Apart from the hype!

Lots of hype!

Lots of hype!

So the rally was a success, and apart from a few photos which follow, I’ll leave it to others to share the details of what we did.

What others?

How about the Lion King’s blog. (This link runs it through an English translator). Be sure to scroll to the end and click “Newer Post” to read the rest.

And here are the photos I’d like to share:

Feels like Club Med...

Feels like Club Med…

As you can see it’s been tough!

Peak hour rush on Galibi beach...

Peak hour rush on Galibi beach…

Extremely hectic in fact….

Lucky we had the new jetty to make our safe landing ;)

Lucky we had the new jetty to make our safe landing ;)

Just getting on and off our yachts was a challenge, what with all that sandy beach to contend with…

They've spotted Susie's dogs on the jetty...

They’ve spotted Susie’s dogs on the jetty…

Don’t take my word for it…. You can see it in the expressions of this French couple…

I got to play bus driver thanks to Tropic Cata

I got to play bus driver thanks to Tropic Cata

Getting around town was a chore too!

A great meal at Le Mambari in Saint Laurent

A great meal at Le Mambari in Saint Laurent

But it was the only way if we were to get fed…

OK, I admit it. This was not the rally control centre.

OK, I admit it. This was not the rally control centre.

Can you imagine the logistics? Luckily rally mission control was at hand to take care of any eventuality.

We had it all covered,

I just thought I'd throw this photo in...

I just thought I’d throw this photo in…

land,

The Gendarmerie were keeping an eye on us...

The Gendarmerie were keeping an eye on us…

sea,

I'm the little dot by the jetty...

I’m the little dot by the jetty…

and air…

That's not a torch..... This is!!!!

That’s not a torch….. This is!!!!

Well I hope that this little picture gallery has been enough to shed some light on our adventures… If not I’m sending you Susie.

Would you care to hear my story?

Would you care to hear my story?

I know it all sounds like a tall tale, and it might not be as riveting as I’d like it to sound.

The stars and stripes never looked so good...

Look familiar? The stars and stripes never looked so good…

So I’ll leave you with a crowd pleaser… Just to let the boys back at the office know that I’m not really working too hard playing rally organiser.

And now that it’s all over for this year!

A sailors life in images….

The life of a solitary sailor... It's all on film....

The life of a solitary sailor… It’s all on film….

I finally have an answer for those of you who’ve often asked…

What’s it like to leave it all behind and sail off into the sunset in your own boat?

Google has unwittingly provided it… Click on this link to see what I mean…

If the link doesn’t work just type “ifno.info/blog” (including the inverted commas) into google and then press images

Bunnies, Mouseketeers and… and…

The bunnies are everywhere!

The bunnies are everywhere!

I’m back for another day of bunny watch… For some reason rabbit ears are all the rage at this years carnival.

Pa bunny and baby bunny out for a stroll.

Pa bunny and baby bunny out for a stroll.

But it does look better on some…. than on others….

The mouseketeers are alive and well.

The mouseketeers are alive and well.

If it’s not rabbit ears its mouse ears….

It will all be on facebook tomorrow.

It will all be on facebook tomorrow.

I photographed the lot..

Not that I wasn’t ready to participate in the festivities! I had quickly acquired my carnival essentials kit.

Carnival kit... Because sometimes less is more....

Carnival kit… Because sometimes less is more….

Energy drink, check…. Red nose, check…. odd voice whistle (makes you sound like you’ve been breathing helium), check….

Tailing carnival leopards... Dangerous work...

Tailing carnival leopards… Dangerous work…

I wasn’t just going to be a spectator at this party… Especially when I found myself on the tail of a young leopard or two…

So, did the great red nosed hunter catch his prey?

Now that I've caught myself a leopard, what next?

Now that I’ve caught myself a leopard, what next?

With the right camouflage it was even too easy….

 

 

 

 

I sailed to Guyana and didn’t see a single pirate!

Essequibo River, Guyana

Well what do you know, it’s evidently no more than a wild rumour… No pirates waiting to pounce on unsuspecting single handed yachtsmen in Guyanese waters after all. What I found instead was a unique cruising destination full of rather pleasant surprises.

More like sticks than pylons!

While the approach can be a bit of an obstacle course (weaving between fisherman’s gill nets), and there is a rather odd path (marked by an plethora of timber pylons), over the sandbank at the mouth of the Essequibo (at least 2.5m at low tide, I know because I anchored on it for several hours to wait for the tide). First impressions as I ambled along the Essequibo River were positive.

A hive of commercial activity near Parika

What an abundance of activity. Plying their way in both directions were vessels of all shape, manner and kind. Such a contrast to French Guiana where besides the ubiquitous pirogue, you’re lucky to see one cargo vessel a month make its way along the Maroni.

The slow Parika to Bartica ferry. Even Eileen was faster!

The entrepreneurial spirit is apparently alive and well here, as evidenced by the abundant activity. Cargo ships galore, timber mills, fuel depots, fast shuttle services. Makes me wonder where all these busy people happen to be going? Wherever it is, it’s at high speed.

The fast way to get from Parika to Bartica

Once again, I must tip my proverbial hat to the nations shipwrights! Despite the odd insistence on high prow banana shaped vessels, the Guyanese have devised a unique solution to the aforementioned visibility problem. Check out were the driver sits on these beauties.

Admittedly it’s a long way up the Essequibo to Bartica, so Chris Doyle’s cruising guide suggests Roeden Rust Marina as the logical stopover. I concur, even if there is nothing (in the way of signs) to indicate you are in the right place.

Supposedly I could have taken on fuel here but as I’d not cleared customs, I wonder about the legality of conducting such a transaction.

Nobody at Roeden Rust answered the phone numbers provided in my guide. Perhaps they have changed. I understand that Chris is about to release a new edition of his guide so perhaps armed thus, you will have better luck that I did.

Hurakabra Resort

Not that I have reason to complain, working my way through the supplied list of contacts I came across the phone number for Kit and Gem Nascimento. What a pleasure to speak with someone sympathetic to the plight of an inconsequential southbound solitary yachtsman. In the brief conversation afforded me by my dwindling phone credit (well at least Digicel works here), I was able to ascertain that a hearty welcome, a cold beer, assistance with refueling, and someone wise in customs and immigration ritual and lore, would be at hand at Hurakabra Resort (just 5 to 6 hours away on the flood). Simply follow the GPS coordinates outlined in your guide…

Not too closely however.

A correction worth noting in the 3rdEdition (page 234) is position GUK02 (GUYK02 in the image).It should read 58º35.730′ W rather than 58º36.730′ W.

Mind you, it’s rather obvious something is amiss when you map the coordinates.
 Hurakabra is a small resort offering clients fine accommodation in a wilderness setting. The staff are friendly, knowledgeable and efficient, so I couldn’t have fallen in with a better crowd.

Eileen anchored off Bartica

To yachtsmen, the resort offers a secure location for leaving your boat, experienced guides, and of course the all important bar and restaurant. While I made use of the first three, I chose to take my meals while provisioning in nearby Bartica.

Good holding in Bartica at 6º24.338′ N 58º36.995′ W

Anyone for steak?

Ah, Bartica, what a place! And I thought Saint Laurent du Maroni was the wild west!

Bartica services the burgeoning gold mining industry here, so not surprisingly prices are relatively high, but if you want to see what a frontier town looks like, you need go no further.

Pedestrian traffic in Bartica, Guyana

I revelled in the raw abrasiveness of the place. It permeated authenticity. No prettily painted Disneyland fruit stalls to appease the tourist psyche, just functionally brute reality.

By the way, where were the other tourists?… Surely this is a must see destination for cruisers?

I’m not the only tourist here after all…

Well, apart from this simpatico couple from (if I remember correctly) Belize and Honduras (they make Guyana their regular stopover during the hurricane season), I couldn’t find any.

Yachts visit so infrequently that the entire customs office staff were keen to pay Eileen a visit. Just out of genuine curiosity!!!

My Forró instructor

I had but five nights to sample the delights of Guyana and in the words of a certain actor come politician (who needn’t be named)…. “I’ll be back!”

There is much I didn’t get to see and do, so I’m eager to return.

Guyana offers the delightful antithesis to Caribbean cruising. Definitely worth a visit especially before, (or even after) I go and build a huge marina complex there too!

;)

 

Two weeks in Martinique

It’s not so sunny in Martinique.

Having friends show me around Martinique certainly made my visit here all the more enjoyable. For a change, I didn’t have to wander the streets like a homeless person or sit alone at a bar each evening looking solitarily forlorn while reminiscing over previous adventures.

Not that everything was as delightfully entertaining as I would have liked. The weather certainly did its darnedest to put a damper on the fun, almost preventing my arrival altogether (Martinique was on yellow alert), and when I finally did settle down safely at the anchorage in Fort de France I was unexpectedly boarded by four burly customs officers while asleep. After questioning me and sifting through everything I owned with a fine toothed comb, they evidently decided I wasn’t such a bad apple after all and left me to return to my slumber.

Do you suppose I can ask them to put it all back?

Now I don’t begrudge “la douane” for doing their job, but imagine what it’s like having your bedroom invaded by strangers, and everything aboard turned upside down and inside out, especially when you’re so obviously innocent of any wrongdoing?

OK, perhaps I’m not that innocent, but I insist that I at least look it.

Are we all agreed?

Surely hoarding a tad more aged rum aboard than what’s usually fit for personal consumption isn’t a crime. What other souvenir was I expected to buy from these islands? Besides, I’ve promised to send a bottle or two of quality rum back to Europe, and it’s certainly high time I delivered…

Traditional yole racing is all the rage in Martinique

So what’s there to do in Martinique that isn’t yacht related?

Plenty!

Apparently Josephine wasn’t too popular back home.

Being a fan of intellectual pursuits (ahem…), of historical significance of course, I found this statue of empress Josephine rather fascinating. I didn’t know she was from these parts!

Apparently she wasn’t that popular here, or having the head removed from memorials is a Martinique tradition…

Not quite Brazil but who’s complaining….

Well then, who am I to defy tradition…

Doctor Dolittle in Marigot Bay, Saint Lucia

Marigot Bay, Saint Lucia

I’m in the land of Doctor Dolittle at Marigot Bay, Saint Lucia (the 1967 movie was filmed here)… Quaint but somewhat contrived. Why is it that marina or tourist developments in general wind up looking like Club Med or Disneyland theme park imitations?

It’s all so colour coordinated! :)

Maybe the same architect is commissioned to do everything?

Remind me never ever ever to do something similar in Saint Laurent du Maroni…

Dare I confess that I’ve reached the point where every island is starting too look the same? Have I become so blase about travel to new Caribbean destinations that nothing strikes me as novel and interesting anymore? Even my brief visit to a real marina in Rodney Bay seemed somewhat lusterless.

What’s the missing ingredient here?

Something is missing….. and it’s all to do with people!!!

While yachting facilities and infrastructure generally improve as I venture north, and the scenery is consistently spectacular, the sailors welcome I’ve grown accustomed to further south is noticeably absent!

Now before I get everyone upset with me for making such a blatant generalizations based on my not so lengthy visits (in what could arguably be considered the low season), let me at least try to justify the observation…

Caveat: As I am rather fond of my personal wellbeing, readers easily angered and harboring vengeful violent tendencies toward bloggers with unpopular views are kindly asked to skip the following paragraphs…

Easily swayed peace loving, ad clicking types, please read on:

I’m afraid (not really, but bear with me), that in tourism dominated economies, visiting yachtsmen are viewed as nothing but ambulatory wallets, and no amount of well rehearsed “I hope you have a excellent day…., enjoy your meal… do come back soon”, plastic wrapped fast food friendliness can substitute for a sincere welcome.

It’s obvious that there’s been too many yachts passing through here, we’re not visitors, we’re a plague!

No wonder that even simple courtesy between navigators has become somewhat contrived.

In South America (or at the jump off points from Europe), where distances between ports are measured in days rather than hours, sailors eagerly seek one another’s company. There is a tangible sense of community among yachtsmen and everyone does their part (whether that be by assisting with mooring lines, lending a hand with mechanical repairs, sharing a taxi, even playing interpreter), to make one another feel at home. Wow, it’s just like Shangrila isn’t it? lol

Since arriving in Grenada, I get the impression that yachtsmen are doing their best to avoid one another. Other yachts and yachtsmen are viewed as obstacles (unless of course they happen to be the Cruising Association of Brazilian Bikini models).

I’d like to place the blame squarely upon the yacht charter contingent for this. They’re certainly not reading this article and conveniently can’t defend themselves. An obvious choice for a scapegoat, plus it stops me wondering if I’m being ostracized by other sailors because my boat isn’t pretty enough, or by the locals because my wallet defies their ambulatory wishes and remains stubbornly sedentary.

As I’m obviously too lazy to polish Eileen every second day, (and I think I’ve misplaced my wallet… will you buy this round?…), I’ve decided to solve the social niceties issue that’s been bugging me by being anti-social too, and avoiding all the well traveled sailing routes Ah, to boldly… (more likely blindly)… go where no other yachtsman’s wallet has gone before….

But first I have friends to see in Martinique…

Bequia is Better… in December

Anchorage in Bequia, Saint Vincent

Ah, this is more like it… Lots of bars, restaurants, and activities to suit all tastes, all within easy reach of a lovely protected anchorage. But where is everybody?

Plenty of boats at anchor but not enough people to fill even one bar to capacity.

Lots of boats but no people!

It would appear that Bequia is the victim of its own success… Super popular with sailors for one or two months of the year (the island can accommodate thousands of visitors in the high season), but if you happen to arrive in May as I did…. “forgetaboutit”… nothing… nada… you’d have trouble finding three visitors for each establishment…

It’s another very empty restaurant / bar in Bequia

Can’t say I’ve been too lucky with my timing, but who’d have thought Caribbean entertainment was so seasonal in nature? Fine if it’s seclusion you seek, but I can assure you that that’s the last thing a single handed sailor has in mind when he goes ashore…. I asked a local “What does everyone do here in the low season?”, to which she replied… “we walk our dogs”…

Thrilling!

More boats…. but still nobody….

It’s no secret that I crave a cold beer and decent food when I set foot on dry land. If I can find it in a venue overlooking the anchorage, popular with locals and sailors alike, where I can WiFi galore, people watch, and tell tall tales, I’m a very happy chap…

But whilst I’m reminded once again with the song that’s playing on the radio that “two out of three ain’t bad”… I’m already making my exit plans… (stage left…)

Union island sucks…

Happy Island, Union

Not really…

I’ve just been selling that line via text message to my friends (2 at last count but rapidly decreasing), because I don’t want them to think I’m enjoying myself too much…

Can’t have them getting upset as they sit at their desks furiously shuffling paper to meet their latest deadline. They might get the bright idea of giving it all away by going out to buy a boat and then… horror of horrors,… Happy Island would be crowded with a multitude of ex-paper shufflers.

It’s just another white sandy beach in the Grenadines…

So let me reassure them that the beaches are just like what they have back home….

No bikini clad Brazilians… but lots of goats!

The only girls I’ve come close to here have beards…

Downtown Union Island, Saint Vincent

There’s nothing resembling a decent sized mall downtown…

I’ve been plane spotting!

Flights to the island are “at your own risk” (If you don’t believe me read the warnings at the airport)…

and while I’m at it, I might as well spread a rumor that there’s no more anchorage space.

It’s a dogs life…

In fact there’s absolutely nothing to do in Union…

So as soon as I’ve finished my next rum punch (at Happy Island), and watched yet another monotonous sunset (yawn), I’ll make plans for sailing further north…

 

Now what? Sail to Carriacou of course…

What do you do in Carriacou?

Hey, nice anchorage…

A great opportunity to make use of “yea old inflatable kayak’s” new replacement… meet Loko the rigid plastic sit on top kayak! The one man, wet bum answer to all my anchorage locomotive requirements… Yes there’s nothing better than arriving at immigration and customs with a wet derrière…. It’s the latest fad… Try it….

Loko the RTM kayak

I’ve had to learn to kneel rather than sit in this contraption… It’s less stable, but so far it has kept the underwear dry…

So what did I do in Carriacou?

Beer Time in Carriacou

Had a beer…

Anyone for cheap Venezuelan diesel?

Watched the Venezuelan ship sell smuggled fuel to fishermen.

No comment…

Watched the wildlife do something similar…

Café… Perhaps Cafe… but Kafe? 10 points for originality!

Had a great breakfast at this place… Obviously I was drawn by the name…

Is it just me or has the English language drastically diverged from its roots here in the Caribbean? I’m sure everyone believes I’m half deaf given the number of times I’ve said “pardon” or “what was that again”… I’m told Jamaica (or my misspent youth attending rock concerts) is to blame…

Why Jamaica? Good question! Apparently it is credited throughout the English speaking islands with asserting  Caribbean youth cultural identity.

Which is just a fancy way of saying they have a successful modern music industry. ;)

I’m old school… because I’m only able to make sense of Bob Marley’s lyrics. These days Jamaican artists might as well be singing in Hebrew for all I can tell.

….Maybe they are…

Or it has something to do with the new varieties of weed they can grow nowadays.

Booty at the local boutique!

A note to navigators clearing out at Hillsborough.

Please bring, and if possible donate a pen for your fellow compatriots. A dire shortage of these rare instruments (for use by visitors in Grenada) means you will immediately be sent to the local supermarket to acquire one. I’d have obliged, but the shop only sold red ones!

If it wasn’t for the kindness of a complete stranger (generously loaning “their precious”), I’d still be at the immigration office looking enviously at the pens reserved for immigration employees, staring at my incomplete exit form.

Next island….

 

They build them better in Grenada!

A typical speed boat in Grenada

Look at this!

I tip my hat to shipwright genius in Grenada! Boats that go fast and still let the driver see where they’re going. Eat your heart out T&T… I even took a ride in one just to check….

The Caribbean rasta-man ferryman

While there’s nothing but “yachty” things to do in Prickly Bay, some aimless wandering about St. George’s gave me the chance to take these holiday snapshots…

Postcard snapshots of Grenada

The views from just about everywhere are impressive, no wonder sailors like to take up temporary residence here during the hurricane season, but for some reason it didn’t take me long before I started to get bored…

Panoramic view of The Carenage, Saint George’s, Grenada

Call it what you will, lingering PBBS, or landscape attention deficit syndrome…. but even these bright red fire engines didn’t manage to enthuse me for long…

Look at the fire engines mum!

 

 

 

 

Now what?