Friday, December 30, 2016

Off The Charts In Guyana - The Quarry Falls

The quarry falls - pic by Nancy
"You like these falls (Marshall Falls), tomorrow I can take you to some other falls if you like?"  Sean said to Mark while soaking in the refreshing water.  "Okay."   And just like that we had our next adventure.
The circus
This time the bulk of our cruising circus decided to go.  Once again Sean, Victoria and Kevin picked us up at our sailboats.  And once again we stopped in Bartica to fuel up - blog posting coming on refueling....I promise.
The quarry
We headed up the Mazaruni River, past the prison island to a large quarry.  However, quickly we were shuffled back onto the pirogue.  It seems we landed at the wrong place.  We needed to go around to the office, so we did.  A manager was called and he huffed and puffed to Sean about protocol and proper this and that.  Then he turned to our circus of cruisers and said firmly "Who is the leader of your group?"  We all sat frozen and no one said a word.  We were each silently trying to decide "Should I volunteer or should I volunteer someone else?!"  After what seemed like 15 seconds or so, Tim finally said "Well, I guess I can be the leader."  He was sitting closest to where the manager was standing.  The manager once again nicely flexed his verbal muscles by saying some official mumbo/jumbo/blah/blah/blah and then the phrase that caught all our attention.... "private property so you don't all want to go to jail, etc....." to which Tim's eyes got big.....I bet he was thinking "Damned!  Why did I volunteer!"  Anyway, he finished showing us he was the manager and then called for transportation.  Five minutes later a nice, big, air conditioned bus rolled up with loud soca playing.  Woo to the falls we went in comfort!  Note - It seems the falls are on quarry property.  They allow the public to go but there is some protocol to it.  Sean had called ahead and all but this manager just wanted to be sure we knew who was in charge.
The circus soaking - pic by Nancy
The quarry falls are more like a cascade of water but still refreshing.  It had the same red tint as the water at Marshall Falls.  There was a food/beverage booth and shaded picnic stands.
Some of the circus in the shade of a picnic stand

Tom and Sean chatting it up

We all piled in the water for a cool soak.
Tom chillin' - pic by Nancy

Willie enjoying the water - pic by Nancy

It happened that today the food and beverage stand only had food.  After awhile our tummies told us it was time to go in search of food.
Itaballi Community Center

Mark suggested the ferry crossing at Itaballi, just a cross the river and up a bit.  Bingo!  So we dried off, loaded on the bus back down to the office, loaded on the pirogue and then promptly got drenched by a passing rain shower.  Oh well.  As cruisers, we are used to wet boat rides of all sorts.
The main road in Itaballi

The cruisers circus comes to town

As I mentioned before, this small place is truly a crossroad in Guyana.  I knew it would be interesting the first time I saw it.
Susan's place
We wondered the main road and found a place we could all sit down and eat - Susan's.  She has lo mein and chicken, chicken and chips, and cookup and chicken.  FYI - cookup is a Guyanese dish of rice and peas cooked in coconut milk.
Susan - sorry it is blurry
Tummies full we piled back into the pirogue and headed home to our boats.

Off The Charts In Guyana - Marshall Falls

Captain Mark cooling off in Marshall Falls

Captain Mark arranged for a day trip to Marshall Falls with a local river pirogue from Bartica.  Sean, Victoria, Kevin and friend picked us up in Victoria's pirogue "Doll".  The first cruisers to arrive in Guyana had already been there so it ended up being half of a cruisers circus with sv Wild Matilda, sv Larus, sv Honey Ryder and Mark.
Pick up

Victoria and Kevin

Our first stop was in Baritca for fuel.  They have a very unusual method for refueling but that is another blog posting for later.
Bruce and Nancy

Tim, Sabrina, Tom, Mark, Crew - Kevin, Sean, friend and Victoria
Soon we were zooming up the Mazaruni River, past the prison island.  The Mazaruni is the river on the west side of Bartica and joins the Essequibo River at Baritca.
Itaballi Crossing - there is a lot going on in this place.  Can you see it all?

How about this one?

The next quick stop was at Itaballi ferry crossing for drinks and snacks for the crew.  We sat in the boat while they dashed ashore.  It is a fascinating place.  A crossroads, literally where people come out of and go into the interior.  I could have stayed ALL day just to people watch.  I mentioned this to Tom and Mark "We need to come back here and spend the day just watching everyone come and go."  They agreed.

Ancient water swept rocks

The next short stop was to view some rapids.  Sean filled us in on the area and such.
Hike to the falls

One of life's bridges to cross....."deep thoughts by Jack Handy"  SNL - bahahaha

Then we beached the pirogue and started walking towards Marshall falls.  It was an easy 20-30 minutes hike.
Marshall Falls

Refreshing - Burce, Sabrina, Mark

The falls themselves are approximately 30 ft high.  Immediately Mark and Tom climbed back behind the fall of water just to see what was back there.

Sean enjoying the falls

Sean lead the climb to the top of the waterfall.  Nancy, Bruce and I were content to simply soak in the refreshing, bubbly/jacuzzi water.
Well deserved and needed baths?

"Look at all the butterflies dancing around above us."

The water was clear but tinted red.  I guess the minerals leach out and combine with dead leaves and such to turn it red.
Red tint to the water
There were many beautiful butterflies.  One species that caught our attention is the Blue Morpho butterfly.  They are HUGE and iridescent blue.  More later in another blog posting about this magnificent butterflies.  As we splashed in the falls, these and other butterflies danced above our heads in the sunlight.  Magical!

Off The Charts In Guyana - Water Collections And Conservation


Confession time.  We are not the best at water conservation.  We are not bad.  And I would challenge any dirt dwellers in a heartbeat, but in comparison to other cruisers, I would say we are average in terms of our water useage.  I’ve mentioned before that the Caliber 40 LRC has tankage.  Hello…..LRC = Long Range Cruiser!  And that is one of the reasons we picked this boat.  Additionally, we have a small, older (aka energy sucking) watermaker that does a great job at keep our tanks topped off.  And more importantly, keeps us from schlepping water from shore.    

Rain gutter in place and ready for rain
Being in Guyana up the river 45 miles from sea means fresh water.  However, not that fresh.  As I have said previously, it is very muddy.  VERY!  Additionally, there is the worry about mercury in the water from the mining industry.  Despite legislation, accords and pledges, change is coming slowly and thus mercury is still used in small to medium scale gold mining.  Finally, there are the normal water quality concerns of run off and local human use. 
Trying another location for bimini funnel collection

For the above reasons, we have not been running the watermaker and instead trying to use our tank water very conservatively.  We have also been trying our hand at various water collection methods.  Cruisers who were here previously said it would rain every day even though it was the dry season when we first arrived.  It did not rain every day.  We started to worry.  However, we did get some really good downpours – frog stranglers as my mother call those type of heavy rains. 

Rain catching methods we are testing –

  • Gutter off the bimini –
Rain gutter

Screen to filter out big nasties

Hose connection ready

In place and ready to go

Hose drains directly into the deck fill

  • Funnel off the bimini -

Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain

Another view of the funnel method
Open deck fitting damming -

I have no idea why this pic is double but enjoy
The three methods all worked to varying degrees.  Sometimes it depended on the velocity of rain and whether or not there was wind driving the rain.  Regardless, they worked well enough that we didn't have to stress about water.  We did sharpen our water conservation skills so that was a good thing.  Additionally, we have a new water collection design shaping up as part of our replacement for the sun/rain shade.  But that is a project for next hurricane season.   

Off The Charts In Guyana - Screaming Fresh Water

The Essequibo River is 600 miles long, the third longest river in South America.  Our camping trip to Rockstone took us approximately 20 miles up river from our anchorage that is 45 miles up river!   Even at Rockstone we had a tidal flow.  However, the river is fresh water.  Well…..fresh as in not salt water.  There is silt and flow off. 

Anyway, if you thought you heard a faint, far off screaming on the day we entered the Essequibo, it might have been coming from our hull.  The few barnacles that we had on our hull when we arrived no doubt died screaming as we motored up the river.  It is odd not having to deal with salt crystals everywhere.  Rust has been kept at a minimum as well because we are in fresh water  However, our poor old galvanized chain is suffering.  And our dinghy Nick Nack continues to struggle along regardless of fresh or salt water.

Update – 12-29-16  We have been in Tobago since 12-16-16 and thus in salt water since departing Guyana.  I dove on the hull yesterday to check for growth and barnacles.  I am happy to report none!  Our bottom paint along with the time we spent in fresh water seem to be the right combo to keeping the nasties at bay……knock on wood. 

SO…..if you are a cruiser and it’s time for a bottom job, maybe just pop down to Guyana first for a visit.  All the growth will die and fall off and then you can head up to Trinidad for a new paint job.   

Off The Charts In Guyana - Georgetown

Here are more pics from Georgetown, the capital of Guyana.

At 143 ft, St George's Cathedral is one of the world's tallest free-standing wooden buildings.

Did I mentioned that 2016 is the 50 year anniversary of Guyana independence from British rule?

With an unprecedented, wild, and crazy election season going on in the USA, it is interesting to learn that an American Woman has already been president.  Not in the USA but in Guyana.  In 1997, an American born Jewish woman named Janet Jagan was elected and became President of Guyana at the age of 77!  How about that!

Dress code postings are not uncommon in the Caribbean.

Georgetown architecture.

Loads of these trucks all over Guyana.  More on these later.

Hub of humanity?  I think so.  This is one of the places where the maxi taxi's load and unload for other destinations in Guyana.

Do you see him?  "Anonymous" - the maxi taxi conductor/loader

Specific type of diesel engine used in mining operations.  They are built in Brazil.

Our hotel.