We’ve had a comparatively quiet time since the beginning of the month. We have been to Brian’s  Granja again and met a French man who runs a farm some 200 miles inland which has a herd of European  cross milking cows and produces French style cheese. Unfortunately he didn’t bring any with him …… the cheese here is pretty rubbery and tasteless. Marcus still reigns victorious on the pool table and I enjoy a few swift lengths in the swimming pool!

Jobs on the boat are constant, but with the exception of the fridge breaking down, there’s nothing too urgent! Refrigeration is a ‘dark art’, but luckily there is a French guy called Patrick……….

Patrick, Fridge Man extraordinaire!

Patrick, Fridge Man extraordinaire!

………who is a retired naval refrigeration engineer, so he kindly came and helped us to get it going again. We had already cleared our very clogged filter of the tiny mussels that love this river environment, checked the water flow as far as the compressor intake and removed and replaced every hose going, but there was still a blockage in the cooling  coil and it all looked very tricky with copper gas piping with warning signs on. At this point we called in Patrick, who brought his expertise (and more!). It took  him about 10 minutes to locate and solve the problem…….a disintegrated anode that had dissolved and blocked the coil. Two lessons learned……a) how to clear a blockage…… just pucker up and blow!…. b) all water cooled fridges have anodes somewhere, so look for them and replace regularly!

We now have our fridge working better than it has ever done and we can make ice cubes, which is a must for the G&Ts and the Caiparinhas.

As I said, Patrick brought more than just his expertise aboard….. he brought the flu! Poor Marcus was knocked out by it for a week and is still taking it easy. We have decided it is about time we left for the north and have just had our bottom scraped to rid us of the garden that has attached itself over the last 3 months. We have made a To Do list that gets longer the longer we stay and with no big jobs to tackle during Flu Week, I have been busy with my sewing machine and have made a replacement mosquito net for around our bed……a must in these river anchorages if you don’t want to suffocate and sleep with all the hatches closed!

Mozzie net mark II

Mozzie net mark II

I’ve also made a couple of hatch covers to help cut the direct sunlight in the saloon

New hatch covers.......very proud!

New hatch covers…….very proud!

and a pirate hat for little Arthur’s  7th birthday.

Arthur's Pirate hat.

Arthur’s Pirate hat.

In a sea of synthetics, I have finally found a material shop that sells cotton material to make some dresses, so I am about to venture into cutting patterns and trying my hand at creative couture!

Haute couture chez Island Kea!

Haute couture chez Island Kea!

 

On Thursday 19th, my Mum celebrated her 95th Birthday!!

One of the down sides of this sailing life is that I couldn’t be there to celebrate it with her. On the bright side, she had a wonderful time with my sisters, Libby, Liney and Jackie and the dog Mable and with the wonders of the internet I was able to send her a card by email….

Mummy's 95th birthday.

Mummy’s 95th birthday.

….and got photos of the day sent via facebook. It’s only when you’re out here that you realise how important a good wifi booster is on the boat…….we haven’t got one yet, so skype calls are sporadic and frustratingly unreliable. A Bullet booster is top of the shopping list for Trinidad!!

We went to Sabadinho on Saturday to say our farewells to our friends there.

Dancing in the square at Sabadinho

Dancing in the square at Sabadinho

Vane's World Cup themed manicure.

Vane’s World Cup themed manicure.

Marcus wasn’t really up to it …. we came back early and he refused a beer!!!!

On Tuesday I had a baking lesson with Michael. He is a German graphic designer, but initially trained as a baker. Unfortunately he discovered that he was allergic to flour and had to give it up, but he still has the skills and makes amazing cakes! He gave me several recipes and I made an orange and lemon drizzle cake that was delicious…..I shall have to ration cake baking to once a month, or I’ll have to buy a new wardrobe!

Tuesday was also the festival of St John. Great piles of wood were delivered and dumped in the street outside houses in the village and built into tall bonfire towers right outside the front doors. It’s a shame that it rained all day, but most of the fires were lit and the village was a mixture of fire steam and smoke.

The marina's bonfire waiting to be lit n São Paulo's day. Too wet and windy on São Joao's

The marina’s bonfire waiting to be lit n São Paulo’s day. Too wet and windy on São Joao’s

Nicholas and Camilla worked all day to lay on a special Sao Joao buffet for us Yotties.

Nicholas and Camilla after the successful feast.

Nicholas and Camilla after the successful feast.

They made traditional Sao Joao food with goat, beans, pumpkin and several maize based dishes and they decorated the buffet table with palm leaves.

São Joao's decorations.

São Joao’s decorations.

The feast ready to be devoured

The feast ready to be devoured

Goat stew mmmmmm!

Goat stew mmmmmm!

Gathered for the feast.

Gathered for the feast.

It was a real feast and we left very slim pickings!

The children had mini bangers to throw on the floor.

Arthur and Gabriel had mini bangers to throw on the floor.

A calm (ish) moment with Gabriel.

A calm (ish) moment with Gabriel.

On Wednesday we woke to more rain. It comes as quite a shock, even though we know this is the rainy season! We decided to borrow the car and go into Joao Pessoa to get all the bits we need to finish the sun canopy and do a ‘bulky stores’ shop at the super market ready for our departure next week. We also arranged for Rambo and his mate to come and scrub off the ever growing garden that has attached itself to our bottom.

Things were going well………too well!

When we were in the first shop, Marcus realised he didn’t have his wallet. We hadn’t been anywhere else, except the petrol station, where he had paid and put his wallet on his lap. We realised he must have dropped it as he got out of the car. Of course it wasn’t there when I went outside to look! The CCTV camera showed a customer going out of the shop, picking it up and walking up the street with it in his pocket…….. R$300, 2 credit cards and a British driving license better off.

The shopping trip was abandoned and we returned to the marina to cancel the cards ……. a very frustrating task, given the skype connection that breaks up and drops in and out. Luckily Claire and Allan asked us on board for a beer and a cup of tea, which helped clear the air and settle Marcus’ annoyance at himself.

With credit cards stopped and in a much happier mood, we spent Thursday with Allan and Claire doing our ‘preparing to leave’ shopping. Hopefully we will not be leaving too long after them, but we will have to see how long we have to wait for the new cards to arrive. We rounded off a much more successful day with a four course meal on board for Allan and Claire and Claudia and Michael.

Dinner on board with Michael, Claudia, Allan and Claire

Dinner on board with Michael, Claudia, Allan and Claire

 I can’t believe that it is now June. We have been here almost three months and are still learning about the place and it’s people. On the 2nd, it was our 30th wedding anniversary and we spent it in Joao Pessoa strolling around the old town. There are four monasteries built on the top of the hill, all commanding views over the river. This is the Franciscan one and the oldest. At one point the Dutch invaded and turned it into a fort for a while.

Site seeing in the old town.

Site seeing in the old town.

 After doing the tourist bit, we were hungry and set off in search of a restaurant. We found the Villa do Porto, perched on the crumbling cliff above the old port (long since silted up). All of the surrounding buildings are in various states of decay. I can’t help but think that in Britain, this would have been as vibrant as The Lanes in Brighton.

Pearl Lunch.

Pearl Lunch.

Pondering 30 years......... "I'd have got less for murder."

Pondering 30 years……… “I’d have got less for murder!”

 Marina life is a very sociable. We all tend to sit up in our cockpits and passing friends pop aboard for a visit. Before you know it you have an impromptu party! Last Friday there were ten of us eating, drinking and making merry.

The Kitchen Faries

The Kitchen Fairies

Impromptu party!

Impromptu party!

 Saturday we went to the Sabadinho concert again and I left Marcus imbibing while I went window shopping to try to find a simple cotton dress…… a fruitless search in a Brazilian fashion world of synthetics. By the time I returned we had been invited to go to Lito’s mother in law’s house for lunch the following day. At 11.30 Lito’s uncle arrived at the marina with the car, that had transported the whole family a couple of weeks ago, and drove us to the area called High Heaven.

The family house for four families.

The family house for four families. Note the Palm tree in the yard.

 Lito’s mother and father in law had 10 children and adopted an 11th. Most of them have not moved far away and are living in the neighbouring streets in the area. Three of the children and their families live here. The house has grown outwards and upwards as the family has grown. I have given up trying to work out who lives where, as everyone comes and goes and the relationships are confusing ……… the children mostly seemed to be siblings or cousins, but some were aunts and uncles too!

Fantastic view from the upstairs apartment.

Fantastic view from the upstairs apartment.

 We were taken up into the upstairs apartment of one of the sons. The houses with their red roofs cascade down the hillside towards the mangroves. The lakes are man made and are shrimp ponds, so a lot of the neighbourhood is involved in shrimp production. They also harvest a lot of small soft shelled crabs from the mangroves, which are delicious, but require the crab fishermen to wade knee deep in the thick black mangrove mud………a hard way to make a living.

Down the stairs from the modern apartment is the communal outside cooking and washing area, where our hostess, Maria, had prepared lunch.

Cooking in the back yard.

Buffet in the back yard.

 The garage space in a lot of houses is used in the same way we use a conservatory, but here we only need shade not shelter! The chairs and tables and the television, I suspect have been moved out ready for the World Cup……..the yellow and green balloons and bunting I’m sure weren’t put up in our honour!

Eating in the garage space........not a big radiator, but a sliding garage door!

Eating in the garage space……..not a big radiator, but a sliding garage door!

 The children are delightful. They all get on together and are not at all demanding or attention seeking. These two were fascinated by my hair, the shape of my nose and the colour of my eyes. I just thought they were beautiful.

Beautiful girls.

Beautiful girls.

 

So happy and contented.

So happy and contented.

 The two little girls in the first picture came up to ask me if I wanted to see the baby, and took my hand and led me down into the lower flat under the stairs. There in the middle of the room were these four week old twin girls.

The four week old twins.

The four week old twins.

 They too are contented and we didn’t hear a cry from them all afternoon………..maybe it’s all the attention they get!

Aaaaah!

Aaaaah!

 We had a great time. Everyone is so welcoming and full of fun and laughter, although deep conversations do go on. I was talking with Victor and Lito’s older brother about his work, when he asked me how I would define friendship!…….If I had had a little more time to ponder I would have included our experience with his family!

Our hostess in the middle.

Our hostess in the middle.

 Once lunch was over, a ladder was produced and propped against the lean-to and I was asked to climb up and pick some coconuts! Horse riding last time and ladder scaling this……..do they know how old I am!!!

Earning our keep.

Earning our keep.

 …………..do they know how scared Marcus is of heights!!!

Always a photo opportunity!

Always a photo opportunity!

When we got down from the tree we went out into the street and joined in with the game of Piggy in the Middle that was going on. What started with 5 or 6 of the family’s children, developed into a neighbourhood kids game, with the two Gringos. Again, all good natured and intrigued to meet us and speak the little English they knew. It is sad to think that some of them will fall foul of the drug dealers and crime that make this area one of the most dangerous in the city. Lito’s uncle came to pick us up at dusk, as he is not happy driving these streets after dark. A sad situation when we thought of the warmth and friendliness we had experienced and clearly exists here by daylight.

Playing in the street.

Playing in the street.

 Having got a taste for adventure, we set off with Allan and Claire on Tuesday, to explore the waterways that form islands and channels through the mangroves opposite the marina. with picnics and cold beers packed we set off on our adventure.

Swallows and Amazons.

Swallows and Amazons.

 We stopped off at a small beach and were joined by this crab fisherman. He appeared from the mangroves with sacks bulging with crabs and a pot of smoking charcoal. At first we thought that perhaps he cooked the crabs on the way back to market, but it turns out that the smoke keeps the mosquitoes away while he is digging for crabs.

Crab fisherman, loading his catch.

Crab fisherman, loading his catch.

 We set off again up stream with me at the helm!!!!

At the helm ...... a rare photo!!

At the helm …… a rare photo!!

 We pulled the dinghies up near the fishermen’s punts and took a short walk through mangroves, then back to the boats for lunch. As we were marveling at how rich the land was and how, with a little knowledge, you could feed yourself from the flora and fauna…… a large punt pulled up, the driver got out carrying a crate with silver foil containers and walked across a stream on a fallen tree trunk. The other side of the stream, in the bushes, we suddenly noticed a man with a bicycle. Our boatman unloaded the crate onto the bike and the man rode off…….so much for self sufficiency!… this was a ‘Take Away’ service in the middle of nowhere!! Presumably the boats belonged to unseen workers……maybe at the shrimp ponds that lie behind the mangroves?

Our lunch stop.

Our lunch stop.

 Fed and watered, we set off to try and find our way back to the main waterway. After one dead end, where the channel looked promising and then gradually narrowed to the point where a fallen tree blocked it completely, we managed to find our way out.

Allan and Claire. Intrepid explorers.

Allan and Claire. Intrepid explorers.

 Emerging from the mangroves, we found we were almost in Joao Pessoa…5 miles south of Jacare… Luckily we had timed the trip well and were coming down the river with the tide.

So wild and yet a stones throw from Joao Pessoa.

So wild, and yet a stones throw from Joao Pessoa.

 …..and so the Famous Four returned safe and sound from another adventure, tired and happy and ready for afternoon tea and cake aboard Moonstone.

International Rescue.

Haywards are Go!

Having watched Camile’s progress for two days, it was clear that the wind pilot must have broken and she must be hand steering. We could see from her track that she was ‘heaving to’ (basically stopping the boat from sailing) to get some sleep and drifting with the current.
On Thursday morning she was making good progress towards Jacaré, but had another 30 miles to go and we knew she must be exhausted. Bries and Sonia had been monitoring her position during the night and at 09.30, Bries came aboard for the rescue mission.
Sonia, our shore support team, relayed Camile’s latest positions via the radio and we motor sailed our way towards her.
To begin with Camile had no idea we were on our way, but when she was close enough to land, she phoned her mother in France, who then emailed Sonia with Camile’s mobile phone number. She was very emotional when she heard that we were coming out to meet her.
At 12.30 we came up to her

Approaching 'Yol'

Approaching ‘Yol’

and, with some deft manoeuvring by both captains,

Ready for the transfer.

Ready for the transfer.

managed to transfer Bries onto ‘Yol’.

One giant leap for Bries .....

One giant leap for Bries …..

Once aboard he straight away took the helm.

Safely into the cockpit

Safely into the cockpit

Camile was so relieved. Three days with very little sleep, no chance to prepare food and unable to decant water from her big water bottles, she was happy to hand over control.
One more close pass and she took delivery of her lunch in a plastic box.

Happy to take a break from the tiller.

Happy to take a break from the tiller.

We decided to sail on as far as the entrance to the river and then take ‘Yol’ in tow for the last hour up the river. We hoisted our sails and had a great sail, following Yol and letting them know what course to steer through the rocks and shallows on the approach to Cabadelo.

Entering the river at Cabedelo.

Entering the river at Cabedelo.

It was so good to be out at sea again after two months of being tied to a pontoon.
15.30 …….Just by the docks, we passed Yol the towing line we had rigged up

In tow!

In tow!

……..and took her in tow back to Jacaré.

As we approached the marina, Bries untied the line and held onto the tow, looking like a water skier with a rather large board. Marcus headed towards where Yol was going to moor up, Bries let go the tow and Camile steered perfectly alongside. Everyone was there to greet her and lend a helping hand.

The welcoming party.

The welcoming party.

16.15 ……. Our job here was done! We quietly slipped back into our mooring.
All in a day’s work for Haywards International Rescue.