S/V Delilah

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

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.


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