s/y Nine of Cups
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Trinidad is the southernmost island in the
Caribbean chain. Only 7 miles from the
Venezuelan coast, it is geologically part
of South America.
Steel pan music was invented on Trinidad.  
When British authorities banned African
drumming, the people made music from
bamboo, thumped on the ground and
reinforced with improvised percsussion.  
During the 1930's and 1940's, this percussion
- discarded biscuit tins and empty oil drums -
became a new sort of drum, the steel drum.  
Each note is tuned by hammering a dent into
the surface of the steel. Today's steelbands
perform everything from western classics to
calyso and you can hear the music everywhere
and all the time. Trinidad is also the home of
the “limbo” and the calypso.
We took a bus into Port-of-Spain, the
capital of Trinidad and the trade center of
Trinidad/Tobago, was founded in 1560 by
Spanish colonists. It's the largest city we've
seen since leaving Puerto Rico.  It is
crowded and the traffic is heavy...like most
large cities.  We enjoyed exploring the
streets and neighborhoods.  Charlotte
Street, for instance, has lots of shops selling
housewares, as well as an Asian section,
where the shops sell everything from dried
mushrooms to crystallized ginger. The Red
House, pictured above,  is Trinidad's House
of Parliament.
Finally, on to Trinidad! The island to
island trip from Tobago to Trinidad is
only about 25 miles, but  it’s necessary
to traverse the entire length of the island
to get to the marina in
Chaguaramas…another 50 miles. We
decided to anchor in Grand Riviere, a
small fishing village on the north coast
only about 30 miles way, then complete
the trip to the marina the next day.

We have mixed emotions about
reaching Trinidad. It’s the end of a long
passage and we get to stay in a
marina…hooray. But then it’s the “end”
of a passage and we have to stay in a
marina…crowded, hot, no breezes, no
sailing for the next 2-3 months.
We have not been in a marina since
Riding Rock in San Salvador in the
Bahamas and they didn’t offer
electricity or water at the dock.
Power Boats is the largest boatyard
in Chaguaramas and is primarily
noted for boat work and storing
boats out of the water “on the hard”.
There are, however, a few slips
available for transients (that’s what
we are, “foreign transients”) who
wish to stay in the water. Daily rates
are about 1/5 of   what we paid for
similar services in the States.
Power Boats Marina...hot, crowded and breeze-less.
We officially arrived in Trinidad on July 31st
and helped celebrate Emancipation Day on
August 1st. A public holiday, Emancipation
Day, celebrates the abolition of slavery in
1834.  There are parades and festivities
throughout the island. The staff at the restaurant
at our marina, “Sails”, dressed in traditional
dress and a pan band provided live
The population of Trinidad is different than
that of Tobago which is primarily black.
Because of Indian indentured immigration in
the mid-1800’s after the abolition of slavery
in 1834, there is a huge Indian population
(40%) in Trinidad. The population also traces
its roots to Africa (40%), China, the Middle
East, Europe and the Mediterranean. Almost
30% are Roman Catholic, about 25% are
Hindu, just over 10% are Anglican and 6%
are Muslim. Quite a melting pot! Above, a
common sight was a Hindu temple.
Inhabitants of Trinidad are called Trinis.
Trinidad is home to two species of
monkeys: capuchins and howlers. Two
capuchin pets live on a boat in the
marina and we had the chance to meet
them.  Calvin the Obnoxious pictured
above with David is very mischievous
and has managed to untie his owner’s
dock lines on several occasions setting
their boat adrift.
One of the main natural attractions on
Trinidad is the Caroni Swamp. It is a  huge
protected area and bird sanctuary, home
of Trinidad's nationa bird, the scarlet ibis
and about 170 other species of birds and
indigenous animals including tree snakes
(boas), raccoons, possum and hairy crabs.
Our trip netted us only a blurry scarlet ibis
Trinidad was claimed by Christopher
Columbus for Spain in 1498.
Trinidad & Tobago are home to over
430 species of birds, 620 different
species of butterflies (including the
Blue Emperor), 2,300 different
flowering shrubs and plants (700 of
which are orchids).  There are 108
different mammals including  57 bats
and 70 different reptiles. Oilbirds,
only found here and northern South
America, live in caves and maneuver
by sonar like bats. There are
fish-eating bats and vampire bats,
anacondas,  giant leatherback turtles,
capuchin and howler monkeys,
sightless fish, a unique golden tree frog
and an almost extinct bush turkey.
Of all the places we visited in Trinidad, the
one that exceeded all expectation was the
Asa Wright Nature Centre. Nestled in the
hills of the Arima Valley, we traveled
about 1½ hours by van to reach this
193-acre nature preserve.  Once a cocoa,
coffee & citrus plantation owned by Dr.
Henry and Mrs. Asa Wright, the main
house provides reception, the dining room,
parlour and verandah for the guests.
Separate bungalows offer rustic, but
comfortable accommodations. The
highlight is the abundance of birds and
wildlife which come to feed at dawn and
dusk just below the verandah.  Asa Wright
sold the house in 1967 to a group familiar
with the property who wished to protect
the area and  promote eco-tourism. It is
now considered one of the top 5 eco-tour
centers in the world.
Birds  sighted at Asa Wright:
  • Bananaquit
  • Purple Honeycreeper
  • Green Honeycreeper
  • Crested Oropendula
  • Blue-winged mountain tanager
  • Ruddy ground dove
  • Jacobin
  • Channel-billed toucan
  • Golden olive woodpecker
  • Vulture
  • Tufted coquette
  • Blue crowned motmot
  • Yellow oriole
  • Squirrel cuckoo
Shown here is the parlour of this wonderful old
house originally built in 1908.
The huge verandah was the most  popular
meeting spot for relaxation, chatting, drinks
and observing the wildlife. Very civilized!
There were several trails for walks and
hikes including interpretive tours by
center rangers.
We saw more than birds, however. Above, is a
local lizard, about 3 feet long, called a matte. We
also saw agouti, land crabs, bats and frogs. Two
snakes which live in Trinidad, the fer de lance
and the bushmaster, are lethal and considered
among the most poisonous snakes in the world.
Though they are “residents” of the nature center,
we didn’t see them. (Tank de Lord!).
Voted best picture taken on the trip...a jacobin viewed at 0600 from the
verandah. He was sipping nectar while I was sipping tea.
The end of a passage. We left Charleston, SC on 17 January 2002 and arrived in
Chaguaramas, Trinidad, West Indies on 30 July 2002.  We logged 2,652 nautical
miles and visited 17 countries. Time for some needed maintenance and repairs on
Nine of Cups. Time to relax in a marina with  land power which means air
conditioning, as many lights as we want and unlimited CD and radio playing,
unlimited water, dockside laundry…a myriad of amenities.  This also means no sea
breezes and boats so tight together, it’s closer to step onto your neighbor’s boat
than onto the wharf.
Where to next?  First, a month long trip to the States to visit friends and relatives
and meet our new granddaughter born in March. Then once all scheduled repairs
and upgrades are complete (hopefully by the end of September), we’ll head out to
Nine of Cups is now our “home”. We can wander through her at night with the
lights off and not even stub our toes any more! She’s sea kindly and seaworthy and
a most demanding mistress. We can’t seem imagine any other way of life.
Hot lips!
We also saw lots of interesting plants on
our many walks including this monkey
Marcie and good friend, Laura (Windswept II) try
the rouging effect of riccou which the locals use to
color lips and cheeks.
We stayed in Trinidad until October
2002 and then headed for
Come along with us if you can for our
first introduction to South America.
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