Sat 18 May 2013 18:02
Saturday May 18th 2013
Position Off the 'Marina village Jacare' six miles upriver from Cabedelo
Made it, then, and got the anchor down at the top of the tide, bang on time, at 12:30 UT, 9:30 local time. Quite a night though, with a mounting force 7 breeze constantly blowing me towards the reefs which line this whole coast. I needed to be at the river entrance at dawn, in order to get up here in daylight, and with the remains of the favourable tide. But the entrance, in the dark, is no place to be hanging about for several hours, hence the planned 'run in': arrive just at the right place, and at the right time. Because of the rising wind I spent the whole night trying to slow 'Fleck' down. Taking all the sails off was only the first step: she was still surfing along under bare poles at 6 knots. Finally we had to lie 'ahull', beam to the seas; and very rolly it was, with the odd sea breaking down onto the deck. But at least this slowed us down to 2 knots of drift.
There were many large ships: my AIS is fine now, I have adjusted its 'threshold' (?!), and there were several tadpoles (it is what they look like) on the radar screen at any one time last night: there are clearly established shipping lanes, north and south, around Cabo Branco (Brazil's most easterly projection). I have also learnt how to use the alarm, so if one of these little tadpoles comes within a chosen distance, say 4 miles, I get a nice sound signal. It would be very nice if you could navigate in this way alone: and indeed I have already thought about an extension cable so that the display can be at my bunkside. Fact is though that everything still has to be confirmed by sighting, and then there are the fishing boats. Just like in Indonesia, they suddenly light up just in front of you with their fish attracting floodlights, then off they go, no visible lights at all, and then on goes the floodlight again a few miles distant. It is not even possible to say how many of them there are, and of course they do not carry an AIS transmitter, and neither do I. Just before I leave the subject, the AIS carries a mine of information: click on a tadpole, and you get a screen showing the boats name and flag, and a description eg a bulk carrier. You even get the Captain' name and a list of his girlfriends for each port visited. The lovely phrase 'like ships that pass in the night' will have to be consigned to history.
The great thing about travelling is that whatever you try to learn about things beforehand, reality is always a surprise. The scenary here is flat and the river lined with mangroves: what else! Ashore though there is a unique feel to the village, Jacare. The Marina, nicely run down, fits its neighbourhood well. The mostly unmade roads are lined by single roomed single story houses, mostly constructed from concrete blocks. Even so there seems to be a colour TV in every one, and if there are young people in the house a sound system as well, on and loud. There has been rain and the potholes are full of water. Sounds typically 'third world', but there is not that oppressive feel: this does not seem a downtrodden community, and people are cheerful and vibrant. The area is apparently popular with city folk, who throng the riverside cafes at weekends (yes, that is tonight!). The village is actually on a peninsula: I am parked on the river side, and on the other side is the ocean: a big white sandy bay. This reminds me that Geoff has asked if I would bring him back a beach volley ball player. So, scouting for girls tomorrow perhaps. Already I am glad that I stopped off here, but I shall not stay for long, it is still a very long way to Trinidad.
The boat has survived this leg well, the hull has picked up the usual tarnish marks that go with long passages, but below the waterline there still very little weed (another reason not to stay in this muddy river for too long!). The forsails have done two oceans now, and are looking their age, but the mainsail has hardly been used since South Africa, although all that will change soon. We like to say that the wind is free, but catching some of it, that is not cheap!
PS As suspected, there is in theory internet here, but fellow sailors report that no one has been able to secure a connection since last Tuesday. I am haowever charging my mobile phone in the hope that there may be coverage.