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socafighter

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London Calling ...... T&T ferries an unpleasant journey
« on: July 10, 2014, 10:19:54 AM »
London Calling  A ferry unpleasant journey
Published: Guardian
Thursday, July 10, 2014
Joshua Surtees
 


Last week I took the ferry to Tobago. It wasn’t quite the Middle Passage or the sinking of the Titanic, but it was horrendous nonetheless.
 
Arriving early in the morning, we saw a queue of people slowly inching up the stairs towards the vessel, looking tense.
 
“Is this what it was like waiting for the Windrush?” I wondered. But these people were wearing flip-flops and baseball caps, not jackets and trilbies.
 
As we board, a group of people are screaming at another group.
 
We are disappointed all the good seats are taken and sit next to a man with “gold” rings on every finger and “gold” jewelry on every other conceivable part of his body. He is feeding his two-year-old daughter salted crisps, telling her to eat them one at a time.
 
A tense-looking woman is reading a book called The Morning After. The blurb on the back says: “His victims will take his secrets to the grave.” A cheery read, no doubt.
 
“Nice baby. Don’t take up that. Leave that. That’s garbage. Don’t start that. Daddy will clean you up when you finish,” says the gold-laden man.
 
At the food kiosk, the hot dogs are partially submerged in cloudy water. Hops are in abundance. The bacon is more rind than meat.
 
The baby grows restless as we sail down the islands. The dimpled water glistens. Four generations of one family, great-granddaughter to great-grandmother, cuddle up beneath blankets on the floor to sleep.
 
The swaying motion of the boat begins. I look around us at the various characters.
 
“These people will puke. I guarantee it,” I say.
 
Rounding the horn of Chaguaramas, the sea grows choppier. We fall into an extremely fitful sleep with our necks contorted against the glass. We wake with neck-ache approaching Scarborough, Tobago.
 
“There’s bits of sausage in the sink,” a woman says as she exits the bathrooms. We disembark.
 
Two days of serene relaxation later, it’s time to return.
 
The return is worse. On the way out we sailed on the T&T Express. Coming home it’s the T&T Spirit. Neither moniker is appropriate.
 
“This is an absolute disgrace,” I mutter, as we survey the Spirit. Every seat is coated in years of grime. Seat covers have been ripped off, revealing velcro strips, matted with fluff. We stalk the passenger deck looking for signs of civilisation, or at least cleanliness.
 
Rounding the corner we see passengers scattered in seats and the smell of stale vomit hits us. We backtrack and canter back to the non-sick-smelling area.
 
Unbelievably, the queue for the cafeteria stretches into the distance. The couple next to us have hot dogs, egg sandwiches and cups of coffee with straws in them.
 
The pervading smell is of damp carpet and cat litter.
 
“How has it gotten to this state?” my girlfriend asks, appalled.
 
“Probably from people being sick,” I reply.
 
I’ve never seen anything quite like this. It is reminiscent of the 1980s ferries that travelled back and forth across the English Channel, but much, much worse.
 
I’ve never seen this lack of sanitation outside of the Middle East. I’ve stayed in dirty, flea-ridden budget hotel rooms in Jordan and Syria but accepted it as part of the backpacking experience.
 
This is T&T, an oil-rich state in 2014.
 
Life jackets are shoved into plastic bags under seats. Port Police officers wear suicidal expressions. Weaves, almost plastic in appearance, are everywhere.
 
A fat man snores at deafening volumes, waking himself up intermittently. Another man wears a pro-drinking T-shirt which reads: “The liver is evil and must be punished.”
 
An eight-inch television monitor blackened with smudges, mounted upside-down on the ceiling, shows the safety video then an ad informing us that: “Drug trafficking is illegal...If a bag bursts inside you, you would be dead within two hours.”
 
The cartoon face of the drug mule contorts in agony.
 
The public address announcements tell us not to tamper with the safety equipment.
 
In some ways I hope the ferry will sink. Anything would be better than this.
 
I think of the portraits of Cadiz, Kamla and Carmona in the terminal, smiling down at us, and wonder if they have ever gone through this.
 
I’m not sure why I’m writing this column. Perhaps it’s cathartic. Perhaps it will help me come to terms with the ordeal.
 
Perhaps it’s simply a warning to other people never to take the ferry to Tobago under any circumstances whatsoever.


« Last Edit: July 10, 2014, 10:21:56 AM by socafighter »

socafighter

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Re: London Calling T&T ferries an unpleasant journey
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2014, 10:21:31 AM »


Ok Trinbagonians....

Since I have never boarded a ferry between Trinidad and Tobago ...

What has been your experience  ???

Offline Deeks

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Re: London Calling ...... T&T ferries an unpleasant journey
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2014, 02:15:06 PM »
I have heard it nice.

Offline 100% Barataria

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Re: London Calling ...... T&T ferries an unpleasant journey
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2014, 02:21:01 PM »
Never been, but when last I was in both islands, my brederin who roughs it wherever he goes strongly advised me not to do it, which I thought was interesting.  Funny yes, this should be part of the TT experience, offering different levels of accommodation/svcs as you traverse the sites between our two lovely isles, instead it sounds like a nightmare
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Offline Bakes

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Re: London Calling ...... T&T ferries an unpleasant journey
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2014, 02:29:59 PM »
The article reads like faux-elitist nonsense.  I took the Express both to and from Tobago in 2009, and the only thing I could honestly complain about is mild seasickness exacerbated from the occasional diesel fumes from the engine.  I had much the same experience later that summer riding the vaporetto (big mistake sitting in the back) in Venice for the first time.

Offline NYtriniwhiteboy..

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Re: London Calling ...... T&T ferries an unpleasant journey
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2014, 02:32:38 PM »
haven't taken a plane to bago in years...drive on drive off..easter to summer the water lil rough and idiots who aren't boaters all rush to the bow and surprised when they puking all over the place.
Haven't been on it for the year though, but never really had a problem.
Stick to the stern, pop a gravol and should be fine..
I really like it cuz I living in POS and yuh cud walk with a few beers and bottle of rum and lime before and on the ferry. Note - don't take glass bottles to drink on the ferry, even though they sell soft drinks in glass bottles. Had to point that out to a police officer on board who told me i couldn't have a stag bottle. She wasn't too happy when i pointed out all the glass bottles on board from the bar
Back in Trini...

Offline fari

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Re: London Calling ...... T&T ferries an unpleasant journey
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2014, 02:38:46 PM »
i took the ferry with the scout troop back in 95 or 96...i remember feeling seasick, going to the bathroom and seeing the sink full of vomit...that was so gross it actually made me feel not to  vomit oui.     and yes, when you hit the bocas that boat does go up and down like a dinghy oui

Offline grimm01

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Re: London Calling ...... T&T ferries an unpleasant journey
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2014, 03:43:55 PM »
The article reads like faux-elitist nonsense.  I took the Express both to and from Tobago in 2009, and the only thing I could honestly complain about is mild seasickness exacerbated from the occasional diesel fumes from the engine.  I had much the same experience later that summer riding the vaporetto (big mistake sitting in the back) in Venice for the first time.

It's straight up elitist nonsense. It's one thing to point out issues with the cleanliness of the ship, the food or general quality of the ship and amenities. But once he start pointing out issues with the people who using the ship, my question to him is what does he suggest that the government do to prevent people from snoring and disturbing him or feeding their children junk food or wearing too much gold on the ferry? Sounds like he as much offended by the "element" that he had to endure as much as the condition of the ship itself. Next time he should use the plane.

I didn't have no problems with the boat when I took my wife and son to T&T back in 2009. We took a small trip to Tobago and i thought the Express was a big upgrade from the Panorama. Maybe maintenance and upkeep slip since then...

Offline Deeks

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Re: London Calling ...... T&T ferries an unpleasant journey
« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2014, 09:22:54 PM »
 I doh see why they can't develop a port in Toco and the ride go be at least 30 mins. of course road to Toco has to be upgraded.

Offline Bakes

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Re: London Calling ...... T&T ferries an unpleasant journey
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2014, 12:05:06 AM »

It's straight up elitist nonsense. It's one thing to point out issues with the cleanliness of the ship, the food or general quality of the ship and amenities. But once he start pointing out issues with the people who using the ship, my question to him is what does he suggest that the government do to prevent people from snoring and disturbing him or feeding their children junk food or wearing too much gold on the ferry? Sounds like he as much offended by the "element" that he had to endure as much as the condition of the ship itself. Next time he should use the plane.

I didn't have no problems with the boat when I took my wife and son to T&T back in 2009. We took a small trip to Tobago and i thought the Express was a big upgrade from the Panorama. Maybe maintenance and upkeep slip since then...

I doh even think heself "elite"... he just posturing. 


We mighta been in Tobago same time... was liming with yuh sister and dem crew.

Offline Touches

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Re: London Calling ...... T&T ferries an unpleasant journey
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2014, 05:19:49 PM »
He correct

I went 2 weeks ago..

I dubbed it the vomit comet

Stick to the plane.



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Offline Sando prince

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Re: London Calling ...... T&T ferries an unpleasant journey
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2014, 09:32:14 PM »
Everything is good about the ride except the seasickness. Sometimes its too much and can make anyone think twice about choosing the ferry over a plane ticket for the next visit. my last ferry ride was in 2011 and the seating was good, food was good, not crowded, good view of the water but dat seasickness can make you vomit your lungs!

Offline NYtriniwhiteboy..

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Re: London Calling ...... T&T ferries an unpleasant journey
« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2014, 03:00:14 PM »
daz d ting..some pple cant handle the water and go onto the boat belly full and wonder why they sick..
from anytime after august to jan the north tends to be flat and nice, although the shallows always can have a bit of a kick before you reach bago
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Offline MEP

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Re: London Calling ...... T&T ferries an unpleasant journey
« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2014, 04:28:34 PM »
Sad to think that he is a feature writer for the guardian..."I look around us at the various characters" perhaps he should hold a mirror up to his face in an attempt to identify that character posing as a journalist whose inability to tell a story results in a comedic litany of one liners with poorly punctuated timing. Traveling the bocas will always result in seasickness. Just think how it was back in the day with the scarlet ibis aka maverick or bird of paradise much slower vessels. Part of also depends on your constitution I remember being on the Gelting and me and two odder pardnahs buss up a 40 oz bottle of VAT straight... -sigh-  the good ol' rum days

Offline Agent Jack Bauer

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Re: London Calling ...... T&T ferries an unpleasant journey
« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2014, 10:21:06 PM »
Did a round trip and would NEVER EVER EVER EVER do that again...........but if you have time and don't get motion sickness then I guess it could be enjoyable.

Offline Brownsugar

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Re: London Calling ...... T&T ferries an unpleasant journey
« Reply #15 on: July 20, 2014, 07:58:20 PM »
I use it to go home ALL the time.  Now, granted I have been using the ferry service since loooooonnngggg before these fast ferries.  The boats before were sheer torture with that 5 - 6 hour boat ride.

I hardly ever use the air bridge to go between the two islands, I just throw mih car on de boat and gone.  I am probably so used to using the ferry that I only had that seasickness issue once in mih whole life and it was my own fault.  I did not have lunch on time and ate right there on the ferry while waiting for it to leave.  Of course mih lunch end up in the people toilet.

Overall, for me the ferries have been a god send.  However, for some strange reason the T&T Express was upgraded about 3 - 4 years ago.  New seats, carpet etc. but they did not upgrade the T&T Spirit.  On the Spirit the seats are in a really poor condition, there is a stale musty smell throughout the vessel, it is just really in a bad condition.  I actually cringe when I realise I have to travel on the Spirit.  The Port Authority really need to do something about that particular vessel...

I also used to have a problem with the arrangements for people who are boarding with a vehicle.  You used to have to park (parking space was/is really hard to find) and go into the port building to check in.  Then return to the vehicle and drive across and wait to board.  Now you don't have to leave the vehicle just drive through the check in which is the way it is set up in Tobago.

The other issue I have is that I can't just decide I want to go home at a moments notice WITH MY CAR and get a ticket particularly on the weekend.  The car spaces sell out really fast so once I want to go with my car I have to book a seat at least 2 - 3 weeks in advance.  For the July-August period the reservation period is probably 1 - 2 months before!!!

Overall, for me if they could fix/upgrade the Spirit and I could go home WITH MY CAR at a moments notice I would be very happy with the ferry system........I am about 70 - 80% happy right now.........
"...If yuh clothes tear up
Or yuh shoes burst off,
You could still jump up when music play.
Old lady, young baby, everybody could dingolay...
Dingolay, ay, ay, ay ay,
Dingolay ay, ay, ay..."

RIP Shadow....The legend will live on in music...

Offline Sando prince

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Re: London Calling ...... T&T ferries an unpleasant journey
« Reply #16 on: June 12, 2015, 04:22:21 PM »

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/rHEdqsonZ7g" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/rHEdqsonZ7g</a>

Offline Deeks

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Re: London Calling ...... T&T ferries an unpleasant journey
« Reply #17 on: June 12, 2015, 06:51:55 PM »
Tell me why we can't have a ferry from Toc. I watch the moto.cycles along the North Coast road. Nice, but they friggin crazy. Real nice though!

Offline Sando prince

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Re: London Calling ...... T&T ferries an unpleasant journey
« Reply #18 on: June 13, 2015, 09:29:51 AM »
Tell me why we can't have a ferry from Toc. I watch the moto.cycles along the North Coast road. Nice, but they friggin crazy. Real nice though!

Posted some of his videos here

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Offline Bourbon

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Re: London Calling ...... T&T ferries an unpleasant journey
« Reply #19 on: June 14, 2015, 07:20:29 AM »
Tell me why we can't have a ferry from Toc. I watch the moto.cycles along the North Coast road. Nice, but they friggin crazy. Real nice though!


Well one reason is that there would basically be the need to construct a totally new port facility just to accommodate it. Galeota is the only port on that side..and thats down in the south east. Feasibility of any vessel leaving there for Tobago is debatable. The fact is the sea bridge needs some degree of improvement. Earlier this year when an engine was down...sailing schedules were impacted significantly and this went on for months.
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Offline Deeks

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Re: London Calling ...... T&T ferries an unpleasant journey
« Reply #20 on: June 14, 2015, 08:26:07 AM »
Tell me why we can't have a ferry from Toc. I watch the moto.cycles along the North Coast road. Nice, but they friggin crazy. Real nice though!


Well one reason is that there would basically be the need to construct a totally new port facility just to accommodate it. Galeota is the only port on that side..and thats down in the south east. Feasibility of any vessel leaving there for Tobago is debatable. The fact is the sea bridge needs some degree of improvement. Earlier this year when an engine was down...sailing schedules were impacted significantly and this went on for months.

Well off course they would have to build a new port. Would it not be easier to bus it to Toco(off course they would have to improve the road).  The time should be much less from Toco than from POS. I assume the ride should no more than 45 mins. Why not use Hoovercrafts??

Offline pull stones

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Re: London Calling ...... T&T ferries an unpleasant journey
« Reply #21 on: June 15, 2015, 04:03:04 AM »
pardon my ignorance but the article didn't mention who this LONDON character was, is it whom i think it is?

Offline Michael-j

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Re: London Calling ...... T&T ferries an unpleasant journey
« Reply #22 on: June 15, 2015, 06:58:08 AM »
pardon my ignorance but the article didn't mention who this LONDON character was, is it whom i think it is?

London isn't a character....it's where the author,Joshua Surtees, resides. He's a  free-lance writer for the Guardian and a couple UK based publications. His column in the Guardian is called " London Calling"....( I guess because he's writing from London?)
« Last Edit: June 15, 2015, 07:00:16 AM by Michael-j »

Offline Brownsugar

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Re: London Calling ...... T&T ferries an unpleasant journey
« Reply #23 on: June 16, 2015, 05:29:56 PM »
Tell me why we can't have a ferry from Toc. I watch the moto.cycles along the North Coast road. Nice, but they friggin crazy. Real nice though!


Well one reason is that there would basically be the need to construct a totally new port facility just to accommodate it. Galeota is the only port on that side..and thats down in the south east. Feasibility of any vessel leaving there for Tobago is debatable. The fact is the sea bridge needs some degree of improvement. Earlier this year when an engine was down...sailing schedules were impacted significantly and this went on for months.

Right now only one vessel working so is real pressure......not sure when its coming back.  The schedule is updated to July 7th.  Busy school holidays coming up so I'm guessing they'll fix it soon......
"...If yuh clothes tear up
Or yuh shoes burst off,
You could still jump up when music play.
Old lady, young baby, everybody could dingolay...
Dingolay, ay, ay, ay ay,
Dingolay ay, ay, ay..."

RIP Shadow....The legend will live on in music...

Offline Sando prince

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Re: London Calling ...... T&T ferries an unpleasant journey
« Reply #24 on: February 20, 2016, 01:37:05 PM »


Offline kounty

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Re: London Calling ...... T&T ferries an unpleasant journey
« Reply #25 on: February 23, 2016, 07:21:56 PM »
I very much enjoyed the fast ferries this last time I rode them (this yr). Big step up in terms of speed, time of arrival etc from long time. I like the seats, the fact that I could have my family around one big table, the organization of parking the cars; that I could go outside and watch the wake (is that a jet of water shooting out?) and spend the whole time on benches outside. Kudos T&T and screw that London calling dude.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2016, 07:24:26 PM by kounty »