We are now happily anchored in Grenada after completing an approx. 3,255 nautical mile passage from south of Rio. To put that distance in perspective, it is 3,000 nautical miles from New York to London, England. Oh, and that doesn’t include the 1,100 nautical miles we had already done from Buenos Aires to Angra ( south of Rio). It was not all fun and games, more about that in a moment.
Three nights out of Buzios is when the S--- hit the fan, so to speak. When cruising up the Brazilian coast you have the pleasure of sharing the waters (mostly at night of course) with Brazilian fisherman. Their boats mostly do NOT show up on radar ( although they are well lit) , they trail LONG ( several kilometre) nets and when hailed on VHF radio they may answer but only in Portuguese. If I never see another faffing fishing boat on my night passages again I will die a happy girl! At the end of the afore mentioned net is a flashing strobe light, not easily seen . One now needs to decide which f---ing fishing boat this light belongs to (remember it could be a long way off and distances are very deceptive at night). Anyway, on this night Ian and I got it all wrong and ended up running over the net. Yes, our engines were running at the time which means that the net got wrapped around the props, resulting in a clunking sound. We immediately put the engines in neutral and were now dead in the water but attached to a very long net. The offending fishing boat was along side us by this time with lights on and yelling at us in Portuguese. There was nothing else for it, Ian, my hero, put on snorkel and mask, took flashlight and knife, and went overboard to cut the line. It was dark, the sea was rough and the boat was bucking all over the place, my stomach still gets knots when I think about it, not a happy time to say the least. Ian eventually got the line cut free and we were on our way but since the line was still wrapped around the starboard side prop we now only had one functioning engine. We had two more days/ nights , mostly motor sailing into the wind, dreading seeing more fishing boats ( which we did) before arriving in Salvador. Here we initially anchored in the calm harbor and Ian went over again and was able to remove the remaining line from the prop. Now with both engines again functional we moved into a marina and docked.
|Old city, Salvador|
We had several much needed days of rest and boat related work here before again heading out . A three day/ night passage with lots of sailing this time, it’s so peaceful with the engines off. We did see more fishing boats at night but no more high seas drama! Our last stop in Brazil was the small town of Cabedelo. Nothing much to report about the town but we did a good grocery shop, laundry got done and we filled up with diesel again.
After officially checking out of Brazil ( no small feat, three different stops required) we started what was to be a twelve night passage to Tobago. Our longest passage to date by far. I would describe it as crappy. Ian describes it as horrible! The weather was not the problem. We actually didn’t have enough wind most of the time, although we did have a few days when the seas were quite “ bumpy”. It was the monotony of each day. Do your two hour watch, sleep, prepare food and eat. I actually found I lost my appetite and I generally love to eat. It took a real effort on my part to occasionally cook up eggs for breakfast and to heat up a meal in the evening. Doing anything other than the most basic of housekeeping was out of the question. When not on watch I basically spent my time lying in bed, which explains my lost muscle tone. Oh, it was hot too! Anyway, twelve days of this was way too long for us. The last two nights we had multiple rain squalls with winds in the 30 knt range and then finally , on a very grey cloudy Monday we arrived in Tobago, yahoo!
The boat (Antares 44i) handled beautifully for the whole trip. We had very few malfunctions and those were for the most part easily fixed. When seated in the cockpit you are high above the water so that the waves do not seem threatening at all, they just roll under you. The full enclosure cockpit keeps you warm and dry. If not for the wind speed dials you’d never know it was blowing 30+ knots out there. I must say, I felt very safe on Zooropa.
Our advice to new Antares owners who are considering doing the trip from Argentina to the Carribean. Don’t. If you really have a yen for passage making then hire Pikin and do the Buenos Aires to Angra stretch. Take a few weeks to cruise Isle Grande, it really is a beautiful area. Then hire a delivery captain and crew and have them deliver your boat to, wherever, while you fly home and await its arrival. You then fly down and meet your boat and happily continue with your new cruising life.
Throughout our time in Brazil the Brazilian people were a pleasure to interact with. Everybody was friendly, happy and very helpful. I know we made a mash of their language ( actually using a lot of Spanish) but they appreciated our efforts and in turn tried their best with English. The scenery was stunning, especially at Isle Grande and Rio.
Writing this now two weeks after our arrival in Tobago we are feeling much more positive about our future cruising plans. The boat is no longer up for sale!!!