Hi All =)
Sorry it’s been so long since anything has happened here! My follow-up on Rio isn’t really going to happen – I’ll just tell you what happened since we left Rio =).
Our last two or so weeks in Rio were a whirlwind of activity. A lot of last minute things had to be perfectly coordinated so that the resulting activity would be productive. We got visas for the French Guiana, and we went to visit the Theatro de Municipal. We even got to see a music performance there right before we left! The engine still hadn’t been 100% till something like two days before we left, but as soon as it was sorted out, we were gone.
I will always include big leaves, graffiti, busses, black and white tiles, bikinis and the Portuguese language in my picture of Rio. In Rio I learned to love the different sweets of Brazil (açaí and brigadeiros to name two), and we really enjoyed our stay in Rio, even though the troubled engine gave us some hassles.
The night of the 13th (in June) we left Botofogo bay, and alternately sailed and motored our way to Paraty through the 14th. (‘Paraty’ is pronounced as ‘Paratchee’ – all the ‘t’s are pronounced this way.) The first day we spent on the boat while at anchor. It was a really miserable day, so we utilised it by doing school and sorting out a schedule: everyone be done with what you need to be done by 11:00, so that the rest of the day can be set aside for sightseeing. (Also that was the first day we remembered it is supposed to be winter – I actually felt a bit cold!)
We had a really good time in Paraty. The first day we went on land it was still cloudy, and even though the weather forecast had been ‘’sun will come out later’’ the sun never could quite make the effort, so we were left to wander through the town in the subdued light.
The town itself was really interesting – mainly for the streets in the old part of it. The original town was so designed that its streets would overflow during high tide, so as to wash them clean. (Indoor plumbing was non-existent in those days.) The cobbled streets are really bumpy and there are horse-drawn carts that hang around in that part of the town too.
The next day was way more fun. We packed a picnic and climbed up to where the ruins of a fort were supposed to be, and had a very interesting traveling companion. At first we were a bit worried about the strange black dog following us around. Actually, ‘’following’’ isn’t the correct wording. It was as if he pretended to belong to us. He walked ahead, and stopped when he realised we had stopped. (As when, for example, a bird was spotted.) He never bothered us when we were enjoying our picnic, and waited while we thoroughly explored the grassy clearing. (The fort was basically down to a wall, some steps and a few cannons.) While walking past the beach restaurants where we originally picked him up, he flopped back down onto the sand, quite happy.
Later, walking through the town back to the boat we went into a shop where we bought a few odds and ends, including a hammock. (We were really excited at this purchase.) When we got back to the boat we immediately put it up, and it was soon clear to all that another must be had. Not only could four girls not fit into a 2 person hammock, but it spoilt the symmetry of the boat. 😉
The four of us hopped back into Shampoo and whizzed back to shore, where two stayed by the boat (as we aren’t strong enough to haul it up onto the beach without dad, so it had to stay by the jetty) and two of us went a-hammock hunting.
The day was finished off by a lovely Churasco. (Pronounced ‘’Shuhascu’’) This is the Brazilian equivalent of having a braai. =) It was thoroughly enjoyed, and it was also the first time we used the braai on this ‘around the world’ trip!
That concludes our Paraty stay. The next day we motored to a new anchorage two fjords down. The place was called Saco de Mamangua. That same day we followed the stream through the mangroves that the guide book had told us led to a waterfall. Obviously we couldn’t follow the stream all the way up, so we had to walk a small distance. In the mangroves there were red crabs everywhere, and some of us (including me) once even saw a black snake on the bank!
It was strangely creepy motoring through the trees, and not knowing what lies ahead. I don’t know if any of you have ever watched any Jacques Cousteau documentaries, but it felt like we were in one. ;P We went on until we could see some actual land, and then some more until we saw some signs of humans. (There were a number of 2litre plastic bottles, filled with water and lying clumped together.) That’s another thing – that whole area had very little signs of life. At night we could only see one light (and a small one) on shore. The things floating around in the water were mainly leaves, varied by a few twigs. 😉 It was very refreshing.
We tied up Shampoo and headed into the forest, following the path. We didn’t really wear shoes – I think three of us did. The guide book said to wear good walking shoes and take water and a stick (to scare off snakes), but the soil was so soft that I just never got round to putting my shoes on.
The walk wasn’t a hard one. It led through mostly jungle, but we think we might have gotten off a little too soon, because our path led us through a small citrus fruit/banana plantation. (The guide book had also informed us that a few ‘natives’ live here unobtrusively.) When we entered the field, a sharp yipping chorus was struck up, and two little dogs barked defiantly at us from the shelter of a tree. We could also see a monkey huddled up to one of the bags. (Okay, it was more like slumping up.) That was rather a novelty – definitely howler monkey and definitely tame. Very interesting. There was also a woman (who wasn’t there at first, so I suppose she came to see what the noise was about) but when we tried to ask about the whereabouts of the waterfall, she didn’t even try to communicate, so we suspect that they don’t really know much Portuguese.
Right after the field we found a nice big sign pointing further along the path we had been following anyway, with “CACHOEIRA” painted on it. After my dad had satisfied himself (through the tablet) that this did indeed mean ‘waterfall’, we followed the trail.
The waterfall was beautiful, and its pool is the most epic place to swim! The water was cold at first, but we soon got used to it. My mom (round of applause) was first in, and she enjoyed it just as much (maybe even more) as the rest of us. It was fun to try swim against the current created by the waterfall. (Actually it was more of a cascade, really.) There are rocks on the bottom that you can try to stand on, except it’s tricky, since they’re so slippery is doesn’t take much for you to fall right off again.
So far, out of all the places I’ve had the privilege to swim, this has been second only to swimming in the middle of the sea. ^_^
The following day was a truly miserable, rainy day, so we didn’t attempt anything drastic. We stayed put on the boat, and did school. It was only the next day (Saturday) that we hoisted up Shampoo and motored over to Ilha Grande. The sea was a bit rougher than anticipated, and we were a little sea sick. The pills once again knocked me out, so there was very little ‘rest of the day’ for me.
Our stay at Ilha Grande was enjoyable, and we had a few goes at diving. The first attempt was a little haphazard, since it has been 6 months since our last dive, and for some reason we had to sort all the dive kit out from scratch. (It’s amazing how similar all the kit looks after you haven’t seen it for some time.) After that we only improved, and kitting up and down gradually became a much less formidable task. Sadly the visibility was really bad, so dives that could have been awesome, was not so great. :/
In the middle of our Ilha Grande activity we went to Angra, where we got a lot of fresh food, and topped up the water and diesel supplies. At the time we thought this would be one of our last chances for getting water until we reached Devil’s Island. Then we returned to Ilha Grande.
We stayed about a week, with three dives executed at different spots. Our last two days we went to the same bay that we were in at the very beginning. (The one where you can cross over a small strip of land and reach a great surfing beach on the other side of the island, the side open to the sea.) The only snag in our great plan, was that the wind came from the mainland. This meant that the waves weren’t able to reach their full potential as surfing waves. (Note: By surfing, I mean boogie boarding.)
We spent Sunday mainly on the beach, and built an epic sand castle. On Monday I turned 17. Had a wonderful day, and we went to the beach again – so this is the first time ever that I can say I swam on my birthday! ^_^
The day after, we lifted anchor, and travelled up north to Búzios. That’s where we had decided to wait for a cold front to come.
Büzios was nice. We had the chance to take a proper shower again (we hadn’t been able since leaving Rio.) There are quite a few bronze statues throughout the town, which are very nice. At the water line there are three amazingly lifelike statues that are ‘fishing’. Their hats and pants are different colours, so they aren’t just bronze coloured. We have decided that the thing which makes them look really lifelike is the way the water moves the ropes in their hands. (Also the way the water moves up and down next to them – but you get the idea: water moves, they look alive.) When we saw a photo of them in the guide book, we first didn’t realise that they were statues.
We wondered a little if the night life of this quiet town would prove to be more exciting than the sleepy day, so (I think it was Friday night) we went ashore in the evening. We were surprised to find a fiesta in full swing! The first hint we got was of the various (and there were many) restaurants having put up tables outside their buildings. We’re still not sure what it was about – we had fun, walking among the crowds, violin player here, cake stall there . . . wasn’t bad at all. 😉 Each restaurant had an example of their food for sale, and we had little tastes of different foods.
We stayed there until Saturday. When we tried to start the engine we all had mini heart attacks when it refused to start. (Okay, I don’t know about Karin and Sophia.) We bled the engine and we sprayed sunscreen into it. The sunscreen worked, but we’re not sure why, because it didn’t later on.
We motored out and when the wind first started coming, it came with some to spare. We went fast for quite a while (5 days, maybe?) Unfortunately we came to Abrohollos too soon. The wind had not died down yet, and we couldn’t get anybody on the radio. (Our engine still worked then.) There are reefs all around the bare, uninteresting looking islands, which we would have loved to explore, but we couldn’t stop. There are supposed to be mooring buoys at certain spots around the islands, but we only ever saw one, and in the 20 odd knots of wind, weren’t too keen to test out its endurance.
When we hit the continental shelf after the deep water (before we came to Abrohollos) we started seeing whales. Big pods of them quite close to the boat. Once it was just the four of us girls in the cockpit, and a whale surfaced right next to the boat. (Maybe 10 metres away.) I was the first to see, and immediately started pointing and hurrying over to that side of the boat. Sophia went into a coughing fit (she was eating an apple at the time) she was so excited! We saw quite a few whales ‘spy hopping’ in the distance too. Apparently the male whales do this to impress the females.
The wind only lasted a day away from Abrohollos, however, and since we then discovered our engine had turned traitor once again, we went very, very slowly. Actually, now I come to think of it, not as slowly as all that. We had a 1 knot current favouring us, and although we only went 2 knots average during the day, we had an average of at least 3 knots during the night. (For some reason the wind chose then to pick up.) So we never stopped moving (thanks to the current) and we even had some spurts.
It was still super frustrating, as the sails would bash themselves against the rigging in the light wind. The big waves (the only thing to remind us there had been a cold front) made it impossible for the sails to stay full in a too light wind. (For example, when we hit the continental shelf again and the waves started to even out as a result of the days of the slack wind, we could do 2 knots in a 4-5 knot wind.)
The same day our engine wouldn’t start, we had an amazing sunset show. ^_^ We were suddenly surrounded by dolphins! (Later we discovered a tiny flying fish on our deck, and we suspect the dolphins had chased the school until they had sought refuge under our boat.)
The dolphins were amazing! Most just did the normal dolphin thing of swimming to and fro in front of the boat (pretty awesome anyway) but there were some that jumped right out of the water! I didn’t think dolphins really did that! Unfortunately we have no video footage, but it was awesome! There were two ways in which they would do it – either they would jump and spin at the same time (most often it would be this) or they would do flips! I think I saw this at least three times. They do back flips, bringing their tail over their heads! So cool!!! ^_^
The following day when the wind refused to start 😉 we did our Atlantic crossing thing. Off came all the sails, and into the water we went. It was just as beautiful as in the very middle of the sea. (Even though we were closer to land, we were off the continental shelf, and the water was that amazing blue . . . ) We enjoyed it tremendously, and didn’t want to get out. I can’t describe the amazing blueness of that water . . . there is also just so much of it! You feel like you could see forever, and the boat really is tiny ^_^.
We made it to Salvador in the end. (Of course, we deflected our course as soon as the engine gave trouble.) The wind came up the Friday night before we arrived, so we covered the last few miles quickly. Karin and Sophia were on first watch (8 – 12) so as soon as it was over, into bed they went. (Dad was up the whole night.) Franci and I were on watch from 12 – 4. By this time we were very close to Salvador, and the wind had picked up. No, wait, the wind had not really picked up – on average, we were going much faster, but now that I think of it, it was not steady at all. They wind came and went with the squalls. Sometimes we were heeling over, and sometimes we were plodding along at 2 knots.
For the first 2-3 hours, nothing much happened. We did our erratic sailing (now lowering sails, rain trying to invade the nice warm places under the oily jacket and then… sitting around, wet hair and gloves, looking at the GPS speed reading 2.4 kt.) Then we began sailing into the bay. Unfortunately, there was a current of about 1.3 kt. against us, which meant that we had to sail at least 3 kt. to pretend we’re making headway. All this, and the screen of the buildings meant less wind.
We had decided long before that we would launch Shampoo if the wind died, so when it started faltering we were on the foredeck, getting Shampoo ready for her midnight tow. I am so glad we had the upgraded engine. (When we returned to Rio after our first Ilha Grande trip, Felipe sold us a 15 horsepower engine. So now we have the 2.5 one as a spare.) Because of the 1.3 knot current, I think we might have ended up drifting onto the rocks if the engine hadn’t been strong enough to give us the extra 2 knots.
Dad in Shampoo, rain coming down, mom at Shang Du’s wheel, Franci in the pulpit up front and me waving my arms about so that Mom can see where to steer . . . it took at least an hour and a half to make up the ground we’d lost while launching Shampoo plus the extra 1.5 miles to the port. It was 5:30 before we dropped anchor, and we were tired. The sun was just lighting the sky when we all climbed back into bed.
Unfortunately we had to wake up two hours later. (I slept again after that, but Dad never got back to bed until that night.) The French people we had met in Rio, Botafogo bay, was in the same place as we were! (We knew they’d be in Salvador, but didn’t know exactly where.) They helped us lift anchor again, with the two dinghies acting like little tugboats. =) The manoeuvring involved in getting Shang Du in place was tremendous, and we are sincerely grateful for the help of those French people, as we couldn’t have done it alone.
We are now again moored in the Brazilian way: the back of the boat facing the jetty, with ropes securing it, and the bow (front) of the boat standing out with underwater ropes securing it there. Another version of this is typically a buoy you can pick up at the front, or simply anchoring it, like they do at the beaches. The taxiboats (there are many that ferry people from one place to another at Ilha Grande, since the island has no roads), throw out an anchor in the deeper water, then jump out and pull their boats perpendicular to the beach. After that, they secure the boat with another anchor put in higher up on the beach.
We had sent and received e-mails while still at sea, and had learned that our mechanic, Adeilo, from Rio was in Salvador. (What are the chances!?) We were really blessed, both in that he was there, and that we were able to make it to Salvador in time for him to be able to work on the engine. He arrived, sorted out the problem, and insisted on taking us out for lunch. (Also, didn’t want any payment for sorting out the engine!)
We have now been to see some sights in Salvador. We went to a lighthouse, rode the old elevator up to the old town (there visiting a church) and today we went to see a church and a fort. The elevator was first installed as a pulley mechanism, and a steam operated engine was installed before electricity was used. Quite a lot of people use it every day. The old town is situated on top of the cliff, so much the better for protecting it from invasion. This also meant that friendly ships and boats arriving at port would have to go an incredibly long way to get to the town, thus: elevator.
The black population verses the white population here is much greater than in Rio, as this used to be the capital of Brazil for quite some time (for example; the lighthouse we visited was the first ever to be built on South America), so a great number of slaves were brought here.
We plan to stay for a little while yet, (at least until Karin’s birthday) and enjoy the showers and internet. ^_^ When we arrived it was unbearably hot, and I struggle to get my head around the fact that everybody in South Africa might be feeling a little chilly!
Hopefully, if all goes well, this will be the last time we are in Brazil. I’ll definitely miss Brazil – I’ve really learned to like it here, and I just know that if we’d stayed maybe a month or two longer, I might have learnt Portuguese! 😉