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17th July 2003

A few of you have asked if your email addresses have been dropped.  Sorry, we just have not written.  10 weeks in Brazil - time rushes on!  Dave stayed on board whereas Jan spent 3 weeks back in Canada visiting friends and our 2 sons.  She also arranged tickets for them to fly to Trinidad & join us there in August.  We are really looking forward to having all 4 together.

The Village of Jacare is a few miles up the Paraiba River past the elderly port of Cabedelo.  Freighters still unload here, but there is an air of past industry and lack of paint.  The cruising guide suggests that you do not anchor off Cabedelo, and the two cruising boats which anchored there in the last 2 months were both robbed during the night.  There is a security problem in Brazil.  It is the only country we have seen which has inaugurated a 3rd police force to keep guard against corruption in the other 2.  However, it is also full of wonderfully helpful and friendly people.  The cities are clean & well equipped.  More like Portuguese-speaking N America and nothing like West Africa.

The boat yard here, "Cabedelo Nautico", is operated by Brian Stevens, an Englishman who arrived by sailing boat in the 1970's.  It was a touching story when he described the day after their arrival (with no Portuguese speakers on board) and the local English teacher brought her "English Club" on board.  All the 5 Stevens children made friends with local children and asked to be allowed to return to the village that night leaving Brian & his wife on board wondering whether they were doing the right thing.  Most of this family moved to Canada, but Brian stayed and has a teenage daughter, who drove us around on a lovely sight-seeing trip.  We can see why he stayed.

Brian now builds fibreglass catamarans for clients throughout Brazil.  He loves to design things and at the end of most conversations, there are sketches on any scraps of paper around.  He has designed a deck hatch which is very simple and works really well according to our friend Alex, who bought one from Brian.  We asked Brian to help with 101 jobs on Harmonica, and the biggest include building a fibreglass dodger over our cockpit, a cockpit table, a set of wedges to support the mast against the deck at the partners, a bracket for our steering vane "Sally", ......  Brian became a great friend & Dave spent many evenings chatting to him & his wife Sylvia while Jan was back in Canada.

The beach front along the sea here has boomed in recent decades, and sports a line of high-rise apartments reminiscent of The Gold Coast, Australia.  The River Front at Jacare has become a fashionable place to watch the sunset over a drink or supper and there are 3 to 5 restaurants with piled decks over the river.  Some famous Brazilian musician (who has much to answer for) said that it is a truly romantic setting to sit here watching the sun set while listening to Ravel's Bolero.  As a result, the road beside the river is called "Bolero Avenue", and all the restaurants which are open play the Bolero at sunset.  The boats anchored off are treated to different renderings played in slightly different time and slightly different keys.  Brazilians like their music loud, so each set of clients (if their ears are still functioning) has the other renderings drowned out by the volume in their own establishment.  These are now fashionable restaurants where supper for 2 with drinks can cost 15 pounds stirling.  You can also eat for a quarter of that in the "pay by weight" restaurants which abound, so it can be as cheap to eat out as to cook your own supper.

A clean, frequent bus connects Cabedelo to the nearby city of Joao Pessoa along a busy dual carriage way for about 70 cents Canadian.  The cheaper route is the train which is less clean, but adequate, and does a similar route for 25 cents.  Every bus stop is visited frequently by private taxis which offer to take passengers slightly faster than the bus for the same fare.  Public transport is plentiful & cheap.  Shops also abound, and Harmonica is bursting with provisions and new spare hardware.

We made much use of our folding bicycles.  The N and S is rural, and I remember 1 Sunday lunch for which the restaurant opened specially for me, and later 4 riders arrived with lovely horses and very fine tackle.  Brazil is enormous, and appears to be changing rapidly.  We are in the state of Paraiba which was settled 400 years ago by Portuguese and then by other European nations.  The big populations this century have grown 2000 km south around Soao Paulo & Rio De Janeiro.  We did try to see a little more of the country by meeting in Sao Paulo after Jan's visit in June to Canada.  We threw a dart in the map, and took the bus to Curitiba and the tourist train from there down from the coastal plateau to Parangua by the sea.  In one place this line is built out from a cliff on trestles.  We then visited Rio, took our photos from Corcova & the Sugar Loaf, had a morning run along the beach at Copacabana, and Jan went on a Favela tour while Dave poked around the City Centre.

This week end, we shall head north and sail past the Amazon, and across the Equator, and over 1,000 nautical miles before leaving the coast of Brazil.

Harmonica saw the sea briefly 2 days ago when we took her down river to clean off 2 months worth of tropical barnacles.  We hired a young lad from Jacare Village and Dave planned to swim with him using snorkels, masks, & scrapers.  It was spring low tide and we could not get into the favorite spot by the beach outside river mouth.  Instead, we motored further out towards the reef.  The visibility was about 20 cm and the boat was pitching in a choppy sea.  After 20 minutes, Dave puffed back onto the deck having cleaned about 6 feet of the port bow.  Carlos was well ahead on the starboard side and finished the rest of the boat.  He also fitted a new zinc to our 6 month old MaxProp feathering propeller.  He tightened the screws down well, losing only one in the process, then asked Dave to check it.  The latter used most of his breath finding the screws and only managed to check one of them.  Humbling for Dave!

We still have workers on deck completing the final gel coat finish & stainless rails for our new cockpit dodger.  It should be really nice at sea, especially at night, knowing that no wave is going to come rolling down the deck and send cold water dripping down your neck.  However it has been a lot of work for Brian's yard, and more time than had been planned.

Our position reports can now be viewed through two different sites: one gives very detailed maps, and the other gives a historical track of our progress.  Check our web site at www.techco.ab.ca/harmonica for details.

Best wishes from Dave, Jan, & Harmonica