Thursday, 26 June 2014

Trinidad...Life on the hardstand at Coral Cove marina

After 10 months in Australia and New Zealand working and visiting family we returned to Trinidad via Vancouver where our son Ryan and partner Raquel live

Horseshoe Bay, Vancouver

Cathy and Eric 

Ryan operating the Water taxi

We arrived back at Chaguaramas in Trinidad to find the landscape dry dusty and barren after extensive bush fires across the road from where our boat was stored.

Consequently our “Erica” was covered with black soot and mouldy inside after being closed up for so long. After a few days of frantic cleaning the extraction of a dead bird from the cockpit and the  installation of a new air conditioner we felt a lot better about it all.

We’re surrounded by fellow cruisers from all around the world working on their boats and waiting out the hurricaine season and some preparing to leave their boats and fly out to see family and friends.
It is fun meeting like minded boaties and sharing stories of the places we have ventured and adventures had

The smoke was from a burning fishing boat which we went to photograph

There’s a great atmosphere and camaraderie in the boatyard. BBQs and musical events are popular beside the pool on the waterfront

 A radio net operates daily with information on upcoming events, weather and general marine info.

Eric has been sanding and masking the hull in preparation for painting. The weather will be our biggest challenge.

Cathy has been sewing new covers for outside equipment and inside d├ęcor

We’ll be out of the water for several weeks doing maintenance and improvements.
 During this time we plan to do some land travel before going back in the water and beginning our Carribean adventures.

To make this blog entry a bit more interesting I decided to interview some of the yacht owners around us and ask some questions which may be of interest to our readers

Luc and Debbie aboard “Plucky Lady” a name Debbie chose have been afloat since 2001. Debbie is originally from Guiana but has made her home abroad with Luc from Belgium. There favourite place so far in their travels is up the Essequibo river off the Baganaru island resort in British Guiana. When asked what equipment on board they couldn’t do without they said their windsteering.

Tom and Janis are from Arizona,USA and have been cruising since 1986 aboard “Tomboy”  Tom since a boy had dreamed of sailing around the world and both wife Janis and his daughter he says are “Tomboys”. Their  favourite place due to the people and associations was Roderick Bay, Ngelasula in the Solomon islands. They would not be without their windvane and GPS.

Christian and Anne who are French have been cruising aboard “Tidom”for the last 18mths. Their yacht was named by the children of a previous owner who loved the Jungle book stories . Their favourite place so far is Madeira. They decided that they could not do without their autohelm

Dave from Australia left in 2013 aboard his yacht “Eliana”, named after his 2 girls, Ellie and Annabelle. Dave is a solo sailor and says his most valued items aboard he would find difficult doing without is his AIS transponder, auto steering and chart plotter. Dave’s favourite place so far is St Helena.

Jean Louis, a frenchman, originally from Madagascar lives aboard his yacht “Sagarmatha” named by the previous owners after a mountain peak on Mt Everest,  started cruising in 1982 from Tahiti which is his favourite place. He has lived in many places around the world where his job has taken him but always returns to “Sagarmatha”

Out of Africa is owned by John and Joanne from Sth Africa. They have been aboard for 4 yrs and say their favourite place so far has been St Helena. Their most valued item aboard is their IPad which has multi uses with GPS and navigation programme

Mike from the USA has been cruising for 10yrs aboard "This side up" and has her for sale. He plans to retire from the sea to a property in Oklahoma.  He wouldn't be without his autohelm and his favourite place was Bali

We had a spell of good weather and got the hull painted. 

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Fernando De Noronha (Brazil) and onto Iles Du Salut (French Guiana) then Trinidad and Tobago

We left St Helena Island on the 29th of May after a wonderful  10 days.  We travelled with SV “Boomerang”- Klaus and Juana. It was a long, boring and frustrating passage  with squalls and rolling seas from astern which necessitated us to change from a poled out Genoa to our downwind twinsail jibs as the wind changed. The motion prevented us from wanting to play games or watch movies so we spent the time reading and sleeping. We managed to fill our water tanks during a heavy downpour which flattened the seas and Eric pulled in several  MahiMahi ( Dorado) which filled the freezer.
This Lure and hook were damaged by a close encounter with a marlin!

We were pleased to see the Brazilian  islands of Fernando De Noronha on the 14th morning and our friends at anchor took this shot.

The man made harbour behind the rock wall was a great facility with a sheltered dinghy dock and rubbish bins

The harbour masters office was a short distance up a boardwalk where we had fun trying to communicate in Portuguese. The customs and  immigration officers came to the office and spoke some English. They were all very nice and embarrassed to have to charge us anchoring and National park fees on a daily basis.  It cost us $83USD per day to anchor and $23USD each person per day in fees making this the most expensive  landfall  ever!! 

We shared a taxi to the airport to use an ATM machine but our bank wouldn’t authorise a transaction here without notifying them so we exchanged USD for local “Real” at a divers shop.  After exploring the local area by foot and a snorkel over rocks we departed  after 2 days.

It is a real shame that the fees are so high because if one can’t rest here on the way to the Carribean it makes it a very long passage.

We had less wind with calmer seas and favourable currents of 1-2.5knots most of the way to the Iles Du Salut. After the 5th day we crossed the equator for the 3rd time since leaving New Zealand and celebrated with a special breakfast arriving at the French Guiane islands on the 12th morning.
We had only been anchored for 30mins when the Gendarmerie  (Coastguard) arrived to inform us that we could not stay. A rocket was being launched from the Kourou space station on the mainland in 3-4 hrs so we had to head to sea to be more than 15nm east out of the danger area. Even though we were tired and wanted nothing more than relax and have a swim we were pretty excited to be in a prime spot to see a launching.

The sky was clear but 4 hrs later it was overcast and drizzling with rain and we bobbed about on anchor 15nm to sea.

After an hrs delay waiting and wondering we saw 3 seconds of a bright light streaking skywards and 

disappearing into the clouds followed by a thunderous rattling overhead and a black exhaust bloom!  Not enough time to get a photo.
This is what we should have seen. ….. Anyway that’s one off the “Bucket List”

The next day we went ashore to explore the site of the ex penal colony where the story of “Papillion” is famous. This French colony of 3 small islands housed political prisioners and criminals from  the 1860’s to 1954

We met a group of children who were part of a Sth American youth sports training program. They were shy but keen to speak English

Cruisers on MV “Emily Grace” arrived 2 days later and Tom, Kim and daughter Emily Grace joined us for a further visit to Ile Royale

During our visits ashore we enjoyed feeding the monkeys. The little Capucin and Singe hurleur Baboune

These Agouti ( which look like a cross between a rat and a wallaby) were all over the island. They walk on all fours then hop under speed

We saw hummingbirds and were amazed how tiny they were. Around 5cm in length!

Around the restaurant and accommodation we saw a variety of animals, birds and lizards

We visited the chapel, the hospitals and the museum which were really interesting. There was a guide there to answer questions and was most informative.
Another day we visited Ile St Joseph and took a picnic

We couldn’t visit Ile Diable where Political prisoners were held and where “Papillion” escaped from as it is prohibited. There are very strong currents and no safe place to land a boat.

On the 1st of July we set sail for Trinidad and Tobago arriving at Scarborough, Tobago on the 6th morning. It was a passage with a mixture of squalls and calms and we motorsailed alot of the way. 
We had one whole day with blue fin tuna leaping out of the water all around the boat but didn't catch any. There were lots of flying fish which we suspect were what the tuna were after. There were dolphin pods and we saw 2 whale .

On arrival we were informed by coastguard and the Port Captain that we had to anchor in a tiny fishing harbour where there was hardly any room to put the anchor down.  When our friends arrived in their yacht they had to anchor  very close to the channel the ferry uses for turning and docking. We took turns to dinghy in to clear  Immigration and customs as we couldn't leave our boats unattended and they had to power forward on their anchor to give the ferry room

We stayed in Tobago for several days enjoying the vibe of the place and people. We hired a car with friends and spent a day seeing the island and provisioning. The anchorage around the SW headland from Scarborough was pretty sheltered with good holding and a good sandy beach to pull the dinghy up on. It was very cheap to get a local taxi to the capital, being Scarborough.

It was then time to move on so we sailed overnight from Tobago to Trinidad. A fellow cruiser had bent the shaft on his boat and couldn't run his engine so when we got near the pass between the mainland and an island we towed him as the current can be swift and often the wind drops away

We spent a few days on anchor in Chaguaramas Bay, west of the Port of Spain, checking out the boat yards and facilities. We decided to haul out at Coral cove marina where "Erica" will be having a well deserved rest until 2014

So there's some maintenance and improvements to do then off to work to earn the dollars!

Cruisers Notes

Fernando De Noronha

On planning our South Atlantic crossing from South Africa to Trinidad and Tobago we had decided to bypass Brazil due to many lackluster to horrifying stories coming back from those cruisers who had preceded us.
However after deciding to cross from Walvis Bay Namibia, to Trinidad via St Helena we looked at the route and saw that the voyage could be conveniently split in two by stopping at the Brazilian Islands of Fernado De Noronha. Anchorage, (3* 49.9 S) (32* 24.7 W) .
Other cruisers had mentioned these islands and we found information on the internet and pilot guides about them. What we read seemed to correlated in most things. Primarily that the fee charged for visiting this marine reserve, national park , was very high. However we feel the words used like spectacular, to describe the scenery and snorkeling to be a little over stated.
The anchorage here is adequate for a short stay. The holding on a sand bottom is good. It has little land mass to windward and is therefore, windy . During rain squalls the anchorage can become rough.
The anchorage is rolly most of the time.
Landing by dinghy in the harbour is easy at a nice big pontoon.
There are rubbish bins everywhere, (great)
There is a service station very handy to the port.
The port captains office is very handy.
The port captain is a very nice man. In fact all the officials we met were helpful and amazingly tolerant of our lack of Portuguese.
The port captain rang the Immigration and Customs and they arrived in short time.
Fortunately one of the Immigration men spoke a little English. We needed this as we had conflicting information regarding cost of landing and anchoring. So we didn’t know how long we could afford to stay. The answer to this was, very short !
So the cost as it stands on the 13th of June 2013 is ---
: For anchoring ; R 181,83 per day. Approx US $86
Per person to stay: First day free: ; R 45,60 per day. Approx US $ 23
So for an average cruising yacht like ourselves with two people onboard in will cost you US $129 a day plus the bank fees to get your money !
Your credit cards will likely, not work at the ATM unless you call your bank and confirm that you wish to use your card in Brazil.
A local dive center acts as a money changer.
From what little to could afford to see of the island we found it a pretty place with clear water and a nice atmosphere. There looked to be some great walking/hiking to be done. During our short snorkelling event there appeared to be no coral and moderate fish life, But there could be better spots than what we saw.

Iles Du Salut

 We had light Easterly winds all the way from Fernando De Noronha to Iles Du Salut. We were hoping for rain to fill our water tanks but contrary to what we had been told, we had none. We straight lined our course. We had a helpful current to begin with and also towards the end of our passage. We had considered following the current inshore and I got the impression that we would have got a faster passage but one is never sure that one will hold the current and I'm sure we would have had more obstacle's such as fishing boats and oil rigs to avoid.
We arrived at around 1100 hrs, anchored and had a bite to eat. Soon a French Coast guard boat showed up and told us we had to leave as there was a rocket launch that afternoon. They were friendly and told us we could return after 1700hrs and stay as long as we liked. So we took them at their word and stayed for five days. We had to go fifteen miles to sea.
All information we had said that the holding in the anchorage was good.
Warning : This is Not so !
It is a mud bottom and any anchor will set well but unless it has an unusually large blade area it will not hold in the very Thin Mud. There were four other boats who all found the same. We have a small guardian anchor that we tandem off the front of our main anchor . This worked well.
If you arrive in the evening you could pick up a mooring but be prepared to vacate it for tourist boats or the navy early in the morning.
The anchorage can be a little rolly.
Access to Royale Island is via a nice pontoon. We tied up at the back of it .
Ile St Joseph has a smaller pontoon that they like to keep uncluttered and there is a lot of bracing that makes tying up to the back of it risky if there is a swell. There are concrete ramps near each landing.
As far as we could see there are no sales of provisions ,water or diesel.
There are rubbish bins.
Royale Island has been partly renovated to give you a good idea of what it was like in the past. There are a wide range of different prison facilities that you can walk through. There is accommodation and a restaurant here also. Lots of cute wild life . Bring some peanuts for the monkeys.
At the time we were there one was only encouraged by signage to walk around the parameter of the Ile St Joseph as there were renovations happening on the upper walkways. Its a lovely walk with a little sandy beach and an interesting old cemetery.

Ile Diable we believe is prohibited to land due to strong currents and rocky foreshore. It appears very difficult to land a boat.

SV Erica

SV Erica

About Me

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We met in 1971 and it was Eric's dream to build his own yacht and sail the world. This became a joint dream but it was not until 1994 that we were able to start building. "Erica" was launched in 2001 after 7yrs building her. It then took us 5 yrs to prepare her and ourselves before leaving NZ to see the world