Wednesday, 10 September 2014


We knew the trip to Guyana would be a tough one first we would have to motor our way East along the Trinidad coast towards Tobago. That went to plan and when we cleared the Trinidad coast. We continued East some thirty miles before turning South. It soon became apparent that the South Equatorial current was going to have a significant effect on our headway. This current is caused by the flow of the Amazon,Essequibo and the Orinoco rivers and at times it produced a three knot current against us. So while we were making six and a half knots through the water our speed over the ground was a mere three and a half knots! With south east winds when we tacked the course over the ground became anywhere between 0 and 10 degrees. We finally reached the mouth of the Essequibo three and a half days after leaving Trinidad and as it was the middle of the night and the tide was against us we dropped the hook and tried to get some sleep in preparation for the trip up the river. I say tried because the anchorage was very rolly and just before dawn a squall went through that produced 50 knots of wind and driving rain. In the soft mud river bed we started to drag but were in no danger as over on the Western Channel of the river there were no fishing nets and the depth was good. A fisherman came on the VHF to ask if we were ok but by that time we had dug in again and calm was restored.
                                                                    Squall on the way!
We started up the river on a rising tide and we were just feeling pleased with ourselves for negotiating over the bar with depths no lower than 3 metres when I noticed something in the water...just a plastic bottle we thought. I looked closer to see very low in the water some coconuts, as we approached it was a case of slam it into reverse and I could see a row of coconuts, low in the water, right across the nets! We slowly followed the line of coconuts around, eyes firmly fixed on the depth gauge and we successfully made it to the end of the net with no damage to nets or boat! As we edged up the river a voice came over the VHF thanking us for not damaging his nets. Nets are a bit of a hazard in the River as they are not always visible until you are almost on top of them and the coconuts are very low in the water. The colour of the water is very brown as the River obviously carries a tremendous amount of mud, sand and silt. Its a bit disconcerting the first time you pump water through the heads I can tell you!

The current is such that we were motoring at 1500rpm and doing 8 knots and we made good time eventually anchoring off Stampa Island for a wonderfully quiet nights sleep. It was like being on the hard again the boat was so still and with a full moon it was bliss.
Our quiet evening was soon disturbed by a fishing boat circling around the boat John went out to ask what the problem was and the fishermen were muttering something about compensation for broken nets. John politely but firmly told them we had not been near his nets which he admitted was the case and then he asked if we had a beer so John sent them on their way ...flea in their ear and with a couple of beers for their cheek. We later found out that most of the boats on the rally had given the fishermen a couple of beers,
so look upon it as a local tax!
On the way to Hurakabra we passed Two Brothers Island and a large mansion on the Island that belongs to Eddie Grant. John and I are old enough to remember his 70s hits.His mansion is distinguishable by the filtration station that is visible which is apparently panning for gold 24/7. Bartica is a gold mining town and it reminds me a bit of a wild west town... there are signs all over town saying 'gold bought here' and many locals spend alot of time panning for gold then trading it in. It is a very real town with water taxis plying in and out of the jetties. The locals were all very friendly and could not do enough for you. Not unsurprisingly there  quite a few Brazilians in the town and some signs are in Portuguese.
This is a very different experience to what we have had so far and we are both enjoying it!

Monday, 1 September 2014

Leaving Trini for pastures new

Having been in Trinidad for over five weeks working on boat maintenance we are finally ready to move on. There is a good community feel about Powerboats and this is typified by the Thursday evening pot luck sessions at the Roti Hut. Yachties from all over Chaguramas are invited and at times as many as forty plus would turn up to chat,socialise and barbecue. It was always a good night with the South Africans trying to teach us the finer points of using the barbecue! There are a lot of South Africans in Trinidad having sailed up the South American Coast it is a good place to haul out for the hurricane season before heading up the Islands or across to Panama.
We had said our goodbyes but as I was washing down the decks for the final time a couple of weeks ago I noticed that the chain plate on the stern was lifting....not good! John and I made the decision postpone our splash into the water and get it sorted. It would be silly not to. We employed a boat builder to chip away into the deck which was wet under the grp and we had a much bigger plate made to hold the back stay firmly in place. We managed to get all the work done in just over a week which I doubt we would have managed anywhere else around the Islands. Son, our grp man did a very good job and all we need to do now is repaint that part of the deck again at some point.
We finally splashed into the water but not before a bit of drama. Orion was in the strops on the travel hoist which was making its way down to the pen. Brent who was driving the travel hoist was then obstructed by a SUV that was parked in our way. Asking around no one owned up to claiming the car so he instructed the 'lads' to get the hydraulic boat lift and proceeded to drag the car out the way and deposit it clear of the travel hoist and out of our way. 'Had no right parking there ...this is a working yard' he rationalised and I suspect the car belonged to a fisherman who had left it there for the day while he went fishing. If he ever got the car going when he got back, I suspect he won't do that again!
Once in the water we went over to Scotland Bay, a quiet anchorage which is spoiled by the amount of flotsam,jetsom and general rubbish floating around. It is also close enough to Chaguaramas for the powerboats to come out there with their boom boxes on full blast and generally ruin the peace and tranquility.

We lasted one night before lifting anchor for Chacachacare, an abandoned island. A former leper colony it was finally abandoned in the 1980s and many of the houses look like they have just been left. It is a big Bay, big enough for all the boats that come along on day trips not to worry us too much. At night we had the Bay largely to ourselves.
Our five weeks on the hard gave us lots of time to plan where to next. There is a rally that leaves Trinidad on the 3rd of September for Guyana,Suriname and French Guyana ...John and I are not great lovers of rallies but this one is very small no more than 10 yachts are taking part, it's reasonable and so we figured we would give it a go. So on the 3rd we are out of here and on our way to Guyana and up the Essiquibo River.