This last year has flown by! Mattis and I had spent a year away from our boat. We intended to be away for around six months, so we could work whilst it was hurricane season in the Caribbean. We could save up again and return at the end of the season, which would have been October/November 2018. We had more work than expected and came back at the beginning of April 2019 instead.
Friday 5th April 2019
We flew to Trinidad via New York, so we stayed in the Big Apple for one night and did some exploring.
Saturday 6th April 2019
The next evening, we arrived at the marina around midnight. The familiar warmth and humidity hit us as soon as we got outside of the terminal. We were glad to be back! Once we dropped our bags off, we headed straight for Jingo to see what kind of condition she was in after being in a tropical climate for a year.
We were a little apprehensive. We didn't know what to expect, whether there would be flooding inside the boat, due to the rain over the year, trickling down the mast, collecting in the bilges and possibly overflowing. We also didn't know whether there would be mold inside from the humidity. It was difficult not to worry when we were so many miles away, across the other side of the Atlantic, but there was nothing we could have done until we returned and had a look for ourselves.
Below are photos of when we first arrived back to Trinidad...
Then we finally opened her up. We were so relieved that there was no flooding or a single speck of mold! Everything was just as we had left it. It felt so great being back with Jingo again and it felt very different being back this time. We were about to start a new adventure! And this time, there would be much shorter passages as we'd be cruising up the Caribbean islands, which would be day hops, if that. We planned to spend the next two to three weeks at the marina, preparing Jingo for sailing again, making improvements, installing new equipment and making her lighter..
Sunday 7th April 2019
Last year on 1st August 2018, we learned that in the early evening there was an earthquake that was 7.9 on the Richter Scale! We had no idea. We were so focused on the possibility that there could be a hurricane sweeping through the Caribbean, that we didn't think there could be earthquakes.
Unfortunately, the earthquake had affected the marina, in particular, the buildings on the waterfront. It damaged the structure of the marina restaurant less than 100 metres from where Jingo was standing for the year. The damage was so great that the building had to be demolished. Luckily for us there was no damage to our boat. Below shows what the restaurant looked like last March and what the site currently looks like, whilst they are rebuilding...
Monday 8th April 2019
Once the boat was cleared out and we'd moved back onboard, we made a start on all of the jobs that we needed to do....
We received our new sprayhood, boom cover and awning. We were more than excited to finally have shade in the cockpit. Last February/March time, when we were anchored in the Maroni River in French Guiana just 5 degrees north of the equator, we were sweltering in the heat. During the day, it would get too warm and humid sitting inside and we'd get blasted with the sun if we were to sit in the cockpit. And there was definitely no jumping into the muddy river for us, as one, swimming is not recommended in these murky waters and two, there were caymans living in the river. Coming from the UK and Ireland, where it doesn't get this hot and humid ever, we hadn't thought of what the living conditions would be like... Now we know and are being more prepared.
There were early morning starts for us, waking up at 0530 everyday and working until 1800, when the sun went down. 2100 was definitely "Sailor's Midnight" for us!
Tuesday 9th April 2019
We continued work in the engine room, aligning the engine, servicing the engine ready for use again, reinstalling the rudder, installing an anode on the shaft and polishing the topsides...
Jobs on the Fuel Tank and in Engine Room
Jobs on the Propellor
Below shows what the rudder looked like without an anode on the propellor in July 2017 and what we now have...
This was how Jingo looked on a daily basis, after we'd woken up and got to work...
We were getting there after a one week (with a moment every now and again for a coconut and a roti from the Roti Hut)...
We started looking at our charts in more detail, deciding on which islands to visit. So many to choose from, seven thousand in total! We have a limited schedule, with approximately four-five weeks to spend in the Caribbean, it was pretty hard to choose which ones. We were asking ourselves do we island hop our way up the Caribbean, or do we pick just a few islands and spend a week in each, getting to know those islands a little better? We chose the latter.
Lightning Protection System and Safety Measure, 18th April 2019
We were caught in one lightning storm last year, and apart from heaving-to to stop the boat, putting all of the electronics we could into our oven to protect them from any lightning strikes and waiting out the storm, we decided that it would be in our interest to increase our lightning protection, especially whilst sailing in a tropical climate (and for future passages too).
We thought about installing an air terminal at the top of the mast. Mattis made a long thin aluminium conductor with a sharp point at the end as part of our lightning protection, but we decided not to in the end, and just disconnect the VHF aerial in a storm.
We fitted a copper grounding strip, which would be bonded to the side of the hull. This was so that if we were to get struck by lightning, the hope would be that the charge from the bolt of lightning would be dissipated by the copper grounding strip and straight into the water, away from the boat. Rather than the bolt of lightning ripping through the side of the hull, blowing a hole in it.
We've ordered a series drogue, which in the event of a storm we will be able to stream off the stern to slow the boat right down, and keep the waves stern on to stop us from capsizing.
We've now installed an AIS (Automatic Identification System) transceiver, which allows other vessels to see us on their AIS, as previously we had only a receiver (we could see other vessels that transmitted).
New B&G navigation system we installed last April...
We previously had five separate round dials on the console in the cockpit that we used for measuring our depth, speed, wind direction, position.
But some (most!) of them were not working or not reliable, for example the depth readings would go completely awry once we started our engine. So we took out all of these dials and replaced them with one system, a B&G Triton2 display, along with a combined depth sounder and speed log, and a barometer. It will allow us to view:
The backlighting display is useful too for our watches at night, instead of taking readings from the dials, which had dim lighting... We're very excited to use this at sea and see how much of a difference it makes to our sailing!
Below shows what the original cockpit console looked like in July 2017, when we had Jingo in Cornwall, UK, followed by the work we did when we ripped out the old dials and replaced them with a single unit in March 2018...
We began to look at what provisions we'd need for cruising up the Caribbean and how much space we'd need for food and water. We used all of our spare bottles that we had onboard to top up with fresh water as well as cleaning our two water tanks and re-filling them. Surprisingly, we found five brand new 5L bottles of water, that we hadn't used from Cape Verde. We think we should be alright with water and food as all of the islands we'll be heading to will only be a day's sail apart (or less).
Saturday 20th April 2019
We did most of our provisioning at the Central Market, near Port of Spain. With ploughing on with the work on Jingo, in preparation for going back into the water, it was the first time we'd been out into town since we'd arrived two weeks ago. It was probably the friendliest and most diverse market we have been to so far. We left with a few others from the marina at 0600 to get to the market early and we had an hour and a half to look around and get everything we needed. The fish market was a little quieter as it was Easter weekend, but the fruit and vegetable market was definitely busy. We had a fun morning looking for unusual and interesting new fruits and vegetables to eat whilst underway and at anchor!
We'd see lots of interesting animals around the marina...
Monday 22nd April 2019
Mattis went up the mast once again, to reeve in the last of our halyards. We were making the final preparations now before putting Jingo back into the water, the next afternoon...
Below shows what our chart table looked like back in July 2017 (apologies for Jib in the photos!). We took out the original log, Clipper Navtex and other units we weren't using and replaced them with our AIS (Automatic Identification System) transceiver and the original barometer from the bulkhead...
Tuesday 23rd April 2019
We launched Jingo back into the water! This was only our second time launching the boat. The last time was back in July 2017, after we'd spent a year and a half making Jingo seaworthy for offshore sailing.
This time was very different, as we'd spent seven weeks working on Jingo last year in Trinidad and two weeks now on our return, making the boat simpler, making her lighter as well as installing a few more pieces of navigation and safety equipment.
Lifting in and last few checks...
Wednesday 24th April 2019
READY TO SET SAIL!! The first island we'll sail for will be Union Island, which is about 110nm north of Trinidad. Over the next few weeks we will be cruising up the chain and getting to know the islands...
Where We Plan to Sail in the Caribbean after Trinidad...
We'd love to see so many of the islands in the Caribbean, but we are on a schedule to leave Antigua for the Azores towards the end of May, latest June. So far, we have a rough plan. Have a look at the map below:
1) Union Island
3) Tobago Cays (spending about 5-6 days here on these islands)
4) Bequia (to spend a week here)
5) Martinique (to spend a week here)
6) Antigua (to spend a week here before we make our crossing to the Azores, which is about 2000nm)
You can start tracking us again and see where we are on our Garmin inReach. Here is our link: