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…. 🙁


Sailing to Paramaribo Suriname

GPS track, French Guiana to Suriname

As you can see, I eventually did manage to sail to Suriname. 30 hours from anchorage to anchorage, but a trivial sail nonetheless. Just aim to make a nice neat arc out to the 20 meter depth contour!

The Surinamese fishermen are the only navigational difficulty (and the reason for the occasional zigzag in my GPS track). They have a habit of stringing their three mile long gill nets across the main shipping channels, or better still, attaching one end to navigational buoys. Some have been dragged miles from their correct position. Sailors beware!

Yacht obstacles off Suriname!

I had the pleasure of having this particular fishermen place his net across my path just as I approached Paramaribo. I wonder if he understood why I was forced to follow him for the next two miles as he laid his yacht trap!

Sailing under the bridge in Paramaribo at night.

I arrived at the safe water mark at sunset and while it should have been a simple matter of following the lit buoys in to Paramaribo, Suriname’s penchant for towers with blinking red lights atop makes this an exacting task. Start by aiming for the green ones (lights that is), and take note of the following GPS coordinates (marking my boats position as I passed each buoy), for a trouble free night entry.

I had to wait for this odd localized squall to pass before making my final approach!

Squall over Paramaribo delays Eileen’s arrival.

6º 04.988 N        55º 12.820 W  Safe water Mark
6º 03.235 N        55º 12.905 W
6º 01.876 N        55º 12.897 W
6º 00.443 N        55º 12.923 W
5º 59.022 N        55º 12.934 W
5º 57.537 N        55º 12.120 W
*            5º 57.120 N         55º 11.384 W    (I anchored here temporarily to await the tide)
5º 56.619 N        55º 10.692 W
5º 55.932 N        55º 09.594 W
5º 55.195 N        55º 08.413 W
5º 54.330 N        55º 07.155 W Red
5º 53.296 N        55º 06.143 W
5º 53.356 N        55º 06.023 W
5º 52.013 N        55º 05.535 W White Flashing
5º 50.284 N        55º 05.791 W Red
5º 49.697 N        55º 06.177 W Red
5º 49.350 N         55º 06.649 W Red
5º 49.091 N        55º 07.342 W Red
5º 49.080 N        55º 08.232 W Red
5º 49.010 N        55º 09.532 W Wreck BEWARE
5º 48.333 N        55º 09.833 W Bridge
5º 46.846 N        55º 09.341 W
5º 46.418 N        55º 08.975 W
5º 45.598 N        55º 08.171 W
5º 44.842 N        55º 07.405 W
5º 44.115 N        55º 06.691 W
5º 42.229 N        55º 04.851 W anchor here!

More obstacles for the unwary sailor.

Take special care of the wreck indicated above! It’s unlit, and I didn’t see it at all on my way in… I’m claiming ‘t was the “luck of the Irish” (Eileen’s heritage) that spared me from probable collision.

Domburg anchorage at dawn.

It’s a long way from the mouth of the Suriname River to the anchorage at Domburg. It took all night!!! Not as easy as I was led to believe (from what’s published on the Internet) either….

More on that subject later…


Stuck doing administrative chores!

Ah, but if you could only see the queue inside the post office!

I find that nothing induces high blood pressure more effectively than a generous dose of bureaucracy…. though perhaps an hour or two stint playing “join the queue” at Saint Laurent’s local post office is a close contender…

I’ve been inflicted with both while preparing to visit Suriname.

Comments pertaining to Suriname (on noonsite), are highly favorable, but the key phrase for navigators to note is this:

Immigration procedures can be time consuming, but are greatly simplified if visas are obtained in advance. Although there is no need for yachts to obtain a visa in advance as application can be done after arrival.

“Greatly simplified” apparently implies that the administrative burden should be diluted through prior preparation…. To lessen the blow upon arrival?


My passport is currently taking a two day journey to Cayenne to undergo forensic dissection by Surinamese officials… Go figure!

Can’t say I’m comfortable handing over my passport, but it’s not the first time this curious practice has been a prerequisite for obtaining tourist visas.

The obligatory queue at the post office was to pay the 42 Euro fee, but I can’t blame anyone other than myself for that… I couldn’t remember the pin number of my credit card… Grrr

And there I was wondering why my engine was overheating…

On the plus side, I’ve had plenty of time to track down the recalcitrant impeller bits that were clogging my engines cooling system!