Mina2 Restarts Adventure in Perfect Condition - Or So We Thought

Mina2 in the Caribbean - Where's The Ice Gone?
Tim Barker
Sat 6 Nov 2010 13:42

Date: 6 November 2010

Position: Lago Azul – Ilha Grande 23:05.2S 44:14.3W


I don’t know how many component parts make up a modern yacht but it is thousands. Like any complicated combination of electrics, electronics, wire, rope, sailcloth, canvas, wood and glass fibre, if you pick it up on a regular basis and slam it down sideways onto something hard, spray it with salt water and subject it to extreme heat and the withering effects of tropical ultra-violet rays they all, in turn (and sometimes all together), break, wear out, fade and need  re-varnishing, re-sewing, re-splicing, re-pairing or simply re-placing. If there are (say) 2,000 bits and they all last on average five years, then you are talking about 400 jobs that need doing every year.


So when I arrived on the boat three weeks ago lugging bags containing one T-shirt, a spare pair of socks and 60 kg of spare parts and other boat bits, the “To Do” list was as long as a lavatory roll. I had two and a half weeks before the Downstairs Skipper was to arrive and she would be expecting all the work to be done and the boat in a state of perfection. No time to waste. Up every morning before dawn, I laboured without break until after dark, had a quick meal and was in bed, exhausted, by 2200 hrs. Some jobs took minutes; others took an entire day and a few I found were beyond my own capabilities. Enter my Guardian Angels, Maria-Teresa and Assis, a wonderful Brazilian couple who live on a large catamaran in the marina. They had taken it upon themselves to look after Mina2 during my six-month absence – arranging for the bottom to be scrubbed regularly in this petri dish of warm water and marine growth, and keeping the mushrooms from growing down below in the hot and humid atmosphere.



Mina2 in her snug berth in Marina Bracuhy



Nothing was too much trouble for them; no problem that did not have a solution. Between them and Luis, a charming Argentine doctor who also lives aboard his boat in the marina, the day of the arrival of The Queen of The Downstairs Department approached and everything was in order. The DS was to arrive shortly after midnight and I spent the afternoon applying the finishing touches. A bit of polishing here, a final pass of the vacuum there. One last cleansing flush of the heads (the loos) and – disaster. The aft head (where our cabins is) jammed solid.


When the DS arrived on board in the early hours, without a glance she walked past the pristine decks, the gleaming superstructure, coiled ropes and the immaculately stitched new suede coverings, went below and said “God alive, what’s that ghastly smell?”. I had spent the entire evening completely dismantling the head and was still no closer to identifying the problem.


After a difficult night, I spent our first morning together dismantling more and more of the boat until, at last, I found the source of the problem. A small but inquisitive fish had found its way into the inlet pipe of the mechanism, got jammed, and died. And with it died any attempts to flush the head. On finding the putrefying cause of the problem, I was triumphant. The DS was disgusted. But within minutes, all was reassembled in perfect working order including the relationship of Mina2’s two skippers. We were ready to sail off into the sunset on our paradise cruise down the coast of Brazil.



Tim’s triumphant discovery in the loo pipe



The following morning my back went out. Those that know me know that I get the occasional twinge. On a scale of 1 to 10, this was a mere 7 (10 involves screaming in agony, fainting with pain and hospitalisation) but it was enough to prevent me from getting out of the cockpit, let alone getting off the boat or contemplating the start of our cruise until Drastic Measures were taken. I carry with me for such eventualities, courtesy of my doctor, a Killer Cocktail of three of the most powerful drugs known to man. Whilst guaranteed to solve the problem by turning my body to jelly and relieving the symptoms into submission, they also turn my brain to jelly. I knocked the pills back, painfully retired to bed, said au revoir to the DS and passed out for 24 hours.


Two days later, on 3 November, with my back brace tightly secured and chewing Ibuprofen, we (well, the DS actually) cast off our lines and after 7 months Mina2 motored out of Bracuhy Marina.


Dear Readers, do not expect Great Adventures this year. Last year our 10,000 nautical miles, four continents and ten different countries was a bit of an exception. This year, in contrast, is planned to be a much more relaxed 1200 mile jaunt down the coast of South America from Brazil, through Uruguay ending up in Buenos Aires in Argentina, home of course to the DS.


We start off in the bay of Ilha Grande in between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo (Santos).  40 miles long and 20 miles deep with 365 tropical islands, the bay is one of the great cruising grounds of the world and the DS and I will be wandering around here for a week or two. Even Expedition Boats need a holiday from time to time.


Once we get to Santos the gaps between safe havens increase somewhat, involving passages of several days, so the DS will wisely leave the boat and go and visit her mother in BA and I will be joined by the Three Musketeers, Lawrence, Tom and Richard, who plan to join me for the passages down  to Montevideo in Uruguay.  We should arrive in BA shortly before Christmas.


So, much in the same way as you wouldn’t burden your friends with blogs of your holidays, my updates are likely to be sporadic – not the daily fix of last year but perhaps a weekly update to keep you in touch with our whereabouts.


We’re currently three days in to our wanderings which have consisted of drifting to a perfect tropical island and anchoring off a deserted palm-fringed beach; barbecue a large steak or sausages and chicken hearts for lunch washed down with a heart-lifting caipirinha, then swimming in the warm, crystal clear azure waters with the exotic fish and mermaids prior to a little siesta after the exertions of the morning. See how dull it all is?



One of the hundreds of secluded beach anchorages


The only slight glitch is that our autopilot (electronic self-steering mechanism) has packed up which means we have to hand steer everywhere, which is a bore. I spent most of yesterday morning on the phone to Raymarine in the UK and pulling the boat apart trying to identify the problem. If we can’t source the faulty component here, then it will have to be couriered out to us – but you can’t expect everything in life to be perfect.


Today we went to yet another delightful anchorage. I was rowed ashore by the DS like one of Nelson’s admirals (I’m milking the bad back as much as I can – I can see it going on for weeks) and we walked a mile and a half through the jungle across a peninsula to the most spectacular beach we’ve ever seen. En route, whilst keeping an eye open for killer snakes and man-eating spiders, we came across some delightful friendly little marmosets / lemurs / monkies with tufty ears and long striped tails (I’m sure Jo Gipps will put me right on this one). An enchanting day.



Our jungle friends




The perfect beach