Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fun in the bay.

It is not a post about us having fun on the Cat,  or us having fun with the canoes,  or Marco having fun with Maths, no,  this is having fun watching your neighbours.  I always read about yachties watching each other getting into a berth at a Marina,  and husband and wife exchanging strange sign language or a louder version thereof,  but this morning we watched a French elderly couple sailing into the bay with their mono-hull.  They didn't drop the sails so we wondered about this guy not using his engines so close to other boats.  Murphy's Law,  they dropped anchor right infront of us.  When they started to settle around the anchor,  they ended too close for comfort to Catlyn's bow.  Our Skipper went to the bow,  and very politely in a mixture of English, French and lots of sign language asked him to lift his anchor and to move away,  because their boat was right on top of our anchor.  The old French man made himself understood also in a gentle manner,  that his engines aren't  working,  but if we could give him a push with our dinghy, and he will move forward.  We had no problem doing that, but Joe went to the Marine for Internet, and will only be back at noon for lunch,  and we will lend him a pushing hand.  In the mean time, lots of French were exchanged with the appropriate sign language between the husband and wife on the mono-hull.  I so wish we could understand more than the sign language.  Not long after that, but still very noisy the two people got into their dinghy also without an engine,  and it was the old man's turn to take the oars.  He wasn't good or fast enough for his wife, or maybe she got wet or something, but she got hold of the oars and started to row!  She was a busy women.  Standing in the dinghy and not sitting on her bum, she battled against the current,  but her womanly pride just made her keep on rowing.  All the time she was making herself very loadly heard.  As a typical male,  her old husband was sitting watching this women towering over him with her oars,doing her best to move forward,   and not going anywhere and just every now and then he pointed 18o degrees past his left shoulder to where the Marina actually is.  This didn't help his women calming down what so ever. In the distance they left their dog on their yacht,  adding to the excitement, barking in French,  watching them slowly drifting in the direction of the Marine...

I hope you could see the picture...

And the other day, another mono-hull anchored in the bay.  The tide dropped considerably, and I couldn't believe my eyes.  I could see this boat just slowly going side ways,  laying down for a while.  And then the panicky crew, who realised there is nothing  that can be done, but pray that the tide is not going to drop any further.  Positive minds...and they started cleaning the exposed hull of their boat...

And the other day was also a French man who circled us, when his boat dragged while having a party.  When we tried to lift our anchor his anchor line was twisted around ours.  In nothing but pure " boere" French,  our Skipper threatened a very upset French man,  that he is going to cut his anchor rope,  although he showed him his throat!  It was unbelievable how fast a line can be untangled if a big "Boer" on a yacht is standing in front of you...

24 April, Sunday.

We are in Brazil, just over a month,  and we are being so comfortable.  We know where to shop,  where to play and where to mail my mom's letters.  Last night we went to the square where the locals hang out, and enjoyed the evening with one of our Swedish friends, Jonas.  They entertained us with their local music,  and some people taking on the dance floor with their traditional dances. Johan and I showed them some well applauded "langarm",  and received a chuckle from our kids. What a lovely evening,  enhanced with the "caparinhas".

It is also long weekend in Itaparica, so the bay is flooded with all the boy's toys.  Big ones, small ones, and beautiful ones,  like the Azimut's and an amazing yacht lying just behind us. This morning they are slowly starting to return,  and Itaparica is silencing back to normal again. Marco's three friends are also leaving with their yacht, Grainedo, to the other islands,  but we hope to see them again soon.  Now we will be on the lookout for new friends again for a while.  Emails and facebooks are exchanged to follow each other and hopefully we'll meet again.
My rain catcher is working like a dream.  Every night with the down pours, the tanks are filled to the brim.  My Skipper treated me to a bath tub filled with foamy warm water, a glass of red, and the flickering flame of my vanilla candles. I couldn't get myself out of this warm bath,  and stayed in there until my feet were all wrinkled... Thank you to Maverick Yachts, the builders of our Maverick 400 Catamaran for designing Catlyn with such a nice bath.

Ps. Welcome to Roseline,  our new follower.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Normal daily life.

Itaparica is our base,  our home.  And just like returning home after a holiday, it is lots of cleaning and washing and getting back to normal "school hours."  Normal school hours are as close to 9 o'clock as we can get,  and it lasts until about 11 o'clock.  During that time Johan and Joe do some maintenance or work on their websites...

We are still waiting for our DC meter from Nieuw Zealand,  which arrived a week ago.  But we can't get it, because UPS/Customs think it is an import, and we have to pay some taxes.  Due to the language barrier we are battling to let them understand that it is not a new item , but just a repair.  Hopefully we will receive it early next week.

Marco found three French friends who can speak English,  and they were having a wonderful time.  It is so amazing to see parents searching for friends on other boats for their children,  and we always create opportunities for socialising.  They enjoyed the beach, wrestling, building forts and lego's and the odd visit to the internet cafe.

Joe is totally lost behind his video camera,  and is a formidable Youtube movie maker.  It is great to see a young man so inspired...

Ps.  Welcome to all the new followers. Please feel free to comment. And to Allen, and all the yachties following,  we will appreciate your valuable input.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ilha laja Anomba, Brazil

After the thrilling morning we spent rowing the Paraguacu river, we lifted anchor, and left Joe behind. He stayed behind with his video camera on a canoe and rowed the river all alone,  to our next anchorage,  Ilha laja Anomba.  There was no wind, so with the main sail up, we just enjoyed the strong outgoing tide pushing us forward a whole 3 knots. Every now and then we caught sight of him,  and eventually a young man's thirst and hunger beat the beauty of the scenery,  and he rowed to Catlyn's stern for breakfast on his canoe..

I successfully sewed the rain catcher and late morning the first drops were running down,  all by itself, straight into the empty bellies of our 1000 l water tanks!  It sure helps to be lazy!

At last Johan found the correct words for the beef cuts in Brazil!  We had the most delicious rump steak for lunch!  With his dictionary he ordered the butcher to cut "de alcatra"  and we are looking forward for the new delight of red meat!  The previous rump landed in a bean stew cooked for 2 hours.We loved the juicy steak and the boys so missed was the closest we could get to Pannarotti's Brazil!  See the recipe section soon if you like a thin base pizza. 

Sipping caparinhas on deck with the full moon keeping an eye on us we enjoyed the last night in the river, before heading back to Itaparica in the morning.
The boys decided that they needed to end this awseome journey in this river,  washing and playing in it's luke warm water with the tide rushing through their legs.

After a much interrupted night, opening and closing hatches for cool air,  we lifted the anchor for Itaparica.  My little girl was waiting on Skype!

Ilha dos Coelhos

Euphoria!  God catching moment! Living in the now! Eternal peace in me!  Everything I always thought and read so much about,  I had that for a while!  Just after sunrise Johan and I dropped the two canoes,  and rowed this majestic river.  We saw the mangroves with their entangled twisted branches,  we saw the colourful crabs running up and down the black branches into the silty mud,  while the crisp white egret and another grey one is trying to be the early bird. The world was mine for a while,  seeing it,  feeling it, smelling and hearing the silence! All my scences were filled for that moment, with all I was living for all my life! Thank you! Thank you!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Saturday Market @ Marogojipe.

We woke up early morning to move Catlyn to slightly deeper water,  and found a safe spot at about 4m.  The white egrets were feasting among the mangroves. We were all excited to check out this Market.  We could hardly keep up with Johan on our way to the market.  With every shopping bag coming from the direction of the market he got more and more anxious...and when the wheel barrows loaded with stuff came passed,  he changed into a light stroll!
I think we stood around in the area, the Market,  for about ten minutes,  and then we walked around, still slightly disorientated among the hundreds of people behind their tables loaded with fruit, vegetables, spices, chillies,  everything they can produce and sell to the local people from all over. It was so overwhelming, not being among a lot of people for almost four months.  All the sounds and smells were intensified. We were the only four Gringoes in sight,  but it was as if no one even noticed us.  After a while Marco was having a tummy ache,  and I was too happy to find two yellow chairs for us to get out of the hustle. While sitting there, we saw a little boy taking a sneaky hand full of dried prawns from a table.  Carefully he stuffed the front of his blue t-shirt and with a hollow back he walked away...
Johan and Joe had a great time,  tasting, touching and bargaining for the stuff they were buying and our black shopping bags and rug sack were loaded.  We knew that it is going to be a long heavy road all the way to the jetty. But this time we were lucky! We paid five reals for a wheel barrow with a pair of young legs to push our load all the way to our dinghy.

The afternoon we lifted anchor and sailed to Ilha dos Coelhos. Two dolphins were playing shyly in the water.  We could see a prominent white stripe over their backs.  Again during the night we were showered when the heavens opened,  even harder than before,  and Johan ran around with the buckets trying to catch every drop for our water tanks.  I stayed in bed,  trying to figure out how I am going to make a rain catcher.  I need to get the precious fresh water running from the roof top straight into Catlyn's water tanks,  and my man in my bed!

Sao Fransisco to Maragojipe - 15 April 2011

The whole morning we traced the steps of the monks in this deserted and neglected Fransiscan Cathedral.  The white ants did their part destroying the wooden pillars and stair cases and we had to walk carefully. A Portuguese man,  I think the caretaker,  escorted us into the building,  emptied from everything.  Only the screws keeping the statue of Saint Fransisco on the wall was left.  We saw the odd white and blue wall tiles,  chipping away, from the Portuguese customs.  It does look though they are starting to renovate this beautiful ruin.

A silence fell over all of us when he showed us the big hole, where the slaves and trouble makers were chained against the wall,  and as soon as the tide comes in,  they were drowned very slowly by the incoming tide. Only a black vulture on the steeple was keeping an eye on the roaming souls...

As soon as the tide began to rise, we lifted the anchor for Maragojipe.

What an awesome sail we had in this river,  sailing with a wind of 15 to 20 knots. We were still amazed at the thought of sailing a river in Brazil!  We tacked a couple of times, enjoying the race with the traditional square sail boats,  until we reached the long jetty of Maragojipe! Two yachts were already on anchor,  and we dropped anchor at 5m. 

Johan couldn't wait to go into the new little town to find out about the Saturday market.  We walked the streets of the little town, passed all the little Bars where people were playing cards and dominoes,  while sipping the popular local beer, Scol. 

We treated ourselves with ice lollies and were surprised when the cafe owner could speak a bit of English.  He told us that the Market is tomorrow as we thought,  and just down the street. 

We took the dinghy home, but our Skipper decided to lift the anchor to go closer to the jetty,  out of the current, and we anchored at 1,5m,  and hoped not to be beached.

Sao Francisco do Paraguacu

Marco was delighted with the locals' long tree trunk boats with their  colorful square sails. 

We reached Sao Fransisco early afternoon,  and dropped the anchor right in front of the majestic Fransiscan Cathedral,  just as the only other yacht, from France, were lifting anchor.

Lying on the deck under the Moroccan tent,  the cool breeze was welcome. (Thank you, Marianne and team in Port Owen for this tent,  it would have been unbearably hot without it!).  The scent of incence touched my nostrils,  making me wonder.  Did it come from this closed up,  delapidated church?  It was as if someone from a long time ago, welcomed me in a language I love,  aroma.
The boys were playing in the strong current with the body board and big tube,  loving life!

Rio Paraguacu

We left our first anchorage, and for the first time in our lifes, we sailed a river! It was amazing seeing this river opening up in front of us, with the lush green forests and mangroves.  Since coming closer to Brazil I was searching for the animal and bird life. But it was the odd bird that flew past, and since we are here only a couple of times we spotted a few dolphins.  They are so shy that we couldn't even see enough of them to try and identify them.  As soon as we are back at Itaparica with Internet access again I will do some research on this,  or maybe my assistant,  Anriette can help me on this topic.  Bird- and marine life in the Bahia, Brazil area, please?  The deeper we sailed  into the river, the more birds we saw. 

Paraguacu River, Brazil.

The itchiness started getting serious,  and we started checking the oil,  fetching fresh water from the spring behind Itaparica Marina Offices,  and fresh fruit and a big watermelon.  I am so spoilt with eating all this fresh fruit,  when I know it is nearing winter in S.A. soon.  Johan's promise two years ago,  that I will not spend another cold winter anywhere,  at last came true!  Although it is Brazil's winter,  it is still humid and hot,  only raining a lot.  At night it is so hot,  that we love carrying our matresses out onto the fore deck,  and the four of us, sleep under the stars, only with a sheet to cover us.
But now it is almost raining every night, so we sleep in our cabins, then with the hatches open for a slight breeze, and then still very sleepy,  grabbing for them to close it against the rain pouring in.  It is as if a whole big bucket of water is poured over Catlyn,  and then about ten minutes later not a single drop,  and then an hour later that big bucket again!  During the day,  the same rythm continue.  The only difference is me,  hanging washing out,  rushing them down,  hanging washing out...

We lifted anchor at Itaparica and with a smooth sea and a lovely wind, we sailed into the mouth of the big river, Paraguacu.  The strong tide going into the river was pushing us forward.  We realised how important it is to take the tide into consideration when sailing the rivers. It was perfect timing!  Just after entering the mouth of the river we found the perfect place to anchor,  about 30m from the beach,  at a depth of 20m.  The boys couldn't wait to explore the new island.  With the soccer ball in hand they took the dinghy ashore.  We could hear them shriek with laughter,  but too soon real "steekvliee" chased them into the  dinghy and into the water!

Ps. Happy born day, Charles.  We are drinking a Caparinha on you!  Happy birthday to Heinrich and Marline too! 

Sunday, April 10, 2011


There is salt water in our port side sail drive’s oil, and we know this is trouble! There is a big sand bank in Itaparica when it is low tide, and we thought this to be a good place to get Catlyn on dry ground or sand. Early this morning at high tide, we motored Catlyn closer to a sand bank, and slowly we saw the depth meter going to 1m. And then Catlyn sagged her belly into the sand , but we weren’t lying nicely and we knew as soon as the water is gone at low tide we are going to hang skew. Johan picked up the anchor out of the shallow water, and like a gladiator pulled Catlyn to where he wanted her and buried the anchor into the sand. We watched the tide going out, and the engines were out and dry, ready for our “mechanic” team, just after a coffee break. All of us jumped into the shallow water and gave Catlyn a tummy rub, no barnacles were left. We regretted not having some anti-fouling to do a couple of touches, but we will remember next time. At the stern the rubber was overgrown with a grass from Walvis Bay, and it looked like Catlyn was going into menopause with her unwelcoming beard. Having sympathy with her situation, I tackled the green beard with my kitchen knife and trimmed this lady back to her beauty.

With little help from the Yamaha manuals and the internet, Johan started on the sail drive leg, and took the prop apart, and drained a lot of seawater. He found a green plastic wrapped around the prop. The seals were replaced, the oil drained and everything was cleaned, and we hoped that the problem was solved. The starboard engine also received an oil change and a good check.

We enjoyed a chicken braai on the beach and Marco had fun picking up shells, chasing hermit crabs and body boarding in the shallow warm water. Elize enjoyed the walk on the sand bank and disappeared in herself for a while…

The tide was slowly coming in and we sipped on a Capariniha, waiting for Catlyn to lift her big heavy derriere. At about six she moved very slightly, but the tide wasn’t strong enough to lift her. With the help of the two boys in the dinghy they gently shoved her port side, and she was free. We motored back to anchor for the night with a squeaky clean boat. Rain poured down on us through the night washing Catlyn’s deck as well!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Prayer of St. Francis

I just love this prayer...and want to share it with you.  I know the people in this golden church with thousands of slaves buiding it,  and dying in it,  loved it too...

Prayer of St.Francis

Lord make me an instrument, of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me bring your(my) love
Where there is offense, let me bring pardon
Where there is discord,let me bring unity
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith
Where there is error, let me bring truth
Where there is despair, let me bring hope
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy
Where there is darkness, let me bring light.

Master, grant that I may seek
to console rather than to be consoled
Understand rather then to be understood
Love rather than be loved.
For it is in giving that we receive
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Welcoming a visitor aboard.

At last her plane landed and she took the taxi to us,  in Terminal Turistico Nauticda Bahia.  It was so great to see someone we knew standing in front of the blue gate with her bags.  We got her out of her warm clothes from London very quickly and enjoyed all the goodies in her bags.  Marco was overjoyed with his stash of Aromat and Oreo's  and we were spoiled with chocolates and curries and creams  and Gilette Fusion Shaving Blades for Joe ...  You are also welkcome to come and visit us,  just keep one bag for special requests!

The numerous markets attracted the boys,  and they enjoyed quibbling for a bargain.  Johan couldn't stay away from the fresh markets,  where we bought naartjies,  potatoes,  onions and lovely prunes for good prices.  The KFC stock was loaded into little cages with guinea fowl and doves,  and on top mice and rabbits and hamsters and the odd "boerbok"  on a line.  The cashew nuts and peanuts,  so fresh are very well priced.  We had fun among the smells of the chillies and chickens...

Tourists in Salvador

We are getting used to the warnings to keep out of the streets and be careful of the Brazilian robbers...coming from South-Africa where you always look over your shoulder,  we roamed the streets and alleys and enjoyed the people and buzz of the streets of Salvador.  We didn't even try not to look like Gringoes...with my blue eyes and a blonde little boy and a bold husband,  what is the chance of not being obvious among these dark people? 
The day was filled with some of the 365 churches in Salvador.  This city,  founded in 1549,  the Slave capital of the world,  is still filled with the oppressed feelings in the gold saturated churches for the rich.  The rich families,  owning the tabacco,  cotton,  etc in Brazil owned the churches and the lay people, and controlled the wealth,  sitting in their own exclusive balconies high up in the church,  with only the widows,  left by rich men allowed to share the back of the church.  No other women were allowed.  The people were also buried under the floor of the church.  Rich people deserved a lot of space,  and was buried laying down,  the not so rich didn't deserve a lot of space and was buried standing. We visited the Church of Saint Francis.  The dark wood carvings of cherubs and the phoenixes were amazing.  We were told that the wood from the Jacaranda were used.

We walked the cobbled stones of Pelourinho,  the oldest part of Salvador,  where millions of slaves were imported and used and abused. This historical center of Salvador is renowned for its Portuguese colonial architecture with historical monuments dating from the 17th through the 19th centuries and has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985. The little shops were intriguing with every one trying to make a living,  just like in any other country in the world.  Our guide,  Antonio took us into little restaurants,  and walked us through to the traditional places where you can samba and enjoy your caparinha until the sun comes up with live music all night long.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Marina in Salvador, Nautico Marina.

Our first guest is coming to visit us! Elize, Johan's sister was home sick in a grey London and is coming to visit us for a whole ten days! We are so excited to see a family member, and to talk about shared friends and family, even Marco is checking out every aeroplane to look for his aunts aeroplane. Hopefully she is loaded with chocolates and goodies in her bag...and Aromat.

We left Itaparica, and sailed to a little island close by, where we anchored for lunch, a delicious paella, with Prawns and Crayfish Joe bought the morning fetching water from the fountain taps.

We came to Nautico Marine at Salvador, and were a bit anxious about the berths. All we know was that we have to pick up a line in the water and somehow fasten Catlyn to them. There is no walk-on jetties on the side, only at the stern where we can fix two lines. However, we were on our way. Luckily we were welcomed by people from the marina, showing us where to berth, and they grabbed the lines and secured our stern lines. Another guy picked up the lines at port side lifted them up out of the water, and Joe only fasten them on the bow cleat. So easy! We were safe in the marina.

The kids couldn't wait for us to connect to shore power to get all the computers rolling and the Xbox singing familiar games. But we weren't so lucky! A light went on at the panel: REVERSE POLARITY! We haven't seen this light before. Are we fusing up the boat? Are we going to be electrocuted? Havoc on Catlyn! If something is going wrong with the electricity, how do you find an electrician here, and how are you going to explain to him what is wrong? Disappointment. We were so looking forward to be able to open the taps and to switch on all the lights and to use the snackwich, but alas.
The next morning Johan emailed an electrician friend from Catlyn, and soon heard that we will be ok. The appliances will work with the 220V and the batteries will charge and we can try and reverse the positive and negatives... The sun was slowly peeking over the darkness of the cloud, and the Van Niekerks saw a little light again.
But oh my, for so long we haven't been attached to land and we haven't been berthed, and we spend the whole night listening to Catlyn moaning. Johan almost emptied the Sunlight dishwashing liquid on the lines to stop them from moaning but nothing helped. We couldn't wait for the sun to rise, and Elize to arrive with the taxi from the airport, because we have to get out of here soon.
Good news for Marco was: Friends! The french children were here, and another cute little boy from New Zealand came over. At least when the sun was shining we enjoyed Salvador!

Ps.  We are looking forward to the two South-African yachts following in  our sailing steps some time this year,  Shangdu and Freedom,  if there is anything you would like to know,  we would really like to make it easier for you.  Good luck with the most difficult part, to get everything ready!