Sailing to Brazil 2

5 March 2018   St Helena to Brazil (Day 10)
Dawn brought us yet another fabulous day.  The shipping is increasing and Glenys actually saw a big tanker on the horizon just after sunrise. It looks like we’ll be crossing the Great Circle route tomorrow.

We had another quiet day.  I spent most of the morning down below, editing photos and getting ready for some serious Internet action when we get to Brazil. We’re going to put the boat up for sale on various websites and we need to organise a trip back to the UK in July.  Also, we need to get more up to date information about French Guiana and Guyana, which we plan to visit when we leave Brazil.


I was allowed to put out the fishing lines today, but no joy. The highlight of the day was cutting my hair - 10 minutes with a ½” hair trimmer, job sorted.

The moon didn’t come up until after 22:00, so my 7-10 watch was a dark one.  However,  the sky was clear and the stars were impressive.  Around midnight, a huge bank of clouds messed up the wind, altering the direction and strength for a couple of hours.  Eventually, I gave up changing sails and turned on the engine for an hour until the clouds had buggered off.  The rest of the night was peaceful.

6 March 2018   St Helena to Brazil (Day 11)
By day break, the wind had veered enough that we had to gybe the genoa pole – we’re getting faster with all this practise.  The weather forecast shows continuing ESE to E winds, maybe a knot or two higher at times over the next 3 days, so we’re hoping that we can keep our average speed above 5.3 knots and make it to Jacaré before sunset on Saturday 10th.

Glenys has been taking sunrise photos every morning and has been trying to come up with a variety of images -  silhouettes of the arch, shots of the sail with a shadow of the wind generator, shots from the bow, etc.  She must have been very bored this morning because today’s shot has the silhouette of an elephant marching across the horizon...

On my daily walk around the deck, I found that the “lazy” sheet on the genoa has been too tight and has been pressing against the staysail.  It’s been rubbing for 24 hours and has worn through and ripped some of the UV protection strip on the staysail.  It will only take us a few hours to patch it when we get to Jacaré, but I’m kicking myself for not noticing it sooner.  It’s so important to make sure that nothing is chafing on these long passages, when sails are not changed very often.

Chafe on Staysail

I’ve developed some kind of sore on my left big toe. I thought at first that it had been rubbing on the nail of the toe next to it, but upon closer examination there seem to be a few things that look like blisters and it’s painful to touch.  It might be some kind of fungal infection, but we’re not sure.  We don’t have any cream for fungal infections, so last night I slapped on some Triple Anti-biotic cream and covered it with a plaster.  

This morning it looked worse and the skin around it looked “soggy” after being covered, so I’ve cleaned it with Betadine and will leave it open to the air.  We still have another 4 or 5 days at sea until we can get to a doctor or pharmacy, so I hope that it doesn’t get any worse.  I’d hate to die from an infected toe.

I put the fishing lines out, but no joy again.  The afternoon was frustratingly slow and we had to gybe before dinner.  The wind picked up a little on my 7-10 watch, but dropped off again in the early hours of the morning.

7 March 2018   St Helena to Brazil (Day 12)
We still had light winds in the morning and we were only making 4.5 knots.  At 07:00, we had 440 miles to go, so we still need to average 5.3 knots to make it in on the evening of Saturday 10th.  It was looking less likely as the morning progressed.  In desperation, I pulled out the staysail, which kept collapsing behind the mainsail, but I reasoned that it must be adding a little bit to our boat speed.  Arrival is feeling imminent, so Glenys finished off painting a Brazilian courtesy flag.

It was still daylight at 19:30 last night, so we changed the ship’s clocks back an hour to GMT -2.  It’s surprising how many clocks we have to change – the ship’s clock, my laptop, Glenys’s tablet, the alarm clock, 2 Kindles and 2 cameras.  Phew!

Off Watch

My big toe is looking a bit better today.  It’s not as red as it was and the pustules seem to be a bit smaller.  I’m going to keep cleaning it with Betadine and pray that I don’t have to have it amputated in Brazil.

Glenys and I both put on a bit of weight in South Africa because of a lack of exercise and indulging in vast quantities of food and alcohol.  These recent long ocean passages have forced alcoholic abstinence on us and we eat less at sea anyway, so we’re both feeling less blobby.  Glenys has read that the Brazilians love big meals with plenty of meat, so we’re going to try resist the cheap “All You Can Eat” beef dinners washed down with cheap Brazilian beer.

The wind remained light all day and it was boiling hot around midday.  The sun was heating up the bimini and the heat was radiating down.  With only a light breeze, it was unbearable in the cockpit, so we lurked down below where it was only 30°C.  Fortunately, by one o’clock, the sun had gone behind the sail and the cockpit cooled down in the shade.

We had another lovely sail overnight.  It was slow going, until 22:00 when the wind backed to the East and picked up to 15 knots, pushing us along at 5-6 knots for the rest of the night.

8 March 2018   St Helena to Brazil (Day 13)
The 10-15 knot winds continued into the morning allowing us to sail at 5-6 knots.  At 07:00, we had 315 miles to go, so despite the slow conditions yesterday, we gained a bit of ground last night and we still have a chance of making port on the evening of Saturday 10th – our target remains at a frustrating 5.3 knots average. 


The wind had veered overnight to finally put us on a broad reach, which is perfect for our asymmetrical spinnaker.  We dragged the beast out of the front cabin and it took me a couple of goes to get it up because the spinnaker was twisted in the sleeve.  Once we had the spinnaker inflated, our speed increased to a comfortable 6.5 to 7 knots.

I put out two fishing lures and, in the afternoon, the rod suddenly started screaming.  I was in bed, but Glenys briefly saw a huge silver fish leap in to the air.  It flailed away, landed in the water, the rod screamed again for a second and then it went quiet.  I hauled in the line to find that the 60 lb wire trace had been broken.  I guess it was a swordfish or a marlin, too big for us, but I lost a good lure.

The wind veered a little and dropped in the afternoon, but the spinnaker kept us going along at 5 to 6 knots.  The only problem was that, as the wind came more behind us, the mainsail was blanketing the spinnaker and making it collapse every five minutes, which was irritating.  

After my afternoon nap, I read an article on using an asymmetrical spinnaker and decided that I needed to pole the tack of the sail out to windward.

My timing was unfortunate because Glenys was making dinner and when she popped her head up to say it was ready, I was still messing about on the foredeck.  She was a bit annoyed and then got even more annoyed when I accidentally tripped the spinnaker and then had to spend 15 minutes stowing it away, while dinner was going cold.  I lost lots of Brownie points.

Glenys's Birthday Wine

Although it’s been sunny, our solar panels are not quite keeping up with our energy usage.  We’re using the autopilot all the time and my laptop is constantly on because we use it as our main chart plotter.  However,  I think that it’s the hotter climate that is tipping us over the edge.  The sea water is now 27.5°C, which means that the water cooling on our fridges is not as efficient, so the compressors are running for longer.  

Also the air temperature is much hotter, so we’re constantly running fans to keep cool down below.  There’s not enough wind to generate power from our wind generator, so I’m having to run the engine or the generator for an hour each evening, which is irritating in such idyllic sailing conditions.

It was Glenys’s birthday today, but it was sort of postponed until we get to Brazil.  However, we did have a piece of cake in the afternoon and Glenys put on a posh frock and had a glass of wine with her dinner.  

It was another beautiful night with 8-15 knots of wind.  We were back to having the sails set wing-on-wing again and were pottering along doing 4.5 to 5.5 knots.

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.   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.