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#1 Jan 23, 2018 12:13 am

New Historian
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Sooner by Schooner

Among the Eastern Caribbean, there are many discarded old European ships that long ago failed any internationally recognized safety tests, and found themselves washed upon the lawless shores of the Caribbean. Here they continue to eke out a living for their owner/captains, moving from port to port as the trade demands - the original tramp steamers.

These schooners are the living embodiment of “unseaworthy”: any marine surveyor would have conniptions! Rusted and broken stanchions (railings); important pieces of deck equipment falling to bits; clumsy cargo handling; atrocious accommodation; zero safety features and rust everywhere. Every Tuesday evening, three vessels sail from Grenada, bound for Port-of-Spain: Ocean Princess II, Little Desrine and Eldica David; all departing at around 8PM and arriving Trinidad by about 9-10AM the following morning. A fourth vessel, the Mary G, sails from Grenville, arriving at the same time. In addition, vessels arrive from St Lucia and Saint Vincent – the Caricom wharf in Port-of-Spain can get pretty congested on a Wednesday morning.

On this trip I was accompanied by my friend Zoo. We were off to Trinidad to do what everyone else does: buy stuff. Bring your own foam, cooler and sleeping bag; and find whatever space on deck that looks reasonably clean. Apart from the constant smell of diesel fuel, which fills your nostrils and impregnates every item of clothing, you can get a fairly decent night’s sleep on deck.

We awoke to the beautiful sight of the northern range of Trinidad looming. Approaching Port-of-Spain you thread your way through the Bocas, we passed close by Carrera, Trinidad’s Devil's Island.

By comparison with the journey southbound, where the vessels are almost empty, for the northbound leg they are all loaded to the gills, with an assorted cargo of soft drinks, steel rods, building materials, foodstuffs, gas bottles, car parts, diapers and practically everything else that Grenada imports from our industrialized neighbour to the south. Sleeping space on deck is a valuable commodity.

After several delays, we eventually sailed for Grenada at around nine PM. By ten we were back in port. The steering gear had broken; we wouldn’t be going anywhere that night. We had to sweet talk the security guard into letting him out for the night, because technically we hadn’t re-cleared into Trinidad. The following morning, repairs were made to the boat’s steering gear; and we finally sailed for Grenada at around 3:00 on Friday afternoon.

In the overall realm of possibilities, this was a fairly benign breakdown; there are horror stories of the things that can go wrong. In one infamous voyage not long ago, a Grenadian vessel broke down midway between Trinidad and Grenada. The boat drifted for three days, during which time they survived on Crix biscuits and soft drinks, until they washed up on the shore of Isla Margarita, Venezuela. When they were all promptly arrested, for entering the country illegally! This sparked an international incident which wasn’t resolved until Grenada sent another boat to pick up its stranded citizens.

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#2 Jan 23, 2018 11:29 am

Dancer
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Re: Sooner by Schooner

Crix biscuits ??

Lord ,  New Historian , what are those ?
.....

You will hear from Expat in a little while.

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#3 Jan 24, 2018 10:04 pm

Expat
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Re: Sooner by Schooner

Dancer wrote:

Crix biscuits ??

Lord ,  New Historian , what are those ?
.....

You will hear from Expat in a little while.

Sorry, all I have done is be a helmsman on a boat from Sauteres in between Sugar loaf and down to Grenville (fun navigating the last bit), although I now remember the same boat had a fuel blockage coming back from an overnight sortie on Isle de Ronde. Where we bobbed for an hour or so while repairs were effected.

PS. If you go with a group camping do not share a tent with someone who snores, I got not one jot of sleep, and spent the night watching iridescent waves breaking on our little beach, and lights on the mainland, Shades of Pirates of the Caribbean...

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#4 Jan 24, 2018 10:38 pm

New Historian
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Re: Sooner by Schooner

"PS. If you go with a group camping do not share a tent with someone who snores"

My older brother Gerry, bless his adenoids, is a real drone machine: loud and long. But the worst thing is: he falls asleep in a heartbeat, so forget about catching some zzzs before the snorefest.

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#5 Jan 24, 2018 10:52 pm

Expat
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Re: Sooner by Schooner

New Historian wrote:

"PS. If you go with a group camping do not share a tent with someone who snores"

My older brother Gerry, bless his adenoids, is a real drone machine: loud and long. But the worst thing is: he falls asleep in a heartbeat, so forget about catching some zzzs before the snorefest.


This seems to be a common feature of regular snorers. They go to sleep in a split second, and you just don't.

Somebody who's name I shall not mention, nor their relationship to me not only snores erratically, but makes all kind of weird noises. If it is a predictable snore so long as it isn't at 150decibels it's possible to switch it out, but when it's fitful you cant forget it's happening.

Beware the heavy snorer, it is quite possible the have sleep apnia which is why they fall asleep so easily, as they themselves do not get a good nights sleep... dying 5-10 times a night will really make you tired.

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