‘Beyzano’ has been a star since the day we bought her and she came out of the water after almost 7000 miles with nothing amiss. Even her hull is still shiny! We could have re-launched straight away, so the pressure is off and we have a list of good-to-do tasks most of which we could have easily done whilst at anchor or done without. Happily settled into life in the Powerboats yard after more than a week, we have been getting work organised, visiting chandleries and finding out what is going on locally via other cruisers and the daily net on VHF Ch 68.
The taxi company everyone uses is called ‘Members Only’ and they do the same kind of trips as Shademan and George did in Grenada. We took the Friday bus to the Falls Mall, which is very modern, cool and full of shoe, clothes and mobile phone shops, just like the UK! They had a food area, with a McDonalds, McCafe (new to us), Teriyaki Express and a KFC. We bought a local sim card for our unlocked phone, costing 4 GBP with 2 GBP of airtime thrown in.
The supermarket there was well stocked, including fresh milk and the prices are noticeably cheaper than further up the Caribbean chain. The taxi dropped us all off at our individual boats, so the heavy loads don’t need to be carried at all. The return fare was just 3 GBP. The supermarket in the yard has all you need day to day and their prices are also fair.
We found a great café in Crew’s Inn Marina, serving delicious cakes, savouries and ice cream, a pizza restaurant in Coral Cove and another lovely bar at Peake’s. All these are boatyards or marina and within walking distance of ours. The bank with ATM is less than a 5 minute walk and a lady sells fruit and vegetables from a stall just outside the yard gates. Another lady sells hot food from her stall with a choice of roti, curries, rice etc. Again it is very good and cheap, with 3 GBP buying enough for 2 people. There is also a Roti Hut and Sails restaurant in the yard.
We were glad to find that the cost of renting a cottage is unnecessary as the air con unit we rent from the yard keeps the boat very cool all day and we don’t need it at night. It is bliss to sleep without any noises or worry about the boat, although torrential rain sometimes wakes us up. It does rain every day, usually around midday and you can see the clouds building up before the thunder and lightning kick off. The positive is that we rinse ropes and sail covers in it but the downside is that you can get trapped in the café for hours and can’t get on with the daily tasks. Getting up early means it is cooler and drier for a few hours and we get a lot more done. The anchor chain is laid out over a stand the yard provides, making it easy to clean and re-mark. It will need re-galvanising in a few year’s time as it spends so much time in the water but we will swop it over next year, end to end, as we usually only use the first 25 metres of our 100 metres. Our sails have been sent away for cleaning and storing until October, dinghy cleaned and packed away, manual bilge pump checked, freezer emptied, in fact there are so many little tasks that I won’t list them! Major ones are checking the port steering wheel bearing, servicing the engine and generator.
A daily rate is charged for water and electricity with a surcharge for the air con. There are plenty of sockets around the yard and they set up the power when you arrive. Bins are located all around the yard and the launderette has 3 large washing machines and 3 tumble driers using tokens obtained from the office. You can get hot showers by buying a token but they don’t last very long! We have bought a month’s Wi-Fi Access – 30 GBP and faster connection is available in the Internet café onsite for 2.40 GBP an hour. The only thing lacking is a big sink to wash mats and dishes.
A quick look at our spreadsheet every morning reminds us of what we are supposed to be doing but we have plenty of slack in the plan, with at least 8 days completely free to make the best of the island. A ‘Taste of Trinidad’ tour taking in different foods and local life is one trip we are booked on and the turtle watching is another. The ferry to Tobago is only 10 GBP return, so we may spend a couple of nights there in a hotel if we get ahead of schedule.
The number and range of workshops and good marine engineers here is more than enough to sort out any problem. In addition, at Powerboats they are known for their customer service and have a list of contractors they recommend. They will then chase them up. We met with Brent, the manager, to obtain the quotes for our sun awnings and stainless steel frame and he phoned a few people whilst we were in his office and it was all organised.
We are investing in 4 x 135 Watt solar panels, a 50 amp MPPT solar controller unit, frame to support them and the dinghy plus a stronger outboard hoist. We are also having sun shades for the whole boat made. A water catcher is being built into the bow awning and a clear panel into the new bimini so I can see the mainsail when we are raising it. Finally we are getting mesh side panels for the bimini to cut down on the rain getting into the cockpit from the sides, as it is lovely and cool sleeping outside at anchor.
The costs will be high but assuming we are here for many more years, it will be worthwhile. Running the generator for 3 hours a day uses diesel and will wear it out, so using the sun makes sense. Our Duogen is in pieces with the engineer and he will let us know if it is repairable, so we can sell it, or if it is now junk like the other one he had in his workshop! We may buy a wind generator but will see how efficient the solar panels are first. There is a freezer and fridge to run but we should only need to run the generator if we make water or the batteries need a good top up.
We are also selling our feathering propeller, as it wasn’t big enough for our boat. It was a good idea for crossing the Atlantic, stopping the gearbox turning for 3000 miles but it didn’t have the power to push us through the steeper waves when going to windward here.
There aren’t that many people living on their boats here but our Danish friends are next to us so we had a movie night, watching ‘Fifth Element’ and I have been recalling how to knit, something I haven’t done for 25 years! Frida is 11 and keen to knit some blankets for her toy mice and fortunately they don’t seem to care what their blankets look like!
Talking of mice, there is a small colony of cats in the yard, with their own tailor made cat houses. They are very friendly and we haven’t seen any rats or mice around, so they must be efficient.