Tin Tin's Sailing Calendar

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Rejoining Tin Tin in French Guiana 23/4/18

My two weeks in the UK passed quickly in a whirl of ophthalmology consultations, family reunions and DIY repairs at home. Luckily there was no treatment needed for the eye, so I was able to travel back to join Tin Tin in French Guiana.

I landed in torrential rain in Cayenne, and caught a taxi into town where I had booked a room for the night. In fact Tin Tin had made good speed with a strong push from the 3 knot Guyana Current and had arrived that very morning.

Tin Tin anchored off the live-aboard marina in Cayenne
Next morning I collected a hire car and made my way to the port at Degrad des Cannes on the River Mahury. Tucked away behind the container port was a small marina occupied by long term residents in boats draped with tarpaulins to keep out the rain, with piles of bicycles, boxes and all sorts of junk stored on deck under the shelter. Someone had a washing machine plumbed-in on the pontoon! The muddy river runs fast through the pontoons, and we had to rescue a couple fishing boats that broke free and jammed sideways against the other boats.

Tin Tin anchored in French Guyana
Fisherman walking his nets round in a loop
    Tin Tin was anchored up stream, with three other boats for company, which had all arrived within the same day. It was a great pleasure to find Mark and Justin safe and well after their 2,500 miles from Ascension Island. With a car we were able to get out to explore Cayenne and it's surroundings. The old town is full of colonial French architecture, with the outskirts provided with modern roads, and large commercial estates filled with every sort of entreprise as well as the "grand surfaces" of Carrefour, Super U, and even Hyper U. It is, after all, France, despite the hot, humid tropical climate just 3 degrees north of the Equator.

We drove a long way out of town to the Guyana Zoo, which houses indigenous species in the appropriate context of the deep jungle. We spent a happy couple of hours meeting tapirs, peccaries, giant anteaters, macaws, black puma and jaguar, various monkeys and rather disconcertingly large anacondas! Our day ticket was converted to an annual pass, so we could be back!



Scarlet Ibis



Blue and yellow macaw

Emperor Tamarin monkey

Cuvier's Toucan

Spider Monkey




Toco Toucan - the largest of the toucan species

Night Heron
Justin flew home, leaving Mark and me to prepare for Richard's arrival. We did a large amount of laundry, plus some provisioning, but decided against replacing the batteries until we get to Trinidad and can solve the the electrical issues.

Market in Cayenne

I had pre-booked a visit to the Centre Spatiales Guyanaise at Kourou, and we were on the doorstep as required at 0745. It's an impressive site with launch pads for Vega, Ariane 5 and Russian Soyuz launchers, and a new pad under construction for Ariane 6. At $20,000/kg it's an expensive launch, and the new generation of launchers provide fierce competition. The Space-X Falcon 5 with its twin boosters landing safely shows how costs can be cut dramatically by using reusable systems.

Ariane launchpad, French Guiana
Centre Spatiale Guyanaise

As we left the site a convoy of trucks with vast containers was swept in by blue flashing lights and motorcycle outriders. I just managed to get a photo, and saw that it was BepiColombo, the European and Japanese joint mission to Mercury which is due to launch in July.

Our final expedition on Sunday was out to Cacao to visit the Hmong market. The drive out was lovely through rich forest on winding roads as we climbed the hills. At the crest we found a cafe on stilts overhanging the view, where we enjoyed a bamboo mug of Maracuja juice. From here we could see how much of the jungle had been cleared for agriculture. When we reached the market we chatted to a restaurant owner who had arrived at the age of 2 along with 30 refugee families, escaping persecution for their role in helping the French and Americans in their wars against Communist Vietnamese. They now provide all the vegetables cultivated for sale in Guyana!

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