Musical Moorings and a Wreck

French Guiana

The mooring we were assigned behind the wreck of the Edith Cavell was not ideal for Nine of Cups. It blocked the breeze entirely. Additionally, being so close to the forested wreck, it was unbelievably loud with bird song, especially the kiskadee, whose repertoire was limited to repeating its name incessantly … kiskadee, kiskadee, kiskadee, until David was wishing he had a pellet gun aboard. And most importantly... this spot was too shallow! We were okay for the night since the tidal range allowed for a few extra inches under the keel, but we let the marina office know immediately that we needed to change. Nothing was available at the moment, but they'd rearrange first thing in the morning.

edith cavell french guiana


We waited in the morning for the new mooring assignment, but it seemed there was some reshuffling to be done. Another shallower draft boat needed to move off a deeper anchorage mooring, so we could move from our current mooring to theirs. It took awhile to get it all organized and by the time all was ready, we had only an inch or two under keel. “Was there enough water to move now or should we wait?” “No problem”, we were told, “you're in the shallowest spot right now. There's more water just north of you. You'll be fine.” Hmmm.

nine of cups by edith cavell french guiana

They say it's not “if” you go aground, it's “when” you go aground. We managed the circuitous route up the shallow Maroni River without a problem. We weren't 10 meters from the old mooring, when Cups went hard soft mud...but aground nevertheless. We tried nudging her with the dinghy, but we were stuck good. We had a definite list to port, but the tide was already changing and patience prevailed (that would be the patience on the part of the Captain, not the first mate who was grousing and whinging). We waited for nearly two hours and Cups finally floated free. After a couple tries fighting the current, we lassoed the new mooring. Once again, we were up close and personal with the mangled hull of the Edith Cavell … this time on the downriver side. There was, however, ample water beneath our keel.

nine of cups 2nd mooring french guiana


We paid close attention to the turn of the tides and found we were about 20' from the wreck during the flood tide. It just looked and felt closer. We could hear the tidal water, furiously rushing and pushing and splashing against the Cavell's nearly submerged hull. Not an ideal mooring, but we learned several boats were leaving soon and we could move to another in a day or two.

Sure enough, two boats left the following day. We tossed off the mooring lines at slack high and headed a few hundred yards back up river. We wished we had an audience as we lassoed the mooring on the first try with grace and notable savoir faire, but of course, no one was watching. People only watch when we screw up. Our new mooring is in 18', close to the dinghy dock and in perfect line with the marina's internet signal. Enough musical moorings … hopefully Cups and crew are settled in here, safe and sound, for a couple of weeks.

nine of cups french guiana

A little info about the wreck S/S Edith Cavell...

When we first arrived up-river, we thought the wreck was an island. It was only as we motored closer that we could make out some of her “ship-like” qualities.

foliage on edith cavell french guiana

Built in 1898, the S/S Edith Cavell ran aground just off St. Laurent du Maroni on 30 November 1924. She was en route from Marseille to Fort de France with general cargo. Records indicate that the French Guianans detained and imprisoned the British crew for more than three months while waiting for negotiations between the French and English for their release.

Her hull is cracked in several places and nature has taken over to provide a small forested island in the middle of the Fleuve Maroni and a fine nesting place for kiskadee and egrets alike.

wreck of the edith cavell french guiana