Sailing to Brazil 2 - Page 2

9 March 2018   St Helena to Brazil (Day 14)
The days really are blurring together.  It was another beautiful morning, sailing wing on wing, with 8-15 knots of wind, fluffy white clouds, 130 miles yesterday, 190 miles to go, meaning that we still have to do an average of 5.3 knots to get in at sunset tomorrow. 

Plodding On

We’ve given up worrying about trying to get to the anchorage before dark - we’re going to go in at whatever time we arrive.  There’s a buoyed shipping channel up to a quarantine anchorage at Cabadello, which I’m guessing will be free of hazards.  It’s then 4 miles up river to the yacht anchorage at Jacaré.  We’ll make up our mind which anchorage to stay in when we get there.

You’ll be relieved to know that my Big Toe is much, much better.  It’s calmed down to half a dozen small red spots that look suspiciously like a fungal infection.  I’ll buy some antifungal cream when we go into town.

The wind became lighter and lighter as the morning progressed.  We cracked up at lunchtime and turned the engine on.  The wind came back three hours later, but only enough to push us along at 4.5 knots.

It was another blisteringly hot afternoon.  On my off-watch, I tried to sleep in the back cabin, but in spite of having a fan running above my head, it was stifling and I only slept fitfully for an hour before giving up and trying to find a corner in the cockpit where there was a bit of breeze.  I think that our bodies have become used to the colder latitudes and it will take a while to get acclimatised to tropical heat again.

By sunset, it had cooled off considerably and the wind had increased a little, giving a welcome breeze to cool us down.  At 19:00, we had just enough light to see and only 125 miles to go, so if we’re lucky with the wind tonight, we might be drinking a beer watching the sun go down in Jacaré tomorrow.

Nearly There

On my evening SSB chat with “Sabir” and “Jomaro”, “Sabir” told us that they arrived in Fernando de Noronja this morning, but they couldn’t stay because there was a 2½ metre (north) swell in the anchorage and it was impossible to land a dinghy.  Stefan and Ilya are now on their way to Grenada – they should be there in 2 weeks.  

“Jomaro” are also heading to Fernando de Noronja and should arrive on Monday 12th.  They’ve been doing a lot of motoring since they left St Helena and are hoping to get diesel in there.  Hopefully, the swell will have dissipated by the time they arrive, otherwise I guess that they’ll have to find somewhere to refuel on the north coast of Brazil. 

During my 7-10 watch, the wind gradually picked up, and when I handed over to Glenys at 22:00, we were tromping along at 6.5 to 7 knots on a broad reach.  The 12-20 knot winds continued until 03:00, knocking off a fair few miles.

10 March 2018   St Helena to Brazil (Day 15)
At 0700, we had 55 miles to go, so we felt confident of making it to Jacaré before dark.  The wind deserted us at 09:30, so we motored for a couple of hours until we were able to sail again.  The wind was veering about and we had to gybe a few times.

Just before lunch, while we were still 30 miles away from land, Glenys spotted the skyscrapers of Joao Pessoa - so exciting.  I had a quick kip for an hour before we approached the entrance to the river.  Large buoys mark a deep channel, which is used by commercial ships coming into the port of Cabedelo.  We rolled away the main sail and sailed up the channel with just the genoa, but we had ½ knot of tide against us, so we soon turned on the engine.  There were quite a few jet skis and speedboats whizzing about off the beaches on the seaward side of the peninsula.

Joao Pessoa in the background

Cabedelo is a scruffy looking town on the end of a long peninsula and had one large ship alongside the dock.   We were soon past the built up area and the shoreline turned into mangroves with the occasional break for a house or two.  The river is 4-5 metres deep in the middle, but we could see herons strutting around only 50 metres away, so it’s shallow a long way from shore.

After an hour motoring up the peaceful river, we turned a corner and saw the busy waterfront of Jacare.  There are five little marinas all packed together along a ½ kilometre section of the shore.  I would estimate that there are over 100 yachts and power boats moored at the docks, with half a dozen yachts on moorings or at anchor.  We dropped our anchor at 07°02.13S 034°51.46W in 6 metres on excellent holding mud.

The area around Jacaré is a holiday destination for Brazilians and tourists flock to the waterfront to watch the sun go down over the river.  Loud music was pumping out from an area at the south end of the waterfront and we could see hundreds of people enjoying themselves.  Several large tourist boats were motoring about packed with people dancing to their own loud music.  It’s a party town.  

By the time we were settled it was 18:00, so we cracked open a beer and settled down to watch the tourists.  Stefan and Anna from “Zanzibar” were going past in their dinghy, so I waved them over and invited them on board for a beer.  They’ve sailed here from Europe via the Cape Verde Islands and have been here for six weeks.  They gave us the run down on the local area. 

After dinner and a nice bottle of celebratory red wine, we collapsed into bed.

Jacare Anchorage

11 March 2018   Jacaré, Brazil
We understandably had a late start to the day and after breakfast, popped over to meet the only Brits in the anchorage, Steve & Alex on “Christiana Pearl”.  They gave us lots of local information, including advice on the clearance process, which sounds like it will take us a couple of days.  It’s a Sunday, so we can’t do anything today, but tomorrow we’ll have to tackle the bureaucracy.

Stefan and Anna on “Zanzibar” kindly gave us a lift in their rental car into the nearby town to get some cash out of an ATM and to go to a supermarket.  The ATM charges an outrageous 24 Reais (£6) for the pleasure of issuing cash and, to add insult to injury, they limit the withdrawal to 1000 Reais (£200).  (We later found out that the Bradesco Bank in Joao Pessoa has ATMs that don’t charge anything.)

Back at the marina, we caught a water taxi with Stefan and Anna to a small village on the mainland which is 1½ miles away across the river.  The water taxi was a long tail, built from an 8hp auxiliary engine which you would normally see on a lawnmower.  It was only 3 Reais each (£0.75)

The purpose of our little trip was to go to a local street-side food stall where they sell various types of soups.  The place has become a bit of a cruiser’s Sunday destination and there were already about 15 sailors sat around the small plastic tables.  It was interesting with different types of soup including fava beans with pork, prawns, crab, small clams, etc.  We had a couple of small bowls each and a couple cold beers and a lot of pleasant conversation.

A Gaggle of Cruisers

Back at the Marina, I took advantage of their Wi-Fi and sent out a few emails, catching up on administration.  I did the electronic check-in on the Brazilian customs website (https:// www.edbv.receita. fazenda.gov.br).   It took me four attempts to complete the “Entrada” form because of the poor internet speed.  

The purpose of the form is to declare that I was temporarily importing my yacht and to state the value of the yacht, but it’s not clear what is required and which buttons to click.  I was also confused for ten minutes because “United Kingdom” wasn’t present in the list of countries.  It took me a while to figure out that “United Kingdom” was “Reino Unido” in Portuguese.

I had an online conversation with Paul and Lilian from “Luna Blu” and I was shocked to find out that they were boarded and robbed in Fortaleza on the north coast of Brazil.  Six men boarded them at night, smashed open their door and rushed inside armed with machetes.  They smacked Paul about, hitting him hard on the head and threatened Lillian with a machete.  They were highly aggressive and took lots of stuff.  Paul and Lillian reported it to the police and coast guard and then upped anchor and sailed to Grenada.  They are understandably shaken up.