Via an introduction from an old cruising friend (thanks, Jack!), Kit and Gem Nascimento had e-mailed us and invited us to anchor off their Hurakabra (Her-rah-KAH-bra) River Resort and avail ourselves of the amenities … showers, internet, a place to hang out on land and more. We planned to take advantage of their generous offer. We departed the Grass Islands at first light near the end of the rising tide affording us lots of water for the transit back to Bartica and then downriver a few miles. Mist rose off the river and mingled with the smoke of morning cook fires ashore.
By the time we'd wended our way across the river, the sun was up and Bartica was coming alive. We'd met some of the Close family on the American yacht, Daystar, and wished we could spend more time with them, but they were heading out. They're a family of four in their third year of sailing on a 43' Mason ketch with a website cleverly entitled Close Quarters. We hailed on the VHF to say goodbye, chatted for a moment, then signed off.
Another boat was anchored off Bartica as well, but we hadn't seen the name. The radio crackled again, hailing us. One of the miracles of cruising, it was Barry and Sue on Crazy Diamond, cruising friends whom we hadn't seen since New Zealand. They'd just arrived from Brazil and needed to clear in. We made plans to get together at Hurakabra in the coming days. Big world … small world.
There were two routes to Hurakabra shown in the cruising guide. One was about 13 nm and required us to go downriver a few miles, cross the river via a channel, then come back upriver again. The second route was a bit more sketchy. It was only 3 miles from Bartica, but mentioned that the route passed over a shoal area that provided about 7' at mean high. Since we draw 7'2”, we were a bit leery about this route. David mulled it over a bit and using the known offset on the chartplotter, plotted us a different route past Calf Island, then connecting with the deeper, more northern route a bit further downstream. A total distance of 6 nm with much more water under the keel. Though it worked like a charm, the many unknowns and unplotted hazards of this river along with missing navigational aids had us motoring slowly and carefully.
Motoring along the west side of the Essequibo now, we passed houses on stilts ashore with colorful boats moored in front.
The distinctive green roof of Hurakabra came into view and the place looked positively inviting. A long pier extends out into the river with a floating dinghy dock. Tall palms and bamboo are interspersed with tall deciduous trees. We could hear birds singing and someone waved from the shore.
The river really rages during peak tides here. The anchor dug in well and we let out extra scope. After a couple of hours, feeling confident that we were holding, we headed into shore. Mike, the caretaker, greeted us warmly and provided information about Hurakabra as we walked. He took us to the main house for a cool glass of lemonade and a warm welcome from the rest of the staff. The “plantation house” is spacious with shuttered, screened windows and a large overhang covering the veranda which kept us dry from the intermittent rainy season downpours while we did internet.
We plan to spend a few days here. There's a jungle walk to take in the early mornings with Mike as our guide. Kit and Gem, our hosts, live and work in Georgetown, but will arrive for the weekend and we're looking forward to meeting them. Crazy Diamond arrived during the afternoon and we're keen to connect and catch up with them...and we still have some inland touring to plan. Stay tuned. We only have a week more here, but it'll be action-packed.