L O G B O O K - by John Philp


MON 14th FEB - Tau is anchored off the Marina Park Hotel in Fortaleza, a city of just over a million people in northern Brazil.

Fortunately we’ve discovered a boat yard next door to the hotel that will weld the crack on our main boom, long overdue for repair. Tony and Sefo spend the afternoon dismantling it in readiness for repair.

We eat an entertaining dinner on the famed street at Iracema Beach known for it’s picturesque sidewalk restaurants and bars. Brazilians speak almost no English at all, and as none of us speak Portuguese ordering the meal is a thirty minute affair using hand signals and gestures, some French, a little English, and the odd guess at what we are ordering.

TUE 15th - First thing in the morning Sefo and Tony trundle the boom ashore to the workshop in the dinghy. The rest of us go shopping. Kristy heads off to the internet cafe to correspond with her teachers back at the International School in Suva to determine what her next batch of schoolwork is. The rest of us tease her - “Be good at school, don’t fight with the other kids!” Or “Kristy, it’s 8 o’clock you’re going to miss the bus!”

The breakwater which embraces this marina isn’t quiet adequate for the job of blocking swells from entering and though the swell is small it is enough to roll Tau about for much of the time we’re here. Looking astern at Denis on the Swiss yacht - ‘Water Witch’ I notice him passed out on his hammock on the foredeck sleeping off our late night in town last night. The swells are pitching him from side to side severely. He evidently isn’t in any condition to care this morning.

WED 16th - Scott and Jean fly out early this morning for Sydney via Rio. Michelle also leaves us. She’s been invited to sail with the South African yacht ‘Cha Cha’ - on it’s way north to Fort Lauderdale. We will meet up with them in a few weeks in Trinidad.

FRI 18th - Tony clears customs today in readiness for our departure from Brazil on the weekend.

SAT 19th - At first light while the wind was light we haul up the anchor and motor a short distance over to a floating pontoon at the marina so we can take aboard fuel and water. We manage to time it so that we get caught in a heavy tropical downpour. It is so warm that we don't mind.

Once we’ve completed this we are free to go play! Kristy, Lydia, Tony and I take a taxi south to Beach Park - a fun park famous in Brazil for it’s water slides. The most amazing of them is a crazy drop called ‘Insanity’. This is how it works - you climb a seven story structure. With your heart in your mouth you slide a couple of meters down a gradual slope then hurtle over a precipice - airborne for a second, then speed almost horizontally down for 41 meters before the slope becomes gradual again and deposits you in a small plunge pool. At the top it feels as though you are being launched into the sky, or more precisely - flying to your death! The sides on the slide only extend up a couple of feet, heightening the sensation that you’re going to fall off it and go splat on the ground below! They say you attain a maximum speed of just over 100km per hour on ‘Insanity’! Watching someone go down the slide it’s almost impossible to identify who it is - all you see is a fast moving blur. Crazy, crazy. We noticed half of the people who walked up seven flights of stairs to the top of Insanity came back down, not having the courage to take the drop.

On our return in the afternoon Tony and Sefo ferry the completed main boom out to the yacht and spend the evening re-attaching and setting it up.

SUN 20th - At dawn we head out for our first stop in the Caribbean - Barbados. The wind is light from the north.Shortly we are passing through oil fields in 50 meters of water. They look strange - practical but ugly creatures that look out of place here in mid ocean. The wind is still light and we motor on. Scattered showers range across the ocean delivering welcome relief from the scorching sun that bakes everyone on deck.

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