23.01.09 – Unpronouncable Bay (almost Flopolis)

We’re peering into a black night, looking for a little light which is flashing 3 times every 10 seconds, just for us. We should see it in 20 minutes, I say, then cross my fingers and pray. I never cease to be excited by navigator’s anticipation at times like this.

At 0500h we finally anchored in 4 m calm water at N end of Unpronouncable Bay. Despite all care, you get caught out though. We had cautiously rounded Coral Island under radar and then plotted a course round the reef in the middle of the entrance. When all set to anchor we found ourselves in a sea of fishing floats – thousands of them, standing like Chinese terracotta warriors. A mussel farm I expect. Luckily we extricated ourselves without snarling, then anchored and fell into our bunks. 

5 hours’ deep sleep has amazing powers of rejuvenation. We’re up at 10 and ready to trot. A long sand beach fronted with Cherrybrook mansions, high islands covered with rainforest, quaint fishing boats. We decided to bypass the southern approach to Florianopolis, which is 12 miles up channel and 12 miles back again afterwards. Instead we’re going up the outside of Catarina Island, probably to Porto Belo. Problem is it isn’t a port of entry. Maybe we can take a bus down to Flori to do the formalities.

From Unpronounceable Bay it is about 400 miles to Rio. The inhospitable, low coast gives way to islands, ports and inlets, so we can coast hop. Dave and I are fascinated by the name of one town – Joinville – and we need to go there. Such is man’s tireless quest for discovery. Dave is still disappointed not to have got to Fray Bentos, where the spam of his childhood was canned. Perhaps Joinville will console him.

The thing you miss in the open ocean are the rich greens of pasture and forest. I don’t think it is the colour itself – heaven knows there are enough green seas. Perhaps it is the static restfulness of the shore. Anyway, the coast hereabouts is lovely. High hills with rainforest, and great swathes of white beach.

Our second anchorage last night was at the northern end of Florianopolis. Brazil still doesn’t know we exist, because all the port authorities close on weekends. Don’t worry, everyone says. We picked up a mooring at the local yacht club and were ferried ashore in a speedboat for showers and a beachside meal. it was not romantic with Dave, but the cold cervesa was excellent.

A good ziz did wonders after all those watch-keeping snoozes (in terms of benefit hours, 3 + 3 doesn’t equal anywhere near 6) and we are now motoring north over a wan glassy sea. The islands look very Whitsunday-ish, high and wooded. At times I am reminded of Seal Rocks or the South Coast. Long white beaches deserted except at the ends where people cluster under masses of gay umbrellas with serried ranks of condos and low rise holiday apartments behind. Jet skis, hang gliders, gin palaces and adventure pirate ships abound, but almost no yachts.

Chris will like the weather. By day we tend to hide from the sun and I have not just lip but body glisten. Basting nicely, I am. Nights are lovely, sleeping-bag cool. 

Local persons – well, yacht club patrons anyway – are extremely friendly but quite impossible to understand. When I find a Spanish speaker I fall on him with relief. Dental floss swimsuits make this the land of the gorgeous buttock, flaunted with complete abandon even by the old, the saggy and dimplitic.

Apart from the language and the fishing fleets there is not a hint of ethnicity about. No architecture, no black persons, no voodoo and no drumming. I am told all that is further north. It’d better be. This is all new money.

In the meantime, the sun is over our yardarm. The ship has been dry for days and last night Dave got a bottle of some fiery sugarcane spirit. A racing motorbike would go well on it. Mixed with lemon Tang it tastes like fermented glycoprep. Orange tang is heaps better and we will have some. Then I will help Dave put up the mainsail.

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