2016 - Travels in the Eastern Caribbean, Year Five
Guyana - October to December
I returned to Guyana after my visit three years ago.
The voyage to Guyana
I left the dock at the Coral Cove marina, Trinidad, on the 14th of October heading to Guyana. The passage along the north coast of Trinidad was uneventful with less adverse current than expected. Upon reaching the way-point off the North East Corner of Trinidad (see waypoints), I turned to head to the mouth of the Essequibo River. Unfortunately the wind was further south than forecast and lighter. Spent much of the first day motoring. Overnight the first night the wind came around and I was able to sail. The second day found the wind south east again and light. Motored much of that day and night and off and on for the rest of the trip. I entered the river early on Monday morning, 10/17 and anchored to allow the tide to become favorable. Around one pm I up anchored and proceeded up the river on the incoming tide. loss of Daylight and the turn of the tide against me caught me off Lau Lau Islands. Early the next morning I was able to motor the rest of the way to Baganara Resort.
Marshall Falls Trip
Marshall Falls is located a short distance up the Mazaruni River from Bartica. We took a local boat up through a few rapids and landed for the 45 minute walk to the falls. The falls is located in a wooded glen and the pool below the falls is welcoming for a dip. The group quickly jumped into the cool water.
Quarry Falls Trip
A rock quarry on the Mazaruni was the destination for this trip. The falls are developed by a hotel and restaurant. But, there are ample locations to get in and soak in the cool water. Having a good source of beer at hand did not hurt. On the way back to the boats we stopped at the ferry crossing town of Itaballi on the Mazaruni River. Had a great late lunch and walked around the town.
Georgetown and Divali Celebration
We took a water taxi from Baganara to Parika, then a bus from there into Georgetown. Georgetown is the capital of Guyana and the location for a very colorful Divali celebration. Much different than that we experienced in Trinidad. In the afternoon we wandered around town and then after dark settled in along the sea wall to watch the parade. Many colorful floats (trucks decorated with lights) depicting Divali. We then stayed overnight and returned up river the next day.
Cuyuni River Falls
The Cuyuni River branches off the Mazaruni not too far up stream from Bartica. It is also a major river in Guyana and can be followed for more than 100 miles into the interior. We took a local boat to the first major rapids on the river and hour up from the mouth. This set of rapids were the most serious (thrilling) of any i had traveled so far in Guyana. We got off the boat on an island and were able to watch another boat travel up through the falls to go further up stream. Boats traveling up through these falls are not permitted to carry passengers, but must unload them for a walk around the falls. After some time there we traveled back down river for a lunch at Itaballi.
Itaballi is located at the ferry crossing on the Mazaruni River not too far up stream from Bartica. It is perhaps the closest of the true fronter towns. We visited there several time either on the way upriver to visit falls or for a Sunday off the boats.
The nearest town is Bartica, located about 3 miles down river to the north. It is one of the larger towns in the interior and is a place for the miners and other to come and stock up on supplies or just relax.
Baganara Island Resort
The Baganara Resort was kind enough to allow us to anchor off their facility and use some of their facility ashore. The staff could not be kinder or more helpful. We would often go into the resort for happy hour or to hang out. The resort was also able to assist us in making many of the reservations for trips around the country.
The Return to Trinidad
The return to Trinidad from Guyana was complicated by several factors. First my plan to check out on Monday the 12 of December was stalled by the fact it is a holiday in Guyana (who knew?). So I waited till the next morning to check out. But lost a large portion of the outbound tide by waiting for a major rain storm to stop. So by the time i checked out and got under way it was past 10 in the morning. I was making good time down stream about 5 miles south of Bartica when i ran aground on a sand bar. Not a little bit but hard aground. With the falling tide I needed to get off before I was well and truly stuck. So launched the dingy and set out a kegging anchor off the stern. I was able to pull my self back a bit so i was not heeled over too bad, but could not free myself. About one hour after low tide the water level came in enough for me to drag my self off with the anchor and get underway. Made it a few more miles before quitting for the day.
The next morning i motored the rest of the way down the river and dropped anchor inside the mouth. I had to move once to avoid a large fishing net. Thursday Morning i was able to leave the river and head to Trinidad. We made good time under a 15 to 20 knot beam reach ail the way to Trinidad, arriving early Saturday morning.
Will spend the rest of December enjoying Trinidad, friends for the holidays and a few boat chores.
Please click on an image to see a larger version or to see related pictures.
Trinidad - August to October
It is always nice to return to Trinidad. Feels like home. This year was no exception. With several maintenance problems to resolve, places to visit, and the good Trini food to enjoy.
I visited Asa Wright Nature Center for my sixth time this year. A all to short overnight stay. My skills with my camera are getting better and with a faster motor drive, i managed to take some 1900 pictures in 24 hours. It took me most of a week to review them.
As usual, we visited the Caroni swamp after Asa Wright. Enjoyed the Scarlet Ibis once more. Also enjoyed Jesse's Pineapple Chow.
Second Annual Cruisers Meet and Greet
Jesse James organized the second annual cruisers get together. Most of the cruisers in Trinidad came out to enjoy the occasion and to listen to the music by White Chocolate.
Enjoying Local Trini Food
One of the great joys of visiting Trinidad is to sample the local food. A local pub features a uniquely Trini. dish "Bake and Shark". A bake is a type of local bread. It is served with all sorts of good toppings. The is much controversy over the shark portion of the dish. Often it is not shark, but some other fish. That was the case when we had it.
Dominica - June
One of my favorite islands. I missed stopping here on the way north, so I planned a long visit on the way south this year. First on my priority was to visit the rainforest's again and see if I could see the local parrots. I also wanted to do more hiking along the excellent local trails and do more to explore the island.
Fort Shirley, Portsmouth
Located in the Cabrits park and a short walk north of Portsmouth. This 18th century British garrison originally held 600 men and comprised 50 building. Much of the fort has been restored, but some of the remaining building are being reclaimed by the rainforest.
Morne Diablotins National Park and Northern Forest Reserve
This steep mountain rainforest is one of the last refuges of the two parrots native only to Dominica. Last year, I spent some time there with a guide looking for the two and I was able to see and photograph the Imperial Parrot. This year I wanted to come back and see if I could find and photograph the other. I was successful. We saw several pairs of Red-necked parrots (called the Jaco locally) and I was able to photograph one. We also visited the near by Syndicate waterfall.
I have done a number of island tours of Dominica. The first was in 2005. Since then, most every time i have returned, i have done another. While the general route remains the same, the details of the itinerary differ from trip to trip. Also the individual guide brings a lot to the trip. Martin, our guide this year, was outstanding. We did not cover quite as much ground but saw a lot of interesting things including the new Chocolate Factory. This was a hit with the group.
The Waitukubuli National Trail
We did a small portion of segment 14 of the trail. I hope to do much more of the trails before I leave the island.
Second Island Tour
Martin took us on a tour south, first to the central mountains to visit a wonderful water fall, where we swam. Then south to the extreme southwest corner of the island.
Iles des Saintes - May
The sail from Saint Martin to the Saints was a long one and into the wind as well.
Terre D'en Haut
Terre D'en Haut is one of my favorite harbors. We arrived here after a great sail from Fort de France. Aside from the great food, I have always enjoyed the walks around the island and its beaches.
Back to Saint Martin - Late April
My new/replacement camera died. Pam was kind enough to take it back to the US to get repaired, but to avoid paying duty on the repaired camera, it was necessary to return to Saint Martin. All went well and a week later i received the repaired camera back from Canon. This time without the drama. So it was time to head south once more. The sail back south was a long 25 hours from my staging place off the south coast of Saint Martin. Winds were not as forecast. But, after an overnight sail I arrived safely in The Saints.
Antigua and Barbuda - Late March to Mid April
The trip from Saint Martin to Antigua was a motor sail due to light headwinds. I did see a whale in route, but he was busy heading north and did not wait around for me to take his picture.
Anchored in Jolly harbor to await the arrival of Pam who would be with me for three weeks. Discovered a nice marsh adjacent to the marina to explore for shore birds. Several excursions to the marsh, turned up some very good bird pictures and taught me some valuable camera lessons. After we left Jolly Harbor, we spent some time in an anchorage on the Northeast side of Antigua before heading north to Barbuda.
Barbuda and the Frigate Bird Colony
We anchored off Coco Point on the southern corner of the island and took a tour of the Frigate Bird colony. Wonderful anchorage.
On the way back from Barbuda, we spent the night in Deep Bay on the west coast of Antigua. Enjoyed a walk up to the Fort.
Falmouth and the Antigua Classic Regatta
After leaving Deep Bay and a short stop in Jolly Harbor, we anchored with the fleet in Falmouth Harbor. We planned to spend a couple of weeks enjoying the Classic Regatta. I volunteered to take some pictures of the activities and races. Was fortunate to get a few good pictures ashore and afloat.
Five Islands and Jolly Harbor
After an enjoyable time at the Antigua Classic Regatta, I decided to move around to Five Islands to wait news on my camera repair and join the group for some planned beach barbecues. John once again out did himself. Finally word arrived that my camera was done and I was off to Saint Martin.
Saint Martin - February to Early March
Saint Martin is an interesting island. Divided into two countries - Sint Maarten (Dutch) and Saint Martin (French). A great place to get things repaired, get parts sent in from the US or just hang out. In my case, wait for Four Star Shipping to get my new camera to me. Once I had my camera in hand it was time to make up for lost time and opportunities. One thing i had noticed while taking my dingy around the bay were a number of abandoned freighters. So my first trip out to test my camera was to these ships.
Martinique for New Years - January
Camera Repair in the Caribbean
Having a camera quit on a French Island in the Caribbean is not the best place. There are no camera repair facilities in the Caribbean. The closest ones are in the US or Europe. The logistics takes center stage. The Canon repair facility in the US will not take shipments from overseas, so the camera must be shipped to someplace in the US and then to them. Same on the way back. A further wrinkle is the islands charge duty on a camera coming back from repair. The duty is based on the full price if it is a replacement or the cost of the repairs if it is repaired. Filling out the paperwork was beyond my limited French, so the first stop was the English speaking island of Saint Lucia to get the camera sent out. Then off to Saint Martin where they don't charge duty to retrieve the camera.
A final wrinkle occurred because the camera store added an extra free battery. It seems that Lithium Ion batteries cannot fly on passenger planes, so the camera had to go by sea. two months to the day I finally got my replacement camera.
The holiday season was great. I enjoyed sharing the festivities with John and Joanne from Out of Africa and Devin and Liz from Moose Tracks. A highlight was two days of traveling around the island by car and seeing the sights. Unfortunately my camera died during one of the hikes. Thus began a two month long odyssey to get the camera repaired and returned.