L O G B O O K - by John Philp. Contact us : info@taufiji.com




COLD BEERS AND TRAIN SURFERS


MON 7th FEB - It is exceedingly warm here in Recife, Brazil - and humid! So muggy that Kristy escapes to the mall to do her schoolwork in the air conditioning.
The mall is the gargantuan Recife Shopping Centre; it has 460 shops, and ninety thousand shoppers pass through it each day.

Our friend from Fiji - Jean Underhill and her boyfriend Scott fly in from Sydney tonight to join us for a week.

TUE 8th - To escape the heat in the middle of the day we go to the movies at the mall. They serve cold beers in the cinemas here!

Later we check out the scene at the beach. In Brazil you never have to leave your spot in the sand to get refreshments. The vendors hustle back and forth in the hot sun carrying an endless supply of beer, coconut juice, ice cream, fruit, and coffee.

WED 9th - I watch the local street urchins on the promenade swimming and horsing around, teasing an old man who is fishing - he’d run after them and they’d scream and scurry away like so many little crabs. When a horn sounds signaling the coal train coming across the promenade the kids skip off towards it, waiting until it passes then climb aboard the last carriage and hop up on the roof. Then off they go down the line of carriages, jumping each one - little kids eight to twelve years old. They return ten minutes later and resume swimming. Three policemen watch unconcernedly from the shade across the road.

We eat a local meal ashore tonight at the yacht club. Brazilian food is like Mexican food without the ‘attitude’ - not so spicy and over powering. Later, the manager Christine takes us to a local nightclub hosting a kind of karaoke. The locals take it all very seriously and I suspect they are not impressed when the crew and a South Africa woman off another yacht get up to sing. Our songsters only last a couple of lines before they shuffled off the stage! It sounded like the four hundred Brazilians were chanting, “Get those foreigners off the stage!”

THUR 10th - We cast off at 9am, motored up the canal and out to sea headed north for Fortaleza 420 miles away. It’s a shifty breeze, around 15 knots, and squalls hit every hour or so bringing rain and thirty knots of wind. There are buoys all over the place at the edge of the shelf where the depth drops from fifty to two hundred meters. We guess that they have crab traps attached to them, or fishing hooks. It is looking increasingly like an obstacle course so lookouts are posted on the bow to keep a sharp eye out. We change course a number of times to avoid them, but still manage to snag two of them - shattering one set of buoys as they disappear under the rudder.

FRI 11th - It is fine at daybreak but transforms into rain squalls and fresh south east tradewinds later. There are many fishing boats, some very small. We pass a local South American Indian style sailing boat that is only twelve foot long, sans motor, built like a raft with no gunwales - the deck is completely awash. The three fisherman on it have barely the room to sit down on the vessel with their fishing gear and a couple of styrofoam boxes for their catch - plus they are twenty miles off shore!

SAT 12th - The sun is scorching this morning, winds south east 12 knots later changing to NE at midday. We are seventy miles from Fortaleza.

The sunset is stunning today. A cloud formation parading in front of the sun radiating shards of golden light like the spokes of a vast wheel. On either side the sky is a bluish green amplifying the green of the Brazilian mountains below. The sky all around and behind us reveal every colour imaginable.

A foreign port is always more mysterious entered in the dark : in the heart of the night we enter the port of Fortaleza amidst glittering city and port lights and set our anchor behind a small breakwater encompassing a shipyard and hotel/marina complex.

SUN 13th - In the morning Tony sullies forth to take care of formalities with the Port authorities. The obliging marina manager explains that the crew will be treated as guests of the swish Marina Park Hotel with full access to the swimming pool, showers, tennis courts, games room and sauna. By the afternoon we looked like we lived there! Lounging around the pool, playing backgammon and tennis and drinking cocktails with the crew off the South African yacht ‘Cha Cha’ whom we’d meet at St Helena Island.

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