Navigation & Hazards
From Points North and West:
The passage from Trinidad to Tobago is usually a motor sail into the wind and current. By hugging the coast of Trinidad on your way east, you may minimize the current or even find a counter current. Approaching the northeast corner of Trinidad the current increases to roughtly 2 knots.
The passage from Grenada is usual a motor sail as the trades are seldom far enough north to allow a sail. The strong (one to two knot) west flowing current makes the passage more difficult. Referencing a plot of ocean currents is a great aid.
The bays on the south coast of Grenada usually require some daylight to negotiate an exit through their protecting reefs. This suggests either a very late afternoon arrival or more typically an early morning arrival after an overnight sail.
From Carriacou and Points further North
The rhumb line from Carriacou is far enough to the south that with winds East or North of East the passage can be a pleasent sail. The currents must again be considered, especally if going through the gap between Trinidad and Tobago.
From Points SouthEast.
Tobago makes an excellent stop on a passage from Brazil, the Guyana's or even Transalantic. The current off the north coast of South America provides a welcome assist along the way.
Filing a Float Plan and Hazards
The passages to Tobago are well away from areas of know problems. However, cruisers need to be aware of the incidents.
An excellent summery of incidents can be found on the Caribbean Safety and Security Net website. Breaking news can often be heard on SSB. Listen to KPK on 8104 at 8:15 every morning for the latest safety information.
In December 2015, there was an incident of suspected piracy near the oil platforms north of Trinidad. Noonsite Reference The Trinidad Coast Guard has stepped up patrols and has suggested that cruisers file a float plan with them. Information for filing a float plan can be found at - Float Plan Info. North Post Radio can be contacted on VHF Ch 16 or on SSB 2186 KHz (call sign 9YA). They monitor traffic off the north coast of Trinidad and have radar that can pick up AIS transponders at quite a range.
Note: Please remember to close your float plan upon arrival.
Unlike Trinidad where the yacht destination is centered in Chaguaramas, Tobago does not have a single destination. Cruisers arriving in Tobago usually go to one of three destinations.
For Navigation see the current nautical charts and the many excellent cruising guides. Doyle Cruising Guide to Trinidad and Tobago is useful.
Scarborough is the capital of the Island of Tobago as well as the ninth-most-populous in Trinidad and Tobago. Scarborough became the capital of Tobago in 1769. In Western Tobago, at the confluence of the Atlantic Ocean, Scarborough is the economic and cultural center of the region of Tobago. The Lower Scarborough area is anchored by Scarborough Market, with vendors selling fresh produce and clothing. Close by are the indigenous trees and shrubs of Scarborough Botanical Gardens. On a hill overlooking the city, the ruins of 18th-century Fort King George now house the Tobago Museum, with local art and artifacts. Scarborough's deepwater harbour was built in 1991; before that ships were forced to anchor offshore.
Scarborough is a port of entry. Immigration is located at the head of the cruise ship dock. For Immigration hours and fees, see Immigration for Chaguaramas. Likewise for Customs hours and fees, see Customs for Chaguaramas
The bay is largly open with a reef to the north and shallows around the point to the south. The only other hazard is the main electrical cable to Tobago (33,000 volts) from Trinidad. The cable landfall is marked by a light sign. Good anchorage can be found south of the cable.
Situated on the northeastern tip of Tobago on Man-o-war Bay, the sleepy fishing village of Charlotteville is the perfect destination for the cruiser seeking a picturesque location with a great beach that is largely untouched by the influences of the mainstream tourism industry. Since the early days, agriculture has been a main staple of the local economy, as has fishing. In the nineteenth century, the now defunct sugar plantations in Charlotteville helped the village grow.
Charlotteville is a point of entry. Both customs and immigration are in the same building as the police station. If the officers are not there ask in the police station.
North Post Radio
North Post radio maintains a continuous listening watch on 2186 kHz and VHF 16 for distress calls. They can also be contacted for routine vessel tracking and their strong radios reach most of the way to Grenada.
Tobago lies south of the normal hurricane paths. From June through November, the island does experience tropical waves that arrive once or twice a week during the peak of the season. The trade winds normally blow from the east-southeast for much of the summer and fall with a backing to the east-northeast as a tropical wave approaches. Squalls are a common occurrence with wind speeds of 5 to 10 knots above the normal peak gusts.
Trip weather planning is facilitated by surface prog (Prognostic) charts and forecast charts available on the Internet as well as GRIB information. Chris Parker provides twice daily SSB weather briefings on (Winter - 4.045 USB, 8.137 USB at 7am AST, Summer - 4.045 USB, 8.137 USB at 6am AST and 8.137 USB, 12.350 USB at 8:30am AST).
There is a current that flows between Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago. There is GRIB data available, but it often unreliable. There are often eddies that don't appear on the charts. Approaching the Boca you will experience tidal currents of up to 3 knots depending on the phase of the moon. Fortunately they don't last long.
There is a morning VHF radio net on CH68 every day at 8am. Cruisers usually monitor that channel during the day.
Channels in use by cruisers:
|16||International Distress & Hailing|
|68||Trinidad working & cruiser hailing|
|67||Available - low power|
Single Side Band
Single Side Band Radio reception is usually good. It is possible to pick up Chris Parker (see above) and the morning Coconut Telegraph Net (at 8am on 8.170 USB).
Internet - WiFi
Both Digicel and Bmobile provide plans.