Unwinding at Chacachacare Island

Customs and Immigration are pretty strict in Trinidad. They require a tie-up at the Custom's dock (though they don't inspect the vessel) and immediate check-in upon arrival. We were all secure and tied up at the dock at 0845 and standing in line at 0900. The lines at Immigration and Customs were long and slow. We filled out all the requisite forms in duplicate and triplicate, using well-worn carbon paper that Columbus had no doubt used sometime in the past. The waiting area had lots of seats and a movie was playing on the TV. When we were finally called to the front counter, the Immigration officer was pleasant and informative. An hour later, we headed to Customs. We filled in several more forms providing all the same information we had provided to Immigration, paid our TT$50 (~US$9) and headed back to Cups. We dawdled long enough to pick up a SIM card and a data package for Internet, check with YSAT for a mooring and say hello to Sharon Rose and Jesse at Members Only, the SSCA Cruising Station Hosts whom we'd met on our last visit to Trinidad in 2002. YSAT had no moorings available and observing the crowded anchorage on our way in was discouraging. What to do? We remembered enjoying the anchorage off Chacachacare Island back in 2002. New Customs rules required a permit to go there. David went back to the Customs office to ask, and amazingly, the officer provided the permit within minutes.

We threaded our way back through the madding crowd of masts and frenzied boat traffic, past all the marinas, past Gasparillo Island and out of Chagaramas Bay. Just 7 nm away was a calm, beautiful paradise. We dropped the hook on the north side of Chacachacare Bay in 15' of clear, we-can-see-the-bottom water. Not another boat was in sight.

chacachacare island chart

First things first … we considered this the end of our passage from Cape Town to Trinidad and Neptune was due his tot of rum.

thanks neptune

We had a long list of chores and things to accomplish before we hauled Nine of Cups, but we had a few days to complete them and after several nights with minimal sleep, we opted to take the rest of the day off. No work … just relaxation … and a little planning. We had a late afternoon lunch and sipped cold beer, then took a refreshing dip in the cool, clear water. We watched some brown pelicans sitting on an old cement pier watching their cousins swoop and dive and soar gracefully inches above the water. Vultures circled overhead, but they weren't waiting for us. We had our work schedule and lists all planned, but tomorrow is another day.

vultures at trinidad

Chacachacare Island, by the way, is quite an historical place. Over the years it has been a whaling station, a leper colony, a cotton plantation and, during WWII, an American military base. We can see an abandoned building ashore and other abandoned buildings across the bay. Midst the planned work schedule, I'm sure we'll do a bit of exploring. Hmm … I'd better let the Captain know.

cups at anchor