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Sailing Letter January 2016

February 10, 2016

It is difficult to know what to write about, as to avoid repeating what Peter has already written in his blogs, but I’ll make a try.

First of all: for 2016 we have now started a new logbook, covering 10 years. We have been keeping this paper log since 1096 when we started to live on-board. It has given us some good ideas of how much you forget, and how quickly. Especially regarding the weather.

Looking into those notes I can now read that we have had approximately +30-33 degrees, mostly cloudy (some sunny half days), a lot of rain and humidity, day in and day out.

We set sail for Natal January 10th, a one night trip. Since we now were going along the coast, we had more trouble with the local fishing boats and had to keep constant watch. Of course they don’t have AIS onboard and since the boats are small, made of wood and the waves high, they don’t usually show up on radar either. Quite tricky! Anyway, we anchored close to downtown Natal at 7 o’clock in the morning. No mooring or pontoon available so I was a bit scared if the holding would be good enough for the change of direction due to current/tidal water, every 6-th hour, but we were fine!

As always, nobody spoke English at the marina office so we had some difficulties before finding out what to do, fill in, and where to go for the checking in procedures. Fortunately the taxi driver knew the places and we spent some hours with him going to Customs, Harbor office and Federal Police. To be checking out we had to see the Fed. Police once again to get the required stamps in the pass. That had to be done on a Friday since we were leaving on a Saturday. When all papers were filled in, they refused to stamp the passes the day before leaving and Saturday being closed, we found ourselves in a tricky situation. After some persuasion (and raised voices on our side) we finally got our stamps but had to “promise” not to leave the marina before leaving Brasil the next day.

Natal was interesting, however everyone told us unsafe around the marina (large “Favela” – poor district) so it was taxi to the beaches and restaurants. We did not feel like swimming since the water is opaque with sand, but to stroll along the coast and grab a bite to eat or a beer was nice.  We saw the Punta Negra with the biggest “ski slope” in sand that we have seen, so far (130m). We also visited the northern playa, with the Aquarium. Not a big Aquarium, but nice. Still raining “cats & dogs”.

Jan-16 we set Sail for French Guiana. The wind is “on/off”. Managed to see two Humpback whales between the waves.  Second night we found ourselves in the “middle of” some business done with a cable ship. They called us on VHF and asked for 7 nm free water, which we of course gave them. Very polite people!

The bumpy ride makes it uncomfortable and since we didn’t have as much diesel as we wanted, we decided to go for Fortaleza, even if we knew the town had a bad reputation. Anyway, after some struggle we managed to lay anchor with a line ashore in the “marina” at the 5 star hotel. We got mooring, free access to the hotel, bars and swimming pool, Wi-Fi, for approx. 20 Euros per night for 5 nights. The depth should have been OK but we used the dingy between the boat and the pontoons, due to the swell, and even so we touched the ground at low tide (spring) the last night.

We ate two nice dinners at the hotel and topped off with diesel: cans from the nearest petrol station. The area was not OK for walking so we did not see that much of the city. However, when Peter managed to fall during his jogging and damaged his wrist, we saw a lot of the hospital environment. Funny enough we asked the hotel for a hospital with English speaking staff, but there was none. Interesting experience.  People very friendly, and we managed to involve a lot of the nurses and doctors before we were ready. No broken bones for Peter, just 10 days of bandage to stabilize the wrist. PHU.

Jan-23 we set off towards French Guiana. Our idea was to test a relatively new marina in the river closest to Suriname (Saint Laurent, in the Maroni river). The sea was empty, as it has been all the way from Cabo Verde. A few birds, maybe a dolphin, not even trash, just empty. Of the few birds we saw, the Brown Noddy (a tern) was one of the more friendly. Two nights we had visitors from sundown to sunrise, third night the waves were too big for them to manage to land. You try it with swimming fins on your feet!

5 days later we arrived at the Il de Royale (Peter described it on the blog).We borrowed a mooring and slept well for a night with the company of yet another new bird, the Royal Tern. We regret not taking the chance to check out the island, but since we had not checked in we were formally not allowed. Without proper pilots for French Guiana and looking at the charts in more detail, we decided to skip the rivers and marinas. Around 2 meters depth at LW  is a bit too less for us so we went directly for Suriname River. At 14.00 we entered the river, still with tide against, and went upstream to Paramaribo, where we anchored at sunset. Found a nice place outside a Hotel, but stayed on board tired after the sailing. Looking at all the herons (white and blue) was nice of course. Next morning, in rain, we went the 10 nm up river to Domburg, where we now will stay a couple of weeks at anchor and mooring. A visit to the jungle is to be planned too.


New species for us have been:

  • Humpback whale (sw. Knölval)
  • Royal Tern (sw. Kungstärna)
  • Blue and White Swallow ( or Mangrove swallow: it looks like a mix)
  • Little Blue Heron


Until next time,

BR, Eva &Peter



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