14/15 April - Safe arrival in Trinidad to complete Atlantic crossing

Mon/Tues 14/15th April '08

Well so much for plans - I tried to continue helming over Sunday night from around 9.30pm into Monday, looking for for a daylight landfall, but hadn't been able to get any sleep as planned so soon realized I was way too tired to sail on. Wasn't sensible to continue, so hove to and closed my eyes... blissful sleep for 6 hours!

I was still 97 mls away from Chaguaramas, so clearly would be making a night landfall - but having been to Chaguaramas before, felt that would be OK. I'd heaved to on port tack which meant the north-going current was offset somewhat by our fore-reaching with the E wind - we made just 0.3 kn so didn't move far, much better than the previous time I heaved to when we went several miles north which made my subsequent sail more difficult since almost on a dead run....

By 7am Monday, I got sailing again, after having had breakfast, in following seas and E 20kn wind which by midday had become 15kn. Not long after, in the Tobago Channel, I realized I could see Tobago - I was equidistant from Scarborough, its capital, and the NE point of Trinidad - very tempted to go to Tobago but resisted!! I'd noticed a definite slackening of foul current when about 75 mls off NE Trinidad and by late afternoon, with just 44 mls in total to go, I was enjoying a beautiful, far more
calm, aquamarine sea (the waters being quite shallow around Trinidad) and an increasing fair current but having difficulty protecting myself against the bright sun - I have no awning in the cockpit. A couple of times, dolphins visited the boat - even a tuna, I'm sure. All chasing after small flying fish - interesting to watch them all darting about.

The day was fine but as it wore on, the high hills on the north coast of Trinidad that I was passing got increasingly cloudy until later there was often fine mist in the air - a beautiful rainbow almost seemed to finish beside me at one point. I'd forgotten how rainy Trinidad is but was lucky to be well away from land and so got little rain.

It was calm enough for me to be able to leave the wheel safely for a very short while and drop the staysail - it wasn't doing anything useful any more - and also put out fenders and mooring lines ready for docking later. I was now motorsailing - I'd wanted to charge the batteries earlier but when I'd gone to switch on the engine, it wouldn't start so I'd had to use a screwdriver to bypass the cockpit ignition switch & felt it would be safest to leave the engine running until I docked to prevent
any further worries on that score.

I came safely down the Monos Channel and around to Chaguaramas Bay - lots of unlit hulks and boats and mooring buoys to avoid so I slowed right down and crawled east until I found myself nearing the Customs Dock where I stepped off and tied up in the early morning dark. I then went to the head before getting to sleep - it was FULL of water...the shower had somehow got turned on... so I had to pump a LOT of water out of the head compartment and the carpet in the main cabin had got thoroughly wet
also ...grr! A bit later than I'd intended, I got to a very welcome sleep.

...... more anon.....

Written by : Mike

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