S/V Delilah

A Blog to track the wanderings of the S/V Delilah, a 37-foot Tayana sailboat.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Big Days

28 August 2006
On the hard, Coral Cove Marina, Trinidad

Yesterday AM we got hauled! Much excitement. We had to back our way into the lift slip (not such an easy thing on our boat).
After that, we spent most of the day removing the cutlass bearing for replacement. I sliced my finger pretty badly on the propeller whilst removing the bearing housing. The worst thing was that I had a strong suspicion that I would do so! Actually, the worst thing was that until minutes before the propeller looked like something out of a horror movie.

Today we spent all day scraping the bottom of the hull in preparation for repainting. This is not much fun. We are both in bunny suits, and I have the full respirator deal going on. Hot, hot, hot. And, we didn't even finish 1/2 of the boat.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Chicken Foot and Mexican Train

August 26
Coral Cove Marina

The good news is that Michele and Glenn from Crossroads, and Una and Jeff from Dragonfly are back on their boats. We have resumed our busy social life, playing dominoes, swapping stories, and testing out some Tennessee moonshine--which went down a great deal smoother than some of the local rum we've tried.

Dean and I also got a chance to attend a party outside the cruising community. A friend of our friends on Wandering Albatross works for the State Department, and though she is in Trinidad now, she is moving back to Washington next week. We went to her gorgeous house (funded by us taxpayers) for a good-bye party, and we enjoyed meeting some new Trinidadians, as well as Americans who got here some other way besides on an old boat. I also enjoyed being introduced as a "yachtie" to other guests. It made me want to jut my chin out and murmur "quite so, old chap" in my best Thurston Howell the Third impression.

All this socializing has really eaten into our work-on-the-boat time. But since it's rained for four solid days this week, there's not a lot we can do out there. Besides, we're tired.

Well all right!

Moonlight Serenade

Friday, August 17
Coral Cove Marina

It is WAAAAY past cruisers' midnight (9 pm) here in Chaguaramas Bay, but Jeff and Una from s/v Dragonfly have arrived back in the marina, and we haven't spent time with them since the "wine tasting" (read 'cheap wine guzzling') held aboard s/v Crossroads in Martinique in early June. That night was a lot of fun, so we expected more of the same once they returned.

Tonight started innocently enough, with a meager bottle of red wine that we brought over to share while we watched Jeff's slideshow featuring the last ten months of his cruise. We polished off the bottle and broke into Jeff's rum for a glass or two before he brought out the scary stuff--Tennessee moonshine. Serious stuff with no FDA approval.

Speaking of which, I have really reaped the benefits of cruising in a foreign land earlier this week, when I stretched a muscle in my shoulder...just...too...far while clamboring off Delilah. I felt something in my back go twang, and though, in previous years, a good night's sleep would usually heal a pulled muscle, nowadays, a good night's sleep has no effect, and my back feels even worse in the morning. Advil, shmadvil.

Fortunately, the next day was market day, followed by a short stop at an American-style grocery store. So after lugging around several bags of produce for an hour, I was glad to see a pharmacy.

Here in Trinidad, there is no pesky FDA to control what makes it out into the marketplace. All I had to do was tell the nice man behind the counter my symptoms, and presto, I had a thirty pack of Beserol, made in Colombia (!!!), and a few scant lines of directions for use. Beserol is part acetominophen and part methocarbamol, whatever that is. The directions on the package state, "The mechanism of action of methocarbamol in humans has not been established," meaning, "We don't know why it works, but it does, so dose up!" They were right; it worked. I took only one, and I was sanding teak that afternoon.

But let's go back to the moonshine. I have, actually, tasted moonshine before, but just a little of it, and some peaches had been soaked in it to help it go down. I was surprised by how smooth this stuff was. It went down way more easily than some of the local rums we've tried. And before I knew it, Jeff and Dean were heavily into solving some unsolvable math equation while Una and I discussed the importance of logistical skills in solving Soduku puzzles. In other words, we were all three sheets to the wind. I just hope it rains again tomorrow so we don't have to work too hard.

Of course we have been doing some very serious and strenuous maintenance on the boat for the past month, but it's way too boring to retell.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Coming along

Jill has been hard at work stripping paint and varnishing. In fact, she has finished the dorade box that Rory, Roger, and I built way back when.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

And a star to steer her...

As if the bungs weren't enough work, I am also fixing our autopilot yet again. I've managed to location the elusive drive wheel, but during installation managed to break two of the rollers. Such is my life.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Thrilling Installment

So there we were, deep in the jungles of Trinidad. The air was alive with all manner of creature: mosquito, scarlet ibis, bat. The dense canopy of trees pressed in on all sides. The living ground rose up to meet our feet. All of a sudden, directly in front of us, a howler monkey stood, arms raised in a warning, mouth dripping blood.

Uhhh, unless howler monkeys are vegetarians.

Arms raised in a warning, mouth dripping mashed bananas. A horrible wail escaped his vicious lips. He towered over us.

Uhhh, actually, I think howler monkeys are fairly petite.

OK. It's all a lie. But it's better than what's really been going on. I've been working at replacing the hundreds of bungs that have come out of the deck. Our deck, you see, is teak. Each plank is screwed to the underlying fiberglass, and each screw has been countersunk, the hole being filled with a small teak plug. When the deck wears thin, as it does after twenty-five years, the thin teak plugs tend to pop out. So, I remove each screw, deepen the hole, replace the screw after putting some caulk on it to prevent water intrusion, then hammer a new bung in place and chisel the top flush with the deck. Very rewarding work. I've included a picture so y'all can share my misery.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Market Day

Saturday, August 5
Coral Cove Marina...still

This close to the equator, the sun rises later and sets earlier in the summertime than it does in Boston. So when I got up at quarter to six this morning to get ready for the cruisers' taxi to the fresh market, it was still rather dark out. No matter. The market is worth any amount of lost sleep. I decided, this week, to try the swordfish for $1.50 U.S. and a few pounds of pork loin cut to order from the pig's flank, in addition to fresh avocadoes the size of softballs and papayas (called paw paws locally) the size of footballs. I also bought several varieties of mangoes in an attempt to figure out which ones are best for eating plain, and which are the disappointingly sour ones I cut into on occasion.

On a whim, I stopped by one small, uncrowded stand in the corner to purchase okra and expand my curry repertoire (Kim, are you proud of me?). The three Rastafarians (a number of Rastafarians here in the West Indies seem to be gardeners if not full blown farmers) behind the counter seemed rather distracted when I pulled up to the table, but, undeterred and intent on my purchase, I began selecting the best green pods. It wasn't until I was holding my choices expectantly that I realized two of the men were, very carefully and quite literally, conducting some business under the table. I didn't see what it was they were sorting and bagging, and I made a point of not trying.

Once again, I passed by the shrimp lady's table without making a purchase. But the shrimp look so fresh and beautiful, I don't know that I can hold out much longer without buying a pound or two. Maybe these shrimp are plucked by hand from the sea, rather than dredged up with a pile of wasted fish and coral and plantlife, which is then thrown, dead, back into the ocean. Have I mentioned that the price of fresh jumbo shrimp is about $4 U.S. a pound?

Though shopping for food at open air markets ranks right up there in my list of Things Likely to Cause Euphoria, just behind snorkeling and eating frosting straight from the can, I do venture out to other shops from time to time. And though I have no sewing ability, and no interest in developing the ability to sew, I was told that no stay in Trinidad would be complete without a visit to Jimmy Aboud, The King of Textiles. So I got myself on a maxi taxi, pleasantly uncrowded in late morning, and made my way to Port of Spain.

Perhaps Jimmy Aboud's greatest accomplishment is his economical use of space. This fabric megastore was fairly large to begin with, but our pal Jimmy has long since dispensed with the notion that a shop's aisles need to be wide or uncluttered. The store is crowded--with floor-to-ceiling fabric and with eager shoppers. Yet I had no problem finding an assistant to help me locate and measure out some Sunbrella fabric at a rock bottom price to send back to Kim and David, who are staying in Grenada for the season. After about twenty minutes of agonizing over what to choose for myself from the overwhelming selection, I also bought a yard and a half of bathing suit fabric. Most of my suits are so stretched and faded that they have been relegated to "work" bathing suits, soon to be covered in varnish stains. But there is a local woman who comes to the marina once a week. You bring her your fabric and a bathing suit you like, and she makes you a new one for a little less than $20 U.S. It turns out that a yard and a half is a lot of fabric, so when the bathing suit lady comes back with my new bikini, she'll also bring some magazines, from which I can pick out the pattern for a second suit.

I was in the store long enough that I had a chance to see Jimmy Aboud himself, nattily dressed, coifed, and sporting a tie pin with a gumball-sized pearl. I also spent time at Jimmy Aboud's wandering from aisle to aisle, laughing at some of the outrageous fabrics waiting to be turned into costumes for carnival, and admiring the elegant and colorful traditional dresses and headpieces many of the women in the shop were wearing in anticipation of Emancipation Day.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Work, work, work

Monday, July 31
Coral Cove Marina, Carenage, Trinidad

Things have slowed down considerably since our guests left almost two weeks ago. What started as a one-week stint in a marina to make life easier for our guests has turned into a one-month stay in said marina to make life easier for us. Who cares if our slip has no fingers, meaning we must climb over the bowsprit to exit and enter the boat? What's really important is that we have all the electricity and water we can stand, not to mention access to a POOL. At ten degrees north of the equator in the middle of the summer, if we can't swim in the harbor, we have to be able to swim in something! Most cruisers in marinas rent air conditioners while they are here, but I don't think we could stand such a luxury.

To justify the expense of staying in a marina, Dean and I have broken out the power tools. In between rain showers, Dean is rebedding the screws in our teak deck, while I have once again begun the thankless process of sanding and staining our brightwork. So much for my vow the last two times I worked on the teak, sweating away in my bathing suit at the dock in Boston, looking longingly at the murky waters of Boston Harbor and thinking, "Next time I do this, I'll be able to jump off the boat and into clear blue Caribbean water any time I feel like it."

Not quite. Aside from the fact that water here in Trinidad is naturally murkier because of freshwater runoff, the water around our boat is filthy, scary filthy at times, with a sheen of diesel from fuel spills at the fisherman's dock next to us. That little swimming pool on the dock looks better and better every day.

But it's not all work here in Trinidad. Dean and I took a bus to the mall last week to watch "Pirates of the Caribbean II." I confess that my main interest in going was to see which locations I would recognize. Much of the film was made in Dominica, where we stayed for only two days, but we toured the Indian River. The river looked a lot less scary in real life.

What really surprised me was the beach scene that was filmed in the Bahamas. I had forgotten already how white the sand is there, and how endlessly blue the sky and sea are. The water in the rest of the Caribbean is beautiful and warm, but it's just not quite as clear as what you see in the Bahamas. The steep, volcanic shores of the island chain in the Lesser Antilles mean that their beaches could never be just that shade of white powder, nor the waters that light aqua all the way to the horizon, as you see when the water stays shallow for miles along the Bahama Banks. It's exciting to think about all the things we'll get to see again when we go back.

But for hurricane season, I'll sing the praises of Trinidad. And one of the main glories is how cheap everything is. Our marina, for one, and any labor one hires for boatwork. And transportation by bus, and diesel fuel--a mere dollar U.S. a gallon, as opposed to four, or even six in the French islands.

The grocery stores have everything you could possibly need for less money than I've seen anywhere, especially if you buy food made in Trinidad, not the States. And the open market in Port of Spain is a wonder. Jesse James, a local who has figured out that there's a lot of money to be had in carting cruisers around the country, leaves our marina at 6:30am every Saturday with a busload of people bound for the fresh market. I joined him this week, and I hope to go back every week until we leave.

One popular vendor at the market sells fresh jumbo shrimp, heads on, for the equivilent of $4.50 U.S. per pound. Smaller shrimp are even cheaper. Our neighbors on the dock buy several pounds every week. But as I was leaving Saturday morning, Dean reminded me that he is "off shrimp," having seen a documentary that showed how shrimping devastates the seabed, producing four pounds of by-catch (sealife that is destroyed and wasted) for every pound of shrimp that is harvested. I skipped the shrimp and satisfied my seafood craving with a thick yellowfin tuna steak, chopped to order by a machete-wielding fisherman. The tuna cost just over $1.50 per pound and was delicious.

The rest of the meat market, all pigs' heads and cattle hoofs and entrails hanging proudly from rusty hooks, couldn't tempt me, even if I did have one of Nanny's recipes (which was likely "boil forever, then serve"). I stood in fascinated horror for several minutes at the poultry section, where pens of still-clucking chickens overlooked the chopping block and scalding pot. Damp feathers covered the floor, a foot deep.

Outside the meat market, fresh vegetable stands stretched for an acre, ringed by pickup trucks with melons and pumpkins spilling over their tailgates. Young boys wheeled six-foot-high sound systems through the crowded aisles, advertising their CDs for sale and providing a lively gospel soundtrack for market day. The sun was shining, the vendors were smiling, and Tony from s/v Ticketoo brought me my first double, made of chickpea curry and hot peppers wrapped in a crepe-like shell. Overwhelmed by choices, I bought too many pounds of local fruit, and I had to purchase an additional market bag to cart it all home again.