for motoring into the wind and current means little to no wind or current.  Odd thing for a sailor to be searching for but those were the weather conditions we wanted.

We dropped our mooring ball at 00:06 (just after midnight) and motored out of Chaguaramas.  The half moon was not yet up, although there are lots of various lights in this commercial port.  Tom sat up on the starboard bow to keep an eye out for traffic and floating debris - lit and unlit.  We motored through the Boca quickly on an out going tide, getting a nice boost as we went.  There was a strong scent of sandalwood in the air as we passed through.  Very strong.  Perhaps sandalwood trees?  

Once clearing the Boca, we turned east along the north coast of Trinidad.  "How far off the coast do you travel when you guys take your boat to Tobago?" I asked Dave on sv Cape.  "The locals will tell you as close as you dare...1/4 to 1/2 mile."  Gulp. 
sv Honey Ryder at anchor in Store Bay Tobago
It was a tad weird being so close of an unfamiliar coast in the dark of night.  I had the first watch and being so close to shore definitely kept me awake -  NO issues there.  See....I am not a big fan of sailing close to land.  Close to land raises the percentage you can hit!   ICW?  Meh......not a big fan.  This started back in my childhood.  Sailing on small lakes as a kid, my dad would sail the whole lake - shore to shore....often getting really close to the shore,.  Very close!  I can remember more than one occasion where the wind would shift or die (as it often does close to land) and then I, as crew would have to fend us off the shoreline, whether it was scrubs ("just grab hold of the branches and pull us around") or getting out in ankle deep mud to "push us around".  My thoughts the whole time I was physically tacking us off a shoreline were "We have to whole lake to sail, why do we have to get so close to shore?"  Those thoughts have not changed.  No doubt my dad remembers our lake sailing differently.  Isn't it funny how our childhood experiences warp shape us so?  In his defense, we were sailing on small lakes so I am sure he was just trying to get the most of the lake.  Back to the present, same story.....great big ocean, why do we need to be close to shore?  Yes, I know we have to get close to land to visit land, but overall I prefer sailing room, lots of it.  Besides, close to land you have to pay attention all the time....lest you hit land.  At sea there is room to sail about without fear of hitting something....other than a submerged shipping container or another ship.  Okay, reduced fear of hitting something.  At sea, you can relax, think, dream, listen to music, read, etc...

So anyway...we motored along approximately 1/4 to 1/2 mile off the coastline.  Luckily, there were no fishing floats or nets.  We saw two small fishing pirogues.  Both had small flashing lights in addition to the driver's flashing headlamp.  That light configuration takes awhile to figure and and trust is NOT in the Colregs!  Thankfully neither pirogue approached us, although my pulse did increase as they passed by.  At times there was actually a slight counter current to the Equatorial Current that races up and over the top of Trinidad so our speed wasn't terrible - say 4 knots average.  

Morning came and we continued our motoring east.  It's a big coastline  At Grand Riviere Bay we finally turned NE toward Tobago.  Of course the wind was a touch NE and so we set the main only and continued to motor sail.  Soon after setting our sail, we spotted a huge leatherback.  One of the nesting locations in Trinidad is Grand Riviere Bay.  The females travel thousands of miles to come ashore and lay their eggs there April through March.  This one was a tad early but I guess when you are pregnant, you are pregnant.  Remember when we went to see the giant leatherbacks in Grenada?  Truly unique experience.  If you ever have a chance to go and see that - do!  
Crown Point Beach
Anyway, we continued to motor sail NE towards Tobago.  We arrived at Store Bay on the SW Coast of Tobago and dropped anchor at 14:45.  One of only 4 boats in this anchorage.  While customs is open 24/7 (in theory) anything after 16:00 is over time AND more than likely immigration is not open 24/7.  So we made a decision to wait until the next morning when we knew both would be open to check in here.  Technically we are already checked into Trinidad and Tobago, but they make your check into and out of both places.  We had a passage beer, put the boat in anchor mode (passage mode is different than anchor mode) had something to eat and then basically slept. 

BonusAll that motoring meant our batteries where fully charged and we had hot water for 3 days after arriving.