S/V Tiger Lilly

Rig heavy, reef early, and pray often; for God does not assure us an easy passage, but He does promise a safe anchorage...

25 May 2018 | TRINCOMALEE, SRI LANKA
02 January 2018 | Clan Jeti Anchorage, Georgetown, Penang Island, Malaysia
03 November 2016 | Singapore, Southeast Asia
02 October 2016 | Kumai River, Borneo
24 August 2016 | Rindja Island, Indonesia
22 July 2016 | Fannie Bay, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
14 June 2016 | Pancake Creek, Queensland, Australia
13 June 2016 | Pancake Creek, Queensland, Australia
11 June 2016 | Burnette Heads, Queensland, Australia
07 June 2016 | Mooloolaba, Queensland, Australia
11 May 2016 | Colmsie, Brisbane River, Queensland, Australia
23 December 2015 | Brisbane, Australia
13 August 2015 | Whangarei, New Zealand
07 August 2015 | Whangarei, New Zealand
23 July 2015 | Whangarei, New Zealand
12 April 2015 | Whangarei, New Zealand
11 February 2015 | Whangarei, New Zealand
25 January 2015 | Whangarei, New Zealand
24 September 2014 | BORA BORA, French Polynesia
23 September 2014 | Bora Bora

TIGER LILLY - GUYANA CRUISING NOTES - PART TWO

06 May 2013 | Bartica, Guyana
Tom & Lilly
BARTICA
After a month of solitude and the hushed rain forest of the Rio Orinoco Delta, our senses were ready for the sights and sounds and smells of Bartica. The hustle and bustle, and the dynamic nature of Guyana's wild-west gold mining town were a welcome change for the crew of Tiger Lilly. Bartica is powered by tough, optimistic people, squeezed onto a rugged peninsula, bordered by the unruly Mazaruni River, the Mighty Essequibo River, and a seemly endless expanse of tropical rain forest. Bartica is a river town; the only way in is by boat on the Mighty Essequibo, and the only way out is by high-clearance 4X4 truck into the jungle. The principal commerce of the town is in support of the gold mining industry. Gold is mined by the dredging process at both the industrial level, and as a cottage industry - and it seems as though everyone here is involved in some way with equipping the bush camps, or feeding and "entertaining" the young fellows whose labor produce the fruits of Eldorado. (By the way, this is exactly the area where the fabled golden Amerindian city of Eldorado was said to exist.) We were two of perhaps a half-dozen white faces in a busy frontier town, and everyone seemed to assume we were there to invest in their gold mine - and it seems as though everyone owns a part of one! It takes money to dredge gold, and hustling the new white faces in town was an obvious source of the mother's milk of mining... As with most Third-World frontiers this is certainly not a place for the easily offended or the politically correct. Where else does one see a full page ad in the local newspaper running a special on cans of mercury (quicksilver - everybody has some in their truck for the gold separation process), and bush trucks with exotic ladies names and even more suggestive decals on the fenders? Welcome to Bartica!

RIVER CURRENTS at BARTICA - We observed slack water to be about 2:15 after low water, and very close to the same time as high water.

DINGHY LANDING - We found three places where one can moor a dinghy on the east side of Bartica: Cool Breeze Landing, has a floating dock on the south end, however this is a rough place to land and probably not a good place to leave an inflatable for very long (free of charge, but we gave Mark the attendant 200GYD a day to watch the dink); Lashley's Boat House (recommended by Joyce Davis) is behind the bright yellow "Courts" building, pull up to the boat house and they will moor your dink to a pile set for you (400-500GYD per day); and the Town Landing, a red shed-type roof on the south end of the ferry dock where the fast ferries load (free of charge, used by David of S/V Eileen of Avoca, an experienced Essequibo cruiser). Mooring a dinghy in the 6 and 7 foot tides experienced at Bartica can be challenging, as was rowing our dinghy "Grace" in the strong tidal current.

STREETS - We were unable to find anything resembling a tourist office, and none of the shops we inquired at had a map of Bartica - but then there are not many street signs, so a map would be of limited utility. We made an initial walk-about to familiarize ourselves with the town's lay-out, which had to substitute for our usual pre-planning session. (Lilly sez: Ladies, the up-side of this minor shortcoming was that I was fortuitously spared the usual multi-hour mind-boggling session at the dinette table with highlighters and various colored pencils; using something he calls the Northwest Corner Solution - a Systems Analyst thingy - to produce the most efficient way to tour a simple country village. THANK GOD for small favors!) Livestock have the free run of Bartica, with ambling blank-faced cattle, and the ubiquitous garbage eating dogs, on most every street corner. The main waterfront road, First Avenue, is one-way heading south, poorly paved, and pedestrians are relegated to dodging in and out of the seemingly ever-present grid-lock of traffic. (It is our observation, based on extensive first-hand experience, that in the Third-World, the pedestrian-motorist relationship is based on economics and the Class System: if you had the money to buy a car - you would do so, and since you are walking, you obviously are of a lower class then the driver of a car, and have absolutely no rights - so get out of the way!) The huge 4X4 two-ton trucks which provide a constant stream of supplies, labor, and diesel fuel to the interior gold mining operations, have pulverized Bartica's streets into a series of potholes connected by very rough patches of paving.

CLEARING-IN - The Immigration Office is in the Police Station at the Town Ferry dock, on First Avenue, the main waterfront road. As we so carefully planned, we arrived at Bartica on a Monday morning - only to find out it was a holiday, and no one was in the Immigration Office. (Apparently, we were too clever by half.) We went right next door to the Police Station (the door is appropriately marked "Inquiries") and told the officer on duty who we were. He called the Immigration Officer at home who told us to check-in tomorrow morning - and until then we were free to come ashore at our pleasure. The following morning we returned and checked-in with the Immigration Officer, and nothing was said about overtime. We told him when we actually arrived at Enterprise Stelling, and he seemed to just take it in stride. We then went directly across the street, upstairs of the supermarket and the Church's Chicken Restaurant and checked-in with Customs. The office looked like a modeling agency, with half a dozen very attractive gals doing pretty much nothing. It took a diligent search of the premises, perhaps 15 minutes, to locate some Customs clearance forms. The intricacies involved with inserting multiple layers of carbon paper were further complicated by the distraction of the young woman by simultaneously talking with her boyfriend on the telephone. Predictably, the lovely thing put the carbon paper in wrong-side-up - but nobody cared! Low key Customs clearance for sure; it was worth every penny of the standard 2500GYD they charge for clearing-in or out ($12.50 USD). The one simple rule for Customs is they have a dress code, and do not want persons in shorts in their office. (Actually, they let Tom in with baggy shorts that reached below the knee, but Lilly's just-above-the-knee stylish shorts were not allowed.) It is probably best to just wear long pants and not get into a fracas with the Dean of Women measuring garment hems. Once the folks in Customs are done stamping and signing the completed clearance forms, a copy of your clearance papers need to be hand-carried back across the street to the Immigration Officer. It was an easy and enjoyable process, and the Guyanese officials could not have been nicer.

MONEY - the exchange rate is 200 Guyana Dollars (GYD) to the US Dollar (USD), Guyanese money is worth very little, and everyone in town is walking around with a huge roll of cash which would choke a horse, but won't buy much. The standard bank note (and the largest we saw) was 1000GYD ($5.00USD). There is a Scotia Bank with an ATM machine one block back from the waterfront street on Second Avenue, about even with the Cool Breeze landing. The ATM issues a max of 30,000GYD at a time ($150.00USD), and it will allow multiple draws according to your card's daily limit (we think that is the maximum number of draws - the most we tried in one day was two consecutive draws of 30,000GYD). Security in town, or anywhere we went in Guyana, did not seem to be a problem, but then why tempt the bad guys? We got money when we needed it, and did not carry more money then we actually needed at any time. All transactions in Bartica were on a cash-only basis, so your credit or debit card will likely just be used to get cash. Plan ahead if you want to fuel in Bartica - we had 100,000GYD aboard the day we went to the fuel dock. A word to the wise: spend all of your Guyanese Dollars before you leave the country (your last 2500GYD will go to Customs at check-out), nobody wants GYD outside of Guyana.

GARBAGE - We gave our garbage to the attendant Mark on the Cool Breeze Landing, or deposited it in the blue plastic trash barrels at the landing if he was not around. They dumped the trash on the ground and burned it next to the barrel (that which would burn, the remainder laid there for the dogs). It is apparent from the floating trash on the waterfront that much of the town's garbage is simply dumped in the river. There does not appear to be an organized trash disposal or pick-up system in Bartica (or anywhere we visited in Guyana - including Georgetown). Everywhere we went there were piles and piles of garbage and trash. This is such a shame because the natural beauty of Guyana is absolutely stunning; unfortunately that beauty is spoiled by all the trash. What more fundamental or important function can Government serve than improving the living environment (and public health) of its citizens than providing for the disposal of trash and garbage? We suspect that the public administration of this former English Colony was far more effective under our British cousins; we reckon that one squared-away British Army Major could get Guyana's trash disposal problem solved in about a week!

FRESH PROVISIONS - The Town Market is just south of the power plant and the Cool Breeze Landing; it is a large building with a green gabled roof and a wharf on the river side. It is an excellent market with fresh produce, fish, meat, and sundries available. We did not have a clue how much things should cost, and a nice local lady provided Lilly with some sample prices (these costs are in GYD and are negotiable based on quantity and availability): bananas180/lb, onions100/lb, potatoes100/lb, pineapple 600 each (large size), limes 500/bag, cabbage 400/lb, tomatoes 400/lb, cucumbers 100 (bag of three), lettuce 200/head, eggs 800 (tray of 30 - bring your own egg-cartons).

STORES and SUPPLIES - Atkinson's Trading is a grocery store stocking many familiar North American brands. It is a clean, well lit, nicely organized store with a helpful friendly staff - we strongly recommend Atkinson's. Located at the corner of 1st street and 5th avenue on the north shore, the multi-story building (one of the highest in Bartica) is caboose red with a stack of black cylindrical water tanks on the roof. The building has a nice hotel on the top floor (see ACCOMODATIONS below). They let us use the Wi-Fi in the hotel after we bought our groceries - ask William, the owner's son who works in the grocery store downstairs. An interesting side-trip for husbands (if they are trying to get out of the excruciating process of grocery shopping, but must be available for mule duty once the appropriate selections have been made ) is Dolphin Melville's Boat Works on the waterfront just to the northwest of Atkinson's store. Mr. Melville is a gracious man and a skilled boat builder; he usually has a work in progress on his ways, and an interesting story to go with the new vessel and her owners - it is worth seeing. Dino's Grocery Store is located near the Scotia Bank on Second Avenue (the first street west of the waterfront), and they are reported to have the best prices in town. There are several other small sundries stores in Bartica, and most of them had an unusual anti-shop-lifting security system - the shopping public is kept behind bars. The valued customer peers through the bars and points to merchandise located on the perimeter of the shop on dimly lit shelves about ten feet back (take binoculars and a deck spotlight with you if you want to read a label), a sultry clerk records your selection on a chit, you then take that chit to the money manager Big Louie sitting on a stool and locked in his own cage (presumably to keep the sultry clerks and the shopping public from robbing him), pass your money through the bars, he checks the stack of bills for counterfeit, stamps and signs your chit and returns it to you, you then return to the sultry clerk (who by this time is either engaged with another customer, chatting with her boyfriend, playing a mindless game on her cell phone, or gone off to hide in the loo and check her Facebook page), patiently wait your turn, submit the stamped and signed chit for her close inspection, and finally receive your goods. If you want a bag you must firmly insist it be provided, and perhaps it will be passed through the bars - you are welcome to bag your own merchandise. But then, it is all part of the cruising experience!

FUEL - Just south of the Town Market are two fuel docks; the pump house with the bright blue hip-style roof is the Double Platinum Service Station, and the red shed-type roof just south of the blue roof is on the Bartica Service Station fuel dock. Both fuel docks have 18 to 20 feet of water at their ends at low tide, and have gasoline and diesel fuel available. Each station manager told us that he would match the other station's prices (which vary weekly). Both stations have a large ship-type diesel filling nozzle (with an approximately inch-and-a-half / 36MM spout), so bring a large-mouth funnel which fits into your deck-fill fitting. On the day we chose to fuel the Double Platinum Company was out of fuel so we bought our diesel at the Bartica Service Station dock. A trip ashore to talk with both fuel station managers to nail down today's fuel price is recommended, before you bring your boat to the dock. We paid $4.17USD per US gallon, which sounds simple and straight-forward; however, it is anything but. When they quote fuel prices they will give you a price per IMPERIAL gallon for a 45 gallon drum (the way that they sell fuel to the gold miners, loaded in large 4X4 trucks). The price per Imperial gallon is structured above and below 45 Imperial gallons delivered, and above and below $100USD purchased - so know how many Imperial gallons you are going to require, and the approximate price per gallon before you start talking turkey with these characters. However, the diesel fuel will be delivered through a meter that measures LITERS, and then you will pay (in cash only) by the Imperial gallon in Guyanese Dollars. All these conversions are enough to make a fellows hair hurt, so we retreated to the Victoria Restaurant and Pizzeria just across the street to do the calculations. (Lilly sez: I found some very interesting gold miners to talk to at another table, while Mister Math was slapping his bright yellow Picket slide rule, furiously writing, and mumbling / grumbling to himself.)

POTABLE WATER - There is no potable water available on either fuel dock by hose. The Double Platinum Service Station sells highly filtered well water by jerry jug at 300GYD each. (They claim it is R.O. water, but a cursory inspection of the equipment indicated that it was actually a high capacity filtration system). The Double Platinum Service Station also sells bagged ice. The town water system is piped / filtered river water, and we were told by multiple local sources not to drink it. Almost all homes have a roof water catching system and cistern. Most non-native Guyanese folks drink bottled water. We talked to some yachties who have experience in tropical rivers with R.O. water-makers onboard, and they said that there was no reason that the river water would not produce good drinking water from a R.O. system; however, the turbidity of the Essequibo it is likely to require changing of the primary filter more often. Instead of having a $4000 machine which converts $4.00 plus diesel fuel to potable water, Tiger Lilly has large potable water tanks (400 gallons), with a deck-collection / filtration system plumbed into them. Guyana's Rainy Season kept our potable water tanks topped-off quite nicely.

HARDWARE - The Double Platinum Service Station is a NAPA dealer and a good place to start if you need some of the bits and pieces required to keep the systems of a cruising sailing yacht running. Mark Anthony Caesar is the knowledgeable and energetic manager (we are not making that name up), and if he does not have what you need he will gladly point you in the right direction. Mark is a GO-TO kind of guy. If you come off the Cool Breeze Landing, hang a right, and go about two blocks north on First Avenue, there is M.I. Yassin's hardware store on the west side of the street (#20 First Avenue) run by an Indian fellow who is most helpful. There is a large banner on the outside of his store proclaiming "PERKINS ENGINES" but his actual Perkins inventory is limited to older model fuel and oil filters. He will call Georgetown and try to find what you need - if it is in the country, which of course is not likely. Turn the corner just to the north of this hardware store, then go down a block to Second Avenue, and right across the street from Dino's Supermarket is M.N. Kassim and Sons. This is a very interesting establishment which provides industrial machinery, hardware, and plumbing supplies to the gold mining industry; an interesting walk-around even if you do not want to go in the gold mining business. Doyle's Guide has a very good list of the shopping available in Bartica, and we recommend it. Guyana is the poorest country in South America, and it shows in the run-down infrastructure of the towns we visited: Bartica, Parika, and Georgetown. There are no marine supply stores in Bartica, and we are not aware of any in Parika or Georgetown. Until this situation changes, we cannot imagine how Guyana would become the off-season yacht destination which Kit Nascimento is trying to create. With no yacht haul-out facilities, and only cursory general industrial and automotive hardware available - the smart yachtie will carry his own spares. We tried at several shops to have an LP gas bottle filled in Bartica, but each time the answer was that it had to go to Georgetown. They had plenty of exchange bottles in Bartica, but no filling facilities. We had our LP gas bottle with an American style fitting filled in Suriname - but don't count on getting LP gas in Bartica.

POST OFFICE - We mailed some hard-to-find post cards from the Bartica Post Office, located in the approach to the Town Landing as you turn right at the Police Station - it is on the left just before the wharf. Based on recommendations by some local ex-pats, a post card is about the upper limit that they would subject to the Guyanese Postal System.

LAUNDRY - Like most cruisers we do our own laundry aboard Tiger Lilly. We are outfitted with two Home Depot orange buckets, a toilet plunger agitator, and that ultimate luxury accessory - a compressed roller hand wringer obtained from an Amish Supply House website. (Tom sez: Is there ANYTHING I won't do for this woman's comfort and convenience?) For those impoverished unfortunates who don't have a water-maker and automatic washer-dryer aboard (or even the proper hand-laundry equippage), Atkinson's hotel on the north shore will take in your laundry.

ACCOMODATIONS - Mr. John Atkinson has recently built a hotel on the top story of his building located at the corner of 1st street and 5th avenue on Bartica's north shore (telephone 455-3306 or 455-3307). Atkinson's Guest House is a family hotel with clean and affordably priced rooms available: single bed - $50USD per night; double bed - $90USD per night, double and single bed $75USDper night. Their amenities include: a continental breakfast with the room rate; fast reliable Wi-Fi Internet access; a comfortable common sitting area, an open clean dining room, and if you do not use the air conditioning take $10USD off the nightly room price. They do not solicit the noisy gold miner / party / prostitute business which is prevalent in many of the Bartica hotels.

GETTING AROUND AND TOURING - Local in-town taxis charge 400GYD per ride, and are usually happy to wait for you (at no extra cost during the day when the demand for their service is down) if they know you will need them again. Just about any shop owner will call a taxi for you once your business with them is complete. We used the time-proven Cruiser Cheap-Charlie method of touring Bartica and its environs - we rode a maxi-taxi (mini-van) out past the town limits and back. The maxi-taxis load on First Avenue right across the street from the entrance to the Town Market; and we paid twice the local fare (a total of about $2USD per person) to ride out and back. This 45 minute ride was fun, bumpy, and informative, and we highly recommend it. As the road departs from Bartica it goes from bad to worse, to non-existent as it disappears into the jungle which presses in on Bartica from the south. The unpaved "road" into the interior is passable only by high-clearance 4X4 vehicles. The Maxi-taxi turns around just before the paving stops and all that can be seen is a dirt path into the rain forest. As usual, Lilly rode in the front passenger seat next to the driver, and by the time we got off the bus she knew: how many kids he had (and their ages), his wife's name, his mother-in-laws's name, what kind of tooth paste he used, and we had an invitation to dinner at his home.

OUR BARTICA HANG OUT - We used the Victoria Restaurant and Pizzeria on First Avenue, across the street from the two Service Stations, as our ashore center of operations and hang-out. Like most successful service-oriented businesses in Bartica it is owned and operated by Brazilians. We had snacks and drinks in this pleasant outdoor cafe, and watched the interesting sights of busy Bartica go by - a cruiser's delight. Just across the side street is a Brazilian Internet Shop. Their normal business is selling Internet time for games and porno movies to the young twenty-something gold miners, but they gave us a discount (300GYD per hour) since we had our own iPad. The shop was air conditioned, and this was a workable solution to getting internet access in Bartica. (See the SHOPPING section above / Atkinson's Hotel, and also the BAGANARA RESORT section below for other sources of Internet access.)
Comments
Vessel Name: Tiger Lilly
Vessel Make/Model: 1977 CSY44 walkover hull #55
Hailing Port: Green Cove Springs
Crew: Lilly and Tom Service
About:
Lilly is a retired business woman, and was previously a professional athlete. As one of America's first professional female triathletes, she was a pioneer in woman's sports. [...]
Extra:
Our kids: From 1987 to 1991 Tom circumnavigated the world with his family. Daughters Dawn and Jennifer were ages 11 & 13 when they departed on a 4 year, 40 country / island group, Trade Wind voyage around the world, and 15 & 17 when they returned to St. Petersburg, FL. During his high school [...]
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