Had we forgotten how to sail? All we could do was to finally cast off at Jacare Marina and follow the trail of irresistable GPS crumbs that seem to connect a trail of yachts from one place to another.
Two friendlies left two days before us, one left with us and some followed in another agreed destination of Ilha dos Lencois. A remote channeled island network connected to sea and river simultaneously and tide dependently.
The sail there was kind of awkward to start as we fumbled about our drifting home to find our groove. It takes longer than expected and longer for some than others. From my perspective – it was the first time I experienced real sea sickness, throwing up overboard on my first night shift even though the waves were a steady 3 foot compared to 10 foot chop on our Atlantic crossing. One soon questions “why am I even here”. By day three, when Ongemak had found a solid wind, sailing smoothly with dolphins playing on its bow, one tends to find reason.
5 beautiful sunrises and one glorious moon eclipse, Ongemak turned toward land and headed into our last sunset. It is not desirable to enter in the dark but we knew we had a bright moon on the way. In the meantime, a white ring/horseshoe of what we can only describe as phytoplankton had formed surrounding the boat at a 5m distance as we neared our entry to Lencois Island. It may even have been all the angels our dear mothers send with us on our journeys.
We anchored just at the mouth of the island cluster at night, waiting for high tide in the morning to take us safely into the channels.
It was an Amazonian experience – dense wet forested channels, rounding a massive sand dune and the appearance of our fellow travellers. There lay Irene (from South Africa), Ohana Lomi (French) and another South African boat we had met months before. Beware aspiring sailors, these waters crawl with French and Saffas. Another French and Swedish boat from Cabadelo joined the next day. Unfortunately, our sailing companions (Era, South African) had some trouble and had to divert their route to Forteleza.
Lencois Island is a fisherman’s village. The houses are built with local wood. There are practically no shops. Laura runs a small business where you can buy internet (a basic human right) and a drink. If you ask her, she’ll cook you up a snack too.
Some of the houses sell fruit and veggies from their homes. Water is collected from a pump. Life is ultimately simple as far as the foreign eye can tell but even we have learnt that simplifying your environment does not always equal a simple life.
Animals are all free range and the barnyard includes goats, chickens, ducks, dogs, cats, cattle, and the most beautiful birds. Besides spotting the odd parrot, there are red Ibisses on the island. On a backdrop of white sand, brown river, green mangroves and blue sky, the bright red feathered birds really “pop”.
Ongemak is on anchor here and we access the island by swimming, canoe or motor dingy. Swimming and rowing is totally tide dependend. It rises and falls by 5m and so the ebb and flow can make it nearly impossible to make headway against its curreny. It also means that you might tie your canoe up on dry (/exyremely muddy) land but will have to swim to fetch it when you are ready to leave.
Activities on the island are self invented. We walked over the dunes to swim in the fresh water holes formed by rain water. The second night, all the yachties came together on the beach for a sunset braai of fish and prawn accompanied by delicious sides of freshly baked breads and salads.
We explored a river in between the mangroves that disappears at low tide with monsoon rains pouring down on us.
Muir and I visited Bato Vente – a village opposite – by canoe. We found the Swedish couple (Karina and Mike) there so we had lunch a beer. A very friendly little village, not yet used to many visitors with extremely cheap prices and super hospitality. Also the most speakers/decibels per capita in the world. Two walls of speakers were erected to entertain about 20 locals celebrating some festa.
Oloff found multiple ways and locations for hanging his hammock and reading his book, frequently interrupted by beers and company.
Last night, we camped out on top of the dunes (traditional date night) and braaied prawns on an open fire. It was spectacular.
Tomorrow, we’ll be off to French Guiyana where we hope to see a sattelite launch into space on 5 Feb.