Sunday, July 31, 2011

Another day in Paradise

It is so good to pack our bags after finishing the chores on the boat,   and of course school has started,  and head for the island!  The island with its lush green palms really puts us under a spell. 

Marco`s friend Gaetain,   joined us for the day,   and the two struggled in a tug of war to clean the brown strong fluff from the cocos. 

I couldn`t wait for them to open it,  and to dig my teeth in the white flesh,  my staple food on the islands,  and let me tell you,  excellent for the digestive system with all that fibre.   Especially because we are on a starch and protein and fish diet,   this is so good.  We need to get to Kourou for fresh fruit and veggies soon!
There is no water for the yachts on the island,   so thank you to our Little Wonder desalting the sea.  There are no shop for supplies,   only a little curious shop and a restaurant at the hotel.  We asked to buy some bread at the restaurant and the guy gave us a baguette,   and I asked for another one.  One baguette is not going to feed this hungry family.  Two it was!  I opened Johan`s wallet only to show the guy a card,   which the island wasn`t capable of using.  I opened the other side only to show a 20 pound and a $100!  The guys` eyes got really big,   and in a hurry he waved us out of the restaurant with our two baguettes!  On Salvation Island an angel gave us bread!!

We spent the rest of the day swimming in the convict pool and laying in the hammock between the palms.

Marco was the hero!  He climbed a Palm Tree, with a little bit of help from his dad. Right at the top his little hand reached for the green big balls and he tugged and twisted,   and one tumbled down!  What a proud little monkey he was!

The evening two SA yachts and two French yachts send their crew ashore,  and they feasted on the 6 fish Yacht Ercoluasa caught and shared.

French Guiana Islands

Following Christopher Columbus,   1498,   we sailed along the coast of Guiana,   to anchor here at the Salvation Islands/Iles du Salut /Devils Islands.  What names for these islands!  This is where 70 000 convicts were imprisoned since 1887 and 1938.  And I walked their steps today.  I shared the agonizing feelings in the corridors,   I touched the rusted chain hooks in the walls,   I looked through the solid bars to freedom.  I closed the heavy thick wooden door,   locking in a loved one,   leaving him behind without hope. 

 I remembered some names,   Dreyfuss,   Papillon and I took a deep breath,   and I exhaled a Salute of Love to all who suffered and died here.

In the church I read the names, twelve A4 pages full,   of people who lost their lives on these islands.  The dead were covered in cloth attached to rocks and then placed in a coffin.  With a little boat the coffin was emptied at a certain spot in the sea and the empty coffin was returned until next time.  Maybe `Devil`s Islands`,   is a more appropriate name for this archipelago of islands!

Ps.  The only convict who came prepared again,   was our Skipper!  Even in the darkest of days he will remember some` proviand`!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ile de Royale

So much for my idea of staying without food on the island while we are exploring! After Marco tried to climb the palm trees, still wanting to get his mom a coconut, Joe and Marco started throwing rocks at them. It seemed like an easier option than climbing those long trunks. A big coconut came down, and it was the beginning of war against them. Johan joined in the fun, and soon we were sipping potassium loaded juice! Nectar from heaven. We stacked our bag with 3 more to chill in the fridge.

But we weren`t alone. Little squirrel monkeys joined us, and soon Johan cut open the coconuts for them and they dipped their little heads in them and sipped the juice and ate the white soft flesh. We shared our food with this little animals.

Little rodent like creatures, with long legs like a little deer, were walking in the forest, looking for food. Only later we found out, they are agouties.

Four hours later we decided to turn around and go back home, and leave the rest of the exploring for the next couple of days. The rest of the afternoon we spent swimming and laying under our Moroccan tent, escaping from the heat and sun.

Link for more information on Islands : Iles du Salut

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tuesday. 19 July2011.

The crew always have an undercurrent of excitement when we are about to set foot on a new land.  We motored the most of the night with even the poor screecher just flapping around.  The sea looked like a dam,   and the moon and stars were reflecting in the mirror of the ocean.  I was good to my Skipper, and allowed him to sleep for a whole 5 hours.  It looks like I might be getting a washing machine soon,   if I carry on like this. 

On the horizon we could see the humps of the islands,  Salvation Islands.  We saw the three islands forming Ile de Salute,  and we headed for the island in the middle,  Ile de Royale.   But around the corner we couldn`t resist the inviting water,  and fighting against the current we hanged on to the ropes behind the boat,  and Joe did the brave or silly thing,  and jumped from the bimini into the warm water. 

 We anchored at Baie des Cocotiers,   and the anchor was hardly in the water,   and John from Yacht “Out of Africa” came to meet us.  He was so glad to at last meet the Maverick and family,   because since he left St. Helena he heard about the first Maverick sailing the World from all the yachties ! 

Yacht Grainedo was also safe and came to say hello, 

....  and Marco left within minutes with the canoe to play and swim with the boys.  Tomorrow we want to explore after a good night sleep!

Monday. 19 July 2011.

Big mistake!  I was in the shower and Johan switched on the water maker.  How can you make such a fatal mistake?  I could hear the water pumping into the tanks,   filling them,   and I sneaked out to get all the linen in the boat,   and between me and the Little Wonder,   we composed a duet!  Gluck-gluck the Little Wonder sang,   and wishy- washy my hands slipped over the sheets…   Soon the whole boat was hanged full of clean sheets billowing in the almost non- existent breeze.  To share my gratitude for the water I tried to spread the sheets,   helping the screecher to make use of the little wind.  Marco enjoyed the shelters,   using them in their make-believe world-of swords.  And we decided to have lunch,   pasta with prawns,   in this shade,   with the smell of freshness drying in the sun.

We spotted Grainedo on the radar,   and soon the yacht was visible.  Our friends were getting closer,   and we enjoyed the company of a known yacht sailing with us,   about 2nm apart.  The boys were looking forward to swim in this warm water,   and building their lego`s again. 

A couple of fishing boats were around,   and we could see the tuna jumping out of the water, chasing after little fish.  We were hoping for another catch,   but we were not so lucky.  The other day we lost a very big fish,   and Marco`s hands are still showing the burns of the gut. When a small man lost a very big fish,   looking at a huge silver body jumping out of the water,   somewhere,   sometime the score must be settled.

It is our last night at sea.  Tomorrow we will anchor at French Guinea.

Sunday.  18 July 2011.

Being so spoilt with the good winds and sneaky squalls to push us forward,   we have to get used to the 5knots of speed with the screecher in a 6knot breeze.  Thank goodness for this light sail  taking advantage of the lightest huff and puff in the air.  We tried the main,   we tried the genoa,   but nothing beats the full windy belly of our screecher.  We were used to this speed while sailing from Walvis Bay to St. Helena and then to Salvador.  It was as if a very calmness slipped over Catlyn,   resting for a while.

The night was moon lit with stars peeking through the flimsy clouds.  A warm breeze was blowing and we could feel the humidity and the temperature increasing.  Even the sea temperature is increasing and this morning the sea was a deep dark green.  Can it be from the Amazon River we are passing now?  Although we are about 300nm from it,   can this amazing river system color the water of the ocean at such vast distance?

Marco was up last night with a fever and a head ache,   but this morning he is his jolly self again. Even I feel like myself again, spending the morning in the shower, for a lot of pampering!  I even put some perfume on.  It might last for an hour in this heat.

Our Little Wonder was making water most of the day,   and was filling our tanks with 9 gallons an hour.   Marco told us about the flying fish laying their eggs,   like egg yolk on the patches of sea grass floating in the sea.  Right there we decided to inspect all the sea grass which got caught on our lures.  We saw some brown jelly like creatures  with sloppy feet,  and the occasional white hard little shell.  Inside this little shell was an embryo like thingy with a prawn like tail.  We had fun popping the bubbles of the grass,   keeping them afloat.

The sun was setting,   and as usual we bundled outside on the fore deck to greet the day.  Being 4 degrees from the Equator we witnessed the most spectacular Sun Set we`ve ever seen.  Words can`t describe it!  We stood in absolute awe,   watching the sun go down in the west,   but what we couldn`t believe was the visual miracle on the eastern horizon.  Beams of color were arising from the sea,  floating through the sky…

Saturday.  16 July 2011.

After a stormy night and waking to a stormy morning we were tired,   and a lot of time was spent just sleeping  and  being lazy on the trampoline, where a cool breeze was blowing.  I thought of starting school on this journey,   but that can wait,   and Marco is smiling!  We feasted on the fresh fish,   fried,   baked steamed and grilled.  Since this morning the wind has died down to a mere 4/5 knots,  but luckily the strong current is still pushing us forward.  The only life we noticed every other day is a big cargo ship passing…

Friday.  15 July 2011.

At last I have my sea legs and the washing is on the line!  I suffered from a severe head ache and a fever for 4 days,   and still don`t know whether it was part of feeling sea sick or maybe a bug.

Our family had the privilege to sail with a yacht over the Equator!  Nothing changed,   nothing happened as we passed slowly from the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern Hemisphere.

This didn`t go without celebration,   and we opened the last bottle of JC le Roux Champagne,   chilled the night before.

 I am going to let you into a Sailor`s Secret.  As soon as we lifted our flutes to the first sip of ice cold bubbly,   it happened.  We had guests!  Poseidon,   God of the Ocean paid us a visit with his three goddesses!  Together we sat sipping champagne and sharing stories.  These stories I am not allowed to share with you,   it stays on the Ocean.  After crossing the Equator they slipped back into the Big Blue,   leaving us with their prayer to keep us safe!

Wednesday-Thursday.  13July-14 July 2011.

Early Wednesday morning our Satellite phone made a noise!  It was ringing!  For the first time someone was calling us!  Michelle from Yacht Grainedo  was on the line,  and we exchanged positions and with them one day behind us,   we decided to stay in constant contact,  while they will be creeping closer with their 50ft yacht.  The screecher is out and in the light winds  (10-15 knots)  and with the strong current,  sometimes between 3 and 3 knots,  but I think averaging about 2,5-3 knots constantly,  Catlyn was showing off.   Late afternoon  a huge Dorado grabbed one of our lures,  and again we had to photo and release it! 

 It is always much nicer to hold this shiny and slippery  for a while and then releasing it into the ocean,  and to watch it for a while,  slightly disorientated staying with the boat,  and the disappear into the deep safety of the dark water.

Monday-Tuesday.  11July-12 July 2011.

Exhausted after a very busy night we had a big `boere` breakfast with our own version of `pap` (porridge) with the Brazilian fahrina de milho,  and our Skipper hoped that a well fed crew is a happy crew.  Marco had his sea legs back!  While swinging around on the fore deck he spotted some dolphins.  Huge bottlenose dolphins were entertaining us!  We`ve seen many dolphins before while crossing the Atlantic and sailing the West Coast of South-Africa,   but never like this!  Watch the video Joe will put on the blog soon,   and you can share a little bit of this wonder with us. Ten majestic sea beings shared their being alive with us…thank you!   They were jumping,   rolling and turning,    and it made me wonder who is training who in those Aquarium shows we see?

With our spirits so high,   Joe caught a yellow fin tuna,   and while still busy with the first one the second one grabbed the lure.  Marco pulled in the second one for a photo and release.  Now we were on a serious protein diet!   ( Thank  goodness we haven`t heard about cholesterol on this boat.)  We were preparing the sails for another busy night at sea,   with the heavy cumulus clouds lurking around us.

Saturday –Sunday.   09 July-10 July 2011.

Catlyn had enough!  She lifted her anchor an hour before we planned to leave and we were dragging!  Our Skipper still had a couple of earthbound emails to send,   and we tried as best we could to stall her departure.  Within another hour her crew was also ready and we were off.  We waved to our French friends,   who are planning to follow us tomorrow.   With the genoa out we sailed off the coast.  The sea was very choppy and we were in for a ride.  Across from Natal a lot of small fishing boats were floating around with their lanterns only an orangey glow in the darkness.
After our first rolley night we were blessed with a 12kg Wahoo and we knew we had to make space in the freezer very quickly for all this fish.

Johan stocked up on proteins for our journey,   but nothing is going to keep us from eating away some space in the freezer.  Marco and I had a queasy ride and he slept most of the day.  Things didn`t get any better for me,  but when night came the two men had such a great time sailing Catlyn in a good wind blowing.  We were hit by heavy squalls and big swells every now and then and Catlyn set her new record speed at 14,7 knots!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Saying good bye to Brazil!

We started with the big thing again.  Shopping and shopping and packing everything safely away for the long journey.  We took the bus to the huge Bompreco Hyper.  It was a very fast bus, with a very fast driver and while it was pouring and the road was soaking wet we swerved through the traffic,  and I just sat back and relaxed...  What is there to do,  when you are totally not in control?  Sit back,  relax and let it be!  We arrived safely,  and we started filling the trolley with food for the crew,  because we are going to be on our way soon!

Johan and I took the train to Cabadelo,  to the Port Captain.  When we arrived there,  they asked us for copies of some of our documents.  Of course we didn`t have copies,  because previously all the other Ports had a copier machine.   They waved us away to go and make copies somewhere out in the pouring rain.  It is not that easy,  and you can`t just walk to the nearest Postnet, or CNA.  Searching for anything that looks like a copy shop,  I saw a girl sitting in a little shop with a desk, and on the desk was a printer or something.  I asked:  Copy?  She waved: Nao!  But when my wet face fell and I signalled her where to go,  she took pity on me,  and used her own machine and fixed us up with all the copies we needed.  No charge!  She didn`t want to accept any money,  and we knew,  an angel smiled on us!

On our return we decided to lift  anchor and to drop it right infront of the restaurants,  who were busy preparing for sunset and were waiting for the legendary sounds of the saxophone!

 But we decided that this is a memory to be shared, and we went over with the dinghy inviting everyone who were on their yachts to join us for peanuts and drinks.  The two South-African couples,  the French family and the Dutch couple joined us for a never ending evening...

We are planning to sail away tomorrow to the all I can say,  We will watch the wind and watch the sea and then decide where our next destination will be.  So I will be back in a week or so!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Joao Pessoa by train.

It was drizzling and I took the opportunity with the three men at the Yacht Club on their computers to put the hems up for the new covers I bought last night at the lovely street market.  After enjoying the romantic evening with Jurandy's sax we enjoyed the market with all the beautiful things and slush puppies.  Jacare means crocodile and all over we bumped into them,  while Johan rather opt for a sip with this dude!

When the men returned,  the rain cleared up and we decided to take the train somewhere.  At the little station we paid 50 Brazilian cents pp and hopped onto the noisy clickety clack train among the locals and see where it is going to take us.  The train left the station and hanging onto the railbars we saw the rural areas go by until we reached Cabadelo.  We waited for the train`s engine to be moved to the front to go all the way back, and then heading straight where we heard the big market is.  After some more noise and clickety clack we reached the destination,  we think.

  After walking around a bit and then asking around a bit we saw the sign posts for Mercado Central,  and found this huge market with all the fresh fruit and veggies you can buy.  Next to the fruit market was the flour, beans and nuts market.  We bought fresh peanuts for R20 a kilo,  and cashews for R90 and caramel coated cashews with a touch of sesami seeds for about R70!  Loaded with dinner Marco guided us home by bus! 
We reached Jacare just before the sun set,  and we could hear the saxophone touching the air.  Along the road another man with his own sun set dream stood, selling a variety of copied CD`s,  pushing his shop with the blaring sound of some of his music.

The Alligator River Beach

We heard it the first evening anchored in the Paraiba River,  at Jacare Village, coming from the Alligator River Beach next to Jacare Village.  As the sun set the violet sky was filled with the sound of a saxophone.  The next evening we followed the sound with our dinghy and saw the man dressed in white linen with an orange sash,  his black long hair flowing over his shoulders,  playing on his saxophone!  We quickly secured the dinghy at one of the restaurant`s jetties,   and scrambled to a table among many people.  Jurandy do Sax came on the little boat playing his saxaphone doing "o Bolero de Ravel"  while the sun slowly set,  and the people came from all over with their cars,  the huge ferries or their smart motor yachts to watch the sun go down accompanied by this sound.  Jurandy started almost two decades ago and exactly 17 minutes before the sun set,  he comes here on this little boat,  every single day to greet the sun.  Living in Joao Pessoa the people are unable to see the sun go down,  and they come with their lovers, their families,  their special people in their lives to share this moment with the sounds of Jurandy do Sax here on the Paraiba River. Visit his website and blog for lots more information about him and the area :

Sipping Caipirinhas and snacking on crab antlers dipped in a pink sauce,  the setting of this sun, tonight made a memory forever.

Joao Pessoa

We have a new town to explore!  The previous evening we heard a little bit about it from the other yachties,  but with very poor internet for further investigation,  we were filled with excitement.  We heard about bus and / or train transport and of course our own two feet,  in flip flops and by now so used to walking and walking.  When we reached the bus stop we only knew that the area we walked from is Jacare,  and the city in the area is Joao Pessoa.  The first bus stopped and we decided to get onto it and see where it goes.  In Salvador we embarked the busses at the back,  but over here to our surprise we had to hurry to the front to pay the conducter.  2.1 Reals per person and a tour around town!  The thrill of the unknown reached our bones and we were giggling like naughty children.  After a long ride with people getting on and off, except us,  the driver got curious and called our Capitaine,  who informed him that we don`t know where we are going but we are enjoying the ride.  He immediately worried about us,  and started making plans for us.  Why don`t you guys go to the beaches?  And so we went to the white beaches with another bus.  We saw the first kite surfers while in Brazil,  and the strong wind reminded us of Cape Town. Although the waves didn`t,  and the poor surfers were waiting in vain.

On our way back to Jacare we met a lot of donkeys grazing,  and some waiting to do a hard days work of recycling and Marco  gave it a little hug of appreciation.
Take away lunch was braai flat chicken @ 10 Reals,  with a local yellow crumby dressing - delicious-  and Johan bought something for the thirst! 

Jacare Yacht Village

We anchored infront of Jacare Yacht Village with about 10 yachts on anchor,  and a few on the pontoons.  The holding ground wasn`t too bad,  although a yacht dragged early morning.  I think the tide is so strong and accompanied with the wind,  that it puts the anchor under a lot of stress.  We paid 100 reals/R400 per week to make use of the dinghy dock.  There is shower and laundry facilities and a restaurant and wifi.  The evening we went to the Yacht Club and met a lot of yachties,  enjoying strong caipirinhas,  with the French,  the Germans, the Dutch and Canadians.  Before long it was a buzz of stories...

Johan and I walked to the Police Federal the next morning,  while Marco joined his long lost French friends and Joe checked out the internet facilities at  the Marina.  After quite a walk the paper work went smoothly.  You can buy fresh bread and drinking water and just the necessities from a little shop up the street.  We gave our empty gas bottle in at the Yacht Club,  because we miss our little braai.  As soon as we receive it back,  I`ll be able to tell you the cost,  because the boys didn`t ask.