Friday, June 27, 2014

Goodbye to Trinidad and a brief visit to the States

Dana lounging by the pool at Crews Inn Marina in Trinidad
Our time in Trinidad is coming to a close. Tomorrow, Dana and I throw off our dock lines from Crews Inn Marina and sail the 80 miles north overnight to Grenada. This will be our last major sail of the adventure. The weather looks iffy for this crossing, but it's only predicted to deteriorate after tomorrow, so it's now or never. We're probably in for one last bit of drama before this chapter of our lives comes to a close, but what else would we expect?

Trinidad has been wonderful, thanks in no small part to our amazing hosts Jordan, Alicia, Alex, and Austin. They invited Dana and I along to hashes, ultimate frisbee, world cup viewings, beach outings and numerous limes. They even joined us in Eventyr's cockpit for cocktails one evening. We met them at a crossroads in their lives. Jordan took a new job at an international school in Anguilla after teaching in Trinidad the past four years and will be leaving shortly. Alicia will join him as soon as she's done with her residency. Alex and Austin are also leaving, moving back to Toronto. Last night Dana and I got to bid Jordan farewell along with the scores of friends he made here in Trinidad. I think we'll all miss this lovely island.

Playing ultimate in Port of Spain, Trinidad with Jordan and Alicia
Jordan's going away lime
Trinidad was not the only place Dana and I have been hanging out during the past week. Over the weekend, we flew to San Francisco for my cousin Derek's wedding. It was our first visit back to the U.S. (excluding Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) since sailing away from Fort Lauderdale back in December. My brother Erik and Mom were also in San Francisco for the event. Although it was weird to be away from Eventyr and the adventure, it was nice to see family, sleep in a king size bed and experience some cooler temperatures.

My cousin Derek and his wife Meagan are cut from the same cloth as Dana and me. They live on their boat Miller Time 2 at a marina in Marin County. Derek's dad, my uncle John, has his sailboat Prima Donna in the same marina as Derek and Meagan. Derek grew up sailing and crewed with my Dad on my his tiny sailboat, Ladre during one of his attempts to sail from Connecticut to Bermuda. Uncle John also sailed Ladre, helping deliver her from Philly to New York a few years ago. Derek and Meagan's wedding reception was fittingly at the San Francisco Yacht Club and the attire was nautical. The Meyers really know how to party and we all had way too much fun. For their honeymoon, Derek and Meagan are chartering a sailboat to spend ten days in the British Virgin Islands. That's the same honeymoon Dana and I had, only we didn't know how to sail back then, and had a hire a captain. Derek and Meagan don't need any such assistance when it comes to sailing.
Derek, Meagan, and I at the San Francisco Yacht Club
Happy couple knows how to party!
Derek and Meagan on their boat Miller Time 2
Dana and Uncle John on his sailboat Prima Donna
In addition to partying with the Meyers, Dana, Mom, Erik, and I got to do some hiking in the beautiful countryside nearby. We marveled at Giant Sequoia and Redwoods while hiking though the shady and cool forests. It was quite a change from hiking through the hot, sweaty jungles in Trinidad just a few days earlier. We also got to meet up with my childhood friend Dan, who now lives in San Francisco with his wife Brooke, and their baby Mona. It was great to see them enjoying their life on the West Coast. Dana and I only spent four days in San Francisco but felt like we got to see and do so much!

I think I found our next apartment
Erik the tree hugger
Descending into Muir Woods. Seems like it could be a scene from Jurassic Park
Enjoying the amazing scenery post hike on Panoramic Highway
So, tomorrow we set sail for Grenada, our final island before returning to the real world. We spent most of the month of May in Grenada and it will be nice return to familiar places and faces. The end of the adventure seems very real. We scheduled Eventyr to be hauled out of the water on July 13 for storage and we fly away from her July 17. We get to spend some time with Dana's Dad in Costa Rica before returning to Philly, but we may never see Eventyr again. She is officially for sale and hopefully someone will love her as much as we have over the past year since she came into our lives. Our final couple weeks will be full of activities getting ready to move back home and put our home for the last eight months in proper order to sell. Maybe we'll fit in some fun as well :-)

For sale

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Trinidad, furthest south island of the adventure

Biking though the Bamboo Cathedral in Chaguaramas, Trinidad
Here we sit in Chaguaramas, Trinidad at 10 degrees north latitude. We're only 15 miles from the Venezuela, South American border, and not too far from the equator. This is as far south as Eventyr will sail under our watch.

Since my last post and the departure of our New Haven friends, Dana and I went through a short depression before pulling ourselves together and shaking the "missing friends" blues. We ended up staying in Tobago another nine days after their departure. Soon after Otis, Jon, and Beth left, we met the neighbors anchored next to us, Karsten and Julia. They arrived on their steel hull sailboat from Germany via Turkey, Cape Verde, and Brazil. Their route was far different than ours, involving completely unique experiences (e.g. crossing the Atlantic Ocean). We're similar age, which is rare among cruisers, and spent much of the week hanging out. We watched world cup together, went to the Sunday School party, shared dinghy rides, went out for dinners, and had each other over for cocktails on our respective boats. It was a blast and we were sad to say goodbye when we up-anchored and sailed to Trinidad. Hopefully we can keep in touch.

Toasting with Karsten and Julia
Aside from hanging out with Karsten and Julia, Dana and I accomplished a lot in our last days on Tobago. Aside from boring tasks such as laundry, filling water, diesel and gas, and scrubbing the algae off Eventyr's waterline, we made some time for fun. One day, we rented a car and hiked to a waterfall we had all to ourselves. Another day, we paid for a touristy glass bottom boat ride involving a good deal of rum. We also took a ride over to Mount Irvine Bay to say goodbye to our friend Eamon. All in all, it was a great time in Tobago.

Twin Rivers Waterfall, Tobago
Glass bottom boat picking us up right off Eventyr
Limin' in the Nylon Pool
Seemed advisable after a couple rum drinks
Our 61-mile, 12 hour sail to Trinidad on Dana's birthday was relatively uneventful. We sailed with the wind, waves and current, so finally had a more comfortable ride. We were able to sail the entire way, saving diesel. Some large dolphins swam with us for a bit, which really made the time fly. And, within 15 miles of our destination, I caught a decent sized Mahi Mahi, which was a lot of fun (aside from cleaning up the mess later). Once we picked up a mooring in Chaguaramas, I grilled Dana her birthday Mahi and we listened to a CD of soca hits Karsten and Julia gave her as a present. It was a great day.

Dolphins off the port bow with Trinidad in the background 
Dana's birthday Mahi
We were excited to arrive in Trinidad because back in Bequia during the Easter Regatta, we met several folks who live here. They crewed with Hanna on Jaguar and were a ton of fun. Immediately upon arriving in Chaguaramas and contacting Jordan, he invited us to a pool party the next day and to stay in the comfort of his home that night. Dana and I were not ones to argue, as a non-rocking, swelteringly hot bed has been hard to come by the past 6 months.

Jordan and Austin, who crewed on Jaguar, teach at international schools here in Trinidad, and Alicia, Jordan's girlfriend, is in her residency for dentistry. Alex, Austin's wife who also crewed on Jaguar, works as a management consultant. Dana and I met the group in Bequia and they were all at the pool party along with other friends they know through hashing and ultimate frisbee. It was a super fun group and soon the party devolved into people taking turns diving into the pool catching frisbees.

Jordan showing off for the ladies
Alex laying out
Something I've been excited about since before I left on this trip was being in a foreign country during World Cup. Americans have little interest in soccer, but elsewhere in the world, people go crazy for football. Trinidad is no exception. After running in a hash through the streets of Trinidad last night with Jordan and Alicia, we retired to a bar to watch the USA, Ghana match. It was fantastic to see our boys win and to watch the reaction of all the other bar patrons. I can't wait for the next game!

Getting ready for the Trinidad Hash House Harriers run with Jordan and Alicia 
And we're off! 
On Thursday, Dana and I travel to San Francisco for my cousin Derek's wedding before heading back to Trinidad. This will be our first time back in the states since the beginning of December, so I imagine it's going to be a bit weird. We can't wait, however, because we'll get to see many family members during the trip. After returning to Trinidad, we'll wait for settled weather and sail the 80 miles back up to Grenada, which will be our last stop on the adventure. T minus one month until we fly away from Eventyr forever.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Limin' in Tobago with New Haven friends

Limin' on Eventyr with the New Haven crew in Tobago
Limin’ (pronounced like priming but without the g) is a term used by locals in Trinidad and Tobago to describe the act of relaxing and hanging out with friends. Dana, Beth, Jon, Otis, and I did a lot of limin’ over the past week. Beth, Otis, and Jon are my longest held friends, having limed together since nursery school. Although they now live in Brooklyn, Long Beach, CA, and New Haven, they made the long trip to Tobago to lime with Dana and I down here. In addition to limin,’ we hiked through rainforest, swam by a waterfall, snorkeled, surfed, sailed, swam at beautiful beaches, stood in a sandy patch of waist-deep water  within a reef about a mile from shore, toured the entire island via minivan driven by Dana, fished, mountain biked, and swam from Eventyr. We fit a lot into the past week.

But before I get to our tales of adventure in Tobago, I have to tell you about the miserable trip Dana and I endured getting here from Grenada. Few cruising sailors come to Tobago because it's pretty far east, meaning you have to beat into the wind and waves to get here from basically any starting point. Dana and I were aware of our potentially horrible sail and tried to pick a decent weather window. No luck. Winds were predicted to be 20-25 knots every day and night for the 10 days prior to our friends’ arrival.

We left Le Phare Bleu marina in Grenada on a Saturday afternoon at 4 pm. The close to 80 mile trip was too far to make it in one daylight stretch, so we decided to go overnight and get to Tobago in the morning. The seas were so rough even within the first mile of our departure that I could hardly raise the mainsail without being thrown overboard. With the assistance of the motor we blasted out into the dusk, smashing into wave after wave. As night fell we were averaging less than 4 knots (mph), which is basically equivalent to a leisurely walk. Our speed never improved and the supposed 15 hour trip ended up taking 20 hours. Overnight, Dana became seasick for the first time, repeatedly tossing her ginger cookies over the rail into the ocean and was unable to take her full shifts at the helm. I was so exhausted from the hours of white knuckle gripping to stay in one place despite the violent rolling and pitching that I could hardly keep my eyes open by sunrise.

Dana already miserable at the helm in heavy seas at sunset with no land in sight
To add insult to injury, once the sun rose, rain squalls moved in. Downpours soaked us while intense winds pushed us over and slowed our progress even more. Seeing land was a welcomed sight but did not seem to come soon enough. Once the rains mostly passed, we got what I considered a good omen. A pigeon, blown several miles out to sea by the strong winds, landed on our foredeck. We gave the little guy a ride all the way to within a couple hundred yards from shore. We watched him battle the wind the last little bit and disappear into the palm trees.

A stowaway

Our reward for the beating we voluntarily endured was arriving at the gem of an island, Tobago. Our first anchorage was off the white sand, palm tree lined Pigeon Point beach. No complaints here! We needed a whole day to recover from our traumatic overnight voyage. Although Eventyr held up famously, her crew were spent.

Pigeon Point
Pigeon Point dock
Otis arrived first out of the group and spent Monday night aboard Eventyr. We immediately commenced swimming, fishing, and having a cocktail or two. Otis slid into boat life easily. He works for California Fish and Wildlife and dives and fishes as part of his job. We were happy to have him aboard and we were all excited for Beth and Jon to arrive on their flight from NYC the next day.

A nice float off Eventyr right off the airplane
Otis enjoying a boat ride to his villa
After a night with Otis aboard, we sailed over to Grafton Bay, a bit up the coast, where the three reserved a villa at Black Rock Dreams. We dropped anchor right off the beach from the villa and dinghied to shore. Jon and Beth were a little late. Everything happens late here in the Caribbean, which we chock up to "island time." When Jon and Beth arrived, we celebrated a bit before Dana and I retired to Eventyr for a rolly night of sleep. We were the only sailboat anchored in the bay, likely because it is known to be quite exposed to the swells resulting in rocking back and forth wildly all day and night. Oh well, it was worth it to be so close to the newly arrived trio!

Eventyr off the beach. Picture taken from the balcony at Black Rock Dreams
Sunset from the Balcony at Black Rock Dreams
New Haven crew limin' at the villa
Walking the beach at Grafton Bay by the Villa. Go Queen B!
After a day at the beach to relax and get into the holiday vibe, we scheduled an island tour. Eamon, our tour guide, quickly became our good friend, and we ended up hanging out with him the next several days and nights. The tour included a long hike through the rainforest where we saw mot mot birds (the national bird), hummingbirds, butterflies, a black racer snake and numerous species of flowering plants and trees. It was beautiful and Eamon was genuinely excited by the natural world. His excitement peaked when he spotted a tree boa. He promptly climbed up the tree and grabbed the snake to get a better look. Jon assisted in the capture and the snake seemed quite perturbed, showing his fangs toward both Jon and Eamon. We were enthralled to see a wild boa so close. Beth kept her distance. We ended the day with a nice sunset swim in a pool under a small waterfall.
Hiking though the palms and bamboo forest
The whole crew in front of a waterfall
Eamon in rapture holding a tree boa, giddy as can be
"Cannon ball!"
The next couple days were spent surfing, snorkeling, and hanging out at the beach and pool. Dana and I moved Eventyr to different bays on almost a daily basis in search of a calmer anchorage. No luck. However, Beth got to come for a boat ride, which despite the rough conditions, she seemed to enjoy. Our evenings were spent limin' at various locales with the different friendly Tobagans we met.

Paddling out toward the break 
Otis trying out Dad's board
Limin' like a boss with Eamon and George
When Sunday arrived, we were prepared for the party of a lifetime. Every Sunday, locals and tourists alike converge on Buccoo Bay for "Sunday School." Sunday School is an all night party with local food, soca music, steel drum orchestras, and copious amounts of rum. We ate flying fish, drank our fill of Carib and Stag beers, and danced to soca and reggae music. The next day we were slow to get started, but we bid a fond farewell to Beth, who had to leave that afternoon.

New Haven crew enjoying Sunday School
Jon and Otis moved aboard Eventyr for their final two nights in Tobago. We did some fishing, both day and night in addition to our normal routine of snorkeling and swimming off the boat. We caught a couple fish including a kingfish. I even speared a parrot fish during a snorkel trip, which we promptly ate. Our fishing did not quite provide enough sustenance for the group so we stopped at a fish market and got some of the freshest and most reasonably priced mahi mahi Jon and Otis ever had. We had a delicious grilled dinner aboard Eventyr that night.

Sea Robin?
Kingfish Otis caught yesterday. Dana and my dinner tonight!
The last full day with Jon and Otis we sailed to our current anchorage and had a fun and frisky two-hour, downwind sail through relatively large seas. Otis reeled in a nice kingfish along the way. After anchoring, Dana headed to the beach and the boys met up with Eamon for an intense 4-hour mountain bike trip. It's not a bike trip we'll soon forget. Eamon was a professional mountain biker at one point and is incredibly skilled. Two of his hard core friends joined us and Jon, Otis, and I felt pretty mediocre. None of us have done any serious mountain biking in years, although we used to ride together quite a bit back in the day. The ride with Eamon went through residential neighborhoods, backyards, golf courses, jungles, roads, and beaches. At one point we were flying through dense ferns, palm trees and then mangroves on a single track trail. It felt like mountain biking through Jurassic park! We were all exhausted by the end.

Exhausted post mountain bike trip
Dana and I said goodbye to Jon and Otis this morning. We hope they had fun. I know we did! 

So what's next? Who knows? We'll eventually head to Trinidad and then back to Grenada before visiting Dana's dad in Costa Rica and then returning to Philly, but we don't have much of a schedule. I think we'll definitely spend some more time enjoying the beauty of Tobago before rushing off.