Date: 5, 6 & 7 March 2010
Position (still): Caravelas 17:44.68S
Friday morning, and no suitable taxi was available so we
all piled onto the local bus to visit the small town of Alcobaça 20 miles to the north.
Half way there the skies became as black as soot and the deluge began in
biblical quantities. Soon the road was completely flooded but this didn’t put
off our bus driver who had a timetable he was determined to keep to. We flew
along in a foot of water, a wall of spray flying up either side of the bus. It
was like being on one of the Disneyworld rides; very
exciting but at the same time a little scary.
We arrived at the corrugated iron covered bus station,
the pounding of the rain on the roof so loud we couldn’t here each other shout.
After half an hour the rain abated to no more than a tropical downpour and we
made our way into town. It was unprepossessing. After an exceedingly average
lunch in a self-service restaurant – the only restaurant we could find that was
open - we wandered round and found ourselves in the bustling fishing port at the
entrance to the river. Very picturesque, very bustling, this was the highlight
of the day.
Whilst whiling away the stormbound time on the boat I had
been re-reading the bible on sailing in heavy weather, aptly entitled “Heavy
Weather Sailing”. One of the accounts was of an horrific storm in exactly the
same area in which we are sailing: it came out of the blue – completely
un-forecast - and hit with the force of a locomotive. The account was
terrifying: 80 knot winds, stupendous seas. It went on for more than two days.
Ashore, it destroyed the yacht club and all the yachts sank on their moorings.
The poor yacht caught offshore was pitchpoled, rolled and nearly destroyed. It’s
all very well if you are coastal sailing: get hit by bad weather and you head
for the nearest safe haven just a few hours away at worst. The problem with this
coast is that safe havens are hundreds of miles apart and in those conditions
you can’t get to them if you wanted to – you just have to get as far offshore as
you can and ride it out. If you were of a nervous disposition and you read this
account, you would never leave port again. I hid the book lest the Downstairs
Skipper, renowned for her nervous disposition, should find it.
We went to the internet shop thing (which I think was
still working off a 64 kB modem given the cripplingly slow speed) and scoured
the web for weather forecasts. Not good. Whilst the prevailing winds in this
neck of the woods were from the north to east which would waft us down to the
southwest to our ultimate destination in comfort, all the forecasts were for
sou’westerly gales which would be a tad on the uncomfortable side. We had
decided that we were gentlemen, and gentlemen only sail downwind, so we would
wait until the prevailing favourable winds returned. It would be long wait. As
we returned in our dinghy to Mina2 anchored in the river it started to rain. The
rain lasted most of the night.
Saturday and another bus trip, this time to a simply
delightful little place just 10 miles north of Caravelas called Praia de la
Grauça. Nothing more than one hotel (with apparently no guests at all), a few
small houses, a beautiful palm-fringed beach which went on for miles – and a
divine little restaurant which served fresh Brazilian food at its best. At last,
the long lazy lunch we had been hankering for.
On our return
to Caravelas it started to rain again. And again, it lasted most of the