L O G B O O K - by John Philp


MON 13th MARCH - A hot and humid day in Chaguaramas Bay, Trinidad.

The yachting life... some of the memories will remain long after we leave - taking the dinghy across the bay to the supermarket rather than a car; hanging laundry to dry in the rigging; motoring across the bay in the early evening smelling dinners being cooked on countless yachts.

TUE 14th - Today is visa day : we visit the Panamanian embassy; and the French Embassy for French Polynesian visa’s. Sefo is hard at work pulling the winches apart, cleaning and greasing them, sweat pouring off him in the sweltering humidity.

WED 15th - Our South African friends on ‘Cha Cha’ depart at lunchtime for St Martin. I remind ‘T-Bone’ (Brian) to keep a sharp eye out, as the other night when we were motoring across the bay in his dinghy we ran smack into another inflatable dinghy. The older couple in it were not impressed, especially when Brian told them to watch where they were going. We laughed, as they had a running light on and we didn’t!

Visiting the bustling capital city - Port of Spain in the afternoon I marvel at the mobile carts selling Carnival music cassettes. The cart are nothing more than huge speakers on wheels, reggae and soca music booming forth, the power supplied by a car battery. West Indians live and breath music and dance - the rhythms permeating every part of their lives.

THUR 16th - Taking advantage of the calm harbour this morning we motor over to the fuel dock - “Fill ‘er up!”. Before long it starts raining, a warm tropical downpour, droplets as large as small grapes, reminding us why the mountain range behind us is so green.

We are leaving this evening for the Grenadine’s and there is an expectant, melancholy air about Humming Bird Marina today as we are sad to leave our good friends behind, whilst excited to be departing for new shores and unknown friends.

At 8pm we weigh anchor, pick our way through the maze of yachts and head out the ‘Dragons Mouth’, that eerie channel where dark waters flow swiftly deep through the narrow gap between Venezuela and Trinidad, rocky limestone bluffs rising impassively on either side. If you were superstitious you would say a prayer as you passed here. An oil rig supply ship steams by in the gloomy darkness, all lights ablaze like a Christmas tree, destroying our night vision.

The wind is steady on the nose so we motor into the pitching darkness. At midnight we set the sails and finally silence the throbbing diesel.

FRI 17th - We pass Grenada just after daylight and continue on, beating towards Union island in fresh tradewinds. We arrive there at lunchtime, anchoring in clear sapphire coloured water, green forested hills rising around and above us. There are six other yachts in the bay and we watch many others pass by in both directions - the steady traffic of the Caribbean yachting trade.

Later we head ashore for a walk and a swim and I engage in some idle banter with a cheerful dreadlocked rasta fisherman. He reminded me of ‘Ja Ja Binks’ from the latest Star Wars movie, expressing himself in oddball eccentric fashion.

SAT 18th - Mid morning we motor 8 miles to the famous Tobago Cays, a famous group of five tiny islands enclosed by a reef and shallow turquoise lagoon, each with it’s own white sandy beach a stones throw from the others. We anchor in the lee of the first with four other yachts. Upon launching the dinghy we motor around the corner and discover forty eight other yachts anchored so close together that you could have a casual conversation from one to the other!

SUN 19th - Another beautiful day in the Tobago Cays. Again we make a short passage to the next island - Canouan, although when we vote on the stop the thumbs down carry it and we continue to our next stop - Mustique, gorgeous island of the rich and famous.

We drop anchor beside a gleaming, white luxury motor yacht and contemplate the starched crew bustling about, loading a lunch table with silverware and icy buckets of champagne as we munch on our lunch of tuna flake sandwiches.

On the far side of them is a rustic old sailing yacht sporting a crew of tanned salty Scandinavian folk. They depart in the afternoon and upon having trouble with their anchor winch one of the ‘Vikings’ produces an old hammer, pounding away at it ‘Three Stooges’ style while the entire crew watches.

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