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January 4, 1999

Recife to Jacare, Brazil

So here it is� the start of a New Year� or rather it was four days ago. Zamindar is anchored outside Iate Club do Natal, after sailing here from Jacare overnight. Chris and I brought New Year in on Boa Viagem beach in Recife. We almost didn't even make it there as a Swan 65 anchored nearby us earlier in the day, and we did of course have to go over to borrow some brown sugar. I did of course introduce Chris as my engineer, and the skipper instantly gave him something to fix whilst I got to know the people on board. I introduced myself to Iona who was on deck and the very rich owner instantly informed me that I was talking to his wife! Later, of course, we discovered that she was really just his girlfriend, and in time, she and the owner disappeared off to have dinner, and Chris I found ourselves on the beach with beers amongst the population of Recife. Midnight struck as fireworks exploded over our heads along the coast, and we toasted in 1999 and sang the words we knew of 'Auld Langs Aign' dancing in circles. After a few more beers we decided to start walking back towards the yacht club and I guess we called it a night fairly early at about 02:30, but it was good.

We'd decided that the next day would be our last in Recife, so we got up and began getting the yacht ready to leave. It took us about two hours to clean the bottom of the dinghy, then we took Zami' down to the other yacht club to fill up with fuel and water. It was only when we arrived and tied up, though, that we discovered that it was totally closed and even the water was turned off. So back to Pernambuco Yacht Club we went and Chris made a couple of dinghy trips of water. We paid a visit over to the people on the Swan and half arranged to meet them for dinner, then went off to try to find Armando, the yacht club manager so that we could say goodbye to him.

Later in the evening, Chris and I find ourselves in an expensive restaurant, Porcao's, eating lots of food, and getting drunk on Caipirinhas while I drink near frozen Stoli's! We finish our meal and Chris pays the bill on his visa card, about fifty pounds, then we go over and join the Swan guys. The owner dude, who is a bit mad and crazy is listening and we both agree to having the same careers. He says, 'I have nothing else to do so I'm just sailing!' Apparently, he was a publisher, and he sold all the educational books to Mexico's schools. His girlfriend asks me if I know how to play dominoes. Afterwards we all share a taxi back to the yacht club where their dinghy (a big Avon supersport I think with a 40hp Yamaha) is and they thunder us downriver to where ours is tied up.

The following morning I waken to hear that Chris is up early, hours early in fact, and is probably getting things ready to leave. I stay in bed until my alarm goes off though. The crew from the Swan come over on their way to the shopping centre to wish us a good trip while telling us how perfect the wind will be. We'd prepared everything the night before, and we simply start the engine, uncleat the mooring buoy, and we're off. Armando appears, racing along the breakwater in his pickup as we motor gently out of Recife and our home for the last five weeks.

By night-time we're entering Cabedelo, and finding our way along the channel. We anchor once inside the river, and go to sleep. We awaken late the following morning, and slowly, after coming to life, we haul anchor and begin to motor upriver. It feels a bit like being in the Amazon, the low banks and the thick green vegetation clinging to them, as we pass white sandy shores with palm trees. We find Jacare Yacht Club, and after anchoring, head ashore for a coke and some lunch. One of the reasons we'd come to Jacare was to find a guy called Brian Stevens who is English and owns the boatyard there, and we wanted to pick his brains for harbour information up the coast. It was Sunday, however, and my hopes of finding him working weren't too high, but my luck happened to be in. After lunch we soon found the boatyard, and after asking some employees I was walking towards someone obviously un-Brazilian. What he gave us in harbour information turned out to be less than I was looking for, but he did let us check our e-mail on his PC (one from Walter, and one from Andrew urging me to go up the Amazon). Chris and I were very low on cash as we hadn't managed to make it to a cash machine before leaving Recife, but nonetheless we decided to go to one of the waterfront bars for a beer and watch the sunset. This did not turn out to be as simple as we had hoped though. The sun had long since faded and we were still very thirsty. Though the bar was fairly packed, I was in a duff seat with some irritating, possibly faggot, guy trying to practice his English seated next to me. We voted and went back to the boat, enough was enough. I sat down to look at the nav for Natal, and soon realised that if we left in daylight we would arrive in darkness. I'd seen enough of Jacare, and got what I was looking for, so I suggested to Chris that we leave three hours later, at 10pm. He was up for it. I grabbed some sleep, and we found ourselves motoring down river under a full moon bound for Natal.

January 12, 1999

Bound for Fortaleza

I�'m sitting at the chart table this evening & we�'re bound for Fortaleza. Chris is sleeping, or at least trying to sleep, and we'�re happily motorsailing along at 7.5 knots. We met up with everyone on �Lola�, the Swan 651 again in Natal, and we�'ve been spending quite a lot of time with them. Today Antonio, the owner, offered Chris a job on board, as he seems to be planning to get rid of Jack and Amy (his current crew), and fly down his racing skipper instead. I half expected it, and told Chris that if he helps me get the boat up to Trinidad, he should fly back & take the job. I don�t know if he will though, or if Antonio will have changed his mind about the whole thing, or what. But either way, I�'m not worried. Things have been a bit stressed between Chris & I lately, mainly because we�re spending so much time together, but we spoke about it a bit today, and things seem to be much more relaxed between us now.

January 15, 1999

Arrival in Fortaleza

We arrived here in Fortaleza yesterday, and after trying to reverse onto the pontoon for close on an hour with a side wind, finally warped the boat in. Chris and I were a bit disappointed to find that the Marina Park Hotel didn't quite live up to our hopes. Lola was already anchored outside when we arrived, and Jack called us up on the VHF. Later we helped get Lola into the berth next to us so that they could wash the decks and fill up with water. Jack really showed us how to do it. He dropped anchor short and we took a line with the dinghy over to the pontoon and I winched her in.

January 18, 1999

Antonio gets beaten by Brazilian Police

We spend most of our evenings with Antonio & Jack nowadays, either having dinner or going out drinking. On Saturday night the four of us went out to party after Antonio cooked us a Spanish omelette on board Lola. So we�re all getting quite drunk in some bar along the seafront when Antonio disappears off looking for women. Unknown to us until early the following morning when he appeared on the boat to ask us to pay for his taxi, Antonio had gone to a bar with some girls he�d met, they�d stolen his money, and left him. So unable to pay the bar bill, he went in to see the manager. The manager calls the police, who turn up, handcuff Antonio, and proceed to give him a beating. They steal the Swiss Army knife he has in his pocket, but leave the expensive Omega he�s wearing thinking that it�s crap.

January 20, 1999

Life in Fortaleza

It�s been quite a pleasant day today. Although I didn'�t get back from partying in town with Antonio until 6am, I didn'�t feel too bad when I got up in the afternoon. By then, of course, Lola had left for St Luiz, but it did mean that I could manage to get some things done. I took a taxi to the launderette to collect our washing, then Chris & I went for a McDonalds & paid a visit to the Internet access place they have here. It�s the cheapest that I�'ve ever found, only costing the equivalent of one pound an hour. I couldn�t stay too long though as I had to get back for a massage in the hotel at 8pm. Although it was by a guy, it still felt good to be pampered as he massaged me with soap and got me really clean.

In the evening, Chris & I took a taxi into town and had dinner in an Italian restaurant. We decided to walk back to the hotel, but on the way all the streetlights went out as Fortaleza got hit by a power cut just as we were going through one of the dodgier parts of town. We met a couple of people on the way, but they were too friendly to want to mug us.

January 24, 1999

Fortaleza to Belem, Brazil

It'�s Sunday evening & we'�re bound for Belem. I'�ve been lucky enough to find Steve Wright on World Service tonight, and apparently it'�s raining heavily in London this evening. It feels a million miles away as Steve describes the view out of Bush House on the Strand.

We'�re bound for Belem tonight. We were bound for Sao Luis, but just as we were about to enter the river last night, the engine started overheating, and unable to rely on it in the strong currents we would find, we had little choice but to skip Sao Luis and head onto Belem. Unfortunately to get out of the bay, we had to sail close-hauled into a force 6 for eight hours, which was not pleasant when we were all prepared for a day ashore. We both felt a bit seasick as Zamindar crashed through the waves. Now, though, we'�re back to civilised downwind sailing, and it finally feels like we�re making progress along Brazil�'s coastline. In Belem, I have to decide whether or not to head up to Trinidad in time for carnival. We�ve got almost four weeks left, so we could make it, but Antonio wants us to go up the Amazon with him, and then he'�s invited me to go racing on his racing yacht in Mexico� so let�s see what happens.

January 25, 1999

Entering the Amazon River

We'�re now only a few hours from the entrance to Rio Para, one of the subsidiary rivers of the Amazon. I�'ve just been looking through the Autotide program and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was able to calculate tidal data for entrance and interim ports on the river. I was even happier to find that according to those times we should be going upriver with the tide. We still seem to be having some problems with seawater not coming through the exhaust outlet. Chris again stripped the engine down this evening, and changed the impeller once more and then it seemed to work, but whether this has fixed the problem or not remains to be seem. Anyway, we have the engine running right now and we plan to keep it running until we arrive at Belem. I�'m not too happy about entering the river at night, but there'�s a moon tonight and I think we should be safe enough, especially with these tidal predictions.