L O G B O O K - by John Philp




SAME PLANET, DIFFERENT ATTITUDE, Trinidad & Tobago


MON 6th MARCH - We arrived last night into Chaguaramas Bay, Trinidad from Barbados. It’s amazing how many yachts there are here. We estimate 150 yachts anchored in the clear dark water, and 250 yachts, either tied up at one of the six marinas or sitting on the ‘hard’. Counting the bays east of here there are seven hundred yachts and powerboats in all!

TUE 7th - At 2am this morning Trinidad’s renowned Carnival opens with ‘j’ouvert’ - an elemental celebration of the darker side of human life. In the past j’ouvert was held on a muddy field and everyone ended up caked in smelly mud. These days a local paint company makes non toxic paint which is thrown and sprayed over everyone - don’t wear your Sunday best to j’ouvert! The next morning as we motor into the marina we pass two topless women taking an open air shower, washing the paint out of their hair, totally oblivious to the wolf whistles - still fueled by the euphoria of Carnival, or maybe just inebriated. More red eyed ‘devils’ ashore are stumbling about, trying to wash the paint out of their clothes and shoes.

Carnival (‘farewell to the flesh’) started out eons ago as a celebration where everyone played the hedonist for a couple of days before Ash Wednesday brought on the austerity of Lent. Since then the locals have invented Calypso and Rapso and Soca music, and the steel pan drum. They’ve infused it with Caribbean fervor and riotous merriment, and instead of partying for just two days they begin at New Years and turn it into a two month affair!

Masqueraders and costume bands take over at daylight in an exhilarating and raunchy street party that winds it’s way through the capital city streets. We go into Port of Spain (‘The Adrenalin City’) at 10am and join in. There are steel pan arrangements of up to 100 ‘pannists’ arranged on a trailer; outrageous dancers in colourful costumes; bands set up on semi trailors stacked high with speakers (I counted 35 niteclub sized speakers on one truck). The noise is deafening. “This is not Carnival here, this is madness!” wails a songster.

And then there’s wining. You ain’t doing Carnival if you’re not wining - a highly suggestive sensual dance where the male approaches from behind the female, she gyrating her backside, he...well... I’ll leave that to your imagination.

At midnight Carnival is officially over. Trinidad and Tobago returns to work the next day with a sore head and aching feet.

WED 8th - Chaguaramas is the main yachting center in the Caribbean. It’s astonishing to think that nine years ago the bay was mostly virgin bushland. The American army built a concrete slipway here during the second world war. When they pulled out the local powerboat owners took it over and installed a travel lift to haul yachts out of the water - that was the birth of Chaguaramas. Now the lush green bushland is making room for a forest of yacht masts, marinas, shops, restaurants and other services snaking along the edge of Chaguarama Bay.

It is so congested here that we cannot get a place at a marina dock and have remained anchored way out in the bay until this afternoon when we manage to snag a spot for the night at the plush Crews Inn Marina and Hotel complex.

THUR 9th - The Crews Inn looks after it’s marina guests very well. The next morning the newspaper is delivered to the yacht by electric cart. On the dock beside each yacht is a services outlet supplying each yacht with water, electricity, telephone and even a cable TV hookup.

After lunch we move over to the Humming Bird Marina owned by Harold and Kwai La Borde - twice world circumnavigators who’ve spent many months in Fiji. Their marina is small, friendly and full of history. In their Voyagers bar the walls and bar top are full of newspaper and journal cuttings detailing the voyages of countless brave souls - from Christopher Columbus, to Naomi James - the first woman to sail single handedly around the world.

FRI 10th - The crew spend the day housekeeping, cleaning the boat, laundry and attending to mail.

In the city whilst browsing I find a T-Shirt with the slogan - “Trinidad & Tobago - Same planet, different attitude”. Trinidad and Tobago is a proud, multiracial country. It is the home of Angostura Bitters, the masterful cricketer Brian Lara, and Otto Boldon - the current 200 meter world champion sprinter. Oh, and some beautiful women too. The’ve held two Miss Universe titles and one Miss World.

SAT 11th - Clive Fletcher visits us this morning. Clive worked for Courts in Fiji in 1992-95 and his father, Paul, ran Courts in Fiji until recently. Clive took myself and Kristy into town in the evening to watch ‘Champs in Concert’ a parade and performance by the best of the masqueraders and bands during Carnival.

SUN 12th - Life as usual in the bay. If there is one drawback about Trinidad it is that the beaches here are dull compared to those of Tobago. There’s also not a lot for tourists to do on a weekend.

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