Within minutes, the sun was up and blazing and Ile Royale was aglow.
Though we were motoring only 10 miles offshore, there was little to see. The land here is flat and low, fringed in mangroves. Beyond Kourou, there are no other cities or towns on the coast. Based on our previous experience with unlit fishing boats at night and taking the advice of others who had sailed this route, we opted to do the 110 nm trip to St. Laurent du Moroni in two days, traveling only during daylight hours. Our goal the first day was to position ourselves near the entrance to the Fleuve Maroni in order to be able to catch the rising tide heading up river in the morning.
The day was hot and humid, the sun so bright it hurt our eyes, even though we were wearing sunglasses. There was a shimmery haze of heat, however, whenever we looked towards shore. We saw numerous fishing boats, some close enough to wave at us. They fished with nets in open boats (pirogues), their floats and markers laid out in what seemed a haphazard fashion, the midday sun blazing down on them.
The water here is shallow, 50-75' (20m +/-) even at 10 miles out. There was no wind, nor any in the forecast. The swell was light. We planned to edge our way closer in to the 30' contour line and drop the hook for the night. It showered off and on during the day, bringing short relief to heat and a little wind. The clouds behind us looked ominous at times and this particular squall dropped quite of volume of rain before moving off.
The reward for having endured the showers? A rainbow. In fact, we saw several throughout the day.
We saw a pod of dolphins along the way, but they were working, not playing, and didn't stick around long. Several large, bright yellow butterflies fluttered by, moving several knots faster than Cups, on a mission, no doubt. Later on, a rabble of black butterflies made their way past us … perhaps a butterfly convention up ahead? A scruffy-looking tern landed on the solar panels and was quickly shooed away, but he was determined to land and found a spot on the bow pulpit to settle for a few minutes.
We managed 70nm before the sun began to sink … twelve hours of daylight in the tropics and then night falls.
We headed for the shallower water as per the chart, but there was no shallow water. We finally settled in 50' as the last of the sun went behind the horizon. We were bow into the swell when the wind kicked up, but as soon as the tide and current took over, we were beam-to the waves. A rolly night lay ahead.