Monday, 11 August 2014

The Taste of Trini Tour

Whilst John was working away on the boat I decided to see a bit more of Trinidad and booked myself on the Taste of Trini Tour. This was a tour devised and led by Jesse James, a local who runs Members Only, a Maxi Taxi firm. He also helps to run the Cruisers Net in the mornings. He works very closely with the yachting community and is the Port Officer for the Ocean Cruising Club....any queries you ask Jesse and he will try to sort it.The tour takes you over to the Atlantic side of Trini then back up through the middle to the west .As you travel Jesse stops at local street vendors buying local delicacies and drinks so you can really capture the 'Taste of Trini'. The cuisine is very much a fusion of Eastern Indian and Carib which results in a unique Trini flavour in most cases. We left Powerboats at 9 o clock in the morning to return nearly twelve hours later stuffed with food and with our taste buds on sensory overload having tasted 78 different foods and drinks. This was not the record which stands at 95! I think we might of  come somewhere near this if some of the fruits had not been out of season but my stomach was telling me 78 was quite enough thank you! These were some of my favourites..

   Roast bake bread, garlic and tamarind hot sauce with salt fish ,smoke herring and Pakchoi

                                                      Barra and chana with hot pepper sauce.

                                  There is no special way to eat a double's messy but delicious! 
                                          Both these two dishes were part of our breakfast !

After travelling over to the eastern side we stopped for lunch at Manzanilla Beach. The red flags were up on the beach so no swimming so the twenty or so lifeguards who were dotted up and down the beach had nothing to do....but watch the Atlantic rollers break.

Jesse laid out our tasters for lunch ......Acra,curried potato,dhal purri,two different types of roti,fried shark,rice and three different drinks, Mauby drink, Peanut punch and Linseed and SeaMoss drink which tasted like Tapioca...not a particular favourite. I did like the Mauby which comes from the bark of a tree and has a slight licorice flavour

Whilst we were there Jesse made a pineapple chow for later consumption. This was chopped pineapple, salt, pepper, lime juice,chilli and Callaloo. I have got to say it was delicious! Something I will definitely try at home!
As we drove along the beach we came to where the River meets the Atlantic and there was an amazing swamp area.
                                                                                         The Navira Swamp

We turned inland and up into the Teak plantations and all along the side of the road people were selling their wares. This is a fertile area and outside many homes there were stalls set out with fresh produce at ridiculously cheap prices....two pounds of tomatoes 60p equivalent is just one example. Some were also selling fish and land crabs.

                                                 You can just see the land crabs tied together to the left of the shark
Trinidad is starting to grow more Cocoa and Jesse took us past a plantation where he picked a couple of pods for us to look at and taste. After cracking the pod open you suck the pods which actually tasted a lot better than I thought they would!

                                                             These cocoa pods are just not quite ripe enough yet!

Back in England I have tried to grow these air plants with very little success. I think that the atmosphere is too dry and not humid enough because they grow on trees here!

I thoroughly enjoyed my outing and this is a trip I would recommend, you have to pace yourself and really only taste the food put in front of you. Jesse makes it a fun day and he seems to enjoy it as much as us.He is a mind of information and obviously a Trini through and through! My five favourite tastes were:
Mauby Drink
Smoked Herring on roast bake bread
Roast bagan choka

I really wasn't that taken with the Cow Heel soup or the BBQ pigtail but I would not have missed the opportunity to taste them.

Friday, 8 August 2014

The hired hand

John has been getting help from our friend George whilst working in the yard .....remind you of anyone?

He's called Dave actually! And he has a boat called Simple Life in the yard.

The Coppercoat saga

Some time ago now(six years)we put Coppercoat on our hull. This has been very good and now we are out of the water we figured that we would need to buy some more just to touch up a few bits here and there. John contacted Coppercoat US and the guy in Florida was very helpful and we ordered 4 units to be shipped over here to Trinidad. As Coppercoat is deemed hazardous cargo it could not go air freight but was put in a container which left Miami at the beginning of July. Soon after we were lifted, we got a call from Tropical Shipping  saying the container had arrived in Trinidad and could John go to the office in Port of Spain to complete the paperwork. So far so good we thought! So John paid the office their admin fee and then went to get the Bill of Lading signed by customs here in Chagauramas and we were told that the goods would be ready to collect in a few days. We arranged to hire a car and set off to the customs depot for collection took us about two hours to find the place and get past the guards on the door ... Only to be told that the container our shipment was in, had not yet been 'unstuffed' and to come back later that week ! We decided to wait until the following week to attempt the process again .... And this time we had an e mail from Tropical telling us to go to customs and collect our shipment!
So we hired another hire car from Econocars or rent a wreck as we called problems with the car hire company they supplied us with a car at a very good price though these cars have seen better years .....loads of miles on the clock but the air con worked and it started no probs. however on a shopping trip prior to our customs trip the back bumper fell off .....but we are yachties, ..are we scared ...?? We taped it back up with duct tape and off we went!
The next day we set off very early to get to customs as early as possible ....making good time when we hear a familiar sound ....the bumper trailing on the road. Unfortunately we had forgotten to put the spare tape in the car and so John thumped the existing tape back hoping it would last....No chance!!
We pulled over and as we did so the uneven road managed to dislodge the entire back bumper. We had no option but to squeeze the bumper into the car and continue to the Customs Depot bumper less!
On arriving at the Customs pick up we sat ourselves down in the Hospitality room and waited... Some    hour later John heard his name called, he queued up in a line to talk to a faceless voice through a counter with only a small half moon cut out at the bottom that asked him for 96 dollars 56 cents and the sign said you must pay the exact amount ...John signed paid and told the girl no change required...we never really found out what that was for ....using the hospitality suite?
John took his seat back in the hospitality suite and waited.....another hour later his name was called again...this time surely we would pick up our parcel ! John was asked to identify his parcel and the parcel was opened and the contents examined....yes ...this was our Coppercoat . So what next ,John waited to be told but nothing....a nice man asked him if he wanted to have the parcel resealed which he agreed to and fortunately the guy doing the resealing told him what to do next ....go and sit back down in the hospitality suite!
Another long wait when a customs  officer came out to ask him how much the goods were worth despite John having shown him the receipt and then some time later John got the call again ....this time to line up and pay 10 TT dollars for the declaration that there was nothing to declare .... For this John had to sign three separate sheets and then go over to yet another window where the woman told him there was a problem ...she disappeared only to come back again saying all was ok !! Finally John walked away with the Coppercoat  some four hours after walking in but not before signing another two sheets of paper to allow him out of the compound into the car park
The moral of this story ....doesn't matter if it costs more an agent to sort out customs!
I should add on the way back to the boat we dropped by at Econocars to change the car ....on arriving the girl at the office said ' oh you are the guys with the slack bumper?!'  ...yes so slack it's not attached was the reply!  They happily exchanged the car for another ....only for the front bumper of that particular car to fall loose the next day on the way to the supermarket!! That said at £20 a day including CDW they are still good value!

Sunday, 3 August 2014


We have now moved onto Trinidad to get hauled out and do some hopefully routine maintenance! We left Prickly Bay at around four in the afternoon which we hoped would mean that we arrived at Chaguramas early morning. This meant that we sailed through the night when less likely to catch the attention of any Venuzalian pirates and we would go through the Bocas del Manos in day light so we could see the effect of the tide and current more easily. We managed to sail for four to five hours and then the wind disappeared and we were left to motor for the rest of the journey. The passage through the Bocas del Manos was interesting you could see the current and tide clashing ,whipping up the sea and slowing us down to under two knots. Once your out the other side.... no problem. The currents and tides around Trinidad are weird...John tried to find out as much as he could before we left but all the information we got together seemed to be said something another the exact opposite. Our friends came through the Bocas wind with the current giving them a two knot push!
                                                     Damp humid day in the yard!

We tied up at the customs quay and made our way to immigration ....chap was very friendly but everything has to be carbon copied in triplicate! We met a guy in the office who we later discovered was our neighbour on the slip at Powerboats who told us we needed to make seven copies of another form. We looked at him in disbelief ...surely not! We went up to the desk with just one copy and no problem! When we later took the copy to customs the customs officer enquired ' where's you copies?' Acting dumb he took pity on us and photocopied the required number! When Mike our neighbour asked us how we got on and we told him we only needed one copy we explained it by saying 'ex colony we get preferential treatment! ' or rather just lucky!!

                                                  Orion with a nice clean bottom!

We came out the water the next day problems and we were pleased to see all the growth on the hull just drop of with a light scape ...we would need to touch up a couple of spots but no other difficulties. Yippee!
Powerboats seems to be a well run yard and we were put next to the Roti Hut where lots of the workers come to get their breakfast and lunch and very tasty it is too! So now it's a couple of weeks hard work in the heat and humidity before setting off for the ABC islands.