Escape from Caravelas

Mina2 in the Caribbean - Where's The Ice Gone?
Tim Barker
Thu 11 Mar 2010 13:45

Date: 9 March 2010

Position: Vitoria 20:17.88S 040:17.20W


Sunday the 7th and Christine and Fernando had run out of time. Fernando had an important meeting to get back to in Buenos Aires so we bid a sad farewell to them at the bus station with Christine’s ambition of sailing into Rio harbour unfulfilled.


Meanwhile, Maria, Michael and I were all set to leave at first light the following morning. The wind had swung back to the north and whilst very strong winds (Force 7 to 8, gusting 9 or 10) were forecast, these winds were well to the south and east of us. No problem. Before retiring for an early night I picked up another forecast and – horror upon horror – the strong wind warnings were now for the whole of the area we were in. Although this didn’t tie in with the other weather data I had, it would have been irresponsible to take the boat out given this uncertainty. Another delay.


Late the following morning we spoke to the owner of the only other yacht in Caravelas. It transpired he knew the coast and its weather intimately. He lived on board his yacht and had been cruising up and down the coast for years. He gave us all sorts of valuable information. He said that he was also wanting to head south but had delayed because today there was too LITTLE wind. We asked him about the official forecast and he said that whilst it didn’t say so, the weather was well south. No chance of even moderate winds between here and Vitoria 185 miles south. Guaranteed! Hallelujah. Let’s get outta here!


Within five minutes we had the anchor up and, a week after our first attempt to head south, we were off. We swung out of the river into the ocean and found that our new best friend was absolutely right about the waves – they were high. And he was absolutely wrong about the wind. It was, as forecast blowing Force 7 from the north. But to hell with it – the wind was from behind us, we were travelling fast and safely and the wind was forecast to diminish after about 12 hours. It was just as well Christine had jumped ship – she would have been in hell in the rolly boisterous conditions. Added to which it poured with rain for 4 or 5 hours during the night.


At 1530 the following day we arrived in Vitoria and anchored off the Iate Clube do Espírito Santo. We were astonished by Vitoria. We had been expecting a town somewhat larger than the very small places we had visited before, and we had envisaged it to be rather rundown and industrial. As we approached the city, enormous skyscrapers became visible, and hundreds of them. It was like approaching Manhattan. Set amongst attractive green hills reminiscent of Rio de Janeiro, Vitoria is a magnificent, wealthy, thriving city. All the buildings are modern, attractive and  well maintained and the streets, lined with upmarket sophisticated shops and restaurants are clean. What a contrast to the subsistence existence of the Brazil we had seen so far.


The Iate Clube (yacht club) was very welcoming and for a nominal R$ 5 (about £2) per head per day we had full access to the upmarket club facilities including excellent bar and restaurant overlooking the harbour, swimming pool, sauna etc etc.


But being behind schedule we couldn’t linger long. The Downstairs Skipper was very keen that we had an additional hand on board for these long overnight passages and Michael had already been incredibly accommodating and had delayed his flight back to Argentina from Rio by a couple of days.  So after a day of sightseeing we were due to set off for the 195 mile passage to the fashionable resort of Buzios early on Thursday morning.


But before I left I had to go to the top of the mast to rescue a flag, the halyard of which had been mysteriously severed. Up at the top I was horrified to see that the (technical bit here) forestay foil for the yankee had substantial damage. A thick aluminium section had been ripped like paper down a foot of its length and jagged bits were jutting out. So that solved the problem of how the burgee halyard had been severed, but it’s a complete mystery what caused this damage. It must have required enormous force. It’s just as well our cruise is drawing to a close as this will require specialist riggers to sort out and possibly the need to have a new section of foil shipped out from the UK (if Ally from Oyster aftersales is reading this – I’ll be in touch shortly!).