Thursday, November 30, 2006

First Swim

If you read the last entry, you might be wondering about the falling off the dock bit. Here is the story.

It was launch day. Launch days are always filled with anxiety - will Vagus float?, will any of the below-water fittings leak?, will the engine start?, will I remember how to get into a dock? - you get the picture. Our launch time was 3:00 in the afternoon and by noon we were ready. All we could do was sit and wait and worry. Promptly at 2:30 the crew came to get the boat ready to lift and at 3:00 we were floating. I quickly scurried around the boat, checking all through hulls for leakage. None found, I gave the signal to the launch crew that all was okay. They keep the slings on the boat until this signal so the boat can be rapidly lifted if the water misbehaves and does not stay on the outside. Next I went to start the engine. I pushed the starter switch and, with a big puff of black smoke, the motor kicked into life making all those comforting, rumbling sounds. Life is good! The line handlers threw the lines to Karen and we motored out into Chaguaramas harbour.

Karen now had to get all the lines and fenders in place for "The Docking". We putted around the harbour while she made numerous trips around the boat adding and adjusting fenders. By 4:00 we were heading for the dock. Karen radioed some friends who had offered to help us with our lines - one never refuses help docking! In we went, splitting the tie-up posts on our way to the dock. Everything worked and soon we were secure. Time to breath again. We got Vagus settled in and, as darkness approached, we decided to go for a shower. Our dock only had a short finger sticking out near the bow to climb on and, depending on the wind or the current, Vagus was sometimes close to the finger and sometimes quite far away. Most of the time she was far away as Vagus has an aversion to hard things. I quickly put a line from the cleat on the dock to a cleat on Vagus so we could pull Vagus close to the finger, allowing us to get off or on.

After our shower, we were exhausted. It had been a long day. We had very little food aboard so went up to the local restaurant in the marina for dinner. The restaurant was full but another Canadian couple recognized us and invited us to sit at their table. We had a wonderful dinner with them and headed back to Vagus about 9:00pm in the pitch dark. We were really looking forward to our bed by this time. Vagus was well away from the dock so, grabbing the "quickly tied" line to bring Vagus closer, I leaned back and pulled hard. At that particular moment, the line decided that it had enough of all this pulling and tugging, and undid itself from the cleat on Vagus. I found myself now holding a very limp line while angled well backwards, looking down at very black water. I was definitely going for a swim. There was no alternative. I did a very neat half flip between the boat beside us and the dock finger into the water. Now Chaguaramas is a commercial port and the water quality leaves something to be desired. In fact, I would never even dream of swimming in the harbour. This was definitely going to be a first. Fortunately the water was at least warm. And black, so I couldn't see what was in the water with me. Now, floating in the dark water after cleverly losing my flip flops and flashlight, the next problem was "how am I going to get out?". There are no dock ladders - this is the Caribbean, man! With no line attached to Vagus, Karen could not get Vagus close enough to the dock to climb on and lower the swim ladder. Slowly I swam around to the stern of Vagus and saw that, fortunately, the boat beside us had their ladder down. Karen knocked on their hull to warn them that a strange, very wet person was soon to appear. They were a very nice German couple who, although they understood very little English, understood at once what had happened as I emerged from the water up their boarding ladder. "Ah Neptune!" the lady exclaimed. We had a good laugh as I dripped along their boat towards the dock. Karen by now had managed to get aboard Vagus and went to get a towel and clothes for me. I needed another shower.

Laundered Money

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

We Be Here!

This post is a bit of a test. We are using our HAM e-mail system to update our web site. If it works, we will be able to update the site while we are on the move and do not have to search out internet cafes. We actually compose the e-mail on our computer, then transmit it on a high frequency to a shore station many miles away. The shore station captures our signal and routes the information to the internet. Shore stations are located all over the world so we pick one that provides us with a good connection. The shore stations are set up and run by volunteers and all the software to accomplish these tasks has been written by volunteers. And with a HAM licence, it is free. The whole system is really quite amazing and we really appreciate the work and dedication of all the volunteers.

We have been in Trinidad for two hectic weeks. We left Toronto on the 16th of November in pouring rain and 7C weather and arrived in Trinidad in pouring rain and 30C weather. The humidity sort of took our breath away. In the last few weeks we prepped Vagus for launch, launched Vagus 4 days after arrival (a record for us), I fell off the dock, we cleaned Vagus inside and out, put up the sails, inflated the dinghy, provisioned with enough food for about three months, and now we are nearly ready to travel.

Now the interesting point is, really, when did we feel we truly arrived? For me it was last Monday - another baking hot day. I was returning from one of my numerous trips to the local chandler to purchase more boat parts. I realized I was walking at my Caribbean shuffle pace - sort of a lazy saunter that does not bring out a sweat in the hot sun. Gone was the arm swinging, power walking acquired during life up North. No, the saunter felt good. I be here!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Trinidad Bound!

Well, the leaves are falling, the temperature is dropping and we are packing. Take heart for next week we will be sweltering in 30C temperatures and buckets of humidity, trying to do a few boat jobs that must be done before we launch. It is not all sandy beaches and rum punches, you know (it is funny that I never get much sympathy when I make this claim out loud). We then hope to catch our breath at Coral Cove Marina, in Chaguaramas, Trinidad, stock up Vagus and head up island. Where? We are not sure so you will have to stay tuned or, I should say, connected.

As you can see, we have now joined the wonderful world of blogs. Hopefully, we will be able to post text messages directly from the boat (still to be confirmed) and pictures when we reach terra firma. We will not be able to respond to comments until we are shore side so please be patient with our responses.

So for all our winter bound family and friends, have a safe and happy winter, and enjoy the white stuff.