Approaching French Guiana

Lars Alfredson
Thu 11 Mar 2021 13:27
POS 06:04N 53:13W
Dawnbreaker Blog
Updated 01.30 11.03.21
Greetings readers from the wheelhouse where the AIS shows that we "should" be arriving at St Laurent du Maroni (SLdM)  in 6 hours time. However the wonderful computer hasn't taken into consideration that we will need to navigate about 20 miles up the tidal estuary of the River Maroni which appears from the charts to be difficult/technical and we've been advised by Nikolas (Harkforestern) and the Marina Manager at SLdM should only be taken on in daylight - so, bottom line, we have got here about 8 hours too early and are now having to kill time. The only problem is that the wind is blowing a hooley with 30 - 35 knots, the sea state is "agitated" and the boat is rocking like an absolute #@$%]!. Typing this blog is taking an immense physical effort as I wedge myself across the companion way.
Capt. Lars came up at about midnightthirty and we have agreed that I will try and keep us on our current track, going as slowly as possible (7 - 8 kts. !!!) and we will then look to gybe at about 3.30 am when we are about 20 miles (3 hours) off the mouth of the estuary, which should give us a straight run in and the opportunity to take advantage of the rising tide.  
"Equatorial Baptism"
As previously advised, Neptune only works 9 - 5, Monday to Friday and since we crossed the Equator at just gone 8 pm on Sunday, my "Baptism" was adjourned to more social working hours on Monday.
At the allotted time (just before G&T Hour) I stepped into the cockpit of the boat for the ceremony where I was greeted with howls of laughter and cat calls. Quite why I didn't know, because I thought I looked stunning in my "Baptism Outfit".
The actor Telly Savalas (Kojak) once sang "If a picture paints a thousand words" - well here dear readers is a thousand word picture (actually there are 292, but who is counting?).
As with all great works of art you need to start with a blank canvas and, so naturally, I was naked.
In order to save the blushes and censorship of "Lady Caroline" (the Captains all seeing wife) and in order to maintain an air of sophistication and decency I had a huge piece of flayed rope to cover/conceal my nether regions. I thought the off white and pink hues of the rope complemented my skin tones.
The crown I wore had a striking similarity to a 5 litre water bottle with a Schweppes Tonic Water bottle screwed to the top of it but it certainly looked different !
My chest was adorned with a most beautiful necklace of wine corks which had an exquisite 5cl bottle of Courvoisier Brandy (from my Sailing Survival Kit) as the centre piece. 
My ensemble was then completed with a matching skirt and anklets outfit worthy of a Roman Gladiator, and I hoped would be appreciated by Neptune and lusted after by the Mermaids. Yet again I had been anxious to maintain a theme of matching colours, and the blues and browns of the "Antarctica SubZero" beer cans did indeed compliment the many bruises that Dawnbreaker has inflicted upon me over the last week.
Finally in order to show Neptune that I meant business and could be relied upon to be one of his warriors I carried a most splendid and fearsome looking Trident. Kenneth commented that he though it looked like the deck brush with empty bottles of Gordons and Blaauwklippen 1862 Gin tied to it. However, as we all know - Kenneth is a Kook and I didn't think it appropriate that he should "Finnish" my entry with such a comment and so I ignored him.
I was then summoned by the Captain to the "alter" (the open space between the two steering wheels/helm). He then spoke many, many wise words about the history of baptism of sailors who were first time/virgin crossers of the Equator. He went on to advise that under the powers vested in him by the Viking School of Fishing he would now baptise and name me in order that I could join the "Neptune Club". I was duly named "Deck Hand Pete", a name I will carry with pride whenever I am on Neptunes' Seas (and certainly beats the name I was given by the Polygon Hash House Harriers in Cyprus).
Captain Lars then anointed me with Waters of Baptism - a chillingly breath taking mix of sea water with a liberal addition of ice cubes ..... Brrrrr.
The final part of the ceremony is the "Naughty Call" toast where I raise a glass, utter a salutation to Neptune and then drink and also share with Neptune by pouring some over the side.
I was presented with my drink - a "KKK" (Kenneth the Kook Kocktail) a heady generous and eclectic mix of Rum, Whiskey and Jäegermeister. I am not sure whether I liked the taste but I sure did appreciate its warming qualities after the chill of the baptism waters.
After all this Fun and Merriment it was time to settle back into the normal routines of the ship and so we all had a Gin and Tonic.
As I took over from Kenneth on Monday night we furled and reduced the size of the Genoa and whilst it cost us about 1 knot of speed it greatly reduced the dynamic loads on the boat and physical strain on me !
It was just as well because my night shift was a continual game of "Dodge the Venezuelan  Fishing Boat" both the ones that showed up on the AIS and those that didn't, but were lit. The real scary thing is that I haven't got a clue how many unlit/no AIS boats I passed/missed.
Tuesday was much the same - good winds and great speed.
The highlight of today (Wednesday) was the visit of a pod of playful Dolphins. The big males leaping 2 - 3 metres high and spinning in the process, the young calves apparently playing a dolphin variant of chicken by crossing diagonally in front of the boat getting as near to the bow as possible and one of the females swimming close to the bow, where I was standing, and rolling onto her back in a sort of Dolphin seductory way.
Evening meal was a creamy chicken stir fry with St Helenian green beans served on a bed of fluffy rice and, you guessed, enough left over for my supper.
The time is now 4.20 am and we have put in the gybe. We are steering a course of 206 degrees, running with the wind at a steady 6 knots, and have an ETA at the first marker buoy at about 7 am - What a perfect way to be ending this leg to French Guiana and finishing the blog for today.
Au revoir mes amis
Deck Hand Pierre
FOOTNOTE - As a point of clarification and in order that I do not receive hate mail from my Greek and Cypriot readers I must point out that Neptune and Poseidon are one and the same - It is just that in order to maintain an element of anonymity and mysticism he changes his name depending where in the world he is.
No matter what - He is a cool dude, not to be messed with and should be taken "sea riously".
ENDS ....