Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tropical clouds over the Northern Range in Trinidad

Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season

S/V Aspen Log #17
Position: 10 degrees 41.0N 61 degrees 38.0W
(Chaguaramas, Trinidad)

We are safely sitting below the normal hurricane area in the Caribbean. Most insurance companies require sailboats to be out of the hurricane area between June and November. So we sit way down here in Trinidad, watching the tropics on the satellites. So this year guess what? There is hardly a ripple on the ocean out there! We love climate change!

We still have our daily tropical deluges here on the boat. By noon you had better be where you want to be for the next couple of hours or be prepared to swim back to the boat! No one even notices when we get 7 or 8 inches of rain in a day here. The locals still go about their work as usual. No problem mon…

As long as the power stays on we are nice and comfortable on Aspen. But the power does go off, quite often. Then it is time to start the generator so Steve can continue to work and, most importantly for Maria, she can have her AC and TV! We both need the AC because without it we would surely die!

When Steve gives the weather forecast in the mornings the maximum temperature rarely varies. It will be 96 degrees with 90% humidity every day. Sweltering is a good word for this! This isn’t our typical dry heat of Colorado weather that’s for certain.

This past week the government decided that since the island revenues were down due to the global recession (natural gas exports are down) they needed 2 new holidays, both of them last week; one on Monday and the other on Thursday. So that pretty much shut the island down for 9 days. Then if you add the day before and the day after, it was a 11-day holiday week! You gotta love this attitude!?!

The sailors are starting to return to Trinidad after spending the summer back home. We are seeing more and more new faces every day and the boat yards are hoping additional boat work comes along with the new people.

We have to warn everyone about something. Steve is getting another haircut. He promises not to post any pictures this time.

Sail on sail on Aspen…
Steve and Maria

Monday, September 14, 2009

New Sail

Maria with the new staysail and Leadville logo

Steve adjusting the new staysail for Aspen

Crews Inn Marina Again

We launched Aspen at the boat yard and guess what, she floated!

We were very happy to get back on the water. It then took us nearly 10 days to get all the dirt, grime and bird droppings off of the boat. Now we have A/C, power and sometimes the WIFI works again.

We still have breakfasts of Doubles that are sold by the side of the road outside of the boat yard. A Double is made of two pieces of Indian flat bread, chic peas, curry and hot sauce. They cost 50 cents each. Eating the local food here can be very reasonable.

For lunches we sometimes have buss-up-shut. This is like a roti but it is all busted up on a plate. The chicken buss-up-shut is our favorite but you have to specify boneless chicken or you will get lots of bones. Chicken with bones is common here but the yachties prefer no bones. Of course it comes with hot sauce.

The hot sauce here is burning hot so just a dribble is enough to light your mouth on fire. We use it with everything. It probably kills everything it touches too.

In the grocery stores we can usually get brands imported from the US. They are all labeled FOR EXPORT ONLY. It seems that the items from cereal, chips, etc. are all rejects from the US. But they are fine for the rest of the world! There is definitely a difference is quality for these things. For instance, the chips are all mis-shapen, the M&M’s are lacking in taste, and the bacon can be a mixture of thick or thin – all within the same package. You just never know what to expect.

The local products do not have the same quality control measures as in the US. For example the canned green beans still can have sticks mixed in with them. Cans of coke are either from Trinidad or Barbados. Maria thinks that they taste much better than in the US. It must be the ingredient called Caribbean cola, according to the label.

The cruisers information network on the radio each morning has a new person on Mondays. She is Scottish and her brogue is very thick. She talks for about 30 minutes and afterwards we ask each other what in the world she said. It is pretty comical!

At least the weather is broadcast in American since I give it!

Sunday afternoons are special here. It is dominoes time! Quite a few sailors get together and play for about 3 hours. The winner gets the traditional award – nothing, of course. But it is a nice way to socialize and meet other sailors from around the world.

Sail on sail on Aspen…

Friday, September 4, 2009

This is our view from the boat yard where Aspen was hauled out. Notice the drilling rig in the distance.

Working on the bottom!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Workin’ in da Boat Yard Blues

S/V Aspen – September 1, 2009 – Log #15
Position: 10 degrees 41.0’ N 61 degrees 38.0’ W
(Chaguaramas, Trinidad)

It is hot hot hot AND humid in tropical Trinidad - so it must be hurricane season!

Aspen is out of the water and we are working on getting her bottom painted and fixing several other tings while we are in the boat yard.

The boat yard is a hot, dirty, smelly and generally a miserable place to be. We climb nearly two stories up a shaky ladder and enter inside Aspen where the temperature resembles a very very hot sauna. We work as fast as snails, it seems, and only last about 30 minutes before we race back down the ladder and into our air-conditioned room as we try to avoid heat stroke. We repeat this process as often as we can before the early evening darkness engulfs our tropical home. Arrrrrrrrrr…

We are scheduled to get Aspen back into the water on Wednesday so we are really looking forward to that! We just hope Aspen floats with all of the new equipment we purchased while we were back in Colorado. Thanks to all of the nice curb-side check-in people in both Denver and Miami, our 8 overweight bags flew free and actually arrived with us.

Besides keeping FedX and UPS busy when we were back home, we had a great time at the wedding of our son Zach to Heidi. We now have a new daughter-in-law and instant grandson. It is amazing how things change so quickly in life.

We are greatly outnumbered by British and Australian sailors here in Trinidad. Most are heading west, through the Panama Canal and into the South Pacific as soon as hurricane season allows them to leave. They have trouble understanding us (Americans) when we speak. The King’s (Queens?) English must not be the same as what we learned. There is a lot of nodding of heads with nothing being understood by anyone. Talking louder doesn’t seem to help either! Maria seems to be the only one that understands what is being said and helps us all out.

Come Wednesday, with a lot of hard work and luck, we will be back in the marina, floating, and where the WIFI works just a little bit better.

Sail on sail on Aspen…

Steve and Maria