Friday, 10 October 2014

Suriname and close encounters of the barge kind!

Having spent an excellent week in Guyana we celebrated our last night there with a BBQ and enjoyed the hospitality of the staff at the Hurakabra  Resort before leaving the following day. John ramped up the speakers and played 'Time to say goodbye' by Andrea  Bocelli  and we left to go down the River to anchor off Roden Rust and wait for the tide. There were two things we had to look for very carefully, fishing nets and the depth . It got very shallow at times and a careful eye was needed on our forward seeking depth sounder. We had plotted the waypoints that we had been given carefully but negotiating through what seemed like endless rows of sticks was a challenge but we made it through to the mouth of the River . The depths were shallow outside the river and we had to motor some 20 odd miles just to reach the 15-20 metre line. It was more of the same ....beating against the wind with the current sometimes as strong as 2 knots but after about 48 hours we reached the mouth of the Suriname River just in time for the right tide. This River is well buoyed  so it was a little easier to navigate than the Essiquibo but we did have just one minor glitch ....the overheating warning alarm went off  when we were in the middle of one of the channels. It was anchor down, engine off and Main down all in the space of  less than two minutes. John had been monitoring what we thought was a slight water leak all the way down but it appeared that this had suddenly got very much worse causing us to overheat. Engine cover off we filled up with hot water so as not to crack the block and we were back on our way but I was monitoring the water temp gauge like a hawk. We did not have much further to go so were able to anchor outside the ToraRica  hotel with no more problems. A closer inspection of the problem when the engine had cooled down revealed that our fresh water pump was now leaking like a sieve. Now we carry spares of just about every part connected to Dorothy, our  Perkins 4154 engine as it is no longer being supported, of the few spares we did not have was....yes you've guessed.....the fresh water pump! We had to seriously consider what we were going to do.
                      Paramaribo from the bridge- the lump in the middle is a sunken German boat

In the meantime there were other considerations, like how to get ashore ...! The ToraRica had a jetty with a day boat tied to it. I have to say it was in poor repair and getting ashore involved climbing over the day boat, up the side of  the jetty and then over the gate to the hotel which for some reason they felt the need to lock. The hotel were really not helpful at all though they did seem to turn a blind eye to yachties clambering around their jetty it would have been nice if they could have at least unlocked the gate. It seemed like really they just did not want us there. David the rally organiser had to endure a number of broken promises as to what would be available when we got there but people smiled ,were friendly and in the main apologetic. However, the situation was far from ideal.
However, there was an incident in the middle of the first night anchored that was unnerving and was an example of how sometimes as a yacht stuff happens over which you have no control. John and I were woken up by a call from another yacht who were being pushed along into another of the yachts by a sand barge that was not under command or engine and was floating up river with the tide. It was fortunate in many ways that the anchor of the first boat hit was dragged by the 80ft sand barge otherwise it could have sustained some serious damage but to me by far the more worrying action was that eventually the engines started on the barge it pulled away and disappeared into the night! That was both negligent, outrageous and completely out of order! As it was no one was hurt or injured but the sand barge could not have known this and the enquiry that followed by the authorities could not identify the barge. They all look the same! The incident really unnerved two of the yachts whose first instincts were to want to go back to Trinidad. This would have been a great shame ..... We had a duff water pump and needed to source a replacement and fit it before we could continue on  so the suggestion was made that we help crew one of the yachts up river to Waterland Marina where they could chill for a couple of days before moving onto French Guiana. John and I were happy to do this and then return to Parimaribo  to take in the sights  with the guys before going up river ourselves and sorting out the pump tied to a quay with power.. Vinesh from METS travel helped the guys check into Suriname which is a bit of a palarva! This solution enabled the yachts to take stock ,calm down and de stress.
One of the things that I have learnt over the few years I have lived aboard Orion is that sometimes things will happen that are completely out of your control and it might be difficult but you have to park it .....else you might just as well jack it in and stay at home in front of the TV! This was reinforced to me when a 6000 ton dredger wiped out 14 yachts on buoys in the Medway recently. That guy even had a pilot. Stuff can happen to anyone but if no one is hurt, no one is injured then the sooner you can get over it and enjoy your sailing again the better!
Waterland Marina is a tiny marina up river from Domburg, Noel who owns the place is very helpful and with a good internet connection we were able to source our pump from TransAtlanticDiesels in the US. Noel was able to help us with shipping it to Suriname but it was going to take a week or so. John and I needed to consider what we were going to do....... 

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