Toooeeet! Our friends wave us off when we leave Brazil bound for Suriname. After a couple of calm days at sea we have rounded the Northwest of Brazil and the wind has increased to a good six. With the Genua boomed out we ride the increasing waves with a fast 8 knots. I conclude together with the Reeds Almanac that the sea is in a near Gale state.
Seasickness and hard work
Bang! The Genua has been blown to parts. Pieces of the old cloth bang violently in the wind. Shit! I hurry along the deck, stuff the sail through the front hatch and set a new Genua. Katia is seasick so I have a lot of work to do; cooking, keeping the ship on course, inspecting the deck, emptying the bilge and those damned waves! There are giants of some six meters among them, so by now it is a gale force wind…
Two days later I am faced with a choice: stay on the ocean or follow the pilotroute along the continental plateau of South America. On the ocean it is dangerous to sail onto the continental plateau at a lee shore and with big waves. The transition makes the waves high and steep and fatal breaking waves may emerge. The wind has dropped to a six so I decide to ignore my feeling and go with the pilotroute. When it is too rough I will leave the plateau I say to myself. Stupid Stupid! Once on the plateau the seas turn steep and high and the crests start to break. Sailing off the plateau is no longer an option.
Danger by moonlight
It gets really uncomfortable and on a regular basis we hear the roaring sound of a breaking wave thundering towards us. The small transom of Hope receives the violence as she accelerates with high speed into the wave through. The moonlight gives the roaring crests a dangerous look. Fortunately the sea calms later that night and the next night we pass into the Amazon delta area. Pirate attacks are rising in Brazil so we extinguish the navigation lights to avoid detection.
Intercepted by unknown vessel
During the day we see a good deal of hammered boats, apparently fisherman. We avoid contact by early detection and use of the radar. But when I am reading a book in the morning our time has come. A boat is headed for our position at high speed as I see the bow plowing through a thick layer of foam. F***. I start the engine and change course. The vessel changes too. I change course again and damned the ship changes again. There is nothing for it, we have nowhere to go. I hide the Dutch flag and hope my shabby appearance and skin colour might help as I await the interception.
Waving and screaming
Seven man are screaming frantically on deck. Oh no… What are they saying? Fish? Eeeuh no thanks. Cigarettes? Booze? Oh is that all? Great! I hurry to get them a bottle of rum. The sailors toss me a line and they shuttle a big bin of fresh fish on board. I put the bottle of rum in the bin for them and shuttle it over. What is a good pirate without a bottle of rum aigh? They ask me a where I am headed and I snap a picture. Katia wisely stays below decks. They are very happy with the bottle and start celebrating. Friendly sailors and the fish tastes great!
Next week in Joshua’s blog… The doldrums and a big eater on the hook