August 28, 2002
Up the Coast of Tobago
Customs on Tobago is a little strange. For
some reason, they make you clear in and clear out of the same
harbor. This can be an enormous inconvenience if you want
to start at one end of the island and work your way to the
other. Then how do you get back again to clear out? Particularly
in Tobago where the currents are so strong, they seem to be
some anti-cruiser mechanism. Visiting this island is a lot
of work. You REALLY have to want to see it! We decided to
head straight up the coast to the northeastern tip of the
island and tell a little white lie: that this was our first
landfall on their island.
Curt and I are learning new things all the
time. One of the things we learned on Tobago is that there's
less wind as you get closer to the equator. It sure felt like
we didn't have much wind anymore, but we didn't know why.
With a little reading, we figured out it all has to do with
the Coriolis Force. It's a bit complicated, but essentially,
it's related to the earth's axis as it circles the sun. So,
it shouldn't be surprising that we had to motor, rather than
sail, all the way up to Charlotteville. While we hate to do
that to our engine, it did make it nice to get in close to
the island while we were underway and see at least a little
bit of everything.
Tobago, off the coast of Venezuela is gorgeous!
Curt and I just kept saying, "Oh! Look at that!"
Or, "Check out that mountain!" I wouldn't say that
from a scenic standpoint, it was your typical Caribbean island.
It's more beautiful for its lush and green landscape, with
enormous steep mountains plummeting to the sea. The cliffs
are climbing with palms and vines, and birds are everywhere
chirping and diving through the air looking for fish. Over
and over I kept saying that it looked like a scene from Jurassic
Park. We took a million pictures, but I don't know that you
can get any idea whatsoever of how stunning it really is from
a mere photograph.
When we pulled into Man O' War Bay, where
the town of Charlotteville lies, we chuckled to ourselves
to find Jammin', our friends from way back in St. Lucia. They
waved as we did a fly-by. They had just arrived in Tobago
as well, and hadn't even cleared in yet. We said we'd dinghy
them into Customs if they liked, since they still didn't have
an outboard engine to get around.
As promised, we anchored (in fifty five
feet of water!) and picked them up on our way to Customs.
It was a lovely reunion and we were sincerely so pleased to
see them again. We tried to catch up while someone went to
wrangle up a Customs agent for us. Eventually, a man peeked
around the corner where we had been waiting and knocking on
his desk. From his hair and swollen eyes, we could tell we
must have roused him from his afternoon nap. He got friendlier
as he started to wake-up and actually smiled and joked with
us some. It was a good thing, as Curt and I didn't have any
local currency (TT dollars) to pay our fees. The agent had
a one hundred dollar bill in his hand that Jammin' had just
given him, and as he could see we were all friends, he said,
"Just borrow it from them!" Well, what could Jammin'
say but yes? Thankfully too, because the only bank on Tobago
was at the other tip of the island where we had just come
from (an hour or so taxi ride away).
With our business done, the four of us went
in search of a spot to have a cold beer. It was blazing fricking
hot here! As we walked down a little alley, I noticed a withered
old man sidle up to Curt, mumbling and showing him something
in his bag. The three of us had been walking ahead, and paused
to be sure he was okay. Curt was laughing, so we slowly kept
walking. I noticed Curt give him money and shove something
shiny in his our backpack. By now, Jammin' and I were seated
in a little lunch spot and bar ordering the first round of
beer. Curt arrived with a grin on his face, shaking his head.
Seems he had just bought a steel drum from the guy- but he
wasn't sure if it was hot since the man seemed adamant Curt
tuck it away in his backpack. It even came with music for
two little songs to learn: Twinkle Little Star and Michael
"Roar" the Boat Ashore.
We only lasted for two rounds in the heat.
The sun had slipped low enough that the cover over the patio
would no longer shield us from its blaze. As the woman said
when we ordered the beer, "Welcome to Tobago. You like
de rain, or you like de sun? Because dat's all we got mon'."