“The rainy season in Charlotteville extends past Christmas,” said Clarence Thomas, by way of explaining why he opposed the November Pirogue Festival date, “I suggested it should be in July.”
“You see, the merchants here depend on this festival to make some money, and if it gets rained out, they don’t make anything. It should be held in July. It never rains in July in Charlotteville.”
But Clarence Thomas, who runs Tanty’s Restaurant and Bar here where we can get ice cold Stag beers and watch CNN, is an outsider in Charlotteville; he’s only been here a few years, and outsiders are not held in high regard in Charlotteville. So his advice was discarded, even though, year after year, to hear him tell it, the Charlotteville Pirogue Festival gets rained out in November.
Sunday, November 25, was the date of this year’s Charlotteville Pirogue Festival. It rained Friday, November 23. It rained Saturday November 24. And it rained Sunday morning, November 25, but by the afternoon it was clear, so this year’s Charlotteville Pirogue Festival wasn’t exactly rained out. It was just a little soggy. We went. We had fun. We got a little wet, but not bad. The rum merchants, and a couple of restaurant owners, got some of our money but we have no way of knowing if the festival met their expectations. Being outsiders ourselves we weren’t exactly in the inner circle here in Charlotteville.
Nobody shared their business results with us.
But we stayed ‘till dark, watched the Pirogue race (Pirogues are small fishing boats with big outboard motors, not meat pies) drank some rum, got our ears blown out by the biggest sound system I have ever seen or heard, bar none, and generally had a good time.
The music went on all night, we could hear it, but by Monday morning all was quiet and the whole town was dead, not a living soul to be seen. Assumedly they were all inside somewhere counting their receipts.
We like Charlotteville. It is a scenic little town nestled in the valley at the head of Man of War Bay, on the north end of Tobago Island, surrounded by mountains and it is blessed with an abundance of water.
Sunshine, on the other hand, is parceled out sparingly. Our water tanks are full but our solar panels are getting a vacation.
Still, we love it here. The town is nice, the bay protected, and the bus ride to Scarborough, where the nearest supermarket is to be found, is stunning. We took that bus once, (twice, if you count the return trip). The road is narrow and twisting, and the drivers go pretty fast. We were lucky; we only had four close calls and one minor crash. Now we know why some sailors here sail the twenty-five miles rather than chance that bus ride.
Charlotteville is also an out-of-the-way gathering point for international yachts and we’ve met some old friends here: Shady Lady, from Langkawi, whom we last met in Africa, Top to Top and Artic, both we know from St. Helena, and a few other boats. It is an insider’s stop on the ‘round the world circuit.
But our stay here in Charlotteville is coming to an end. We’ve enjoyed it but we’ve got places to go, people to see. And I need a new phone; somehow mine got wet and is ruined. Tomorrow we will set sail for Grenada.
We had a plan to leave Crews Inn Marina in Trinidad Wednesday at 13:00, motor to Scotland Bay, anchor there and relax for a few hours before setting out into the Atlantic just before nightfall.
The reality was that after the trials of getting out of Chaguarmas and then having boat problems on the way to Scotland Bay (easily fixed, but still…) when it came time to up the anchor again neither Judy or I had much enthusiasm for the idea. All we wanted to do was take a nap.
So we stayed. That was Wednesday.
It rained for two days; rained hard. We filled the water tanks and did a lot of sleeping but by Friday we were ready go, rain or not, and so late Friday afternoon we weighed the anchor and motored out of the Boca into the Atlantic Ocean, looking for some wind and looking for that next paradise.
Sunrise found us beating towards the Island of Tobago and by mid-morning we fetched up in Store Bay, Tobago.
Then we had customs and immigration to deal with.
It seems that when you clear out for Grenada you’re supposed to show up in Grenada, not back in Trinidad and Tobago, which in fact, is one country. We spent the better part of Saturday trekking back and forth between official’s offices before getting all the proper stamps and documents. But we did it and so we were made legal.
Store Bay was alright, we stayed for a few days, it rained a bit, and then we thought we’d mosey on up the coast to Charlotteville and see the sights along the way.
The first stop was Mt. Irvine Bay and that was OK too; it rained some more and we filled the tanks again, met a few nice folks anchored there and watched the surfers, but the next two stops were impossible. Both Castera Bay and Parlatuvre were rough and crowded with fishing boats. Parlatuvre in fact was so small it would have been downright dangerous to stay there with only about 100 feet of broiling water between us and the rocks behind us after anchoring clear of the fishing boats. We could not stay.
The only thing to do was to head onward to Charlotteville and hope we got there before dark and hope it was a good spot.
It turned out to be a nice sail, even if it was a twenty mile beat for the day; we had steady winds and a long blue swell and we made good time to weather. We dropped the hook in a very nice place called Pirates Bay just around the corner from the bustling village of Charlotteville, Tobago. Here we might stay for a while; it is quiet and scenic.
I fell in love with this place the first time I saw it, coming in through the Boca on that morning in May with the soaring birds overhead and a new country on our horizon; there it was off to the left, a small bay, surrounded by mountains and green trees and shimmering blue waters and a few anchored sailboats, passing by us without fanfare, not mentioned in the guide books. But it captured me; it looked stunning on that morning back then on our arrival to Trinidad, and it still does.
So we came again to Scotland Bay now, in October, when the moon is full and the season beginning to turn and we dropped the hook and it is a magical place with mountains on three sides, four if you count the dog leg on the way in, and no houses, just birds circling and fishes surfacing with a gentle swish. It is Nature.
There are three or four boats sharing Scotland Bay with us, a German boat way back at the head of the bay, keeping to themselves, and a Santa Cruise 70 called Hotel California, anchored near us; the captain, Steve, is painting the deck. Off the point an Alajuela from Portland is swinging quietly and in the mouth there is a converted minesweeper with a Dutch family aboard.
I think for a moment that this crowd here is not your normal Caribbean anchorage crowd but maybe it is: international, varied, everyone here for their own reasons, intentionally away from the normal Caribbean social scene. Maybe those of us who cherish and seek quiet places like Scotland Bay are as much a part of the scene as the crowds in places like Chaguaramas and Prickly Bay.
Scotland Bay itself is a good anchorage, almost bullet proof, or so it seems today in a Northerly. Maybe in a hurricane wind from the south it would be untenable, I don’t know but now however, while the trade winds are blowing, it seems perfect.
We came for the clean water, to commission the water maker, and to get some peace and quiet after the hustle and bustle of Chag Bay.
Tonight we sat outside after dinner and listened to music on the outside speakers and watched the moon come up over the mountains to the east of us, Harrison Mountain the chart says.
Then came on a song from the past, from our hearts, clear and pure; Pokarekare Ana by Hayley Westerna, the Mauri song from New Zealand, and we cried. It surprised us and hit our emotions. The song matches Scotland Bay.
Life is just too good.
Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Trinidad
Click here for more photos of Judy and of Wings in Scotland Bay.
Click here for other recent photos from Chaguaramas Bay.
Two people: Fred & Judy , drawn to each other and yet somehow drawn also to the sea, and both intrigued by the idea of living aboard.
I saw her, blond and asymmetrical, beautiful, boarding another’s boat and I followed her and wooed her, or she wooed me. That was 1985 and we fell in love and we thought that to buy a boat and make a life together on the water was only natural.
So we did.
The boat was WINGS.
For the next ten years we lived on Wings in Seattle, had jobs in the city, sailed every chance we got, and 40-50 times a year, went racing. It was great.
Then we left Seattle and began our cruising life. We voyaged across the world, across the seven seas, to faraway places, and made them our own.
Wings was our home, and is still, and we lived wherever the sea met the land and people welcomed us, as they did everywhere.
For twenty-five years we’ve lived this life, and more to come, we hope.
Join us now, and sail the seas.
Fred Roswold & Judy Jensen, SV Wings, Caribbean