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#1 Sep 01, 2017 5:08 pm

New Historian
Active

Sailing to Trinidad on our rust-bucket schooners

So far I have travelled on two of these schooners; the names of which shall remain nameless (I may need to travel on them again!). Weather permitting; it’s actually quite a pleasant trip from Grenada to Trinidad by schooner, about 12-13 hours overnight. However, it is not for the faint hearted. These schooners are the living embodiment of “unseaworthy”: any self-respecting 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.

There is very little cargo moving southbound, mainly agricultural produce like yams, plantains, bananas and whatever else is in season; all packed in pallets and loaded on board using the ship’s cranes (there are no shore cranes). The process for loading fuel is even more haphazard; the ship’s cranes lift enormous drums of diesel from trucks, swaying ominously, spilling fuel onto the deck. The loaded drums are manhandled into position in the hold; from whence the fuel is siphoned off into the ship’s tanks – more spillage.

On this particular trip I was 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. Correction: whatever space that isn’t absolutely filthy and covered in oil. Fortunately the seas that night were calm, which made for a pleasant night under the stars – apart from the brief shower at two o’clock in the morning. And from the constant smell of diesel fuel, which fills your nostrils and impregnates every item of clothing.

We awoke to the beautiful sight of the northern range of Trinidad looming. We passed close by Carrera Island Prison, Trinidad’s own version of Devil's Island. It's only half mile from the shore but the waters are said to be shark infested. Right on cue, we passed by a huge hammerhead soon afterwards. We docked at the Caricom wharf at 9:00AM, squeezing in between Ocean Princess and a Vincy boat; grimy, grubby but happy!

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 giant to the south. Sleeping space on deck is always a valuable commodity on the return trip.

We eventually left Port of Spain for Grenada at around nine Thursday night. One hour later we were back in Port of Spain. The steering gear had broken; we wouldn’t be going anywhere that night. We had to sweet talk the security guard into letting us 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; we finally sailed for Grenada at around 3:00 on Friday afternoon.

In the overall realm of possibilities, that 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.

It’s a tough old life, on the Caribbee Sea!

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#2 Sep 01, 2017 7:58 pm

Real Distwalker
Active

Re: Sailing to Trinidad on our rust-bucket schooners

Good story.  Last fall my son sailed from Grenada to Trinidad on a 36' sloop.   You may see my daughter in the area.  She is crewing a 160' superyacht heading to the Caribbean next month.  For Iowans, we have the sea in our blood.

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#3 Sep 01, 2017 10:54 pm

New Historian
Active

Re: Sailing to Trinidad on our rust-bucket schooners

Wow, big up to your pair of sailing siblings, even I'M proud of them lol! Every time I see those superyacht crews in Grenada (ALL of them super-fit, super-tanned and super-happy lol!), I think: wow, if I was just .... "X" years younger! It's a good life and the crews hone their highly marketable skills, and learn discipline too: when "themselves" are on board, EVERYTHING has to be "ship-shape and Bristol Fashion"! Or else....

And sailing a 36' sloop up from Trinidad? Respec. Note to self: It's been TOO LONG since I've been on a trip!

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#4 Sep 01, 2017 11:13 pm

Real Distwalker
Active

Re: Sailing to Trinidad on our rust-bucket schooners

She is crewing a Jamaican flagged boat out of Newport Beach California.  She will be heading for the Panama Canal and the Caribbean next month.  The owner is only on it about a month of the year and the rest of the time it is in charter.  She is a jack of all trades and is a qualified helmsman.  Of course she serves drinks, polishes brass, varnishes  brightwork and lives in a cabin that is the size of a closet.  She is a 5'11" thin, fit blonde girl loving life.  Other crew members are from around the world. South Africa, Denmark, Australia...

As for, "If I was just....X", no doubt sir.  I have pangs of jealousy every time she texts me a photo.

That's her in the middle with other crewmembers.

19884014_3106402937058_6046572412817419977_n.jpg

Last edited by Real Distwalker (Sep 01, 2017 11:16 pm)

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#5 Sep 02, 2017 1:39 am

New Historian
Active

Re: Sailing to Trinidad on our rust-bucket schooners

I don't wanna say she looks lovely as that sounds a bit creepy, Trumpian lol, but ... she looks lovely! Hey I've got two sons, twins, in Grenada: hale and handsome fellows, earning a decent enough living, she can take her pick lol!! Seriously my sons live in Grenada and they know everybody, and everything lol, if she needs some introductions ...

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#6 Sep 02, 2017 8:35 am

Real Distwalker
Active

Re: Sailing to Trinidad on our rust-bucket schooners

If she gets to Grenada, I will contact you.  Thanks.

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#7 Sep 02, 2017 9:12 am

Dancer
Active

Re: Sailing to Trinidad on our rust-bucket schooners

Nice looking daughter , not a member of the tea Party,  I hope.
BTW....did you informed her about your posting of her pics on TS.

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#8 Sep 02, 2017 10:01 am

Real Distwalker
Active

Re: Sailing to Trinidad on our rust-bucket schooners

It is her public photo on Facebook so it was available to the world already.

She was valedictorian in high school and graduated college in three and a half years with a bachelor's degree in economics.  Politically, she is aligned with me.

Last edited by Real Distwalker (Sep 02, 2017 10:11 am)

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#9 Sep 02, 2017 11:05 am

Slice
Active

Re: Sailing to Trinidad on our rust-bucket schooners

Dancer wrote:

Nice looking daughter , not a member of the tea Party,  I hope.
BTW....did you informed her about your posting of her pics on TS.


Ok GAWD Dancer gee the man ah break nah.  Is not like he post ah naked pic of his daughter. He is proud of his child. Let him be.

Last edited by Slice (Sep 02, 2017 11:07 am)

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#10 Sep 02, 2017 11:06 am

Slice
Active

Re: Sailing to Trinidad on our rust-bucket schooners

New Historian wrote:

So far I have travelled on two of these schooners; the names of which shall remain nameless (I may need to travel on them again!). Weather permitting; it’s actually quite a pleasant trip from Grenada to Trinidad by schooner, about 12-13 hours overnight. However, it is not for the faint hearted. These schooners are the living embodiment of “unseaworthy”: any self-respecting 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.

There is very little cargo moving southbound, mainly agricultural produce like yams, plantains, bananas and whatever else is in season; all packed in pallets and loaded on board using the ship’s cranes (there are no shore cranes). The process for loading fuel is even more haphazard; the ship’s cranes lift enormous drums of diesel from trucks, swaying ominously, spilling fuel onto the deck. The loaded drums are manhandled into position in the hold; from whence the fuel is siphoned off into the ship’s tanks – more spillage.

On this particular trip I was 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. Correction: whatever space that isn’t absolutely filthy and covered in oil. Fortunately the seas that night were calm, which made for a pleasant night under the stars – apart from the brief shower at two o’clock in the morning. And from the constant smell of diesel fuel, which fills your nostrils and impregnates every item of clothing.

We awoke to the beautiful sight of the northern range of Trinidad looming. We passed close by Carrera Island Prison, Trinidad’s own version of Devil's Island. It's only half mile from the shore but the waters are said to be shark infested. Right on cue, we passed by a huge hammerhead soon afterwards. We docked at the Caricom wharf at 9:00AM, squeezing in between Ocean Princess and a Vincy boat; grimy, grubby but happy!

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 giant to the south. Sleeping space on deck is always a valuable commodity on the return trip.

We eventually left Port of Spain for Grenada at around nine Thursday night. One hour later we were back in Port of Spain. The steering gear had broken; we wouldn’t be going anywhere that night. We had to sweet talk the security guard into letting us 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; we finally sailed for Grenada at around 3:00 on Friday afternoon.

In the overall realm of possibilities, that 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.

It’s a tough old life, on the Caribbee Sea!

Not me.  I am faint heated, so include me out.  Hist, you are really having fun.

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