lauantai 24. joulukuuta 2011

December 23rd 2011

Suffering From Flu and Fish

It was a narrow escape from Natal as Pekka went down with flu the very next day we arrived in Jacare. We first thought it was some kind of allergy since he had suffered from flu just a few months ago in Trinidad but, unfortunately, it turned out to be the real thing. He has now made almost a full recovery and we look forward to continuing our journey towards Baia de Todos os Santos right after the holidays.

Since we arrived in Jacare, a couple of locals have got into the habit of coming to our boat for breakfast every single morning. They arrive around 5 a.m. waking us up and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. We don't know very much about them but this is not merely due to a language barrier, as they are fish. They stay for about an hour each time eating the seaweed or what ever there is growing below our waterline. We wouldn't mind this at all except for one thing; they are absolutely the worst behaving and noisiest breakfast guests we have ever had, splashing about and banging on the hull in their feeding frenzy! Because the river water is very murky, we have not yet managed to see them properly but many a time we have gone up on deck during the early hours of the morning in an attempt to get rid of these uninvited pests but, so far, in vain. The noise made by the fish resulted in that, in order to get enough sleep, yesterday we abandoned our newly renovated fore cabin and moved into the saloon (Riitta) and the side cabin (Pekka) where we have fans that effectively fade any noise coming from outside. But this separation also gave us new willpower to fight back and today, we scraped the bottom of the boat as best we could and are now looking forward to a Peaceful Christmas. And we wish you all the same!

tiistai 20. joulukuuta 2011

December 15th 2011


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!).

keskiviikko 7. joulukuuta 2011

December 7th 2011

Another Prolonged Stopover

We are still in Natal where we have been mending both our good boat Sarema and her hard-working captain. Pekka's blood pressure has sky-rocketed, clearly due to his constant worry about the boat and our schedule, and it should be stabilized before we can continue our journey to the south. But we have spent this compulsory interval most industriously. The boat's exterior has been de-rusted and patch-painted, and her cork flooring has been partly renewed, so that she now looks immaculate both inside and out. And all the pumps are working to absolute perfection!

So far, we have visited two Brazilian cities, Fortaleza and Natal, and have found both of them surprisingly skyscrapery. It is perhaps their age and history that misled us to think that they would reflect more the elegance of a bygone era.

The tour of the town here in Natal revealed the two opposite sides of Brazilian living which seem to be a million miles apart; ultramodern and dilapidated buildings standing side by side, the super-rich living in their magnificent homes protected against their desperately poor neighbours by high walls, electric fences, and armed guards.

Our taxi driver's favourite subject is crime. He keeps us informed which areas are safe and which are not, where and when the latest victim of crime was killed and why. Quite often the reason is simply that the deceased had a nice watch and a mobile phone that somebody else wanted. The driver also claims that the police are all corrupt and every other taxi driver is a criminal. This is probably true at least partly as the Yacht Club, for example, only uses two taxis that they know to be reliable. This practice was introduced after one of their members was robbed by the taxi driver who picked him up from the Club.

We are now perusing the three cruising guides we have on the South American east coast to find lone anchorages as far away from human habitation as possible. As we have always found the tropics not only uncomfortable but, at times, almost intolerable because of the scorching sun, we'll start heading south as soon as possible (doctor permitting) to the more gentle latitudes and hopefully more natural surroundings.