07° 02,149' S, 34° 51,423 W
The day before we finally left Natal, just after lunch, we heard a bang vibrating through the hull and, as we rushed up on deck, found a distressed looking Italian skipper standing on the swimming platform of his own boat and leaning heavily against Sarema thus trying to keep the two boats from colliding with one another (his was a brand new Swan!). The fact that his anchor was down and his dinghy on the other side of our bow did not make matters any easier. As a newcomer, he obviously was not aware of the strong tidal current's habit of turning one boat this way and the other one that way. While both men were pushing the boats apart, I brought the dinghy to the right side of the bow, after which the Italian was able to weigh anchor and move further away from us.
This reminded me of a similar incident that happened in Newport several years ago. At that time, we were the culprits as we had been dragging our anchor, and consequently caused some damage to the other boat. The boat had no crew on board, and it took us two days to locate the owners, with the help of US coastguard. We still keep in contact with them occasionally. So, Antonietta and Marco, if you happen to read this, MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Later in the evening when the tidal current changed its direction, it turned out that the Italian was still a bit too close to us although not quite within collision distance. The following morning while weighing anchor, we could clearly see how relieved he was to see us go. And we shared his sentiments but, of course, for entirely different reasons. Our stay in Natal had been compulsory, and not a very enjoyable one, and we were more than happy that it was now over!
We left on the 14th early in the morning during high tide slack. As we were nearing the mouth of the river Potengi, which is quite narrow, the seas were getting higher and higher and soon we were motoring against ocean rollers so strong that we could hardly make any progress at all. While competing against the waves with conspicuous reefs on either side, we understood why every commercial vessel, big or small, entering or leaving the port of Natal were being escorted by two tugboats. We experienced a few anxious moments and as the boat's engine has not been exactly reliable lately, our stress level remained relatively high until we were well past the reefs.
When we reached the far end of the breakwater, the seas flattened considerably and from thereon, sailing was most enjoyable. The winds were from east/south-east with moderate seas and clear skies. We followed the shoreline at 15 to 20 metre depth with the coast visible all the time. Throughout the night, on the horizon, we could see fires glowing as huge areas were being burnt (deforestation?!). Above us, we had the moon, the billion stars of the Milky Way, and at least a dozen shooting stars intermittently flashing across the night sky. As always, every time we saw a shooting star, we made a wish. Even if only some of the wishes we made during the night will eventually come true, we are going to be one prosperous family!
Because we had decided to take it easy, we did not continue any further but, early next morning, entered the river Paralba, sailed for about five miles up the river, and are now anchored in front of a small fishing village named Jacare. We will stay here for a few days in order to get the generator support welded and to buy a few more impellers, pump sealing rings, and bearings. But we will also take our time to tour the two nearby towns, Cabedelo and Joao Pessoa, which are within easy reach by train, a one-way ticket only 50 centavos (= 20 euro cents!).