As we often say, our plans are written in the sand at low tide. We expected a rendezvous at Union Island with Lady Rebel and La Mischief unfortunately this didn’t align with the weather window for our passage to Trini. We departed Bequia headed south towards Trinidad taking the windward route past Grenada. In comfortable seas, a beam reach with our fishing lures out in hope we made slow progress for the first five hours due to a 2knots of negative current. The Sargassum weed had returned and this frustrated the fishing.
Once we hit the north end of Grenada, the current turned and we sped towards Grenada, often doing 9 – 10 knots..
Our next challenge was the pirate gauntlet run between the oil/gas rigs off the Trinidad coast. There was an attack a few years ago but cruisers are careful due to the continuing financial issues in neighbouring Venezuela. We timed our departure so we’d pass the rigs at night. It is not uncommon for yachts to sail dark, turning off all lights and the AIS navigation system. We did discuss this but decided we would rather be visible to the large cargo vessels in the area. Being off shift I woke up and came on deck. Half asleep, I sighted another vessel whose navigation lights indicated that they were heading our direction. I could not see anything on AIS and Kim had to ensure me several times that it was an oil rig that was not moving. Fortunately Kim was right (I should know better by now) and returned to my bunk.
I was back on-shift as the sun rose. I retuned the fishing lures to the water. It was now a turquoise green, a contrast to the aqua blue that we had become accustom. As we approached Trinidad we were extra vigilant with our look out, finding the binoculars for a close inspection of any nearby vessel.
Land sighted and it was so jungle like and green. We arrived on a public holiday so there were plenty of pleasure boats out. A public holiday arrival is not ideal as we had to pay overtime rates for Customs & Immigration but the weather window was worth the extra money. The jungle cleared as we arrived in Chaguaramas Bay and a multitude of oil and gas related ships became evident.
We found our dock and with the help of friends we Mediterranean moored at the dock at Peake Marina. With formalities complete it was time to catch-up with friends.
It was great to see Larus (Tim & Nancy) and Ocean Blue (Derek & Lesley) who were also hauling out and leaving their yachts on the hard for the hurricane season. Another port and another party, it was Lesley’s birthday plus they were heading back to the UK the next morning. As celebrations go, it was a big night. We well and truly went past “Cruisers Bedtime” and into the early hours of the morning.
The following day we fare-welled Derek and Lesley and eased our way into Aura’s maintenance programme. We had arrived a week earlier than originally planned so there was no rush to work through the list:
· Oil changes for the generator, engine and outboard
· Wash all lockers and surfaces with vinegar
· Flush the outboard change the gear lube change and zinc plus drain fuel
· Clean and pickle the water maker
· Remove solar panels, dodger, bimini and sails
· Remove halyards, lines and mouse
· Flush holding tanks and drain
· Wash and polish dingy
· Fresh water flush the generator and engine
· And the list goes on …….
The only unfortunate issue with Chaguaramas was the diesel oil in the water. We could see colourful fish under the dock and the odd turtle but day after day the tide would take out the slick only for it to return on the incoming tide. Another job was added to the list, clean the water line once Aura was lifted.
Diesel Oil Slick and stains on Aura's water line
We did take a break on the Sunday and friend’s Paul & Karen (iGood) who are locals took us on their yacht to their favourite bay for some “Liming” (Caribbean and a special Trinidad word for drinking and enjoy time with friends). Friends rafted against iGood while we drank, snacked, chatted and swam. (we met iGood in the Bahamas last year & Flic they have the big white house at Sandy Island Carriacou.)
The week past quickly and before we knew it, the day arrived to haul out Aura. I’m never comfortable with hauling Aura out. The facilities at Peake are great with a 70t lift that can easily lift Auras 15 tonne (actually 20t with full fuel and gear) plus physically sized to accommodate vessels significantly larger than Aura.
It all went as planned and we had Aura safely on the “hard”…..but we did have a minor tragedy…..we ran out of gas….how embarrassing...no coffee !!! A gas refill required a trip to the capital Port of Spain or a week wait for the gas run, Kim had the menu planned exactly to run out the last of our provisions…oh well the best made plans. Nancy came to the rescue as she kindly made our morning coffee and we shared a few evening meals together. Not to forget the evening with iGood. We experienced their local steel pan group practicing (Nutrien Silver Stars Steel Orchestra) for Mardi Gras. We understand that Trinidad’s Mardi Gras celebration (French “Fat Tuesday” the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before lent) is one of the most celebrated in the entire Caribbean.
See also - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOaxDhtYwzM
In the hot humid conditions we put Aura to bed for the next 6 months. Time flew by. We did get a little help from Uncle Sam with the waxing of the hull and deck. They supplied scaffolding that didn’t shape up to my safety standards, so we did a “Take-5” and carried on. We were very impressed with the marine professional services by both the yard Peake and the usual supporting services. Next week we shall have a tent installed over Aura, just so to add a little extra protection.
We said good bye to Aura and friends. Next stop is Fort Lauderdale for a catch up with Monique and Mark followed by a weekend in New Orleans to celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary before returning to Oz.
Stay tuned for the next exciting instalments of Sailing Aura. The captain and crew are taking a well earned six month break to catch up with friends and family…and possibly work. Aura is still on the market but we plan to be back at the beginning of January 2019.