Our unexpected holiday to Scarborough happened because of a building and long lasting friendship with Jeff.
We first met Jeff in the anchorage on the Dutch island of Curacao in the Caribbean. Having abandoned our hoped for west-about circumnavigation we were waiting out the hurricane season on the island, south of the accepted hurricane tracks.
Jeff was the owner and skipper of the beautiful 40ft yacht “First Light”.
Below is an extract from First Light’s log covering the period when Jeff welcomed us, entertained us and generally gave us a good time aboard his sea-going home.
Jeff’s log picks up the story of our holiday to Scarborough as First Light makes her way from the popular anchorage in Chaguramus Bay to Scotland Bay in North Trinidad, as the holiday begins…
Everything went well and we made our convoluted way through the packed anchorage. More boats arriving by the hour for the Carnival. At last, we could relax.
We made it with the current under us and pushing us along towards the Boca. There were surprisingly few boats at anchor and we were soon secure. Rene was on coffee duty whilst I finished up the ship’s log. We enjoyed the dusk before we each took a much-needed shower. Before she took hers, Rene took a dip in the bay, which ended when a particularly persistent bee kept flying round her head. Stories of Killer Bees that live in these parts went through her mind and decided her that she would be better on the boat.
We’re now settled quietly in the anchorage for the night. It is still, peaceful and serene. A few muted voices drift over from other boats but do not disturb us.
Well it’s about time I set to and made dinner.
(Note from Les. Due to length of text I have split the individual days into separate pages to ease reading)
- Monday 10th February 1998
- Wednesday 11th February 1998
- Thursday 12th February 1998
- Friday 13th February 1998
- Saturday 14th February 1998
- Monday 15th February 1998
So what does the guide book say about Tobago?
Tobago is a little out of the mainstream of the other Caribbean islands. Too far to sail in a day and too often a struggle against wind and current, it is only visited by a handful of yachtsmen. However, for the adventurous sailor, the extra effort required is amply rewarded by a visit to one of the last completely unspoiled Caribbean Islands.
Tobago is a small (116 sq. miles) mountainous island with lovely beaches and green hills. With a population of only 47,000 it does not feel in the least bit crowded. Long used as a holiday place for Trinidadians. Tobago has a low-key tourist industry. Fishing is important and much of the catch comes from seine netting. When anchoring in Tobago, you need to consider the needs of the fishermen.
Tobago has changed hands between Dutch, English, French and Courlanders more than any other Caribbean island and the count is somewhere near 31 changes of ownership. This figure is vague because for many years no country had a firm grasp on Tobago and a change of administration was hardly noticed. (Who’s counting?) Possibly spotted by Columbus in 1498, there was no permanent settlement for over 150 years. Carib raids and disease ended a Dutch settlement, which was established in 1628. Later Colonists of various nationalities periodically laid waste to one another’s settlement, which disrupted the pirates operating in the area. The Duke of Courland (now part of Latvia) was very persistent in trying to exercise sovereignty over the island, which had been given to him as a Birthday Present by his Godfather King Charles II of England.
By 1771 English colonists were using slaves to grow and harvest sugar cane. After an infestation of ants destroyed the sugar cane, the settlers tried cotton. In 1781 the French took the island over for 12 years and made a serious attempt to develop Tobago’s economy, still using slave labour to grow both sugar and cotton. After the British regained control in 1793 they remained in power, with only a slight interruption, until Trinidad and Tobago became an independent country in 1962. Tobago had been united with Trinidad after its economy had completely collapsed in 1899 and no one knew what to do with it.
Tobago is a specially rewarding island for nature lovers. Like the Eastern Caribbean, to the north, it has rainforests, clear waters and pristine beaches but is the only island, apart from Trinidad, that was once part of the South American continent. It has 210 species of nesting birds, whereas there are fewer than 80 on any other island. Many of the birds are brightly coloured and so unafraid that you can spot them from a car. After a while, if a bird does not have more colours than a traffic light, you hardly bother to look. Strangely, Tobago shares several species of frogs, lizards and birds with South America, which are not present in Trinidad. This has led to speculation that there once was a land bridge from Tobago to parts of South America that skirted Trinidad. Trinidad was part of the South America as recently as 11000 years ago, but Tobago has not been part of the continent for more than a million years.
Scarborough has a tumultuous past. It was first settled by the Dutch brothers Lampsin and called Lampsinburg. Both the name and controlling power changed repeatedly from 1666 to 1803 when the British took the islands from the French for the last time. Today Scarborough is a lively town for its 17000 inhabitants. People may tell you that Tobago is a calm, quiet backwater, the perfect antidote for the hectic pace of Trinidad. However, if you arrive in Scarborough on a Friday or weekend, you will be greeted by a whole week’s worth of cheerful noise, with the people relaxing in the town’s streets.
My particular favourite is Parlatuvier Bay. The Northeast coast gets progressively higher, steeper and more wild as you sail from west to east. The black rocks that edge the sea give way to a light band of coloured grasses in the dry season. Above are vivid green shrubs, dull yellow bamboos and big patches of waving balisiers. Interspersed among these you will see the glint of silver thatch palms. It is very picturesque with long white sandy beaches and a small fishing village.
End of Holiday to Scarborough