Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The 2007 Cruising Plan

So, where are we going this year?

We've been thinking hard about this question for many months now. Unlike many cruisers whom we meet, we don't appear to be inclined to 'live' in a cruising ground. Some cruisers have cruised The Bahamas, or the BVI, or the Eastern Caribbean, for years. Some stay in one anchorage for months. This doesn't seem to be us -- we seldom stay in an anchorage more than a week (unless forced by weather) and every season we have looked for new places to visit. And we've seen most of the fish (species) in the Caribbean.

So -- we're going into the Pacific. We've been researching the subject, and hunting for new cruising guides over the summer. Today we traded many of our Caribbean and Bahamas charts and guides -- so I guess we're getting committed.

The Plan --
  • We'll leave Trinidad in early November and head west. We'll visit the islands off Venezuela and spend Christmas in Bonaire. We'll visit Panama's San Blas Islands in the new year and then go through the Canal, probably in February.
  • It's a long way across the South Pacific. It's a long way to the first stop in the Galapagos Islands (1000 miles) and an even longer way to the second stop in the Marquesas (3000 miles). After that island groups are closer together. It's the southern hemisphere so the Cyclone (hurricane) Season is during our winter -- November to April. We must arrive in the Marquesas no earlier than April, and get out of the risk area by November.
  • So we have about six months to explore the islands of the South Pacific -- French Polynesia (Tahiti, Bora Bora), Cook Islands (Raratonga), Tonga, Samoa, Fiji. That's a lot of diving.
  • We're thinking of spending the 2007-8 Cyclone Season in Australia. Then in 2008 we'll go diving in the Solomon Islands, and then ... who knows?
Apart from buying cruising guides, we've been making a few other purchases with this plan in mind -- an Iridium satphone, Nobeltec charting software and Passport World Charts, both to give us worldwide scope. Also we've been replacing some aging equipment -- our generator, bimini top, trampolines, and window covers.

The longest journey begins with a first step -- getting our refit completed so we can get out of Trinidad.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Festival of Lights

Saturday, we joined a large group of yachties, in a tour organized by Jesse James, to experience the Hindu Divali Festival -- The Festival of Lights.

We were taken to a village near Chaguanas where, presumably, there's a particularly large Hindu population. After a briefing in the temple, some very loud Tasa drumming, and some elegant dancing, we ate a meal of traditional Hindu food served up on huge leaves.

After the meal we just wandered the streets. Most every house had lit hundreds of small oil lamps in clay pots and placed these in regular patterns across their yard. Many also had fairy lights and there were more lights over the streets. People set off fireworks and played loud indian music.

A Divali tradition is to give gifts of sweets to neighbors and passers-by so we completed our stroll with our hands full of bags and paper plates.

It was an interesting evening. We had never heard of this festival and, despite having visited Bali, know little about the Hindu culture.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Launch Day

Today, we're back in the water with pristine new bottom paint. Out of the yard in 10 days isn't bad. State of the projects:

  • Bottom paint and topside polishing -- done (obviously). We've added a stripe of 'plum' anti-fouling above our regular red to stealthily raise the waterline to fight algae growth. It looks good.
  • Replaced five through-hulls, one of which was leaking.
  • Engine and saildrive service -- done. New seals, zincs, oil, etc.
  • The new Northern Lights generator is in situ, thanks to an hour with a crane. Installation will be completed in the water in Coral Cove Marina.
  • New trampolines -- installed. The seat belt webbing looks good. We're still waiting for some new textilene window covers.
  • New hard bimini -- didn't happen. Calypso Marine made the piece of fiberglass, but the installation guys hadn't started by the time we were otherwise ready to launch. It looks like we'll be finishing the job ourselves.
  • Re-setting port stancions, watermaker service, outboard service, SSB grounding, ... -- to be done in Coral Cove.

We'll be in Coral Cove 2-3 weeks. We still have a lot left to do.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

On the hard in Trinidad

Ginger and I are back aboard Dos Gatos in Trinidad. However, Dos Gatos is not in the water. We arrived last Thursday to find her still inaccessible in the Peakes secure storage. Eventually, we found the travel-lift operators and they brought her out so that we had somewhere to sleep for the night. Now we are living abourd while various essential maintenance tasks are completed. Some by us, but many by contractors. We don't like being in the yard -- the restrooms are 100 yards away, our rented air conditioning unit has been unreliable and insufficient, and the boat's a mess.

The fiberglass repairs, bottom painting and engine services are in hand but we are waiting for new trampolines that we ordered before we left, and for our new generator to be installed, and for our new fiberglass bimini to be installed. We're launching next week anyway and the contractors will have to finish these jobs in Coral Cove Marina where we'll be much more comfortable.

If all goes to plan we'll be maintained and provisioned out by early November and on our way. We're setting off west through the offshore islands of Venezuela to the ABC (Aruba-Bonaire-Curacao) islands. Thence to the San Blas Islands of Panama, and on to the CANAL itself. We expect to be in the Pacific Ocean by next spring.