A new floating home

Trinidad

Trinidad is an island where a lot of different sailing and other folks meet. It is one of the few areas in the Caribbean which is out of the hurricane belt (1933 one hit the island and Ivan brushed past in 2004, causing little damage in Trinidad but major in Grenada and other islands).  Hence, it is a place where people meet and mingle to wait for the season to start heading North or West again, to fix and maintain their boats, enjoy the odd braai (South African barbecue) and other festivities in the various dockyards in the town of Chaguaramas or leave their boats in relative safety to return later on. Hundreds of boats stand oTo Trinidadn their little stabilisers, enduring hammering, welding, painting, scraping, sanding and other activities that should keep them afloat.  Others stand there being neglected, left behind by owners who do not want or cannot provide for them anymore.  Boats get abandoned for various reasons, one being the different expectations of the crew sailing it – cruising is not for everyone, and life in confined spaces can be challenging for some.  Many an ocean crossing from either Europe or via South Africa ended here (the latter for me).

I was lucky to see so many South Africans again, friends and other sailors that I would get to know better over the next weeks and months.  Neptune watched over me and the Newman family (Ingrid, Alistair, Tanzi & Michael) soon introduced to a lovely South African sailing couple, Tjarda and Chris, that was trying to sell their boat or sail back to South Africa (the direct route is not very pleasant).  We came to an agreement and I became the proud owner of a perfect little cruising yacht – a 2003 Bavaria 36.

Ocean MaidensSome might call it a ‘Barbie’ boat, and originally, I myself wasn’t keen to buy such a production line boat. But seeing her with all her luxuries and cruising add-ons (most importantly a  ‘braai’ (=barbecue)) and well-layed out interior, I fell in love and still am! Friends helped me to move quickly from the other boat and for the first time in months, Ska and I were happy though anxious onboard. He strolled around everywhere inside, sniffing in every corner, trying to get into every little opening, exploring his makeshift litterbox in the ‘heads’ (=toilet onboard) and devouring a can of tuna – I would have to live with his bad breath later on….

Chaguaramas

Trini Receipt
A lot of forms have to be filled in to get the desired stamps…

Lots had to be learned and again my friends were near to take away my worst fears and taught me, helped me and just supported me in so many ways.  The formalities were challenging, signing off the previous boat I was on, signing onto my new boat as owner, signing previous owners off the boat, re-registering the boat, a new flag (she is German now with Home Port Cape Town ;-)), customs and immigration all had to be faced – well, if those would get me down, I wouldn’t travel far – so one learns to never be in a hurry, chit-chat with the officials and trying to smile whenever possible.  At least I get away with more relaxed clothing than the male skippers, not having worn ‘close’ shoes in so long nor having long pants here in the tropics….

Ska on OM

It was time to let the lines go, although I must admit I would probably still be there if it weren’t for the encouragement of friends around. SY ‘Deno’ helped me to get from my mooring and soon we sailed down the bay. When a dolphin came close and stayed with Ska and myself right to Scotland Bay, I knew we could have a chance.  Ian hopped on my boat and showed me how to anchor on my own, a gentle bystander making me do everything by myself, up and down until I had a little handle on it. My Spanish friends Cristina, Jordi and little Gina sailed into the bay on their SY ‘Mischief’ and it felt right to have our first little celebration on my ‘Ocean Maiden’.

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How it all began (Ska’s pick)

SkaMeow, cats, humans and other beings….

According to Wikipedia, I’m now around 70 human years old (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat_years), should sleep peacefully more than 70 % of the day, which both sound an awful lot but sitting here on my bed, I can tell you, this human of mine has moved me around so many miles I hardly know where I am!

Well, at the end of 2011, I had everything I hoped for, a lovely home with a view over the Simon’s Town harbour and mountains, a cat door which gave me freedom to go wherever I wanted, lovely neighbours that spoilt me and the occasional chase of mice and birds – life was a  bliss. Then my human changed it all…

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She met this little female chick who brought her human with her and that furball kept on bothering me from then on. No respect for elders, she jumped on me, tried to bite into my tail and to top it all, ate most of my food out of MY bowl! I could hardly escape outside because of a new human that moved into the house above – innocent me strolls over as usual, to discover a yelping human plus her two yelping doormats putting up spikes on the fence. The mood in the house got a bit tense, lots of packing, shopping, and then the furniture kept disappearing until there was hardly a cushion to find comfort on.  And you know how I hate change! My human would still surprise me even more!  The dreaded box came out, she lured me into it and off we went to that animal torturer – being poked by needles again. But instead of giving me proper rest in my home, she soon dragged me into the box again to this thing on the water – a floating home?!?!? Now who can be so stupid to build something like this! I was terrified and didn’t like the idea of sharing my home, toilet, food bowls, human with others in such a small space! But no, she wouldn’t be persuaded and the dreadful journey began – I got sooooo seasick, I thought I’m going to die….

SkaApparently, we rounded Cape Point – the other furball and myself were out cold on the cabin floor and another human was queasy up on top – my human cleaned up the mess and tried to cheer us up – in vane – all I wanted is to get off the boat with her back into our little home.  Almost three weeks in Hout Bay got us a bit more stable but then the real horror started – no more marinas, where I could at least try to jump off, no, just anchored or moored from now on (apologies, got used to the humans’ strange language on a boat – just ask if I need to clarify). Soon we were in the middle of nowhere, just water around us – I wouldn’t eat nor drink and anyway don’t remember much, just my human trying to comfort me and forcing down yucky water with salt – I wanted to spit it out but she wouldn’t let me …at least the other furball wasn’t in much better shape.  We made it to England, rather a small island in the middle of the South Atlantic, called St. Helena where they wouldn’t let me off, nor take the ship back to South Africa.  The English don’t like any animal to be landed, which I can understand for dogs and roaches but for me?!?!? So we kept on sailing to Ascension, Brazil (where I got off for 2 days with my human but then moved back on again), French Guyana and finally to Tobago and then Trinidad. Me and my human weren’t happy on that boat and desperately tried to find either a way back to South Africa or our own little new home, even if it’s another floating one! But that’s another story…