Friday, July 20th, 2012
Thursday, 5 July 2012
The Space Centre was going to launch a rocket later in the day and the islands had to be evacuated. I had planned to leave at noon in order to have a favourable tide to help me along, but the authorities were getting restless. A helicopter circled at mast height while the pilot made signals for me to leave. There were still people on the island waiting to be taken off so the urgency seemed a little over the top but I dutifully raised the anchor and set off against the current only able to manage a slowish 2.5 knots. There was no wind so the engine was getting some exercise.
The channel is dredged and very well marked with big lit buoys. The muddy water was about 4m deep. This was at almost low water springs. Some ominous rocks crowded near the mouth of the river and the current was very strong. The wind had picked up a little by now and it would have helped to have some sail up but this was no place to stop and get the sun awning down. I cursed myself for not being better prepared.
When we eventually made the turn at the entrance to the river, I was sorry to see that the friendly little club where I had spent a pleasant month in 2002 seemed to have silted up. Only one catamaran on a mooring. Rather a pity. I carried on a bit further and just around the next bend there is a good place to anchor in 3m outside the channel and quite close to a marina. I shall go ashore tomorrow to do some exploring.
I wasn’t sure what time the launch was scheduled to take place and was contentedly sitting in the cockpit sipping my sundowner, when loud shouting from ‘Voyager’, anchored nearby, woke me up to the fact that something was happening.
I looked up and saw the eye-searingly bright light of the rocket blasting up into the evening sky leaving a solid white contrail against the setting sun. It was quite spectacular and I scrabbled for my camera for a belated shot.
Friday, 6th July 2012
Rowing ashore requires careful timing to cope with the strong tidal flow of the river.
On my first foray ashore I was badly caught out, returning heavily laden and sweaty after a strenuous shopping trip only to find the dinghy high and dry in the mud and the ebb (against which I would have to row) still running amazingly strongly. It looked like I was in for a long wait. But then some friendly locals arrived and saw my plight. Helped me get the dinghy on the dock and relaunched where there was still water and generously insisted on giving me a tow behind their motorised inflatable. I was very grateful. They also gave me a lovely fresh coconut. Merci beaucoup.
There is a really good market a short walk from the jetty with reasonably priced, locally grown produce. The supermarket stocks refrigerated, plastic-wrapped, ‘European’ lettuces, carrots, tomatoes, etc, at exhorbitant prices. Imported from France. There is a much more varied choice of tinned stuff here compared to Brazil. Sinbad seemed happy with a neat little meal of ‘Terrine gourmande, riche en Saumon’.
After one of my trips ashore the fishermen on the jetty stopped me and insisted on giving me a big piece of one of the enormous fish they had just caught. We feasted for two days.
Sunday, 15 July 2012
On Friday I took a walk along the beach and down to the mouth of the river. Rather a good beach although the water is a bit muddy.
Approaching the river, some big slabs of rock stretch out into the water. It was low tide and I was able to walk a long way out. Interesting pools and some very odd fish that swim just below the surface and have bulbous eyes, rather like the old Porsche headlights, that are actually above the surface as they skim along.
Typically I had forgotten to bring my binoculars and there were some interesting birds foraging around the pools. Two of which were either skimmers or kingfishers with enormous beaks. Lots of herons and black headed gulls. Vultures on the beach keeping things clean.
It gets pretty warm here at times, especially at night when the wind drops. I rigged up a very effective ceiling fan using a computer cooling fan that I bought ages ago in Salvador. It’s almost silent and uses hardly any power so I can let it run all night while I sleep, which is wonderful.
I’ll probably be moving on to Suriname this weekend.