05° 45,778' S, 35° 12,288' W
We arrived in Natal on the 23rd and are now anchored near the club house of Iate Clube do Natal on the river Potengi. The distance between Fortaleza and Natal is more or less 230 nautical miles which should have taken us no more than two days to complete. Instead, we spent almost six days sailing against 35 knot winds and oncoming seas tacking, tacking, tacking... and leaving behind a total of 461 nautical miles. It's actually quite fascinating how distances seem to stretch when you are sailing along the north coast of Brazil in the totally wrong direction.
Anyway, the reason why we are in Natal is that on our third night at sea, the water pump stopped working. And the reason for this was that the impeller Pekka had installed just before Fortaleza had broken to pieces after only about five days of use (Johnson of Sweden!). Because we by now had run out of extra impellers, Pekka had to replace the whole pump with an old one that we had kept as a spare (thank god!). As we didn't seem to have enough spare parts to go around anymore, we decided to stop at Natal in order to go spare part shopping, which seems to be the only way for us to see Brazil. So, the following day, we took a taxi and went impeller hunting. We first drove around from one chandlery to another trying to find an impeller of the right size but no avail. We then continued our search in small workshops that line one of the narrow streets in the old city centre and, after about four hours, we stroke gold. When we returned to the boat and tried to move to a better anchorage closer to the shore, after five days of continuous operation at sea, our good old Perkins refused to start. It appeared that the fuel system was blocked. Pekka used the rest of the day trying to figure out what the problem was and finally, after replacing the fuel injection pump with an old spare pump, managed to get the engine running again. We sincerely hope that this was the last of our pump problems for the time being as we now have run out of spares. The blockage was most probably caused by the sludge in the fuel that had managed to get inside the pump through three filters and two water separators and jammed it (how usual is that!). I am not going to bore you with any more details but the truth is that we really have had more that our fair share of both the more usual and the highly improbable technical failures during the past few months.
Because of the difficulties, or should I say in this case thanks to them, we have now come to realize that, firstly, our original schedule was far too tight and, secondly, somewhere along the line, we seem to have lost the feeling of adventure and contentment which are two of the most important prerequisites for a full and happy life at sea (or anywhere for that matter). After thoroughly contemplating our current situation, we decided to change our plans. Instead of rushing along as we have done till now, we'll slow down and start exploring the countless anchorages along the coasts of Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina. But, our goal has not changed, we are still on our way to Alaska, just less hurriedly!