Daily Archives: October 16, 2013

Seems like old times

I had to smile at the thought. We’d been anchored in the same spot in Clarkes Court Bay just as you turn into the cut between Hog Island and the mainland for so long that I could imagine people missing the turn because Escape Velocity wasn’t there anymore. We were looking forward to an overnight sail to Trinidad. Several of our friends raved about a very pleasant sail south and that’s just what we were hungry for.

We had checked with three different weather resources who agreed that we would have moderate seas with 10-15 knots of East wind. The day had been odd with sudden gusts and periodic rain showers which always makes you wonder but today was the day so off we went. Our anchor chain came up well despite being very twisted from us swinging on it for three months, but when we got to the last fifty feet the twist finally got the best of the windlass and we had a righteous jam. I had to haul the last bit and the muddy anchor up by hand, and since we were heading out to sea I lashed the chain on deck as best I could and decided to unjam the windlass once we were in port.

As we motored out of Clarkes Court Bay it was obvious that the predicted 10 to15 knots of wind were instead a gusty 25 to 35 knots uncomfortably close to our destination which was south southeast. More headwind work for us but we would have a nice moon to keep us company and could make reasonably good time. We raised the sails and set our course in a chaotic sea state and that’s when we discovered the autopilot had decided it would not work again. That meant we would have to hand steer the beast all the way to Trinidad. And that meant two hours on watch and two hours off without a break, all night long, which is tough. We’ve had five “experts” tell us that they’ve fixed the damn thing only to have it fail as soon as we were far enough away that we wouldn’t want to go all the way back to have it refixed. One of my universal truths states that all autopilots work great in harbor and you can always tell an “expert” by the size of the bill.

The moon didn’t last long and soon after it set a nasty squall hit us with lots of lightning and sustained 45 knots of wind with rain. We forereached into the tempest but EV always handles this stuff better than we do. We were back to 25 – 35 knots but now it was on the nose leaving us little choice but to motor sail or tack. We choose the “iron genny”. By daybreak the wind had clocked around so that we just had enough angle to sail, which we happily did until we had to douse sails and motor through the cut into Chaguaramas Harbor.

As we entered the harbor Marce took the helm and I grabbed a medium sized persuader and an even bigger pry bar, walked with a purpose to the foredeck and got to work on the windlass chain jam. I really wanted that anchor available should the unthinkable happen. The odds against both engines stopping are not as high as you might think. I made quite a racket but got that sucker freed up and ready to deploy.

Friends had given us the skinny on the layout of the harbor so we sniffed around until we found Customs and Immigration right next to the fake lighthouse. As soon as we stepped off the boat Trinidad’s harsh sun smacked us and turned us into puddles but we found Haagen Das ice cream on the way to Immigration. Things were looking up. Now it was just a matter of finding a place to anchor because there were no empty mooring balls and very little space to anchor with reasonable depth. After weaving through the anchorage four or five times, Marce finally found a spot she liked and soon the engines were switched off.

Trinidad! Land of tiny TT dollars. Way too much math for my tastes but what can you do? We sussed out the Blue Machine ATM which is in a 6′ by 6′ cement block extremely well air conditioned hut and took out $500 TTD and felt like that would hold us for awhile until we did the math. That’s $78.12 USD. It’s going to take awhile to get used to these numbers.

Escape Velocity will be pulled out of the water on Wednesday. We have much work to do in the coming weeks.

Stay tuned.


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