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.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful week! That picture of the sunset from their balcony should be sold to their tourist board!! So nice that all of you have remained friends all these years!