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Trinidad and Tobago has a lot to offer visiting yachtsmen. Trinidad is primarily outside the Atlantic hurricane belt, has marinas that can handle superyachts, has boatyards that can out-haul with travel lifts to haul 15 to 150 tons and services for both mono and multihull vessels and has safe secure storage to allow cruisers to return to home base for family visits. The facilities are modern having easy access to marine parts, skilled labour and services. It’s also more economical to provision in Trinidad with plenty of goods to stock up for a long sea voyage at favourable prices. Trinidad is into the techo age with easy access to fax, phone, WIFI, internet and courier services. When you’re not working on your boat, there is more to do in Trinidad than in ten other islands combined. Chaguaramas, located in the north-western portion of Trinidad, is the port of entry for yachts with customs and immigration conveniently located at CrewsInn Hotel & Yachting Centre. This area has grown tremendously over the last 16 years into a major yacht centre with a variety of skilled labour, services and parts. Whether you are on a hundred-foot charter boat looking to provision, or a family of four on a thirty-footer with a limited cruising kitty, Trinidad can accommodate you. You will enjoy the friendly, hospitable and beautiful island nation of Trinidad and Tobago.
Trinidad’s first settlers were Arawak and Carib Indians, although, having reduced in numbers over the 300-year period of Spanish domination, still have descendants residing in the Lopinot and Arima areas. Although Spanish owned, the French were the main settlers of Trinidad starting large cocoa, sugar and coffee plantations using African slave labour. After Emancipation, indentured East Indians were brought here to work the vast sugar cane fields. The English and Spanish battled over ownership with the English reigning supreme after 1797. Influences from all these diverse groups including Portuguese, Syrians, German, and Chinese are what make Trinidad and Tobago such a rich, multi-cultural nation. The two islands of Trinidad and Tobago were joined politically in 1898; they became independent from England in 1962; and a republic in 1976, with a democratic form of government under a parliamentary political system.
Trinidad covers about 1,864 square miles, with the rugged Northern Mountain Range rising to 3,085 feet. There is a flat central plain where the bulk of the sugar cane is grown, and rolling hills to the South where the main industry is oil and natural gas. The proximity of the huge Orinoco River (South America) to Trinidad’s south coast explains the dark, silty water in the Gulf of Paria. The capital city of Trinidad is Port of Spain.
Tobago’s land area is 116 square miles. The island has a coral base with a central range of low mountains and a flatter area in the south. There are several nice anchorages on the “Sea & Sand” island including Charlotteville at the far eastern side. The capital of Tobago is Scarborough.
There are approximately 1.3 million people in Trinidad & Tobago and English is the national language.
There are two seasons in Trinidad & Tobago; wet and dry. The wet season is from June to December. The dry season is January to May when the trade winds are at their strongest. The mean temperature is 84°F (29°C). Trinidad & Tobago is considered outside of the normal hurricane belt and tropical storms are rare.
Trinidad is in the Atlantic Standard Time (AST) Zone, one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time or four hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). T&T does not use Daylight Saving Time.
Most businesses are open from either 8am to 4pm or 9am to 5pm. The shopping malls do not open until 10am. A few government offices close at noon, so it is always best to call first to make sure of their hours.
Typical Business Hours
Mon - Fri: 8am - 4pm & Sat: 8am - 12noon
Mon - Sat: 10am - 7 pm
Mon - Fri: 9am - 4pm
Mon - Thu: 8am - 2pm
Fri: 8am - 1pm & 3pm - 5pm
ATMs are available 24hrs at most locations.
The currency used is the Trinidad and Tobago dollar (TT$) with the approximate exchange rate of TT$6.0/US$1.00. The currency exchange rate has been very stable relative to the US dollar for the last ten years. Major credit cards and US dollars are widely accepted. Foreign currencies can be easily exchanged at any bank.
Value Added Tax (VAT)
A 15% Value Added Tax (VAT) is charged on most goods, services, and consumable items. This includes items purchased in grocery stores, hardware stores, chandleries, fabric shops, etc.
A yachtsman is exempt from paying VAT in the following circumstances:
- When a business supplies materials and uses these materials to make repairs; both the labour charge and the product supplied can be VAT-free. Conversely, if a party other than the one conducting the repairs supplies the product then the VAT must be charged for the product.
- The goods are imported directly to the vessel and consigned as Yacht-in-Transit (see Chapter 2). The captain/owner of the yacht must usually be present to clear the goods through customs.
- When a cruiser buys a case of rum (for example), the vendor prepares an export document known as a shipping bill, which must be presented to customs at the time of departure from the country. Once cleared out, the goods are physically brought on board under the supervision and approval of the customs officer at which time the documents are stamped signifying that the vessel has left the country with the goods in question.
- It is important to note that there are no provisions to get blanket VAT exemptions for foreign flag recreational vessels.
The Trinidad and Tobago Postal Corporation (TTPost) is this country’s sole postal service provider. TTPost is owned by the government of Trinidad and Tobago.
For the convenience of the businesses and visitors at Chaguaramas, there is a TTPost Centre located at Coral Cove Hotel, Marina offering a full range of services which include private postal box rentals, EMS (Express Mail Service), TTPost Courier (for inland packages), TnTPost Global Express (for international documents and parcels), phone cards, and stamps. For general information, you can call TTPost’s customer service office at 800-POST or of course, visit the local Chaguaramas office at Coral Cove Marina, Hotel.
c/o S.G.I. Distributors Ltd.
c/o Tackle Shop
Port Mall, Milford Rd.