19.01.09 – departure at last

Harried out of our snug marina berth by Hidrographia, who know we are squatting. We procrastinate as long as possible – waiting for immigration officers to come back from the cruise ship, I sit and watch 2 young couples dancing tango on the jetty.

We leave at noon without provisioning (esp cigarettes, wine and fresh fruits) – fed up and keen to get a move on. Torkel is not bringing the wrapstop down until Tuesday and even then.. He has kindly agreed to send it up to the North loft in Rio. To be safe though, I will ask Chris to bring one over.

The SE gale has subsided but there is still a sea running. We stop outside the breakwater to fit the aries paddle, haul up the main and finish tidying up. 15 kt SE wind, clear skies. The water changes from brown to khaki as we pass inside Lobo Island, whose light signals the northern side of the Plata estuary. Full main, yankee and staysail give us 7.5 knots. We’re not sorry to leave P del E, which is a boring place.

 Engine left on to charge batteries and reacquaint itself with lubricity. An empty shallow sea. 1 killer whale and 2 petrels and us. Otherwise, niente. Nada.

The breeze died after dusk and so we motored. And motored. And motored. 10 hours later and there’s still no wind. We’re 12 miles offshore but could be anywhere, but for the depth (22m). Brazil is abeam (santa vittoria do palmar).

I have fixed the autopilot, which I sheepishly discovered wasn’t broken in the first place. The remote control unit, which we never use, had been left on and turned hard left. So whenever we engaged the pilot, hard left she turned.

It is a warm bright morning without wind. We’re motoring north over a gently heaving sea and I am delighted that it is not I doing the heaving. Only 12 miles off the Brazilian coast but we are all alone. The shallow, bottle green waters are giving up no pescados to Dave’s patient trolling. But it has not been an uneventful trip so far – yesterday we saw a big killer whale and 2 petrels, while today a plastic bottle floated past.

Like the River Plate estuary, these waters are littered with submerged wrecks, according to our charts. I think most will have been driven ashore by the nasty SE gales which bedevilled coastal passage-making in the old days. These uncommon storms are called carpinterias, so named for the light in the eyes of shorebased carpenters rushing to sharpen their tools in anticipation of the need for their boat repair skills.

At 4pm a light, cool SE breeze filled in and we have the yankee out. A late lunch of palm hearts and lemon tea. Tonight we’ll have fresh fish – Dave has finally brought an unfortunate pescado in.

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