Enjoy the summer while you can as there may be a hurricane around the corner. In this case Hurricane Earl hit St Martin as a category 2 hurricane causing quite a lot of damage on the water.
Don't be fooled by the lull before the storm................
This is what it looks like at 60kts gusting 75kts (thats 70-80 miles per hour),
Oceana was moored about 50 yards from these two boats which were side swiped by a 100ton steel cargo ship.
Our new engine arrived and is in the process of being installed. Halted by a hurricane and the need to earn more money for the exhaust hoses etc.
Introducing Moses, our newest crew member.
Well, doesn't time fly? Only four years since they last held a world cup for football and Oceana is still in St Maarten. A lot has happened (mainly lots of boozing) leading up to a major overhual of the situation just over a year ago when the unhappy crew of Oceana decided drastic action was needed to save sanity, Oceana and a marriage.
At the time Oceana had been hauled out in a boatyard for nearly two years. In this time we had managed to spend enough money to repair the dead engine about three times over and still were able to leave the boat with less functioning systems than when she was hauled out. This appears to be quite an easy task in St. Maarten/St Martin where the average price for a beer is around $1.50 (less in happy hour), a tall glass of spirit is only $3.00, a coke or lemonade is $2.00 and there are no drink driving laws on the Dutch side of the island. We were literally fighting with each other, our neighbours and anyone else who got in the way and realised that the only option was to relaunch Oceana and clean up our acts quite considerably.
The good news is that we are getting there now and are on course to return to the UK next year with Oceana, a stong and stable marriage and a new crew member (on the dogwatch of course).
Just to show that it`s not all work, work, work out here, see below a few shots of us watching the footy.
....plus a few of the beach at l`isle Tintamare
.....however, I`m pretty gutted that I missed this one though due to stubbing my toe on my toolbox so severely I couldn`t walk the next day. It is of course St Martin`s number one cultural event of the year: The Caribbean Ram Contest of Columbier.
Christina arrived on her birthday in the Azores after a brief rendez-vous with a Viking dragon boat mid-Atlantic, but I`ll leave her to tell that story another day. She left the Azores last weekend heading towards Tenby in South Wales as the destination for the delivery.
Oceana is currently sitting on the hard to sit out the hurricane season and also for some well needed repairs and TLC. Ubatuba is more than happy to run around the boatyard befriending all the other doggies and howling at the security guards doing their rounds.
As for Andy - the poor husband left behind to look after the home and dog whilst his wife traverses oceans just for kicks - well, he is coping with a brave face. One with a healthy tan, smelling of coconut milk suntan lotion, supporting a pair of sunglasses to reduce the glare from the turquoise Caribbean Sea and moving slowly to take the next sip of rum punch. How does that old saying go? Lifes a beach, and then you go to the next beach. Or something like that?
Well, 3 1/2 months of work has really impinged on my free time so one of the first things to go was a regular fix of internet and e-mail leaving quite a lot of catching up to be done. After all leaving a diary of the amount of fuses, bilge pumps, cables, batteries, switches and lights that I have changed on a daily basis won`t win any awards for literature.
So, Christina has been working hard as a hostess on a day-charter motor catamaran Ubatuba has looked very cute and I have been trying my best not to blow things up or electrocute myself - apart from the fire in the engine room of one boat after a short circuit and a couple of big spark/bang combinations all has gone pretty well. When not busy saving up for a new engine and general overhaul for Oceana we have spent a bit of time on the beach courtesy of my new works transport - a 3.6m rib with a nice 25hp engine (just as well as our old dinghy died after being crushed under Oceana`s stern one night in a storm). We got the dinghy just in time to wizz around when the Heineken regatta was held here - 250 yachts from 100+ feet superyachts to 35 foot charter boats, all very spectacular.
Christina is presently mid Atlantic on a delivery job sailing a 47` yacht over to Tenby, Wales on her way back to London for the summer. Before the boat left, we went for some test sails to check out all the navigation systems with the crew and had a couple of lovely days out snorkeling, drinking and sitting on the beach. Although I`m not sure how sitting on the beach naked covered in a whole body mudpack drinking cold beer is preparation for an Atlantic crossing, it was bloody good fun though!
Oceana is booked to come out of the water and be strapped down to the ground in case of hurricanes and for some overdue maintenance whilst Christina is away, hopefully bringing her up to standard for some cruising around the islands here next year - that is after all why we are here!
So Beware UK! Here comes Christina and Anyone who fancies a Caribean holiday in the New Year start saving up and get in touch soon........
So Christmas and New Year were a bit different this year, Christina was in the Virgin Islands on a yacht delivery and Ubatuba and Andy stayed in Trinidad to ready the boat for a sail without engine to St. Martin/St. Maarten (So good they named it twice?).
While Christina was getting a Harley Davidson tatoo Andy was getting a crewmember for Oceana (not a replacement, just a fellow adventurer moving up island). Christina was making contacts for work and Andy was liming with the fishermen getting pissed on 75% rum, then eating fish broth so hot and spicey it made your eyes water - just right to sober you up so you can go out drinking again.
So Andy found Alex to help sail Oceana to St Martin and cast off in a gentle breeze which then dropped to nothing leaving Oceana drifting towards the rocks in the Boca del Dragon/Dragons Mouth with no engine!!!! So Alex`s baptism into sailing was to chuck the dinghy over the side and tow a 38 foot 10 1/2 ton yacht with a 6 foot dinghy and a 3 1/2 horse power outboard through the Dragons Mouth sometimes forwards, sometimes backwards, sometimes around and around and eventually drifting for an hour back towards Venezuela. It did get better, for a while. We got some wind and set course to go to windward of the Windward Islands so keeping out of the wind shadows they cast. But half way through the first night a huge squall ripped the jib and left us without forward propulsion for the rest of the night until we could change the sail in daylight. We had to duck around the other side of Grenada (and all the other islands) to head on a more direct course for St Martin glimpsing lights or faint mountain tops and smelling Montserat as we went by. Our first real sight of land for 4 days was the tiny island of Nevis - blink and you would miss it. Followed by a last night at sea and landfall in Marigot Bay and a cold beer in a French cafe. I couldn`t have asked for a better crew on this trip than Alex, despite the fact that he anounced half way through the trip that he was doing this in an attempt to dispell a fear of open water - talk about in at the deep end!!!!
So in his own words, here is an account of the very trip aforementioned just let you all know what we have been doing for the last 3 1/2 years.........
I did it! I #@!&*##$ well did it! The people i talk to are well impressed that i braved such rough seas which have been churning up the Caribbean recently. I didn't know any better in fact but it makes the stresses of the journey, and my fears, more comprehensible. Now it feels i've got a scar i can show off. It feels good. At times i felt a lot of fear. It was rooted in my stomach, like a creature with sharp claws clinging on with all its might in my guts. The creature was in fact myself. It was symbolic for my psychological need to grasp on because i felt like i was falling into a pit of doom.
The boat was a 38 footer with two sails. It could sleep 4 people at a stretch and had a cooker, a desk, a living 'space', a toilet and cupboards. At the back outside was the cockpit which housed the wheel and a small space to sit and relax. The captain's name was Andy and his dog (a beagle) was called Ubatuba (a beach in Brazil where he bought it). Andy had been sailing since he was 8 and he sailed like most of us ride bicycles. I was completely dependent on him and his calmness and steady nature were wonderful for me. I watched with something appraoching awe as he got up front to reduced the main sail while the boat 'wheelied' at the top of a tall wave and then came crashing down again. He was locked inside himself , using all his faculties to get us up to St. Martin (a journey of about 500 miles). I was pleased for that ultimately although i felt lonely. At times i was locked inside myself, not wanting to ask Andy too many questions, like "Are we going to die?" I kept conversation going by asking him questions about sailing and about himself. He didn't ask me one question in the 6 days we were together. At one point when the fatigue of the journey set in i started to get paranoid and insecure but i told myself that this wasn't the time and the place. Andy looked after me. He cooked all our meals. And he was dedicated to eating well. One night he made us gnocchi, from scratch! This doesn't seem such a big deal until you know that cooking on rough seas is like cooking in a rollercoaster. Gravity seemed to act in 7 dimensions whenever i wanted to do even the most basic task. Everything was so difficult! I tried to laugh at my inability to do anything with dignity but as soon as i was thrown into another corner of the cabin that laugh died. For next time i'm going to prepare by learning to cook in a military G-force Simulator.
And i hope there will be a next time, for although it was hard, there were magnificent moments. One of those were the night watches. A time when it was my job to scan the horizon, all 360 marvellous degrees of it, for large boats. I would be on for 3 hours while Andy slept then we'd swap over at least twice in the night. The journey was blessed with a full moon which would roll out a silver carpet over the charcoal black sea from the horizon all the way to me. A sea that stretched outwards around me like a massive stage i could never fill with the amphitheatre of the night watching me. There was nothing out there though. Only the boat, two guys and a dog. At times the moon disappeared behind a cloud and a darkness enveloped me and the boat. I felt like i was a mouse caught in open country and the dark shadow of a bird of prey passed over me ready to snatch me from the boat and take me away, far away. It was scary but in a thrilling way. What wasn't so thrilling was a wind storm we got into that threatened to push us off course. We were sailing parallel to the line of waves so that the boat slipped down the steep slopes of water sideways and a wall of water would rise up threatening to engulf us. We always rose up with it but i never quite got used to the bigger waves which tipped the boat at an even bigger angle than we were at already. And as the waves passed under us i watched them march off to the horizon like giant headless messengers, shoulders hunched up, taking mystic messages to the gods at the ends of the earth. And i was struck by all these waves, all the messengers, all this ceaseless purpose. My heart was in my throat for most of the storm but it was tempered when Andy stated very matter of fact "How's your Spanish, Alex? This wind might push us to Panama. You watch the compass while i get a bit more kip." I nodded nervously and said nothing while my thoughts were saying "Kip ! Kip! How can you sleep now? We're all going to diiiieeee!" I thanked God for people like Andy.
The music i had spent so much time recording back home prior to the trip came into its element out here. The melancholic urban drum and bass of Everything but the Girl's "Walking Wounded" album complemented the barrenness of the sea. I saw very little life. We saw no other yachts out at sea. Maybe i should have asked myself why. I saw some sea birds that took a passing interest in us. There was some strange clumps of plant life floating at the surface from time to time. Most exciting of all were a school of dolphins that accompanied us no more than 30 feet away. It was surreal to see them suddenly appear and disappear as thay breached the water in formation. Only a glimpse but a lovely one. Nightwatches were at their strangest when i would awake to exchange places with Andy and i felt transported into a washing machine on its most active cycle. I'm not sure which cycle but imagine it on wash, rinse, spin and dry all at the same time.
Throughout the journey we saw very little land because we sailed a course far from the wind shadows that some of the higher islands caused. But after about 3 days we came close to Nevis and St. Kitts and i looked on as if the land was my home, but it had also become a stranger to me, i no longer knew it, understood it. I hear motor bikes and cars for the first time in ages. These islands are known as the islands with their heads in the clouds. They rise up steeply from the sea. The towns and villages are perched at the bottom of the slopes. And the peaks are in cloud like a single cloud got pierced by them and can go no further whilst the rest of the sky remains clear blue. I imagined that God was using the islands like orange juice squeezers to get the last drops of rain out of the few clouds that passed that way. And one of the islands took on an eerie quality. We had passed St. Kitts at a snail's pace as we cleaned and cooked and relaxed after a tempestuous journey. We needed to make our way through the passage of two islands in order to make the last push to St. Martin, our final destination. But Andy wasn't sure if the currents and tides would push us back. So just as the sun set and the sky darkened we came out past St. Kitts. The wind picked up and the washing machine cycle started. On our right was St. Kitts and on our left was an island called St. Eustatia. It rose singularly, the cloud on its peak glowed with lights from unseen towns. A peak like a volcano, a glow like lava. It was King Kong island! And we might get blown back onto it! Jesus! My imagination! A curse! I was genuinely glad to get away from that island and to finally make our way through on to the home stretch.
And i'm in St. Martin now. I'm exhausted but elated. I have confronted one of my biggest fears and realised one of my most insistent dreams. To sail out to sea and leave land for a few days. It hasn't sunk in just yet. I'm a little different now. I'm still going to die, but not at sea.
I'm off to Jamaica tomorrow. How much adventure can one guy take! I hope to use my last week of holiday to relax and soak up enough warmth and sun to get me through the rest of the winter. I'm looking forward to being back with you all (at the same time! big group hug!). Take care.
There you go then, thats what this sailing lark is all about, huge lumps of beauty, fear, exhaustion, disorientation and haute cuisine followed by sheer relief when you make it. Thanks again to Alex for the company and the prose.
Meanwhile back in St. Martin Andy is a marine electrician and Christina is a hostess on a day charter boat and they can both confirm that they prefer not to work.
Well, Christmas is the time to be merry, a time for giving, a merry time for someone to give us a new engine for Oceana?
After limping into Charlotteville, Tobago we set about making the best plans for fixing the engine, hoping to be out of there in a couple of days or so. Now, followers of our column will know that "a couple of days or so" is a euphamism for "lets stay a month and go snorkelling and spear fishing, take in a few of the local hostelries and what about that great night club here every Friday night?" So thats what we did. Aided and abetted by our friend Lion (a local fisherman/drinking companion) we had a great time just liming (to lime is to hang out, to meet with friends usually at or near to a bar)and learning to water down the 75% rum with beer so that it isn`t too strong.
So during this time, we ummed and ahhed and twiddled our thumbs trying to decide where to sail to in order to repair the engine. We finally decided to sail to St. Martin - 500 miles away so we could work and repair the engine. In true Oceanic spirit we set sail on the 3rd December for.....Trinidad! We had a small donation to the engine repair fund and sailed right up to the anchorage in Chaguaramas to drop the anchor. It had been a hard old night though, with either squalls and rain or no wind at all.
Since then I took a crash course in engine mechanics and stripped down the engine to find a broken crank shaft. Shit.
So then, back to square one.
Which brings us back to Merry Christmas. Christina has taken a delivery job from Guadaloupe to Tortolla and she will stay up there or on St Martin in search of work while Ubatuba and I bolt the engine back down and pressgang someone to help sail Oceana up island in the new Year. Oh well, nevermind hey, worse things happen at sea.
It took a little while longer than our original plan which had us landing in the Caribean in November of 2002, but well, here we are now just three years late. After leaving mainland Brazil on the 25th September we headed for the National Park of Fernando do Noronha famed for it`s beaches and diving, also for it`s high tourist tax/environment tax. Well, not ones for paying to get in we tagged onto the back of a rally from Recife to Fernando do Noronha and anchored amongst the paying boats. We successfully hid out for 4 days here and yes the beaches and diving are both excellent. We left on the 1st October with a 2000 mile journey ahead of us, fair winds and a boost from the Guyana current to help with the daily tally of miles. Just to make it a bit more interesting Christina decided to give up smoking on this leg as with no shops for at least the next 2 weeks temptation could not be given in to. Things of note: 04/10 3 days into the trip and already we had to contend with a broken self steering gear, unable to use the spinnaker as the fitting fell off the mast when we set it and had repaired rips in the jib (sail) twice. 06/10 Our fourth crossing of the equator celebrated with a tot of cachaca and fresh muffins as the wind and sea increased. 07/10 Our best noon-to-noon run of 185 miles averaging 7.7 knots. A real rollercoaster ride through the night as Oceana surfed down waves and we 'battened down the hatches'. 08/10 wind decreased and we started to head towards les Iles du Salut - a French colonial penal colony off the coast of French Guyana made famous in the film 'Papillon'. 11/10 Arrival at Iles du Salut.
We anchored off the islands until we were moved on by the Gendarmes Maritime (Sea Police) as the European Space Project were launching their rocket Ariane and we were in the flight path. We went to the mainland at Kourou to watch the launch, planning to get a Chinese take away and sit on the beach when someone ran in the bar and shouted that it was launching now - so we ran out and saw the rocket blasting upwards very quickly......we had got the time wrong.
Ubatuba loved the freedom of running around the islands, in the ruins of the prison and on the beach, but the shock of suddenly paying in Euros at European prices cut the stay short. By the 21st October we were on our way again to Tobago landing at Scarborough on the 27th. When sailing around the Island to Charlotteville, a rattle in the engine developed into a fullscale clank and bang. So we limped into the anchorage with a now defunct engine and no prospect of a repair on this island. As it stands now , we will sail to Grenada to find work and a mechanic (in that order) and somewhere to hang out for Christmas.
Well, the time has finally come to say goodbye Brasil.......well almost! We are leaving mainland Brasil later today enroute for the Caribean but have decided to put in a couple of stops on the way. The first is at Fernando de Noronha, an island national park of Brasil some 250 miles from our present position in Jacare, then we plan to sail to Ilhes du Salut (Devil´s Island of Papillon fame, French Guyana) on our way to Tobago. In Jacare we made our final preparations for this passage by drying Oceana out to paint her bottom, cleaning all the barnacles off for a faster passage time and taking on stores for the next month or so. Essential items such as 8 cases of beer, 4 bottles of cachaça (cane rum or agua dente (fire water) as it is known locally), 50 cartons of tomato pulp, 30 packets of Brasillian coffee and 18 hammocks. Now I know we like to take it easy but you may think that 18 hammocks is a bit much even for us to make use of, well they are our currency for the Carribean where we plan to sell them for vast profits - we also do mail order with prices from 30 - 150 dollars US plus postage and packing. You can place your order through our Ahoy there! facility. Unfortunately we will be making this passage without Itibere our Brasillian crewmember who has had to return to Sao Paulo at short notice. His grandfather has been kidnapped and held to ransom whilst returning from work one day - this happens in Sao Paulo regularly apparently. We were at a complete loss as to how to give him support in this but send him and his familly all our love and hope for a speedy conclusion. So just us two and our faithful hound Ubatuba as we leave Brasil after just over one and a half years, many parties, islands, beaches and waterfalls later and sadly leave behind all the wonderful friends we have made here. We are heading back to the UK now, eta August 2007 if you want to keep a lookout for us but in the meantime here`s to "livin´ it large in the Caribean", reggae, rastas and rum punch.......
Well after 3 years of travelling we finally went aground in Oceana. Whilst visiting the village of Suape we went aground on the falling tide and had to spend 4 hours waiting on a boat tilting over at 45 degrees until the sea came back to float us off. No damage done except to our egos!!!
Before leaving Salvador we had the last Soononmoon production of UV to go to and finally managed to persuade Diogo to play Sir Man at a decent hour when the club was full. Well after the initial problems of not having needles on the turntables Sir Man turned out his best DJ set in Brazil and had the club absolutely rocking.
Back to Oceana and the journey to the Caribean. Now with an extra crew member to help with the night watches as we took Itibere aboard in Itaparica planning to sail direct to the north east of Brazil as our stepping stone to the trade winds, well that was plan A anyhow......
As it turned out we managed to get down to plan F pretty quickly.
As we left Itaparica waving good bye to Salvador we noticed that the steel frame supporting the wind generator had broken and we had to pull in to Salvador once again to make some temporary repairs. Next morning we woke early for a 4 day passage to Jacare and set sail in fair winds, sunshine and good humour. 2 days later after bashing into headwinds of 30 knots trying to clear a headland that we couldn´t see for the rain, soaked through, tired, swearing that air travel was the way to go we realised that a revision to our schedule was in order. So, we dried out the interior of Oceana in Maceio where Andy was able to spend his birthday ashore. A revised itinery saw Oceana make stop overs in Suape and Recife before finally making Jacare 20 days after setting off from Bahia. Now we are waiting for the spring tides to dry Oceana out against a pier and give her bottom the once over with antifoul for our charge to the Caribean.
December: Christmas on ILha Grande, Jack Marion and Pat (our parents) joined us in a rented house with hammocks and a pool for a tropical party. Christmas eve sipping champagne on the beach and a Bar B Que party for Christmas Day. Off to Paraty for the New Year aboard Oceana with more beaches and general merry making. The obligatory tours of Rio de Janeiro then Jack and Marion returned home and Pat spent a week at sea trying to remember how to swim.
January: Off we went on a little cruise towards Ubatuba taking in some fabulous waterfalls at Cajaiba Grande and sailing with New Dawn again. Taking in Ilha das Couves, ILha dos Porcos Saco de Ribeira, a lot of snorkelling and meeting an Alien on the beach we made Ubatuba on the 25th. Here we bought a Beagle puppy and named him Ubatuba after his town of birth. Here Ubatuba had his first run on a beach, first dinghy ride and first dog overboard!! We made our furthest point south so far landing on Ilha Bella, Sao Paulo.
February: Back to Ilha Grande, Christina rushed off to Rio for Carnival and Andy and Ubatuba celebrated Carnival in a much more low key style anchored in Saco de Ceu (Bay of the Sky).
March: We made 3 attempts to return to Rio being thwarted by an overheating engine and strong winds before making it finally on the 15th. Here we met up with Keith, saw Lenny Kravitz play on Copocabana Beach and sailed on to Buzios. An epic journey encountering engine failure, rogue waves, oil tankers, wind and complete becalming.
April, May, June:.......Blah, blah, blah......made our way up to Salvador again and caught up with winter and the rainy season yet again.
So then, we finally left Rio de Janeiro on the 22nd of September bound for Ilha Grande and reportedly 'the best beaches in the world' in order to start our survey. It was pretty cool sailing past pão de açucar, praias de Copocabana and Ipanema and seeing all the tourists and Caraocans (residents of Rio) on the famous beaches. We had a lovely days sail with the wind on the beam all the way to Ilha Grande and pulled into Enseada das Palmas at midnight. We dropped anchor in the middle of a large bay in flat calm waters full of phosphorescence not knowing what our surroundings looked like. We awoke to find ourselves surrounded by jungle covered hills with clear blue skies and at one end of the bay was a small beach with a couple of buildings half hidden in the palm trees.....................mmmmmmmmm. What a way to start your survey.
We had arrived in Pousos and until the tourist schooners arrived for the day, we had the place to ourselves. A small path led over to the other side of the island to Praia de Lopez Mendez; 2 1/2 miles of clean white sand with us as it's only occupants for an early morning stroll. As we walked the length of the beach we could only think happy thoughts and kept looking over our shoulders not quite believing that we could be the only people here. As we returned to Oceana we met groups of people who had just arrived on the first tourist boat looking a little bemused that we could be leaving already!
After a couple of days relaxing in the sun we moved around to the next bay to the village of Abrãao, the capital of Ilha Grande. There's not much to do on Ilha Grande unless you like swimming and snorkeling and walking to beaches and waterfalls and mountains and more beaches and sailing and fishing and beaches and bars and boats and more swimming. So we managed to keep quite busy for the next week until we ran out of food and headed for the town of Angra dos Reis on the mainland. Angra dos Reis (bay of the kings) is a funny old place, complete with used oil rigs in the bay and a large community of fishing boats. But it's lively in a holiday town in Devon kind of way even if the gene pool looks familiarly like a fen town. After filling up with supplies we headed off to Ilha Grande again, to Santana - a small one bar beach with us as it's only occupants. We spent a week here snorkeling and swimming and walking and drinking and generally chilling out as much as is possible.
Well, you can only chill out so much before turning into a hippy or something, so we set off for Angra once again. This time we had heard of a party happening on an island in the other direction so bought a new chart to see where we were going and off we went. We found the island which was in fact a private island complete with nightclub, swimming pool, massage parlour and floating bar in the bay. We tried to think of ways of crashing the party that was being set up and decided that a full frontal assault was the best option. Luckily the first person we met upon landing the dinghy was the producer of the party who said "Of course you can come as my VIP guests" and so it was to pass that Andy and Christina managed to blag 3 days of parties with the rich and famous of São Paulo. But at quarter to midnight (it started at midnight) we were the only boat moored off the island and we were wondering where everyone else was and how they were coming? Well, we didn't have to wait long to find out - in the next 30 minutes over 100 boats ranging from 25 to 100 feet long arrived, the preferred mode of transport being 40 feet power boats (with or without a flying bridge) and with a mariniero to look after the boat whilst you partied. We were hemmed in by boats worth several million pounds each and rather flustered by the whole ordeal. But we made it to the party and had a grand time of it (even if the music was a bit fluffy).
After all this, we decided that it was time to go on holiday so we took a short break in Rio savouring the delights of hot showers, mini-bars, a bed that you could really spread your legs in and above all a room which didn't rock when the wind got up. We spent another tiring weekend blagging samba parties, nightclubs and rounded it off getting into a big show by Beth Carvalho - a big name in Brazillian Samba, complete with a host of guest players and singers.
Our new friend Rosane came to stay with us aboard Oceana to repay her hospitality in Rio and we felt like we needed another holiday to recover from her visit! After she left us in Abrãao boarding the ferry back to the mainland we sat back to relax before starting to make arrangements for Ma and Pa Murphy and my mum Pat to come and visit us for Christmas. How does the saying go about visiting parents? You wait for 2 1/2 years for one then 3 come at once!
So, we have been sitting in the sun but mostly rain waiting for our replacement rigging to arrive and counting down the days till Christmas. We still haven't found the perfect beach, but are thoroughly enjoying the search!
We have now had the work done to the stainless steel on Oceana but as always found more work to be done. We need to replace all the standing rigging - the wires that hold the mast up - and the rigger thought we were lucky not to lose the mast on our way down here. So we haven't done the usual tourist things but instead have visited workshops and chandlers haggling in bad Portuguese over the price of teak. We are still skint.
Finally we made it to Rio - yes, that means that we have left Salvador!
It wasn't easy though and here's why:
Our first obstacle was a very unruly weather system that gave us two weeks of gales from the South (where we wanted to head) so instead of making a leisurely cruise down the coast, we were stuck in Itaparica for the duration in wind and rain. For two days we couldn't leave Oceana as getting in the dinghy was too hazardous with 40knots of wind and white horses on the wave tops. Finally by the first of August the wind had abated and we made preparations to move on. We made our first overnight passage for nearly five months on our way to Ilheus where we rested, had a very happy 3rd wedding anniversary and stocked up with provisions for the next leg of our journey. We planned to just keep sailing as far as we could before the next weather pattern stepped in - could we make it to Rio in one hop?
As we sailed away from Ilheus the sun was shining and we saw our first whale cruising along parallel to us about 50yards away checking us out. I spent my birthday at sea (first time) and received the best card I'd ever had, hand made, from Christina. As we were passing the archipelago dos Obrolhos the wind started to pick up and veer once again to the South. Bad news for Rio bound yachts, especially as we now had close to 30knots of wind again. We decided to hide behind the Islands and reefs of Los Obrolhos until it blew through and made a turn down wind to make the channel through the reefs.
Now, this was an interesting piece of navigation.
We have a photocopied chart of the area on which it is sometimes difficult to differentiate the land from the sea in the most extensive reefs off the coast of Brazil with big waves breaking around you with the added excitement of whales breaching and spouting trying to find a set of islands the biggest of which is only 1/2 a mile long and 50metres high. Not a set question in the yachtmasters exam I can tell you. Anyhow we pulled in behind Santa Barberra and rode out the storm with a few fishing boats and more sea birds than you can shake a stick at. The Islands are a nature reserve as it has colonies of sea birds found only here and it is also the area that Baleas Jubarte (a type of whale) choose to give birth in due to the warm water currents.
Next day, the wind died a little and the fishing boats started to move off again. Just as we thought that we would have the place to ourselves a fleet of yachts started to arrive from the 'Cruzeiro Costa Leste 2004' sailing from Rio de Janeiro to Fernando do Noronha. Well we thought that this would ruin our experience here but it actually led to an opportunity that we would only find with this exact set of circumstances. The Islands are usually closed to all visitors due to the research taking place with the rare birds and whales only accessed by some scientists and a couple of guys from the Navy who run the lighthouse and radio station there. As it turned out, because one of the commodores at the Iate Clube do Rio de Janeiro is the minister for the Navy he had arranged for all the cruisers to have a guided tour of the reserve and the lighthouse, including a huge slap-up Bar-B-Que on the beach. Well, it would have been rude not to take up on that sort of hospitality so of course we joined in. We even went aboard another multi-million pound motor yacht for evening entertainment (owned by the chap who owns one of the biggest breweries in Brazil even we couldn't clean them out of booze and we are usually very good at that). Two days later and they had all gone, leaving the place to the birds and us once more.
So, once again Rio bound, well by now we had to make for the nearest port as we were running out of food and water, so we headed for Vitoria. We made land again nearly three days later after a horrendous sail into headwinds ranging from 0 - 35knots with squalls and rain. Oceana took a pounding and took on quite a lot of water, we were shattered from the exertion and the motion so making port was quite a relief. It took us another three days to dry out all of our possessions and get things in order for the arrival of Martin carrying a red cross parcel from Christina's mum.
After making final preparations and laying down all the laws of the sea to Martin we started once again for Rio. Our first sail with Martin was a day sail to Guarapari where we anchored in a bay and explored the surrounding headlands. Then we made an overnight passage to Buzios which was made remarkable by the presence of so much wildlife enroute. We saw whales and dolphins galore, with one encounter after another. At one point we thought we might lose Martin over the side as we had a pod of dolphins leaping in our bow wave at the same time as a group of 3 whales swam by only 20 metres away from our stern, we didn't know which way to look!
At this point it was still looking good for our planned arrival in Rio in time for Martin's flight back to the UK.
On the 29th August our anchor dragged in gusty winds and we started to drift. As we hauled the anchor back in to reset it, it hooked the anchor chain of a boat next to us causing Oceana to swing in towards Zagara. Now, Zagara is a 50foot, 30ton steel yacht with a bow sprit which made a bloody good attempt to eat Oceana as they came together. An hour later we managed to untangle the two yachts and look at the damage. Oceana - a mashed rubbing strake, a mangled guard rail, several new scratches to the paint work, a slightly damaged bow roller and two very frayed nerves, not to mention a bemused cabin boy. Zagara - a couple of scuffs to the paintwork. At least we didn't hit the rocks and as they say, 'Worse things happen at sea'.
So Martin left us for Rio by coach after being successful in his bid to catch our supper on the fishing rod and to watch whales, but not unfortunately having sailed into Rio de Janeiro. Two days later, we sailed overnight to Rio in another storm (the wind was with us this time thankfully) to find that all our photo's of the whales and our final grand entrance were ruined as the film broke in the camera.
But, we have made it. We are now anchored off the Pria do Botafogo with the statue of Christ the Redeemer looking down at us from one side and Pao de Açucar (Sugarloaf Mountain) standing on the other side of the bay, absolutely skint but still living our dreams. All we have to do now is find some way of paying for our repairs.
In the meantime though we have been busy preparing the boat and also having lots of leaving parties. We have also been out and about to Bahia Independance Day Parade, the beach, Aratu to antifoul the hull and Ilha do Frade or monkey Island.
Antifouling the hull was an experience. They used a cradle on wheels to haul out up a slipway - all a bit tricky as they don´t have many boats like Oceana here and it took a while to get the balance right. The Health and Safety Executive obviously havent got a branch here in Brazil as there were people painting and sanding and fibreglassing and welding and well just about anything with no goggles or face masks or steel toecaps, just flipflops and shorts. The guy who jacked up Oceana using an idustrial jack and large chunks of wood didn´t even wear flip flops - just bare feet!!
Anyhow, we managed to get the painting done in double quick time and were back in the water in two days. After this we sailed to Ilha do Frade to see the monkeys and anchored in a secluded bay with jungle and mangroves on three sides and an oil refinery on the other. We hiked over the island in search of monkeys but saw only beautiful scenery, goats, a cow, loads of vultures and a huge black snake blocking our path. Contrary to anything Christina may say I WAS NOT SCARED..
So then we are now making preparations to leave Salvador yet again, but hope that this time it will be for real as we head towards Rio de Janeiro where Martin is flying out to join the crew of Oceana for a while.
We have left and come back though so it's not as bad as it first seems. In fact we've had a few adventures since the last entry here so here goes.......
We had a weekend out in the country at the house of Diogo's parents Celeste and Gilson where an attempt was made to kill us with courtesy. We were fed and watered from the moment we entered the house only taking small breaks to sleep or take a dip in the pool. There was a festa for Brazillian mother's day in town so we attended for a few drinks and a dance before catching up on more sleep. Next day we headed out to the Fazenda Issabelle (their farm out of the small town) for a spot of horseriding and sightseeing. We had a fantastic time despite the fact that my horse reared up 3 times Lone Ranger style before I jumped out of the saddle to the ground. Anyhow, nobody died and we all returned to the house in town for another round of fantastic food. The next day was Diogo's grandfather's birthday (84) and we were invited and greeted like long lost family members (instead of gatecrashers)to another round of food and booze.
Just before the point of bursting, although my shorts were now becoming uncomfortably tight, we headed back to Salvador with a bag full of goodies - lamb from the farm, cakes, puddings, fresh unpasturised milk and a couple of trinkets as well. You can't find fault with Brazilian hospitality!!!!!
So, after this we actually went sailing again!!!!! We actually left Salvador for more than a week as well. One of the rivers that feeds the Bahia o dos Todos Santos is called Rio Paraguaçu and it was here that we headed first. We originally intended to spend just a few days on the river, but well, it was just so lovely that we were there over a week and only came back then because our temporary crewmember Anna had to meet up with someone else. So we cruised up the river to a place which seemed a million miles away from Salvador. You could find an anchorage every night giving perfect isolation from the real world to listen to the sounds of the jungle reaching down to the river bank on all sides. Skinny dipping in the lovely warm waters and drying off in the sun. Waving to the ocassional canoe passing with fishermen or families on their way to market. Heavy traffic here is defined when two craft are seen on the same stretch of water and all heavy haulage is still undertaken by old sailing boats with tree trunks for masts.
We pulled into a couple of villages to get supplies, visiting the local farmers market where all the produce has been carried there by the ponies and donkeys waiting in the next street until it's time to plod home now laden with the shopping for the week.
Anna jumped ship to a South African Yacht 'New Dawn' with Kyall and Ruth and we returned to the Centro Nautico. It was like time travelling to sail back to Salvador after this experience, especially as the entertainment for the weekend was based around kariokee, a drum and bass warehouse party and following the huge floats of Gay Pride complete with transvestites galore. Another thing that the Brazillians are really good at is sound systems, from the music blaring from every house, car, shop and especially each bar to the huge sound system for the drumm and bass gig (so loud that it shook your clothes and rattled your fillings)and the awesome carnival floats - articulated lorries comprising of banks of speakers facing all directions and a full stage on top for a band or a disco.
After a quick dose or the twentieth century we headed to the Rio Cairu, 30 miles south of Salvador. Not quite as charming as the Rio Paraguaçu but we had fun here too either dancing 'Foho'(a cross between aerobics and epilepsy) or venturing up river in the dinghy to see where they still make boats out of wood from 70 foot schooners to single log canoes. A couple of days spent relaxing at Morro de Sao Paolo and then back to Salvador for the last UV - Soononmoon party where Sir Man dusted off his records again and hey, we're up to date at last........few!!!
We have both had our fill of Salvador for the moment so after this weekend we will be heading off to see some more of Brazil. Before then though we have one more party to go to with some International DJ friends of ours from Portugal (including Paulo Lopez - a blind DJ) then we are off to the country to stay for a couple of days on Diogo's farm for a spot of horse riding. His mother has also vowed to kill me with food!!!! But then we really will be escaping from Salvador for a spot of sailing (if we can remember how) and a bit of relaxation by the beach - palm trees, mangroves, clear water, fresh coconuts and all the peace and quiet we can handle. Well that's what we are searching for and we've been told about a few spots where it can be found so it would be rude not to really.
Besides, the money is running out pretty fast now so we need to get somewhere with no temptation to spend and no tourists to pump up prices.
Here's a small glimpse into the life of an International DJ:
Friday night put washing in to laundry.
Driver and interpreter arrive.
Drive out to Trance Festival (on way car breaks down at a service station filled with boy racer cars all with banging sound systems).
Get car started again.
Finish driving to Trance Festival.
Sign in to guest list.
Start meeting and greeting.
Chill out get loose and start dancing.
Hang out with other International DJ's.
Watch sun come up over the edge of the wooded valley.
Sit by lake for a while after dancing all night.
Get driven back to town to collect laundry, get a couple of hours sleep and shower.
Get driven back to Trance Festival.
More dancing, meeting and greeting.
Get ready to play a blinding set and show these trance fans what a bit of acid techno can do for your soul.
Realise that the organisers have forgotten one important element - record decks!!!!
Get Brazilian agent to ring round and source some decks.
Realise that it's just not going to happen so get down to some more serious dancing till dawn.
Get driven back to Brazilian agent's apartment.
Shower, chill out and cook slap up meal for entourage.
Crash out finally.
Also it takes a little getting used to (but I'm starting to make real progress here) when people in the street or on passing busses shout out "Hola! DJ Sir Man!" but if that's the price of fame then you have to give and take I guess.
Yup, still here. We have been over to Itaparica again and are now back in Salvador for a trance festival this weekend where DJ Sir Man will be playing. We have made a few friends here in Salvador which has given us an insight into the trance music scene here and also led to a few days out away from the other tourists. We met Diogo and Karena at a party by a lighthouse where I played a short set of London style techno and ended up being driven around for the rest of the night to see the sights of Salvador. Diogo is part of a collective called soononmoon who put on trance parties and he asked me to play at one of his parties and generally took us under his wing to show around this part of Brazil. Karena has helped us to learn Portuguese as she speaks only a tiny amount of English so in order to communicate we have had crash courses in interpretation and the dictionary pages have been nearly worn out.
It's now the rainy season and for the last week it has rained solidly, sometimes for about eight hours at a time so were hoping that it will lay off for a bit at the weekend for the festival.
Starting to get a bit repetitive, but we are still here. We did go sailing for a few days and had some lovely peace and quiet on the Ihla de Itaparica. However, on our return the control cable for the gear box decided to snap just as we were coming into our berth, in forward gear, with no space to turn and only the pontoon to stop our progress. So we used the pontoon to stop our progress by virtually mounting it before killing the engine and tieing the mooring lines up. No damage to Oceana or ourselves except a layer of paint and a few frayed nerves, but Oceana left a nice dent in the pontoon and a lot of Frenchmen who had come to assist ran off expressing anti-English expletives!!!!
Anyhow, now that we have fixed the cable we are waiting for our dinghy to be repaired and are therefore still here in Salvador. It seems rather strange that we should feel stuck in locations that most people choose as holiday destinations, but we have had enough of this place now with all the hassle of beating your way through people who want to relieve you of the burden of carrying money, by fair means or foul, and just want a nice beach to chill out on.........maybe next week.
Meanwhile DJ Sir Man has played a gig with the soononmoon collective and has been offered the chance to play at a trance festival at the end of the month so I guess we will still be around these parts until then.
Well it's been three weeks now and we think that we've started to get acustomed to the way that things happen here in Brazil now, we hope.
My second and third gigs went a bit better - last Saturday we went out to an old lighthouse in the North of the city where there was a nice little set up of a few friends throwing a party. There were dj's playing a variety of sounds and a bit of live music too and I played the last set of the night. This led to being offered a lift to my next gig by a couple of very lovely people who gave us a tour of the city from the safety of the back of a car. We saw churches, views, grand buildings, secret coves and a heavy metal music bar.
We had such a lovely time that we got quite waylaid and ended up arriving at the last gig too late and they wouldn't even let us in for free (don't they know who we are?).
We are getting the boat ready for a spot of island hopping around Salvador in the Bahia do Todos Santos over the next couple of months then we will think about heading North to the Caribean at a very leisurely pace.
Well, we've been here for two and a half weeks now and are just starting to get the hang of it now. Apparantly it's a bit quiet here now as everyone takes a month off partying after carnival to recover - makes us almost glad to have missed it if that's the size of the hangover!
Even so we have followed drum bands and Copoeira dancers through the streets, been to outdoor samba concerts, a few clubs and bars but strangest of all was a full on punk gig set up outside a bookshop. At one bar the noise police came to turn the soundsystem off that was set up in the street outside, so they just moved the whole PA down the road twenty yards and set it up outside another bar which hadn't been warned about the noise. That's the way to deal with authority!
The place is starting to warm to us now as we are getting more used to the Brazilian ways of doing things but the language barrier is still quite hard to overcome. We are slowly learning some Portuguese but not fast enough.
I had my first DJgig last Sunday and lasted half way through my second record when they pulled me off saying the music was too hard - oh well, nevermind hey! I also had my watch ripped off my wrist on the way home last night but nobody was hurt, well worse things happen at sea.
We have fitted the new bottlescrew for the forestay so are free again to sail off, it may take a few days to get the energy to make a decision as to where we aer going to sail to though as it's still far too humid and hot.
Well it´s quite a long story so I´ll just plough ahead and get it over with:
At 1800 hrs on the 25th January 2004 Andy and Christina set sail for Brazil aboard Oceana, aiming to reach South America in time for Carnival, but we should have known better than thinking that plan A would be actually seen through.
We spent three days floundering in fickle winds (but enjoying the dolphins and phosphoresence) in search of the trade winds. We caught our first Golden Dorado and settled down into our routine of eating, sleeping, sailing and baking cakes.
On day 4 we finally hit the trade winds and off we went sailing in clear skies with sunshine and steady winds.
At 0550 on day six whilst Andy was on watch there was a big bang as the bottlescrew holding the forestay to the bow of Oceana brokeThisos meant that there was no longer a bit of wire holding the mast up at the front of the boat, but luckily the wind was behind us so there was not any immediate danger of the mast falling down.
After some hasty lashing and nervous manouvreing we had the storm jib hoisted to take the weight of the mast and got things as sound as we could in the dark. We waited till first light and after a strong cup of tea, a bowl of porridge and a hefty slice of banana cake set to rigging up something a bit more substantial. We bodged up a few bits out of the spare parts box which would hold until we made Cabo Verde and altered course.
We still had 350 miles to go to Cabo Verde which took us 2 1/2 days, but were jusrelieveded that it happened before passing these islands as it would have been pretty hard to turn back after them. So we sailed into Mindelo de Sao Vicente for a couple of weeks of rest and repairs and a couple of cold beers too.
On the 15 February we set sail for Brazil again after taking on more food and water. We got waylaid again by light winds where the trade winds were supposed to be blowing at their strongest. The next four days were spent drifting in the light winds, not wanting to motor in case we needed the fuel for the Doldrums but becoming increasingly frustrated and agitated in the sun, heat and humidity. Night gave some relief from the heat but we had to keep a constant vigil for ships often seeing 2 or 3 a night. On the night of the fifth day we caught a monster from the deep on our line - a huge squid (not quite as big as the one which attacked Captain Nemo in 20,000 leagues under the sea, but big enough to scare you in the dark) then saw a school of dolphins and at last the wind picked up a bit.
After working out how to gut a squid and which bits you could eat we turned it into a delicious red Thai curry.
Days 5 and 6 passed uneventfully except for the capture of our first tuna by Christina (steaks one day and pasta the next day). Now the wind was picking ufurtherer and we were bowling along towards the doldrums with lightning and thunder in the distance and big black clouds giving us rain and gusty winds.
On day 9 we hit the doldrums - or at least the doldrums hit us! Suddenly the wind rose, changed direction and blew us 2 miles back in the direction that we had just come before we could get the sails down and under control. We also had 2 1/2 inches of rain in 1/4 of an hour. Then just as suddenly, there was no wind again, no waves, no clouds, just endless sun heat and humidity. We had to endure 2 days of motoring, steering by hand in the relentless sun and heat. There was no respite below decks as the hatches to the engine had to be left open to prevent it from overheating so the noise and heat from the engine filled the cabin as well. Our bodies were covered with a layer of sweat day and night and we had to ring out the bedclothes on changes of watch. The onlredeemingng feature of the doldrums was the beauty of the sunsets and sunrises. The whole sky would be filled with every colour imaginable, reflecting on or shining through clouds of every shape and size and all of this being reflected in the water.
On day11 at 2200 GMT we crossed the equator 3 times.
We didn?t mean to, but we had a big party planned with tuna steaks and roast potatoes and music and all. We´d even showered and shaved and got our party clothes on. We judged that we had time to eat our meal before opening our wine and making offerings to King Neptune as we crossed the line. Then Christina checked the GPS to find that we were actually crossing the equator at that moment. Disaster - no cameras were ready notes from speaches were still being edited and the wine wasn´t poured. There was only one thing for it, we turned North again crossing the equator for the second time, then turned South with cameras and speaches to hand for the "Oficial Crossing".
After another night of motoring the alternator shook loose from it's bracket and the nuts fell under the engine. We had to sit slopping about for 2 hours until the engine had cooled enough for me to spend the next 2 hours grovelling about in the grease and other detritous under the block searching for, finding and fitting the nuts back on. When this task was finally completed we tuned the engine on to get underway and the wind filled in enough to sail!
We were back to sailing again now in the SW trades, catching more fish and killing seabirds. Ooops! not on purpose though, the wind generator (the Beast) ate 2 birds that flew too close to it so we had to switch him off at night when we had birds roosting on the coach roof. We spent the next few days rushing along spirits high and stating to measure the miles to Salvador. On day 13 we made our best ever 24hr run of 151 miles.
As day 16 arrived so the wind started to drop again and for the second time on this passage we had to alter course around the back of a big merchant ship on a direct course for us. We had another 3 hot and steamy days in variable winds causing moral to drop with our speed. Fresh food was starting to run out or go mouldy in the heat and we were down to tins, onions and potatoes.
On day 18 we almost lost all hope as the last of the eggs were going off at a rapid rate. This could cause real disaster as with no more eggs we would be forced to try and sail without tea and cake through those long hours of the night watches.
As we approached land on day 19 we looked forward to our last night at sea before cold beer, beefsteaks and gin and tonics with ice and a slice. Luckily we found a recipe for cherry flapjack instead of cake and sailed under a beautiful full moon lighting our way.
At 0640 we sighted lights and let out cries of "Land Ahoy!!!!!!"
So 19 days and 23 hours after leaving Cabo Verde and 2178.1 Nautical Miles later we arrived in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil to be welcomed by an old friend from Las Palmas - Nick in his Sparkman and Stephens - with a cold beer (or 3) HOOOOORAYYYY!!!!!!
Since leaving the Canaries we had spent a total of 28 days and 8 hours and 3072.1 Miles at sea, averaging 107.5 Miles per day and 4.5 knots. Our best run was a whopping 151 miles in one day at 6.3 knots.
Christina now has the distinction of being a real sailor after going all the way on only her second attempt - I´m talking about going up the mast of course. She was hauled up in the bosun´s chair briefly enjoyed the view before painting the spreaders and coming back down again. She promptly left the scene for a stiff drink.
Well we had a bit of a trial trying to get ourselves back to Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. First of all we had to contend with the fall out from Hurricane Morine - our dear friend arrived in a complete whirlwind and this set the tone for the next couple of weeks. We had fun as we kept on ending up moored next to boats full of hunky surf type fellows and Morine and Christina steamed up the windows trying to get a peak at them. We managed to keep up the hospitality by drinking two boats completely dry, including the cooking sherry! Morine said that she had the best holiday ever and we even cruised around three islands in her two week stay. The only problem then was that the battery on Oceana was defective and Morine ended up having to fly from La Gomera to Gran Canaria on her way home. We tried to sort out the battery but had to admit defeat and tried to sail back to Las Palmas. We got stuck in Los Christianos de Tenerife over Christmas and New Year due to high winds so had to make the most of our time there. We spent Christmas with Dave (an ex-millionaire) and Lisa, sitting in the cockpit of their catamaran in the sun eating and drinking in the usual festive manner and New Year was seen in with the most amazing firework display on the beach. We finally made it back to Las Palmas and have spent the last couple of weeks readying Oceana and ourselves for the Atlantic crossing to Brazil. We are filled with equal amounts of excitement and trepidation for our biggest passage so far - nearly 3000 miles or four to six weeks of sailing without seeing any land!
Made it to another of the Canary Islands and have managed to stay well clear of the tourist traps so far. Instead we have encountered pine forests, volcanos, large telescope observatories, industial harbours (not so good) and rain (novel at first, but the novelty soon wore off).
We are heading back towards Gran Canaria to watch the start of the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) now before you get all excited, the cruisers it refers to are sailing boats, this isn´t Soho you know. 250 yachts all heading off to St. Lucia.
Thanks to our computer guru Zoe for reinstating the photos, hopefully more to follow as the adventure continues......
We have at last sailed away from Gran Canaria. Over the last week we sailed to Tenerife and La Palma and are now checking out the weather to sail to La Gomeira. It´s fantastic to be sailors again!!!!!!!
It´s a nautical term honest!!
I´ve been working steadilly on Oceana taking a minimal amount of breaks and siestas in order to ready her for Christina´s arrival on the 27th. All that is neaded now is a propellor and we´ll be away again - hoorah!
Anyhow, must dash back now or else I´ll be late for today´s siesta which would put my whole busy schedule out of whack.
I can report that the light at the end of the tunnel wasn´t a train coming in the other direction but was infact the sun in the Canaries!!!!
Andy is back aboard Oceana slaving away to make her shipshape and Bristol fashion for Christina´s return later this month. It´s not all sex, sun and sangria though as Andy has stopped drinking, it´s been raining .........oh and of couse Christina isn´t here.
Well looking back on the summer it wasn´t all bad, there were four weddings (including Christina´s Brother Paul marrying Karen), a jazz festival, our birthdays, all that unseasonal sunny weather and of course meeting up with our friends and families again. And now we are on course for the second installment of Andy and Christina´s Big Adventure so sit back, relax and follow the story as it unfolds.
We are starting to count the days down now untill we can get away again, still too many for my liking but we need to get the cash together for the next part of the trip. Still haven't heard from any rich patrons out there who want to support out little adventure - don't be shy, any donations will be gratefully accepted and you can always tick the no publicity box if you like.
One consolation is that the weather here is pretty good at the moment, but when you have to go to work it kind of takes the fun out of it really. Oh well, nevermind eh? Worse things happen at sea.
As mentioned above going to work for a living sucks. Christina has got work now as well and at last the money is coming in but we would both much rather be swanning about on a boat in the tropics than working in West London. Oh well, it's not all bad I suppose as we have worked out that we can potentially save enough money to go away again for another year at the end of September to Brazil and beyond!
We felt like naughty school children the other week as whilst Christina's parents were away on holiday someone burnt a hole in the lounge carpet with a cigarette during a B-B-Q party we threw. Oooops!
Nevermind eh! worse things happen at sea.
Poor Oceana is sitting at her pontoon mooring waiting for us to return. Poor us have to go to work! I survived my first weeks work since last June at a school in Ealing and Christina is still searching for a job which will pay off the debts raised by her latest haircut. We are no longer sleeping on the floor and did our first real bit of socialising at the weekend. We went to see Group 185 at the Spotted Dog and caught up with a few old friends and some new ones too with cries of "Oh you're the boat people!" as we were introduced. It must be quite nice to be famous. Christina would like you to let us know if you are folllowing our progress, she's quite keen on surveys and we have made some startling discoveries due to her surveys so lets see what happens this time.
1 Do you read our website?
2 Are you really rich?
3 Do you want to give us some/most of your money to help fund our adventure?
4 Do you drive a London black cab?
Please respond using the 'Ahoy there' fascility and in the event of a tie the judges descision will be final.
It was only Bloody Seven Degrees when we landed at Gatwick
And there was nobody there to pick us up and we had to get a taxi from Victoria because they had a problem with the baggage which made us late and there was no beer in the fridge at Jack and Marion's when we got in and we had to sleep on the floor and we have to go back to work and it's not hot enough to wear shorts!
But it is nice to see everyone again and Oceana is still in the Canaries so we are going back and we have got a roof over our heads and we haven't had any bills yet but we are still waiting for the cushy jobs, DJ residency and the free drinks.