CARIB-Trinidad250By four in the morning I was starting to wonder what I was doing, nearly naked, painted in silver mud and dancing through the streets of a tropical city. Even though I am on the greying side of fifty I wasn’t alone in the dawning light. Tens of thousands of people, some even more ancient then me, were dancing through the streets of Trinidad’s Port of Spain, having a great time kicking off Carnival.

Carnival, that wonderful two days leading up to Lent when adults can behave like the kids they wish they still were, will be held Feb. 23 and 24 in 2009.

Rio and New Orleans hold Carnivals, but nothing like this. In those cities you get to watch from behind police barricades while the people who are really having fun ride along on floats. In Trinidad, you are the parade. You join a mas band (masquerade club) dress up and make a fool of yourself; nobody cares because they’re all doing it too.

As many as 300,000 people from all over the world take part and if you’re a cruising sailor spending the winter in the Caribbean, this is a no-miss event.

J’Ouvert is the official 2 a.m. starting gun for Carnival followed by two days of non-stop activity.

Many Carnival events actually take place before J’Ouvert. There are competitions for soca singers, pan (steel) bands and costumes. Even the kids get in on the act and Kiddie’s Carnival is one of those delights you never hear about unless you know someone from Port of Spain.

“Grannies are the most important people on the island during carnival,” was how my pal Andy explained the conscience-salving Kiddie’s Carnival. “Every year, kids are turned over to their grandparents while mommy and daddy take to the streets.”

Just before they abandon their parental responsibilities (which the kids don’t mind because the grannies’ spoil them), the kids have their own Carnival. “This carnival is a bribe to make the parents feel better about leaving their kids for four days.”

Like adult Carnival, the kids have their own traditions of fancy dress. There are Young French Gentlemen, regal chevaliers, and traditional sailors with gob hats, fake beards and discreet pipes while butterflies and plumes are favoured by the girls.

No matter what they wear, the kids have a great time bouncing along to the booming parade beat. This isn’t martial music either. The driving soca that surrounds you forces you to dance. I got so good I could moonwalk better than Michael Jackson in a packed courtroom.

Then comes J’Ouvert and for the next thirty hours there is little time for sleep.

Over on sister island Tobago, there’s a Carnival as well, but Tobagonians’ kicks come during Angostura Race Week.

Shunned by the Formula One fraternity it lacks big money attitude and rock stars so the door is open to pure fun. Yachts competing in Angostura Race Week range in length from Santa Cruz 70s to pocket rockets like the Van De Stadt 24. Boats compete in six classes governed under ISF rules and the Caribbean Sailing Association measurement system.

It’s a safe bet that the idea for a major regatta in the southern Caribbean emerged after a few sundowners and Tobago seemed like a good location. Situated between Trinidad and Grenada, racers coming from the north have an overnight hop and it is easy enough for southern yachts from Trinidad and Venezuela to get there in a day. The closest charter operation is The Moorings on Grenada.

With Tobago, when you aren’t sailing, there’s more to see and do than just lying on the beach – although the beaches are absolutely splendid.

Near Crown Point, where the races are held, there is a collection of terrific restaurants featuring international and Creole cuisine. Tobago’s national dish is curried crab with dumplings. It’s hot and the heat doesn’t come from the dish itself. It’s in the sauce.

Everybody makes their own hot sauce here, but one thing they all have in common is their kick. A little (read half a small coffee spoon) goes a long way.

Our friend Andy offered to show my partner, Laurie, and I the sights. We jumped into his van for a trip up to Speyside, the world famous dive region at the northeast tip of the island.  Along the way, we stopped for a short hike in the rain forest at the Main Ridge Recreation Site. The Main Ridge Site is the oldest forest reserve in the western hemisphere. It dates back to 1765 and was established by sugar planters to protect the watershed from deforestation.

Hiking through steaming glades alongside a stream lined with heliconias and a hundred other plants, our guide Newton talked to the birds by whistling their songs and they responded by coming closer for a look.

After the hike we hit the Treehouse Restaurant – built in a massive spreading Sea Grape tree – near Speyside. The catch of the day was spiny lobster and unlike most Caribbean Islands where tourism has taken off, Tobago doesn’t come with a sunshine tax. Food, drink and entertainment are still reasonably priced.

Speyside is legendary for its diving. The main highway is lined with dive shops and there are half a dozen guesthouses and hotels that cater specifically to the underwater crowd.

While the majority of Tobago’s 40,000 people live along the turbulent Atlantic coast, the best cruising ground is on the west side in the Caribbean. From Store Bay in the south to Pirate’s Bay in the north, you could take weeks to gunkhole up this shore.

Bottoms here are mainly coral sand and nearly every small bay has a windward reef that you can anchor behind overnight. Tobagonians are very conscious of the health of their reefs and it is illegal to set your hook into the coral itself.

Many of the island’s beaches are nesting sites for ocean-roving leatherback turtles. If you’re lucky you can watch this miracle although you are expected to respect the rules regarding the use of flashlights and flash photography is banned.

Tobago still has little in the way of facilities for visiting yachters. Most yachting services are situated on Trinidad at Chaguaramas Bay. Chaguaramas is the hurricane hole to end all. It is a broad bay protected by Trinidad’s northern range of mountains and lies outside the hurricane zone. This is the most extensive service and repair set-up in the southern Caribbean.

FAST FACTS

Because there is a plague of Internet sites claiming some official role, the two best websites to get information about this year’s Carnival are:

The National Carnival Bands Association

www.ncbatt.com

T&T Tourism

www.gotrinidadandtobago.com

For cruising info, you can’t do better than:

Chris Doyle’s Cruising Guide To Trinidad and Tobago

Angostura Race Week

www.sailweek.com

 

The Halifax International Boat Show 2020 spanned four days of interesting weather and good crowds! Show Manager Scott Sprague summed it up: “Despite bad weather for days one and two, days three and four delivered good crowds.”
The snow storm on the first day of the Toronto ...
BOOM! goes the start signal, and you are under ...
Since the late 19th century, a debate has raged ...
The Canadian Safe Boating Council’s Marine ...
Life on the Caribbean racing circuit attracts ...

Lifestyle

  • Prev
With old boats every repair seems to uncover something else needing attention.  Removing the ...
We admit it, this Photo of the Week shot was just too cute to resist even though it was blatant ...
Reader Lorraine Gentleman took some liberty with our request for Photo of the Week shots from the ...
This afternoon portrait of her son enjoying a snooze in a pretty unlikely spot comes to us from ...
I've been cleaning dresser drawers for space and came across this 1979 LYRA t-shirt. This was my ...
Our Photo of the Week comes from one of our CY team members who writes “This is my son and his best ...
This boat carries the distinction as the last boat to leave the C&C Custom shop in Oakville ...
We crossed Lake Ontario from Oswego with a minimum of fuss and did a little happy dance when we ...
Our Photo of the Week comes from Mark and Lisa Harris who winter in Vancouver, Washington and spend ...
I am new to boating. Bought a 2019 Ranger Tug in April followed by taking a short boating course ...

DIY & How to

  • Prev
Since the late 19th century, a debate has raged on the relative merits of diesel fuel over ...
This bag does more than hold your anchor and rode in one tidy little pile. After you’ve anchored ...
Purchase your copy of the BRAND NEW Ports Georgian Bay 2020 Edition at the Toronto International ...
The boat was put on the hard for this winter and were going to follow along with Graham as he ...
In this part, we’ll delve deeper into the other parts of the boat found below the water line: the ...
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve told my children to wash their hands. I remind them ...
The new editions of PORTS Cruising Guides, from the publishers of Canadian Yachting will be ...
As the seasons change and we move from warm summer into cooler fall, many fanatic boaters ...
On the Friday before a weekend with a gorgeous forecast, I heard on the news that a boat had ...
A reader suggested we take a look at anchors. Anchoring seems simple enough. A weighted hook with a ...

Diesel Fuel MaintenanceSince the late 19th century, a debate has raged on the relative merits of diesel fuel over gasoline. In more recent decades, that argument has included boat manufacturers, and increasingly, individual boaters. As I pass through boat yards in the spring or fall, I’m sure to hear a comment or two (sometimes ruefully, other times with great joy) of the merit of a particular engine or fuel source.

Increasingly, diesel engines are praised for their long-life, ease of maintenance, compact design, reliability and safety, and rate of combustion. As well as cruisers and trawlers, many sailboat manufacturers in particular have chosen to install diesel engines. 

Read more about Diesel Fuel Maintenance........................

 

  

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
With a philosophy of quality and 'doing things right Ranger Tugs launches the all new R-25 at the ...
The new Beneteau Swift Trawler 41 renews the spirit of the practical seaworthy cruiser. The ...
The Canadian Yachting test crew last week had the opportunity to run the Bavaria S36 HT at St ...

Beneteau Flyer 32By Andy Adams

Summer sun boat! The handsome new Beneteau Flyer 32 is all about entertaining and the bow area is one of the main attractions. It's a wide shape forward with a huge anchor locker and opening centre section in the railing that invites you to beach the boat and go swimming. The bow is really one giant sun bed area with armrests that fold down and head rests too, for fall-asleep comfort. 

 

 

Read more about the Beneteau Flyer 32....................

 

Dufour 460By Katherine Stone

When one does an October yacht review on the Great Lakes you can never be sure of what kind of weather you will get…. and did we ever luck out! A beautiful sunny day with a high of 31 degrees and a perfect 8-10 knot breeze with light chop made for a champagne sailing day. Lucky for me we were at Swans Yacht Sales located in the Whitby Marina on Lake Ontario, trying out the Dufour 460 Grand Large, a flag ship for the midrange Dufour boats. With an overall length of 46’5” and a hull length of 44 ‘, this boat is majestic, not only in size, but also in elegance with timeless and contemporary style. 

Read More about Dufour 460..................

Destinations

  • Prev
Boom & Batten Restaurant is suspended over the water adjacent to the Songhees Walkway and ...
Provincial Boat Havens are those special places to drop anchor in British Columbia’s West Coast and ...
NW Explorations, a Bellingham, Washington-based yacht charter, brokerage, and marine services ...

Belize: Sailing SolitudeBy Mark Stevens

We’ve just weighed anchor off Thatch Caye, a tiny island nuzzled by Caribbean waters flowing between the world’s second longest barrier reef and the mountainous coast of Belize to our west, and now we’re navigating a serpentine course through a crowded congregation of coral heads.

Once safely in deep water we raise sail. I spin the wheel of “Kavok” (a Lagoon 421 catamaran we’ve booked for our weeklong Belize bareboat adventure from Dream Yacht Charter) until we’re pointed south – steady on a lazy beam reach.

Read more about Belize......................

 

Marine Products

  • Prev
Since the days of the astrolabe, sailors have looked to the skies to determine the weather. If only ...
Since 1984 PORTS Cruising Guides have been the cruising boater's essential companion. But now PORTS ...
Canada’s largest independent fiberglass boat builder, Campion, has launched Muskoka, The M26 is 8.4 ...
It is not often I get to drive the newer model of something I own. Most of the time the model I own ...
Good news cruisers, it’s coming in early Summer 2020 – PORTS Rideau Canal and Lower Ottawa River ...
Few things are as frustrating to a boat owner as being becalmed or running out of fuel—or both. If ...
One of the biggest complaints we hear from our readers is ‘why we don’t run more new products’. ...
Every cruiser in the region has used it for years, but now there’s a brand new edition of the ...
When you visit the Toronto Boat Show, come to the Canadian Yachting booth (#1741), trial a pair of ...
With the Davis Scrubbis Underwater Hull Cleaning Kit it's easy to rid a boat of algae, grass, and ...