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Update: Hurricane Season 2001 - Trinidad 
In early June we had Oasis hauled out at Coral Cove Marina in Chaguaramas and then flew back to England to top up the cruising kitty. For the first time we had no home of our own to return to, which was very strange. It was great to have time to spend with family and friends and we bought a car so that we could get around easily. We took the opportunity of being in England to go to the dentist, get our hair cut, have our eyes tested, get our Hepatitis A boosters and of course, complete our tax returns...

While Graham was busy working on a multimedia project with Max and Cathy, I started doing some IT consultancy with Peforming Arts Labs in London, which led to me implementing their web site. 

We also joined the Cruising Association and visited the clubhouse in Limehouse Basin to attend lectures by David and Hazel Matthews on their adventures in the South Pacific and by David and Marcia Pirie (who wrote "Travellers on a Trade Wind") who told us about their journeys from Panama to Hawaii and then on to the Aleutian Islands and British Columbia. Plenty of food for thought there...

The only down side to being back in the UK was that I slipped on a wet patio and broke my leg! It was a simple fracture of the fibula, but it meant 9 weeks in a cast, and severely hampered my plans for getting out and about, and meant that Graham had to do most of the shopping, cooking and household chores. It also delayed our return to Trinidad until late October.

Left: extract from our WinChart plot, showing the passages that we made between January 2001 and January 2002.


Of course, we couldn't stay away from boats all summer, and Graham was often to be found down at the boatyard in Tollesbury with Arnold, getting Molly May ready to be launched. 


 

Above: Tollesbury on the river Blackwater in Essex, Oasis' home port

Left: Arnold with Molly May about to be launched 

In late October we flew back to Trinidad and spent a few days in the Coral Cove Hotel whilst getting Oasis ready to live in again. We had a long list of jobs to do from Antifouling to Zincs and it was late November before we were ready to launch again. 

For the hull we used Jotun 99 antifouling. We moved the water line up again, not because we are carrying a lot more stuff, but to provide more protection - and this time we used proper hard antifouling for the boot-stripe. We did a lot of preparation on the woodwork, but found the atmosphere too humid for varnishing. Having been impressed by seeing the ease of application and appearance of Bristol Finish on Freya, we will use that for the coachroof trim.

Left: Oasis tucked up for the summer season on the hard

Other tasks included: Reproofing the canvas, replacing the cutless bearing, re-marking the anchor chain, servicing the inboard and outboard engines, cleaning and waxing the topsides, washing all ropes and so on. All that in the high temperatures (over 30C most days) and high humidity (95% or more) of Chaguaramas.
Of course, life in Trini is never all work. There is such a lot to see and do, and such an active cruising community, that there is plenty of light relief after the day's work is done.  Each week there is a Trivia Quiz at TTSA, and the first time we went, our team (Oasis and John and Ann from Faustina II) were randomly selected to be the following week's quizmasters. It was difficult to come up with questions to suit an international audience, but we had good fun. 

Another evening at TTSA we were entertained by Eileen Quinn,who has the knack of capturing the essence of the cruising way of life and wrapping it up in amusing and touching songs, accompanied by guitar and a band in a box (on her laptop computer).

Ann and I went along to Wolf's watercolour workshops on Saturday mornings and were led through some interesting techniques. I was encouraged by the results, and hope to find time to get my brushes to work in the coming year - and not just on the woodwork!

Right: the Trivia Quizmaster. Could that splendid hat be - a tea cosy?

We took some time away from the boatyard to see some of Trinidadís natural treasures. We took a magical boat trip through the Caroni Swamp to see Trinidadís fabulous national bird, the Scarlet Ibis. As dusk approaches the huge, brilliant red birds come flying in, in flocks and small groups, and roost in close company in one of the large trees at the edge of the swamp, along with herons, cormorants and egrets. From a distance, the Ibis look for all the world like gorgeous flowers against the background of lush greenery. Once, their existence was threatened by those who used their feathers for carnival costumes, but nowadays they are protected, and we were not allowed to get very close. 

Left: No, not scarlet blossoms - these are Scarlet Ibis roosting in the trees

Then we took an overnight trip to the famed Asa Wright Nature Centre, where there are a fantastic variety of tropical birds to be seen. In the short space of time that we were there to enjoy the relaxing surroundings, we spotted over 40 different birds, including many species of hummingbirds, which come close to the verandah of the main house to feed. We walked though the rain forest, along trails carpeted by the orange flowers of the immortelle tree, and our guide pointed out the many native and introduced trees and plants, as well as calling our attention to the wonderful bird calls. 

Right: a white chested emerald hummingbird in flight

We were lucky enough to get right up close to a tree where a pair of Toucans were preening themselves, which was a rare treat for us. The colours and songs of all the birds we saw and heard will live in our memory for a long time. We can understand now where the Trinidadians get their inspiration for many of their extraordinary carnival costumes.

More photos from our visit to Asa Wright's on the next page....

Left: a purple honeycreeper on one of the feeders which are hung opposite the verandah

This is a great country to visit, and Chaguaramas is a thriving centre for the yachting community, with all the services and shops that we need. Security has been of concern in the newspapers, but really there have been less than a handful of incidents during the last year; which compares well to other islands, considering the size of Trinidad and the number of yachties visiting here. A free bus shuttle service has been organised to take cruisers to and fro between the marinas in the evening, and we have felt quite safe. 

In future pages we will report on the performance of our new purchases: the KISS wind generator, the stainless steel Buegel anchor and our wonderful new stemoid awnings, made by Ace Sails and Canvas
.

 PICTURE GALLERY
Coroni Swamp Tour
 
Above: looking towards the Northern Range from the Caroni Swamp 
Below: Much of the swamp was overhung with mangroves - beware of snakes!
Above: We travelled slowly through the swamp in a long barge
Below: mangrove roots. The scarelt ibis feed among the mangoves during the day
Above and below: In the areas of open water, the swamp is very picturesque. Below right: As dusk approaches, the ibis come flying in to their preferred roost.
 
 Thanks to Jesse James, Members Only maxi taxi service, for taking us, and thanks to Ann of Faustina II for organising it!


For more wonderful photos
of our visit to the 
Asa Wright Nature Centre, 
please go to the 
next page

Left: a female Chestnut Woodpecker


 

All photographs copyright Graham Berry, 2001. Images on this page have been size reduced and compressed.
High quality digital images available by arrangement - please contact us by email

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