fredag 20. august 2010

Rio Paraiba, Brazil!

Finally, we made it!
We had a good breeze ever since crossing the Equator, and made the last part of the crossing in just one week! It really felt good when we could sense the smell of the tropics! Green, green landscape, other boats, people.. There is a substantial tide here, and we had to time our entrance to the river accordingly. 2,4m tidal difference and a shallow river. We made it in time for the first high tide and didn't have to wait. Some hours more or less shouldn't matter after a month at sea, but at the time it felt like it did! Well, now we are here in Jacare Yacht Marina, a small marina on the riverbank of Rio Paraiba. The surroundings are Jacare, a small fishermans village, restaurants and bars at Praia do Jacare and Jacare Marina Club, a motor boat club, on the other side. It's not a very posh neighboorhood, but quite nice and safe it seems.
On Tuesday we made it to Cabedelo where the immigration authorities, customs and harbour offices are located. We took the train from Jacare, and saw how they are handling the security at the trains around here. In every train station and on every wagon of the train there were armed guards watching over us. Besides obtaining safety for the passengers they have seemed to scare potential taggers from decorating the walls: The equipment was worn, but still in it's original colours.. We were not quite sure about how to find the offices in the harbour. Thanks to a Brazilian guy, Luis, who we met on the train, we found the offices at once. Without his guidance I'm afraid we could have spent hours trying to find them.. Not many people speak English here and there are not many signs showing directions in the streets. Anyway, the formalities were no problem and we are now legally in the country for three months.
At sunset the restaurants and bars in Praia do Jacare are filled with people who come to see the sunset and to watch the saxophonist playing Ravels Bolero in his boat. He has done so every sunset for the last 10 years or so, they say.. We went there last Sunday for a nice meal and to experience this institution. Lots of people try to make money on this happening, so we only hope the saxophonist gets his fair share!
One night we were afraid we were observing the start of a major forest fire! Across the river we could see the flames spreading over quite a large area. The smell of burnt vegetation was evident the next morning, but we couldn't see any more fire. As it turned out it is the start of the sugar harvest! The initial step of the process is to set fire to the leaves, and this is what we saw! I guess they had it all under control..
We have also visited Joao Pessoa one day. This is the main city of the area and capital of Paraiba state. There is so much to see and we have only just started. Tomorrow we plan to attend to an excursion to a cachaça distillery in Areia a city, 80 km inland from here.
That's all for now!


lørdag 7. august 2010

We have crossed the Equator!

It has taken us another two weeks before we could finally cross the Equator. The course we had laid out for the passage turned out not to be a good one.A short while after I wrote the last report we started to realise that we were being taken west by some quite strong currents. And the boat would hardly be moved by the wind! During our short swim in the Doldrums we had seen some nasty looking organisms clinging onto the hull. They were reddish and somewhat  jellyish, different from the ones we have had before. Could it be these that were dragging us this much? Anyway, we decided to try and scrape it off in order to gain some more speed. This time we used metal scrapes to be efficient. During a couple of hours we had done quite a lot and decided to see if things had changed. Well, it hadn’t changed much so we needed to do something drastic if we wanted to reach the destination we had chosen. After careful studies of the pilot charts, and an old map showing the routes of the sailing merchant ships we realised we needed to go East in order to reach Brazil! There we could catch some of the southgoing currents that could carry us out of the NW currents that were effectively hindering us where we were. So we made a 300 nm detour against Africa before heading south again. And alas! Here we are, south of Equator, heading straight towards Cabedelo in Brazil. Actually, we are now aware of the powers of the NW going currents, and try to keep as far south as we can to have some margin in case the wind dies or something changes unfavorably. There seems to be no problem to get back north again in these waters!

Ours is gonna be one of the very slow Atlantic crossings, but were fine! We have water and food, and yesterday we even catched our first dorado! A small one, 3,7 kilos, but perfect for the celebration of the Equator crossing! Miss Neptun even paid us a visit, so our crossing must havs been registered with the Master of the Ocean!

So long then, until Brazil!