The marina grinch…

Here comes the rally!

Here comes the rally!

So after all the rally hype…

More work…

Another 10 mooring buoys laid… yay… thanks Travis…. plus a stack of meetings on regulating the future marina zone… DONE….

It’s regulated?

What does that mean?

It's take a buoy or move 150m away!

It’s take a buoy or move 150m away!

It means that if sailors don’t follow the marina rules the municipal police can have a field day issuing fines…

Ouch!

But why?

Unfortunately, a small number of recalcitrant sailors insist on anchoring willy-nilly between the moorings and others have stated that paying for a mooring buoy is against their principles. They are the ones that have made this regulation thing a necessity.

On the plus side, no more jet skis zooming around your yacht…

Plenty of space for you to anchor for free.

Plenty of space for you to anchor for free.

Don’t panic!

That that still leaves 15NM of river and creeks in which to anchor at no cost.

Fortunately, many sailors enjoying the services now on offer, and the convenience of being in the best spot, do not have sea urchins lodged in their pockets (as I do), and so the little marina in Saint Laurent already looks to be a success!

Some understandably shrug at any mention of mooring fields, but please keep in mind that the buoys pay the salaries of our dedicated staff and that all this is run by a registered non-profit association.

Long live the Nereid's Rally

Long live the Nereid’s Rally

Everything that it earns goes into promoting yachting in the region and funding next years main event…

THE NEREID’S RALLY 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

Another rally seminar?

The 2015 Nereid's Rally Seminar

The 2015 Nereid’s Rally Seminar

What next?

Back to Trinidad for the annual Nereid’s Rally Seminar. This year we had the Minister for Culture of Trinidad & Tobago, a delegation from French Guiana and the Minister for Tourism of Guyana there to lend support.

Cathy Hughes Minister for Tourism of Guyana

Cathy Hughes Minister for Tourism of Guyana

All good fun!

But as Rolf Harris once sang…. beware the man with the microphone…

Just keeping the girls smiling....

Just keeping the girls smiling….

The rest of the evening was just a blur…

 

A little publicity?

Eileen of Avoca on the hard in Trinidad

Eileen of Avoca on the hard in Trinidad

Eileen of Avoca didn’t really come back to Saint Laurent this time. I left her on the hard at Power Boats in Chaguaramas to do a little advertising, as I planned to travel a little more quickly over the next few months.

Who wants to come and play?

Who wants to come and play?

And just to make sure the rally message was getting through, I decided to run an ad campaign on Caribbean Compass…. The editors had been nice enough to run a few articles and news posts on sailing down this way in the past, so a little business sent their way was certainly overdue.

But would anyone really pay attention?

Would it be enough?

Just in case… a press release or two…

Extra extra... read all about it...

Extra extra… read all about it…

The Nereid’s Rally 2015
The Nereid’s Rally is an annual yachting event open to the cruising community, competitive sailors or anyone else wishing to make the most of the Caribbean hurricane season. It is the only international yacht rally for Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.
Held every September, it runs for a little over a month, bringing together a varied group of cruising yachtsmen and women keen to experience the cultural diversity, natural beauty and unique flavour of the region.
Often billed as the rally for people who aren’t really “rally people”, the event has always been more about visiting the destinations than just sailing. The Nereid’s Rally is not a race, nor is it a flotilla. Yachts are encouraged to set their own pace and simply meet up for the official welcome ceremonies and social or cultural events.
Everything kicks off with a formal seminar in Chaguaramas Trinidad on the 16th of August where delegations from Guyana and French Guiana together with rally representatives, showcase their attractions to potential visitors and rally participants. Though crews preparing their yachts often arrive several weeks in advance to carry out routine maintenance.
Shortly after Trinidad’s premiere motor boat event, “The Great Race” and independence day celebrations, a send-off party marks the beginning of the rally proper, and gives participants one last chance to “lime” with the locals in either Trinidad or Tobago (there are two starts), before setting sail on either the 2nd or 3rd of September. This year we plan to present some Trinidad & Tobago talent to make the 2015 departure the most memorable to date.
An official welcome hosted by the Minister for Tourism awaits participants on the 11th of September at Hurakabra Resort Guyana. Crews will then be given the opportunity to visit indigenous communities, explore some of the natural wonders of the region or go sight-seeing in the capital.
On the 18th of September the rally sets off again for the Maroni river on the border of Suriname and French Guiana where locals from both sides of the river (Galibi and Awala-Yalimapo) will play host to the international navigators before their final welcome in Saint Laurent du Maroni on the 3rd of October, which marks the end of the rally.
More information can be found at www.marinaslm.com/rally

 

So… elaborate….

Before the rally becomes nothing but a foggy memory

It may really become nothing but a foggy memory

Before it all becomes nothing but a foggy memory in a new year… Here is what has transpired since my carnival wanderings in Trinidad…

For the impatient… in a one liner…

The Nereid’s Rally 2015

Period… read no further… but at least look at the pictures… :)

Ah… yet another one (rally that is), and at the risk of having this blog start to get monotonous, I’ll tell you all about it in great detail…

It can occasionally be difficult to concentrate on work here in Saint Laurent

It can occasionally be difficult to concentrate on work here in Saint Laurent

The story does have some legs and may take many a post in the telling so do indulge me…

It all started in Grenada with a girl in a polkadot bikini who definitely wasn’t afraid of coming out of the water.

Afraid to come out of the water?

Afraid to come out of the water?

Enter my racy assistant Nereid’s Rally promoter Carrisa Victor… (Yes it is spelt that way).

Pan player extraordinaire, founder of the S.P.O.R.S. Performing arts company, and all round talented lady…. ahem!

Let's play pan...

Let’s play pan…

Together we gave a small presentation at Prickly Bay Marina to drum up a few new entrants for this years event. One crew showed interest… Never mind, the trip wasn’t a total loss and there was still plenty of time before the start in September, (this was March).

But I had to get back to French Guiana and start the proverbial ball rolling… Or perhaps the not so proverbial mooring buoy floating…

Eileen of Avoca on one of Saint Laurent's first mooring buoys.

Eileen of Avoca on one of Saint Laurent’s first mooring buoys.

Update: The natives are restless…

The natives converge on Eileen?

The natives converge on Eileen?

Time to get this blog up to date and fill in some missing details…

In our last exciting blog episode, rally organiser pseudo-extrodinare and sometimes navigator, yours truly, was dealing with some negative feedback from one unhappy rally customer (there is no pleasing some…), while making a last round of compulsory visits to friends and family before the big push to start building some infrastructure in French Guiana and Guyana.

Could it get more exciting than that?

Definitely! But probably somewhere other than here…

Working with the marina architect... :)

Working with the marina architect… :)

Mind you, my quick visit to meet with the marina architects in land locked Matto Grosso, Brazil had some high points.

But all too soon I was back in Saint Laurent du Maroni opening the new office of the association “Friends of the Nereid’s Rally”, and doing something that looked a lot like “real work”…

for a change…

The new office of the association "Friends of the Nereid's Rally"

The new office of the association “Friends of the Nereid’s Rally”

It’s now the end of January and I’m pleased to announce that Saint Laurent now offers a whole range of services to visiting yachtsmen including:

●Check-in Check-out Assistance
●Help with Provisioning
●Internet & Laundry
●Technicians & Spare Parts
●Repairs
●Fuel Bunkering
●Yacht & Freight Management
●Airport pick up & drop off
●Mail Order Chandlery
●Commercial Diving

There is even a mini cafe just for the sailors!

But wait… there’s more…

While I can’t offer you a set of free steak knives with your visit…

Nor will I guarantee 100% satisfaction or your money back…

Moorings here soon!

Moorings here soon!

I can at least tell you that the material to install 20 moorings is on its way, and if all goes well, you can pick up a surpervised buoy in Saint Laurent for around 10 Euro a day (extra services for long term stays) starting May.

For details, contact the association at:

office@marinaslm.com

 

Nereid’s Rally photos

Nereid's Rally 2015

Nereid’s Rally 2015

Just a random selection of photos from the 2013 and 2014 editions of the Nereid’s Rally to whet your appetite for 2015.

Kaieteur Falls

Kaieteur Falls

One of the many reasons to visit Guyana!

We love Bartica!

We love Bartica!

There is no better way to get around than by boat…

Flight to Kaieteur Falls

Flight to Kaieteur Falls

OK, maybe one better way…

Our tour boat!

Our high speed tour boat!

But only because there is no other alternative for visiting some sights!

So we leave our yachts in the care of our ever present escort...

The coast guard of Guyana keeping tabs on our progress

So we leave our yachts in the care of our ever present escort…

The anchorage off Hurakabra River Resort

The anchorage off Hurakabra River Resort

and go exploring…

Off the beaten track

Off the beaten track…

There really are times when it’s worth leaving your boat… (not often, but it does happen…)

VIPs arrive at Hurakabra

VIPs arrive at Hurakabra

Just as long as we are back in time for the party!

It's smiles all round...

It’s smiles all round…

OK… I’ll admit that I do enjoy a party now an then…. but the Nereid’s Rally isn’t all about the receptions! Wonderful as they are…

Sailing to Suriname

Sailing to Suriname

It’s also about doing some serious sailing…

Follow the leader...

Follow the leader…

And admittedly, a bit of motoring…

Al glass of rum anyone?

A glass of rum anyone?

With lots of breaks in between to do important stuff like…

Food for thought?

Food for thought?

Eating too much…

The Torarica Pier

The Torarica Pier

Playing tourist…

Pirogue anyone?

Pirogue anyone?

Checking out the local transportation…

Yachtsmen with balls...?

Playing boules…?

Enjoying a round of the local sport on the Mana River…

It's Kit and the Mayor of Saint Laurent!!!

It’s Kit and the Mayor of Saint Laurent!!!

Unveiling the “soon to be” marina in Saint Laurent du Maroni…

It's visit a yacht day in Saint Laurent

It’s visit a yacht day in Saint Laurent

and getting to know the locals…

The town of Saint Laurent du Maroni

The town of Saint Laurent du Maroni

Which is really what the Nereid’s Rally is all about…

The town hall

The town hall

The towns and buildings are certainly interesting…

Children of Saint Laurent

Children of Saint Laurent

but it’s the people that give it it’s true flavour…

Come see for yourself!

 

 

The Nereid’s Rally 2014 English Review

So the Swiss gave the rally and its organisers the thumbs up. Not even mentioning that they had had a small run-in with a drifting sand barge in Paramaribo at 3am in the morning!

Not everyone was so forgiving, but the crew of Quicksilver did a fine job of putting things in perspective:

Here is what they had to say (or link to their blog here):

On the 4th September 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 is the second Nereid’s rally to leave Trinidad and Tobago for the rivers of  Guyana and French Guyana and for the first time the rally has 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.

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.

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.), 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.
Early in the morning of the 22nd September a crane barge drifted into one of the boats at anchor moving on to slide along a second boat, whoever was on board the barge waking up at this point put on his engines and moved away fast.  As no sound alarms were made, fog horn or even DSC radio, we slept through all this and were unable to offer help in identifying the runaway barge which would have been easily followed by dinghy.  We awoke to an understandably upset crew, unfortunately the first boat hit had two children on board and with the frustration we all know when trying to deal with officialdom and a rising awareness that this barge would never be identified, there are a lot of them on the Suriname river, tempers flared.  The upshot being that the first boat hit and and one other moved up the river to Waterland to decide if they wished to continue with the rally or return to Trinidad. David did offer them alternatives and we offered to do any repair on the hull they needed.  The rest of the boats, including the other casualty elected to stay in Paramaribo.
Unfortunate as this incident is, it only merits comment here as David, the organiser of the rally, has been falsely accused of failing to provide a safe anchorage.  The area chosen was out of the shipping lane and nearest to the proposed landing site.  As we are aware, it is up to each Skipper to read the chart and chose his own site, under maritime law it is the sole responsibility of the skipper of any craft to ensure the safety of his crew and vessel, this includes ensuring the vessel is properly equipped and insured, if an anchor watch is deemed necessary again it is the skippers responsibility.

30th September and David with Mets travel organise the transport to take crews to check out and five boats are leaving Suriname for Saint Laurent du Maroni, two boats left early, one missing the blue waters and one working with the rally to facilitate our welcome in St Laurent and one boat had move up to Waterland so they could be on a dock while they replaced their water pump.  We enter the river Maroni on the 1st October and set anchor until all the boats arrive and we can 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.

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, you are leaving the blue waters of the Caribbean, 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 and Sharon Mildenhall
S/V Quicksilver of Clyde

 

The Nereid’s Rally 2014 French Review

The Nereid's Rally send off in Tobago

The Nereid’s Rally send off on Swallows Beach, Tobago

I spent September and half of October doing this…

In the words of our Swiss contingent on Magic Swan:

If you can’t read what follows, it’s not the beer… you probably just don’t understand French… No matter, you can always look at the pictures!

Amis navigateurs,

Après plusieurs mois passés dans les Caraïbes, nous nous sommes rendus à Grenade afin de laisser passer la saison des ouragans. Le plan initial était de naviguer entre Grenade et Tinidad&Tobago pendant cette période afin d’y être « en sécurité ».

A Grenade, nous avons entendu parler d’un rallye (http://www.marinaslm.com/rally/) organisé par David, qui partait début Septembre de Trinidad ou de Tobago avec trois escales au programme. Bartica en Guyana, Paramaribo au Suriname et St Laurent du Maroni en Guyane Française. L’idée de quitter les Caraïbes pendant un moment en attendant la belle saison et de découvrir ces pays nous a immédiatement séduits.

Nous sommes donc inscrit et avons rejoint un groupe d’une dizaine de bateaux pour mettre le cap sur le Guyana. Bien sûr, certains vous diront que les conditions de navigation le long de la côte sud-américaine sont difficiles car les vents et les courants ne sont pas favorables.

Our GPS tracks to Guyana

Our GPS tracks to Guyana

Certes, il ne faut pas s’attendre à faire du portant et quelques bords sont nécessaires pour rejoindre le Guyana mais est-ce si difficile que ça ? La première étape nous a donc mené de Tobago jusqu’à Bartica en Guyana. La navigation était plaisante, 10-15 n’uds de vent et nous avons atterris à Bartica après environ 6 jours, en comptant qu’il faut un ou deux jours pour remonter le fleuve Essequibo (magnifique !).

A trip to the local falls!

A trip to the local falls!

A Bartica nous avons été très bien accueillis par les autorités et une multitude d’événements avaient été soigneusement organisés par David. (visite d’un village amérindien, baignade aux chutes d’eaux, barbecue, etc..). En même temps, chacun était également libre de vaquer à ses occupations, visiter Bartica et rencontrer ses habitants très sympathiques.

Anchored off the Torarica Pier in Paramaribo

Anchored off the Torarica Pier in Paramaribo

Après un séjour merveilleux à Bartica nous avons mis le cap sur Paramaribo au Suriname. Grâce à notre organisateur, nous avons eu la chance de pouvoir mouiller en face d’un hôtel qui se trouvait au centre-ville.(et de bénéficier de la piscine!) Il s’agit d’une bien meilleure option que de se retrouver bien plus haut sur le fleuve, à environ une heure et demi de Paramaribo où, il semble que quelques corps-morts soient installés.

I say... Who wants another drink?

I say… Who wants another drink?

Là, de nouveau, des activités étaient prévues en collaboration avec une agence de voyage locale. Après une bonne semaine à Paramaribo, nous avons mis le cap sur St Laurent du Maroni en Guyane Française. Et quelle surprise quand nous avons atteint cette petite ville sur le fleuve Maroni! Un comité d’accueil impressionnant nous attendait et une fête avait même été organisée pour l’arrivée des plus beaux yachts des Caraïbes (comme il le mentionnait dans le journal local).

They had been running ads about our arrival for weeks!

They had been running ads about our arrival for weeks!

La radio et la télévision étaient là ainsi que tous les officiels. Nous ne nous attendions pas à un tel accueil et il faut bien avouer que nous avons été traités comme des princes par les autorités. (Réception de bienvenue, cadeaux, etc.) Les locaux étaient également curieux de voir arriver ces voiliers et nous avons pu partager avec eux de très bons moments.

An Amerindian welcome!

An Amerindian welcome!

A St Laurent du Maroni, l’organisateur du rallye et l’office du tourisme avaient co-organisés certaines activités comme la visite d’un village amérindien, une après-midi dans une belle propriété au milieu de la jungle, une expédition au super marché (c’est pas très exotique mais ça fait plaisir de retrouver du fromage!), la visite du Bagne, etc.

Nous tirons un bilan plus que positif de ce petit voyage le long des côtes sud-américaines et ne pouvons qu’encourager d’autres personnes à participer à ce rallye. Nous souhaitons ajouter qu’avant ce voyage, nous n’étions pas vraiment enclins à participer à des rallyes, mais celui-là est à taille humaine, avec un organisateur qui se plie en quatre pour rendre service aux participants et surtout qui apporte sa bonne humeur et partage ses expériences préalables.

The authors of the review!

The authors of the review!

A noter que David est en train de travailler sur un projet de développement du yachting dans cette région et qu’il sera ravi de vous donner plus de détails. N’hésitez pas à visiter le site : http://www.marinaslm.com/rally/ pour plus d’informations.

SY Magic Swan

The Rally Seminar in Trinidad

The high-life in Trinidad

The high-life in Trinidad

Trinidad has grown on me!

Now that I spend less time slaving away in the yards of Chaguaramas and more time out and about, I’m content. It turns out that organising pre-rally seminars is even more fun than I had previously imagined… I’m in my element… Honestly… Just look at how much fun everyone is having.

I'm the one sleeping at the front!

I’m the one sleeping at the front!

This year, not only did we have a Guyanese delegation, but not to be out-done, the French came too! Even if only 3% of the people present understood what they had to say. Perhaps it was the free beer I offered to lure the audience there in the first place that was to blame (rather than any language difficulty)!

No matter, we had it all translated to English just to make sure.

The French Guiana delegation supervising from the rear.

The French Guiana delegation supervising from the rear.

The most difficult part of the whole affair was picking up the television for the delegations power point presentation.

You may recall that last year I had to purchase a new 40 inch TV for the show, and I’d given it away, but on the condition that I could use it again this year.

So far so good. The only trouble was that the family I’d given it to live in Arima. Not only is this a long drive from Chaguarams but…

Sunset in Trini

Sunset in Trinidad… Time to drive to Arima.

Picture this…

Late at night… white man in Arima… leaving locals house…. with their TV in tow….

I felt a little conspicuous to say the least, but it was all for a good cause and I can add that the TV was brought back to where it now belongs pronto!

Maybe they will even let me borrow it again next year.