Republic of Ireland and Mina2 in Financial Meltdown as Infrastructure Collapses
Date: 20 November 2010
Position: Saco de Mamanguá 23:16.03S 044:37.49W
Well, I was almost right about Christine & Fernando never seeing the sun at all. The weather remained cold (by Brazilian standards) and wet (by any standards) for the first five days of their visit, but yesterday the sun came out and Christine slowly thawed out, peeling off her clothes down to the last five layers. Nevertheless, the dramatic Brazilian coastline and islands are as differently attractive in the cloud and rain as they are in the sun and we’ve enjoyed some stunning anchorages.
Christine & Fernando enjoying the first of the sun at the end of their holiday
I know that talk in the blog about problems on the boat irritates Selina, but tough. Our autopilot packed up again. Different problem this time and altogether more serious. We managed to get the local Raymarine technicians on board who said that the computer that runs the whole thing was almost certainly knackered and possibly another critically important bit as well. Raymarine clearly know their captive audience well, and a plastic box with a couple of electronic chips with less processing power than my watch costs about the same in the UK as a reasonably priced family car – but without it we would be hand-steering 1200 miles down to Buenos Aires. But in Brazil, where there is a 90% import tax before they look at your boat and decide to add another 50% for good measure, for the price they charge I could buy a Ferrari and still have change. Which is all rather academic if there were any of the magic boxes available anywhere in the world. I called Raymarine in the UK and drew a blank. They were out of stock and wouldn’t get any in before December. If there were any in Brazil, they were “down South” somewhere and would take days to be transported north. In desperation I contacted my Fairy Godmother, Ally Ford at Oyster Aftersales, aka Debbie McGee, who just happened to have the only spare one in the world sitting on her desk. So as we speak it is on its way to Lawrence to bring out with him next weekend. The next problem will be to get it fitted and calibrated – Raymarine in Brazil will only fit things if they have supplied it. Time will tell.
So having paid the equivalent of a reasonably priced family car we now have to trim our financial sails and we have introduced spending cuts more savage than those needed by Ireland. We have slashed our consumption of caipirinhas from six a day per person to just four. Incidentally, I have worked out why caipirinhas have the effect of giving one a lift like no other drink on earth. I calculated that the quantity of alcohol in an average caipirinha is the equivalent of about five large gins. Simple really.
Though I say it myself, I had been pretty impressed by my replacement of the suede cover on my wheel and various other bits of leather work, so when my watch strap fell apart, rather than buying a new one, to save money I cut and sewed one myself from a scrap of suede I had lying around.
Pretty fancy leatherwork
…. and a money-saving watch strap
When I showed the near-perfect results to my admiring crew, Fernando was waxing lyrically in Spanish to the DS and Christine about my skills. There was one word he used to describe me that I wasn’t familiar with. When I later looked up the meaning of “ingreido” I was surprised to find the rough translation is “smug bastard”. I must have misheard him.
The last couple of days we have been at the west end of the enormous bay where lies the once immensely wealthy town of Paraty. It made its money three hundred years ago by being at the end of the road from the gold mines, so all the wealth of Brazil passed through the town to be shipped back to Portugal. The old colonial town has been preserved in almost mint condition and is a unique monument of Brazil in her colonial heyday.
Having spent a day looking around Paraty we took Mina2 15 miles into Saco de Mamanguá, a deep and wide fjord. Almost no boats visit the fjord and apart from one or two smart houses, about the only life is in the small fishing village half way down. With no road access the people lead a simple, isolated, and contented life.
Still making dugout canoes from a single tree trunk
The locals were immensely friendly and keen to tell us all about their lifestyle. We asked about the totally demolished wreck of what had clearly been quite a large house on the outskirts of the village. Whilst Maria speaks passably good Portuguese, I struggle, but was getting the gist. “Ah” said one “that was a grand house built by a Korean, but Obama blew it up three weeks ago. They used 50kg of dynamite!”
I was horrified. Was there no end to the arrogant and violent foreign policy of the United States? Not satisfied with invading sovereign territories with governments they don’t like, they were now blowing up the homes of Koreans in Brazil. It was outrageous. The DS calmed me down and explained it wasn’t Obama but IBAMA, the Brazilian tax authority. The Korean had built the house illegally, and had ignored all fines imposed on him, so they simply blew the house up. There was an even grander house a mile down the fjord which is due to be blown up in 50 days. Well, it certainly provides a bit of entertainment (and recycled building materials) for the locals. Mind you, I hadn’t got it as wrong as Christine who instead of hearing Obama had heard Osama and was imagining gangs of radical Muslims going round blowing up houses in isolated parts of rural Brazil.
…and the next one to go