Tag Archives: sailing

One week on Brazilian Ibiza

On the most southern-east point of Baia dos Todos os Santos (the Bay of All Saints) there’s a lighthouse. 40-meters-high tower perks on a steep hill – not the biggest on an island but the utmost. I take a trail to the left and soon from above I can see an ancient walls – it’s an old Portuguese fort, “welcome” for those, who come to Morro de São Paulo from the north.

More modern picture opens to my eyes as I follow a trail to the right. From there I can see famous beaches on the ocean side: the First, the Second, the Third… They have names but no one remembers them, just numbers.

There’s a quick way from a hill down to the beach – rapel. 30 reals for fast and safe “delivery” of your precious self. For experienced extremals like ourselves – of no big interest, so we save money for famous pastel.

Little tents that sell famous baiano dish pastel have occupied the right side of the Second beach. Pastel is bakery with various fillings inside: from palm hears to carne-do-sol (kind of meat). We choose a table on the corner and watch vacationers.

In summer (from December to March) Morro de Sao Paolo is overcrowded. People come to spend time on a beach, spend money (Morro is expensive!) and party. Parties start after darkness, when children are taken to numerous pousadas (any kinds of hotels/hostels), lined up along the coast, and clubs open their doors. When tide goes down, beach becomes a place for fun too.

Young people love Morro, where DJs play electronic music that can’t be found in Salvador “at daytime with a light” and that is conservatively dedicated to traditional dancing style axe.

But that’s at night. And now sun is shining brightly and time to chill myself. As long as we have come by yacht, we don’t spend time with a crowd but go to a tiny island – reef that is almost covered with water at high tide. Waves are turbulent here, and we can anchor just for a short time, just enough to have a look at local inhabitants.

I put a snorkling mask on – and meet many eyes. Eyes of tropical fishes that scurry all around. Together we are swinging in waves – right-left, roooouuund, right-left. It is so pleasant that in my next life I decide to be a fish near Morro de Sao Paolo.

During my journeys I always tend to search for places more deserted. I love to have solitude or, better to say, – companionship of nature. And that’s why the best part for me wasn’t Morro, tho in southern parts of it and on other islands of the archipelago we could find untouched pieces of nature.

Anchorages around the southern part of Morro de Sao Paolo don’t provide hope for calm sleep. All nights from our week-long stay on Morro we spent on a continent that is in 15 minutes by boat from an island.

Long sand stripe of Curral separates Southern Atlantic ocean from the river. Anchoring on a calm side, in less than 5 minutes walk across the narrow land we admired ocean tide. The only company for us there were… little crabs, with whom side by side we used to farewell the last beams of evening sun.

Curral S13 22.922 W38 57.574

Tip for sailors: going inside the straight to the right from Morro de Sao Paolo (if to arrive from Salvador), keep closer to the island and go all along till the small town with a beach, where many boats are anchoring. There’s a big sand bank on the right that is seen in low tide, but disappears under the water in high. Turn to the right after you will see a long peer on the island and head to a sand strip on the continent.

Tip for travelers: Boats from Salvador to Morro de Sao Paolo are pretty expensive. If you travel not on board a yacht, much cheaper way is:

  1. To take a bus from Salvador to Valença:

  2. Take a bus (or taxi-bus) from Valença‘s bus station (rodoviaria) to Ancoradoro – 20 minutes ride.

  3. Take a boat from Ancoradoro to Morro de Sao Paolo.

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Deep into the Canal da Itaparica

They say: “There’re more than 300 islands in Baia dos Todos os Santos (the bay of Salvador, Bahia)”. Well, if to count all minor rocks and reefs that almost disappear under water durinhigh tide, probably, there’re.

Anyway, the bay of Bahia is the second biggest in Brazil after Guanabara in Rio de Janeiro.

The biggest island is Ilha da Itaparica. It is well-populated and lays on the south-west of the bay. Its beaches on side of Itaparica are famous among tourists and vacationers. But we go to less crowded and more virgin places – inside the Canal da Itaparica.

From Marina Bahia in Salvador we first go in northern direction. A bit later turn to the north-west and make around the northern cape of the island. On the other side we enter a narrow straight (between Itaparica and the continent), where there’re no touristic boats with drunk youth and hysterically shouting music. Either very few motor boats, who hurry somewhere on the full speed, rising 1.5 meter wave.

We reach shallow part, and depth indicator turned on an alarm. Now depth won’t drop more than 3 meters.

 Many of beaches and even islands here are private. People slowly occupy every piece of wild nature, making it serve for their comfort.

The nearest point to stop after the shallow part is Itororo – deserted place with a waterfall right on a beach. The only inhabitants of this piece of earth are crabs, and there’s many of them! We scared the hell of them, going after dawn to take a shower under the waterfall.

Our previous attempt to pass till Itororo was unsuccessful. The straight is very shallow, and with a boat of 1.8 meters draft you need to know the way for sure.

For this time from dusty depths of the boat we digged out old maps of Bahia dos Todos os Santos.

They contain exact coordinates that, if being uploaded to MaxSea or other navigation program, show exact way. Here I share them with you, friends. Hope it will make someones life easier. Our previous attempts to find them in the internet didn’t lead to any significant results.

First – way from the town da Itaparica (on the northern cape) to Itororo. Coordinates are taken from the book “Roteiro Nautico do Litoral da Bahia”.

Nome do waypoint (name of the waypoint)
Coordenadas
(coordinates)
Distancia
(distance)
Curso
(course)
MARINA S12 53.249 W38 41.231 0 ft
ACMARI S12 52.998 W38 41.446 0.327 nm 320º true
TUBARA S12 55.312 W38 42.530 2.88 nm 205º true
CARAP1 S12 56.496 W38 42.951 4.13 nm 199º true
CARAP2 S12 57.069 W38 43.340 4.82 nm 214º true
SARAIB S12 58.038 W38 44.737 6.49 nm 235º true
IDACAL S12 59.570 W38 46.066 8.50 nm 220º true
PRAIHA S13 00.741 W38 46.965 9.97 nm 217º true
ITOROR S13 01.318 W38 47.015 10.5 nm 185º tru

To pass from Itororo to Caixa Prego we need to wait for low tide. Otherwise, it’s not possible to cross under the lines of electric wires and the bridge that contact the continent and the island. In maps this route marked “red” and has caution note that warns to watch out shifts of the tide and – even then – if the height of the mast allow to pass under the lines (ours is around 11m high).

Table of tides can be found here:

http://www.mar.mil.br/dhn/chm/tabuas/index.htm

From Caixa Prego there’s a way to cross from the Channel to the open ocean but the depths there are so little that we wouldn’t risk. If only with experience local on board.

But it’s possible to enter the river till the town of Jaguaripe – calm countryside place with an old church.

Nome do waypoint (name of the waypoint)
Coordenadas
(coordinates)
Distancia
(distance)
Curso
(course)
ITOROR S13 01.318 W38 47.015 0 ft
ITORO1 S13 01.797 W38 47.254 0.533 nm
FUNIL S13 02.659 W38 47.316 1.49 nm 184º true
JIRIB1 S13 02.798 W38 47.438 1.58 nm 221º true
JIRIB2 S13 03.220 W38 47.862 2.17 nm 224º true
JIRIB3 S13 03.470 W38 47.966 2.44 nm 202º true
JIRIB4 S13 03.997 W38 48.014 2.97 nm 185º true
CATU1 S13 05.310 W38 47.955 4.29 nm
CATU2 S13 05.716 W38 47.782 4.74 nm
CATU3 (Caixa Prego) S13 06.368 W38 47.981
JAG1 S13 06.834 W38 48.128 0.489 nm 197º true
JAG2 S13 07.718 W38 49.100 1.30 nm
JAG3 S13 07.450 W38 49.966 2.67 nm
JAG4 S13 06.774 W38 51.404 4.23 nm
JAG5 S13 06.782 W3851.753 269º true
JAG6 S13 06.372 W38 52.755 293º true
JAGUA S13 06.621 W38 53.488 6.39 nm 251º true

 P.S. I have maps and routes with waypoints of the whole Brazilian coast. So, if everyone is in need, I will be glad to share with you. Just drop me a message or a comment here in the blog : )

The river Paraguaçu: in search of pink dolphins

For one week my life had become implementation of ideals from “Emile” by Jean-Jaques Rousseau.

On Sunday we left the marina for search of pink dolphins that Amazon is also famous for. Here the place of their habitat is the estuary of the river Paraguaçu.

Around 1.5 hours took us to cross from Marina Bahia to the island Itaparica. The bay is not a sea and definitely not an ocean but even here there’s some wind. Weather forecasts claim winds up to 20 knots. But even 10 is  enough for good sailing.

From Ilha da Itaparica is close to the entrance to the river. By the way, Paraguaçu crosses the whole state Bahia, taking its origins in heights of the national park Chapada Diamantina.

The first night we spent in the estuary. The place carries the nameTubarão, which in portuguese means “a shark”. Probably, they inhabited this bay millions of years ago.

No sharks today tho, and the place is just charming: wrinkled brown rocks come close to the water of the river and are separated from it by narrow white ribbon of sand. The beach ends on one side with little village on the tip of a peninsula – just several houses. At early evening we didn’t meet anyone there.

Gold of the river Paraguaçu

The sunset reminded me of evenings in Atlantic, when the sky was overwhelmed by invisible battles, pouring clouds with scarlet fire. Idyllic picture was ruined by oil platform in the depth of the river.

“ If we build too much, we destroy”, – says the slogan of Greenpeace. Here’s an obvious example.

The next day we go deeper to the river, in direction of a town of Maragojipe. The regata Aratu – Maragojipe is well-known in Salvador. Then more than 300 boats in some years fill narrow river of Paraguaçu.

The town lives in its own pace, much different from its big neighbor. Along the pier went a horse carriage – it brought wood for a barge. On the square there’s old building titled Mercado. There was a meeting inside, lecturer reading something loudly, people holding paper booklets. Our first thought was that the old market was transformed in a church. Later we changed our minds to some professional meeting.

Brazil is very religious country. You can see the name of God mentioned everywhere: on shops, numerous churches that look more than ordinary houses, on walls and T-shirs. Even cargo cars carry banners, claiming “Deus e Fiel”.

Citizens of Maragojipe are not in a hurry. Everyone leaves his house in the evening to spend last hours before the sunset in relaxed and themeless chat with neighbors. Fishermen’ boats swing silently near the shore. In dawn turn to go home late saveiros – traditional boats of Bahia, used for sailing inside the bay.

Unfortunately, we haven’t seen pink dolphins – the main reason I wanted to make this trip. But, well, Amazon is waiting for me ; )

 For sailors here’s the information how to get safe to Maragaoipe. Coordinates are taken from the book “Roteiro Nautico do Litoral da Bahia”. Can be uploaded to any electronic navigation program a la MaxSea.

The bay of Paraguaçu (Barra do Paraguaçu – BRAPAG) to the town of Maragojipe (MJIPE)
Nome do waypoint (name of the waypoint)
Coordenadas
(coordinates)
Distancia
(distance)
Curso
(course)
BPARAG S12 50.155 W38 47.771 0 ft
BROQUE S12 51.070 W38 48.851 1.40 nm 229º true
PARAG1 S12 51.081 W38 49.580 2.11 nm 269º true
PARAG2 S12 49.728 W38 51.497 4.42 nm 306º true
PARAG3 S12 48.949 W38 51.860 5.28 nm 336º true
SALAMI S12 47.878 W38 51.559 6.39 nm 15º true
FRANCE S12 46.713 W38 52.442 7.84 nm 324º true
MJIPE1 S12 46.449 W38 53.076 8.52 nm 293º true
MJIPE S12 46.976 W38 54.339 9.86 nm 247º true

Atlantic crossing: the last dash

Day 12, 11h of November 2011

11-11-11 – symbol readers would point out that this day is special, ‘coz happens once in 100 years. Along with 10-10-10, 09-09-09 and so on. Hollywood’s been even faster: they have already released a movie “11-11-11”.

Despite its symbolic significance, the day is nasty. We go 8 knots. Final ETE (time left before arrival) – 83 hours. This number drops, when wind picks up and the boat accelerates, then GPS shows that we’ll reach land in 3 days. That’s impossible, of course.

But we have a slight hope to reach Recife at Monday’s night. And that’s more optimistic prognosis than before. In Recife we’ll have no troubles with arrival at night, Chris has been to this port before.

We need to go 230 but take the course 10 degrees to the right. Otherwise, waves are pushing the boat too hard. They still hit the board from time to time, throwing flyfishes on a deck. When big wave comes, the yacht digs in it with her starboard, scooping poor creatures like a spoon. I just picked up and threw back to the ocean a small family of them. But I’m afraid, too late…

In the morning a huge black cloud came from the east. When I crawled to the deck, it was pouring rain, and Chris in waterproof jacket was waitng for sky to clear in order to return to the course.
Now clouds are gone but ocean’s still anxious, and I hear terrible noise of waves, spliting by the hull and crushing behind the poop.

I recall my cruise in South Africa. We went to see Great White sharks in Gaans bay. The weather was fresh and waves high. Despite that wasn’t my first time in Atlantic, that was the moment, when I first seriously thought about crossing it one day…

We’re both a bit fed up with crossing. Despite our attempts to keep the boat tolerably clean, it grows dirty from day to day. While such a waving it’s impossible to give it more thorough care.
What really makes me mad is taking shower while waving! Even despite small size of a bathroom, each time I get plenty of bruises. After that I usually slip on a floor – and it doubles my madness.
I do not even complain about normal sleep and shower – I just dream about them.

Food problem doesn’t exist for me – I lost my appetite at the beginning of the crossing. Still sometimes it shows signs of life. Like this morning. I was trying to adjust the course, and my stomach started to complain. I hadn’t ate for 18 hours.
– Well, – decided I. – Before I eat weather goes to hell.
And made myself a sandwich with cheese and Nutella.

Again we had feathery passengers this night. This time they brought “a friend”. That last one had troubles with landing on a tent. His companions made it even more complicated, stretching their necks and trying to bite him. I heard their grumpy, creaky voices above my head. As if that were crows of the sea.

Day 13, 12th of November 2011

After choppy and cloudy previous day the sky cleared up at night. Recently full moon lit out way like a giant streetlight and didn’t give me a chance to admire starlight.

New moon goes down already after the sun wakes up. I has just turned the engine off – and my ears are filled with sounds much more pleasant: waves’ splashes, wind, murmuring in wind generator, and gentle slides of jars in a cupboard. Still – it’s almost silence after engine’s roll.

GPS keeps the same number of hours for the whole day – 38. That shows that our speed is not stable. We’re already not so “fast and furious” how we were a couple of days before.

Today we saw the first ship in last 10 days. It was “Krystal” from Panama, cargo ship. She passed very close to us. Soom there’ll be many of them – back to big human’s world.

I asked Crisa:
– How do you feel, coming home after 4 years journey all over the world?
– Very good, – just was the answer.
It’s hard to understand, when you’re not there yet.

My mind is chameleon, it adapts any situation I get into. There’s no alien in this world for me. Just more or less favourable.
I was always extremely curious about how other people live, what do they think about, what do they feel. And what would I – if I were them. If I were you.
That’s why couchsurfing – it’s not only about sharing and making friends. It’s like trying someone else’s skin. I hope I do not scare anyone: I’m eager to share mine if something : )

Being comfortable everywhere and with anyone makes me feel somethimes that there’s no special place for me…

Day 14, 13th of November 2011

I feel as if my memory has been erazed. I can’t recall even the last months of my life. I exist only here, in this moment, between ocean and sky.

Night was beautiful. Wind that had been growing in strenght for the previous day went to rest. We turned the engine on again, its whir accompanied charming night. The moon, still full and noble, borrowed its mysterious whine to ocean waters. Trembling and shimmering, they hid some unknown life underneath.

At day wind picked up again. Chris has unreefed the mainsail, and we go 6 knots.

Just a moment ago we passed an unknown object in water. These hardly defined things that due to ruthless fate found their way to the ocean make me anxious: I feel – they shouldn’t be here.
Well… should I?

Today I saw dolphins again. And even made a photo – frist one in 4 months of sailing. I was standing on the fore. They went in front of us: as if “Vagabond” was a truimph carriage and they were four strong chargers.

From time to time I inspect th deck and throw back to the ocean flyfishes that occasionally ended up here. I still hope I’m not too late to save someone’s little life.

GPS points 21 hour till arrival.

Day 15, 14th of November  2011

…12 hours before arrival.
The last day of the journey is the hardest one. It’s as if you have already stretched your arm but lack a couple inches to reach desirable aim.

The tricky part is that the finish line of one journey is always a start point of a new one.

…3 hours before arrival.
– Brazil! – said Crisa and fingered a thin strip of land on the horizon. From here we can already see high buildings on a coast.

Happy Captain : )

…30 minuted before arrival.
And hour ago I took a nap. When I was back to the deck I almost dived in halo of colour. Dark cloudy sky and turquose water of a shallow bay created an incredible ansamble.


…Arrival, around 14-00.
So here we are. After 15 days and 2000 miles behind we arrived to Recife, Brazil!

Ocean is like life: if you’re in, you’re not able to quit. And you keep going.

Atlantic crossing: pirates of Atlantic

Day 7, 6th of November 2011

I’ve been watching perfect creation.

Brazilians poetically call it “nascer do sol” – “birth of the sun”. It was a birth, solemn, gorgeous. Birth of a God.

The ocean is smooth. It’s not a “mirror”, as we expected downdrums to be, but like a huge piece of noble-grey leather, wrinkled with slightly noticeable tucks.

Oh, if I were a bird, I would love to fly here alone and listen to silence, not interrupted neither by sound of engine, nor scream of a wind generator.

Horizon is fringed by dark clouds – guards of night. The sun infuses them with dozens of goldens spears, and they step apart, not able to bear its power.

No king ever wore these colours in his royal robe. And never will.

Under the sun, surrounded by thunderclouds, – light puffs, creatures of heaven. If angels were born, it would happen this way.

In response to this eastern beauty, north-west covers itself with tender pink flock. Sky and ocean, painted in the same colour, are contrasted by clouds. Another birth takes place there – birth of a rainbow.


… Some moments – and it’s gone. Beauty can’t be caught or fixed in time. It lives in a moment, free flight of a feather in wind. And that’s so sad for us, human beings, who tend to imprison everything we love…

In my rest time I was watching a movie in the cabin. Crawled out to get some water. And heard Chrisa’s whisper from a cockpit:
– Look to the kitchen!

There sat a small bird. Chris told me that little guy was searching shelter from rain. Without ceremonies the bird landed near the entrance to the cabin.
Chris, who had breakfast, offered him a piece of his sandwich. Little one ignored the gift, and, after short inspection of Crisa, went downstairs.

So there I found him. While he was exploring the room, I was hecticly guessing what our unexpected guest perfers from breakfast.
– He has long thin beak. Should be insects.
Unfortunately, we ran out of them yesterday.
– Maybe – berries?

I created “an offer of the day”: dry plum, piece of watermelon and fig. I put all gifts on a plastic bag and placed it in front of him. The bird didn’t pay attention. “Ok, baby boy, I’ll feed you” – I stretched my finger, giving him a ride. It was accepted eagerly.

Perking on my finger, he ignored watermelon, was scared by plum (and I understand him! It looked like a big cockroach) and found fig interesting. He tried a sticky seed. After a short fight he got it. He ate some seeds, had some water from a plastic cup and continued exploration.

He liked to sit on my shoulder: so I pretended I was a pirate with him, pretending to be a pirot’s parrot. I just lacked a wooden leg and had too many eyes.

He flew to my computer and landed on a keyboard. Me and Crisa, sitting on a deck, wondered, why he’d been staring on a screen so long. I went downstairs and discovered that the bird had just fallen asleep on a warm keyboard.

Soon he left. And now I miss this little bird and want him back. An hour together with little one was enough for me to get used to him. I’m just endlessly lonely creature deep inside.
Not to feel sad I imagine how little one flies freely above the ocean. His feathers are dry, stomach is full and I hope he found some rest on the boat. He’s free and hurrying now to his date or whatever : )

Pride costs much but only warmth and trust touch hearts.

When I returned to the deck I saw dolphins. There were eleven of them. They swam in front of yacht, crossing our way from side to side. Breezing air out with loud sound and fountain of drops, they jumped out of water. I heard their voices, they talked to each other.

Or, maybe, to me – too?
Day 8, 7th of November 2011

Night is charming. I feel myself inside the painting that is combintaion of Aivazovsky and Kuindzhi. The moon has been maturing, and soon will be full. It wakes up here early, and till the moment, when the sun goes down, already climbs half of its way through the sky.

Dark clouds slowly stroll, separated, each with its own dignity. In tandem with the moon they created an effect of patrol, poured on the sky canvas, – rainbow nimb around a yellow ball.

Clouds of incredible shaped as if carry a message:
…could be: “Guess, are we blessing or doom?”
…or: “Do you still believe the key to happiness is here?”
…as a variant: “Looks like your lucky star is absent tonight…”
…or, maybe, just: “You still bet it’s going to rain?”

I don’t. I CAN answer the last question. I am watching “Angels and demons” on the deck. And that’s provement I don’t.

Soon after the sunrise the sun starts to burn. If not a wind from the south that we has have the last two days, it would be hot as in oven. The sun is so bright that I can’t stay outside without sunglasses. White paper is painfully hurting my eyes.

In daily life and even while sailing I try to avoid wearing sunglasses. For me eyes are a source of meanings not less important than speech. Talking with a person in sunglasses I get him only partly, missing nuisanes. But on the south it’s different: the sun is ruthlessly bright here, and use of dark glasses is a necessity.

GPS shows 43 hours till we turn. That will be near the equator. Then – other 6 days of sailing. And – oi, Brazil!

I still kinda enjoy. Sure I will cross other oceans in some hazy future. Except Arctic. I prefer to be burnt than frozen. Poetically speaking : )

Sure I want to sail around glaciers of Iceland and Canada. But I suppose several days there will be more than enough for me.

Crossing in couple is not that bad, even pleasant. I’m happy to meet good people in my life, even better than I expect them to be. Sincerely speaking, I has never met bad people. And here’s the question: is it a matter of an attitude or luck?

Our picture of the world is black and white. We call it – statistics. We know well how many assaults or murders took place in last time, how much cheating or ignorance is around, but who ever counted values or compassion or help of people? Many bastards around, we know numbers, but who has counted good people?

We has entered a cloud and got some wind. Course 195. Some rain drops are falling. Little one, hurry up back on board, we miss you here!
Day 9, 8th of November 2011

Toady is my sister’s birthday and I can’t even call her…

Happy birthday, dear Masha!

This night was turbulent. Wind picked up on the evening before. It came from the south but was cold. And unstable: it’d been frequently changing from 10 to 20 knots. Wind brought waves against us. “Vagabond”‘s fore was jumping on them as a basketball ball. Landing back to the wave’s spine, the hull made a terrible noise.

The sky was low and full of clouds. They looked ominous on a dark grey background. Every time the fume passed above us, wind got stronger. We both couldn’t sleep. Downdrums are left behind.

It became a bit better, when Chris changed the course. Before we went to the south along African coast. Now we made a turn in the point that lays more to the west from the first plan:

01°24,3665N, 021°23,2031W.

Now we go straight to Recife, Brazil.

Atlantic crossing: tet-a-tet with Orion

I can’t say I’ve ever dreamt or planned to cross Atlantic ocean. One day life exposed me to the question:

– Would you if you have chance?

– Why not? – I asked back.

So life gracefully threw an opportunity to my feet. And I picked the challenge up.

Here’s the diary of the crossing Cabo Verde – Brazil that took us 15 days.

Day 1, 31st of October 2011

It was sad to leave Cabo Verde:  almost unexplored, unlived. I felt my being there undone and neglected. But it’s time to go, the journey should continue.

The way between northern and southern groups of islands Cape Verde takes more than a day. We will pass between Bravo and Fogo.

First 24 hours comes to the end, but I still didn’t sleep a minute. Can’t even describe how I feel. And that’s only the first day of crossing.
We sleep in the back cabin. It’s impossible to stay in the front one: from time to time the boat hits the wave and its fore jumps madly.

Sunset diminished in a thick layer of clouds near the horizon. Sea is choppy and uncomfortable, and everything’s shaking. Waves try to invade the cockpit. Everything’s wet, including this notebook and my blanket. Salty drops on my glasses.

We go side-wind. Wind’s a bit stronger than forecast predicted: around 20 knots. We steered in order to save autopilot from excessive stress.
At the beginning of the trip I loved to steer. This way I involved myself in interaction with the boat and sea: watched the yacht response, wind and waves influence. I enjoyed feeling how one gentle move of a steering wheel return the boat on a right course.
I guess steering a boat somehow can get us feeling that we can control nature, make it serve, wherever we go. Dangerous state of mind! Fedor Konyuhov, Russian yatchsman who cruised around the world many times, once said: “When I lost my fear to the ocean, I quit. Otherwise, it would kill me”.
After that he switched on desert safaris, I guess : )

Vagabond in Atlantic

Day 2, 1st of November 2011

Night is half starry, half cloudy. I see a moon, it’s dim. But being veiled by clouds, it doesn’t obscure starlight.
Chris is practical, he prefers moony nights: moon acts like a torch that lights the ocean and all its dangers. I’m romantic, I love nights without moon, when stars are brighter.

Orion accompanies me for the whole night. It doesn’t happen in the northern part of the Earth – it appears only near dawn.  He’s my guardian, and even clouds can’t veil the shine of his bright three-star belt.
The legend says that Orion was a glorious hunter. Once together with his hinds he was chasing a deer. They ran through forests, fields and mountains, and no one of them was going to surrender. But Orion didn’t know: that wasn’t an animal he’s been chasing, it was a god under a guise of a graceful deer.  Divine creature jumped to the sky and continued his run among stars. Even then, in rush and ardor, the hunter didn’t stop and reached the sky after his aim.
So Orion is still there, chasing a deer in his infinite run.

In the light of uncertain sunrise we passed the island Fogo. It’s far away, I can see only silhouette of it. I hope one day I will return here: to explore the national park and climb the volcano that gave its name to the island. Now we go to the open ocean.

After midday wind and waving have calmed down. Now it’s hot outside and so is inside the boat. And, finally, not too wet.

Before going to bed in the morning I took a pill from sea-sickness. One of its side affects is desire to sleep. And that was I counted for. And – hooray! – attempt to fall asleep was successful. On watch 2pm-6pm I feel gorgeous. On the place of exhausting desire to sleep comes appetite. To delicious lunch, performed by Crisa, I added cake, some fruits and nuts.

Later I will discover that pills don’t really work in my case. I had been already too exhausted on the second day to stay without sleep longer.  Pills didn’t make any significant difference and I gave up.
I just need to accept the fact that I’ll have little sleep on this crossing, despite opportunity to stay in bed for 12 hours (4/4/4). Just keep going. I don’t care anymore.

Day 3, 2nd of November 2011

No wind. Little wave swings the boat. We reach zone of downdrums – latitudes close to the equator and known for absence of wind. We hope that waves will calm down too. In previous time Chris crossed downdrums, he said, the ocean reminded a swimming pool.

In the ocean even far from a shore there’s life. Birds are hunting fish, virtuously maneauvring in gasps of wind above waves. Bunches, flowerbeds and even fields of brown seaplants drift silently with tide.I’m watching flyfishes, hovering above waters. Huge groups, hundred maybe. They rise in front of the boat, moved by fear of unknown “sea creature”. They fly against the wind too, using a wave as a trampling.

But ocean carries not only life but death too.
At night Chris found a dead calamari on a cockpit: wave ruthlessly threw him from an ocean depth. At day I noticed a big flyfish on our starboard. She was already dead. I waited for Crisa to wake up and throw the fish away – he’s more courageous in “dead fish question”.

At night the moon rises. Here it’s turned upside down. Unlike in Russia, it grows up from bottom to the top. Now it looks like a bowl of ananas juice.

The moon doesn’t stay longer. But when it sets down, stars come on stage. There’re many of them tonight! For 30 minutes, while listening for Portuguese course, I “picked up” shooting stars and made wishes between “Escucha e repete” practice. Facing the sky, backed  by “doghouse” (a tent that protects cockpit from wind), I swung on a bench, murmuring Portuguese words. My beautiful shift time.

… To be continued ))

Islands of sun and rain

Closed eyes. Touch of silky sand. Mind sinks in music of the mighty Atlantic ocean.


Open eyes.  Endless golden beach. Waves attack it, fiercely, desperately. Rocky range on the edge of the land. Brown slopes are covered with the voile of green bushes. They gave these islands their name – Islands of Green Cape, Cabo Verde.


One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Idyllic piece of Earth – Playa Grande on the island Sao Vincente. Rocks and ocean coexist in wild harmony here. Sand climbs steep slopes but gives up on the first 10 meters. Rocks invaded the coast but were stopped, polished and rubbed by powerful tide.


In this fantasy place the first time in my life I tried surfing. Wave was pretty messy, frequent and uncertain in direction. Anyway, I decided to go.
On the shore Chris briefly read me a course of basics. First we were laying on the board and pretended we are swimming towards the wave, puddling madly. Then near the board we made a jump. It was nice before I entered water.

“Green” surfer : )

After several fruitless attempts to hold the board under my body, I learned how to duck-dive, let the wave pass me. But after I turned in direction of the shore fun ended. That jump, brilliantly performed on the sand, didn’t happen. So I rolled, and swallowed salt water, and rolled again. Still I feel that the first experience wasn’t that bad.

Sunset in the bay of Mindelo

Mindelo is a biggest city on a small island of Sao Vincente. And the only city in Cape Verde that has a marina. The bay is big and shelter: there’s enough space for marina, mooring and boats anchoring. Still on the anchorage better to stay alerted: thefts are rare in Mindelo but can happen. Praia – the capital of Cape Verde that is situated on Sao Tiago – is more famous for its crime. Our friend Admir told us the story how two young guys stole a boat and sailed to Brazil. Significant that guys were europeans… But that’s a story, reality is that Praia is not the safest place to stay in Cape Verde. This is what we were told.


Mindelo is small and lively town. Houses in the center are painted in bright colors – incredible colors: deep blue, grass green, lemon yellow, glamor pink. Some houses combine in their appearance several colors in pretty weird combinations. Looks like no one here cares about city plan and free to choose any color of the rainbow. I asked myself which one I would paint my walls to. Still thinking.
– Which one would you pick up? – I asked Chris.
–  I like white. And blue – like Vagabond hull.


On local square we connected free Wi-Fi – and signal was perfect. On the corner I found a boutique that sold amazing red shoes. There was a price – 6500 escudos.
– Cuanto custo? En euros, – my curiosity was in excitement.
– SIxty five, – was the answer.
– Ok… Nice shoes, – I left the shop.

A week ago I ran out of money. You always feel that this moment is somewhere in hazy future. So when it happens, it’s always completely unexpected.
So I look for a job – in Russia distantly, or in Brazil. On a boat, in journalism or tourism. Whatever.


I go along the street, pass beautiful square, where local venders sell their simple goods, turn around the corner and stop in front of a huge green tree. I listen – this giant sings to me in thousand of voices. These’re sparrows, who in bunches hang on every branch. Under a thick shelter of leaves they loudly praise sun and rain of Cape Verde.

Anchorage of Mindelo

I just passed a hundred meters but already shabby houses surround me. Behind narrow doors – dirty pubs. Men, smoking outside, look drunk and ready for street fight. Some old people sit on the staircase. Street dogs, hungry and miserable, wander around, searching for food. Girls return from the market, carrying on their heads heavy plastic bowls (local variant of a busket). The secret of this useful exercise is in a round small hat that they wear and on which they “install” the busket. Still I’m sure it’s not that easy as it looks like.
Through this mess I get to the local market on Placa Estrela. Here Admir, local policemen and now my friend, picks me up.  His education impresses: he fluently speaks French, Engllish, Arabic, local Portuguese and Creoli and other 7 local languages. He is professional musician but works as a policemen for 11 years.
With my private guard side by side I feel safe to stare around, on women, drunk men, vegetable venders, wander around rows that sell clothes, mobile phones, African art. Admir knows every second person here and stops to greet them. I smile happily, repeat endlessly “Bon dia”  and feel myself almost a part of local community.

Suburbs are not so cheerful. Houses are old, dirty, very often badly damaged. Locals chat on a street and stare curiously on our car. Pupils, returning from their school studies, wave to us and laugh. There’s not much to see here.

A small town on the western coast of Sao Vincente

Street dogs here too. There are so many of them on Sao Vincente but they look very peaceful. They do not even fight for food between each other. People here coexist nicely with these poor creatures. They can’t help but do not mind to live side by side with them.


Outside Mindelo houses shrink and remind me more than a box than a house. And how would you call a cube 8×3 meters? Still, life here goes in its slow and peaceful order: children are playing, chicken and goats wandering around, sheets are drying on a rope.

Rains in Cabo Verde are rare. But heavy!

Before arrival to Cabo Verdes I read in the internet that this is dry country,which population has problems with water supplies.  The islands greeted us with 3 days of heavy rains…

Regard for bad weather – rainbow!

Even now the top of the Mount Verde is covered with thunderstorm cloud. It is just 600 m high. Can’t be compared to 2000 m peaks of Sao Antao or volcano of Fogo. But it reminds me Table Mountain much. That I also didn’t climb due to bad weather by the way.

Mount Verde

Today we leave beautiful  Cabo Verde and head for our last crossing to Brazil. But I hope once I will reach these hospitable shores again.