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Take a Trip to Tobago

Seaside almond trees line the
beachfront at Tobago’s Mount
Irvine Bay.
The waters are placid here, unlike Store
Bay to the west where the
swell can kick up from June to November. Ashore, Surfer’s Bar &
Restaurant serves up fresh local fish, cold beer and live entertainment on the
weekends. Fishermen sell their catch at stalls along the road, where cabs,
easily distinguished from private cars by the “H” for
“hire” on their license plates, pass frequently. It’s just a
10-minute drive to Crown Point
where you’ll find grocery stores, a gas station, laundromat,
Internet café and more. We didn’t discover this perfect anchorage
on our own. No, it was thanks to a little local knowledge from Scott Clarke,
who keeps his own day sail catamarans, Island
Girl
and Natural Mystic, here.
Idyllic anchorages and friendly folks are two reasons why it’s well worth
your while to beat 22 miles to windward from Trinidad and visit
Tobago.

The Awaraks and Caribs first
inhabited this 26-mile-long by 7-mile-wide island.
Columbus sighted it in 1498 before King James I of
England claimed Tobago
for his own in 1608. The first capital of the island was at
Plymouth, located on the northwest shore. You
can tour the remnants of Fort St. James and from this point look back and see
what an ideal harbor exists. The British, and host of European nationalities
that caused Tobago’s flag to change some
31 times in the course of two centuries, used this harbor as a main port for
exportation of sugar and cocoa. Numerous plantations dotted the island during
the 1700s and 1800s.

Today,
government officials and private businessmen alike are eyeing Plymouth’s
harbor, as well as oceanfront land near the Tobago Hilton and land near the Bon
Accord Lagoon adjacent to Store
Bay, for marina
development. But so far, as Kamau Akili,
Tobago’s vice president of environment
says, no certificate of environmental clearance has yet been filed for any
marina development.

The best
anchorages for overnighting run along Tobago’s
north shore and border the Caribbean Sea.
Starting from the west, Store
Bay is fairly placid from
December to May. Angostura’s Sail Week is based out of this bay in May,
and the Trinidad & Tobago
Powerboat Association’s Carib Great Race in
July ends here after making its start in Trinidad.
Pigeon Point, about a mile to the east, is a picturesque anchorage with
facilities such as a dock, toilets, showers and restaurant.

Up the coast, Plymouth,
Castara
Bay and Parlatuvier are quaint anchorages. The beauty of
Tobago is that you’ll find all the creature
comforts you need – grocery stores for canned goods, open air fruit and
vegetable stands, gas stations, internet access, variety stores, handicraft
kiosks and more, but you won’t find gaudy souvenir stores and vendors
insistently hawking such items. You shop where the locals shop for all the
everyday items of life.

Charlotteville,
like the main port in Tobago’s capitol of Scarborough,
houses a Customs and Immigration office. There are no fees for clearing
in when entering or leaving Tobago if
you’re staying for three months or less and check in during normal
working hours: Monday through Friday from 8 am to 12 noon and 1 pm to 4 pm.
However, there are overtime fees and there is a navigation fee of US$8 per
month charged while you’re in Tobago
waters. The Boater’s Directory, available from Boater’s
Enterprise (www.boatersenterprise.com) provides
information on clearance procedures as well as pet quarantine facts, maps,
charts, radio communications, tide tables and more for both
Trinidad and Tobago.

Charlotteville is the home base for the Tobago
International Game Fishing Tournament (TIGFT), a Rolex/IGFA Offshore
Championship Qualifying Event, which takes place in March.


Tobago’s offshore season runs from October to June.
During this time, anglers can catch Tuna, Wahoo, Dolphin, Sailfish, Swordfish,
White Marlin and Blue Marlin. The Trinidad and Tobago record Blue Marlin catch
is 649 pounds caught back in 2001,” says Gerald “Frothy” de
Silva, president of the TIGFT, who runs three sports fishing charter boats, a
31-foot Bertram, 41-foot Custom Sports fisherman and 18-foot pirogue, all
called Hard Play.

Tobago’s far eastern town of Speyside, with the bird sanctuary
island of
Little Tobago dotting its harbor, and
the southern Atlantic coast shores, are beautiful, but far too rough for
anchoring.

No trip
to Tobago is complete without landlubbing it a bit. Guides, such as famed naturalist
David Rooks and Tobago’s own Darlington Chance, took us on really informative hikes within the
Tobago Forest Reserve. Dating to 1776, this is the oldest protected rainforest
in the Western Hemisphere. Another
‘can’t miss’ attraction is the Argyle Waterfall. Even old
salt seafarers will love navigating through the forest for a good splash in
these awesome 175-foot-tall falls.

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