Sailing in a Hurry in the Caribbean

Night sailing from Trinidad to Grenada

Two Waterfalls out of Seven Sisters Waterfalls, Grenada, West Indies

We were worried during our passage near the oil rig platforms after leaving Trinidad. We made sure we sailed at least 10 miles east of the oil platforms which is farther from Venezuela. We wanted to be invisible to any potential pirates so we sailed without lights and also turned our AIS off. However, we noticed there are many oil rig supply ships in this area. This made us somewhat relieved, and as soon as we felt we were in a safe zone, we turned our lights and AIS back on.

Closing an Old Bank Account in Grenada

Hiking Trail to Seven Sisters Waterfall, Grenada, West Indies

A white sandy bottom in turquoise water. We dropped our anchor in Prickly Bay Grenada. A hassle free and roomy anchorage is one of the major attractions in the Caribbean for cruisers. Hurricane season starts in June, and Grenada is out of Hurricane Zone.

We came here to take care of John’s bank account which he opened six years ago. It has charged a fee on of his deposit, but gives a 2% interest rate on the money. Grenada uses the Eastern Caribbean dollar which has a fixed value against the US Dollar.

In January, when we visited Suriname, we learned the devaluation of the Suriname dollar impacted the Surinamese economy. If one deposited money in a Suriname bank, the value of US dollars might be 50 % less than what was invested. These days, leaving money in a bank, looks to be a fool’s business

Swimming in Fresh Water by a Waterfall in Grenada

Swimming in Fresh Water Pool, Seven Sister’s Waterfall, Grenada, West Indies

We have more matters to resolve in the Caribbean Islands but it didn’t stop us hiking to the “Seven Sister’s Water fall” in Grenada. We jumped into the waterfall after taking two local bus rides and a short hike up the mountain. The mountain water was so sweet and tasty. It completely took the salt off from our bodies, even just for a day. I told John it was the best experience in 2018. He replied “That’s too sad.” Indeed, I really liked swimming in mountain fresh water, ironically.

Meeting a Taiwanese Sailor Girl in Grenada

Asian looking sailors are rare in this part of the world. When I see one; I immediately feel a bond and want to talk. I met Queena, a sailor from Taiwan the first time when we were in Cabo Verde. At that time, we were briefly introduced. She and her friends (from Italy) crossed the Atlantic Ocean a week or so before we did, maybe five months ago. Going to the Customs Office in Grenada, someone waved to us, Queena from Taiwan! It didn’t take much time to open our chatter box. We spoke very fast to catch up.

We learned that each of us has very little Asian food left on the boat. I mentioned to her that I ran out of Miso Paste (Soy Bean Paste). I also found that she loves Korean Hot Paste Sauce (Go-Chu-Jang) but she no longer has it. Next day, I gave a small tube of Go-Chu-Jang. The day that we left, she came by our boat and handed me some food from Taiwan. I am looking forward to making noodle soup with Dried Fish Flake and Spinach Miso Soup with Miso Paste from Taiwan. (John edit here: I would rather die a 1000 deaths than eat this stuff – end of John edit) Hoping to see her again somewhere…

Talking to “North Sails” Caribbean Representative in Antigua

Approaching Antigua, West Indies

Our next stop was Antigua. After finding a major problem with our main sail in Trinidad, we have been sailing without a main sail. We contacted the sail maker, North Sails. They have the Caribbean office in Antigua. John wanted to show the problem and also leave our ripped main sail in their sail loft, in case they need a special measurement while making a new sail.

We were told that our main sail is most likely sun damaged and the main sail cover (Sunbrella) life span is about three years. (North Sail’s Opinion) When we emailed Sailrite (major cloth and materials distributor), they told us the Sunbrella lifespan is about 10 years. We have covered our mainsail with a Sunbrella cover as soon as we arrive at a new place. In addition; we take our sails to a sail loft and get them inspected and repaired yearly.

After exchanging lots of talks and emails, North Sails has offered us a new sail at their cost. Our payment is a little less than if we were to order a new one from another sail maker. John told North Sails that a possible shipping place might be Colombia. In the meantime, we are sailing without a mainsail. We have been learning what a mainsail truly does when sailing. We have learned that it does a super job of damping the rolling and also makes tacking MUCH easier.

Finding Good Memories with My Mom, in Antigua

11 Years Old Picture with My Mom at Devel’s Bridge Park, Antigua, West Indies

Devil’s Bridge in Antigua! About 11 years ago, I took an Eastern Caribbean Cruise with my mom. Antigua was one of our stops. At that time, my mom and I took an organized tour to the Devil’s Bridge. Arriving in Antigua this time by a sailboat, I wanted to visit this place and recollect her joyful and childlike smiles.

She passed away last month at the age of 82. A decade ago, she started showing her health issues. A few years later after having both knees replaced, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This was the most horrible time in my life. I watched my ailing mom, who gave me nothing but unconditional love, degenerate until only her body remained; her mind was no longer there. Our siblings felt as if we and mom were living under a dark cloud during this time period. Her passing was deeply sad but we feel the sky is clear again. In my quiet times, I promise my Mom that I will live making her proud.

Enjoying French Grocery Shopping in Saint Martin, French Side

The best dinghy dock I have ever seen. Marigot Bay, Saint Martin. I recently read a book “Factfulness” by Hans Rosling. In his book, he categorized the people/countries around the world between Level 1 and Level 4. A majority of the people in a Level 1 country where the wages are about one US Dollar a day, in a Level 2 country 4 US Dollars a day, Level 3 country 16 US Dollars a day, and Level 4 Country more than 100 US Dollars a day. After reading this book, I no longer use some terms such as “Advanced, Developed, Developing, Rich, or Poor Country.” All of the people in the world thrive to move up to the next level, like we do in a school. Some Level 1 countries have moved to Level 2 and so on. By reading the data analysis on his book, the poverty and health level in the world has improved a lot.

The “Super U Grocery Store” in Marigot, French Side of Saint Martin Island is awesome! I have been enjoying the groceries from a Level 4 country, France: Gourmet Salad Leaves, Wine, Pate, Cheese, and Bread. I am realizing why French are famous for food, wine, and cheese. They are simply great and inexpensive. I wanted to stock up lots of wine and cheese but I decided not to. “Out of sight out of mind!” Having a lot of them on the boat would lead me to excessive consumption. For that same reason, I don’t keep cookies or potato chips on the boat.

One of our cats got surgery in Saint Martin, Dutch Side.

Our Cat Enemy with a Licking Shield after a Surgery, Saint Martin, West Indies

Some lumps on our cat’s belly alerted us. We found a veterinarian (Consultation Fee: 30 USD) and had Enemy (Nickname: Chubster) get the surgery (removing a big chunk of belly and one of her nipples). She has eight stitches on her belly and has to live with a licking shield for 10 days. Her tissue test will be sent to the USA for a lab analysis. The doctor told us that the island doesn’t have a lab yet to justify the business. We will get the test result by email as we will be leaving Saint Martin next week.

Boating Stores, Doctors, and Pharmacies in both French and Dutch Sides in Saint Martin

Hurricane “Irma” attacked Saint Martin in September 2017. The boating stores and repair facilities have plenty of jobs to do. There are a lot of the boats to fix not to mention that some buildings and houses are still without roofs or with blue tarps. In Marigot, about one third of the restaurant/business are still out of business due to the damage. There is a McDonald’s where we used to go to use WiFi. It looks like it will re-open soon. I also noticed some street lights have been replaced with a better system using LED lights. Hopefully, pain brings gain for the Island of Saint Martin.

John visited some doctors to get his prescriptions as he had four years ago. The doctors are still at the same place. The consultation costs about 30 Euros or 33 Dollars. Medication prices are relatively inexpensive also. This is one of the reasons that we stopped in Saint Martin. In Addition, John has been buying lots of boat materials and replacement parts as they are easy to find here.

John at Devel’s Bridge Park, Antigua, West Indies

Pigeon Island Anchorage, Guadeloupe

Falmouth Anchorage and Marina, Antigua, West Indies

English Harbor Anchorage, Antigua, West Indies

Good Free WiFi Available at Covent Garden Supermarket, Antigua, West Indies

Colorful Windows in Antigua, West Indies

Oil Drum Paint, Antigua, West Indies

The best dinghy dock I have ever seen. Marigot Bay, Saint Martin

Nice Anchorage, Marigot Bay, Saint Martin, West Indies

Broken Masts by Hurricane Irma in September 2017, Saint Martin, West Indies

New Sailboat Masts to be Installed, Sint Maarten, West Indies

Newly Delivered Mast in a Box, Sint Maarten, West Indies

Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, West Indies

Early Morning Beach, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, West Indies

Posted in Caribbean Islands, Medical Service Experiences, Sailings

Unique Experiences in Trinidad

Guide at Pitch Lake, Trinidad, West Indies

  • Driving a rental car with 300,000 kilometers on it (about 190,000 Miles).
  • Seeing an outdoor cremation during a Hindu Funeral near the “Temple in the Sea”.
  • Seeing what looks like a huge parking lot but in reality is the “Asphalt Lake” or “Pitch Lake”.
  • Watching the colorful Scarlet Ibis and Flamingos in the “Caroni Swamp”.
  • Viewing the humming birds at “ASA Wrights Nature Center”.
  • Wandering everywhere in the capital city, “Port of Spain”.
  • Eating fried Shark with baked bread called “Bake and Shark” at Richard’s at Maracas Bay Beach.
  • Having lunch in the “Woodbrook Restaurant District” after seeing a wonderful doctor and a dentist.

We will remember all these wonderful times. We are heading north to Grenada today. I will miss all the Trinidadians we met during our stay, especially at the boatyard, “Peake’s Yacht Services”.

Pitch Lake, Trinidad, West Indies

Pitch Lake, Trinidad, West Indies

Scarlet Ibis Birds at Caroni Swamp, Trinidad, West Indies

Scarlet Ibises on the Trees at Caroni Swamp, Trinidad, West Indies

Richard’s Bake and Shark Restaurant, Maracas Bay Beach, Trinidad, West Indies

Maracas Bay Beach, Trinidad, West Indies

Humming Bird at ASA Wrights Nature Center

Bird Nests on a Tree, Port of Spain, Trinidad, West Indies

Clear Water Pool at ASA Wright Nature Center, Trinidad, West Indies

A Person Posing before an Event, Port of Spain, Trinidad, West Indies

A Rally Nearby Court House, Port of Spain, Trinidad, West Indies

People Crossing the Road by Bus Terminal, Port of Spain, Trinidad, West Indies

Downtown Port of Spain, Trinidad, West Indies

Wall Display at Hindu Temple, Trinidad, West Indies

Hindu Funeral Service by the Temple in the Sea, Trinidad, West Indies

Piled Wood for Cremation, Trinidad, West Indies

The Temple in the Sea, Trinidad, West Indies

Rental Car Odometer, Trinidad, West Indies

Display in Maxi Taxi Bus, Trinidad, West Indies

Public Bus Nearby Peake’s Yacht Service Marina, Chaguaramas, Trinidad, West Indies

Posted in Caribbean Islands, Sailings

Boat Repairs in Chaguaramas, Trinidad

Peake’s Yachting Service Travelift in Action

The craziness in the tropical heat is about to end. John’s boat working fever finally has calmed down. Bad Bunny looks really shiny and sharp from the rub rail down. Unfortunately according to John, this just means we have to do more work on the deck to make it all match! (?)

We have been staying at Peake’s Yachting Services (boatyard) for almost three months. We like the ample space and friendly employees in Peake’s Marine. Bunny got a new paint job (Hull, Mast, Bottom, and Dinghy), also miscellaneous repairs and upgrades (Gelcoat Repair, Welding, New Bow Protector, Dodger Vinyl Replacement, Cockpit Cushion Fabric, Jib Furler Parts, etc.) We now plan to explore Trinidad and visit the Leatherback Turtle hatching sight at night before we depart Chaguarmas, Trinidad.

Peake’s Yachting Service Travelift

The closest distance from Venezuela to Trinidad is about 7 miles (about 11 kilometers). Due to the Venezuelan Crisis, I originally was hesitant to come to Trinidad. John has been happy with his decision to repair Bunny in Trinidad. Chaguaramas offers extensive boating related businesses. It is like a one stop boating service zone. Some parts are expensive due to tax and shipping costs from another country. Most parts and materials are easily available. Locals said that the yachting business has slowed down compared with previous years.

Our paint job came out very satisfying. We hired Classic Yacht Services (the owner’s nick name is COW as he is a vegetarian.) His crew’s prep work was excellent and the painter, Newton is one of the best painters in Chaguaramas in the opinion of other painters in the yard. We hired Jonas for rigging (Trinidad Rigging) and we liked his meticulously planned work and how he delivered everything on time. We liked Ammsco machinery and their superb aluminum welding job on our mast head crane. We also had a great experience with the woodworker John Francois here in the Peake’s yard.

Bunny has been scheduled to go back to water today. Our 90 day stay expires soon. We plan to leave here in a week and not to renew our visa permit.

PS: We found a last-minute disturbing problem. Our mainsail is totally rotten. We can grab it and rip it by hand at any fold (two layers of cloth) without much force. We have used it for six years and sailed about 25,000 miles with it. We religiously covered the sail with the sunbrella cover when it is not being used. Both main sail and Genoa (Jib Sail) were made by North Sails about seven years ago. The Genoa is still good. The ‘Main Sail’ means so much because it is MAIN element on a SAIL boat. We want to know what if anything North Sails will do about this. While figuring out why and how, and also what company to order, we have decided sail to our next destination with just the Genoa (Jib Sail). Once we order a new mainsail, we will get it delivered to our future destination, most likely Colombia.

After Sanding

After Three Coats of Primer

After Two Coats of Base Paint

Yellow Stripe Water Line Painted

New Stainless Steel Bow Protector and Green Stripes Painted

After Bottom Paint

After Dinghy Primer

Ready for Welding on Mast Head

New Mast Head Crane Welded

New Code Zero Plate Welded and Painted on Mast Head

Old Electric Cables Before Replaced with New Ones

Parts and Lines Reassembled on Mast

Putting Mast Back on Bad Bunny

Posted in Boat Projects, Caribbean Islands, Sailings

Brightline, Fast Train Ride in Fort Lauderdale

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Brightline Train at Fort Lauderdale Station, Florida, USA

Taking a short break from the boatyard, I am visiting Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Flying from Trinidad to Fort Lauderdale is about a 3-4 hours trip, nonstop. Each time I visit my home and meet friends, I immediately see the fast-evolving technologies in our lives. It makes me feel somewhat outdated. However, I don’t mind living low-tech lifestyle because I have been practicing to live simple. I still prefer calling to texting on the phone.

Waiting Room, Brightline Fort Lauderdale Station, Florida, USA

It appears Fort Lauderdale is growing very fast. Traffic seems much heavier than before. One day, a friend recommended me to try the fast train ‘Brightline’ from Fort Lauderdale to West Palm Beach. I made a roundtrip to West Palm Beach. I was told that “Brightline” started to run a couple of months ago, only from Fort Lauderdale to West Palm Beach for now. It will start to run from Fort Lauderdale to Miami in two months. Then, in two years, all the way to Orlando. Unfortunately, it will impact the boat traffic and boating industry in Fort Lauderdale. I cannot imagine how neighbors alongside the route handle the sound. I admit though I enjoyed riding the fast train.

I will be flying back to Trinidad tomorrow. It looks the boat projects will be completed in a month. Shortly after, our adventure will continue… I am looking forward to watching the sun, the stars, and the moon, not minding living low-tech lifestyle… It’s for sure though I miss friends and families, as always.

New and Clean Brightline Train, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA

Bicycle Rack in the Brightline Train, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA

Brightline West Palm Station, Florida, USA

Colorful Building in City Place, West Palm Beach, Florida, USA

Movico Movie Theater, City Place, West Palm Beach, Florida, USA

Street Near the Brightline West Palm Beach Station, Florida, USA

Posted in Florida, USA, USA East Coast

Boat Repair and Life in a Boatyard in Trinidad

S/V Bad Bunny in Peake Yacht Services, Chaguaramas, Trinidad, The West Indies

We are living in a boatyard in Chaguaramas for now, to get “Bad Bunny” repaired and enhanced. This place is a main boat repair center in the Caribbean. All is easily accessible by walk or bike-ride here. We hired contractors for painting, pulling out the mast by a rigger and a crane, welding, repairing sails and new windows in the dodger, making a new stainless bow protector, and more. We haven’t seen the final results yet but we feel optimistic.

Life in a boatyard is somewhat dusty and sweaty. To improve it, we rented an A/C to stay cool and bug free when we stay inside of the boat. All of the plumbing system on the boat has been disconnected. No freezer. We keep drinks cool with ice.

The Calypso “Rum and Coca-Cola” was written, composed, and sung by Calypsonian Rupert Westmore Grant in Trinidad in 1943.

Not cooking, we often order take-out food from the excellent food vendors just outside the boatyard. Unlike John, I have tried a various type of Trinidadian food: Oxtail Soup, Cow-Heel Soup (literally), Provisions (Boiled Root Vegetables), Callaloo (made with okra and dasheen or water spinach), and Doubles (flat fried bread with curried chickpeas). I liked it all but I limited myself to eating the oxtail soup or cow-heel soup because of the high fat contents and cholesterol. I want to look good and healthy at my age.

Fresh Produce Market, Port of Spain, Trinidad, The West Indies

Every Saturday morning at 6am, some cruisers go to a produce market together in the capital city, Port of Spain. When returning, everyone carries a handful of vegetables and fruits.

Last Saturday, I bought the best Spinach Leaves from a happy Rastafarian man. The Spinach Miso Soup I made, transferred his happiness to me. One Saturday, I felt so sad seeing many baby hammerhead sharks for sale in the fish market. I was relieved I didn’t see them again on the next Saturday.

One day, we took a break for a bike-ride to Chaguaramas National Park. Going up the hill passing through the “Bamboo Cathedral” we were out of breath. On the way down, the sound of Howler Monkeys stopped us. Later, we visited a “U-Pick Vegetable Field”. In there, John met an ex-neighbor by accident, who used to live next to his house in Florida, decades ago. Wow…

We were also happy to meet some cruisers whom we had seen before here. We previously met a couple in Saint Croix and another couple in Curacao, about three years ago. On Sundays, a group of cruisers play Mexican Train Dominos. On Thursdays, we go to a Cruiser’s BBQ. I am off for two weeks visiting Fort Lauderdale, carrying a luggage full of stories to share if anyone is curious.

Bamboo Cathedral Trail in Chaguaramas, Trinidad, The West Indies

Macqueripe Beach, Chaguaramas National Park, Trinidad, The West Indies

U-Pick Farm in Chaguaramas, Trinidad, The West Indies

Historical Building in Port of Spain, Trinidad, The West Indies

Port of Spain, View from Fort George Historical Site, Trinidad, The West Indies

Posted in Boat Projects, Caribbean Islands, Sailings