10 days at sea

Iles de Salut, French Guiana

It’s one thousand sea miles to the Iles du Salut (which includes the infamous Devil’s Island) in French Guiana! Time to sail the distance I’ve postponed by taking my Brazilian shortcut across the Atlantic.

No big deal. It’s a comfortable sail (with both favourable current and winds), provided I stay in deeper water (100 nautical miles out from the Amazon). At this distance, I’m not likely to hit any stray tree trunks or other Amazon jungle debris, I need only worry about the occasional squall or cargo vessel.

As it turned out, I had good cause to worry about both, especially when a mighty squall hit on the 7th day out from Fortaleza.

Rolling under stay sail alone

Let me share the details with you….

I’d had to weather a couple of uncomfortable days (with gusts to Force 7) on days 2 and 3, but was generally pleased with the progress I’d made since leaving Brazil. Especially when you consider that I’d logged 120 nautical mile daily runs (a new record for Eileen)! This was sufficient motivation to tolerate any discomfort and while the distances travelled were considerable (for a small boat under stay-sail alone), in future, I’ll think twice before running before the wind without my mainsail. Why? Because incessant rolling is liable to turn the stomach of even the hardiest of sailors, and I’m hardly hardy!

What followed were 3 days of gentle breeze so I opted to burn some fossil fuel and maintain my 100 nautical mile average to day 5. Eileen can easily manage 100NM in a 24hr period when motor sailing. Even if the winds are under 10kts. And since she consumes just over half a liter of diesel an hour (with her new 10HP Beta engine), I rarely feel compelled to wallow about for days on end in the tropical heat for the sake of conserving fuel.

That night more gale force winds arrived. Well, I assume they were gale force, but I did little to verify this empirically. Too busy concentrating on feeling sorry for myself (a touch of sea sickness coupled with a migraine headache can have that effect). Plus, I’m not to fond of braving downpours to measure wind speed with my portable ammeter, (though I did note a consistent 8 knots on my GPS).

Fancy that! No sails and Eileen of Avoca is making way at top speed with comfort and ease. No more rolling either! I’d have confidently gone to bed if a Chinese freighter hadn’t chosen this particular moment to play chicken with me.

Guess I’ll give them a call over the VHF radio…

“Motor vessel Sunny X (X to thwart potential defamatory action)…. you are within 3 nautical miles of my current position and closing. Are you currently tracking me by radar?”

I know they aren’t because my radar detector is uncharacteristically silent….

Yesh, I shee you…. your SSI number ish…..”

“No, that’s not me. I don’t have a transponder so you will not see me with your A.I.S. The ship you are referring to is 6 miles to port. I am a small sailing vessel currently 2 miles ahead of you…”

At last my radar detector starts to sound. At least they are now really trying to look for me…

I don’t shee you…Two miles? You shtay away from my ship….shtay clear….. you hear?”

“I’m trying… please maintain your course as I’ll adjust mine so that we pass port to port.”

rOK I adjust my course 10 degrees to port….”

“Not that way!!!! You’ll run me down!!!”

At this point I started Eileen’s engine and leapt (or rather crept) to the tiller. A close call. In appalling visibility (due to the worsening downpour), the cargo vessel passed within three cables! Much too close!

Lesson learnt…. Dodge before talking….

Evidently English isn’t as widely or well spoken on commercial vessels as I’d thought, so contacting a vessel via VHF might at best turn out to be counterproductive as it was in this case… or at worst…. well…. I’d rather not think about that….

But why didn’t they seem me on radar?

That mystery was only solved upon arrival in French Guiana. My over sized reflector had apparently “Gone with the Wind”…

A friend from the Amazon

Fortunately, the remainder of the voyage was pleasant enough. I picked up a hitchhiker…

I-pod? Nah… I listen to d-pod….

Listened to my d-pod all day (that would be a dolphin pod) as they whistled, clicked and whirled about playfully….

Worms with your dorado?

Caught my biggest catch of the day yet…. But didn’t get to eat any as it was full of parasitic worms… Yuck!

To finally find tropical paradise….

Catching up with old friends!

With two of my South African buddies (from the old Fortaleza gang) minding a spot for me at an idyllic anchorage (how had they known I was coming?). 😉

Tourists take the cat from Kourou

Time to join the day tourists and explore… but only after I make myself a little more presentable… After all, there are certain standards to uphold, and the “wild man from Borneo” look hasn’t been too well received of late…

The wild man from Borneo?

Yes… the beard and long haired hippie look will have to go. I’m in France now… how odd… never really realized that France extended to South America…

So it’s back to European prices, the Euro, and speaking French… I’m not complaining…

It’s also back to good wine, more than one sort of cheese and bread that doesn’t disintegrate when you touch it…

My taste buds are already celebrating in anticipation!

Vive la France!

Goodbye Brazil…

A disintegrating Brazil

I’ve spent almost six months in Brazil, and despite there being so much more to see and do, I must once again weigh anchor and set sail to new destinations (to boldly go where no 23 footer has gone before…). It’s all because my visa is about to expire…. Darn!

But I won’t tire you with my incessant complaints (since surely you already know of the hard life I lead).

Arduous as it was, sailing to Brazil turned out to be a wonderfully exotic adventure, and even if I feel its conclusion is somewhat premature, I’ll console myself by admiring my many photos and by reciting an idiom or two on the ephemeral nature of good times.

I’ll stake some other persons reputation (since I’m still in the market for mine), by stating that sailing to Brazil and exploring it’s Northern coast is relatively easy. The sea swell is consistently slight (rarely more than 2m), the winds are relatively predictable (SE to E in my case, with the exception of the leg from Salvador to Recife) and the overall temperature this time of year (February to July) is a bearable mid to high 20ºC or so, (occasionally more, but no 40ºC scorchers).

Eileen has held up well in the conditions (three cheers for sturdy #9), and I’ve even managed to avoid “being” mugged (as opposed to “behaving” like a mug) while I was here!

What more could I fancy?

Sunset, Fortaleza Brazil

Well…. I didn’t count on having my bank account emptied by some unknown criminal who somehow managed to clone my credit card and deduce my pin code.

It would also have been nice to make at least one real Brazilian friend. Evidently it’s not so easy. I’m frequently antisocial (a hobby of mine), but somehow I managed to get the impression that the “well to do” of Brazil don’t readily mix with the yachting equivalent of “trailer trash” (unless they happen to have heart attacks), and the more “needy types” see gringos as nothing more than walking dollar signs.

So I leave Brazil with mixed feelings. Some good, some bad… but mostly good… 😉

Things I loved about Brazil included:

We love Brazilian beaches!

  • The white sandy beaches and remote island getaways. I’m thinking specifically about Gamboa! It was my favorite island anchorage, and the closest I’ve come (in Brazil) to finding “cruisers paradise”. It has the obligatory long sandy beaches, the beautiful friendly natives, inexpensive restaurants and night life galore (just a stones throw away in Morro de Sao Paulo). If the water were crystal clear and the anchorage just a little less exposed I’d still be there, but as not all the criteria for Shangrila are met, I’m still wandering aimlessly about the Atlantic.
  • The music and dancing… Salvador de Bahia is my pick for the best in Brazilian music and dance! Spend a Sunday or Monday night partying in Ribera, and you will surely agree.
  • I was going to say Brazilian bikinis but instead I’ll be brutally honest with you and go with “Brazilian bottoms” instead! Arguably an acquired taste, but I see a huge (or medium) market here for budding cosmetic surgeons… Too embarrassed to be seen in anything but a one piece? Why not have your buttocks adjusted to fit that tiny Brazilian bikini… Didn’t you know that breast implants are so yesterday… Today, a bum that says yum is all the rage! No? Well…. perhaps not… My mind seems to wander and I never seem to get past this last point so I’ll stop here…

Things I didn’t like about Brazil! Oh dear…I’ll admit there were a few…

Getting fat?

  • It’s either new or it’s all about to crumble! Yes, Brazil is a country of extreme contrasts and while I applaud the investment in imposing new real estate mausoleums, it appears that the “average Joe’s” house is going to the dogs… Evidently Brazil is in dire need of a season or two of British DIY television! Todays favela is tomorrows villa! You see… I have trivial solutions for everything! Give me a job in politics… lol
  • It’s all buy buy buy on easy credit! Apparently Brazilians are also readily warming to the idea that they can live like millionaires by borrowing like there is no tomorrow and by just working enough to service their debts…Do only sailing bums realize that the mantra should instead be… save save save and forgo that easy credit? Buy a small sailing boat with your hard won savings and then live like a million…. like a… like… hmmm…. like a homeless person? Maybe I’m the one that’s got it all wrong….

Happy to see me go?

Well, they’ve stamped my passport so I’m off… Next stop are the islands in French Guiana. A ten day passage if all goes well.


Bye bye Brazil.

I’ll be back…. but only if the girls remember to write to me…. which they never seem to do. 🙁

A sailors guide to Fortaleza

A skyhook for sailors ?

Don’t rely on skyhooks when visiting Fortaleza. Read this and save yourself time and money.

While I would like to take all the credit for gathering the following information, it was in fact a joint effort, with contributions from the many yachtsmen moored at Marina Park in May/June 2011.

Planeta Agua. Drinking water delivered to your yacht

I’ll start with the basics:
The water from the taps at the marina is of dubious quality (some days it flows yellow). Fill your tanks with it only if you have amazing filters or only use tank water for washing and showering.
Drinking water can be delivered to your yacht in 20 liter bottles (5 Real a Bottle). You can either catch up with the truck that delivers for the hotel 3 times a week (it parks just opposite the pontoon entrance in the morning) or you can give Ligou Chegou a call on 32121402 (the office), 30877972, 30941849, or 86861006.

Why they have so many phone numbers is a mystery to me but take note that they will also fill your cooking gas bottles for a fair price (3 Real per Liter).

The BR service station located near Marina Park Hotel

If you have trouble calling, their shop can be found as follows:
Walk across the freeway opposite the hotel (near the BR petrol station because the condemned buildings opposite are a hive for drug addicts, stay well clear day and night. Don’t take the stairs. Don’t take the bridge).

This is the road to take once you cross the freeway...

The road you follow to town is called Sem. Pompeu.

It takes you past a large mustard colored building (more on that later).

The bus station is behind the flea market.

Take a right (onto Rua Dr. Joao Moreira) and you will come across a bus station / flea market.
At the diagonally opposite end of this bus station square you will see fishing tackle shops (look for nets hanging outside).

You are getting close!

Follow the road (Rua Castro e Silva) and you will see the water bottles outside the Planeta Agua shop.

This way for the supermarket...

Retracing your steps to the square with the buses and flea market, take an immediate right and follow the road (Rua 24 de Maio for 2 blocks) to a small supermarket (on the left called Mercadinho Lene).

The small supermarket within walking distance of Marina Park

This is the closest to the marina. A couple of shops further up is a butcher.

The nicest (but somewhat overpriced) supermarket is Pao de Acucar, one street up from the night markets at Beira Mar.

Expensive, but you can find everything

It boasts free WiFi at the cafe inside (but no power outlets). Free Internet is a issue in Fortaleza. It’s 20 Real for an hour from the Hotel! Try the Internet cafe next to McDonalds for a better rate or buy a long range WiFi antennae for your boat.

You will find an automatic cash dispenser inside and to the right

The previously mentioned mustard building (with arched doorways) is a tourist center and contains many small shops. You will find a Bank of Brazil Automatic Cash dispenser here. Cover the keypad with your hand when using the cash machines in Brazil, two crews have already had their bank accounts emptied by thieves employing hidden cameras and card duplicators.

The first pedestrian walk crossing Sem. Pompeu.

If you follow the Pompeu road rather then taking a right to the bus station, you will reach several pedestrian only crossroads. Taking a left at the first or second will take you to the main square.

The only place to stock up on medicines...

If you need to stock up on pharmaceuticals the place to do so is here (on the side of the square with the taxi rank).

Hammocks galore opposite the cathedral

Head toward the obvious landmark of the cathedral if you want to buy a hammock (Fortaleza has the cheapest), and stock up on pet food or souvenirs. There is a post office here.

Varejao das Redes (the hammock shop where this lady works) is getting a free plug, so insist on a fair deal...

Diesel is purchased at the BR station just to the left of the hotel as you exit the foyer. You will have to carry your Jerry cans unless you are willing to part with 30 Real to entice a taxi driver to help.
A word on Taxi drivers. Make sure the meter is running when you catch a ride. Complain if it is not. It should be on setting 1 during the day and setting 2 at night. Otherwise agree on a price beforehand.

We all live in a gray? submarine...

Share a taxi to get your paperwork done as only the skipper needs to attend (must take crew passports).
For Fortaleza you visit 4 offices starting with the Federal Police, followed by customs, Health and the Port Captain. Wear long pants!! The same (less Health) on the way out. The officials are efficient and polite.
You can take the 52 bus to the Passenger Terminal where these offices are located (Look for a submarine conning tower as a landmark). Take the number 11 on the way back (2 Real per person per trip). Don’t walk!

Everyone hangs out here after sunset!

Going out you can book a free ride on the Hotel Bus which takes guests to Beira Mar (and it’s night markets). You need to reserve your place with reception. You can also catch this bus back (check times with the driver).

Note: There is an aquatic center opposite the night markets where divers can get their air tanks refilled.

Beira Mar is where everyone goes for their evening promenade. It also has the best beach (Praia do Futuro is a tourist trap, even though there is a free bus from the hotel, give it a miss).

Anchor opposite this new landmark

There is a new building going up (called landscape), and just opposite this development is a sweet day anchorage (03’43,404S 038’29.881W). If you get organized, 3 to 4 boats could anchor here indefinitely (in 3 to 4 meters) by keeping a rotating watch (to discourage night swimmers).

The beautiful people hang out at Boteco (on the western end of Beira Mar) opposite the pier, or at the Centro Dragao (great pizza there at Buoni Amici’s Sport Bar!).
Go to Pirata on a Monday night (Half price for guests… see reception), or take in a concert at Mucuripe (wild!). Too lazy? Don’t go anywhere… Some of the best concerts are held in the Marina Park grounds,in which case your entertainment is free.

I’ll leave you to discover the rest yourselves… Enjoy!

Plenty of “nuts” this side of the Atlantic

I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts...

What have I been getting up to of late? Not much, just chilling out on the beach in Fortaleza with my favourite refreshment…. I like it so much, I bought two!

Luciana loves her coconut

Nah, just borrowed it from one of the locals… Mind you she didn’t let go easily. Never thought I’d be jealous of a nut, but here in Fortaleza anything is possible. It’s a sailors paradise…

I found this bunch at the end of the pontoon one morning!

No not that kind of sailor… the yachting bum kind….

My neighbour Daniel on Goyave

Yes… otherwise known in Portuguese as a Vagabondo do mar. The locals are more likely to be seen on something like this:

You don't suppose the locals have all gone commercial do you?

While the Brazilian tourists pay 20 Real for a ride on the pirate ship… What a deal! They even get to go swimming on the other side of our breakwater…

Let's all go for a swim from the pirate boat...

I prefer to anchor across from the beach on Beira Mar.

Eileen of Avoca anchored off Beira Mar

It’s just a short swim or paddle ashore…

Day crew for Eileen on kayak duty.

and what all the cool sailing dudes in the know do…

I borrowed some South African crew members for the day!

The locals seem to be enjoying themselves…

It's fun in the sun at Beira Mar, Fortaleza

Despite the lack of surf…

No waves... What a shame... What will we do?

And even if they don’t seem to have any reason to be happy.

The natives sacrifice another victim to the tide...

Perhaps he saw this man coming and was wondering how to place an order…

No need to move... Everything comes to you at the beach...

It’s been a month of song…

A song from the crew of Ercolausa II

and dance here in Fortaleza.

Dancing girl at Pirata Bar

The ideal balance of entertainment!

Try balancing on a truck strap at the beach for entertainment.

Fellow sailors have been great company…

The crew on Out of Africa

We’ve all been well fed, dining in

South African potjie for all...

and out…

Yes... it's even here in Brazil...

Met many a local for a taste of the exotic,

Get your acai from Paris Tropical on Beira Mar

and mucked about at the pool…

Beware of the pool noodle...

Always safe under the watchful eye of INACE.

Do you suppose it's loaded?

Marina Park is an excellent stopover. Don’t worry too much that it’s been shrinking of late…

Sunken pontoons are lifted for repair

There is still plenty of room to park your yacht, or helicopter…

Another VIP comes... or goes...

and party time is just around the corner.

Went to an ASA concert at Mucuripe... Have T-shirt for proof!

You can’t help but like the place….. even if at first it feels like you’ve arrived on some other planet…

I come in peace.... Deposit coin here...

This is Eileen of Avoca calling it a day here in sunny Brazil…

I'm getting more famous by the minute...

See you all for the next exciting episode of… nut’s across the Atlantic.

Beauty and the beast?


The bride and ungroomed...

Dear mum,

Sorry you couldn’t come to the wedding but it was all a bit rushed… and…well…

If you believe that, then I have a wonderful commercial venture in which I’m sure you’d all be thrilled to invest…. 😉

No, its’ just another Monday night in Fortaleza and I’m at the Pirata Bar practicing my dance moves (all 3 of them) on the local talent. They are not impressed, probably because my boots have unwittingly been making numerous impressions on their dainty little toes… but they are very forgiving, and besides…

I have good reason to dance…

I saved someones life the other day. Really!

Not that I felt I had any choice in the matter, but now that I’m over the initial shock, I’m in a celebratory mood.


The professionals take over.

On a day like any other, I was relaxing by the pool with fellow sailors watching guests arrive for a wedding ceremony set in the sumptuous surroundings of the hotel garden. Quite a do, with no expense spared. Floral arrangements, grandiose chandeliers in fancy pavilions, cinema big screen for those not close enough to see the action, live bands, gourmet food and fireworks!

Except it was all too much for one rather overweight individual who sat beside me by the pool for a brief rest. His wife sought to make him more comfortable but within moments he had some kind of fit and she began screaming for help…

For what seemed an eternity, everyone just gawked. I thought it might have been an epileptic seizure in which case there was little to be done, but I’d seen that disorder before and this was definitely different. This must be a heart attack! The cries for help were answered by myself and a fellow sailor from South Africa. We moved the individual from his chair to the floor (no easy matter as he probably weighed 120kg), before realizing he was no longer breathing. His lips were blue and there was no pulse. What now?

I thought he might die there and then, and I couldn’t just watch it happen… Time to do something about it…. or at least try… Time to start mouth to mouth resuscitation.

In training courses I’d learnt of special sanitary devices to cover the mouth so that there is no physical contact with the patient, but who on earth carries one of those things in their pocket at all times? Well, if his wife kisses him regularly and still lives perhaps I’m not at too much risk…

With the heart massage delegated to my friend, I set about getting some air into his lungs… to my great relief and considerable surprise… it worked… and within five to ten minutes (but what felt like ages), while still unconscious,  he began breathing on his own.

I backed away and let others take charge while we waited for the medics and ambulance to arrive. Rather shakily, I ordered a beer at the bar and rinsed my mouth with it.

First time I’ve ever had to do that… resuscitate someone that is… plenty of experience with rinsing my mouth out with beer though…

Half an hour later he was wheeled into an ambulance and taken to hospital. I hope he pulled through, though I’ll never really know. Either way, I did all that I could.

Time to put the “do not disturb” sign up on the pool and just relax for a while now.

I'm taking it easy for a few days...

Rampant inflation in Brazil or special prices for visiting sailors?


Too expensive to catch the train?

While in Salvador I made note of Michel Balette’s correction of the daily mooring rate in Natal. Previously listed as 8 Real per day after 3 days “gratis”, it was increased to 35 Real in the corrections supplement.

By the time I’d sailed to Cabedelo, the price had risen to 42 Real per day irrespective of boat size (confirmed by a couple that had driven to the marina from Jacare). Approximately 20 Euro a day to use your own anchor and a quintupling of the price in just 2 years.  You’re not even allowed to use the swimming pool!

Apparently the Yacht Club of Natal (Iate Clube do Natal ) has priced itself beyond the budget of most visiting international yachtsmen. No one that I know plans to stop there.

I’m no economist and assumed I was finding myself in more expensive cities with each stop, but now that I’ve been forced to retrace my steps, I’ve witnessed the doubling of prices on everything from train fares to restaurant meals in a period of less than two months!

I suggest sailors visit Brazil before it’s no longer affordable.

On the road again…With a bad hair do…

Hair by unknown Bahian artist

It’s been a slow month blog wise. A month of waking up at 11am, wandering up to the restaurant for a habitual morning chat with Peter over coffee while waiting for lunch (breakfast for me). None of which makes for entertaining copy. Some of his sailing adventures would, but unfortunately they’re not mine to tell.

The best I can come up with is my cheap and nasty haircut story. For 7 Real (approx. 3 Euro) what was I to expect! I must however sympathize with the barber, because I don’t think he gets to deal with gringo hair very often. The problem is the heat! It’s so hot I’m almost always covered in a sheen of sweat. It appears to worry the locals (who by the way are not bothered in the least by the sultry conditions), when clients look like they’re about to expire of heat exhaustion at any moment, and I can see that the barber had my continued well being in mind when he turned on his counter mounted electric fan. What he failed to realize was the effect an artificial breeze was to have on my hair (think Bee Gees 1980s video clips).

A big smile from Rennany the receptionist

Judging by the look of the locals I suppose it takes nothing less than a tornado to displace a single hair on the head of a Bahian, but in my case a nearby fan is all that’s required to make impressive Medusa impersonations. As my hair danced every which way, so too did the barbers scissors. What a spectacle of non-choreographed live theater. I can only applaud his artistic interpretation of the abstract form so painstakingly rendered upon my head. I call it “The wild wail”. I’m afraid that the end result is too sublime for general distribution but here is a sneak peek.

"The wild wail" haircut....

Wandering aimlessly about town, burdening Renanny the receptionist with my life story or killing time by reading trashy fiction for hours on end doesn’t inspire much creative writing, so I’ve spared you most of the humdrum by remaining uncharacteristically silent.

Sailors leave their mark in the marina lounge

Fear not, this hiatus was but a mere aberration while antibiotics rid me of my lingering bronchitis. I’m now done with Salvador. I’ve left my mark (in the sailors lounge) and provisioned Eileen of Avoca with enough goods to carry me to new exotic locations. Regrettably a month of sedentary marina life has taken it’s toll on Eileen, and my boat isn’t going to take me anywhere before I rid her of the invertebrate reef that has taken root on both propeller and hull.

Scratching around for cockles at Pier Salvador

Swimming at Pier-Salvador is out of the question (unless your immune system is miraculously adapted to it in which case you can apparently withstand dining on the local shellfish), so I parked Eileen on the beach opposite to give her a last minute bottom scrub.

Parking Eileen for a bottom scrub

Two days later, sporting a new layer of red anti-fouling I was ready to move back to the marina and say my goodbyes. The maneuver itself was uneventful but before changing the topic, there is an aside about a simple shackle that I feel compelled to share with you.

The story of the wandering shackle

Many visitors to Brazil hear numerous horror stories of the crime and lawlessness here. Nobody is safe! I do not deny that bad things do happen but I’m beginning to wonder if the hearsay is a little exaggerated. The same way Australians take delight by striking fear in the hearts of English tourists with alarming tales of killer fauna (including illusory drop bears and hoop snakes), Brazilians boast of their rampart lawlessness!

I was looking forward to adding my own tale of the great shackle heist to the annals of Brazilian crime but was thwarted at the last moment by an honest “do-gooder”.

Being single handed, I’d left a large shackle (part of my anchoring tackle) on the seawall to facilitate departure when I motored back to the marina at high tide. Naturally I intended to fetch it as soon as access by the beach was possible but lo-and-behold, even before the tide changed it had gone astray!

Upon discovering this my rage was witnessed by a nearby fisherman and stomping about I half expected he had had a hand in its disappearance, but what was I to do?

Later that evening the same fisherman rowed up to my boat and unexpectedly returned the missing shackle. He’d asked around and found the tourist boat operator who’d “borrowed” it and took it upon himself to return it to its rightful (if somewhat falsely accusing) owner. Thrilled to have “my precious” back, I burdened him with beer in gratitude.

Apparently not everyone in Brazil is out to steal all your gear at the first opportunity…

Michel Balette on Izarra

With the help of Michel Balette I made last moment corrections to my copy of his Brazil Cruising Guide (isn’t it amazing who you run into when sailing. BTW Use this link to get the vital supplement), said goodbye to my friends on the French yacht Graffiti with a last meal before setting sail for northern Brazil. I should reach landfall in about a week.

Stay tuned!

Fun in Ribeira?


No, I'm still not sailing anywhere...

I’m still in Salvador Bahia, Ribeira to be precise, the “gringos with their camera’s aren’t welcome here” zone I’d written about earlier, but the atmosphere has changed.

Pre-Carnival, I felt somewhat unwelcome, but now that it’s the off season (and the rainy one) the locals seem much more relaxed and agreeable. Perhaps I just needed to stay a little longer in order to break the proverbial social ice.


The crew of Rhapsode

I’ve even manged to meet with and befriend what is a surprisingly rare site in Brazil, the English sailor! Peter (see photo) is stranded at Pier-Salvador marina due to severe weather damage. The bulkhead of his yachts mizzen mast cracked in rolling seas and must be repaired if he is to continue his journey.


Everyone needs to have a hobby...

While the tradesmen are at it (in a slothful frenzy evoking memories of my Brazilian banking experience), we make the most of the local beaches, where I enthusiastically conduct a study in comparative anatomy for remedial purposes.

You don’t suppose that all this solitary sailing has made me develop obsessive tendencies do you? 😉


Getting my 90 day visa extension in Brazil


Too busy to write home?

Days of blog silence with everyone assuming I’m having much too much fun to bother….

But it is not so! Well, not entirely so…

There hasn’t been an update for a while because I have been struggling to get over a relapse of the flu! All this leisure time doesn’t appear to be very healthy for you…or rather me…

Not that it is unusual to fall ill in Salvador. It’s common practice to catch a cold either before or after carnival, and since I always like to do things properly, I’ve done both. 😉


Laurence and Laura leave Salvador

Meanwhile all my marina friends have moved on, abandoning me (after generously restocking my vitamin supplement cabinet) to contend with my microbes in solitary confinement. I’m on the mend but have decided to stay put while the coughing lasts!


Healthy food thanks to these girls!

Besides, I’m well looked after at Pier-Salvador. I have the marinas chefs making me a hot lunch every day, ice is on hand to cool the rampant fever and I have plenty of paperwork to catch up on. Foremost being my visa extension.

It’s supposed to be easy… and it is…. except the process took me two days to complete. I was told that all the paperwork could be completed at the airport, and so, off I went…


Micro visa extension instructions

First up the federal police, where I was handed a minuscule scrap of paper detailing a web address, a code, and a price (see photo). Do you suppose they are trying to make savings on the cost of paper?

Next stop the airports Internet access point where I filled out a form on www.dpf.gov.br and had it printed for an exorbitant fee… No problem, just need to visit the bank and return with the receipt to have my passport stamped anew. Except I hadn’t counted on having to contend with the hurdle of Brazilian bank clerks vigorous efficacy.

Yes that last remark is intentionally dripping with sarcasm because for two hours I sat in stunned disbelief watching a parody of slow motion that passes for client service, and makes a slumbering sloth seem excessively hyperactive! Unsurprisingly, I returned too late to the federal police and found the office closed.

One three hour nightmare sardine can and sultry armpit sniffing bus ride later I was back at Eileen with the cheerful prospect of completing the process the following morning… I’ll spare you the bothersome details!

Life as a sailing bum

Here is one for the boys at the office....

Another life ago, when I was just starting my university studies, I would disdainfully look down on the unemployed and seemingly unemployable surfer types (“wax heads” to use the colloquial term) at my local beach. “Good for nothings!, Why don’t they get a job and do something useful with their lives? Social leaches the lot of them”…

Little did I know at the time, that the condescending attitude was in fact misdirected envy. It took a decade of wage slavery for me to realise that they had had the right idea.

Spend your youth playing in the surf and sand, chase women all day, keep fit, get a decent tan and live without a care in the world.

My long haired hippie looki

I suppose most of them are now married, in debt up to their eyeballs making mortgage payments and loosing hair worrying about how to set aside enough for their children’s education. So be it, they had their care free days.

Mine start now…

So what if I’m a bit older. At least I’ve acquired enough material wealth to forego the monthy queues for unemployment benefits! I was even able to afford something more substantial than a surf board to play with.

Time to let my hair down… thankfully I still have plenty… and become exactly what I’d belittled so many years ago. An itinerant, a bum… albeit one with some means.

I guess it’s my turn to be looked upon with scorn… or unrealised envy. 😉