Back in Grenada Porter and Ana didn’t lose any time catching back up with friends and they had a great beach day running around with a herd of other boat kids.
The following pages chronicle the journey of the sailing vessel Pelagic and her crew. We are a family of 5; Michael, Amy, Zander, Porter and Anakena, taking our 42' Hallberg Rassy as far as we can comfortably go in three years. We left Oregon in September 2014, participated in the 2014 Baja Haha, continued on through the Panama Canal, into the Caribbean, up the coast of the US to Maritime Canada and from there crossed the Atlantic. After an arrival in Ireland we toured Scotland, then sailed down to France, Portugal and on to Morocco. In January of 2016 we slowed down considerably and enrolled the kids in a local Spanish school in Sanlucar de Guadiana for a few months. In the spring of 2016 we crossed the Atlantic towards the Caribbean. We are now in the Pacific, officially on our way home, albeit via a very circuitous path. We are currently in French Polynesia and looking at weather windows to Hawaii before finally making landfall back in the Pacific Northwest.
Currently our exact location is not available. Our spot coverage will pick us back up in Hawaii towards the end of May, 2017.
Our favorite sailing quote:
"If anythings gonna happen, it's gonna happen out there boss!" Captain Ron
Sunday, August 28, 2016
Two weeks in Trinidad and we didn’t see much past the boatyard. Living on the hard (in the boatyard, but out of the water) can be difficult with 5 of us and we were happy to be back in the water after the last of our repairs were completed. I prematurely wrote on an earlier post that Trinidad depends on yachting tourism, which isn’t entirely true. There are hundreds of boaters that come down from the islands to have work done, or maybe haul out and leave their boat in a safe place for the hurricane season, but there isn’t actually much touring going on beyond the repairs. There are plenty of interesting sights, but in our infrequent forays out of the boatyard we only saw nationals touring the sights. While there are a handful of scenic beaches, there are more waterfront views of oil platforms and tankers at anchor. Refineries and mangrove swamps line the shore limiting access to the ocean. There are a few big hotels, but they cater to local business trade rather than sun seekers or vacationers. There are a scattering of ecotourism destinations scattered around the island and we rented a car one weekend and saw as many as we could.
One interesting stop was La Brea, one of three big tar lakes in the world. La Brea boasts a 250 meter deep lake of tar, which continues to bubble up to the surface, regardless of how much they seem to take out. The fringes of the lake are mini wetlands and the bird life was healthy and diverse. Most of the lake has only about a foot of water covering it, but there are a few deeper spots that locals swim in. We came prepared and swam in the warm, sulfur smelling water after a huge downpour. It is a bizarre feeling of swimming in asphalt, but the sulfur, mineral qualities seemed to clear up a sun rash Ana had been suffering from, so it was a good stop.
After our swim we hiked to Edith Falls, a jungle hike that took us to a anticlimactic trickle of a waterfall, but through a lush jungle forest. We walked past huge stands of giant bamboo, dodged toads that come out in the rainy season and heard howler monkeys scream in the hills. If you’ve never heard a howler monkey, they sound like jaguars calling. It can be eerily intimidating if you aren’t sure they are Howlers.
The highlight of our trip, for me at least, was watching the Scarlet Ibis’s return to roost after foraging all day in Venezuela. On a small boat in the mangrove swamp of the Caroni Wildlife Reserve we witnessed several thousand birds return to Trinidad at dusk. They are the national bird and they are spectacular to see. We also got to see a number of other wetland birds. Above us, as we motored through the swamp, we saw large boas curled up in the forks of tree branches. Our first large snakes; crossed that item off the list of things to see while in the jungle, no need to see more!
Back on the boat we continued to plug away at the repair and cleaning list. The boat is looking good and if we could only jettison some of our sh%@, it would look great! The kids have offered to go without their textbooks, and I applauded their efforts to streamline, but times 5 we just have a lot of “stuff” we need on the boat. We have a few unnecessary items that I often wish would fall off the boat, including Mike’s newly acquired brick collection (yes, he is collecting bricks from the penal colonies in FG), a propane collection (don’t get me started on that one), and a burlap bag of Irish peat. All necessities! In fact, we had to raise the waterline on the boat while we were in the yard to accommodate our increasingly large displacement.
Although the boat was in Trinidad for over 6 weeks, we didn’t see a tremendous amount of Trinidad, but what we saw was worth seeing. Apparently there is a pretty unsavory side of Port of Spain, which of course we avoided. We met only very helpful, friendly people throughout the country. The boatyard was fantastic and well organized. While it is painful to drop money in any boatyard we felt like we got very professional, prompt service for a very fair price. Those three things don’t always go hand in hand, especially in third world countries. I’d highly recommend Powerboats to anyone looking for work done in the windward islands. Unlike many yards that sub out work, Powerboats has all bills go through their office, I’m sure they take their legitimate cut, but they OK estimates, guarantee work done and go over invoices after the work has been completed with the clients and they keep a watchful eye on progress. We will be leaving Trinidad with a depleted bank account, but happy sailors. Next stop, back to Grenada.
|Scarlett Ibis roosting tree|
|Scarlett Ibis returning to roost|
|La Brae, Pitch Lake|
Friday, August 19, 2016
|Here are the kids earning their keep. Spa day for Pelagic.|
|More hard labor. These are the before pictures, I'll try to remember to take some after pictures.|
We always have a little culture shock when we spend time back in the states after an extended absence. Some of it is welcome; great groceries, restaurants, air conditioning, clean public bathrooms and most importantly close proximity and access to family and friends. Some of it is a little unsettling; we notice the over indulgence of Americans, including the number of overweight Americans, the rampant consumerism, we certainly come from a land of plenty and although our family reaps the benefits, it does give us pause and time to reflect on our lives a little. The most disturbing thing was the politics, and while we haven’t been immune to the U.S. debates, the constant news coverage of the national election and the nominees was exhausting. The persistent negativity and absurdity of the upcoming election is an insult to our country’s collective intelligence. It just makes me very sad and for the first time embarrassed to be an American. Who knows, depending on the presidential outcome, maybe we will stay cruising, lost in our own blissful ignorance.
On to more positive reporting. Our trip home was fragmented in that we split up and visited family separately since we literally have family in the far corners of the country. Mike and Porter headed to Maine to visit his family and our friends including a summer camp stint for Porter. Mike then flew to Florida and spent two weeks with his parents; helping them with some transitional events, but mostly enjoying their company, the single most important thing we miss out on while cruising. Ana, Zander and I flew to San Francisco to visit more family on the West coast, including a three day pet sitting gig with our crazy dog. I’ve got to say my aunt deserves sainthood for agreeing to take her on while we are gone. She is still wild, but we love her and it was great to remind her that we exist. We then traveled to Portland and did a marathon visit with friends and a quick check on the house. From Oregon we flew to Alaska and enjoyed time with my parents. We spent several days at their cabin, visited friends, Zander learned the art of chopping wood and the last few days of our trip included watching my 94 year old grandparents participate in the Alaska senior games. We had a really lovely visit and although we are excited to resume our adventure, as always it was sad to leave.
Three days ago we were all reunited in Trinidad and we are getting back acquainted with living in close quarters while we finish up the last few projects on the boat. Our newly upholstered cushions came back and we are happy with the results. The main sail and sail bags got a little TLC, the outboard was repaired, the waterline was raised and the boat got new antifouling bottom paint. There are a number of other smaller jobs that Mike is able to complete with a marine store next to the boatyard . In addition, every type of boating expertise is located in the yard or within walking distance. One thing missing from this list is having work done on our engine. Our engine had been acting up a little in that it runs perfect once it gets going, for days at a time even, but occasionally when you increase the RPM’s there is a delay from neutral to foward. Mike worried the engine was losing compression or the injectors needed to be replaced. Either way it sounded expensive. We had a mechanic come on board offer a few less invasive remedies to try first and amazingly it seemed to work. That never happens, a job that costs less than you expect! Time will tell if the suggested remedies work.
Tomorrow we expect to go back into the water, and finish the last few projects dockside. We haven’t yet looked at the weather, but as soon as it looks good to head north, we will once again set our sights on Grenada. Once there, we will hang out, hopefully see more of the island than we did the first time around and let the kids have some quality time with the other kid boats.