Sunday, April 28, 2013

We are finally having a great sail, after all that bashing up the coast we had a down wind leg after the top of the bump to Fortaleza and then for about 100 miles after that and then we hit the ITCZ. There was rain, there were squalls, there were flat calms, sometimes within hours but we got through it and for the last 3 days it has been smooth trade wind sailing, yippee.  We are cruising along under blue skies with sparkling seas.  We have just successfully navigated across the mouth of the Amazon without encountering any adverse effects, mind you we are 250 miles offshore just to make sure none of the outflow and currents will get to us.  We are coming up on the turning point to visit Devil's Island in French Guyana but the Captain has put a kibosh on that idea.  I can see his point, we have been on the go for 27 days now. I have a nasty sore throat which is trying to become a bothersome chest cold.  Barry has been covering lots of my day shifts so I can get extra rest so we are both tired and worn out and right now we just want to be there.  We are going to land in Tobago at the capital Scarboro. Trinidad is a supposed to be a very commercial, busy place whereas Tobago is mentioned as being on of the prettiest islands in the West Indies.  We hope to land on May 4 or 5 and spend about a week there before making out way down to Trinidad, which is only 20 miles away at the closest point, and get ready to be hauled out for the hurricane season.  Sometimes my head just spins with plans for what we needs to be done to get the boat ready, what we should take home and plans to visit friends and family across Canada, good thing it is quiet out here.
We are sailing north from Fortaleza and nearing the equator.  Our position is 01 36 S and 040 14 W. We have a great positive current of at least 1 and 1/2 knots sometimes 2 so we are just buzzing along.  We had loads of rain yesterday but good wind mostly.  Hopefully  the wind will continue all the way across the equator.  We are in good spirits.
The arrow indicates their position.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

We are in Forteleza, our last stop in Brazil. We are up over the bump, hooray, and on our way westward once again.  We have some beating once we left Salvador, but we used  wind to our best advantage.  The wind would shift in the late afternoon and we would be about 10 miles out to sea so we could sail in towards land.  In the early hours the wind would shift again towards the land and then we would motor sail out to sea, motor sailing so we would make a better heading and be going north east instead of straight east.  We made the  800 miles in seven days. As soon as we passed the top of the bump it was downwind sailing once again and we were rollicking along at 6, 7 and 8 knots when the current was good, now that is sailing, we hope we are done with the beating stuff for awhile!!
We have not explored Forteleza much, there was some kind of concert by the hotel that we are moored by, it was 180 realis a ticket, or about 90 dollars, so we declined to go and instead sat on Mr. Curly and had a lovely pot luck supper and danced on their back deck late into the evening.  (Remember I said they had a 60 foot boat, well they store rigid dinghy under the floor at the back of the boat and the deck overtop of it makes a wonderful dance floor).  Yesterday Barry was busy getting fuel and water. I cleaned up the boat.  Today he did laundry, since the last time I did it I ended up with back spasms the next day and I cleaned the barnacles off the bottom of the boat.  We have this supposedly terrific anti-foul on so I was very unhappy that there was so much growth on the bottom but I guess it has been 4 months since we put it on and all the other boats had lots from sitting in the anchorages outside of big cities here in Brazil.  
We will check into the state tomorrow and out of the country and hopefully leave in the afternoon.  It is a 1800 nm journey to Trinidad or Tobago and it should take us about 16 days.  We are already feeling the effects of the ITCZ or the inter tropical convergence zone.  There were squalls and thunderstorms as we approached Fortelelza, our last  night at sea was very busy with 100 degree wind shifts and 30 knots squalls, as well as dodging fishing  boats.  Enough to keep you on your toes!!  I hope to convince Barry to stop at Devil’s Island in French Guyana  to see the ruin of the prison there, but it will depend on how our time is.  I must look up more info on the internet later this afternoon.  Just over a month until we will be back in Canada, wish us luck on this last passage. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

One of the myriad of oil wells we had to dodge on the way up the coast.
They are really well lit though so no problems dodging and they don't move!

We are currently in Salvador in the Brazilian state of Bahia. 
Salvador at our dawn approach

Notice the skinny little apt. buildings.
 If you look at a world map, Salvador in at the bottom of the bump that sticks out to the east on the Brazilian coast.  We had a difficult passage hear from Rio.  It took us 2 days to get around the cape about 60 miles east of Rio and then along the way the head of the genoa let go and the sail started coming down.  We managed to get it furled up before it make a mess and then headed towards land so we could fix it.  It ended up that the stitching in the webbing that connects the sail to the halyard had all disintegrated (due to uv wear)and it just let go. Once we got it down in a very calm anchorage we decided to put up the yankee instead of trying to fix it while we were anchored.  We stayed overnight in the anchorage and got a good sleep.  It had been quite rough and we had been beating into the weather so there was a lot of  bouncing and pounding going on so sleep was hard to come by.  Once we left we were glad that we had not tried to fix the sail at anchor because it took us 2 days of stitching with an awl, hammering it into the thick webbing, pushing the needle through using a palm and then pulling it out the other side with a pair of pliers, to fix it.  
Check out these homes built into arches under a roadway, very clever how they have painted the outline of the house on the cement wall. 
One of the other boats that left St. Helena at the same time as us decided to head north a few days after us.   They have a 60 foot boat so caught up and passed us on the 11 day passage.  Richard and Cathy on Mr.  Curly are great company and we had fun yesterday seeing some sight and doing some shopping together. Salvador has an upper and a lower town and last night we went up the vertical elevator to the old town and had dinner and saw some of the magnificent buildings that have been beautifully restored.  
All along the Brazilian coast the cities are nestled along the flat stretch of shoreline between the mountains and the sea and this results in densely packed high rises squashed together.  When we were at sea we saw the weather pattern that is common along this coast in actions.  The  rain clouds gathered in front of the mountains, the lightning flashed and the thunder crashed and the rain bucketed down. . There was not a drop of rain that reached the  boat which was about 5 miles to sea. 
Barry forgot to wear long pants, he only had shorts on, so he was not allowed to go to see the Capitanie de Porte, so I had to be the Captain for once in my life, I was in my glory!

Checking in, in Salvador, the cranes were unloading wheat from a container ship. 
We weren’t really planning to stop here but it is an very interesting place and a rest was needed and the wind was not going to be in our favour so a stop was called for.  We are on a mooring buoy and have access to land though a marina so life is good.  Our next leg will take us up and around the corner, or the bump and we will stop just at the top of the bump and clear out of Brazil for Trinidad.  We have about 2300 miles left to go but we have almost 6 weeks before out lift out is scheduled so we should be able to make that no problem.  
This is going backwards but I have some lovely pictures to share.  We spent Easter Sunday wandering around deserted downtown Rio. 
 We visited three different churches, the first was a old Catholic cathedral with marvelous wooden chairs instead of pews and the most ornate ceilings I have ever seen.  

The organ was playing and it was decorated with flowers just awaiting the worshipers. 

 We stopped in at a Protestant church whose service was just about starting.  They had a lovely series of statues of a congregation outside the entrance.  We headed off to the new avant garde Catherdral, which I did not find very appealing.

I just love this twisted reflection of the bell tower in the high rise close by. 
 It is an open air building that seats 20,000 but the street people were gathering outside under the tower and the police were very much in evidence to maintain the peace!!!! We sat inside and listened to a Catholic mass in Portugese for about 15 minutes.  I was hoping the choir would sing and that the acoustics would astound me.  They eventually got up  but they were very ordinary so we left. 
The opera house

Here are some great shots from the anchorage just under Sugarloaf. 
The planes had to bank over the harbour in front of Sugarloaf to make the approach into the airport.