Posts for August through to November 2012 and 2014 contain photographs and further information.
We decided to haul out in Trinidad, initially for September and October but became more cautious in the spring of 2012 and booked an extra month. It being our first hurricane season, we were unsure as to how the weather patterns would affect us on an emotional level, so played it safe. In hindsight, this was a good move as the increased frequency of tropical wave formations and possible named storms hitting Grenada made it an uneasy time.
People’s opinions of Trinidad vary, with those who stay in Grenada being against going there due to possible piracy on the voyage and crime generally in Trinidad. Others go there year after year, without any issues and enjoy the busy cruiser’s social scene, low prices and range of skilled labour.
Both Peake’s and Powerboats’ yards have good reputations, the latter being our choice as it was slightly cheaper and seemed happier to let us work on the boat and bring in outside contractors. They also manage the work, signing off the quotes, even if the workmen are not located at their yard. We had a stainless steel arch and sun awnings made. It was also very friendly and safe.
We sailed to Trinidad on 1 August, from St David’s harbour. Other boats joined us on the way coming out of Prickly Bay. We knew 1 of them and kept in radio contact. We had been warned to expect a customs boat to approach us but they didn’t. The only difficulty was the Boca, which was very rough when we went through. The oilrigs were no issue as they were very well lit and we travelled overnight to arrive in the daylight.
Local Grenadians begged us not to leave the yard but the very first day we walked along the road to the bank. We never felt unsafe in Trinidad but didn’t walk around Port of Spain at night, nor down dark alleys. TT dollars are 10 to 1 GBP, so you feel very rich with a huge wallet of paper notes! Prices are excellent, both for provisions and fuel. We also walked around the head of the bay to other boatyards and marinas, especially to the wonderful café at Crew’s Inn! We also caught the very cheap local buses many times, to go to the air-conditioned mall.
Jesse James runs a total tour and shopping bus service for cruisers, picking up at the boatyards and covering cinema trips, market and mall shopping, turtle nesting and pitch lake tours. We joined his ‘Taste of Trinidad’ day tour, which was excellent. All the information is on the cruiser’s daily radio net and Facebook page.
We would definitely consider going to Trinidad again as the yards are geared up for leaving boats ashore for long periods, with shrink wrapping and boat checking services available. Friends have left their boat there for more than a year without any problems.
It is very hot and humid, raining often. In August and October we rented an air-conditioning unit and found it essential. Paint dried quickly but we worked early and late in the day and dodged the downpours. Living on the boat wasn’t as hard as expected as the yard allows you to use your sinks because the water all flows downhill with the rain! Being able to wash up and wash your hands on board was a big bonus. The cold showers were free and hot ones cost very little. The launderette was very cheap too but the yard could really do with a big sink with hot water so mats and canvas could be washed.
So, in summary, although it is hot and humid, we would definitely return to Chaguaramas to haul out. Being afloat there is a different matter, as the water is oily and filthy, not for swimming. We didn’t linger once launched and went straight to Scotland Bay before heading back alone to Grenada the following morning for a day passage to St David’s.
In 2014 we did just that and hauled out again at Powerboats. This time we spent about 6000 GBP on respraying the boat, new anchor chain, deck hatches, antifouling, new spray hood windows and having the hull sanded. The yard cost another couple of thousand on top of that.
It was another great stay but after launching we anchored in Carenage Bay, home of the Trinidad and Tobago Sailing Association. It was a very calm anchorage and cost just 28 GBP per week. You can then use their showers, bar, WiFI, dinghy dock and laundry. All very good value and a nice location.
A further few days was spent visiting bays on Monos and Chacachacare Islands, which were peaceful and picturesque.
Sadly we only caught the ferry to Tobago, for a couple of days and a luxury night in a lovely hotel. The tour of the island revealed a peaceful, safe environment with stunning, clean bays to anchor in. Another good option if you want to stay afloat during hurricane season.