Guyana Cruising Report
Published 13 years ago, updated 5 years ago
Having avoided Guyana on first passing in 2000 it appeared that the reputation of the country as being a dangerous cruising destination had now changed. Various reports I was able to research indicted a pleasant and not unsafe place to visit. (Discounting Georgetown, which should be avoided.) A number of people, both involved in yachting, and local business people have been instrumental in promoting Guyana as a cruising destination and have been able to “fast-track” entry procedures.
Here are my observations.
With a combination of charts, both paper and electronic, (C-Map) and the use of Chris Doyle’s Cruising Guide to Trinidad and Tobago – Guyana, the approach to and navigating the Essequibo River is straightforward. Entry can be made from either the Main Channel (East) or the Western Channel (with local knowledge). Night entry should be avoided only because of unlit fishing obstructions placed across the marked channel. (So I discovered.)
Medium sized coastal traders and large tug/barge combinations navigate the River past Bartica. When anchoring off Bartica do not block the channel.
Navigating uncharted areas requires extreme care as there are many rock hazards in the upper reaches of the river. Local guides with yachting experience are available.
The water is fresh and becomes less silted as you proceed up river. Ideal for de-scaling your engine and removing barnacles.
IMMIGRATION and CUSTOMS
The first big wharf you encounter as you arrive off Bartica is the Transport & Harbours Department Stelling, “Welcome to Bartica”. Directly behind the Stelling on the main road is the Police Station and here you will see the Immigration Police office. Once you have completed formalities here the officer will direct you to the Customs Office nearby. There is a small payment required at Customs. $GYD 2500. Exchange rate at Jan 2010 approx $US = $GYD 200.
As easy a clearance as I have had anywhere in the world.
A temporary courtesy flag can be obtained from “BBS Gift Shop”, across the road from the Kool Breeze.
ATM:- Located at Scotiabank. Maximum single withdrawal $GYD 30,000.
We were the only cruising yacht in Guyana and had no incidents during our six weeks in the country. Bartica is a mining terminus town with lots of men and big trucks. Cheap rum is the drink of choice. Mix the two and use your imagination. A lot of men show little respect for women and my wife felt uncomfortable when walking alone in the town. Local women confirmed this observation. Other than for supplies there is little attraction in Bartica, unless you are a single man. There is an active nightlife with a strong Brazilian flavor.
Outboard motors are high on the list of attractive items and should be effectively secured. Inflatable tenders are not on the list but normal precautions should be taken.
We had no problems leaving our tender, (under the stairs), at the Kool Breeze Bar/Wharf, buy a beer and no charge was made, but for total security, both day and night, leave it at Lashley’s Boat Park between the “Stelling” and Kool Breeze.
Georgetown still has a reputation for violent crime and this is confirmed by the daily newspaper reports. A high level of security awareness should be maintained if visiting Georgetown.
Diesel, gasoline and gas are all available. A good range of bearings, oil and fuel filters can be found in the numerous hardware stores which stock a very varied range of products. There are fabricating/machine shops for general repairs and I had an alternator repaired. If it can’t be found in Bartica then Georgetown has a wider variety and selection of services.
Catch a fast boat to Parika. (Approx 1 hour). At Parika you can then either take a taxi to Georgetown or take a minibus to “Stelling”, (not Georgetown). From Stelling, catch the ferry across the Demerara River to the Main Market in Georgetown. Allow two to two and a half hours for the whole trip. Maps of Georgetown can be obtained from the Tourism and Hospitality Association Office located in Waterloo St.
Of the three resorts we had heard of only one was open over the Xmas/New Year period. Baganara resort, about five miles up the river from Bartica, makes yachts welcome. I cannot speak more highly about this place. From the beautiful sandy beach to the immaculately maintained grounds and the pleasant and helpful staff this place is a must visit. If you have children they will never want to leave. “Yachties” receive reduced rates for the bar and restaurant and if utilized there was no charge for using the extensive facilities. With WiFi internet access and an airstrip for fast connection to Georgetown, it is an ideal place for receiving family or guests. The anchorage is very secure and you can arrange to leave your boat here while you travel. The operations manager, Lincoln, is a qualified river captain and can advise you on navigating the river beyond the charts.
In 1994 a German sailor, Bernhard, first arrived in Guyana. While extensively exploring the rivers of Guyana he met and married his Guyanese wife, Sharmilla. After circumnavigating together they returned to Guyana and built a house just up the river from Baganara Resort. They are pleased to receive visitors and have a lot of information about navigating the rivers and Guyanese life in general.
We found Guyana a delightful and interesting cruising ground. Even while alone in remote anchorages we never experienced any problems with security or felt unease with the surroundings. Circumstances permitting we will be happy to return. We even made initial enquiries as to immigration and property ownership there.
Ron and Marli Llewellyn
Australian Yacht “Sula”