Having prepared Tainui for sea I have had a self-indulgent week stocking up on all those experiences which will be denied me after Tainui’s RSM arrives – Bach keyboard music, the Beethoven fiddle concerto, some lonely farewell fags and sleeps-in till noon, for example. All of them forbidden, then.

Finally Maxine floated into Trinidad like the Queen Mary entering New York Harbour – stylishly, in other words. She has this habit of taking over, ever so politely, without appearing to do so. This is just what I need when it comes to provisioning, stowage and making those tedious decisions about departure times, where to eat and the like.

So now here we sit at the Lighthouse Restaurant, sipping bile green drinks of unknown origin, all ready to go.


We’re heading west to the Netherlands Antilles (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) and then Colombia and Panama.

We are planning to tiptoe through some of Venezuela’s offlying islands en route, taking care to avoid Margarita and the coastline itself. Both are said to be notoriously pirate-infested, although our route has been approved by local sailors who know this area well.

We will leave here after dark, showing no navigation lights. We head straight out to sea for 35 miles before turning west to Los Tortigos Islands, 90 miles further on. We will not transmit an AIS signal, nor will we use our VHF. Here in Trinidad we are supposedly travelling north to Grenada. Word does get around, they say.

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