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 on 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.
Some 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….
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….
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’.