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By No owner — last modified May 14, 2017 03:40 PM

 Trinidad & Tobago - Profile

Facts

  • Trinidad & Tobago is a republic within the British Commonwealth and its wealth derives from oil, petrochemicals and natural gas, as well as tourism. Its rich culture and many festivals refect the ethnic diversity of the population.
  • These islands are a useful base for yachts since most insurance companies now require boats to spend the hurricane season south of latitude 12°40'N, (i.e. Grenada, Trinidad & Tobago and Venezuela). Although hurricanes have hit these countries very rarely, they are still subject to strong tropical disturbances during the period June to November.
  • Tobago is the quieter island and the one for cruising, although there are some excellent facilities for yachts here also.
  • Cruisers come to Trinidad for hurricane storage and service facilities with its enormous concentration of yards and people to work on boats. Yachting facilities are now among the best in the Eastern Caribbean, and Chaguaramas is where the majority of marine services and boatyards are concentrated. As with anywhere else in the world, a written estimate should be agreed upon before committing to any major repair work.
  • Docking facilities have improved with the opening of a number of new marinas. Excellent sources of information are Doyle's Guide and the Free Cruising Guides.
  • The Trinidad Carnival, held in the middle of Februrary, is one of the best in the world. If wishing to visit then, advance booking may be necessary to obtain a berth.

Security

Yacht Security: Trinidad & Tobago Waters

August 2016: Boat on passage from Grenada to Trinidad approached by a pirogue with 3 men who acted in an aggressive manner. See this report from CSSN.

July 2016: A similar incident occurred once more.  See CSSN www.safetyandsecuritynet.com for more details.

December 2015: Two yachts, on separate occasions, were boarded and robbed on passage from Grenada to Trinidad.

All yachts transiting these waters should submit a float plan to the Trinidad & Tobago Coastguard. See this news report for more details.

Other Security Issues

During hurricane season, up to 1000 yachts base themselves in Chaguaramas and a few years ago Trinidad did have a serious problem with dinghy and outboard thefts. However, a concerted effort by the cruising and business communities joining forces with the police and marine authorities, has improved the situation considerably and shows what can happen when the authorities do not ignore what is happening in the cruising community.

New security patrols have been put in place locally, but petty theft still does occur. Sensible preventive measures should be taken at all times by skippers and crew. Dinghy thieves operate throughout the Caribbean and best advice is to place your dinghy on deck and chain it overnight.

On both Trinidad and Tobago, sensible preventive measures should be taken by skippers and crew ashore as well as on board. Don't walk around any time of the day or night with expensive jewellrey, flashing money or on your own with expensive kit (such as fishing rods, surf boards, cameras etc.).

There always seems to be a rise in crime (in general) over the carnival season (February).

The Caribbean Safety and Security Net (safetyandsecuritynet@gmail.com) provides information by anchorage or by island, so sailors can plan their cruising in the Caribbean with an eye to appropriate behaviour and precautions wherever they decide to go. Should you have suffered a boarding, robbery or attack on your yacht or have information about a yachting-related security incident, go to the CSSN homepage and click on the "Report an Incident" icon. The associated form is quick and simple to complete and ensures that all the necessary details are reported. The CSSN is the most comprehensive source of Caribbean security incidents against sailors. Remember, it is every cruiser's responsibility to ensure that incidents are reported. Also cruisers can subscribe to e-mail alerts, follow on facebook and twitter and listen to the SSB Voice Service.

The Caribbean Security Index (CSI) is a a tool to assist cruisers in assessing the probability of crime at ports and anchorages throughout the Caribbean. The CSI provides a means of assessing risk in a given area.
http://freecruisingguides.com/caribbean-security-index/

Also be sure to check the Noonsite Piracy & Safety Pages

Last updated October 2016.

Weather

Equatorial climate within the trade wind belt. Rainy season June to November. Almost out of the hurricane zone.

Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service

For links to free global weather information, forecast services and extreme weather information see the Noonsite Weather Page.

Main Ports

Tobago: Charlotteville * , Scarborough * , Store Bay

Trinidad: Chaguaramas * , Port of Spain *

* indicates port of entry

Share |
nadireberker
nadireberker says:
May 13, 2017 11:51 PM

Update on Tobago from SY Keyif, 19/2/2017 to 23/2/2017

We had reached Scarborough early in the morning after a 24 day, 19 hour passage from St. Helena.
The anchoring space was extremely limited, and even with our shallow draft boat of 1m, we were unable to fit our 45ft monohull Keyif in to the place we were ordered by the Port Master.
So we stayed only for an hour, not to be in the way of the ferries running back and forth from Trinidad. The immigration officers were very friendly, but it was expensive to check in as we arrived on a Sunday.
The check in procedure with the customs was also expensive, but went relatively smoothly, after which we anchored in Store Bay, 9 miles south.
The sea was inviting, but the never-ending parade of jet skis made swimming a frightening experience. The life ashore was pretty mediocre, with bad infrastructure and shabby tourist establishments.
The fresh vegetables and fruit were hard to find, and the prices were surprisingly high.
We are runners, and ran from Store Bay to town and back, also did some other runs nearby, but found the island to be generally not very friendly. Not worth a visit at all, and pretty disappointing after a long passage.
The check out in customs turned out to be terrifying for me. We are used to bureaucracy, and have dealt very successfully with sometimes difficult officials all over the world during our five year circumnavigation, and being from a country famous for its bureaucracy, we are proud of our ability to handle delicate situations with extreme care. Never in our lives at sea or on land, had we experienced such unpleasantness, leading to terror.
The customs official had previously stated that he did not need to see the captain on check out. So my husband stayed on the boat, and I took the bus to town to finish the check out procedures. Upon arrival in customs, there was another official who asked if I was the captain, and when I said 'For now, yes', accused me of lying to him. I apologised and reminded him that this was a two person small sailboat, so it did not really matter who the captain was, upon which he said I was insulting an official of the government, and he would call the police and have me jailed. In spite of my profuse apologies and explanations, I was not allowed to leave, but to sit and wait for the police.
After the official left the room, I waited for some nerve wrecking minutes. Eventually, one of the other officials who had witnessed the whole affair took and secretly stamped my papers to let me go. As I was leaving, the one who wanted to have me jailed came to create another scene, and the two ended up fighting while I quickly escaped.
I would never visit Tobago again, and never advise anyone to do so. There are so many islands to choose from in the Caribbean, one more beautiful than the other, and Tobago is definitely not worth the effort or the expense.

nadireberker
nadireberker says:
May 13, 2017 11:49 PM

Update on Trinidad from SY Keyif 24-28/2/2017

Keyif was in Crews Inn Marina for the Trinidad Carnival. We thought this to be the perfect ending to our five year circumnavigation. We would like to thank Mr. Jesse James for taking unbeliavably good care of us during our stay, and making sure we had a fantastic time. Without him, we could never have experienced the Carnival so intensely, so easily and so safely. However, the Carnival was a disappointment for those of us searching for the authentic experience. It has become a big touristic attraction, full of paying guests from the US and Europe who do not know how to dance, in fact, the outsiders in some bands outnumber locals, and there is no show but clothes.
Crews Inn Marina has an excellent, rather inexpensive do it yourself laundry, good pool, very efficient and helpful dockmaster, OK wifi. Beware the mosquitos, and the secretarial staff. Especially the lady supervisor is extremely rude and unpleasant.
The customs in Trinidad are in the marina premises in Crews Inn, and they are very helpful. However it costs a lot to check in and out after hours. Even if you finish your check out procedure within working hours, you still must pay if your actual leaving time is after 16:00.
The immigration officer played an unpleasant trick and made us wait for half an hour, until it was 16:05, then made us pay for overtime. In total, we paid nearly 350$ for a five person crew, three of which joined us in Trinidad, an exorbitant amount when you compare with the other islands of the Caribbean.
Apart from hauling out for the hurricane season, there is nothing in Trinidad that appeals to a long distance cruiser. Then there is the biggest drawback to hauling out there, the hassles with immigration and customs! So no more Trini for Keyif and crew.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Oct 06, 2016 02:22 PM

From http://www.trinidadexpress.com/20160930/news/millionaire-tax-coming
Sep. 30th 2016
Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced during the reading of the 2016-2017 Budget today that foreign yacht repair services will be made a VAT exempt service for yacht owners. This in keeping with international best practice and will take effect in the first quarter of 2017

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Mar 14, 2016 02:59 PM

Posted on behalf of Captain Peter:
Few tips to sailors approaching or leaving Trinidad. Don't use the south entrance into the Gulf of Paria if you're coming from East, come in between Tobago and Trinidad, then enter the first most Easterly Bocas and head into Chaguaramas. If you're coming from North ( Grenada ) keep east so you can enter the East Bocas, don't let the current push your boat West so you end up entering the Bocas having border to Venezuela.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Mar 04, 2016 11:26 AM

Our Experience with Trinidad Customs - Forwarded by SV Tegan 1, 2 March 2016:

We checked out of Trinidad on Feb 10, 2016, and at that time Customs told us that even though Immigration gives you 24 hours to depart, Customs gives you only 4 hours. ALSO, if you actually depart (or arrive for that matter) outside of regular office hours (0800-1200, 1300-1600 hrs, Mon-Fri) you will be charged overtime.

For example - we were in the office on Wed, Feb 10, 2016 at 15:30, but because we told them we were leaving at 19:00 we were charged 193.40$TT overtime, plus 10$TT for 'Harbour Master fees", on top of the 'Harbour fees'.

Janet Pinder
SV TEGAN I

wingssail
wingssail says:
Aug 06, 2015 04:16 PM

Our experience with officials in Scarborough was the opposite. We arrived in Store bay after an overnight from Trinidad and took a bus to Scarborough where we found out that we were not legally allowed to be there, having cleared from Trinidad for Granada, not Tobago. We explained that it was out mistake, a misunderstanding of the rules, and after several immigration and customs officials discussed it, they accepted our explanations and allowed us to clear it up by checking in and out, or something I am not sure what, with a few papers and a lot of passport stamping, but at no cost to us, and we were fine. They were understanding and patient with us. So I guess it just depends on who you talk to and what attitude everyone present is having that day. We loved Tobago and spent a couple of weeks there, stopping in many of the bays. Charlotteville was our favorite even though it rained a lot and I ruined my phone by jumping out of the dingy at the beach just as a wave came in. Oh Well. At least the rain allowed us to fill our tanks.

rschattman1
rschattman1 says:
Jan 31, 2015 03:38 PM

Upon arriving in Tobago from Trinidad, we checked in immediately in Scarborough. While our immigration papers were in order we were missing one paper for Customs. They immediately confiscated our papers and scheduled a hearing for two days forth. At that hearing we explained that it was an innocent and unintentional mistake to have not filled out one form and that it was our intention to comply. We went before a hearing officer and were fined $3000.00 TT. Upon reflection of all factors and the severe penalty for a minor error we were only able to account for the highly punitive measures as a reflection of prejudice. We are white, we are cruisers, and we are from the USA. Tobago is not a place one should go unless they are interested in patronising an island that doesn't value them. While Trinidad is completely different and many there were wonderful to us, Tobago is in our opinion a place to be avoided. If you do go, be forewarned that Customs is a nightmare and you will be at risk of their arbitrary and capricious behaviour.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jan 14, 2015 04:30 PM

There is a great resource for cruisers in Trinidad named Jesse James. Jesse has been assisting cruisers in Trinidad for many years, and is the SSCA Station Host in Trinidad as well.
Jesse may be contacted at jessejamesmembersonly[at]yahoo[dot]com

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Nov 13, 2013 02:23 PM

Tobago, Buccoo Reef and Speyside: New buoys installed November 2013 to record climate change, coral bleaching, and changes in the reefs. Take care if navigating in these areas.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Oct 25, 2013 01:48 PM

Update for Australian visitors to Tobago.
We arrived from Grenada yesterday and went to Immigration at the port in Scarborough. On presenting our Australian passports we were advised that Australians require visas (TTD$400 or USD$67). We questioned this as we had visited last year and didn't have to pay anything even though I had read up that Australians require a visa. However I had queried this with various Australian friends and no -one had come across this.
The Immigration Officer went to confirm this and came back with the information that CREW on yachts are NOT required to have a visa! But tourists entering by plane or ferry DO require visas!
Lynne Sands, SV Amarula

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