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Hurricane season 2014 - a change from Trinidad

By Chris & Sharon Mildenhall — last modified Mar 02, 2015 04:14 PM

Published: 2014-10-30 00:00:00
Topics: Rallies
Countries: French Guiana , Guyana , Suriname , Trinidad & Tobago

Nereid's Rally 2014

On the 4th September 2014, we left Scotland Bay Trinidad, a day later than the rest of the boats due to some last minute work we needed to do, and began the journey to Guyana, sailing against the current and wind.  Four boats had left Tobago on the 2nd, two from Trinidad on the 3rd with another three possibly four to follow.

This was the second Nereid's rally to leave Trinidad and Tobago for the rivers of  Guyana and French Guyana and the first time the rally had been invited by the tourist company Mets Travel & Tours to visit Surname. This is not an "all in line and follow me rally". As long as members make it to the arranged welcome events, all is flexible.  David the organiser held seminars prior to departure and was always available to assist with queries.  The aim of the rally is to encourage sailors to travel South during the hurricane season and see what the Guyana's have to offer and will have to offer with the construction of boat facilities on the Essequibo and a marina at Saint Laurent du Maroni.  This is not a blue water cruising rally, this is against the currents and into the tidal, murky waters of the three rivers, Essequibo, Suriname and finally the Maroni, with their breath taking scenery and a chance to explore the rainforests on arrival.

Guyana

We were due at the Hurakabra River Resort for our first official welcome on September 11th, and eight of the expected ten boats were in place.  A very warm welcome was extended by the Tourist Authority, hosted by Kit and Gem at Hurakabra with television and radio coverage, and over the week we were there we were given river tours, walks and a beach party. Family members of one of the rally participants were even included in the welcomes.  There had been a lot of effort put into our visit to Guyana and although there may have been one or two hitches, David did his best to smooth things out.  On days where no activities were planned boats went to Bartica and Baganara to see what else was available on the river and finally on the 17th September we departed Hurakabra as a group and headed down river on the tide to Roden Rust where we spent the last night on the Essequibo and the morning of the 18th we left for Suriname.

Suriname

On the 20th September we arrived at Paramaribo to anchor opposite the Torarica Hotel, keeping clear of the marked area which fronts the presidential accommodation (clearly marked on up to date charts).  We were visited by the local Maritime Authority (M.A.S.), a very courteous and friendly men who spoke excellent English, and came aboard for a cold drink while sorting paperwork.  We asked if they saw many yachts and they commented that although most visiting yachts go onto Domburg, Paramaribo is an anchorage, they never once said we should move up river.  We explained that we wanted to explore the town and take advantage of the tours offered and not be an hours drive, out in the sticks.  This they understood and said we were OK where we were.  Unfortunately the Torarica Hotel had second thoughts about our use of their landing dock, as they were in bad repair and they feared litigation as a result of any accident.  Eventually the cruisers negotiated reasonable rate for the use of the hotel pool, while David and the Mets Travel representative tried to sort out passports and check in, which was not as smooth as envisioned though polite.  The check in system is not really geared for cruisers as yet, in fact the only people interested in our visit were the tour operators, this will no doubt change if and when the media becomes involved, but all transport was laid on and the whole thing was made as smooth as possible.

(Editor's Note: Anchoring at Paramaribo is no longer permitted, all yachts must proceed to Domburg to berth prior to clearance).

30th September and David with Mets travel organise the transport to take crews to check out. Five boats are leaving Suriname for Saint Laurent du Maroni, two boats left early and one boat had to move up-river to the Waterland resort so they could be on a dock while they replaced their water pump.

French Guiana

We enter the river Maroni on the 1st October and set anchor until all the boats arrived and we could proceed up to St Laurent and our official welcome on Friday 3rd October, and a fabulous welcome it was. St Laurent is working to make this marina happen and the first stage was to switch on the Wi-Fi, we all know how important that is!  Once again we were wined and dined, a river trip organised and transport laid on so we could go to the out of town laundry and supermarket.  There was even a new event at the request of an Amerindian village, laid on at the last minute.  All boats and crews didn't make it but I am glad to say we did.

Conclusions

The rally at 200 euro a boat was exceptionally good value and we enjoyed it immensely, every assistance was offered and David and the organisers worked very hard at making it a success, and we would recommend it to anyone looking for a new experience.  However, anyone thinking of joining a future rally should remember that you are leaving the blue waters of the Caribbean, so this is probably not suited to anyone new to sailing. It is up to you to check your insurance covers you for the extra miles involved and remember that you and you alone are responsible for the safety of your vessel and crew.

Chris & Sharon Mildenhall
S/V Quicksilver of Clyde

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