A Visit to Namibia, St. Helena & French Guiana in 2009

SY Westwind stopped in St. Helena after departing Walvis Bay Namibia en-route to French Guyana.

Published 14 years ago, updated 5 years ago

We were in Namibia in 2009, and then on to French Guyana.


I recommend Walvis Bay, it is by far better than Luderitz. The anchorage is safe and Namibia is safer than South Africa. Watch for fog and lots of shipping traffic.

Walvis Bay

You can get most anything in Walvis Bay. Repairs are easy to do as there are good Mechanics and machine shops with German quality. The Walvis Bay yacht club is very helpful. The anchorage is good holding and does not smell of sulfur. We spent 4 months there. The yacht club has good food, cold beer, laundry, mail and a small dingy dock. Be very careful at the ATMs. Best to go inside the bank to get money. The yacht club will tell you the current tax rate to town. You can get fuel at the main port. Clearing in at the post office is straightforward and easy. You can safely walk the town. Food is good and reasonable. It is also worth going to the game parks here. It was an easy run to St Helena from Namibia on a reach.

St Helena

St Helena was a good stop. Very interesting to tour. We spent about 10 days there. Call for a water taxi to bring you in to clear at the port. Bring a letter for immigration stating that you take full financial responsibility for your medical costs and you will not have to bond. Clearing in is easy. Weapons are no problem as long as they are declared and stay aboard. At request Diesel is delivered to the boat. Use the water taxi and they will bill you when you’re ready to leave. We had no problem with holding, though other boats dragged. A lot of history to see.


The run to French Guyana was a reach with light winds and some squalls.

De Grads de Cannes

Enter De Grads De Cannes in daylight slack flood as the tides run strong. The channel is well marked. It may be shallow at buoy 12 (mud Bottom). They dredge the channel often. The anchorage is across from the yacht floating yacht docks. Locals take up the docks. You will see other yachts at anchor there. You can get water at the docks. Good holding in 4 meters with about a 4-knot current, though some yachts did drag in the local squalls. Watch out for the dredge as it works daily in the harbour.

Clear in with the port captain first. From the yacht docks, it’s about 1 km walk to the port. There is No fee and the harbour master is very friendly. Next go to the Customs office (Douane’s) about 1 block away from the Harbormasters office. Unless you are French the Harbor Master advised not to bother with Immigration. We were also advised by customs we could stay as long as we wanted just check in once a year and stay out of trouble. They stamped our passports. We stayed for 3 months.

It is safe to walk but about 10 km to Cayenne. There is a local bus-van service at about 3 Eu to Cayenne. The nearest Diesel is at a petrol station about 4 km away. Fuel is 1.09 Eu per/Lt and food is expensive. Currency is in Euro and everything is about 40% higher than in France. Lots of jobs here for French citizens. In Cayenne “Core” is the best supermarket. Not much English spoke here. Bribes are expected by local non-French. Even The FedEx driver tried to get 50 Eu to give me my mail! Fed Ex said they were not surprised… We cleared out in De Grad.

The Islands

Isl De Salute is worth going to. No permits are required.

The calmest anchorage is on the west side of Isle Du Diable at 5 deg 17.5 N, 52 deg 35.1W in 5 m with good holding, however landing here is strictly forbidden.

The anchorage at Isle St. Joseph is deep – 10 metres and a funny back wind can blow around the island and put you close to the shore. The anchorage is tight due to permanent moorings for tourist catamarans.

Isle Royale has a more defined wind but the holding can be poor in the very soft mud. If there is a rocket launch due at Kourou you will not be allowed to stay on the island. There is a nice hotel/Cafe on top of Isle Royale. The prison ruins are very interesting.

The islands are a dream to visit and are beautiful.


We entered Kourou at high slack as the channel is shallow but well marked. Better supplies in Cayenne. Anchor up river just past the fishing docks on the north side out of channel inside buoy K15-K17 in about 3 m. Holding good with strong currents at 3-4 knots. Diesel is about 1 km away. Water can be taken at the fishing docks. You can clear in and out here. Temp is tropical. There are no problems with Malaria as long as you stay on the coast. Few yachts other than French go here. It is worth stopping and safe through the 3rd world.

Hope some of this helps.

By the way, We sailed from San Juan PR to North Palm Beach, Fl in Nov tracking East of the Bahamas then entered the Providence channel to Palm Beach, Fl. Motored about 250 miles of the passage. It was an easy run. This Nov we sail back to USVI Running well East of the Bahamas then south to USVI. From there in April to Panama and the Pacific.



SY Westwind

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