maanantai 10. lokakuuta 2011

October 7th 2011

On The Move Again

08º 13.945' N, 59º 00.894' W

Contrary to what I wrote in my last blog entry, we did not leave next week after all but a week later. There were several reasons for the delay such as getting our outboard repaired, receiving a refurbished SSB radio from the US, and both of us recovering from a nasty flu which, according to the locals, was brought to the island by the Chinese.

So far during our travels, for some reason or other, we have never considered ourselves as being members of any international sailing community. Normally, we have always been in a hurry, coming or going and never staying in one place for more than a few days. But this time we stayed for a total of five weeks, and during that time we felt as if becoming part of the local sailing community. And it was a good feeling!

The day before we left, we went on a sightseeing tour with another sailing couple, Chris and Geoff. We rented a car and, coming from Australia, Geoff was chosen to be the driver since, as in Trinidad, they too drive on the wrong side of the road. We left early Sunday morning and drove along the north coast of the island and then headed south over a mountain ridge to reach the Asa Wright Nature Centre, located in the middle of the rainforest. There we spent the rest of the day watching and photographing hummingbirds, honeycreepers, woodpeckers, etc. And although it was raining for the better part of the day which prevented us from going on a tour with a local naturalist, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It is a grand venue for bird watching and one of the places I would definitely return to if only possible.

On Monday, October the 3rd, we eventually weighed anchor. First, we motored to Peak's Boat Yard where Sarema was hauled out for about an hour to replace the ice propeller with a regular one. Then off we went to Customs and Immigration on the other side of the bay to check us out of the country, and then finally to the fuel dock to fill our tanks with diesel and water. There Pekka noticed that our wind instrument was not functioning and that the autopilot was not working properly either. So we ended up staying tied up to the fuel dock till early Tuesday morning by which time Pekka had managed to fix the autopilot so that we could continue our journey.

While still in the Gulf of Paria, sailing was good and we even managed to catch a fish. We could not identify the species but as it looked very edible, we had it for lunch. After going through the Serpent's Mouth, we were forced to tack continuously for two days due to headwinds and a counter current. After trial and error, we discovered that we should stay at about ten metre depth to avoid the current which improved our situation considerably. We still have to tack every now and then and also try to avoid hitting any of the dozens of wrecks submerged near the shore. But despite these downsides and the fact that we are making very slow progress at the moment, we are extremely happy and excited to be on the move again. Yesterday, while sailing past the Orinoco Delta in Venezuela, we were listening to Enya's Orinoco Flow and joined in the chorus to our hearts' content: 'Sail away, sail away, sail away...!'

Leaving the Caribbean waters behind marks the end of this blog. We have opened a new blog that will cover the rest of our circumnavigation, at

tiistai 20. syyskuuta 2011

20th September 2011

Still in Trinidad

We have now been here for more than three weeks, and the boat project is gradually coming to an end. As usual, Pekka has been very hard-working and, among numerous other things, he has rebuilt the whole fore cabin. So, after more than ten years at sea, we finally have a double bed!

The Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago decided to continue the country's State of Emergency for the next three months but fortunately the curfew was cut down (now 11 pm – 4 am). This enabled us to go on a wildlife tour to Caroni Swamp which is a huge mangrove swamp just east of Port of Spain. We spent several hours on a river boat slowly motoring through winding channels in the mangrove forest that is home to blue herons, cattle, great, and snowy egrets, caymans, tree boas and, above all, the national bird of Trinidad and Tobago, the luminous scarlet ibis. Great things are always worth waiting for!

We are going to stay here till next week, but then it is time to continue our voyage!

torstai 1. syyskuuta 2011

September 1st 2011

Black and White, TandT

Yesterday, the beautiful twin-islands of Trinidad and Tobago celebrated their 49th Independence Day without any fireworks and by blocking the main roads leading to popular beaches on the north side of Trinidad, thus causing traffic jams that left hundreds of families in their cars for hours.

Tomorrow, the country's House of Representatives will meet to debate whether or not the state of emergency and curfew should be extended. We are keeping our fingers crossed (and thumbs up as well, as we do in Finland) that at least the curfew hours would be adjusted, if not lifted altogether. Going on a tour and finding ourselves on the road with a broken engine is not something we want to experience under the circumstances.

That is why, brown pelicans and black vultures are the only things we have seen of the island's abundant wildlife so far. But we live in hope!

lauantai 27. elokuuta 2011

August 27th 2011

Carenage Bay, Trinidad and Tobago

10º 40.807’ N, 61º 37.258’ W

When considering where to proceed from Grenada, Venezuela came up as one alternative but as we heard all kinds of rumours about the country's security situation, we opted for Trinidad and Tobago instead. We left Prickly Bay on the 24th around 3 p.m. and arrived in Chaguaramas, Trinidad, the following morning just after nine. After checking in the country, we learned that there was a state of emergency in Trinidad and Tobago, and that the entire country was under curfew from 9 p.m. till 5 a.m.

According to the officials, the state of emergency was declared in order to stop a crisis which could have led to a major loss of life.
“There was an immediate threat and endangerment of public safety. Innocent citizens could have lost their lives had we not declared a state of emergency and taken swift and immediate action", the country's Attorney General has said. “When the state of emergency was declared, it was in response to intelligence received from the security agencies which we cannot share with the population but which I can assure you averted a crisis.”
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said that she was not worried at this time about the international image of the country after the declaration of a state of emergency and curfew restrictions across the country. “For those who speak about concerns for foreign image, I say I am more concerned by the images of my people dying, of mothers crying, of innocent citizens living in fear, of orphaned children Those are the images that concern me right here in our land, Trinidad and Tobago".

It seems that the main reason for declaring the state of emergency and curfew is crime and drug-related crime in particular. The police are raiding crime hot spots all over the islands and arresting people by the dozen every day.
Personally, we feel quite safe and secure with the country's police and security forces arresting all the criminals. Life seems to go on as normal except that shops and restaurants close already at 6 p.m. and the sittings of the House of Representatives start already at 10 a.m. to allow the members of the Parliament and staff to get home before the 9 p.m. curfew.

Although war on crime is in the limelight, there is something developing on other fronts too as the union leaders say the Government would “stop at nothing” to get to them, and that they are ready to be arrested in this time of suspended constitutional rights.
“We have a government that we cannot trust and we suspect strongly that many of us may be detained and arrested and that is a price we have to pay", told Oilfield Workers' Trade Union President General Ancel Roget.
“No form of industrial action can be taken during a state of emergency”, said National Security Minister John Sandy earlier this week. “It has been brought to our attention that there is an element of industrial unrest emanating out of Petrotrin and the Waterfront refineries, and I want to remind all those people that the law affecting state of emergencies and industrial unrest is quite clear". Despite the warning, workers at Petrotrin's refinery “downed tools” yesterday.

At the moment, our only concern is whether or not the curfew could prevent us from exploring Trinidad's wildlife. The curfew will stay in force at least till next Friday but hopefully this time next week we'll be free to start roaming the country's national parks and nature centres.
(the photos were taken in St. Vincent and the Grenadines)

perjantai 19. elokuuta 2011

August 19th 2011

Prickly Bay, Grenada
11º 59.848’ N, 61º 45.833’ W

Back At Sea!

On the 5th of August, Riitta and boat-dog Latte arrived in Martinique where Pekka had been anxiously waiting for the return of the rest of the crew for more than a week already. While Riitta had spent the past three plus months holidaying in Europe, Sarema's Captain had been working so hard on the boat that he had diminished to almost non-existence (Pekka had lost more than ten kilos = 22 lbs)!
We spent the following three days anchored in Le Marin to allow the jet-lag to pass and, as we had decided to take it easy, our next stop was St. Anne, less than a mile from Le Marin. Next morning we set sail for St. Lucia and while crossing the channel between Martinique and St. Lucia we were accompanied by dolphins on three different occasions, which was absolutely fantastic. It was as if they had come to welcome us back to the seas.

Later in the afternoon, we moored in Marigot Bay, St. Lucia, and the next day continued to Admiralty Bay, Bequia, where we took fuel and checked both in and out of St. Vincent and the Grenadines at the same time. However, we did stop at Tobago Cays on our way to Grenada, perhaps a bit illegally but we dutifully paid the Marine Park fees. There we spent two marvellous days snorkelling, lizard spotting,

and swimming with sea turtles.

We are now back in Prickly Bay, Grenada, where Pekka continues working on the boat, and Riitta and Latte (with her thick winter hair!) are doing their best to adapt once again to the intensive heat of the tropical sun.

lauantai 23. huhtikuuta 2011

April 10th 2011

Future Sailing Plans

When Sarema is ready, hopefully by the end of July, we are not going to sail through the Panama Canal after all ( Instead, we'll first head south along the east coast of South America, then cross the South Atlantic on our way to the Cape of Good Hope, and eventually sail

So, till August, we wish you all FAIR WINDS AND FOLLOWING SEAS!

lauantai 9. huhtikuuta 2011

April 9th 2011

Back in Martinique

We have had a somewhat frustrating experience with the local airport and other authorities in Grenada. Less than a month ago, I emailed the Ministry of Agriculture of Grenada to find out if I needed a special permit for Latte as we were supposed to fly back home from Grenada which is a rabies-free country. I sent them a second email a week later as there was no reply to my first message. There was no reply to my second message either. After our friends had gone back to Finland, I spent three afternoons at a travel agency called 'Going Places' which seemed to be unable to take us, Latte and I, any place. My intention was to take a British Airways flight via London to Portugal but I was told that the ONLY person at the airport certified by British Airways to load pets into the cargo hold, was on a vacation! As Going Places was unable to take us to Europe, I emailed British Airways direct and explained them my predicament in detail. They replied that I should contact a faceless BA organisation called World Cargo and try to sort things out through them. HELLO!!!

So, on the fourth day, I went to the airport and talked to a supervisor there who promised to sort things out and email me the result the following day. On the fifth day, I received an email, not from the supervisor but from Going Places, stating that the airport had informed them that the only authorised person was still on a vacation and, therefore, Latte could not be boarded. On the sixth day, I went back to the travel agency and asked them to book us a flight to Martinique aboard Liat which is a local, island hopping airline. At this point (but not before!), I was told that I needed to fill in a form giving all the relevant information about the dog, and it would then be faxed to Barbados' Chief Veterinarian who would or would not give us permission to fly out from Grenada. After spending the whole morning at Going Places and waiting for the form to be faxed from the airport, I was told that the airport's fax machine was out of order. Honestly, I do not know what is going on at the so-called International Airport in Grenada but whatever it is, it surely does not promote the local tourist industry!

Now, that left us with only two options, either to stay in Grenada forever or to sail back to Martinique. And here we are, in Le Marin, after two days of sailing, with plane tickets for both Riitta and Latte to Portugal via Paris. And it took us only about twenty minutes to get them (Thank you, AirFrance!). But as we all know, life is not fair and the world is anything but just, which is the case also here: tomorrow, Riitta will fly to Europe with Latte to spend time with family and friends, whereas Pekka, Sarema's hard-working captain, must sail single-handed back to Tyrrell Bay, Carriacou, Grenada, where Sarema is going to be hauled out and the hard work will begin.