Ilha dos Lencois is on the seaward side of an archipelago (about 18 x 10km across) on the north coast of Brazil, consisting of 13 islands which nestle together closely. They are mostly mangrove covered and separated by narrow creeks that fill and empty twice daily with the 4m tidal range.
It took us 32 days to reach the Caribbean from Salvador, covering 2 200 nautical miles (almost 4 000km)! Along the way we stopped in Cabedelo and at Ilha dos Lencois, which was perhaps the highlight of our voyage thus far. The latter is a remote island a stone through off the north coast of Brazil, with unspoilt natural beauty and a small local fishing population that is untainted by tourism… the kind of place that we were hoping to ‘discover’ on our voyage.
It was a beautiful, peaceful morning, at first light, when we sailed from Enseada das Palmas on the north eastern side of Ilha Grande. We were rather sad to leave this beautiful area after having explored and enjoyed it for almost two months.
We had to sail directly east, past Rio de Janeiro, to round the cape at Cabo Frio before we could head north. We were grateful for good wind of 16 -20 knots from the starboard aft quarter to push us along but the sea was boisterous and lumpy with short, steep swells and breaking crests, the odd one drenching the boat. If it wasn’t for our canvas covers the cockpit would have been totally soaked. Karin got terribly seasick again and I got only about two hours’ sleep that first night, partly as I was by now unaccustomed to the noises of ocean sailing.
After exploring on our own for a few weeks we had some appreciation of the unique and beautiful area around Ilha Grande and were looking forward to the arrival of young family members with whom to share our experiences.
Pete had earlier sent them a shopping list and when we collected them at Marina Piratas in Angra dos Reis, he was embarrassed to discover that one full check-in bag had been dedicated to his boating needs.
We found what appeared to be the perfect anchorage; the shore of steeply rising Ilha da Gipoia a few metres away, covered with every shade and texture of verdant forest. Trees soar upwards, supported on tall, narrow, grey trunks, their foliage finally bursting outwards, finding light, and every nook beneath crammed with prolific, lush growth. Typically the land, clothed in profusion of green dotted with mauve, drops abruptly to a round bouldered shore lapped by the sea.
To me St Helena was just a dot in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean, a stop-over for westward bound sailors. However, since we spent ten glorious days there, it is engraved in my mind as a beautiful, diverse and interesting island, well worth a visit.
I will remember it for the warm and welcoming Saints, as the locals are called, the place where I swam with Whale sharks, set foot on the same soil as greats like James Cook, Charles Darwin, Napoleon Bonaparte, Edmund Halley, Captain Bligh as well as the Duke of Wellington… and hitch-hiked for the first time in my life. Sadly, it is also the place where I lost my precious drone with its GoPro camera before I could publish even a single drone video clip on this blog.
We had a very calm, peaceful and wonderful first day to our voyage, departing Cape Town on Monday, 29th January 2018. After the bustle of the past two years it was difficult to believe that we were actually on our way.
I’m sitting in Moondust’s cabin with the south easter blowing hard and rain pattering on the windows, which is very welcome in the current drought. Looking back on the past year of frantic activity it is hard to believe that we are now counting the days before our departure! We hope to set sail early January, but the nature of sailing is such that it is impossible to set a fixed date and time.
In the year since we took ownership of Moondust we have worked far harder than we have played. In fact, technical matters kept us off the water long enough for a mother rock pigeon to find her way into our mainsail stack pack, lay her eggs and hatch the chicks, only to have me haul them out by the handful whilst searching for the reefing lines when we finally went out again. On our return to the dock, both parents were clearly distraught at the loss of their chicks, which put us in a quandary – take them to World of Birds… or what? This was resolved the next day when Hendrik at the sanctuary informed me that they couldn’t accept birds due to bird flu. So, a carved-up wine box on our foredeck supplanted their home in the mainsail and their parents returned to feed them until they flew the nest a few weeks later. In the meanwhile we kept a low profile with the other yachties, as none of them would have welcomed two more pigeons messing on their boats!
Since the day we decided that Moondust was the lady with whom we wished to spend the next few years, we have had a busy time trying to get to grips with everything entailed in owning, repairing and preparing a blue water, ocean going cruising yacht. Most importantly, we’ve also had to become competent sailors…
For the delivery to Hout Bay, Pete and I flew up to Durban together with Colin, a family member who volunteered as extra crew. The moment that I laid eyes on Moondust I fell in love with her. Being a thirteen year old boat she shows the imperfections of a middle aged lady, but she also offers the comfort and intrigue of a mature woman.
With the responsibilities of direct parenthood nearing their end in Karin’s case and with me in the midst of my sixth decade, it was important for us both to continue to make the most of life before decrepitude finally arrived. I had had an eventful motorcycle trip up to Tanzania in 2014 which led to the acquisition and outfitting of a 4 wheel drive vehicle for a seven month overland journey to Ethiopia and back with Karin in 2015. After that great experience the question naturally arose – what next?