Tin Tin's Sailing Calendar

Friday, 4 May 2018


Our 24 hour sail from Devil's Island had great wind and a 2-3knot current for most of the sail, bringing us to the fairway buoy off the mouth of the Surinam River at about midday as planned. We followed the green channel markers towards the distant smudge of grey coast for almost 10 miles in water that was often between only 2 to 3 metres deep, and rich cappuccino colour with all the sediment. Finally we could begin to distinguish form and colour, with bright white shell beaches to the east at Bramspunt, and vibrant green where the occasional ray of sunshine cut through the overcast gloom to light up the verdant forest shore.

We had passed many fishing boats in the night, wary of their fishing technique which involves anchoring one end of the net with flags and flashing lights, and then reeling out their nets from the bows as the fishing boat drifts down wind and current. We had a close call with one as we made up the channel, only just spotting the tiny net floats before we ran through them.

Heading up the Surinam River
The wind picked up to 32knots as we creamed up the chocolate river close hauled under full genoa to the point where the Commewijne River joins the Surinam River 15 miles from the start of the channel. Then we bore away to starboard to follow the Surinam river up past Nieuw Amsterdam to port and Paramaribo to starboard, passing row upon row of moored fishing vessels.

Surinamese fishing vessels
Just before passing under the 40m high bridge spanning the river we encountered a big wrecked cargo vessel split in two mid river. It was another 15 miles before we reached our destination at Domburg at 1830, but the heavens opened and instead of mooring there we followed Richard's suggestion that we carry on up river to the Waterworld Marina Resort. It turned out to be a magical six miles, as all sign of human influence disappeared and we were gliding along within a few metres of virgin jungle in deep smooth water. The marina proved to be of high quality, and although the resort restaurant couldn't offer food or drink, they opened up a guest house so that we could enjoy hot showers.

We took a taxi back to Domburg to find somewhere to eat, having to slowly navigate a deeply potholed flooded jungle track until we got to a main road. Even then the vicious Drempels (sleeping policemen) lay across the road and slowed us to a crawl. Domburg proved disappointing initially as every restaurant was shut, but eventually, having deterred our driver Denis (a low loader driver by day) from driving us an hour and a half into Paramaribo, we found the riverside Yacht Club restaurant and bar that we had passed earlier. They provided a nice welcome, good food and lots of Paribo beer which was all most enjoyable.

Paramaribo waterfront
Next morning at 0800 we took a taxi into Paramaribo to complete clearance formalities. It was a long hour or more through heavy traffic until we reached our first stop; the Marine Authority of Surinam offices. We were all, as advised, wearing collared shirts, long trousers and shoes to meet officialdom and the necessity of this was borne out by the notices on many doors banning sun glasses, hats, tank tops, T-shirts, shorts and flip flops. The MAS official was efficient and spoke English well in an orderly air conditioned office. He handed me a great sheaf of papers to fill in, mostly aimed at cargo vessels, and all asking essentially for the same set of information about the boat and crew. Then passports, yellow fever certificates, crew lists, boat registration papers, and insurance policy had to be photocopied.
Second stop; Consulate visa section. Again a well appointed air conditioned place with comfortable sofas, and magazines. More form filling.

Third Stop; we all had to walk a few blocks to the water front and turn right to the Central Bank to pay €35 each for a single entry visa.

Fourth stop; we walk back to the consulate with our receipt to get visa stamps.
Fifth stop; the Military Police HQ where our details were inscribed again in detailed long hand.

Sixth stop: Along a corridor to Immigration. A handwritten sign on the door requires me to knock before entering, which I do, only to be brusquely told to get out as there is an applicant in there already. Eventually we get in, and the stern black official eventually softens and starts joking about Liverpool in the final of the football ~ something Mark can talk about in detail for hours, and so I keep quiet. Various people come in and are treated very differently. A young corporal gets high handed treatment, despite his exemplary stamping of polished boots and snappy salute. Various ladies get flirtatious remarks, and we get detailed football discussion! Eventually our passports are stamped and because I know that I have to go through it all again on Monday, I request outward clearance for the next day on Friday. To my amazement the official feels empowered to grant this request, and so we are stamped out for Friday evening.

Richard contemplating the peaceful sunset and the sounds of the jungle.

Clearance completed, and with the happy thought that I don't need to do it all again on Monday we head to the old Fort to look round the excellent museum, and have a drink. Later, we find our way along the waterfront to an elegant cafe for lunch before taxiing home with our taxi driver, Ram, down half flooded jungle tracks. The car ahead of us saw orange legged monkeys......how annoying to just miss that sight!

Back on board we decide to set off down river to Domburg for the evening and had a wonderful peaceful trip, motoring in 16-18metres of water within a few meters of the dense jungle with the sun setting over the river to the west. We anchored off Domburg and had another congenial evening on the terrace of the waterfront Yacht Club restaurant.

Jungle edging the Surinam river
Someone's home

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