We read a lot about cruising and destinations before we get to a new area. We usually have a lot of preconceived notions and ideas about what a destination will be like. Tobago is an exception as it was never really on our radar and we actually knew very little about it before we arrived. From a cruiser in Guyana we got a few tips on where to make landfall, but otherwise we didn't own a cruising guide for the island and didn't know what to expect. Added to that, we were meeting my Aunt and Uncle there and being their tour guide, as a last minute decision and with zero time to plan. Yikes!
We arrived into Store Bay on the north west side of the island at 4am after our fastest passage to date from Guyana, and as is our usual custom, we arrived in the dark! At first light it wasn't super impressive. The water wasn't the clearest and the beach wasn't the most impressive. We spent two frenzied days getting laundry washed, provisioning and traveling 20 miles to the nearby port town to officially clear into the country. Tobago is noted as being the most difficult country in the Caribbean to check into and out of. It was a lengthy process and we are officially supposed to check into every new port as we move around the island, so it could be a pain, but the officials were friendly and we got it all done in a few hours.
From Store Bay we sailed north to Castara Bay and we were the only other boat in the bay. We snorkeled and the kids saw turtles, rays and all the amazing colorful fish and coral we have missed in the last year. In English Bay, just 2 miles north we came upon the set of the Columbian version of the show "Survivor". They had just finished filming about an hour before we got there, the contestants had been taken to another set and yet the Bay was still closed to the public. Another streak of dumb luck and we had a pristine bay all to ourselves. Hawksbill Turtle tracks lined the beach and we could see evidence of their digging up past the high water mark. Significantly smaller than the Leatherbacks we saw in Guyana, but still impressive. Again we grabbed snorkeling gear and the boys took their spear guns and a couple of hours later we were resting on the boat after a beautiful snorkel and our bellies full from a lunch of fresh Calamari sautéed in garlic and butter. A successful snorkel and a successful hunt. In the late evening we attempted to see turtles coming ashore, but not wanting to bother them we just scanned the beach from the dinghy and didn't see anything. In the morning, sure enough, there were fresh turtle tracks up the beach. Further up the coast we anchored in the small fishing village of Parvatuvier. Again, we were the only sailboat and we tucked up in close to the fishing boats moored there so as not to disrupt the seine fishing along the beach and further out in the bay. This time we explored the beach and wandered inland to a three tiered waterfall. Tobago boasts having started a rain forest protection process as far back as the 1700's and longer than any other nation in the Western Hemisphere. They started protesting the clearing of land by plantation owners because they were worried about their freshwater drying up. The result is a very pristine little patch of native rain forest teeming with South American birds, iguanas and numerous waterfalls. Another local claim to fame is that Daniel Defoe set his classic Robinson Crusoe on Tobago.
Apparently cruisers don't generally stop in Tobago because it is an upwind sail from Grenada or Trinidad and it is difficult to get here. They have fewer cruising boats stop than any other island group in the eastern Caribbean. Fantastic news for us as it is like cruising the Caribbean 40 years ago. There aren't any services for cruisers, but we don't mind that, the locals are beyond friendly and all we need is a grocery story every 3-4 days (teenagers sure eat a lot). Since there are so few boats (none in three bays), we always ask the locals if it is OK if we anchor and they are more than gracious as they share their country with us. We will take the slow pace here. The rest of the Caribbean is going to be more than busy as cruisers head down our way to escape the hurricane season.
We will spend another week here and then try to run north and see as much as we can before we have to head back south to get limit our hurricane exposure. We expect to have only a few weeks before we have to return to Grenada and Trinidad, supposedly out of the hurricane belt.
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