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Report on Chagaraumas, Trinidad

By Val Ellis last modified Jan 03, 2011 12:12 PM

Published: 2011-01-03 12:12:08
Countries: Trinidad & Tobago

I spent seven weeks here in November and December 2010. Shortly before I left the trades people had a meeting with the Minister of Trade, Coastguard, Customs and Immigration. The meeting scheduled for 30 minutes lasted for three hours and changes are underway. Basically, reported theft by sailors was ignored by police, coastguard and security companies. A friend had a 25 hp outboard stolen. Police never visited to take a report. Another had his cell 'phone stolen among other things. He managed from the calls made on the 'phone to trace the address of the thief (long story). The police did not act on the information. etc etc. Whether things will change only time will tell. Watch this space.

One thing that has changed is that after checking out you now have 24 hours in which to leave instead of just 2.

When checking in, the Customs Dock can be tricky. It is often used by fishing boats and the vertical posts can be murder on your topsides (too far apart for a cruising plank). Better maybe to anchor and dinghy ashore.

Beware the officials. Most are polite and helpful but some are totally obnoxious and clearly want to stop sailors coming to Trinidad. On two seperate occasions I saw crew members in the company of their skipper be thrown out of the office because "YOU HAVE NO BUSINESS HERE. WAIT OUTSIDE". My driver came with me to help me carry away 40 kgs of paint. He was thrown out because the official did not like his trousers!

Check out the marinas before you go on the hard. Some pack the boats so tightly that you cannot work on the topsides. The site I was on, was muddy and ant infested. Friends had a derelect boat beside them that was a mosquito breeding ground. Just check it all out beforehand and you will be OK.

Go to YSATT for advice on contractors. And watch contractors at every move. Mine spilled some varnish on my teak deck and started to use a Stanley knife to dig it out! Very common. And don't ever, ever expect them to bring the right tools.

This all sounds very negative but that is the way Trinidad is. You will get work done at competitive prices (eventually). But you must be on your guard at all times.

sv Wild Fox