There is a young 21 year old French woman, Camile, who is about to set off single handed for La Rochelle. She arrived here over a month ago on a delivery yacht bound for Rio da Janeiro. While she was here she saw the little yacht up on the hard that had been struck by lightning

Alain's boat with it's lightening strike hole.

Alain’s boat with it’s lightening strike hole.

…..and was interested to know what was going to happen to it. The delivery skipper knew Alain, the owner, and contacted him.

After a quick conversation, Alain offered to sell the boat to Camille for €1! plus the outstanding marina fees and launching costs……so after finishing her delivery trip, she flew back here and has been readying the boat for her trip.
This week has seen the newly patched boat launched,

The launch of Yol and capitainne Camile.

The launch of Yol and capitainne Camile.

re rigged

Camile preparing to leave

Camile preparing to leave

and making her maiden voyage as captain.

And she's off!!

And she’s off!!

We have all been helping her and giving advice and any spares we think she might need.

On Tuesday evening we had a barbecue and everyone at anchor, moored and in the two marinas came to a farewell meal……a truly international evening with Danish, French, English, German and Belgian contingents.

Farewell barbecue for Camile.

Farewell barbecue for Camile.

Camile's farewell barbecue.

Camile’s farewell barbecue.

It is strange that we don’t have any Brazilians in the marina. The country is vast and many people come to the north for the winter sun, but there aren’t many Brazilian cruisers.

Having said that, we met a couple who were strolling down the pontoon on Tuesday afternoon. They are on holiday here in João Pessoa. Irvino has been sailing since he was a boy and has crewed on big boats. His wife, Fabiana, has started to sail in the last year and it was their dream to have a big catamaran in ten years time …… until we asked them onboard. Now they want a monohull in five years time!!!

Ervino, Fabiana et Moi.

Ervino, Fabiana et Moi.

They came by on Wednesday evening to ask us out for a meal with them……..unfortunately we had planned to entertain Camile and the French family with the two children for dinner, but undeterred they asked us for Thursday evening, which we gladly accepted. It is great to get to know Brazilians…..it’s so easy to just socialise with European Yotties and not really get to know the countries we’re visiting and their people. Having said that, we had a lovely evening aboard Moonstone on Friday and relived the music of our youth with Claire and Allan over a delicious lasagne and wine.

Dinner aboard 'Moonstone' with Claire and Allan

Dinner aboard ‘Moonstone’ with Claire and Allan.

 

Saturday …….. another afternoon at the Sabadinho concert in the square and another hazy evening for Marcus!

On Sunday we welcomed Lito and his family aboard……..Marcus had done such a good job of making sure they arrived at the right time, (because if they arrived at Brazilian time 9.30,(11 ish) we would miss the tide and not be able to go out) they arrived at 8.45!!…….. They were clearly keen not to miss the boat.
Lito brought his son and his sister along with her 19 year old son, his wife and baby, and her two youngest children, who were 9 and 10. Our resident interpreter, Vincent also came with Vané.

Lito and his crew sailing up the river. Lito's son at the helm.

Lito and his crew sailing up the river. Lito’s son at the helm.

Aboard and at home.

Aboard and at home.

Lito's niece and great-niece. Beautiful children.

Lito’s niece and great-niece. Beautiful children.

Victor, Airam, mother and baby.

Victor, Naira, mother and baby.

We had a great day and they were all very excited to be sailing. When we got back and safely moored up in the marina, we fed everyone and then spent the afternoon on the boat or at the pool. Copious amounts of canned drinks were consumed and the time sped past.

When it came to the time for the family to go home, Lito’s uncle arrived in his car to pick them all up. It was a bit like the old elephant joke…….
Q. How do you get four elephants in a mini?
A. Two in the front and two in the back.
In this case it was……..
Q. How do you get 9 of Lito’s family into a small fiat?
A. Seven in the back and two in the front!!

After having had a very sociable few days we’ve been taking it easy and catching up with a few jobs. We have taken delivery of our security grills and have bought a 12v car alarm and orange flashing light to go with them, so now we should be able to lock ourselves in at night, without suffocating, and from the safety of the cabin will be able to set off the alarm.
Marcus has spent the afternoon fixing the siren into the defunct hole in the instrument panel that housed an old GPS. It’s so loud that when we tested it, it hurt!
Any foolhardy thief will think twice about staying aboard for long and it should get the attention of fellow Yotties in a peaceful anchorage! The light will let our neighbours pinpoint us, so they know who to complain to about the din in the morning. With all this in place, we will now never have to use it!

Our intrepid single handed sailor, Camile, has run into some sort of problem 200nm into her journey and has turned back for Cabedelo. She should be withing 40 miles by the morning and we are planning to sail out to meet her and tow her in if need be.
Close to the coast the current runs north at a faster rate and the wind moves further into the south, so she will have to do a lot of tacking to try and make it back here without a motor. We think she’ll be exhausted and will welcome being taken in tow. We’re watching her progress on the computer and will mount our rescue expedition with a fellow French yachtsman, if and when we think she might be struggling too much………..watch this space for the next update!

 

The weekend before last we were invited to spend the Sunday with our Brazilian friends.

We picked Victor up from his home in one of Brian’s bangers……. It seems that when you have a lift, you automatically share your good fortune with others, so our next stop was to pick up Lito and then head off to Vane’s house to drop him off, and pick up another friend, before Victor took us out to Cabo Branco.

Cabo Branco. The most easterly point on Brazil.

Cabo Branco. The most easterly point on Brazil.

Cabo Branco is the most easterly point of Brazil and is a very low key affair compared to Land’s End or John ‘o Groates. Victor is a fount of knowledge and told us all about the Brazilian versions of Robin Hood and Maid Marian……..Lampao and Maria Bonita, who led a band of outlaws in this area at the end of the 19th century.

Marcus Lampao and Margie Maria Bonita!

Marcus Lampao and Margie Maria Bonita!

Behind the headland, with it’s shack cafe, lies a most unexpected masterpiece of modern architecture which houses a concert hall, film theatre and a scientific and cultural centre.

A floating glass hexagon .... so different to the other Brazilian architecture.

A floating glass hexagon …. so different to the other Brazilian architecture.

In the foyer to the concert hall there is an astounding piece of art work, documenting the development of Joao Pessoa since the indigenous Indians right up to the present day.

The History of Joao Pessoa

The History of Joao Pessoa

When we got back to Vane’s house we went through the security gate into a totally unexpected mini tropical forest. The road to her house is a dirt track, although it is in the city of Joao Pessoa. She and her late husband designed and built her house about 15 years ago.

Victor and Vane on the veranda.

Victor and Vane on the veranda with a glimpse of the garden behind..

Inside the house with a lot of Vane's artwork on show.

Inside the house with a lot of Vane’s artwork on show.

At the front of the property is a valley designated green belt forest, but directly behind her the developers have been allowed to build a twenty storey apartment block.     Unlike in Britain, where views are enjoyed by the house owner, the views are unseen by Vane as she has a ten foot high security wall separating her from her from the beauty and the beasts that lie outside!
We spent the afternoon chatting over a meal of fish, meat, beans, manioc and rice, which Vane must have spent all morning preparing. As it began to get dark it was decided that we should go to see some folk music and dance in the artistic quarter of the town.

A circle dance with dancers taking turns to show their moves in the centre.

A circle dance with dancers taking turns to show their moves in the centre.

The venue is the home of an artist who has opened his house to artists to display their work and he also invites local musicians and folk groups to present their music and dance.

A twenty strong group with just percussion and voices.

A twenty strong group with just percussion and voices.

It was a great evening and I managed to pick up the basic steps of the dances that originated among the slaves that worked the sugar plantations. There is a lot of government support for the African heritage brought by the slaves and shows a determined effort to narrow the gap between those of Portuguese descent and those of indigenous Indian and African lineage. Whatever the reasons for the music and dance, we had a wonderful time!!

My birthday dawned and we set about celebrating in Jacarė style …….very laid back!

We got the bikes out and went to a local buffet style restaurant for lunch, followed by a trip around the local builders merchants looking for hooks for the awning……….Marcus really knows how to show me a good time!!

After that we went back to the marina for an international boules competition with three French, four English, one Brazilian and a Dutch man.

Claire, Allan, Marc and Camille on the piste.

Claire&Allan (England), Marc&Camille (France) on the piste.

In the evening Allan and Claire, the other British couple, met us at the bar and then took us back to their boat, Moonstone for a birthday dinner and an evening of unfettered english. A fine way to celebrate 62 years.

On Sunday we were invited to go to Lito’s to a family party to celebrate Mother’s Day. He is one of ten children and they had decided to get together and have a party.

We went, armed with drink and a box of chocolates for the mother, only to find that their mother had died six years ago! We arrived by taxi and as Marcus directed the driver into Lito’s neighbourhood, he explained that this is one of the most dangerous areas of town. He was amazed when we asked him to drop us off and insisted that we take his card in-case we needed to call for help!

The prejudice is amazing…….yes, the area is poor and no doubt there are criminals that live there, but not everyone is a criminal. Lito’s family were delighted to meet us and made us very welcome, sitting us down at the table inside and plying us with food and drink.

Most of the family and neighbours in the street in front of their house.

Most of the family and neighbours in the street in front of their house.

It is difficult to say exactly how many people live in Lito’s house and who lives where as the family seem to have three neighbouring houses.

We met three of Lito’s brothers and four of his sisters and a lot of their children………all a bit confusing, but everyone greeted us very warmly and tried to talk to us. Luckily we understood enough to get by and there was a lot of joking and laughter to fill the gaps.

At one point a very drunk friend on a horse appeared, skidded to a halt and proceeded to give rides up and down the street

Pony rides with a difference.

Pony rides with a difference.

………I had a go, but Marcus declined!

By the time we left we had been adopted into the family, Marcus had been given two shirts and we had arranged for six of the family to come to the boat next weekend for a sail up and down the river!

The Eldest brother with his new brother Marcus sporting the football shirt he was presented with.

The Eldest brother with his new brother…….. Marcus (sporting the football shirt he was presented with).

 

On Monday the 12th it was Awen’s birthday, so we all got together in the bar area to have birthday cake and present opening. They had made two cakes, one for Awen and one for me with just three candles…..one blue one for 60 years and two white ones……we didn’t want to burn the place down.

Awen, Gabriel and Arthur   waiting for the paparazzi to be ready!

Awen, Gabriel and Arthur waiting for the paparazzi to be ready!

My turn....I had to be quick to beat Gabriel to it!

My turn….I had to be quick to beat Gabriel to it!

On Thursday, we did some more sight seeing and took a mini bus trip from the marina to see something of the interior of Paraiba and a cachaça distillery.

Our first stop was at a small-holding by the side of the road where we were given fresh pineapple and melon.

All the Manioca, yams, carrots and fruit are grown on about 2 acres of land.

All the manioc, yams, carrots and fruit are grown on about 2 acres of land.

It is amazing how much they produce on a small piece of land and how many animals they can keep.

Just two of the live stock.

Just two of the live stock.

We watched as this cow was moved into the traces of the cart. With a few words from the farmer and a couple of shakes on the chain around its horns, the cow knelt down, placed its muzzle under the yoke…….

Muzzle in lift position.

Muzzle in lift position.

…………slipped it up its nose and lifted the yoke high enough for the man to pop it over its horns, as it stood up.

Yoke up and in place.

Yoke up and in place.

I had no idea that you could train a cow!

You may have noticed that the cow looks like an Indian holy cow……..that’s because when the English built a railway in the north of Brazil they found their European cattle couldn’t cope with the climate, so they brought in cattle and workers from India. The legacy can be seen today.

Our next stop was A Lagoa Grande ( At the big lake) which is a large rural town, built around a lake.

The big lake of A Lagoa Grande from the church tower.

The big lake of A Lagoa Grande from the church tower.

It has some impressive colonial architecture and despite Marcus’ aversion to heights, we ventured up the church tower for a panoramic view.

Looking down on the theatre square and painted colonial buildings.

Looking down on the theatre square and painted colonial buildings.

The town has a massive market area which we discovered doesn’t open on a Thursday! Among the more striking shops in the high street is a coffin shop, just down from the church,

The Coffin Shop

The Coffin Shop

………the coffins are lined up like fridges……..as if customers are welcome to open them up and check out the interiors and try them for size.

Onward to the Cachaça distillery. We left the cobbled side road and headed into the country side on an unadopted dirt track. Cachaça is made solely from sugar cane and water and the countryside provides both. The white painted chimney of the Volupia distillery marked our arrival. The distillery consists of a big old steam engine that drives a sugar cane crushing machine…….

The fly wheel of the cane crusher engine.......pre First World War and made in .........

The fly wheel of the cane crusher engine…….pre First World War and made in ………

.....shipped here in 1948. It must have been old then!

…..shipped here in 1948. It must have been old then!

……….a furnace, that steams the crushed cane and then: the mash bins shed, the distillation room,

The distillery room with Nicholas translating for us.

The distillation room with Nicholas translating for us.

………the storage and ageing vats and finally the quality control room where the cachaça is checked for purity and the labels are stuck on by hand.

Into the 21st century!

Into the 21st century!

The restaurant and shop are clearly set up for coach tours in the brewing season,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

but we were the only people there for the tour and tastings.

Marcus was like a little boy in a sweet shop.

Marcus in the tasting room.

Marcus in the tasting room.

All the cachaça was free to taste and each jar contained different fruits that flavour the cachaça. Somehow he couldn’t quite decide which was the best!

A good meal and we're on our way again.

A good meal and we’re on our way again.

After having lunch in their restaurant, we left the distillery and set off for another large town, Araiea. The main tourist attraction here was a preserved 17th century house that belonged to the ‘owner’ of the town. Seemingly a very rich man who kept slaves. We had a guided tour, which thankfully Nicholas was able to translate for us.

The inner courtyard of the 'slave house'.

The inner courtyard of the ‘slave house’.

The outdoor slaves were kept in 5 small windowless 9’x9′ rooms opening onto the courtyard each of which  housed 12 slaves.

12 slaves were housed in this room.

12 slaves were housed in this room.

The more trusted household slaves slept on the next storey with fewer to a room, but still no windows. Although the altitude at Araiea means that the temperature is less than at sea level, it is still in the high 20s to low 30s

The gateway the slaves used to work the fields or to be punished on the whipping stump that was just to the right of the door.

The gateway the slaves used to go to work the fields or to be punished on the whipping stump that was just to the right of the door.

………the conditions must have been awful. Portugal was the last country to ban slavery, so this house would have been used well in to the 19th century.

We rounded off the week with a dinner party on Friday……. we invited Brian and Sylvia and Allan and Claire on board for dinner and served a really British meal of prawn salad, filet steak and rice pudding. It was lovely to be reminiscing about England and listening to all their tales of daring do. (Just to assure you that we didn’t ‘push the boat out’ with the filet steak…….it is incredibly cheap over here at about £10 a kilo……Bear that in mind Steve when you’re planning your route!)

 Life goes on very pleasantly!

We have extended our visas and can stay in Brazil until the end of July and are the envy of the other European Yotties here, who are only able to stay for three months. Their governments have signed the Shenden agreement that limits foreigners to three months so Brazil has reciprocated. One benefit from not having both feet in Europe!
Staying in one place for a good period of time means that we are making friends……both amongst our fellow Yotties and with the locals.

Vani and Vincent

Vani and Vincent

On Sunday last week we invited Victor, Vani and Lito to come and visit us on the boat. Victor speaks excellent English and is a fount of information when it comes to Brazil and the state of Paraiba. Vani is a retired nurse who now spends her time painting and doing pottery as well as writing and performing plays.

Lito sound engineer and welder!

Lito sound engineer and welder!

Lito is a welder by trade, but has a sideline in filming and recording the bands that play in the square every Sabadinho. He saw our bolt that holds up the saloon table and promptly measured it up and promised to make us a proper one in stainless steel!! After a lunch of my version of their tapiocas, (a bit like a filled pancake, but made with tapioca flour) they left us with an invitation to spend next Sunday with them all at Vani’s house.

On Monday we started work on our sun awning. A lot of thought has gone into it and a lot of trips to the local town to try to source the materials. The great thing about shopping here is that if you want some plastic material you go to the plastic material street where every shop either sells material or all the fixings and glues and tools you could possibly need.

Plans for the sun canopy

Plans for the sun canopy

More plans for the fixings.

More plans for the fixings.

Experimenting with the fixings.

Experimenting with the fixings.

After a few prototype efforts, we bit the bullet and rolled out the material for sticking. The problem we found was that with such a length to stick, the glue was drying too quickly in the heat, so we ended up sweating from the effort of fast spreading!

A BIG job!

A BIG job!

Glueing one of the short sides.

Glueing one of the short sides.

It took us a whole day to stick and punch the eyelets into place, but the next day we  put the batons into place and were delighted to see the principle works.

It works!!....fine tuning needed.

It works!!….fine tuning needed.

Since we’ve had the awning up, we have had strong winds and torrential rain so it’s had a baptism of fire! Once the wind settles down we will sort out the lines properly and put a few more eyelets into the design.

As I mentioned before, our fellow European Yotties have only three months on their visas, but their boats are allowed to be in Brazilian waters for up to two years, so several boats are left here whilst the owners travel to other parts of South America for the six months before they are allowed to return to Brazil. Our French friends, Marc and Janik have decided to lift their catamaran onto the hard whilst they travel. Getting it out of the water was a spectator’s delight! The first attempt ended in near disaster as the boat slipped backwards off the trolley just as it was emerging from the water……luckily there was no damage. The following day, with a few more ropes to lash it to the trolley and an even bigger crowd watching, they managed to drag it into the boatyard, despite one of the tyres exploding and the boat canted over and lurching forward on three good wheels and the rim of the fourth.

Lifting Marc and Janik's catamaran.

Lifting Marc and Janik’s catamaran.

Health and safety just doesn’t get a look in over here. There were two guys swimming under the boat to push it onto the trolley with two lines ashore pulling it into place. Directions were being given in English to the French crew and in Portuguese, by an Englishman, to the swimmers and the land line haulers and all of these shouted over the noise of the tractor….organised chaos!

All done by man power!

All done by man power!

Almost out......just before it slipped.

Almost out……just before it slipped.

On Thursday we decided to have a May Day barbecue in the marina bar. Nicholas and Camilla, who run the bar, lit the barbecue and joined us for the afternoon along with Gabriel, Nicholas’ son.

May Day barbecue.

May Day barbecue.

After the meal we got the guitars out and had a bit of a sing song…..my fingers are still sore…..it’s so long since I played, but with no Dan to play for us we had to make do with Sonia and me!

A wen and Gabriel

Awen and Gabriel playing board games.

Impromptu gatherings are great ………reminds me of the barbecues in Edenbridge!

Camilla and Nicholas.

Camilla and Nicholas.

 

As I said ……….life goes on very pleasantly!

Evening rush hour!

Evening rush hour!