So, you have chosen Chaguaramas for those dreaded days "on the hard," you have selected one of the six boatyards best suited to your yacht and your pocket. Then begins the task of tackling that "to do" list, but who? There are more than 100 marine construction, service and retail companies and 1400 employees with unmatched, in-depth technical capacity, able to build, repair, store, equip and provision boats. All are concentrated within 15 minutes' walking distance! Here are just a few:
Chandleries: Three sizeable chandleries (one is part of a Caribbean-wide group) as well as an internationally renowned import-to-order company and smaller stores with common chandlery items in most yards.
Sailmakers: Three top international brands are represented. Four lofts handle repairs, one of whom designs and manufactures new sails locally using computer controlled design and up-to-date cutting software.
Riggers: Two knowledgeable riggers, each with over a decade of rigging service in Trinidad.
Canvas Workers: Seven working with top quality canvas, closed cell & dry foam (and the added advantage of the best selection of upholstery and dress fabric in the Caribbean available in downtown Port of Spain).
Electrical/Electronics: Seven companies, some with the capacity to install the latest marine hybrid propulsion systems and sophisticated navigational aids and others who are agents for some of the top international brands.
Skilled Boat-builders and Project Managers: Some with a lifetime in boat construction, able to produce vessels to world class standards, including powerboats, catamarans, monohulls and hi-tech racing boats using exotic materials such as carbon-fiber and epoxies. A number of very large boatbuilding sheds facilitate long term boatbuilding and repair projects.
Painting and Finishing Companies: Several local contractors with certification from some of the world's leading paint manufacturers and sound experience in blister treatment, paint spraying and refurbishment.
Surveyors: Three, recognized internationally by the world's top insurance companies.
Engine Mechanics: Several very experienced outboard and diesel mechanics. Industrial machine shops can custom make hard to find parts. Fuel cleaning services are available.
Woodworking: Skilled craftsmen and an abundance of local teak and exotic hardwoods.
Specialist Companies: One that deals with the unique needs of catamarans and others with specific applications such as wind generators, propellers, shaft straightening and refrigeration installations.
For a comprehensive listing of services by type, brand or company name check the latest free edition of the Trinidad and Tobago Boaters' Directory or see their online directory at www.boatersenterprise.com.
Several boatyards offer DIY workshops. For your convenience most boatyards have laundry services, air-conditioner rentals and Wi-Fi.
Eating out in Trinidad is a delight, as its diverse culture is represented in its cuisine, ranging from the "doubles" vendor (traditional breakfast) to the roti hut, to waterfront restaurants and bars, each with their own specialty. Fresh fruit and vegetables are sold from the back of a van. There are two relatively small but very well stocked groceries in Chaguaramas and for more substantial provisioning there are weekly minibus trips to the fresh produce market, a members' warehouse-type superstore and larger supermarkets.
Yachts in storage can be "shrink wrapped" for protection from the elements. Hurricane tie-downs are available in some yards, but fortunately have never been put to test.
Of course, spending time in Chaguaramas means more than just work. The "yachtie" community here has brought with it many of its social networking traditions: DVD and book swaps, movie nights, domino playing, pot-luck barbecues and sessions with local seamstresses for custom made bathing suits and clothing. There is a special camaraderie amongst these in-transit residents eager to make the most of their time in Trinidad. Trips are organized to shop, to hike, to bird-watch, to see magnificent leatherback turtles lay their eggs, to a pan-yard, to the theatre or to the movies.
"Trinis" by nature are friendly hosts. They love to 'lime' (socialize) and Chaguaramas is the weekend retreat for many. The otherwise quiet docks fill with families, the bay buzzes with activity as the locals head for "down the islands." During the December to May racing season, the Trinidad and Tobago Sailing Association (the Racing Authority in Trinidad) is full of activity with yacht races most Sundays and dinghy races on Saturdays. Sunday racing is followed by a prize giving and drinks at the bar. The club is an ideal place for visiting "yachties" to meet local sailors, and participation in club races is encouraged. Youths can join in the vibrant sailing school programme.
Predictions for this year's hurricane season to be above average in intensity provide added incentive to head as far south as possible, so head south, and get it done in Chaguaramas!