Thursday, November 23, 2006

Isle du Salut and Tobago

Plans were to go to Suriname and join Springtime and Taremaro but after some negative reports about the heat and the tide in the river, I decided to stay a bit longer at Isle du Salut and spend more time on the Islands. We had a braai one evening on St Thomas on the beach. The mango's on the island are the sweetest that I have ever tasted. I had to clear out of French Guiana and went to Kourou to do so.
Kourou is a nice little town on the river and have a small marina. Yachts anchor in the river and it was very quiet and peaceful. I anchored there for a day and left the next morning for Isle du Salut. After spending such a great time on the Islands it was time to leave.
On Saturday morning we were 5 yachts that left for Tobago. It took Mila 4 days to do the 640 miles and I arrived in Tobago on Wednesday. The sailing conditions varied from very light winds to squalls of 35 knts. Milo, the boat cat enjoyed himself with all the flying fish. He tried to get as much of the fish into the boat in the shortest possible time. I even had a fish on my pillow. He must have thought to leave a present for me.
Anchoring in Tobago is another dream come true. I am finally in the Caribbean. The water is clear and clean, I can see the anchor in 15 meters of water. Clearing into the country was easy but expensive. It is hot and humid but so far there is a nice cool breeze blowing, and life on board is comfortable. The people here are friendly, but one will have to get use to the English they speak.
Springtime is still in Suriname and they are sailing to Tobago soon. It was nice to see so many of my old friends that I met along the way, some were in Salvador and Itaparika with me. We had a barbecue on Wednesday evening at a local restaurant and all the yachties were there, you can imagine the party.
The island is very green and beautiful and we are 20 boats anchored in the bay at Charlotteville. The currency here is the Trinidad /Tobago Dollar, they call it the TT dollar and the current exchange rate is 6 TT to the US dollar. Things are expensive. There is a six hour time difference with South Africa. Once I have been to more places on the Island I will have some more information.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Degrad des Cannes, Cayenne and Isle du Salut

The time spent in the river at anchor in Degrad was peaceful and relaxing. We took a day trip up the river in rubber ducks to do some exploring. Up a side creek , was hot and humid with overhanging trees. Beautiful birds and butterflies and we saw small black monkeys with large tails. Were told that there are anacondas and tarantulas but did not see any, just as well!
We hired a car from a local yachty and took a day trip to Cayenne. What a disappointment, according to the "lonely planet" Cayenne was the most beautiful city in South America, this is not true it is run down with old buildings falling apart and very unfriendly people. We visited a large supermarket and were astonished to see the high prices for goods. For shopping give me Brazil any day.
The marina in Degrad was one of the best constructed marinas that I have come across. It is small and full, but unfortunately as it is very cheap to stay there, a lot of French people live there on a semi permanent basis. They give the place a rundown look. It looks like a squatter camp and a scrap yard with all the derelict yachts tied to the pontoons.
After a week at anchor in the river it was time to leave. Monday morning we all left, Watussi, Taremaro and Mila for Isle du Salut about 38 miles north. As we had very light winds we had to motor all the way and arrived at 2 the afternoon. We joined Springtime at anchor and said our hello's.
Isle du Salut is beautiful with Isle Royal the main island. Cover with palm trees and lush bushes. Coconuts are in abundance. There are lot's of birds, monkeys and coco rats on land and sea turtles in the waters around the island. Unfortunately the island have a very sad history, and walking amongst the ruins and the old jail cells one is reminded of the misery and the suffering of the unfortunates that had to spend time on the island, sometimes in solitary confinement for years. In this heat and high humidity it must have been unbearable.
Some of the buildings on the island have been converted into a hotel, and one find a lot of tourist visiting. All in all it is a very beautiful place and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit Isle du Salut. Plans are to leave here on Thursday for Suriname, 180 miles north.
That's all for now

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