Thursday, December 6th, 2012
Essequibo River, Guyana
Monday, 3 December 2012
It rained heavily yesterday so all my water tanks, buckets and bottles are full. Crystal clear water for drinking and hair-washing. I have greatly improved my rain catching system over the years and get a kick from gazing fondly at the rain trickling, or as it does here in Guyana, gushing and gurgling down off my awning and filling up 5 litre bottles as fast as I can replace them. What luxury. The dry season (afternoon thunder showers only about three days a week) is over and the December rains have arrived. An umbrella becomes your most important accessory, cooler than a raincoat in the tropical heat.
I took Sinbad for his walk on the island early this morning and hung about patiently with him while he made a slow and thorough inspection of every leaf and blade of grass. He roams freely these days and shows no inclination to stalk the birds. After a while I left him testing his tree-climbing skills, to row back to Speedwell for some insect repellent. When I returned a little while later he was waiting for me on the beach and casually, not in any hurry, you understand, hopped into the dinghy as I nudged up to the sand.
Now we are back on board, he is relaxing after his workout and I am just sitting in the cockpit with the warm breeze gently caressing me. I can’t help thinking of Doris Lessing’s wonderful words – All sanity depends on this: that it should be a delight to feel heat strike the skin, a delight to stand upright knowing the bones are moving easily under the flesh.
And so, to the boat building..
A few weeks ago David on Eileen of Avoca, his gaff rigged Yarmouth 23, was heading back to French Guiana from Trinidad and wondered if I needed anything from the ship chandlers. My list was too long to make it practicable but I remembered that Bernhard needed some Gorilla glue for the new dinghy he is making. David was happy to oblige and a few weeks later he came motoring up the river with a litre of the precious stuff. Bernhard was able to continue working on his new dinghy. The wood had already been cut and all that was needed was the glue.
Construction is taking place in a temporary boat shed put up close to the river for easy launching when the project is completed.
The boat needs to be sturdy as it will be used for regular shopping trips to Bartika, about 5 miles downriver. Boat traffic at the Bartika waterfront is heavy and the boat must be able to withstand the occasional hard knock. The wood that Bernhard is using is Silvabally. A locally grown wood which is, according to Martin Montgomery in his book, History of the British Colonies, published in 1835:
…beyond all woods, incomparable for planking ship’s bottoms, being almost impervious to the worm, light, and easily worked.
Orchids cling to the surrounding trees, and I couldnt resist this picture of Speedwell anchored a short way off.