Still Storm-bound in Caravella

Mina2 in the Caribbean - Where's The Ice Gone?
Tim Barker
Thu 11 Mar 2010 13:12

Date: 5, 6 & 7 March 2010

Position (still): Caravelas 17:44.68S 039:15.40W


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 night.