B for Buzios and Brigitte Bardot
When our mast winch jumped ship in the Cape Verde, we considered importing one to Uruguay so were looking for contacts there. The mailasail website has a map showing the location of all mailasail users and there was one little flag in Uruguay: Rachel and Paul Chandler in Lynn Rival. They are also Ocean Cruising Club members and we e-mailed them. Rachel and Paul provided us with some useful contacts and we stayed in touch. They are sailing north, back up the coast of Brazil and we thought it would be fun to meet up.
Buzios was a small fishing village up until the 1960s. Brigitte Bardot, the French actress used to go there, incognito, on holiday. One day, she was recognised and quiet little Buzios turned into a super-resort for the jet-set of Rio de Janeiro. Buzios was going to be, wind allowing, our 'rendez-vous'. Lynn Rival was ahead of us, as they had a day's sail from Rio whereas we had 190NM to cover from Vitória. It took us 48 hours. Between Vitória and Cabo São Tomé we averaged 7 knots, aided by the strong south flowing current, some of our best sailing so far in Brazil. Unfortunately, after rounding the cape, the wind went very light and only picked up again in the early hours of the morning.
We arrived at dawn and counted four foreign sailing yachts in the bay; a French catamaran, a large Belgian Beneteau, South African 'Shang Du' and British 'Lynn Rival'! We hadn't seen any foreign yachts since Salvador. We picked up the yacht club mooring immediately in front of Lynn Rival as it was the one most sheltered from the swell. Rachel and Paul must have had a bit of a surprise when they woke up to find us quite so close!
We considered using morse code or semaphore but in the end e-mailed them a dinner invitation before going to bed to catch up on some much needed sleep. Rachel and Paul came over in the evening for pizza and, in addition to a very drinkable bottle of Brazilian wine, brought maps (a rare commodity in Brazil) and tourist brochures for places they have visited. We talked about bilge pumps, battery banks, wind turbines and boat insurance as well as how much we are enjoying Brazil (Rachel and Paul have also been learning Portuguese).
The following day we called by Lynn Rival to take a group photo but got talking, over a refreshing cup of Earl Grey, about the thorough and beautiful refit Rachel and Paul gave their boat before setting off on their journey. They told us a little about their horrific experience of being taken hostage by Somali pirates and held for ransom for thirteen months. They also described the amazing generosity shown by people and small companies they had never met. We hadn't realised that Rachel and Paul had written a book describing their experience and we hope to get hold of a copy. It is called 'Hostage: A Year at Gunpoint with Somali Gangsters' and is available through Amazon.
Paul showed Franco some useful internet links for chart and weather information and Rachel gave us a host of contacts and several guide books for South America. We never did take that group photo ... it will have to wait until next time we meet!
Lynn Rival about to cast off
After we had waved goodbye, the anchorage felt lonely. Of the five boats that had been in Buzios, we were the only one heading south and the other three had sailed the night before when the wind went round to the south. We had briefly met the Belgian family, they are circumnavigating South America, came through the Beagle Channel and are now heading for the Caribbean.
"Are we going the right way?" we asked each other but our desire to see penguins is so strong, that nothing will stop us.
The next morning, our peaceful breakfast was interrupted by a high pitched whine that made Franco dash upstairs. The noise seemed to be coming from a sailing yacht motoring into the bay. They dropped the anchor inside the moorings and thankfully the noise stopped when the engine was turned off. "We're not having THAT wind generator model!" declared Franco, assuming the noise had come from the turbine blades.
We met the crew that evening, loitering outside the shower block. Urs and Allan Ward are from South Africa. In 1992 Allan ordered a brand new 'Shearwater', an award winning South African design. The hull was moulded and everything was looking good. Then the boat builders went bust. Allan had no alternative but to bring the shell back to his garden and finish it himself. It took him sixteen years and 'Windward' was launched in 2008. She is stunning both inside and out. Allan had done a fabulous job. She would be perfect if it wasn't for the very loud whine caused by her engine blower.
The Wards spent six months last year in Ihla Grande bay. As we will be heading there after Rio de Janeiro, we welcomed their advice. Allan's enthusiasm for Ihla Grande was catching and our concern now is that we won't have enough time there. We shared our experience of Bahia and they may visit Santo Andre and Itacare on their way north.
They came for pizza (yes, my signature dish - I can just about find the ingredients anywhere, even in the smallest country store, and besides everyone likes pizza). Allan had forgotten to take a t-shirt when he went for his shower so wasn't wearing anything under his jacket. With the oven on, the cabin got a little warm and he just had to strip off. I could see his bare legs under the table and his bare chest above. Curse my vivid imagination, I kept thinking "Oh my, there's a naked man sat at the dinner table!"
Urs and Allan on their beautiful boat 'Windward'
Urs is a great story teller. She had us in stitches describing packing before rejoining Allan in Ihla Grande. Her daughter was watching her. "Mum, why are you packing that lump of metal?" "It's Daddy's alternator, my darling", "Mum, but what about your creams?". Even without the creams, Urs must be the most stylish sailor on the Brazilian coast right now. Instead of bulky sailing waterproofs, she wears a turquoise quilted jacket with a faux-fur rimmed hood as she elegantly lowers the anchor.
We hope to meet them again, if not in the Pacific, then in South Africa.
We'd had coffee onboard Windward and were saying goodbye. I was still gossiping with Urs and Franco had gone ahead to untie the dinghy. "Kath, Kath, hurry up!" ("What's the rush", I thought) "Coming!" "Hurry, you must see this." I dashed up on deck. Franco was pointing at the water "You would never have believed me if you hadn't seen it" ... a penguin.
Magellanic penguin in Buzios (probably the best photo of a penguin we will ever get!)
Although it is definitely colder here, we are still within the Tropics! The penguin didn't seem too distressed and played around our dinghy, so close we could have stroked it. We saw it every day and it was swimming around at the entrance to the bay on the day we left.
Buzios was, for us coming from the north, very expensive. Probably the equivalent of St-Tropez on the French Riviera. The bay is beautiful with islands and a mountainous backdrop and the small town blends in well with the landscape. The weather while we were there was very overcast and cool but we did get one sunny morning and we walked to the top of a hill.
Buzios from above
Statue of fishermen on Bardot Avenue - you wouldn't to sail into them at high water!
Caramor on a Buzios yacht club mooring