Best time: Tropical storms: Charts:
November to February None
BA: 4216,4202 US: 22, 108 BA: 5, 7A, 71 US: 124,147.148
The strong NW setting Guyana current dissuades most people from undertaking this direct passage, and those who have attempted it in the past have preferred to take an offshore route. However, by staying close inshore, it is possible to avoid the worst of the current. The best place to start this voyage is in Trinidad from where the coast of South America should be followed by staying close to or even inside the 10 fathom line. Because of the extensive continental shelf, shallow waters reach far offshore allowing one to sail relatively long tacks. Occasionally a favourable countercurrent will also be found. Naturally, the help of a powerful engine will come in useful and also the full range of coastal charts. As one approaches the mouth of the Amazon, it is advisable to move offshore to avoid the worst of the river currents.
Past Cape Sao Roque, conditions during the recommended season improve dramatically as the winds along the Brazilian coast are NE between October and February. The current is also favourable as it sets SW, making it easy to reach any port along this stretch of the coast. Between March and September the winds are predominantly SE and the current sets NE. For southbound boats during this period it thus becomes necessary to sail well off the coast where the chances of finding favourable winds are better.
The logical departure point for the southbound passage is Trinidad. Although enjoying NE trade winds for most of the year, the more southerly position of Trinidad and its proximity to the mainland coast does lessen their effect in the summer months from June to November, which is also the rainy season. A SE wind sweeps across the plains bordering the Gulf of Paria, building up a sea every ahexnoor\ in the gulf. Sea conditions are generally rough near the island due to the clashing of winds and currents setting strongly out of the Gulf of Paria and around the north coast of the island. The current in the Dragon's Mouth can have northerly sets of 5 knots and seldom sets south. Being south of the hurricane area, Trinidad rarely suffers any serious storms and this century only one tropical storm has affected the island.
The three former Guyanas, British (Guyana), Dutch (Suriname), and French (Cayenne) will be passed on the way south. This region of the South American continent lies mainly in the belt of the NE trades, although the SE trade winds do penetrate into the area from August to October when the ITCZ moves north. May to July is the wettest season, September and October the driest months. The NE trade winds are strongest from January to March with a more northerly component earlier in the season and more easterly later on. From May through to July there are more calms and frequent squalls as the winds gradually change through ENE to ESE- When established, the SE trade winds are not very strong and the change back to the NE
in late October or early November occurs more suddenly and without the squalls that characterise the other change of season. Near to the coast the winds decrease at night and pick up again in the morning, usually the earlier in the day this occurs the stronger the wind will be that day. Land breezes from SW to NW can occur close to the coast, especially towards the latter part of the year, but they do not last long. The only official port of entry into Guyana is its capital Georgetown (6849'N, 580ll'W). For Suriname, the port of entry is the capital Paramaribo (5°50'N, 55°10'W), approximately 13 miles up the Suriname River. Entry formalities in Cayenne are completed at Degrad des Cannes (4°51'N, 52 816'W), although southbound boats may be able to stop without clearing in at the lies du Salut (5 °15'N, 52°35'W), just inside the border between Suriname and Cayenne as one comes south. The first official port of entry into Brazil, just south of the equator, is Sao Luis Maranhao (2830'S, 44°20'W).
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