UP THE ESSEQUIBO
by Peter Bernfeld
Despite a slightly negative write-up in Doyle’s about the trip from Trinidad down to Guyana, the two boats had spent a pleasant time getting there from Chaguaramas, stopping off in Scotland Bay, La Vache Bay and Grande Riviere before crossing to Charlotteville, Tobago. A week disappeared in swimming, walks and making a few repairs, and then we set off for Guyana, completing the passage to Roeden Rust in three days and six hours. We were able to sail during the hours of darkness and motorsail during daylight; it seemed as though the wind veered as the sun came up and backed as it set. The sea was slight all the way down with only the occasional “bounce” to disturb things. The much talked-about northwesterly current put in an occasional appearance, but never seemed to be more than a knot or so against us. All in all it was quite a pleasant trip. Maybe we were just lucky. For those who just love the mad social whirl of Chaguaramas, you’ll hate Guyana. I mean, I think mine was only the fourth boat this year to go up the Essequibo River. The anchorages were uncrowded, if not actually deserted, and there wasn’t a potluck, jump-up or dominoes afternoon to be seen! The waypoints shown in Doyle’s guide are more than adequate to enter the Essequibo and continue up to the town of Bartica, however on my electronic chart system (Navionics) and on Moonshiner’s system the boats were sometimes shown as being onshore and the tracks between some waypoints were shown as crossing the land. Working on the principle that it would be sensible to “stick to the wet stuff”, a certain amount of interpretation was required, but anybody with an ounce of common sense should be able to stay out of trouble. Troutbridge has a saltwater draught of about 1.2 metres and had no trouble; Moonshiner with a saltwater draught of 2.3 metres touched the bottom a couple of times taking the flood up to Bartica, but no harm was done. —Continued on next page
became aware of a voice shouting, “Troutbridge! Hello, Troutbridge!” I became more awake and thought that it must be the Guyanese Coastguard hailing. We were anchored off Roeden Rust, flying the yellow flag, having arrived from Charlotteville, Tobago, the previous afternoon, October 2nd, 2009. Venturing on deck, I found the cheerful face of Kit Nascimento grinning up from his speedboat. “We’re on our way up to our place at Hurakabra. Give me a call when you are 15 minutes out of Bartica and I’ll arrange for Customs and Immigration to come out to you.” The planning for this trip had started during the winter of 2008, before I retired and left the English Channel island of Guernsey in Troutbridge, my Broadblue 385 retirement home. I’d purchased Chris Doyle’s Cruising Guide to Trinidad and Tobago, plus Barbados and Guyana and started wondering if there was an alternative to four and a half months in Trinidad. It appeared that there might be. So, here I was with an Australian couple aboard, Pam and Jim, whose boat was on the hard in Trinidad, not to mention crewmate Cadey, and another boat, Moonshiner, waiting for the tide to continue up the Essequibo River to the town of Bartica where Customs and Immigration awaited us. It was Doyle’s guide that had first introduced me to Kit.
Cadey (above) and Pam and Jim (right) on a side trip to Kaieteur Falls
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