Wednesday, June 13th, 2012
Wednesday, 6 June 2012
Yesterday I had to reset the stern anchor. The wind had picked up and with the incoming tide we had swung too far over. When I set it originally the tide had also been rising making it difficult to position the kedge far enough aft. I waited for the tide to turn and let out the main anchor chain to get closer to the stern anchor. I thought it would be a quick job. How wrong can you be? It was windy, (15 knots?) and by now the tide was running out fast. The Fortress anchor seemed impossibly difficult to raise even using the windlass. At last it was visible and I could see what the problem was – it was horribly tangled in the heavy chain of the main anchor. Not possible to simply unwind it. It would be dark soon and I wanted to reset it before the tide turned again. I worked at it from the dinghy but everything was immovably jammed. I had to tie a line lower down to the main chain and try to raise it to take the tension off the snarled up mess. Without a windlass it would have been impossible for me to do. Eventually this ploy was successful but it was slow going and by the time I’d sorted it all out it was dark and I was utterly exhausted, but happy to still have all my fingers intact. There are times when it would be useful to have a bit more muscle power.
While wrestling with ropes and chain I felt grateful that I had opted to sail north from Buenos Aires and not south to my preferred destination of Tierra del Fuego. I doubt if I have the stamina for singlehandedly rowing four lines ashore, battling against williwaws in freezing temperatures, each time I needed to anchor in the fiords. And then having to reverse the process when leaving. And all done quite smartly before the anchor drags. Not on my own. No. At least here it’s warm and the situation is merely inconvenient rather than dangerous.
Monday, 11 June 2012
Zeca returned the repaired boom on Friday and I spent a day fiddling about and painting it. It looks good for another 10,000 miles or more. I decided to take a break on Sunday as it had stopped raining. A chance to do some sightseeing.
I had suddenly become famous, as the local newspaper had printed a prominent feature about me and my travels. I didn’t feel comfortable being the focus of so much attention.
I set out fairly early and walked across the peninsula to the beach leading to the old Portuguese fort. A cool onshore breeze kept things comfortable. The beach was packed. A heaving, screaming, eating mass of humanity, roasting in the sun or sheltering under an almost solid forest of beach umbrellas. The safe, sheltered lagoon, bobbing with colourful inflatable toys with children attached. Music blasting from a thousand portable sound systems. People were enjoying a relaxing Sunday at the seashore.
I picked my way carefully through the throng, paddling along at the water’s edge. Beyond the reef streaming white horses were being whipped up by the fresh breeze. At last the crowds were thinning out. Too far to walk from the parking lot carrying all the equipment for the day. Now it was just the occasional fisherman.
The massive fort sprawls threateningly as it looms out of the light haze at the far end of the lagoon. The tide was running out making it possible to approach across the wet sand. It has a magnificent situation at the end of the reef, guarding the entrance to the protected anchorage in the Rio Potengi.
I continued along the official approach to the fort, which would be the only access at high tide, but heading back up river towards the high bridge that swoops across to Redinha on the opposite bank. I wanted to walk across and look down on the scene.
It was a bit of a slog, but worth the effort. I could see the tiny speck that was Speedwell anchored with the small cluster of other boats at the club. A large Navy base takes up most of the space at the entrance. Anchoring off the base is prohibited.
When I reached the other side I carried on walking to the pier and riverside beachfront at Redinha. If I’d thought the fort side was crowded, this was in another dimension. At times the music was painfully loud. By now I was getting thirsty. No shortage of beach bars and restaurants here. Only problem was finding an empty table. At last I found a likely spot where the decibel level of the music was bearable and settled down to watch the promenaders while sipping away at a ‘cerveja bem gelada’. Most of the bodies being paraded were on the fleshy side.
I had a delicious plate of fish and crispy macaxeira chips. A starchy root vegetable which is better than the local potatoes. Feeling mellow but a bit weary I decided to catch a bus back to the other side.
Wednesday, 13 June 2012
I’ve just finished re-rigging the sail. It was a slow job getting it all together again on Speedwell’s narrow and windswept deck. Frequent rain showers meant that it took me nearly three days to do it. Now it’s all together again, the boom looks healthy and I feel more comfortable having a seaworthy boat again. Weather permitting, I hope to leave at the weekend.