Guyana journeys to become a full-blown yachting destination – Marina and Boatyard underway

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Guyana is well on its way to becoming a full-blown yachting destination.
Just recently, some 10 vessels that were a part of Nereid’s International Yacht Rally were anchored at the Hurakabra River Resort in the Cuyuni-Mazaruni (Region Seven).
The response given by yachtsmen and yachtswomen as to the wonderful time they had which left them yearning for longer stays, coupled with government’s commitment to yachting tourism, presents a conclusion that there is no stopping Guyana now in this regard.
Guyana is regarded as a safe haven for small cruisers and yachts mainly because the country is located outside of the hurricane belt and usually has light to moderate trade winds. Hazards in its rivers include floating logs and debris but can be avoided with a good lookout.
Guyana is also considered an ideal destination since it boasts some of the most wonderful sites in the world including the Majestic Kaieteur Falls. The country also has more than 800 species of birds, 6,000 plant species and is referred to as the ‘Land of the Giants’ of South America.
The area designated for yachting is about 40 miles up the Mighty Essequibo River. It is an area with ideal anchorage for yachts that is central to Bartica, a small, vibrant community which stands at the junction of the Essequibo and Mazaruni rivers.
The Essequibo river comprises of many islands, some too small to be inhabited while some are very populated and used for agricultural purposes. Yachtsmen and yachtswomen will notice large tracts of rainforest teeming with wildlife and birds.
Yachting tourism in Guyana will appeal to those adventurous souls who wish to visit somewhere really off the beaten track.
The Ministry of Tourism and Hurakabra River Resort held an official welcome reception on Thursday September 12, 2015 at the resort in the Essequibo River. This was done for the 10 yachts, all participants in the Nereid’s International Yacht Rally, which had begun to arrive in Guyana since September 7, 2015 from Trinidad and Tobago.
Three yachts scheduled to participate, owing to last minute repairs, were unfortunately unable to make the sail.
At the official welcoming reception, Minister of Tourism Cathy Hughes said “Our country and this event really is a wonderful melting pot for people from all over the world.”
For years, Guyana has been in talks of developing a marina at a prime location in the Essequibo where yachters can dock their sailboats and venture off on the shores to explore all the wonders of this small South American country.
Acknowledging the great successes of the rallies throughout the years, the Minister pledged her commitment and determination towards finally realizing a yachting marina in the Essequibo.
“We definitely see that a marina in Guyana is an incredible place to have the possibility where yachters can come and have their boats docked and any basic mechanical or maintenance done right here in Guyana. And, of course, it is a tremendous opportunity for us to provide jobs for our people that live in this area,” she stated.
The yachters rally through the Caribbean and the grand sailing will come to an end in Saint Laurent, French Guiana. Nonetheless, many of the yachtsmen and yachtswomen expressed their desire to return to Guyana to continue their adventures of discovering more of this beautiful land.
Also at the reception, owner of the Hurakabra River Resort Kit Nascimento, and his wife Gem Nascimento, extended a warm welcome to the yachters. Welcoming remarks were also delivered by Regional Chairman of the Cuyuni-Mazaruni (Region 7) Gordon Bradford.
David Matelicani, the man who came up with the concept of the rally, also delivered brief remarks. He indicated that he ventured to Guyana by accident and, had it not been for that “misfortune”, Guyana would have never realized its potential of unlocking that tourism aspect.
Matelicani was actually sailing along the border of Venezuela when a storm struck and his yacht floated all the way into Guyana’s shores. There, he and the Nascimentos got to talking and the Nereid’s Rally was born.
Matelicani disclosed that he was committed and had begun negotiations with the government to build a Marina and Boatyard with all haul-out facilities. If all goes well, it should begin operations early in 2016 or possibly before.
The yachtsman acknowledged the fact that Guyana is outside of the hurricane belt and that makes it an ideal yachting destination for vessels from both the Caribbean and those crossing the Atlantic to South America on their way up to the Caribbean. He said he looks forward with anticipation, in the not too distant future, to the Essequibo River becoming a major yachting destination in comparison to any in the Caribbean.
He pointed out that yachting tourism is a multi-million dollar business creating substantial employment for skilled labour in yachting maintenance and repairs; and is a major foreign exchange earner for countries.
Many Guyanese, who attended the Hurakabra Beach party, got an opportunity to visit and enjoy the hospitality of the yachts or experience a sail on one of them. For many, it was their first time on board such a vessel and they deemed it as ‘thrilling’ or ‘educational’, seeing the lifestyle of yachtsmen.
A number of the yachters immensely enjoyed a visit to the majestic Kaieteur Falls which they described as ‘magnificently unspoilt and natural’. The rally left Guyana on Thursday September 18, 2015 headed to Suriname and then to French Guiana.

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