Vagabund Log



10th August to 11th September 2013

Week 1

June 1st is the official start of the hurricane season in the Caribbean. Like the migration pattern of birds, yachts head south toward the relative safety of Trinidad and Tobago and for others crossing the ocean, they put anchor in summer time to wait for the winter before continuing their North bound route into the Caribbean.

The fury of a tropical storm is avoided at all cost. These storms leave scars on land and in history that fade away very slowly. All reminders say, “Stay away, avoid at all cost or suffer the consequences”. The biggest promoters of the annual yacht migration activity are the marine insurance companies offering huge discount if you obey.

This safety driven phenomena has its benefits. The accumulation of boats not going anywhere for a few months has created a business hub for boat repairs and storage. Apparently up to a 1000 boats are stored annually at Chaguaramas, a nice cove on the NE side of Trinidad.  The facilities are excellent. Lifting Vagabund with its 7,45 m beam and loaded weight of close to 15 tons is no special feat for the 180-ton travel crane at Peaks.


Most yachts that spend the summer in Trinidad are hauled out and stored on dry land. This creates the opportunity to focus on the never-ending attention she requires. Belly scrub, anti fouling make up, shinning up of the stainless steel and the odd operation like we have to execute on Vagabund when we will replace the one 30 Hp motor with a brand new 40 Hp motor.

Our first morning in Trinidad we did the usual Customs and Immigration, by mooring onto the customs dock. A friendly local welcomed us to his country and directed us to customs. It was obvious that yachties is acknowledge here as major economic contributors and we were acknowledged for that.  In contrast to some of the bureaucracy experienced in Brazil.


Shortly after we were enjoying a breakfast at Café del Mare. The adaption to land has not caught up to our bodies as our consumption capability on all the delights ordered could not been consumed. After the breakfast we strolled through the local  “HI-LO” Supermarket buying all the stuff we missed on the sea.

The Volvo agent recommended Peak’s Marine shipyard for hauling Vagabund out.  Peak’s and Power Boats can haul out a catamaran with a beam more than 6m. Power Boats use a slip where Peakes has a travel lift that is the biggest in the Caribbean. It is a 180-ton marine hoist that can handle yachts with as much as a 31-foot beam and 15 feet of keel below the straps.  

On Tuesday we were up and ready to take Vagabund to Peak’s. Everything went smooth and Vagabund was strapped with yellow bands across her belly after a diver has checked the straps. Hauling out always involve a high risk to damage your boat. The probability of damage your boat in Trinidad is much less due to proper equipment  with experienced crew. The travel lift lifted her gently out of the water and men were ready with a pressure wash.


After a while Vagabund was in the straps strolling down the street and at the end squeezed into a corner between lots of other boats. A ladder was supplied to help to climb on board. It was weird to be up in the air on dry land after such a long time on the water.


With the number of yachts in Trinidad quite a few South Africans were present. Some old acquaintances last seen before leaving South Africa and a couple of new once.


Gideon and Brett on Panache (Richards Bay), Chris and Tharda (Club Mykonos) on Ocean Maiden, Terry and Annette (Royal Cape Yacht Club in Cape Town). Sailing in Brazil we knew of quite a few yachts making there way up North to Trinidad.

During daytime everybody are busy on there boats doing maintenance. Every Thursday the South Africans hold a braai at one of the boat yard venues. A yacht spends on average about 3 weeks on dry dock to get the annual maintenance done.


The facilities at Peakes are excellent. The Internet was working, a well-stocked chandelier shop as well as their workshop that give you a quote on cleaning, waxing, antifouling and gel-coat repairs of the yacht.

Peakes website: s

LP Marine is the local Volvo’s agent and they were tasked to lift the engine to find the fault. After stripping the engine and looking at the damage to the cylinder wall we decided to rather buy a new engine. While we were at it a further decision was made to replace the fixed two blade propellers with the fold away Brunton three blade props that adjust the pitch to the speed to offer maximum thrust al the time.


The first day at the shower I just stood under the hot water running over my body. It felt so good to feel the water running down your body knowing that when the tank run empty it is not your problem.

With the boat not cooling down in the wind on the water and with a fair amount of “mossies” we decided to rent a conventional aircon. With the following weeks this became a life saver as even with the aircon running full time the during daytime temperature inside the boat still remained above 30 degrees C. Summer in Trinidad is hot with high humidity. Working outside between 12:00 and 15:00 is an energy sapping exercise and best avoided by either sleeping during this time or going shopping in the well air-conditioned chandelier shops or shopping malls.


It was a race against time to complete all the repair work before locking up and flying back to South Africa. The TT clock used by the locals run on the “next day” pace. We had to adjust our clock’s timing daily to allow for local time.

After a week of just work, work and work we came to a mutual agreement: Tomorrow is another day. We took a break and had a look around. West Mall compare any time to our malls back in South Africa. Shops like Dischem, @Home, Edgars, Woolworths and several more, just spelled differently.  We joined Westside Community Church for worship on Sunday.  We were blessed and encouraged.


Week 2

The quote for shades was too expensive and we decided to buy sheets and I will cut the shade cover to size and work the edges with webbing. It took two evenings and with Zack’s help with the big sail we were finished to put it up.


It is like everything is under one roof. In a 2,5km radius everything is available. All the shops for boat maintenance: Chandeliers, riggers, safety, canvass, and mechanics. There are a couple of well-equipped marine shops, and if they do not have the stock, they offer to order. No import duties and taxes are payable on any imported spare parts and ship stuff! Clever country! They boost their own marine economy!


Our Deepfreeze as well as the dehumidifier has been repaired.

The anti-fouling and polishing of Vagabund were done. We have raised the waterline by 10 cm to prevent attached growth above the waterline and making it easier to clean her while in the water. Our big collector will jokingly say “now we can load a lot more stuff” I always suspect my husband of building stock to one day open his own fishing tackle and hardware shop on some remote island.

We rent a car “cheapy” to do exploring of Trinidad on our second weekend.

Facts from Wikipedia

“Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago i/ˌtrɪnɨdæd ən tɵˈbeɪɡoʊ/, officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is an island country in the northern edge of South America, lying just off the coast of northeastern Venezuela and south of Grenada in the Lesser Antilles. It shares maritime boundaries with other nations including Barbados to the northeast, Grenada to the northwest, Guyana to the southeast, and Venezuela to the south and west.

The country covers an area 5,128 square kilometres (1,980 sq mi) and consists of two main islands, Trinidad and Tobago, Nine Regions, numerous smaller landforms And One Ward. Sangre Grande is the larger region of the country's nine regions, comprising about 18% of the total area and 10% of the total population of the country. The nation lies outside the hurricane belt.

The island of Trinidad was a Spanish colony from the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1498 to the capitulation of the Spanish Governor, Don José Maria Chacón, on the arrival of a British fleet of 18 warships on 18 February 1797.[

The country Trinidad and Tobago obtained independence in 1962, becoming a republic in 1976. Unlike most of the English-speaking Caribbean, the country's economy is primarily industrial,[10] with an emphasis on petroleum and petrochemicals.

Trinidad is 4,768 km2 (1,841 sq mi) in area (comprising 93.0% of the country's total area) with an average length of 80 km (50 mi) and an average width of 59 kilometres (37 mi). Tobago has an area of about 300 km2 (120 sq mi), or 5.8% of the country's area, is 41 km (25 mi) long and 12 km (7.5 mi) at its greatest width.

As the majority of the population live in the island of Trinidad, this is the location of most major towns and cities. There are three major municipalities in Trinidad: Port of Spain, the capital, San Fernando, and Chaguanas.

Trinidad and Tobago is one of the wealthiest and most developed nations in the Caribbean and is listed in the top 66 High Income countries in the world. In the Caribbean, it is one of the richest countries, with a per capita GDP of USD $28,400 (2009). In November 2011, the OECD removed Trinidad and Tobago from its list of Developing Countries. Trinidad and Tobago has earned a reputation as an excellent investment site for international businesses and has one of the highest growth rates and per capita incomes in Latin America. Recent growth has been fueled by investments in liquefied natural gas (LNG), petrochemicals, and steel. Additional petrochemical, aluminum, and plastics projects are in various stages of planning. Trinidad and Tobago is the leading Caribbean producer of oil and gas, and its economy is heavily dependent upon these resources but it also supplies manufactured goods, notably food and beverages, as well as cement to the Caribbean region. Oil and gas account for about 40% of GDP and 80% of exports, but only 5% of employment.”

On the 24 August early Saturday morning we joined Tjarda and Chris to a look out point above Macqueripe Bay to watch the annual Carib Great Powerboat Race between Trinidad and Tobago.

A big chunk of competitors came from the various boat yards. Peak’s Total Munster had our loyal support. Although she could not compete the race the previous two years she was still the favorite as the largest vessel in the race. She is powered by a 2x1200cc Supercharged Sterling engines. She is a 46 fee Skater. The A-Class boats are limited to a maximum speed of 130 miles per hour. The prop pitch are selected to make sure the boat run out of revs to avoid exceeding the speed restriction. Piloting a 46ft boat at this speed in the open sea is almost suicidal. The crew of three (driver, throttle man and navigator) are all sitting inside a capsule. Apparently serious safety training and testing is done on all the crew before the race.

After the start at the Mucurapo Foreshore at 8am, Mr Solo took the early lead with Total Monster close behind. Total Monster surged ahead at Macqueripe, right in front of us, leaping twice her length through the air and kept the lead all the way to Scarborough.


Total Monster secured its maiden victory at the annual Carib Great Race that ended at the Scarborough Esplanade to take the overall title ahead of 16-time winner Mr. Solo

Overall winner: Total Monster

Overall runner-up: Mr Solo

A Class (130m/h limit) winner: Total Monster

B Class 120m/h limit) winner: Boom Shaka Laka

After the race we visited the beach of Macqueripe Bay. Because of the steep mountains close to the Northern shore only a few small beaches is accessible. These are usually overcrowded on weekends. 


Back in our own “cheapy” rental we explore the island. We decided to drive along the highway to find the airport on our way to the Asa Wright Nature Centre in the mountains. We drove through a lush tropical rain forest. Asa Wright Nature Centre is of particular interest to birdwatchers.  From the veranda we enjoy the colorful hummingbirds and honeycreepers that come to the bird feeders. We went on a guided tour to learn more about the birds, animals, and trees.


On our way back we spend the evening at Movie Town. Dining and watching a movie.

Sunday afternoon upon driving we discovered two golf courses.  A public golf course that consists of 9 holes (about R300 for 18 holes) and the St Andrews golf Club is a private golf course (about R1000 for 18 holes).

Week 3

Zack have to do several maintenance like the service of the generator and the two outboards, the repairs on small things that broke. Supervising of the antifouling, as well as the washing, polishing and repair of the gel-coat. Zack has washed our dingy and learned to do gel coating.


Thursday evening all the gel- coat repairs were finished and finally all the workers are off the yacht. I can start with the cleaning.

Friday Dessy has transferred the starboard engine to the port side and has done the seals on the sail drives. Upon sealing the starboard sail drive with new seals a crack was found. The sail drive has to be taken out. It could be welded but LP Marine is taken on Volvo to supply us with a new sail drive, as it is a latent defect from Volvo. Now we are waiting.


Zack spoiled me with an appointment at the local hairdresser for a wash and blow dry. It was wonderful to be pampered. Saturday afternoon we walked a few holes on Chaguaramas golf course. It was near sunset and we could play for free. Afterwards we watched the movie “The Butler” at Movie Town.


Week 4

Each morning at 8h00 on channel 68 there is VHF net. It is an active half hour where information that is shared among yachts about weather, safety, cultural events and help needed for repairs or spares.

Midweek we decided to take a break and spend the morning at St Andrews golf Club. Our tee off time is at 6h00 to be finished before the heat of the day. One of the best-looking golf courses we had ever played on.


We were busy with the final cleaning and quotes to be paid. Volvo has decided to supply us with a new sail drive. We had to pay the import cost and labor cost.

Vagabund was transferred into the high security section of Peaks.


Our bags were packed and we were ready to fly back to South Africa. We were looking forward to spend some time with family and friends.