Many changes with the new year. Hallie and I enjoyed New Year’s Eve on the beach at Joao Pessoa, thick with people, but everyone having fun and being cheerful. No ugly drunks…no snide remarks to the foreigners…no complaints about walking in front of other people as we wended slowly through the crowd. We bought kabobs and chocolate covered strawberries from vendors on the street. There were fully stocked bars put up temporarily on the street, too.
Then Ruy left to inspect the new boat in Germany; Nora left for Argentina; Hallie left to fly home. Before Ruy left we all went to a churrascaria for some great meat (and most every other food you can think of, fixed price, all you want). Before Nora left we had Nicolas make a delicious fish curry for us as a farewell dinner. Then Ruy returned; Rob and Carol returned to Maggie; and Tim and son Josh arrived. Returning from the airport we stopped at a recommended local dinner-by-the-kilo restaurant. That was interesting but the food was so-so. Josh speaks some Portuguese (his wife is Brazilian), which has been nice.
Today we cleared out. The plan is to depart at high tide tomorrow afternoon. We drank/ate coconuts and then went to a local restaurant for their “prato feito” — the meal of the day, which was more than I could eat for $6. Tonight we’re having Nicolas prepare a special moqueca dinner for all four boats. So I guess you could say that the new year has been about food. In between all the restaurants has been provisioning. We are ready. Testing the engines yesterday they started easily, but the tach stopped working on the starboard side and the stop solenoid failed on the port side. Oh well, not show-stoppers.
One downer was that Tahawus had lines stolen from their boat — staysail sheets cut right from the sail! Ruy talked to some locals about it, and the consensus is that it must have been “the crazy guy” who lives around here. Who knows? It colors one’s perception of the place, to have your boat boarded during the night and have gear stolen. But it appears to have been a weird one-time occurrence.
We met another fascinating sailor here today. His name is Jan Hamester. He was sailing a 40′ racing boat, trying to set the singlehanded non-stop round-the-world speed record. He had a great start; he says he was 300 miles ahead of the existing record as he approached Brazil (from France). But he got a small cut on his leg, and it got infected…and then it got horribly infected (he showed a photo that was quite revolting). He was in touch with a doctor ashore who told him to take a strong antibiotic, but it seems that the drug was missing from his medical kit. He hailed a passing ship and convinced them to stop and pass an antibiotic to him. Doing that may have saved his leg. He was still in tremendous pain, and had to abandon his attempt and put in here. Tomorrow he goes to have his leg operated on. He says the doctor here told him if he had let it go just a few more days he would have lost his leg. Hopefully he will start on the road to mending tomorrow. He says in 2020 he will be sailing a 60 footer in the Vendee Globe singlehanded round the world race, which I think of as the ultimate crazy sailing. But it sure would be fun to follow the progress of a competitor that I’ve met. Ironically, he says he doesn’t like sailing singlehanded. It seemed like he has been alone for a bit too long, as once he started telling his story he talked and talked and talked and talked more!
It is a little under 2,000 miles from here to Barbados. Wind should be mostly favorable, though maybe light, plus there should be some current with us. Maybe 13 days…