Sunday, June 14, 2009

S/V Aspen – June 14, 2009 – Log #10
Position: 10 degrees 41.0’ N 61 degrees 38.0 W
(Chaguaramas, Trinidad)

Chaguaramas, Trinidad
Chaguaramas (pronounced “shag-ger-rahm-mus”) is the sailing capital of Trinidad and perhaps of the entire Eastern Caribbean. Here you can find the best boat yards, parts stores and labor force to repair or work on your vessel.

The name Chaguaramas comes from the Taino Indian word for palm. So we are still on the trail of the Taino! This is a large protected bay on the northwest coast of Trinidad with Venezuela about 9 miles away in the mist. The Spanish, as a hiding place for their ships, used this natural harbor during the discovery years after Columbus made landfall on Trinidad during his third voyage in 1498.

The US military also recognized the value of this harbor. In 1940 the US Navy needed a base to support their ships during WWII so they leased the Chaguaramas land from Britian (Trinidad was British at the time) in trade for 50 used destroyers and built a military base on these lands. What few people inhabited this area were relocated and this part of Trinidad became home to the US Navy.

Today, because of the isolation of this area by the US Navy, Chaguaramas and the surrounding lands are a spectacular national park. This area contains original old-growth jungle and forest, abundant wildlife, scenic trails and the overgrown ruins of the bunkers and buildings from the historic US Naval base.

The exploration opportunities are endless in the Chaguaramas area and we take advantage of the trails and walks as often as we can. Unfortunately the heat is a problem here. Every day the temperature soars to over 90 degrees with 90% humidity. That is probably why it is a jungle! Even the howler monkeys hide during the day and forage at night or in the cool of the morning. Fluffy stands of bamboo, bromeliad-smothered samaan trees, citrus, cocoa and coffee all grow on the slopes of the forest. Red howler monkeys, emperor butterflies, toucans, hummingbirds, and over 430 species of birds live in the jungle that is called Trinidad.

Sail on sail on Aspen…
Steve and Maria

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