blog | photos | schedule | about... | crew info | contact | home

01 April 2011

Fertile turtles and other stories

Trinidad was a very nice surprise. Arrived in a beautifully maintained marina, Crews Inn at Chaguaramas Bay. We rented a beater car and headed off to see the leather back turtles of Grande Riviere, on the North coast.
Traffic and car proved a challenge, stuck for several hours in inching traffic, having no suspension, Heidi behind the left side wheel driving, while Dave navigated. Casey and Hollie sat in the back, keeping score on whose side the car would bottom out. 65 Casey, 47 Hollie, clearly Case needs to go on a diet.
Finally arrived around 10 pm at the guest house, Mt Plasir Estate, as the tutles were coming out of the sea. It was amazing viewing these ancient sea creatures come out of the sea onto the beach to lay their eggs, their shells glistening in the moon light.
Once we had a rest, drink and our turtle passes. Onto the moonlit beach we went. To say these mammals are big is an understatement. The span of the flippers had to be eight feet on some of them. They are six to seven feet long and can weigh up to a ton.
The turtles struggle up the sand during the night to lay 60 to 120 eggs, which hatch 60 days later. There are guides who roam the beach and since we were late to arrive, we had the whole nesting beach to ourselves with several guides shining red lights onto the turtles as they lay their eggs and answering all our questions. It was beyond words watching the hard struggle of these turtles every inch of their process. Seeing the flippers tunneling out a perfect cylinder shape into the sand and then go into a trance as they start dropping the eggs into the nest. Once they have laid their eggs, they cover them over and spend some time covering their tracks to hide the nest before returning to the sea. We stayed up late into the night watching aprox 50 turtles repeating this ancient behavior.
The next day we were off for a jungle trek to waterfalls. We had a guide which we named ganja Dave; you can use your imagination on that one. Casey like that he had a big machete. Turns out the ganja Dave wasn't a guide after all. Go figure. Even ganja Dave had concern about our rental car, "It's a looow car."
The third day we drove the four hours back and stopped off at Caroni Swamp to take the boat tour into the mangroves to see the scarlet ibis, Trinidad and Tobago national bird. Once again, nature was very kind to us. The beauty of these gorgeous red birds, flocking everywhere is beyond description. The ibis congregates at dusk on mangrove islands in this enormous swamp. On one island there were two thousand perched on mangrove trees, looking like Christmas ornaments, with flocks of them flying around us in the distance.
Our final night, we used the iron sail to approach beautiful Scotland Bay for our anchorage. Dolphins greeted us to say a final farewell to Trinidad.
It was a very wet approach to Grenada, Spice Island. Anchored in Prickly Bay that evening and had a fantastic dinner at the Calabash, where Casey had been over 30 years ago.
Due to back to back hurricanes in 2004, we are in a recently rebuilt marina, Port Louis, with all the bells and whistles. Some of these boat are over the top. Have done all the tourist stuff, coco processing, nutmeg processing, waterfalls, driving on the left side as quickly approaching Grenadines careening around narrow switchback roads at us. This brings the occasional screams from the passengers.
Dave has left us and Bob has joined the crew. It's coming to an end, 140 miles left to finish. Many stories to be told amongst the ARC boats. The one that stands out and shows the support of this fleet is the Basia. The catamaran that got hit by a freighter on the voyage out of Recife, Brazil. Several boats came to their rescue and support, which allowed Basia to continue to Grenada. Three boats stay by it's side the whole journey of nine days. The morning of their arrival into Port Louis, we all got into our dingys with horns and noise makers to greet the approaching boats. It was a sight to see! Dingys racing out, making loud commotion, celebrating these courageous heroes. Not a dry eye could be seen.