12th October 2015, 11:55 AM
Nereid's Rally 2015 - Part 2, to French Guiana
(See Part 1)
So next morning we were up early, breakfasted and final last minute jobs done - and ready for the tide to turn. We were going out of the eastern entrance which is notorious for the 'pile' marked on the chart. What they really mean is hundreds of stakes with nets strung between, usually only just above the water at high tide. Not for the faint-hearted! We planned to leave in convoy, following the Doyle waypoints which do keep you clear of the stakes. David lead us out and we only had to dodge a couple of nets.
The infamous stakes
Once clear of the stakes and sailing, we saw various strategies unfold. A couple of the boats headed far offshore to get into deep water and out of the current. We'd thought about this, but you end up a long way offshore, directly downwind of the destination. We favoured staying inshore, moving abit further out at night. So off we went, tacking between the 10m contour and the 30m contour. To give you some idea of how shallow the shore is here, 30m depth can be round around 25nm offshore! We found plenty of current, but we also found 40deg wind shifts during the day due to the sea breeze. Typically we had SE winds during the night and morning, with a gradual swing to E and occasionally as far as NE during the afternoon. Lovely!
Compared to the other boats, we were able to sail faster though not as close to the wind - so our VMG matched Piano, the Bowman 45 we ended up sailing with most of the way. We were slightly ahead of the rest of the fleet, some of whom were motoring. The only major incident we had was the furling line on the mainsail parting, though only the braid. We motored a bit to get the sail down, carry our repairs and re-hoist. I think it was 10hours total motoring, so we were pretty pleased to sail into the river first.
The weather was incredible. No rain, and hardly any clouds. In fact we took a picture of the clouds we did see!
So apart from one night, this was really pleasant upwind sailing. The seas weren't too large, the wind was between 10-15knots most of the time. We actually really enjoyed it
We sailed into the Maroni river and anchored at Creek Coswin for the night, with Piano. Overnight 2 more boats arrived with another waiting offshore for daylight. The river is incredibly well buoyed, but the fishing nets can be a problem at night.
We had a small hiatus at the entrance of the river, with a welcome by the Amerindian tribe at Awala (as seen on the video in the other thread). For that, we were moving down to anchor off the small beach by Les Hattes. Its a nice spot, but the current runs at over 4knots at springs - which made it fun for some of the dinghies! In fact, our 6hp could only just cope with the full ebb - so those with 3hp ones had to hug the shore. The poor rally organiser was havign outboard troubles and needed a tow on a few occasions (all sorted now though). It is yet another place where you need a light dinghy, as you needed to get it up into the mangroves to ensure it was still there at high tide.
We were also invited to see the Ariane 5 launch (VA 226) which was incredibly impressive.
We also bumped into Lynn Rival and had a nice afternoon tea with Paul and Rachel who were coming up from Brazil (the sensible route .
It was clear that the 'offshore' route was not the best, as the two boats that took that path were nearly twice as long as us. We managed it in 4 days - Gaia took 7. Once the fleet had gathered at the mouth of the river, we made our way up to Saint Laurent to co-incide with the weekend of nautical festivities laid on by the council. Each boat was announced as they arrived at the moorings and we had to go past the pontoon for cameras. Alas, I didn't get many photos of that because we were acting as teh camera boat for the videographers - so we were more concerned with getting to the right place for them.
Once released from that, we picked up our mooring and went ashore for more speeches, presents, food and drinks. There were shows and demonstrations of all sorts of water sports over teh weekend, from rowing to this:
So how can I summarise the rally? Its been absolutely fantastic. From a pure 'value for money' perspective, I think its hard to beat and the rally organiser admits the price will need to go up. Ignoring that though - we've met and made friends with some great people, explored areas that not many get to that are close to the usual hurricane hang-outs. We've been on TV, in the newpapers and had so much interest and friendliness from the locals that it makes the caribbean look rather tame.
I think we'll be back next year!
12th October 2015, 11:23 PM
Re: Nereid's Rally 2015 - Part 2, to French Guiana
Suliere will be there.
I think we'll be back next year!
13th October 2015, 12:27 PM