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Voyage to the Mystic Jungles of Guyana Reid, Soayna, Darshen return from Guyana jungle coast to Georgetown North Carolina to support his father -- contact This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

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Reid Stowe returned to Terra Firma on Thur June 17 2010 - 1152 days at sea

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Launch of Nato’s Arc
Friday, 16 March 2012
Mar. 2, 2012
Supanam
 
On the day of the jaguar incident, Nato our boatbuilding neighbor, launched his big “replica” of Noah’s Ark. This boat really resembled all the pictures I have seen of Noah’s Ark. We were inside the schooner when we heard the sounds of a big motor. When we looked outside a big tug boat was nudged against the shore and men were putting a big heavy hawser rope on. Darshen and I rowed ashore to watch and Soanya stayed on the schooner to photograph the launching from the water.
 
A big group of men worked hard helping Nato wrap the hawser around the fishing boat and sliding logs through the mud under the fishing boat so the tug boat could drag her into the water. A crowd gathered and there was excitement in the air as men shouted and the tugboat maneuvered into position. The crowd was moved way back and we watched from a safe distance in case the hawser broke. The tug revved its big motors and pulled Nato’s 50 ft ark forward but too much to one side and the bow stuck in an embankment over a ditch. It looked as if they would never launch the boat. The sun was setting. Out came the flashlights and shovels. The men dug, pried, and rearranged the big hawser. Darshen’s friends came and sat in our beached dinghy as we itched and scratched at mosquito and sand fly bites. The darkness became complete.
 
I tried to get away and back to the schooner but just then the tug boat took off. We pulled back to the safety of the shore. The tug veered causing the tow cable to come dangerously close to the dinghy. It veered the other way and Nato’s wooden ark rose from its angled lean, slid through the mud and dashed into the river. I shouted hooray but the crowd was surprisingly silent. The tug veered again to avoid the bow of the ark that was speeding towards it.
 
From the schooner, Soanya watched as the tug boat drove towards the Anne then crash against her broadside. (See below) Darshen and I started to return to the schooner but were called to help shuttle men from the shore to the tug. Men were in the water in the dark pulling the hawser from the ark. It was quite exciting for us as the ark got secured back to the jungle.
 
When we got back to the schooner, I inspected the side of the schooner to see if there was any damage. A flashlight inspection showed no new cracks or scrapes. Soanya was a little shaken but she still prepared a great pasta and pesto dinner.
 
Soanya’s View:
I figured the best place to see the launching of Nato’s boat which had been built almost before our eyes in the past month was on the schooner, across the river. Out of the action. But the action came to me. I saw the tug maneuvering and realized just how narrow the Supanam river really was. Maybe I should have gone with Reid to the shore. Certainly we had no warning that the schooner was in potential danger or else we would have moved earlier in the day. In any case, I stood in the cockpit as a tug boat the size of a house headed directly towards the schooner. Should I jump off the other side? Get in the pilothouse? I wasn’t sure where was the best place to be in relation to a boat about to run into you. Both of our anchors were in the water. I figured if the tug hit us we would drag anchor into the bush before the boat actually started getting crushed. Where did that leave me? Hhmm. The tug drew frighteningly close then pivoted, but its momentum couldn’t keep it from slamming the schooner. I heard the Anne creak and felt the anchor ropes flex as she shuddered but held position. I could see the men on the tug for a brief moment. They looked at me like “What are you doing there?” I looked at them like, “What, are you blind?” The tug changed gears and off they went across the river again. I was not getting crushed today. Thank goodness.
 
I could not help but be reminded of the freighter that hit us on the 1000 days voyage. Somehow, this seemed so much scarier. Perhaps because I could see it happening as it was happening and I was alone on the schooner this time. I checked the bilge to make sure it was empty and then yelled across the darkness for Reid. He came as soon as he could.
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Back in Touch
Wednesday, 14 March 2012
Feb. 28, 2012
Supanam
 
All is well here in Guyana on the jungle river named Supanam. We have been out of touch because our Iridium phone that we normally send our satellite updates out on has not been getting good reception. The phone seems to work but the signal is not very strong. The internet place in town has also had trouble with their internet which comes through a phone company. Time has passed in our lives in the bush. Darshen still goes to school every morning and in the afternoon I row him ashore to play with the children of Nato, the boat builder and other friends from school.
 
We finally got organized and hired some teenage boys to help us work on the schooner. We’ve been busy chipping out old fiberglass and putting new Fer-A-Lite in. Fer-A-Lite is the original material that the schooner was made of. We have also been chipping steel everywhere. This is only the beginning of the work that has to be done and it has been a lot more time consuming than I imagined. We have been slowly laying the groundwork for the repairs that need to be done and I have a feeling that those projects will be difficult too.
 
We wake up at dawn every day and watch the sunrise through the trees. The motorboats start running up and down the river carrying children to school, workers to the village and lumber workers up the river. Some of the boats are so loaded that they are only a few inches above the water. The women carry bright umbrellas to shade from the sun. We still haven’t seen any tourists or foreign boats. Everyone in Supanam has been very nice and we like it here a lot.
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The Jaguar and the Internet
Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Mar. 1, 2012
Supanam
 
As we sat having breakfast one morning, our friend Vishnu Singh drove by in his boat and told us that he had shot a jaguar the night before and we could go see it on the shore nearby. We often wonder if there was a jaguar prowling in the jungle that was so close we can sometimes reach out and touch the bamboo from the boat. The jaguar had been killing the villagers’ baby goats and they called Vishnu to stop the jaguar. He found the remains of a goat nearby and set some traps. Then Vishnu hid in a tree and waited through the night. He heard a noise and shone his big flashlight through the clouds of mosquitoes and shot him.
 
By the time we got ready to go ashore, a couple boat loads of villagers were crossing the river to see the jaguar. We rowed over very close to where the schooner was anchored, walked across a muddy field, and then across a narrow plank slippery with mud and finally saw the dead jaguar in the grass.
 
Darshen asked what did the jaguar say when Vishnu shot it. I told Darshen the jaguar said, “Oh my goodness. I’m shot, I’m dead now. I should never have eaten those people’s goats. I’m king of the jungle, but I learned my lesson. Next time I’ll stay far away from man and his guns.” It’s a fine line between wilderness and civilization. On occasion, each side forays into the other’s camp. As wild and isolated as this place is there is still internet, TV, and instant contact with the rest of the world. People who live in huts on poles watch American news. They are influenced instantaneously by the world media.
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Bats Aboard
Wednesday, 14 March 2012
Feb. 6, 2012
Supanam
 
We have had all kinds of little jungle creatures come aboard like tarantulas, giant beetles, frogs, black and iridescent blue butterflies, big spiders, strange wasps, bees, neon green flies, and bats. The first bat flew into the cargo hold bathroom while Rachel was in there. Her amazement and curiosity fluctuated between “ooohs” and yelps of fear as she looked closely at our furry intruder hanging upside down in a corner of the cargo hold. We were sitting in the cockpit the next night when he flew right past us and took up the same spot in the cargo hold. We all tried to photograph him but only Rachel got a good shot in the dark corner. The next morning we found a sweet plantain busted open and half eaten away, which attracted more flies than one could believe.
 
Soanya covered all the food in the galley with tightly tied plastic screen and we sleep under a mosquito net. The locals said bats are bad to have around. We asked why. They said “Because they bite your ears and toes.” We don’t want bats to get too friendly either because they might bring their friends with them. Then it could get unsanitary. It is spooky to hear them flap and flutter around us at night.  So far though, they haven’t bothered us too much.
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The Beat of a Wooden Drum
Wednesday, 14 March 2012
Feb.15, 2012
Supanam
 
Finally we woke up to a clear sunny day and we really appreciated it. I was beginning to think the big wooden boat on the shore looked a lot like Noah’s ark through the curtain of rain. Darshen and I rowed ashore for a visit. The boat builder, Nato, and his crew work hard all day. We hear them pounding on the wooden hull which sounds like a big wooden drum echoing across our little jungle river. We see progress on their boat every day. The smell of fresh cut wood wafts over to us.
 
We work every day too but our progress is difficult to see. It takes time to gather materials and workers, and plan major rebuilds. Besides being busy as a mother, Soanya does the shopping, cooking, cleaning and organizing in the aft section of the schooner, as well as sending out our stories. Rachel handles every kind of work but is now specializing in trying to solve our electrical problems. Alex takes care of every kind of muscle work and engine related jobs. They really like being here and express wonder at every little bug, butterfly, and bird. They also enjoy socializing with the local people here and getting a feel for the culture.
 
I am still in wonder at being here. It is a special unique place far off the beaten path. It took three local pilots to get us here and it wasn’t without mishap. I almost feel more isolated here than I did at sea. I will feel more at home when I have wavey seas around me in every direction.
 
Soanya’s View:
I am really enjoying my stay here in Guyana . I experience it both as a tourist and as a familiar place at the same time. I like that I can understand and almost speak the pigeon English and that the food is fresh and delicious. Darshen is having so much fun playing with other kids his age. There are a lot of children of all ages everywhere who are happy to have another playmate and he is beginning to pick up the language too (which might be confusing for him when he gets back to New York ).
 
Thankfully, the rains have eased off and the mud is drying so its more pleasant to walk around (traded in my rubber boots for slippers) and we finally caught up with all the laundry from the voyage over here that needed a good washing and drying in hot tropical sun. A lot of people don’t have refrigerators here. Not that they need it since no one wants to eat day old food anyway. They also don’t have hot water, but again in the tropical heat, hot water wouldn’t be used too often anyway. It’s a very simple and basic style of living, but meets all of the needs of the people. I would like to see more art and creative expressions. There doesn’t seem to be any creative writing, painting, drawing, music, theater, or sculpture going on. There is some dance and singing in the capital city, but in the countryside even that is missing. I hope I see a little more of the artsy side before I leave.
 
Life in the Jungle
Wednesday, 01 February 2012
Jan. 25, 2012
Supanam

We asked the locals how many sailboats have been here before us that they can remember and they answered, “one boat. One boat.” That’s incredible in this day and age with sailors sailing everywhere. But this place is hard to get to as I described earlier.

The wooden boatbuilding tradition is going strong here and that is one reason we came here, besides the fact that Soanya has family nearby and we wanted to go to a wild place. The people have been very nice and we have shared many dinners with them.

Yesterday, after breakfast, Darshen threw a temper tantrum when we wouldn’t take him to shore. Clearly he needed some time to play off the boat, because he was getting restless and needed action all the time (action that centered around him). We found he could go to the local nursery school which was a short distance away. We have to walk through jungle mud part of the way. Soanya wears rubber boots like the locals do on rainy days and I carry Darshen barefooted.

Every day we work on the schooner, mostly cleaning and organizing. Soon we will get to work on the more difficult jobs like grinding, fiberglassing, and painting the hull, pulling out the masts and rebuilding the bulwarks around the rail of the schooner. We made it all the way down here with a broken rudder so we will continue on as is with our steering ropes until we can afford to haul out and fix the rudder.

Everybody who reads this and wants to understand that this is the Marathon Beyond All Marathons should look right on the front page of our website under the “daily log section.” We sailed for longer on the sea than any other humans. With very little help we are still going forward and still exploring a jungle river where the locals say they’ve seen only one sailboat before us in recent memory. We are still carrying the flame of curiosity forward and this is for all of humanity. As the bible says “ a people without vision perish.”

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                       Voyage to the Mystic Jungles of Guyana
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Supanam
Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Jan. 20, 2012
The Jungle Schooner

I didn’t feel so good about being in a river isolated from the modern world with a stuck rudder. Georgetown might have the facilities but that meant running the gauntlet back over the mud flats, sandbars, and fishing stakes to a place that is definitely not safe for small sailboats. At night I cranked on the rudder ropes side to side. Before breakfast I tried again. The situation looked bleak. The current on the river at Parika ran strong and rough waves made getting in and out of the dinghy dangerous. When we returned from a shore excursion we had to drag the dinghy through knee deep mud to launch for the schooner.

I dove under the schooner with gloves on and felt every inch of the barnacle clad rudder where it exits the stern ten feet down to where it stood in the heavy duty shoe bolted to the bottom of the keel and didn’t discover anything wrong. At dawn I cranked on the steering lines again and suddenly we heard a noise. Then the rudder swung free again! After some time I began to think that perhaps when we were aground and bouncing on the bottom, the rudder was jammed up. Now we carry on with our broken rudder and makeshift steering lines not sure when we will ever be able to repair it properly.

Our NYC friend Capt. Dougie built a 65 ft wooden schooner in Guyana and told us about an isolated jungle town named Supanam where they build big wooden boats on the shore. We decided before our departure that Supanam would be our destination. From Parika we looked at our chart of the Essequibo river mouth. After running aground it looked daunting to try to cross 16 miles of islands, shallows and mudflats to go further into the wild. Luckily we met a man from Supanam who offered to take us across in his speed boat to show us the zig-zagging route. It was a great day. We loved the quaint hidden, protected charm of the town and the all the wooden boats perched on the river bank.

We calculated the tides and timed our trip exactly to go through the trickiest parts at high tide. What a relief it was to come in off the windblown wide river and pull into a protected deep little river. We motored slowly past the villages and all the moored junk ferry boats. Friends we were introduced to met us and showed us just where to anchor with bow and stern anchors close to the edge of the river. The leaves of a towering bamboo grove almost touched the schooner as she rested in a swift flowing jungle river.

This morning it began to rain and we quickly set our rain catchment awnings. Alex and Rachel watched one tank fill up and then they repositioned the rain tarp to flow into another tank as Darshen filled buckets from under the cockpit awning. We caught maybe a hundred gallons in two hours and about five hundred gallons by the next morning. In Georgetown, water is expensive to buy and has to go through customs before we could get it. So we opted to take a chance and catch our own water. Today we saw that would be able to take care of our fresh water needs.

This is just a very brief description of what we’ve been doing. All of the emotions, close calls, detours, and drama will be in the book we are working on.

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Jan 21 position
Saturday, 21 January 2012

SPOT Satellite GPS position message received

Latitude:6.97272
Longitude:-58.5206
GPS location Date/Time:01/21/2012 09:22:05 EST

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/6uH8S/6.97272N/58.5206W

 
Essequibo River
Friday, 20 January 2012

Photo will be sent in another email.
Jan.17, 2012
Our Seized Rudder. No Steerage!

After crashing into their pilot boat, we made friends with the surveyor who placed the buoys in the Georgetown channel and surveyed the Essequibo river. I asked him to come with us to guide us from the Demerara to the Essequibo River on Saturday his day off. The reason I wanted him to come is because the charts show the whole entrance to be too shallow for our 10 ft keel for many miles out to sea. In fact the shallows go out so far that land is only hazy in the distance. So there are no landmarks to follow. There are long poles that are stuck in for fish nets which really confused me on the way in. The fishing traps showed up more than the buoys. The real problem for me was that there were no buoys to guide us in past all the sandbars and shallows. That is why I got a pilot onboard to guide us in.

The day started well and we began sailing through runs of tall poles stuck in the mud. I began singing “fish poles on the right of us, fish poles on the left of us we go.” I had complete trust. At one point we could no longer sail in the direction we wanted. We cranked the winch and pulled the steering line attached to the back of the rudder over and over and soon we were hard over. We couldn’t figure out what was happening. I went to the stern and there I could see that the motor was stirring up mud and I knew we were stuck. The way the wind and waves looked on the water, we had the impression we were still sailing, but we were stuck.

I threw the lead line in and measured the depth of the water at eight feet so our keel was two feet deep in the mud. We still had four hours of rising tide so I figured we were ok. We put the schooner in reverse and it took us an hour to get off and get going again. Then we hit the bottom again but it was hard like sand and we started bouncing. This went on for an hour until sunset and we came free. We measured the bottom at 24 ft and knew we had a straight channel in. Still trusting our pilot we continued into the pitch black river pushed by a strong incoming tide.

The steering felt a little stiff but I didn’t notice anything until we made a u-turn in front of the town of Parika preparing to motor against the incoming tide to tie off along side a tug boat. When we cranked the winch to straighten out the rudder the line became taught and we knew the rudder was stuck over. While we tried to straighten the rudder we drove in a circle and realized we had no choice but to drop anchor.

At dawn we were awakened by ferry boats bringing people into town from the distant jungle. Colorful boats were moored to poles along the edge of the river. One little island between us and the beach was surrounded with white egrets. The rising sun rimmed the jungle tree tops with gold lining.

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Jan 14 position
Monday, 16 January 2012

SPOT Satellite GPS position message received

Latitude:6.86235
Longitude:-58.42712
GPS location Date/Time:01/14/2012 20:34:59 EST

Click the link below to see where I am located.
http://fms.ws/6rUWn/6.86235N/58.42712W

 
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