The motor sail to French Guiana from Guyana was a breeze… not even worth writing about… so that’s my excuse, and I wont…
It’s when I arrived that some real excitement started. As I’ve stated before, excitement for a sailor is a always a bad thing. Dull is infinitely safer, despite offering poor copy. 🙂
Motoring along the Maroni River I somehow managed to do my back in…don’t ask, I haven’t a clue how, but those who have experienced an attack of sciatica know the subsequent effects, ouch!
Needless to say that deploying my anchors in the usual spot was an immense chore. So much so, that I opted to use rope rather than chain on my trusty CQR and Danforth. Not the safest option, but a case of following the path of least resistance (or pain).
After several days of being confined to my bunk, I made tentative sorties for provisions and it was during one of these rare ventures that I had the fright of my life.
Just after dusk I made my way back to the anchorage by the tourist office only to find that Eileen of Avoca was missing!!!
How would you feel left standing there with just the clothes on your back (and a plastic kayak)?
Why didn’t the anchors hold?
Was it stolen?
Would I find it at all, and if I do will it be stripped of everything of value?
Queue the French Gendarmerie!
I immediately reported the disappearance to the authorities and luckily a river patrol was in the area. They took my details over the phone and began their search without hesitation.
Impressive, especially so when you consider that within an hour Eileen was duly spotted and intercepted.
With the equipment (including night vision) afforded the Gendarmes, I’m not surprised they made short work of tracking down Eileen. I was however pleasantly surprised by the high level of service afforded me. Taking me aboard their vessel to personally collect Eileen was an unexpected boon.
The subsequent trip at 30 knots or so in pitch dark did little to relieve my anxiety, but I needn’t have been so worried. Within minutes Eileen was under the Gendarms spotlight, her wayward attempt to make a leisurely tour of Suriname without her captain over. It’s true that I’d been recently making plans to visit Paramaribo, but I’d intended to be aboard when we cast off. I’ll have to have words with her! But none that are too harsh, especially after discovering that the anchors had been shocked loose after an impact… I still don’t know who or what hit Eileen but I have some minor repairs to do on her rubbing strake and toe-rail.
My wholehearted thanks go to the Gendarms at Saint Laurent du Maroni! They do a tough job, what with half the illegal miners in the jungle shooting at them, a somewhat porous border to police, and now, even the occasional stray yacht to recover!
That evening, two anchors redeployed with all the chain I carry, (despite the lingering ache in my back), I raised a glass to their health…