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Mid morning yesterday we watched our friends on the schooner Coral pull up their anchor, raise sails and quietly slip out of the anchorage. Quietly that is until neighboring boats began blowing their horns, bidding them farewell. Coral’s destination was Trinidad where we understand they plan to haul the ship to have some maintenance done.

Trinidad is a very popular location for having boat work done due to the excellent availability and lower cost of both parts and services. There are apparently downsides to Trinidad but because we have never been there ourselves, anything I write here about that would be hearsay. We have however read that, in the past, some boats have had issues with pirates while traveling between here and Trinidad. What some people do, to add an additional level of safety while making the transit, is file a float plan with the Trinidadian Coast Guard. The basics for doing so, which I copied from an internet post I found, are as follows:

First, contact the Coastguard prior to your departure – they need to know:

  • boat name
  • no. of persons on board
  • brief description (monohull/catamaran, colour, size)
  • estimated departure date & time
  • estimated arrival date & time

Contact the coastguard on arrival.

Important: If you decide not to stop in Trinidad or have to abandon your passage and turn back, please do contact the coastguard as soon as possible to avoid unnecessary concern and search operations.

  • Trinidad Coastguard – by phone on 868 634 1476 or email to ttcgops@gmail.com.
  • Grenada Coastguard – visit the coastguard in Prickly Bay, or call them on 473 444 1931

In addition to the float plan, there’s a 24/7 monitoring station, Trinidad’s North Post Radio. Operating on VHF Channel 16, they can be contacted in the event of an emergency or if you prefer, they will monitor your progress (3 hour call ins) between Trinidad and Grenada. Their equipment is capable of reaching southern Grenada.

Should we decide to venture south to Trinidad, for whatever reason, we will no doubt file a float plan as I just described.

Coral is a pretty big vessel to maneuver between the anchored boats.

Good bye, guys. See you in a month or so.

14 Comments

  1. I’m looking forward to sailing on Coral and covering her beauty during the Antigua Yacht races in April. Will be a very special event.

  2. I could be wrong, things change, but I don’t believe the Coast Guard wants yu to file a float plan with them directly. Check here: http://www.floatplancentral.org/

  3. What a beautiful schooner…….A float plan should be filed/conveyed for all coastal cruising too….Obviously not with the coast guard, but with someone ( a friend, your mariana, your destinations marina, parents, etc)………..we never believe “it will happen to me”……Just good boating practice!

  4. Great advice! This habit should also be used for other activities such as hiking, biking, etc. I may be in my forties, but my mom and daughter always know my plans when traveling!

  5. Just for your info, they are called ‘Passage Plans’ in quite a few other countries. As mentioned above, some Coast Guards no longer want you to file them (eg South Coast England – too congested) but they are still recommended, or required, according to the official Govt rules in most countries.

    I have never filed one yet! I have tried a few times and been told ‘Don’t bother’. Mind you, in a dangerous area it is probably different.

    Mike

  6. This is very smart on the part of the Trini Coast Guard – kudos to them for hearing and acting on the concerns of boaters being threatened by Venezuelan-based pirates.

    As always, it is best to remember that the police/coast guard are going to react to a crime and will likely arrive after it is all over. Prepare your passage/float plan accordingly.

    In my experience, Trinidad and its people are perhaps second only to Grenada for its welcoming attitude towards cruisers. Worth the trip and they have some great Hash House Harrier runs!

    Mike

    • Hi Mike

      I’m sure we’ll make it there at some point. I think they are taking steps to make the place a bit safer. Hopefully that continues because we’d really like to try a Hash there.

  7. Small point but the Trinidad radio station is North POST Radio (NPR)

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