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Date: 10 Nov 2012 19:03:59
Title: Mina2 Amazonian Cruise 2012

Position 22:57S 043:06.4W

Date: 9 November 2012

 

Mina2 Amazonian Cruise 2012

 

I would like to announce that the Mina2 Amazonian Cruise 2012 started today as scheduled. But it hasn’t. We are still strapped to the dock in Rio de Janeiro and we’re not likely to be leaving any time soon. Strong winds are forecast from the north (the direction in which we are travelling) for the next few days.

 

Being a horny-handed Antarctican for whom 60+ knots of wind and mountainous seas are situation normal, it never occurred to me that a mere half-gale on the nose would be a barrier to starting our cruise, but apparently it is. The crew have been grumbling already, and we haven’t even started yet. Apparently, they do this for fun and starting a cruise being bucketed around trying to fight your way to windward is not considered fun. Pathetic. For the moment, I’m pretending to go along with them, so we’re kicking our heels, presumably until there’s so little wind we’ll have to motor round South America.

 

So who are these wimps …

 

Meet The Crew

 

Lawrence “The Elf” Wells. Well known to regular readers, Lawrence used to be one of my favourite boat-buddies having sailed countless thousands of miles on Mina2 over the years. Veteran of the fantastic roller-coaster Force 9 ride up the South Atlantic from the bottom of South America last March, he now seems to have gone soft. It’s probably his age, which is considerable.

 

Sally Livsey-Davies. The most experienced sailor ever to have stepped on board Mina2. I first met Sally sailing down the coast of West Africa in 2009 when she was a guest on board Phil’n’Norma’s lovely MinnieB. She ran a sailing school in Northern Ireland before becoming one of the few female professional skippers on luxury yachts (including a couple of Oyster 485’s, so she already knows more about Mina2 than I do). She’s sailed zillions of miles including many Transatlantic crossings. To cap it all, Sally is a Yachtmaster Instructor Examiner (I suspect she taught Tom Cunliffe all he knows). So she’ll keep us all on our toes, but at least we won’t have any difficulty in identifying from the lights or shapes, a dredger (port dredge deployed) that is simultaneously towing a couple of pair trawlers.

 

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Lawrence and Sally either side of Susy who has been providing us with help and advice

  

Sally and I are getting to know each other. A couple things I have learnt about Sally so far is that after one caipirinha she giggles a lot. And after two she’s dancing on the new cockpit table. Also, she is very keen on hygiene, verging on obsessional, which may be a problem on Mina2. You can’t even THINK about chicken, let alone touch one, without scrubbing one’s hands in bactericide several times. And she’s Welsh, but no-one’s perfect.

 

… and now the good news … yes, Pet Officer Snoopy is back with us again! There was an expectation that after his Antarctic exertions, he might not be up for another long cruise and instead would spend the winter hibernating in the DS’s undies draw back in London. But the plucky little fellow would have none of that and we’re all delighted to have him back on board. What’s more he has a new friend. On being introduced to PO Snoopy, Sally confessed that there was a stowaway on board. Somewhat sheepishly she went to her cabin and produced Jolly Rodger, a splendid little fellow who is, like Sally, tremendously experienced with more than 125,000 sea miles under his keel. I was concerned that PO Snoopy might have his wet nose put out of joint. Not a bit of it. PO Snoopy snapped to attention, gave his new shipmate a smart salute and they are now the best of friends, bunking up together in Snoopy’s bowl.

 

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Pet Officer Snoopy and his new mate Jolly Rodger

 

There has been a prelude that has got us here in Rio ready for our cruise. I came out to Bracuhy at the beginning of October and spent 10 days getting the boat ready before the Downstairs Skipper flew out, arriving like the Queen of Sheba, expecting a well-deserved two week holiday cruising round the Bay of Ilha Grande before making our way 60 miles east to Rio. It was not to be. We headed out into the bay under motor and were half way to our first idyllic anchorage in a small bay when the engine conked out. Rusty old seamanship skills were abruptly brought into play as we entered the small bay under sail, swung the boat round and dropped the anchor. We spent the first evening of our holiday changing fuel filters, bleeding the fuel lines and, eventually, managing to get the engine going again.

 

But the following day, we had hardly got out of the bay, motoring to our next idyllic anchorage, when the engine conked out yet again. With the batteries running low, I started the generator and that too failed. Things weren’t going well. We put the holiday on hold, and the moment the wind picked up we sailed to a boat yard and got a mechanic out to help diagnose the problem. It transpired we had a very bad case of diesel bug. Diesel bug is a fungal/bacterial growth that, once present in the diesel tank, spreads rapidly. With a sticky toffee like constituency it immediately blocks all the fuel lines and filters and has to be eliminated. The rest of the story is a little dull and technical, but suffice to say we HOPE that we have now solved the problem. Time will tell. Notwithstanding this on-going crisis, the DS and I did manage to get to some wonderful places in Ilha Grande, so her holiday was salvaged to an extent before she flew on to Buenos Aires to see her mum (99 last September).

 

Lawrence and Sally joined me three days ago and our major task before we left was to provision for the next six or seven weeks. Armed with an 11-page shopping list, which Sally had drawn up, we headed for the supermarket. Six hours later (checking out our six full supermarket trolleys took an hour in itself), I was presented with the printout. It was three metres long and had a very large figure at the bottom. With a flourish, I presented my American Express card which, when swiped, put the Amex anti-fraud computer into meltdown and the transaction was unhelpfully declined. Luckily Visa were more accommodating. The goods were delivered to the boat this morning and it has taken most of the day to divide, vacuum pack, label and stow. Mina2 is now a few inches down on her marks.

 

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The biggest provisioning trip in the world – this is only a small part of it

 

So here we are, “storm”bound in Rio and champing at the bit to get going. At the moment the forecasts indicate that we will have a weather window in three days time. I jolly well hope so.

 

Our Amazonian cruise will be in two parts. This, the first part, will be a cruise with Lawrence and Sally right up and around the coast of Brazil, past the Amazon (we’ll be sticking our nose in but won’t bother to venture very far upriver). So long as we don’t get too delayed too much, the plan is to divide the cruise into five longish passages of between 250 miles (about 2 days) and about 1000 miles (7 to 8 days), stopping off at some really interesting places on the way. Our first destination is Morro de Sao Paulo which is a delightful resort town just south of Salvador. Our final destination will be Kourou in French Guiana at the top of South America where Lawrence and Sally will return home for Christmas.

 

After Christmas, I will be joined by the DS, my sister Linda, and my bro-in-law John for a cruise along the Guianas – French Guiana, Suriname and Guyana before heading into the Caribbean to visit Trinidad, Tobago and finally Grenada where we will be joined by son Peter before laying Mina2 up in Grenada at the beginning of March.


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