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Unknown haven in French Guyana

By Terry and Annette Teperson of SY Kaisosi — last modified Jun 25, 2013 01:02 PM
My wife and I spent 3 1/2 months in Degrad Des Cannes on the Mahury river this year on our Admiral 40 sailing catamaran. We then moved on to the Maroni River and would never had spent so much time in Degrad Des Cannes if we had known of this haven beforehand.

Published: 2013-06-20 23:00:00
Countries: French Guiana

Unknown haven in French Guyana

St.Laurent du Maroni: © www.marinaslm.com

I would like to share our recent sailing experience in French Guyana.

My wife and myself on our Admiral 40 sailing catamaran spent 3 1/2 months in Degrad Des Cannes on the Mahury river this year. Our stay was pleasant and the highlight was witnessing a rocket launch in Kourou.

Unknown haven in French Guyana The marina being exposed to the sea is unfortunately subject to a lot of surge and our mooring cleats took a lot of strain. We had the option to anchor in the river or raft up against a work boat. The marina is crowded with local boats with liveaboards working full time and are reluctant to let you raft up to them because of the heavy surge. During our stay a ship arrived on three occasions to discharge raw material to the cement factory in the harbour area. Each discharge lasted a few days and nights and the air born dust was terrible. Fortunately there was water and electricity at the marina to clean up the mess after the ship left.

Unknown haven in French GuyanaOur next stop was Iles Du Salut (Devil’s Island) +/- 8 miles from Kourou. This is a must if you are in the area. This was a former French penal colony and the ruins are impressive.

This is where my story takes a turn.

When we were in Jacare - Brazil, a French cruiser told us about the Maroni River on the border of French Guyana and Suriname and how nice it is.

The specific destination on the Maroni River is Saint Laurent du Maroni +/- 20 miles up the river.

We decided to investigate this destination. Having sailed this coast before on several occasions I had never heard of it. What a pleasant experience. We underestimated the west setting current and arrived at the entrance of the Maroni River after midnight. No problem at all, once we were in the river we simply headed towards the port side bank and anchored in good holding until daylight. I recommend this tactic if you need to wait for the tide to be favourable to assist you, since we experienced a current of approximately 3 knots in the river.

Unknown haven in French Guyana

We arrived at Saint Laurent du Maroni and anchored in good holding (sand no mud) in 4 m water outside the town and behind a wreck, which is now an island overgrown with trees and scrub. There were only three boats in the area, two of which were permanent liveaboards.

The bonus surprise is that there is no growth in the river and all the weed and barnacles dropped off our bottom. There are numerous old steel wrecks in the area, all of them decades old and have no growth at all.

The town is full of history being a former French prison town. The “Transportation Camp” where the prisoners were kept can be visited, where in cell #47 Papillion was jailed.

St.Laurent du Maroni is a port of entry, has a large supermarket and a tourism office as you land your dinghy at the beach. There is no swell or surge being 20 miles up the river, no mosquitoes (which was a big problem in Degrad Des Cannes) and I highly recommend making this your landfall.

We would never had spent so much time in Degrad Des Cannes if we had known of this haven beforehand.

Even better news! While we were there, we met Davide Matelicani, who is going to build a marina with all facilities required by yachties incl. haul out and storage. To promote this he has organised an annual rally from Trinidad / Tobago via Georgetown – Guyana to Saint Laurent Du Maroni, the first one starting September this year. Details available from www.marinaslm.com/rally

Our thanks to Terry for the above 3 photos.

Terry and Annette Teperson
Admiral 40 Sailing Catamaran “KAISOSI”
Flag: British

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