Sunday, January 14, 2018

Season 4 Numbers - 2017

It is not about the numbers but more about the journey.  However.....

Oct - Dec 2016 =713
Jan - June 2017 = 683.7
Season 4 totals =1396.7
To Date cruising = 16 different Nations, 28 different land masses/islands

We look forward to new adventures in season five.

Pan Yard Limin in Trinidad

Our favorite player of the night

Amazing player with The MOVES

November 2017
Tom, Anna and local player

We went pan yard limin' again.  I had been bugging and bugging Jesse James "When are we going pan yard limin'?  We MUST go pan yard limin' before we depart."  Finally, he found a good night for us to all go.
Goran, Susie and James

This time it was Starlift yard.
Local player, Laura and Tom

Annika and Laura with best Xmas shirt

There were a total of 5 steel orchestras.  FIVE in one night!  Perfect. 
The locals were dressed to the nines, just lovely- women and men

There was also a small group doing traditional Christmas parang music.  It has a latin feel to it.
  Christmas parang

There were three buses of cruisers that went.  We were early.  Cruisers are always early to events because as an organized group we just can't do "island time"
Tom and Stefan try their hand

The pickups to head home were 23:00 or midnight.  We knew we want the midnight bus.  Pan yard limin' is way too fun to go home early.   Most cruisers operate on "cruisers midnight" meaning they are in bed by 21:00 hrs.  Jesse knows this and thus offered the 23:00 bus.  However, most opted for the later pickup.
Dale and Cori with one of the players

rhythm talk

Even with a midnight pickup, we were worried whether we would even see the last pan orchestra.  We did, although they were still playing when we reluctantly departed at 12:30am. 

It was a fantastic evening. 
Goran and Tom

Goran and the ladies (Annika and Laura)
Special note - The second pic from the top, the one with the young player with THE MOVES.....well his mom was nearby the whole time he played.  After each song, she would provide him with a towel to wipe off the sweat.  She was very attentive, watching his every move and of course enjoying it like the rest of us.  She very much reminded me of a typical American sports mom.  You know the ones that are at every practice and match, cheering them on.  I asked her if that was her son.  "Yes" she beamed.  "And that one up front too."  She pointed to a taller boy on the second row.  I congratulated her.  "They are both very talented.  You should be proud"  She nodded with a big grin.

Final note - Go up and look at the Christmas parang pic again.  Did you notice the skinny, white mannequin in the far right of the picture?  The one dressed like an American tourist?  Well, I cannot explain.  Most of us cruisers spotted it at one point or another during the night.  "What's with the weird white guy mannequin?"  "I don't know.  I saw that too.  Really weird."   A couple of us asked the MC who was close by.  "I don't know." he said.  And so the mystery continues.  I guess it is just one of those odd things you see in life with no explanation.

Tom's Trinidad Work Station

Tom's secure work station ashore

Oct 2017
Tom's secret work station - not really

Tom is the detail guy on our boat.  Anything that requires great and exact detail, usually falls to him.  Brightwork falls in the category.  He actually enjoys it.
sv Honey Ryder companionway stairs

Doing brighwork while living on the boat is a challenge.  There for Tom set up a work station ashore.  This would allow him to strip, sand, and varnish without the danger of someone (me) accidentally touching it. 
Sheltered from wind and rain

He had leftover "texture" from our deck painting so he used it in the varnish on the top of the stairs.  It turned out really nice and gives the stairs "gripping" power.
Temp step - a dozy

Brightwork is looking good around sv Honey Ryder.

Day With Roger And The Birds

November 2018

Tom and I are not birders.  We don’t specifically go out looking for birds…..or we didn’t until we went to Guyana.  There we did specifically go birding to see macaws, toucans, and a few others.  In Trinidad, we have been to Asa Wright Bird Center.  But we aren’t serious birders.  

We learned of Roger Neckles from Laura and Jason (sv Blue Blaze).  In the fall of 2016, they had gone out with Roger for a full day of birding.  They couldn’t say enough wonderful things about this day.  Good enough for us.  I contact him and set it up.  Bruce (sv Wild Matilda) and Susie (sv Spirited Lady) came along as well.

Roger is the premier wildlife photographer in the Caribbean.  He has worked for National Geo as well as many other well known magazines and wildlife organizations.  He has done lengthy photo assignments in northern Norway and Novia Scotia.  Oh yeah, and he happens to be Trini.  Roger was born in Trinidad but moved to England when he was a baby and raised there.  But he came home to roost some thirty years ago.  Get it?  Roost?  Bahahahha!  He shoots all wildlife but birds are his specialty and passion.  And when I say passion, I mean it.  He goes out nearly every day and he still gets excited about seeing various birds and getting THE SHOT – the perfect pic.  Besides his own birding and pictures, he teaches photography, does guided tours like ours and goes on group bird holidays as the trips expert.
Pre-sunrise over TTSA

Pre-sunrise over TTSA

Since we are NOT birders, meaning we don’t have a list of birds we are checking off, and we are not amateur photographers……I am a point and shoot sort of girl, we told Roger “We can do whatever.  We just want to go, see and learn.”  I will say Bruce is a very good amateur photographer.  In fact, he has probably sold his photos a few times as he is that good.  I let Roger know that Bruce was the photographer in our group and he was good at making sure Bruce got The Shot on several occasions. 
He picked us up at 5:30 am SHARP.  We took off for Caroni swamp.  However, we weren't out of sight of the sailboats in Chaguaramas when Susie pointed out the beautiful, stormy sunrise over TTSA and Roger whipped off to the side of the road so he/we could take a few pics of it.  Stunning. 
cardinal the same colors at TT national flag

I thought this was funny
At Caroni Swamp, we didn’t actually go in but hung around at the entrance looking for a specific cardinal.  It wasn’t long until Roger spotted one.  Then he began calling it.  Another one showed up and they kept coming closer and closer, responding to Roger’s bird calls.  His bird calls are simply amazing.  We also spotted a few Scarlet Ibis in the tree tops in the distance.  Roger pointed out a few other birds of course.  As we were driving out of the swamp, we spotted a few Scarlet Ibis in the mangroves feeding.  It was SO dramatic seeing the head to toe, bright red birds feeding among the brown of the muddy mangroves.  Roger got so excited.  We all got pics, then he tried to get a little closer via the car and then closer and closer.  “I have never been this close to a Scarlet Ibis!” 
Scarlet Ibis - SO red

To avoid the traffic, we cut through this agricultural area east of the Caroni Swamp.  Of course there were many interesting birds in this area.  I can’t name them all.  I will ask Bruce because he knows them all and get back to you.  In the mean time, just enjoy.
Can you see the bird?  Birds?

Tummies grumbling, Roger stopped at one of the famous doubles areas in Trinidad.  Just off the main highway, near the racetrack is a tiny track of dirt with 3 very busy doubles stands.  I opted for the saheena.  Yum!
Tom, Roger, Susie

Then we headed up into the mountains.  As we climbed higher on smaller, rougher roads, Roger keep a keen ear out.  Soon he heard a familiar bird, slamming on the brakes, he cocked his head out the window to listen.  “There!!  It’s a such and such woodpecker.”  We all piled out and started scanning the area he pointed to.  Sure enough, there was a big, fat woodpecker high up in a tree. Next stop we searched and searched for a ground living bird.  We could hear it but just couldn’t spot it.  Finally, Susie spotted it.  Then I spotted some other type of bird.  “Roger, what is this one?”  “Oh my goodness!  That is a blah, blah Guyana bird.” 
Can you see the big spotted moth on the side of the banana plant?

The next stop was a spot Roger had scouted earlier in the week with good luck on hummingbirds.  In a stand of wild ginger, several hummingbirds flew in for feeding.  One hummingbird kept the others away.  Roger and Bruce were focused on the feeding.  I spotted the hummingbird’s perch, where it keeps a watch for predators and other competing hummingbirds.  Roger was impressed that I found the perch and planned to set up a tripod near it in the future to get some shots.  Again, Roger’s passion for this was infectious. 
Can you see the bird nest hanging front and center?
We then drove higher up in the hills, near undeveloped land Roger owns.  He stopped to say a quick hello to his ancient neighbor and then we climbed even higher still.  We ended up at a house that had been converted into a hummingbird place.  No, not Yerette.  This is a different place.  They had four feeders set up.  We spent the next hour and a half watching dozens of hummingbirds frantically flying all around at blurring speeds, often buzzing incredibly close to us.  It turns out that these birds are actually fighting each other for feeding privileges.  The sound of the wings was a sort of buzzing (zoom, zoom, zoom) or…..humming.  Duh!  OR… light sabers when they are first turned on for battle!  *We just saw Star Wars The Last Jedi.”
Humming bird feeders

As we were leaving the hummingbird place I said to Roger “What is the name of this place?”  “Um……I don’t know.  Hey Henry, what is the name of this place?” he asked the guy in charge.  “Um, I don’t know.  It’s uncle’s house there.”  *Uncle is a generic term used for an elder in the Caribbean. He shrugged his shoulders and so did Roger.  A well hidden secret indeed. 
Humming birds fighting to feed

On the way back to Chagauramas Roger shared another story of his photographer adventures and answered questions.  We heard about all things birds, photography and Trinidad and beyond.  He asked what our favorite bird sighting was.  It was hard to decide.  It was all good. 
Many varieties of humming birds
While we still aren’t official birders, I do find myself wanting to get a bird book and check off those we have seen……so maybe we are on the way to being birders.  It was certainly an amazing day and we learned a lot, giving us an even deeper understanding and appreciation of tropical birds, their beauty and struggles.  Poaching is still an issue!   Unbelievable in this day and age.  Argh!  Roger does work in the schools in Trinidad trying to teach wildlife conservation.  

See the humming bird?  My favorite one

If you are ever in Trinidad, go spend a day with Roger.  You won’t regret it.  Or go on one of the birding adventures with him.  I believe this year is Belize, Galapagos and the Amazon.  Take extra batteries! 

For more REAL pictures check out Roger's pics - Roger Neckles Photography
Bruce's pics - Wild Matilda       

People of Trinidad

Fall 2017
After four consecutive hurricane seasons in Trinidad, this interesting and diverse country has come to have a special place in our hearts.  Key to that is the people of Trinidad that we have gotten to know.
Dock neighbors Alicia and Wayne

Debra and Ms Green

Tom and Steve


Peter and Tom

Sheri and Sabrina


Nigel and Sabrina

Sabrina and Douglas

Sabrina and Ms Green

Lunch lady outside Powerboats


Sabrina, Fanny, Tom 
Jesse James - pic by Bruce Amlicke
And SO many more that I sadly do not have pictures of. 

Even the furry ones.  Below are a few of the yard cats at Coral Cove.  Most are wild but these let us pet them.