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Sailing Letter, December 2015

January 7, 2016

After a couple of days at anchor we decided to get a mooring in the Mindelo Marina. The wind was not strong, but the swell in the harbor made it more uncomfortable than staying at anchor. However we wanted to stock up on food and water before our next, longer, sail further west.

We stayed until the 8:th of December before clearing out and leaving for Fernando de Noronha. We had to wait for the calm weather over the ITCZ (inter tropical convergence zone) to reduce so we could set sail. 1320 nM by engine was not an option! Days were spent with shopping groceries and water, eating good food (e.g. langoustines) and listen to some more Morna music.

After fueling up with diesel we set off. We boomed out the genoa and covered the part between the genoa and the main sail with a small 10 sqm sail. This reduced the rolling from side to side. It worked fine! Peter’s weather check took us first to the south west, then directly south and after that south west again. By this maneuver we added 200 nm extra distance but passed the ITCZ where it was narrow and with only 12+12 hours of engine use. Total time spent was 9,5 days, which was fast compared to others cruisers. The wind was very stable and with no big waves to bother about. Unfortunately we did not have the moon with us so the nights were rather dark with some lightening and squalls of rain closer to the equator.

We spent the days reading, watching for whales and other animals and fishing. We did not see many animals. It is rather empty “out there”. We saw plenty of flying fish and some Liras and Petrels, but that was about it. Not many ship either. But, we managed to catch some fish: a Yellow-finned Tuna, a Bonito and the finest of them all a Blue Marlin. The Marlin was so beautiful that we tried to release it, but without success. However the meat was delicious! We filled the freezer with 8 kg.

2 days south of Cape Verde we started to see plenty of seaweed drifting around. Huge areas covered. We think it was the Sargasso seaweed that we have heard about, but never seen before. We have heard of smaller sailing boats that almost got stuck in this rather thick stuff. The seaweed disappeared when we came closer to the equator, which we passed December 15 with 296 nM remaining to Fernando d N. As almost always we had to enter the anchorage in darkness. We used radar, plotter and a torch. In the lamplight I saw what I thought was a rather big sheet of plastic….until it moved away. It was a large sand colored squared Ray!

The anchorage holding ground is a mix of sand and stone, 7-17 meters deep. We moved in closer to the sea shore the next morning, after enjoying a coffee together with a flock of +100 Long-nosed Spinner Dolphins and Frigate birds diving for food. Marvelous!  The check in was rather easy, with Customs, Marine Police and Immigration in one spot. Everybody was very friendly and helpful. We were seedrv coffee and a free ride by beach buggy up to the bank in the nearest village.

In total we spent 3 nights at Fernando d N, walking and snorkeling. Due to the waves we had one really clear snorkeling tour, when we saw some small Stingrays close to the shore. The island is green with a few roads and small villages. On the east side there is a beach with turtles. We did not go there and heard a week later that a person had lost an arm by a shark just a week before we were at the island. HU! The only negative about this island was the very expensive anchorage fees. We paid around 80 USD per day.

The evening of December 20 we started our 230 nM trip to Jacarè on mainland Brazil. We had to enter the river at 9 in the morning to reach the rising tide. Since we were too quick we had to reduce sail in the early morning, but at 9 we entered the Paraiba River and went some 5-6 nM upstream in rather shallow water, to the cozy marina in Jacarè.

Here we are the only “foreign” boat among all French sailors. The marina is driven by 2 French guys so I guess that it is natural that they are in majority. We had heard a lot of good words about this place from fellow Swedish sailors, and they turned out to be true. We are enjoying the rich nature, the nice people and the family feeling here. One of the owner (Nicolas) made a Christmas buffet for all of us and we spent a nice evening mixing English with the very little French we speak. We felt really included in the French community.

Checking in here was less difficult since we had cleared immigration at Fernando d N, but it still took 3 hours with a lot of confusion due to language barriers. We have also had some trouble receiving money from cash machines since not many of them take “foreign” cards and also have a rather low limit per day. After 2 days struggle with buying a telephone card we had to give up due to our cards not working and cash not allowed and actually we were expected to have a Brazilian id. Fortunately we had some Euros we could exchange until we found the bank that could handle our Visa and Master Cards.

Food here is good and really cheap. We have visited the local market for vegetables and fruit and also bought some fresh meat. (We have still plenty of fish left in the freezer). The meat is not as tender as we are used to, but fillet is cheap and you can always marinate.

We have walked north and south on the beaches to the east of Jacarè, almost all the way in to the big city of Joâo Pessoa to the south and Cabedelo to the north. Usually we take a train ride which costs 0.5 Real (1 SEK, or 0.1 EUR).
The water is not clear so we have not done any swimming, however the water temperature is approx. +29-30 degrees. A couple of days ago we took a small river boat across to the other side of the river and walked up to a small village with a ferry back to Cabedelo. This west side of the river is more rural, with farmland mainly used for fruit. Mango, you can pick from under the trees along the road. We saw a lot of different birds and small lizards and the villages on that side seemed to be more clean and well maintained than those on our side of the river, where the exterior is a bit “rough”.

We now have sunrise at 6 and sunset at 18, which makes us start early in the mornings and go early to bed. The climate also takes a bit of getting used to. The water temp in the river is +31-32, the air is +30-35, it is half clouded with rain now and then and it is humid. It is so humid that you are constantly wet. But we still enjoy being here. Since we are thinking of going to French Guyana and Suriname we better get used to the heat and humidity. After fixing gas, a new tablet PC to Eva and a new hard drive to our main laptop, we are now ready to move north. We will stay here a couple of days more, then set sail for Natal and maybe some other Brazilian anchorages before clearing out of Brazil.


  • We tried some small crabs which were filled with crab meat and then gratinated. Very tasty
  • Fruit and vegetables of first class quality and very cheap
  • The Blue Marlin has been grilled, in stew, and minced into burgers with very good result. The tuna mostly eaten as sashimi


Here Brazil is green, with farmland around. Among other things they are farming sugar cane and we think it is those fields we see burning at night. Not a very pleasant smoke. It was a long time since we saw so many different and exotic animals, both fish, birds and mammals. We missed that on the Canary Islands and in Spain. New species for us have been:

  • Long-nosed Spinner Dolphin
  • Turkey Vulture with red head (sw. Kalkongam), Black Vulture with black head
  • Great Kiskadee: a 15 cm bird with brown back, white head with black stripes and a bright yellow belly. It is everywhere and presents itself by singing its own name
  • Sooty Shearwater (sw: Grålira)
  • Frigate bird (sw: Fregattfågel)
  • Cattle Egrett (sw. Kohäger), Snowy Egret (sw. Silkeshäger)
  • “waving” crabs: small with white waving claw and a bit bigger with red waving claw

Until next time,

BR, Eva &Peter


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