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!

 

 

On Passage to Tobago: NOT Suspiciously Pursued off Suriname – 2012

Rebel Lady comes to say hello!

I want to talk about pirates… It’s bound to find me a willing audience and no sailor worth his salt (in yarn telling) is without a repertoire of at least three life threatening pirate encounters.

I am admittedly somewhat inspired by a relatively recent report I’d read on noonsite.

Riveting stuff, but I can’t help making comparisons with what I’ve encountered on a regular basis, both within and well outside the area indicated by the report.

Fishing vessels have a habit of intercepting sailing yachts at sea. Sometimes its intentional, sometimes it’s not. Often it’s curiosity, but if you’ve ever seen how fishing vessels zigzag at sea, it’s really no surprise that they appear (at some stage or another), to be on a collision course.

So when a sailor says “This guy altered course as well … bearing and track to meet ours … I altered a bit more … he adjusted to intercept our line of travel … very odd!

In fact, this isn’t odd at all…

Then there is the “I saw a strange light” phenomenon”… Analogous to a UFO close encounter of the 1st kind…

Momentarily I glanced back … swore I saw a light on the horizon … on and then off …

and

There it was again … a light behind us … on and off … just once …

So on the basis of a fishing vessel seen on an intercept course and lights that flash at night, we have gone from “odd” to

I felt something was not right here …

Off Suriname fishermen use flashing lights to mark their nets. Frustrating because you have no idea which way to pass them, but it’s certainly not peculiar. In these waters, vessels will momentarily shine a light (sometimes just a torch, sometimes their mobile phone) if they see another vessel close by. It’s how they let you know they are there… Their boats are not equipped with navigation lights or radar reflectors for that matter.

But behold… further proof that something was amiss…

at which point I turned on the engines, swung around and headed straight out to sea …

In the distance we could see the boats meet up … now with all their lights on and there was a bit of a flurry of movement between them… of course we were not there …

Could they now be busy bringing in their nets?

Of course all rational thought goes out the window, especially when you’re physically and mentally exhausted…

I didn’t sleep a wink that night … “ and “During the early hours of the morning … there it was .. a light on a boat approaching our stern …he was gaining speed on us … @#$%&* !!!

I went downstairs and fetched the flare gun …

Is it just me or do others suspect that there has been a sudden quantum leap in irrational behavior here?

Did you say pirates???

Let me digress now and tell the story of my latest 6 day trip to Tobago.

On day five (the rest isn’t worth recounting), at 4am in the morning, I found myself in surprisingly similar circumstances.

I’d seen the lights of several fishing vessels the previous evening and 100NM out from Venezuela, I found a vessel rapidly closing in on Eileen’s stern.

After unsuccessfully hailing the crew on VHF 16, I sat watching it’s approach. I did not however fetch the flare gun…

I don’t own one…

When the boat was within a few cables it abruptly veered to port to… to… to….

overtake…

No pirate paraphernalia such as grappling hooks or waving Kalashnikov’s materialized, all I got was a good look at their fishing gear…

That they did not respond to my calls on VHF is not so unusual. Even fellow yachtsmen with fancy HF and VHF equipment entertain the bizarre habit of keeping them switch off.

Which takes us back to….

vessel approaching, we have to assume your intention is to do harm … we will have to take action against you … please alter course now … they did not … I took aim with my flare gun and fired

Go figure!

Their engines roared as they turned to port and disappeared like a bat out of hell!

Wouldn’t you?

On my last day out from Tobago another fishing vessel approached Eileen on an “intercept” course. This time it was during daylight hours, so I was able to take a nice snapshot for the blog. When the boat was within a few cables, my VHF radio came to life (Note that I leave mine on despite the drain on the batteries).

Fisherman: “Little boat, this is Rebel Lady, are you alright?”

Eileen: “Yes everything is fine thank you.”

Fisherman: “Just came over to check. That’s one small boat you have there. Where are you headed?

I’ll spare you the rest of the small talk but I’ll have you note that at no point did he have me walk the plank or hand over my treasures…

I’m now safely at anchor in Tobago telling pirate tales to anyone who buys me a drink… ;)

Dullburg not Domburg?

The Domburg jetty. Not for the use of cruisers.

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, there’s plenty of positive press on the Internet touting Suriname as a must see cruising destination (see www.noonsite.com), but having experienced it’s wonders first hand, a word of warning…

Would be journalists, travel writers and bloggers take note… (yours truly included). There is a negative side to too much flattering press, and that is the risk of raising the expectations of prospective visitors to unrealistic levels!

Harboring just this type of expectation for Domburg, which in my mind had become the lost “Garden of Eden”, set me up for some seriously disappointing disillusionment.

Note to navigators planning to visit Saint Laurent du Maroni… I’m making no claim that it’s Shangri-La…

You have been warned!!!

So, where did it all go wrong?

What cruisers really get to use as a dingy dock.

Perhaps Domburg was a navigators paradise, but that was yesteryear. I found the site in obvious decline. Many of the buildings lining the square are now abandoned and in severe disrepair and the only semblance of vitality is limited to Sunday afternoons, when the odd dilapidated restaurant reopens for business.

The children’s playground in Domburg and my kayak parking spot!c

Rusting children’s amusements and sheltered seating areas that threaten collapse, simply underline Domberg’s former glory.

Where were the promised new developments including a dingy dock? Apparently someone is building one further up the river… sometime… but don’t hold your breath…. Remind you of someone? lol

Where was the cafe crowd of restaurant goers and shopping enthusiasts expected at a site like this?

Apart from the Sunday revival, they’ve come and gone…

Meeting of the single handed sailors association… Domburg Suriname

Domburg’s heyday was in 2007, when it boasted 10 swinging moorings and a lively social scene for visitors. They are now down to 3 moorings and what social scene remains is limited to “happy hour”. Cheap beer from 4pm to midnight at the only snack bar open during the week. When you’ve had your fill, it’s back to your boat until 4pm the following day to repeat the ritual.

This is where the sailors currently hang out in Domburg.

Yes, It’s fun…. but only twice…. or thrice….

Fortunately, Paramaribo, a cheap bus ride away, is Domburg’s saving grace. But you need to get up early and return by 4pm or it’s a 70 SRD ride (one way) for the 20km trip to town.

I was never awake early enough (after the 4pm to midnight beer sessions) to catch this bus, and I’m habitually allergic to taking money out of my wallet (for taxis). What a conundrum!

I’m told the best option for visitors, and lightweight beer swillers with painful hangovers (that would be me), is to hire a taxi (minimum 4 hours) for “business purposes”. This way you get a chauffeur for 30 to 35 SRD an hour willing to take you where you wish. Good news because you can expect to make several trips to town (over several days) just to officially check in!

Many don’t bother, but I certainly wouldn’t want to be unlucky enough to be “caught out” without the proper paperwork…

Get your provisions at the corner Chinese store..

The more cynical than me types (admittedly a rare phenomenon), and the occasional conspiracy theorist (I met one once but the black helicopters took him away), believe that the venue has been earmarked by the government for large scale development. Hence the slow push to stifle what small business remains and the total disregard for maintenance.

Dutch speakers tend to feel right at home here (though not because it looks run down). and non-Dutch speakers, who may feel less at home, make up for the lack of belonging by going shopping! What else?

You can definitely find bargains at nearby Paramaribo on everything from solar panels and deep cycle batteries, to anchor chain and galvanizing services.

No bikini clad beauties to photograph? I’ll just feed the stray kittens instead…

But if you came to Domburg for the nightlife, or the beautiful bikini clad girls, you may be sorely disappointed.

I came to see the beautiful girls in their bikinis…. :(

 

The ultimate stopover for sailors in French Guiana!

Ahoy there! Arrrr

Ahoy there fellow and would be adventurers!

I might have a tale or two to tell about Saint Laurent if you can spare me a moment or two…

Not so deep in the amazon jungle… err in fact not that close either… lies a small town forgotten by all..(except those seeking French welfare payments)… It’s “the place”, the ultimate stopover for hardy sailors seeking refuge from the torturous (flat) seas and tempests (10kts today) of South Americas Northeastern coast! Paradoxically, it’s the penal colony of Saint Laurent on the Maroni river in La Guyane.

No prisoners left these days, but curiously enough the place doesn’t even warrant a mention in any of my guide books.

Despite this, St. Laurent boasts:

  • the safest, most sheltered anchorage in French Guiana;
  • wild leopards!
  • easy access at high tide along a buoyed, lit channel;
  • wild leapoards!
  • great provisioning at Super U (and free WiFi);
  • wild leopards!
  • and plenty to see and do (more on wild leopards later).

I’d expected the town to be packed with tourists of all nationalities, but for some unknown reason St Laurent sees only a trickle of French visitors. Why the secrecy?

Hidden wonders!

For yachtsmen it is well positioned, (the Maroni defines the border between Suriname and La Guyane) so one can visit both countries from the one anchorage. However, from what I’ve seen of Suriname, I’d strongly suggest sticking to the French side of the river!

Here is what I’ve been up to over the past 3 weeks:

Spot Eileen!

I’ve hung out at the anchorage for yachtsmen, where I’ve made new friends…. Beware of the ferocious guard dog on their catamaran! I’m the almost invisible yacht in the photo…The pontoon is currently under repair but should be fixed by the time you read this… (in hardback at a bookstore near you…)

Buildings in the administrative quarter, Saint Laurent, French Guiana

The first thing I do when I arrive at a new destination is to take a few photos of buildings. It gets me in touch with the place and makes me feel suitably touristy (I’m just a touchy feely sort of guy) . No buildings in particular mind you…though a church often makes the cut (for karma points?)

For some reason, they wouldn't let me in....

Then it’s a matter of photographing whatever happens to take my fancy (architecturally) on the day:

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more

Focusing on some of the more extreme examples that draw the eye.. or nose… (no not many live like this nowadays!).

A country cottage in French Guiana?

It would appear that the French government is happily handing out nice new commission houses for all takers… I was tempted to take three! But join the queue, there is a rush on them from clients on the other side of the river…

Nevertheless, St. Laurent isn’t just about burgeoning housing estates! Transport and communication have obviously had significant growth over the last few years…

Ground control to Major Tom.....

Can your television dish grow any bigger that this?

Runs like a dream... honest...

Perhaps a little more manure is needed here for adequate growth…

But I’m sure none of this superficial sophomoric photography is what truly interests readers… What if I venture to tell you of the more sinister aspects of St. Laurent?

Just take a look at this!!!!

Insidious hair extensions... what next?

OK, it looks like a local girl with a pretty smile. But what you may have failed to notice is the platted creature attached to her head! Fake hair extensions!!! Indeed, just the tip of the hirsute iceberg, as I was to discover during my three week investigation.

Upon closer inspection, a good 60% of the female population has succumbed to the diminutive form (i.e. the extension) or full grown variety (the complete wig or peruke). Twilight Zone music queued here….

I’m told they are all the rage in parts of Africa, but I’d never seen them…. ’till now that is… and I’m strangely fascinated…

Double trouble.... New found friends from Martinique

No, these girls are not wearing wigs… I checked… There are secret ways….

It’s Regina and Anne, from Martinique stepping out of cell number 47.

So?

Papillon

Ever read the Henri Charrière book Papillon?

Apparently he was holed up here while waiting transport to the Salvation Islands off Kourou where political troublemakers were kept.

Now that could be a wig…

What to do to kill time in the Amazon....

It’s Pamela Anderson on the Maroni river… Or perhaps it’s Pamela superimposed on a photo of the Maroni river. It was proudly displayed to me by an Amerindian in the jungle and has pride of place in his hut next to the chain saw…

Yes, in the few hours of leisure time afforded by my hectic schedule, I managed to wander about in the amazon jungle seeking calendar girls and wildlife…. and here is proof..

I can't figure out why I'm wearing shades...

Not that I managed to see much wildlife. In fact there was more on display in town.

I have a lizard this big...... lol

Oh, and did I mention the wild night leopards of Saint Laurent?

Too dangerous to approach for a close up...

Apparently they come in all sizes (both with and without wigs…)

To be expected when I hang around rather dubiously named establishments such as this:

Just hanging out at a "titi" bar....

Don’t worry… I didn’t spend all my time there…

The three wise men...

We three wise men (see photo) have considerably more cultural pursuits in mind with regards to entertainment…

Apparently this means "courting women"...

Like admiring the local tribal art…

View of the Maroni River

Enjoying nature

Local dragster... or smugglers delight...

Checking out what passes as a hot-rod streetcar in these parts…

Listening to a little Bach before tea...

And other high brow cultural pursuits… ;)

No mosquito is going to feast on me!

Not taking my anti-malaria medication (Malerone), because thankfully there aren’t too many mosquitoes, has probably been my most daring accomplishment do date!

Thrilling, isn’t it?

Go get them Buffy....

Though I was kind of tempted to wait for this bus on a dare,

Thierry taking his lunch break

In a borrowed canoe we explored some of the Maroni’s tributaries…

The treasure hunters of Saint Laurent

hunting for lost treasures…

Unearthing the lost treasures of Maroni

I found a spoon!

It could have at least been a silver spoon :(

Sneaking across the border...

Sneaking across the border to buy 10 liters of dingy fuel at half price was also rather adventurous…

The photo that almost cost me my life... lol

I could have done without almost getting myself mugged (by the fellow in the black and white striped shirt) for taking the above photo. Apparently smugglers are camera shy.

Public transport Saint Laurent de Maroni style

Lucky for me it isn’t very difficult to play the stupid tourist that doesn’t understand what all the aggravated fuss is about…. Frankly, it isn’t worth the bother crossing to Suriname and the Gendarme have enough to worry about as it is without having to look for lost visitors.

Gendarme on patrol

So, most of my time has been spent keeping out of trouble and watching what the locals do to pass the time.

Endless entertainment with a wheelbarrow...

I’m not that fascinated by wheelbarrows (though I did borrow one to see if I could extract a fraction of the enjoyment this girl managed with hers… I failed…)

Your bird goes with you everywhere...

Nor did I find lugging a bird cage around with me everywhere (in order to train its contents to win singing contests) my thing… but then again I’m always difficult to please…

The restaurant I didn't get invited to...

But always keen to eat at a good restaurant.

Hanging out with the gang.... It's Champagne and foie gras

Unfortunately nobody invited me to eat in this one (violin music starts here), so I’ve resorted to plan B. Good food and company to be found on Thierry’s boat Ti’nga. Even if his boat has cockroaches!

Next stop is Tobago…

I’m so keen… I’m already on my way…

Who needs a boat when you can do this!