Tremendous Tobago – Part One

For a small island, 42km long and 10km wide, we found that Tobago punches well above its weight! It’s one of the last unspoilt Caribbean islands lying just south of the hurricane belt, close to the coast of South America and 33km north-east of its ‘parent’ Trinidad.

Tobago

It has lush, tropical rain forest clad mountains with beautiful beaches and quiet bays. The island has two season: a wet and a dry season. The temperature is around 30 degrees C with no seasonal change.

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Englishman’s Bay is gorgeous with its golden beach and lush vegetation.

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From South America to the Caribbean

It took us 32 days to reach the Caribbean from Salvador, covering 2 200 nautical miles (almost 4 000km)! Along the way we stopped in Cabedelo and at Ilha dos Lencois, which was perhaps the highlight of our voyage thus far. The latter is a remote island a stone through off the north coast of Brazil, with unspoilt natural beauty and a small local fishing population that is untainted by tourism… the kind of place that we were hoping to ‘discover’ on our voyage.

Salvador to Tobago
We sailed along the lengthy Brazilian coastline, past French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, Venezuela and Trinidad to reach Tobago.

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Heading north up the Brazilian coast

It was a beautiful, peaceful morning, at first light, when we sailed from Enseada das Palmas on the north eastern side of Ilha Grande. We were rather sad to leave this beautiful area after having explored and enjoyed it for almost two months.

We had to sail directly east, past Rio de Janeiro, to round the cape at Cabo Frio before we could head north. We were grateful for good wind of 16 -20 knots from the starboard aft quarter to push us along but the sea was boisterous and lumpy with short, steep swells and breaking crests, the odd one drenching the boat. If it wasn’t for our canvas covers the cockpit would have been totally soaked. Karin got terribly seasick again and I got only about two hours’ sleep that first night, partly as I was by now unaccustomed to the noises of ocean sailing.

 

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Cruising the bay of Ilha Grande 

We found what appeared to be the perfect anchorage; the shore of steeply rising Ilha da Gipoia a few metres away, covered with every shade and texture of verdant forest. Trees soar upwards, supported on tall, narrow, grey trunks, their foliage finally bursting outwards, finding light, and every nook beneath crammed with prolific, lush growth. Typically the land, clothed in profusion of green dotted with mauve, drops abruptly to a round bouldered shore lapped by the sea.

 

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Big, rounded boulders line the shoreline.

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Preparing for our new adventure

Since the day we decided that Moondust was the lady with whom we wished to spend the next few years, we have had a busy time trying to get to grips with everything entailed in owning, repairing and preparing a blue water, ocean going cruising yacht. Most importantly, we’ve also had to become competent sailors…

For the delivery to Hout Bay, Pete and I flew up to Durban together with Colin, a family member who volunteered as extra crew. The moment that I laid eyes on Moondust I fell in love with her. Being a thirteen year old boat she shows the imperfections of a middle aged lady, but she also offers the comfort and intrigue of a mature woman.

 

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Meeting Moondust in Durban.

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A new adventure begins…

IMG_7871With the responsibilities of direct parenthood nearing their end in Karin’s case and with me in the midst of my sixth decade, it was important for us both to continue to make the most of life before decrepitude finally arrived. I had had an eventful motorcycle trip up to Tanzania in 2014 which led to the acquisition and outfitting of a 4 wheel drive vehicle for a seven month overland journey to Ethiopia and back with Karin in 2015. After that great experience the question naturally arose – what next?

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