AUGUST--Projects and Tours

"On the Hard" a perfect time to take on additional projects and perform routine maintenance. Carl is especially good at making sure projects and tasks are on track to completion. He follows up with work we contracted out and personally takes on a task or job every day (except for Sunday which is his day of rest). One task he hated taking on was working on the windlass. Why his reluctance?  Not wanting to deal with any seized bolts and screws caused by saltwater corrosion. Finally took the windlass on with success---only a few seized screws.  Now he is trying to decide the best way to mark lengths (25, 50, 100, 125, 150, 200 feet) the anchor chain.

One of my exterior projects was to strip the paint from the cowl vents for the dorades. The paint was peeling  so rust was starting to build up and corrode the stainless steel. Purchased some paint stripper which worked so well that all I had to do to remove the paint was rinse the surface with water (no sanding required). Hired one of the boatyard painters, Rawle, to spray the vents with AwlGrip paint.  I was not satisfied with the Rawle's work because the area where the "tube" is welded to the cowl was all bumpy so it looked like the paint was cracked. Plus, this uneven surface is the perfect spot for saltwater to pool where it will do it's destruction. So,  I asked Rawle to sand that area, use a filler to smooth it out and then repaint. Three weeks later--I am still waiting for the vents to be repainted.  To be fair to Rawle, he went on holiday for a week and he wants to coordinate my "small job" with a larger job where is will be using white paint so I won't have to pay more money for paint! I wander the boatyard a couple times a week to find him and then remind him of his commitment to finish the job. Also, Rawle owes me--he asked me to write up a contract for painting another boat for him. I was glad to help him out. He doesn't know how to write very well.

I ventured into Port of Spain a couple times. The purpose of the first trip was to find upholstery fabric for the main salon cushions. Traveled with Tom & Rose (SOJOURN), Dave and Donna (MAGIC) and  Michelle and Dave (DANIELL STOREY). I was pretty intimidated by the crowds and pretty insecure---clutching my purse and constantly looking out for anyone who might harm me. On the second and third visit, I was much more comfortable walking around.

On August 15,  I went on a city tour of Port of Spain and then to a Pan Factory (where they make steel drums). I have been into Port of Spain a couple times but only to the downtown area where the fabric shops are located. It was good to see another part of Port of Spain. Grabbed takeout Chinese for lunch at Fort George where we had a fantastic view of the city and coastline. Yes, it did rain when we were up at the fort so the view was hazy but still beautiful. The Pan Factory was not a typical --a corrugated metal roof over the work area where one person, Tony, makes steel drums---one at a time.

The Queen's Park Savannah covers an area of 400 acres. It once was a large sugar estate that was later purchased by Governor Ralph Woodford in the early 1800s. He later donated the land to the city for public use. The walk that encircles the savannah provides a haven for fitness enthusiasts and those out for a leisurely stroll. The Queen's Park Savannah is also the location for many of the country's most exciting events, including Carnival and other cultural and international concerts. The government is building a new grand stand to replace two separate stands. This has upset some of the local Trinis  who prefer to have separate stands for carnival. One set for the guests or tourists and the other set for Trinis who love to get down and party!! 

The following set of pictures were taken while touring the Magnificent Seven. The Magnificent Seven are extravagant mansions lining the western side of the Queen's Park Savannah. All but one of the mansions were built in 1904. Yes, once they were magnificent but now they are pretty run down.  As you travel north along the Savannah, the seven mansions are: Queen's Royal College---a boys' secondary school; Hayes Court---the Anglican Bishop's residence; Mille Fleurs--once a private residence but now owned by the government; Roomo--a private residence; the Roman Catholic Archbishop's House; Whitehall---the Prime Minister's office; and Stollmeyer's Castle-- modeled on Queen Victoria's royal retreat at Balmoral in Scotland. The first picture is the Roman Catholic Archbishop's house. The second picture  is the Prime Minister's office or Whitehall. The third picture is Stollmeyer's Castle and the last picture is the tour group in front of the castle.

The following pictures were taken at Fort George which is located on the ridge over 1,000 feet above Port of Spain. It was built by the British in 1804 where all approaches to the capital were monitored and commanded. In addition to providing protection for the city, the fort was used as a safe place for merchants to deposit books and cash in the event of an invasion. The fort is a popular site with some well-preserved relics, including cannons and look-out stations. The grounds of the fort are beautiful with picnic facilities and the most spectacular view of the city and the coastline. The first picture is of the fort, second picture of the canons. Picture three shows the rainy weather that passed over as we ate lunch. The last picture is of our tour guide and owners of Members Only--Jesse James.

The steel pan was invented in Trinidad and Tobago in the 1930s. The instrument's roots are in rhythm bands--pots, pans, paint cans, biscuit tins - anything to play a rhythm. The instrument evolved from non-pitched instruments to cans with a just a few notes on the face to instruments constructed of 55-gallon oil barrels which contain an entire scale and allow players to perform in any key. Each pan is constructed by hand starting with the bottom of a 55-gallon oil barrel. The bottom is hammered out into a concave shape and the notes are marked on the surface of this "bowl." At the factory we visited, Tony used templates for each note. The edges of the template is "grooved or etched" into the surface by using a hammer and a nail punch. The lower-pitch notes are near the edge of the barrel while the higher pitches are towards the center. The sides of the barrel are cut to a specific length (or left full length for bass pans) depending on the range of the drum being produced. Higher-ranged instruments will have a shorter sides and lower-ranged instruments have longer sides. Tony tunes his pans by ear. Once the tuning is completed, the drum is set over a fire, to re-temper the steel. tempering makes the steel strong enough to withstand the rigors of performance (note: just a few years ago this was accomplished over open fires fueled by old tires). The final step is finishing the instrument's surface to prevent rusting by either chroming or painting. The single lead (or "tenor") pan is the highest-ranged pan--typically plays the melody in a pan band. Next is the double tenor which is two pans for melody or a harmonized version of the melody. The double seconds is two pans for playing chords but it is often the pan featured in an arrangement as the solo pan. The cello is 3-4 pans in a semicircle for bass lines, strums and melody. Quadraphonic pans are similar to the cello except there are two pans side-by-side in a semicircle with two other pans set vertically.  The bass pan typically has 3 different pitches so 6-8 pans are needed to complete the sound. 

The following 6 pictures were taken at the Pan Factory.  Meet the Owner/Employee/Artist, Tony in his backyard Pan Factory. Tony used to produce his pans in the local community center which is currently being renovated!  In the second picture, please note the raw materials located behind Tony to the left--a stack of steel drums. The third picture shows the tools of the trade---a canon ball and heavy hammer to pound on the bottom of the drum to form the bowl. In the fourth picture you see how a note template is traced onto the surface and later grooved. Picture number 5 shows a painted finished drum and the last picture is a shot of the tour group.

The following Monday, Rose (SOJOURN) and I went into Port of Spain to pick up the fabric for the cushions (finally decided a specific fabric after three trips). Before going to the fabric store we stopped in the Immaculate Conception Cathedral for a quick look. Picked up the fabric and then on our way back to the Maxi Taxi station we picked up a treat--a coconut pie which is a coconut turnover thing that is delicious.

Sunday morning I joined ten hikers for a vigorous walk--left the boatyard at 7 AM, returned at noon. We wanted to walk all the way to the top of the ridge just north of the boatyard. After walking 5.7 miles we met some mountain bikers on their way "down the trail"--asked them how much farther to the top??? They said we were probably a just little over half way there. The group decided it was too far to the top so we turned around. On the way down, we heard Howler Monkeys--their roar is so loud it can be heard for a distance of 3 miles. Never saw the monkeys but I could hear them drop from trees and run to hide as we approached them. Saw evidence of their presence--about 20 mangoes on the trail with 3-4 bites out of each. So we hiked for 5 hours covering over 11 miles. I as good until the very end when we were in open country in the heat around 11 AM and I was out of water. I was happy to return to the boat and then hit the shower to cool down. Have to admit that I slept for a couple hours in the afternoon--that heat can kill you or at least cause severe exhaustion. The group agreed to meet the following Monday for another walk.

The several new projects started  the week of August 18 and one completed. Carlos with Alpha Canvas started work on the dodger and bimini. We are using the same color of sunbrella fabric as we did in the past. Carlos is responsible for coordinating the stainless steel work with Third Coast. The dining table is back from the woodshop (Same Crew) where it was cut down to fit closer to the bulkhead. The resized table gives us so much more room around the nav station. David from The Upholstery Shop returned our main salon cushions---they look great. Now, I need to find the right fabric for accent pillows and perhaps some curtains for the main saloon fixed ports (windows) to keep out the harsh sunlight.  We are very satisfied with the new seat for the nav station---so comfortable and looks great.

A couple of Tuesdays ago, Carl and I joined a group of cruisers for "movie night". Went to see DARK KNIGHT the latest Batman movie. Had a great time at the movie, stopped for dinner and caught a Maxi Taxi home. While we were gone, someone came on board our boat. The intruder(s) took my new camera (Christmas gift from Carl) and all my TT money (Trinidad & Tobago currency). I could not believe it.  The next morning we contacted the management here at Power Boats. They reviewed their security tapes which didn't show anything. However, Power Boats is suspicious of another cruising boat in the yard with us. There have been other "break ins". Power Boat security boarded the suspicious boat--I can't tell you how it was justified but they went on board to look for our camera and another cruiser's computer with NO luck. When I found I wasn't getting my camera back--I started to cry. I didn't sleep for two nights thinking about someone coming onboard and going through my stuff. Carl told me to wipe away my tears that we've been through worse---the camera can be replaced AND we were lucky nothing else was taken (especially our credit and debit cards which were in my purse with the camera and $$$$). Currently we are doing research on digital cameras to replace the one that was stolen.

Sunday, August 24th I went on another hike---some of the same people who did the hike the previous Sunday plus a few more. This time we hired Maxi Taxi drivers to take us to the trail head. Walked to the top of the ridge where there was a huge satellite dish from when this area was used by the US military. Some of the braver hikers were converted to climbers--they scaled up that rusty old dish as the rest of us judged them to be "crazy". From the ridge we walked down to the beach where we could relax. The beach had lots of sea glass which I picked up for my collection.

The following pictures are during the Sunday hike. The first picture shows a few hikers entering the Bamboo Cathedral. Next is a picture of the Bamboo Cathedral. The third and fourth picture are nature pictures (Chaconia flower which is the national flower of Trinidad and a beautiful butterfly). Picture 5 is the satellite dish--picture 6 is one of the "crazy" hikers who climbed into the dish. The last two pictures show the view from the ridge to the beach and the last picture is of the hikers enjoying the beach after the walk to the ridge.

On August 27, we went on an overnight trip to the Asa Wright Nature Center which is a 200-acre bird sanctuary in the hills of Trinidad's Northern Range.  On the drive up to Asa Wright, Jesse, our Maxi Taxi driver introduced us to some delicious Trini food that is eaten (on the run) for breakfast---doubles. It is a sandwich made with two flat fried breads filled with curried chick peas and then topped with a variety of spicy chutneys and extra pepper sauce. At Asa Wright, we went on two nature hikes where we saw exotic birds--toucans, manikins, parrots, and the bearded bellbird. Asa Wright is proud of its Oilbird Colony. The Oilbird is the only nocturnal, fruit-eating bird in the World. It spends the daylight hours roosting or nesting in caves. The oilbird is pretty big---16-19" tall with a wing span 3 ft.  At night they forage in the surrounding forests for the fruit of palms, laurels, incense and camphor.  While we did not see an Oilbird, our hike took us by their colony so we could hear them---they sound like cats fighting! Spent several hours sitting on the veranda of the old plantation house watching hummingbirds, honeycreepers, doves, woodpeckers and oropendola as well as beautiful butterflies.  The coffee and citrus juice served at the nature center was grown onsite. Our room was comfortable with a huge shower. Three meals were included in our package--the food was good (lamb for dinner, eggs and bacon for breakfast and caribbean chicken for lunch). I want to mention that this trip wasn't exactly Carl's "cup of tea"! Thanks Carl going with me and making the effort to enjoy it.

The first picture below was taken in our room. Behind Carl is an enclosed porch with two Adirondack Chairs for relaxing. Picture two and three is of us watching birds on the veranda. The fourth and fifth picture is the view looking south from the veranda (note the sacks hanging from the trees which Oropendola nests in picture four).

The next group of pictures were taken from the veranda in the morning. The birds in the first picture are Oropendola. The little creature in the second picture is an agouti (a forest-dwelling rodent that forages for fruits and nuts). This agouti picked off fruit that dropped off the bird feeding table.

The next six pictures were taken on our morning walk. The first three pictures are "flowers"--some type of orchid, the pink Powder Puff and last is the Sexy Pink Heliconia. The fourth picture is of Carl and our guide, Isaac. Picture five is a coffee plant and the last picture is me relaxing on the veranda before lunch with the local paper in my hand.

On August 31, we attended a Labor Day Celebration sponsored by the US Marine Corp. The US government leases a beautiful home near the US Embassy to house about 4-5 Marines who are responsible for guarding the embassy. The Marines invited Americans staying in Trinidad to a party at their home. About 20 cruisers attended  along with people who work at the embassy and other Americans working in Trinidad---especially in the petroleum industry. Had a great time. The Marines grilled chicken, hamburgers and hotdogs and served refreshments. The house was furnished for young, single people. The living room did not have furniture---only a full size pool table. The dining room table was pushed back against the window to make room for a game table. The family room was furnished with comfortable sofas while the wall was lined with huge TV screens. The kitchen was huge. We were not allowed to go upstairs but I took photos of the staircase.

Submitted by:
Marilyn Thoreson
September 1, 2008