Sunday, August 28, 2011

Brownsberg, Suriname

We decided to plan a little better, and studied the numerous multi-language brochures.  At the tourist office in Paramaribo, close to Fort Zeelandia, you can get a brochure in the language of your choice, and even a promotional CD to inform you about major attractions in Suriname!  What a difference after suffering through the French brochures in French Guyana! We decided to go to Brownsberg, but wasn`t warned about the poor condition of the road up the mountain. You definitely need a 4 x 4. Although the road was a challenge, it is unbelievably beautiful and worth the suffering. We spend the day walking in the jungle on the numerous trails, and cooled down in the Waterfall, Irene. This waterfall is the most beautiful of the three.

We arranged with the chef to prepare a buffet meal for us before we left for the jungle and on our return a feast waited for us, a table laden with den fooden.  Eight hungry people devoured the food for only 5 Euros per person!  As promised by our chef, we couldn`t finish all, but we gave it a good try! Bon appetite… See below a plate with some of the prepared dishes.

                                                    The best meal in Suriname
Restaurant up in the mountain
Filled to the brim, we started our journey down the mountain. They invited us to stay, for about 7 Euros per person, but none of us brought a tooth brush. If I go up that road again, I will enjoy their hospitality and set up my hammock in one of the bungalows. The trip down the mountain wasn`t as easy as I thought, and after rolling around in the bus, our girls were starting to think about walking to lift the weight and the nervous giggles in the bus. Before we could do that, the bus came to a halt with a hissing sound, when the front port side tire bursted against a sharp rock on the side.
                              Our 1st puncture of the day, the 2nd was less fun
Now it was time for walking, and I think the men were relieved. Marco decide to chaperone us , and we were glad because it was getting dark and the noise of the jungle was quite intense. After a lot of kilometers, we started to worry about the bus not catching up on us.  A car with 4 unknown people came by, and they informed us that the bus got another busted tire, and the men are stuck somewhere up the road. Fun and games!  The men send this car with the message and the boats` keys to us, to go back to Domburg, and they`ll spend the night in the jungle and will make a plan in the morning. Seven people bundled up in the car, and Marco went to the men with Joe, who ran all the way with the message!  Marco decided that he is not going to lose out on a night with his Dad and brother in a jungle!  Off we went! The men clearly forgot who they were dealing with, and at the next village with a fuel pump and a little shop, we started looking for a tire!  With the wonderful help of Peter, with his car, and his very patient friends in his car, we found two tires close by and someone to fix it for us! Again we were surrounded by so many angels, opening up their workshop on a Sunday night, with the doves sitting above us, sleeping and every now and then dropping a `bomb` but no one seemed to notice. Peter fetched the busted tires for the rims and our men were smiling. We bought 2 tires for 30 Euros(150 SRD) and it was so cheap I felt like buying 5! Soon Peter delivered the new tires up the mountain, and we were united again in the silver bus, with new friendships made. Thank you to all the people…

Exhausted we started the journey back to Domburg, about 2 and a half hours to go! We drove pass a caiman next to the road,  saw a monstrous huge snake crossing the road, but all of us were spent after an adventurous day! We reached the yachts at 01h00 and struggled to wash down the red clay from our bodies, before we could crawl into our beds.

Put Brownsberg on your list! Go with a reliable 4 x 4, and pack an overnight bag for a great time! Put your hammock and mozzie net in as well, and go and enjoy the hospitality and delicious food on the mountain!  Contact them if you want to, we didn`t, we just pitched! .

Albina, Suriname

We were on the move with our wheels!  When we got to our bus the first morning it was waiting for us with a flat tyre, but we didn`t despair. Soon we were on the road again, and what a road. For many kilometers we suffered through a very poor road, with pot holes all over, but we perservered and after many hours we reached Albina.  We passed many villages with little wooden huts close to the river, inhabited by people living very simple lives.  Albina is a very small town on the banks of the Maroni river, on the border between Suriname and French Guyana. Lots of ferries awaited us to take us over the river to Saint Laurent du Maroni and we were back in French Guyana for a while.  We wanted to go to Galibi Beach, but found out that it was another 2 hours by ferry and 80 Euros for the boat. We heard that it is absolutely worth a visit. It is good to plan a sleepover to watch the sea turtles (specific time of year) and stay with the tribes.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Accompanied by about 7 yachts, we enjoyed being anchored at Domburg.  The anchorage is good and the current is not strong at all, so we sleep well, not worrying about dragging. Due to the depth of about 10 meter the water is also clean and not muddy. Together with Yacht Tika and Yacht Out of Africa, we decided to rent a car. The men visited Compa `Car Rental`, and was surprised to find a vehicle able to drive off!  They were surrounded by wrecks and it looked more like a car cemetery. Rolf  (Yacht Tika) remarked in his dry sense of humor:  `Maybe we choose one, and then they`ll assemble it!` We got our wheels! A silver Toyota, 4 by 4 with 8 seats for 30 Euros a day, unlimited mileage included all risk insurance. The African Taxis will envy us.

 We spend the afternoon in Paramaribo, enjoying the markets and shops and we curiously walked through the magical `voodoo` market.

We visited Fort Zeelandia, built by the Dutch, a blueprint of the Castle in Cape Town.

 Lunch was a highlight, and we found very good food at very good prices at De Waterkant.

 We ended our day at a bar with local music and local Parbo beer.  A local guest was so enchanted by our spirits, and after finishing his Johnnie Walker bottle, he walked up to us, and bought us another liter of Parbo, and welcomed us to Suriname!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Suriname River Entrance

We entered the well-lit channel of the river with the black clouds still hanging over us. We had to wait for the storm to subside, the thunder and lightning still playing around in the clouds.We decided to anchor just off the channel, avoiding the big cargo ships for some sleep.
We woke after a restless night, lifting the anchor as soon as the tide changed. Yacht Out of Africa spend  the night with us on anchor, and Yacht Tika came along the channel this morning. Three yachts were sailing down a very busy river, with the huge tankers and barges and cargo ships passing by. Every time I see these monstrous boats in these wide rivers, I am still amazed.

We sailed under the impressive Wijdenboschbridge and passed the  Goslar, the German ship, which was sunk the night of May 11, 1940 by the crew to prevent the ship from falling into the hands of the Allies.The coal inside the ship was stowed to one side of the ship in advance so that the ship turned on its side immediately. They opened the hatch under the ship and the ship started to sink slowly.

About 4 hours later we anchored at Domburg, in 10m of brown water.  It was easy to sail the channel into the river, with no debris or dirt, and we enjoyed the beautiful houses on the banks of the river. As soon as everyone was settled, John from yacht Out of Africa, our party planner arranged us for dinner on land.  We met At and Dia (Yacht Angelique 2) again, and enjoyed dinner and drinks for much cheaper than Brazil and especially French Guyana !  We all went to bed early for a good nights` rest!

Rita's Eethuis - a popular meeting place Domburg.

Sailing to Suriname

It is a two day sail from Ile de Salut Islands to Suriname. We had little wind but the current pushed us towards Suriname. We were three yachts sailing together. Fishing nets within 10 nautical miles from the coast close to Suriname were a problem and we had to sail around them for miles.

Yacht Tika

Yacht Out of Africa in the sunset.

Friday, August 19, 2011


We left Kourou with a sigh of relief. It was not only the fact that our rental car was broken into, not only because of the fiasco with our credit cards, not because every yacht dragged in the river, not because of paying 3,50 Euro for a bread, but if it wasn`t for the rocket launch, Kourou will not be on my list of destinations.

But I will definitely anchor at Salvation Islands! It was like a fresh breath. We celebrated Rolf`s birthday again on their yacht with a chocolate mousse cake the two Johans baked, and Marco and I put the icing and the candle on. 

 We got together after sunset on Ile de St. Joseph, with all the other yachts.  Yacht Out of Africa, Tika, Kea and the Warren Cat.  Yacht Kea and the Warren Cat came via South-Africa, and it was wonderful to hear how much they enjoyed our country, with the good food,  the good wine and the good people and the excellent Sea Rescue Team in Langebaan who rescued the Warren Cat after it broke loose from their bouy in front of the Langebaan Yacht Club.
We shared the island with the French Legioen, and after singing happy birthday to Rolf, a beautiful young soldier offered us `Parisbrest` a sweet traditional French dessert, and Ice cream! You can just imagine how much people living on boats enjoy ice cream! Merci beaucoup, French Legioen!
Ps. Welcome to our new follower, Marthie Erasmus!


Leader Price a French Store in Kourou

We thought we were leaving, but alas.  Early morning we took the dinghy to the bridge in the river, and walked ashore to Customs, to stamp us out of French territory. A friendly Captain of the Coast Guard helped us in broken English, so we could be on our way. Leader Price was just around a long corner, and John and Jo-Anne from Yacht Out of Africa joined us for last minute shopping. At the cashier, our cash card was declined, and our master and visa cards. Jo-Anne was sure she has money in her bank, and offered to pay. But even her card was declined and we left empty handed!
Early the next morning before the tide turned we went to the Internet, to say good bye to the kids at home, and Johan checked the banks. Oh no!  All the transactions went through! The battle started in French!  Veronique, Yacht Granedo, came to our rescue and fought our battle with Leader Price. From their side, we received very little understanding, and after two days we decided to contact our Banks in SA.  How wonderful it was to phone home and have our own people to assist us so professionally.

We left Kourou only on Tuesday morning to anchor at Salvation Islands, for a good swim and scrub. Catlyn's menopausal beard was growing, and the barnacles loved the softness of her belly. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ariane Rocket Launch

Link to a news article about the launch of Rocket

Excitement filled the air! Last night the launch was cancelled due to atmospheric winds, and we were all ready to try again tonight. Everyone got together at the jetty with picnic baskets to walk on the beach and witness this event. Johan and I stayed on Catlyn to keep an eye on her and all the other boats.  Catlyn dragged a bit today, so rather safe than sorry. We settled on the fore deck, with a bottle of French wine, compliments of Claud and Rolf from Yacht Tika.  But after an hour there was still no sign of the rocket, and I could just imagine Marcos` disappointment. We were about to totally give up hope, when Johan heard an unusual sound, and the next moment the sky lit up in a bright light yellow. It felt like I couldn`t breathe, I couldn`t believe this manmade miracle was happening right in front of my eyes! The rocket went up, and we could see the ball of fire, and then the two boosters left the rocket, burning in the atmosphere, and another satellite went into orbit. From now on every time I see a satellite, I will wonder, is that the one I saw?

Ps. We are on our way to Suriname! So see you soon!

Monday, August 8, 2011

There are fresh produce markets every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. We found aubergines, long Chinese green beans, bananas and limes. The potatoes still didn`t look too good and we decided to rather buy 2,5kg of frozen French fries for 4,5Euros.  A bargain compared to the spotty brown potatoes for 3,5Euros to 4,5Euros per kilo!

 It was party time!  We invited all anchored around us for Punch and Snacks aboard Catlyn!  I loved it! It gave me the opportunity to light my long candles in the candle sticks, candles in my lanterns, and peanuts in my pewter flip flop.  All came and at the last minute we invited the new yacht Pinnochio from Switzerland too. Catlyn hosted 23 yachties, snacking away on baguettes with spare rib spread and ratatouille. Eight little people played together while Joe served his fruit punch with Rhum Agricole de Guyane, and the night filled with shared stories and laughter.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Kourou river on canoe

 Marco started with school, so we are busy in the morning for about 2 hours.  The two Johans took the canoes for an early morning row, close to the mangroves and forest where you can hear all the birds. They started off with the tide, making it much easier.  They saw lots of birds and parrots and crabs, but no caimans or anacondas! After about 6 hours and 24 km of rowing they returned with the tide.  But we had good rains and the river was in flood so the current was extremely strong and the wind picked up.  The river was roaring with brown rolling rapids.  I watched them speeding closer at mercy of the river.  Eventually they reached the boat, but it wasn`t so easy to stop a canoe and get onto Catlyn while the river is roaring past.  Of course they had life jackets, but during the peaceful morning it became so hot that they took it off, so now they had to safe their life jackets from washing down the river.  At last they were safe aboard!

Budget Car Rental

 The two Skippers from the two entangled yachts last night, came together early morning, and with lots of luck only a fender popped and everyone sighed relieved.  An old washing machine packed up during the morning and landed in the river, but another happy wife got one similar to mine.  Johan went together with Michelle from Yacht Grainedo to Budget to find out about the cost of the glass, and luckily the owner took pity on us, and we only paid 179 Euros, better, but still a lot of money for such a small glass!

Thanks to Michelle for all the translation from French to English !!!!


The evening we were invited for drinks and snacks to Yacht Grainedo.

 We spent the evening with Tipi punch, the local rum and lime drink, German Beer and enjoyed liver pate on crackers and the French `sausisse seche`, something like salami, but don`t tell the French I said so!

Samuel, from Yacht Ercolausa suddenly couldn`t see the anchor light of his yacht anymore, and suddenly the party was over. The afternoon a new boat arrived, and dropped anchor close to him, and in the strong tide started dragging. The current pushed him onto Ercolausa and together they moved towards the jetty with all the other boats. The men jumped into their dinghies to help. At last they freed the boats from each other to seek safe anchorage for the night. Everyone tried to get some sleep, and had to wait till morning to assess the damages.

Budget Car Rental

Today we have to return our silver little Huyndai, and I wanted to do a last bit of shopping. When we got to the car, we got a surprise. Our little back window was smashed. Luckily we left nothing inside, coming from South Africa. To the Police we went to report this, and then to Budget. We had insurance of 12 Euros a day and were hoping for the best. But of course the Budget Rental Car, Kourou do have a first payment and for glass irrespective of size it is 300 Euros! I was so close to tears! In a foreign country with a foreign language in times like this, I miss home… The owner, a very good man made an arrangement with us to only deduct the true expense for the little glass...that to be find out only the next day. Rental cars do have huge risks with small prints etc. Maybe in the long run taxis is much cheaper and with limited risks....time will tell.

Zoo de Guyana

 I washed yesterday and I washed this morning with my little machine!  Of course it is good and great and washes beautifully, anything is better than my hands! My Skipper is also not complaining too much, because it is using only 15 Amps for a short period, and I am still recycling water! Life is good!

We still had the car and has to get the moneys` worth, and we were off to the Cayenne Zoo! (Adults R150, children R90 entrance fee). The zoo is very well kept and the animals in good condition. We saw the anaconda, caiman, tigers, puma, lots of birds and monkeys and a sloth high up in a tree. The tapier entertained us, eating the dried leaves through the fence, sniffing our hands, showing his yellow teeth.

A thunderstorm came down in buckets! The rain was soaking our clothes, but we couldn`t leave. The animals, touched by Nature in their cages, went wild! They screamed and jumped and bathed in whatever water collected in poodles in their cages, and stretched their feathers, and we stood in awe. We could feel the energy of Nature flowing through the animals into our bodies and soon we were laughing  and giggling and hugging each other, all part of the Animal Kingdom!

Cayenne French Guiana

Cayenne, Capital of Guiana, is about 50km from Kourou and it is an average town with nice Supermarkets like Carrefour and Super U. We could buy everything we needed, and if you are interested in how much stuff cost check the page on prices.  Marco had directions to two toy shops, and was spoilt with lego blocks.  It looked like I was a good girl after all, and I received a long overdue Mothers` Day present!  My washing machine! A little 3kg top loader was on the seat between Joe and Marco, to be tried and tested within the guaranteed period of 24 hours,

We enjoyed the old part of the town, with little shops and restaurants, but I was in a hurry to get back to the boat, of course.

Guiana Space Centre

CNES-Centre National D`Etudes Spatiales.

Very excited we drove to the Ariane Space Centre just out of town.  The tour has to be booked in advance and is for free.  You have to take your passport along and exchange that for a visitors` card,   which you receive back after the tour.  Lots of people were loaded into buses with a guide in the front. 

 But oh my, the whole three hours driving around looking at buildings and trucks were in French!   It felt as if I was paging through a French leaflet about the Space Centre!  We sat back,   got really bored until we reached the new launching site.  At least we could figure out what was going to happen there for ourselves.  Afterwards we heard that it is a new site and has never been used before.  On our return we went to the Jupiter Hall to watch a video,   also in French.  We sat behind the VIP control room watching the video.  It is a pity no one bothered to put sub titles in English for some tourists.

For the French people on the tour it must have been very interesting, because it looked like the guides were very well informed, but for us…?

Kourou French Guiana

We were anchored in the mud of the river, but kept a close eye on the anchor.  We were about 8 yachts on anchor and a couple on the pontoons,   laying in the mud at low tide.  The Chinese shops were colorful and full of stuff,   (made in China) and it was fun snooping around the shelves.   It felt a bit like China Town!  I found a scale in there and with a Donald Duck winking at me, I stepped on it and called out to Johan.  Great,   we are still in the green,   and we treated ourselves with a big packet of Chips for R25.  We found well stocked supermarkets and we could fill up.  Fresh fruit and veggies were expensive and not really the best of quality.  Brown spotty potatoes:  R45 per kilo,   tomatoes:  R60 per kilo, eggs R70 for two dozen, and a loaf of white bread R35!  For some reason the baguettes were R10 and delicious.

We were still looking for a taxi to take us to the Ariane Space Centre tomorrow.  We phoned and asked around but with no success.  Michelle (French) phoned and we got a rental car from Budget for R420 per day. (R300+R120 insurance).  At least we had wheels!

We are busy filling up our water tanks with the municipal water, suitable for drinking from the jetty at Kourou (for free).

Kourou French Guiana

Salvation Islands are only 7nm from Kourou, soon we anchored in the river. A couple of yachts were anchored in the soft mud at the pontoon and we anchored just outside the channel.

Some friends were already there! The current is very strong, and we stayed with Catlyn to make sure she was secure. We couldn`t wait to explore, but all the shops are closed between 12h00 and 15h30. A couple of Chinese/ Vietnamese shops were open, and we found fresh baguettes. We saw a vendor selling little round watermelons, and craving freshness we went over. But I couldn`t pay R100 for that little thing! The next day we realized that we should have bought that one, it was a bargain, someone else was selling them for R140!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Ille de St Joseph

Another island to explore!  John and Joanne from the SA yacht,   Out of Africa,   joined us for the walk.  I needed more cocos.  They are on the ground,   and we learnt to shake them.  If they make a gluck-gluck sound you know that the coco inside is good to eat.

The most beautiful cemetery is on this island.  No convicts were buried here of course,   they were dumped in the sea,   but the staff and their families were put to rest here.  And what a place to rest!  I could still read a couple of tomb stones,   a mother and her baby who died after the baby was one day old,   and buried right next to each other.  I wondered what went wrong during the birth?  A young women,   29 years old,   who died.  All the death dates were around the 1830`s and 1850`s.

Marco and his friends had fun!  John and Samuel pulled them on their body boards with their dinghies. 

 We barbequed on the beach,   while the kids kicked a ball chasing the big rats.

Ile de St. Joseph.

The weather changed and the anchors were fighting to hang on to the mud.  No one slept a lot,   watching the GPS or staring into the night to keep their boats safe.

The whole day the boats were rocking and we went ashore, and so did some of the other yachts.   But our Skipper didn`t want to join us, and stayed on Catlyn, to worried for her to drag.  He assured the other yachts to stay in radio contact if needed.

 Late afternoon  Yacht Ercolausa was moving towards the rocks at an incredible speed.  Why do we sail so slow,   but when a yacht is dragging it happens so quickly?   The two Johans jumped into the dinghy,   and saved the day!  Luckily they could start the engine and keep the boat from going onto the rocks.  After radioing Samuel,   a very relieved crew came onto their boat.  We were thanked with a lovely fish caught fresh from the sea.  They picked up a mooring from the charter catamarans for the night,  and soon we followed them,  for a good nights` sleep.  We will leave the mooring before 9 o`clock the next morning when the catamarans are coming with their tourists.