This blog is about planning and preparation for a circumnavigation of the world in a 39-foot sail boat followed, hopefully, by a diary of the actual circumnavigation. You can track the progress of Pachuca by visiting http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=VNW5980
Thursday, August 30, 2012
We landed at Miami just after 4 AM with no sign of the hurricane that had passed by two days earlier. After a 3.5 hour layover during which I cleared Immigration and Customs into the USA I was on the next flight, to Dallas/Fort Worth. The layover in DFW as short - about 1.5 hours - and then I was in the air again on the last leg, to SeaTac. The last leg was the best for me. Even though I was in a middle seat, to the right of me was Mike from Missouri and to the left was Fernando from San Antonio. Good companionship and conversation seems to make a trip go about 3 times faster, particularly when it is lubricated by drinks being bought all around.
Arnold was at the Baggage Claim to meet me and soon we were on our way back to Kingston. We stopped at a McDonald's on the way where Arnold bought me a Real cup of coffee, ie strong and tall, which I needed after the journey of about 28 hours.
It was nice to be back. Everything seemed so pleasant and familiar. Just being able to talk freely was a novelty because in Brazil I generally have to keep my mouth shut like a mute due to my language problem. It was good to see Sandra again with a big hug and after we brought in my luggage it was time for Denver the Dog to make his appearance. After the protracted doggie greeting thing (complete with licking of ears), I settled into the big and comfortable 5 star guest room. Fortunately my arrival will overlap with daughter Elisa's working holiday here in Kingston by a few days. Shortly after finishing her work upstairs in the office she came down and we had a good chat. It is always a bonus to see Arnold and Sandra's children because between their busy lives on the east side of the USA and my wanderings around the world it might be years between the crossing of our paths.
After a lively and entertaining dinner I excused myself and crashed out on the bed. I couldn't even hold out until Jay Leno, which shows how tired I was.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
I told him that I expected to pass through Rio again in November, and would that be a better time. He said definitely Yes. "Winter" will be over and the skies will be much clearer. He also said that after November it gets "too hot" through to Carnival time. This is another confirmation that November is a good time to be in Brazil, and also a good time to leave it. Anyway, on the basis of his information I'll probably spend at least 2 nights in Rio in November. I'll visit Corcovado hill first (the statue of Christ overlooking the city). Once I've done that, with its uncertainties a first-time visit, I'll re visit Sugarloaf Mountain now that I better know the Zona Sul section of Rio. Easy. I'll take a bus to Urca, visit Sugar Loaf Mountain, then take another bus to Ipanema to have another look at their great market then walk past the canal to have a look at Leblon beach. The way back is the "Central" bus.
The plane to the USA departs at 8PM. After I check out of the hotel at noon I'll take a cab to the airport. I don't mind being nice and early.
Monday, August 27, 2012
|Pathway on Side of Sugar Loaf Mountain|
|Plenty of Fresh Fish Vendors|
|Two Street Blocks of This|
|Clouds Starting To Lift|
The experience was good and I recommend it highly to all visitors to Rio. The trip to the top is in two stages. The first stage puts you on a hilltop with various tourist facilities including a helipad. The next stage takes you to the top of SLM.
The views would be stunning on a clear day but unfortunately there was what appeared to be smog preventing good visibility. I could not see the horizon. Nevertheless I spent over an hour up there taking my time to soak it all in. I had a cup of coffee enjoying panoramic views to the north then went for a stroll through the extensive network of paths on the heavily vegetated north and east slopes of the mountain.
Back down on the ground I bypassed the beckoning taxis in order to walk around the streets and try my luck with the buses. Soon with the help of an English speaking young man I was on the bus to Ipanema. I got off just past an open market that had caught my eye and walked through the market to the beach. By then fog, not smog had set in, blocking out the sun and it got chilly enough to force me to put the jacket that had served me so well on the 5 week bus tour of Mexico. The beach is on the other side of a busy highway, is maybe 200 yards wide and has fine golden sand. However, there was a mighty surf pounding in and I wondered if this was the usual situation.
To be honest, I was more impressed with the market. It ran for two blocks of a cordoned off road, and had stall after stall of every fruit and vegetable that I could think of, all very healthy and fresh looking. To the left as I walked to the beach were truck-based stalls selling all manner of fresh fish and white meats. I can't recall having seen a better outdoor market.
Then there was the problem of getting back to the hotel. The fog had put me off visiting the statue of Christ overlooking the city and I was going to settle with having seen SLM, Copacabana Beach, and walked along the beach at Ipanema. After 30 minutes of walking around I was a very confused puppy. Without the sun I had lost my sense of direction and there were buses running in all directions. I wasn't too worried because I had plenty of time up my sleeve and have learned from past experience that getting lost is a great way to see a place. It sharpens the mind while the body stumbles onto all sorts of interesting places. Eventually a bus displaying “Central” rolled by. “Central” wasn't exactly the description of the Rio downtown area as “Centro”, but it was worth a shot. I boarded the next Central bus, paid my 2.30 Reals, and off we went. Soon we were in Central Ipanema, so I figured that I would have to find another way back, but I hung in there figuring that the worst that could happen would be that I would wind up where I had boarded the bus. But then we went through Central Copacabana so I knew that we were heading east again. Then we went through a tunnel and emerged along a road skirting Praia de Botafogo, the bay full of boats that I had admired from the top of SLM. I noted that the fog was lifting. Soon we were in the CBD of Rio and I got off at the last stop.
I had a vague idea where the hotel was and worked my way through the busy city until I decided to ask for help from a lady running a magazine stand. I told her that I speak only English and pointed at the city cathedral on my tourist map with a big question mark on my face. She pointed, I thanked her, then I did a 90 degree turn to the right. Twenty minutes later I saw something familiar – what appeared to be a very old 2-level aqueduct. I walked under the aqueduct and the road split. I took the left fork, knowing that I was very close to the hotel. At a service station I said the name of the hotel, showed the address, and learned that I had taken the wrong fork. I went to the other road and half a block later I was at the hotel.
My impression of Rio is very, very good. The CBD was as busy as one would expect but the other parts were quieter. The roads didn't seem to be crowded, everything was clean and orderly, and there was plenty of open public space. The public transport system is outstanding. I haven't tried the subway, but the buses are modern, clean, cheap, well patronized, and seem to run everywhere. I could live in Rio, and for me that is saying something. Maybe it's my age talking, but I would see no need for a car. … And while I'm dreaming … I think that I'll live in Ipanema, about a block from the open market and two blocks from the beach.
I hope to visit the statue of Christ overlooking the city on my way back to Bracui in early November.
Sunday, August 26, 2012
I was up at 4.30 AM to give me ample time to prepare for the 8 AM bus to Angra. After coffee I checked my departure list and verified that the only things remaining to be packed were the computers. I shut them both down and packed them both into the Toshiba case.
Then under the glow of first light I brought the outboard motor into the cabin then began the task of bringing into the cabin every fuel container. Fortunately only 6 of them had fuel in them.
I attracted the attention of the night watchman who eyed me as walked the adjacent jetty then had a good look as he visited my jetty and walked past Pachuca. I greeted him with a "Bon Geea" (with a soft G). I was happy to see him doing his job. I have noticed that the night patrolling is very good at the marina - best I've seen yet. The even have a manned watch tower at the far end of the marina. I looked at the Google map and saw that there is a small road running along the other side of the Bracui river - outside of the gated area on this side of the river. Bad guys could drive down that road, wade across the Bracui river, and find themselves on the edge of the marina. I figure that the watch tower is a deterrent brought about by hard experience.
I decided to get moving 45 minutes before bus time because I wasn't sure how I'd manage with the full duffel bag, the computer bag, and my backpack. Before leaving the boat I switched off every breaker except the ones for the lights. I turned off the master switch for the starter bank but didn't want to do the same for the house bank because I wanted to keep the gas detector solenoid energized. I've had trouble getting it to work after a long period at rest. Between the solar panels and the wind charger I expect to have full batteries when I return. I deliberately left the engine exhaust valve open. Nobody has authority to start the engine but if the marina staff are forced to run the engine due to some crisis I don't want them to blow the exhaust hoses.
I managed to get the bags off one at a time - not the easiest of tasks given that I have to clamber over the wind steering frame then get bag over that water gap and onto the jetty. Then the big moment. I got the straps of the duffel bag around my shoulders, put the computer bag strap around my neck, hand carried the backpack, and started walking. I was relieved to see that I was managing the load OK. The bus stop was about 500 meters away.
The bus arrived dead on time at 8AM and went in the middle door because there was no way I would pass through the turnstile with the luggage. I placed the bag in a space for wheel chairs, went forward to pay the lady, then she manually turned the turnstile to register my entry.
I dithered over whether to stop near the Acropolis hotel and walk to the bus station or play in safe and go all the way into town then take a cab. I decided to try the walk and I'm glad that I did. I pulled the cord just at the right time and had to walk less than 2 blocks to the bus station.
I got to the Costa Verde ticket counter at 8.50 AM and the next bus to Rio was leaving at 9 AM. I purchased the ticket for $R40.50 and at 9.15 we were on the way to Rio. I was on the wrong side of the bus for sightseeing, but I got good glimpses of the spectacular coastline on the way to Rio - much like Angra, with the dramatic islands rising all over the place. We passed through two tunnels. The approach through the outskirts of the city was not inspiring, with mile after mile of rough, box like houses and businesses. When we got into the city I looked up at the hills and noticed Christ the Redeemer looking down with his arms outstretched.
We arrived at the Rio bus station at about 11.45AM. I lugged my baggage to the taxi ticket counters and I had a choice of four companies. The woman at the second booth pulled me in with persuasive attention and it turned out to be a good choice because she brought in another woman who spoke English. It was fortunate that I was able to present the address as well as the name of the hotel, because she told me that there are three "Mondo Novo" hotels in the Rio area. I told her that mine was in the central section of the city. After some discussion with the cab driver they were all confident that they knew which hotel I wanted and the driver brought me there with no problem. The fare was $R39, almost as much as the bus ride from Angra. I gave him $R45 and he gave me a friendly pat on the shoulder.
The young hotel clerk keyed in my reservation number and put up his thumb to signify that I was in the system. I paid $R110 in cash for the first night and was shown to my room. I had left Angra at 8AM and I was in my hotel room in Rio at 12.15 PM.
The Mondo Novo is a 2 star hotel which reminds me of some of the places that Brenda and I had stayed in during the Mexico bus tour. It is a small hotel with two floors and a courtyard in the middle. My room is on the ground, opening to the courtyard and next to the water fountain. The room is small, with modern tiles on the floor and half way up the walls. There are no drawers or hanging space. In the corner is a plastic card table with a matching plastic chair. On each side of the bed is a small table space and a reading light. The wash basin in the bathroom has only cold water. There is a window, but it is high up blocked by the closed shutter. On the other hand, the place is clean the hotel seems safe and even quaint, the free internet works fine, there is an overhead TV, the air conditioner works well, and breakfast is served 7-10AM in a cute little dining room. If the hotel does meet my criteria of clean, safe, with internet, I will be a satisfied customer.
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Last night I thought about the difficulty Henrique has had in getting labour, the laid back approach to work that I've seen for myself, and the ease with which the hull paint could be damaged by using the wrong compound or the wrong technique; and decided that I didn't want the cleaning and polishing of the hull done unless I was present to oversee the work. I tried his phone with Skype and got no answer so I decided to walk to his house. Anyway, I needed to return several sets of charts that he had left with me to see if I wanted to order any.
I had his address and had no trouble finding the house because they all display their addresses. Henrique's property has a ten foot long half hull model at the front which is like a beacon to boating people. He was home and I apologize for disturbing him at his home but that was not a problem and he was a most gracious host, offering me a cool drink of matte which I accepted and enjoyed very much. I looked around at the tools, equipment, materials all over the place and said “This is a man's house”, and indeed it was. We talked about my leaving for Rio on Sunday and he wrote down the various trains and stations that I would need to visit the mountain tourist sites of Rio. We discussed the social, economic, and political situation in Brazil. I then explained that the charts were great but I had all of them in electronic form, and what I really needed was a large scale chart of the South Atlantic to Cape Town. He understood. (I'll see if I can get one in Rio.)
Then I told him that I would prefer to be present during the hull work on my boat and I would see him about the job when I returned in early November. He had no problem with that, other than muttering that it was only a simple polish job. (But I knew better.) As I was leaving he told me that I was welcome to use any of the extensive set of tools and equipment on his premises, which I very much appreciated.
I walked back to the boat, had lunch and a nap, and shortly after getting up I got a visit from Henrique. He brought with him a large book of photographs of Rio to help me prepare for the trip. I thanked him very much and told him that I would enjoy going through the book tonight. He told me to take the book to Rio with me, because he didn't need it back until my return from the USA. I told him the name of my hotel in Rio (Mundo Novo) and he replied that it was close enough to simply take a taxi to Sugar Loaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado Mountain with its spectacular views of the city, rather than the train. What a person. He's becoming a friend.
In the late afternoon I did some preparatory work for my departure. I broke down the Swarbrick anchor and stowed it at the foot of the clothes locker. I then filled up the fuel tanks and they took 35 liters. Over the last 20 days I had run the engine an averate of 1.15 hours a day, using an average of 1.52 liters per hour. This was a combination of about 15 runs at 1500 rpm and 5 runs at 1000 rpm. I still have 120 liters of fuel on deck and will probably stow it in the cabin along with the outboard motor during my absence. Brucui is a wall managed and very secure marina, but let's just say that I want to help things by adhering to the principle “Out of Sight Out of Mind”.
I will dedicate tomorrow (Saturday) for packing. I must be ready for an early departure on Sunday.
I decided to dine out at the restaurant. It is an amazing experience. As usual I was the only customer and had my own dedicated waiter. My favorite is “the works” hamburger with chips. I asked for a Heineken and the waiter presented me with an ice bucket with two Heinekens. The hamburgers are the best that I have ever eaten: double beef, bacon, cheese, a fried egg, and the the accoutrements. I could barely rise from the table when I was finished. The cost was only 15 Reals (I had only 1 beer) so I gave him 22. While I was enjoying the last of my beer after the meal Henrique came by. He gave me the complete Costa Verde bus route from Rio to Santos, including the distances to every stop. He also brought a magazine with a bilingual section covering various scenic spots in the Angra region. I take it with me to the USA to show to others and to help me plan my boating in the region when I return.
Later in the evening I went through the book of photographs. Forty six photographers were let loose on the city to photograph whatever they wanted. My interest, given that it will be my first visit, will be in the South Zone (Zona Sur), which includes Sugar Loaf Mountain, Christ the Redeemer, and the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema. (I wonder if the girl is still there.)
As if to remind me of what I would be missing, Bracui presented me with the best morning yet: a crisp, cool, cloudless morning with only a whisper of a breeze over the still waters. During the 1-hour break between the two Skype sessions to Australia in order to recharge the Acer battery I cleaned out the refrigerator and ice box compartments. After the second Skype session I returned to the boat and started packing. By 1 PM all was packed except for the Acer and Toshiba laptops. Working off a checklist that I had put together over the previous week I think that I had packed everything that I would need. I even remembered the Safeway card.
I felt so good about the situation that I cracked an ice cold “Antarctica” pilsner (“Desde 1885”) to celebrate and build an appetite for lunch. (As if I needed one!).
The trickiest aspect of packing was the myriad power packs, cables, and adapters for the laptops and video and still cameras. The cameras each have a special cable for uploading images to the laptop. Fortunately every power pack transformer that I have, for the cameras included, can deal with voltages from 110V to 240V, but they must have 110V and 220V plug adapters, including for two 220 plug standards for Brazil.
Thursday, August 23, 2012
I caught the 8AM bus to Angra which was dead on time. As we moved through the town I carefully watched the passing scene to plan my exit from the bus on Sunday morning near the inter city bus station. The key is to keep sight of the Hotel Acropolis and get off as close to it as I can. I'll sit in he middle of the back row of the bus with my duffel bag I front of me and only a few steps from the rear exit.
The objective was the ATM of the HSBC bank and within ten minutes after alighting from the bus I was packing another $1,000 Reals in my wallet. I then walked to a supermarket that had caught my eye on previous visits while marveling at the perfect weather and the gentle cool breeze.
So far the Angra region had presented my kind of climate: day after day of clear bright skies, not particularly humid unless it had rained recently, and a little on the warm side during the middle of the day. The mosquitoes have matched the culture by being the most laid back ones I had ever experienced. They are small, slow and laughably easy to swipe flat, buzz around the ears at night but never seem to bite.
The supermarket exceeded my expectations. The first thing that I liked was that they allowed me to go in with my backpack instead of forcing me to stow it in a locker. Later I noticed why: there were surveillance cameras on the ceiling. The store carried everything that I might be interested in, including fresh and frozen meats, various cheeses and sliced meats, powdered milk, and a very big range of fresh fruit and vegetables. I figured that I might as well back load some provisions on this trip so I purchased a 5 kg bag of rice (nothing smaller on offer), four packets of lentils, some spaghetti, and other items including fresh bananas. I expect to depart from Bracui on 30 November very well provisioned, but will still stop at Florianopolis for a “top up” of perishables before setting sail for Cape Town.
After a 30 minute wait I boarded a bus for Frade and managed to get off just before Rio Bracui (with help from a girl who pulled the cord first). Before I had a chance to cross the highway to begin the 3 km walk to the marina another bus came by and dropped off Henrique. We greeted each other with a handshake and he told me that he would drive me to the marina. As many others do with their cars and bicycles, he had parked his car just inside the security gate and used buses. This was my lucky day because he had saved me a long walk with 10 kilos on my back.
On the way in Henrique pointed out his house, which is on the canal. Yes, he has a boat. Yes, of course it is a sailboat because he hates power boats.
On the way to the marina I told him that I would be leaving for Rio on Sunday morning, and would he be doing the hull job on my boat before I left or after I returned in November. He told me that he has had trouble getting people to do the work. I expressed surprise, given that this is he low season. The people are there and available, but they just don't want to do the work. They'd rather do very short jobs and get just enough money to get by on. He suggested that he do the job while I am away. I would have preferred to be here when the work was done, but I relented, figuring that I'd be able to make a careful assessment of the result after my return. He doesn't mind waiting for payment until I get back. If that job works out OK I'll ask him to do the hull cleaning below the waterline that we discussed earlier, but only if he can guarantee to do it within 2 weeks.
As we walked toward my jetty (“D” jetty, easy to remember because my pen in Fremantle is on “D” jetty) we walked by a group of guys talking at one of the tables of Phillipe's closed cafe and Henrique turned and told me “See? All day they just sit around and talk.” I replied that they talk too much even when they work. I'll have a group of 3 doing maintenance (e.g. cleaning) on a nearby boat and all I hear is Yak Yak Yak, and I can't figure out what they could be talking about. Henrique gave a knowing nod. … I hope they can talk and polish at the same time.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
|Corroded Wire Break|
|Reinstated Rutland at Work|
I decided to have one more go at removing those two side bolts so that I could lift the wind charger off the mounting tube to bring it into the cabin. If I failed I would ask Henrique when he came to polish the hull if he could recommend a real mechanic to remove the bolts because I didn't want to take a chance on a marina employee having a go and doing some damage.
Doug, an American sailor passing through MdP, had a Rutland 913 on his boat and told me that they are so simple and rugged that the only likely thing to go wrong would be the brushes. My plan was to open the unit up, look at the brushes, and if they were the problem get replacements while I was in the U.S.A. If the problem turned out to be more serious or mysterious than that I would ask Henrique if he could ship it to Rio for repairs while I was away.
I went up to the Rutland with a 6mm Allen wrench and a 10mm ring spanner to fit on the Allen wrench for leverage. To my surprise I managed to remove both bolts. Perhaps the soaking with WD40 that I had given them in MdP had worked its way through the threads, perhaps the warmer temperature of Brazil had made the difference, perhaps I was stronger in Brazil than at MdP. Who knows? Who cares? I had the bolts off.
The next step was to find the wire connection that we had made and break it so that I could lift out the charger. The cable passing down from the Rutland was joined to the cable rising from the regulator at about one meter below the Rutland. The join was inside the rear leg of the bimini but I was able to pull it out through an access hole drilled on the inside of the leg. What I saw when I pulled out the joint surprised me and gladdened my heart. The joint on the positive wire had corroded completely, leaving a visible gap in the run of the wire. The shrink tubing had slipped down from the joint and presumably enough salt water had found its way through that 20mm hole a the top of the Bimini leg during the rough passage around the Horn to cause the corrosion,
If I was lucky this would turn out to be the only problem with the Rutland and I would be able to sail for Cape Town with a working wind charger.
I telephoned Arnold to discuss the pros and cons of soldering vs crimping and on the way back to the boat decided to use crimping because we both agreed that it would be good enough get me back to Australia OK. (After all, the failed crimping job had lasted since New Zealand.) Soldering was better, but I had my doubts about being able to do it myself.
By nightfall the crimp joining was done. I had committed the elementary mistake of completing the joins before sliding the shrink tubing into position, but I am too far down this cruising life to worry about things like that. If the Rutland proves to be OK I'll silicone the joints, use plenty of electrical tape, silicone over that, and try to do it right the next time.
Tomorrow I will dig out the Rutland's tail from deep storage, bolt it into position, free the blades which are tied down with rope, then wait for enough wind to see if the unit is working again.
Painting the tail in MdP had been a good move. Although the rust was superficial, it would have turned into deep corrosion before too long. Replacing a corroded tail would not be as simple as fitting a piece of ply because the tail does more than simply point the blades into the wind. It is thick and heavy to act as a counterbalance to the main body of the unit on the other side of the pedestal.
I woke up at 6.30 AM looking forward to seeing what the day would bring with the Rutland wind charger.
After breakfast I removed enough plastic containers and equipment from the starboard quarter berth to gain access to the tail of the Rutland below. Having the containers out in the cabin was useful because it gave me fast access to tools and materials and facilitated my search for the nuts and bolts required for fastening the tail to the wind charger. I knew that I was looking for long and thin bolts, and I was sure that I had put them in a labeled plastic container. I methodically searched through every container, sub container, and plastic envelope and could not find it. I then went through a second pass, not looking for what I expected to find, but for anything of interest. I found the bolts loosely thrown in a small box of shackles. It was very uncharacteristic of me to be so careless with such important bits, but I really wasn't feeling very well with that chest cold in Mar del Plata.
I then went up to screw in the two side bolts that had given me so much trouble. I had cleaned the bolts with WD40 the night before then washed them in soapy water and I had given the same treatment to the threads on the Rutland. The idea was to allow the Loctite to get a good grip. The side bolts had originally come down with no lock washer on one side and one of those flat, heavily ridged washers on the other. This time I would screw the bolts back in with ordinary spring washers. The operation went well. The biggest danger was in dropping something in the water, but nothing like that happened. I used plenty of Loctite (green strength) and screwed the side bolts very tight by using a ring spanner for extra leverage on the 6mm Allen key.
Then it was time for the tail. I cleaned the tail shaft on the Rutland with WD40 then slipped the tail on with little difficulty. There were 3 bolts to fit and once again the big danger was in dropping one of the tiny nuts or maybe one of the ring spanners into the water. Fortunately all went well.
The in was Show Time. For the first time since approaching the Horn I removed the rope and freed the 6 blades of the Rutland. There was a gentle wind with occasional gusts just strong enough to perhaps cause the Rutland to put out a charge. I went down below and flipped the switch on the HRDX charge controller from “stop” to “go” and waited. Soon a gust came up and for the first time in more than 6 months I saw various levels of amperages dancing up and down the display. Then I got a hint of the hum that the Rutland makes when it is putting out a charge.
The Rutland Owner's Manual states that the blades should not be restrained during wet weather because the spinning of the propeller shaft helps keep water out of the inner workings of the unit. Somehow it had survived the gales of the Horn and the beat to MdP through more gales with its blades tied off. Pretty impressive (and lucky!)
For those fellow wrinklies who remember the classic Warner Brothers Looney Tunes cartoons, I felt like doing a Daffy Duck up the jetty hysterically doing cartwheels, flips, and plenty of “Woo Hoo”s.
Now that I knew that the Rutland was working OK I put silicone sealant into the crimp joints that I had made the day before then used plenty of electrical tape to support and protect the joints. I then carefully stuffed the joints back into the vertical Bimini tube and sweated it out until the next gust of wind verified that my work with the joints had not broken a connection.
After than I spent an hour putting everything away with the occasional company of the Rutland's hum which I had always liked and had missed very much.
With the work done it was only 11 AM but what the heck, I broke out a cold beer to celebrate.
Time would tell whether the fix would hold up, but I was confident.
The closeup photo shows one of the two mounting bolts that gave me so much trouble, high up the mounting pipe just below the charger. The cord at the back of the tail is to enable me to point the charger off the wind in order to tie down the blades without risking a nasty injury to the hand or arm.
Monday, August 20, 2012
I stayed on the boat for most of the day, finding little things to do.
As soon as I got up I checked the battery voltage and it was at a satisfactory 12.4V, the result of my having run the engine for a total of 3 hours the previous day. I then ran it for 2 hours at 1000 rpm while I had a slow breakfast and did some reading. The battery fault alarm did not go off at 1000 rpm as it has been, no doubt because the battery bank was at a higher voltage. From now on I will keep the batteries well charged no matter how much I have to run the engine, in order to reduce stress on the batteries (which hate being drained).
It was another tranquil and sunny day at the marina and given that I had plenty of time on my hands I decided to look into the problem with the deck light, which had not been working for months. I climbed up the mast to the light, removed the bulb, then brought it down and cleaned the metal base with sand paper then tested it with the multimeter and found it to be OK. I went back up to probe the socket and got no reading, but the socket was so small that I couldn't be sure of my finding. Before putting the cleaned bulb back in I climbed back down to check the switch and fuse, and I'm so glad that I did, because the 15A fuse had blown. I didn't know why I had put a 15A fuse to service only two mast lights so I replaced it with a 10A fuse which promptly blew when I replaced the bulb and switched on the light. I put an a fresh 15A fuse and that held up OK and the deck light came on.
Back up the mast I went to bring down the bulb so that I could find a matching spare that I could take to the US sin order to purchase a half dozen more. I found one, went back up the mast, fitted it, it lit up, and within seconds was too hot to touch. Someone described incandescent bulbs as heaters that happen to put out light, and I certainly hate to see so much energy being wasted as heat. Unfortunately I an stuck with that system until I can fit more modern LED deck and steaming lights.
At 3 PM the cabin temperature was 30C (86F) and I figured that the Angra area would be getting pretty hot in the summer months (Dec-Feb in the southern hemisphere), so it was just as well that I would be clearing out in early December.
I have one week left at Bracui before flying north to the U.S.A. and I must say that I am ready. I've done everything that I wanted to do with the boat, have gotten a good overview of the area, and am rested up. I ran into Henrique yesterday and he told me that he will be having Pachuca's hull cleaned next week, which will be just in time, otherwise I would have postponed the project. I may visit Angra during the week to visit the HSBC ATM because I like to carry plenty of cash when I travel.
I have just paid for another month's stay at the marina, which will carry me to 30 November.
The cost for the month was $R992.47, which is only $470 Aussie dollars and $490 USD.
So the target date for my departure from the Bracui marina is 30 November.
Saturday, August 18, 2012
Although the ruins have been preserved, there is no plaque describing their history, so I asked Ricardo, my boating neighbor. His answer is perhaps an indicator of the attitude and priorities of early Brazilian society.
The ruins are of a sugar mill dating back to the 19th century. I commented to Ricardo that it must have been one large mill, and according to him it was a large operation and Bracui (still referred to as Porto Bracuhy) was a busy port. The sugar milling operations have moved to the north and are heavily mechanized, rendering the mill and port of Bracui a historical footnote.
|1667 to 1844|
|Nuked Up Angra|
I decided to make my visit to Paraty yesterday, a Friday, instead of Monday.
I started walking just after 9 AM wearing my straw sombrero from Mexico that had survived the passage from La Paz intact. Thirty minutes later I was at the bus stop and 20 minutes after that I was on the bus. The fare turned out to be $R9.50 instead of the $R2.60 to Angra, and I came to see why – Paraty is much farther away than Angra. We arrived sometime before noon, which I figured would give me a good 3 hours for a look around.
I saw two Information with Internet places across the street from the station and I figured that they were commercial operations. I walked into the one at the left and nobody spoke English and they charged me one Real for a small map of the town measuring 6” x 8”. It didn't take me long to find the “Centro Historico” and the water front.
The Centro Historico is chained off with limited access to traffic. Being a Friday in the off season the town was remarkably quiet. I took some videos of the natural harbor and boating facilities. The near side was filled with tourist boats. On the far side I could see slips with some sail boats in them. Nevertheless the entire area, including the approaches to the harbor, appeared to be very shallow and I was glad that I had visited by bus.
I spent a couple of hours walking around and photographing. Toward the end I heard a couple speaking English and they turned out to be English, visiting Brazil for one of their children's wedding. They told me a bit about Rio and I told them about the cataratas at Iguazu, which they plan to visit.
At 3 PM I decided to return to Bracui, and on the way out I found the banks and tried my luck with my Visa card at Bradesco, with no luck. I could not see and HSBC bank around. After a 30 minute wait I was on the bus back to Bracui and on the way saw signs that indicated a nuclear power station. I took a quick photo of it from the bus as we rushed by. I must admit that the well sheltered bay of Angra Dos Reis is a great place for such a plant.
I had envisioned several visits to Paraty, but for me one was enough. The old precinct is interesting and well worth a visit, but for me it didn't have the impact that I had expected. I thought about that and concluded that Mexico had spoiled me, with its broad sweep of antiquity, much of it still alive and functioning naturally. I found Paraty to be a tiny precinct, highly commercial, and more like a theme park than a real place, which was fine with me, but for one visit only.
This morning I found the battery bank to be down to 12.0V. I hit the “start” button of the engine and after about a second everything died. I had been noticing lately that the starter bank has been dropping voltage throughout the day as though it has been joined with the house bank. This should not be because the Voltage Sensitive Relay (VSR) is supposed to isolate the starter bank when it drops below 12.8V. I used the combiner switch to yield a bank of 6 large batteries at 12.0V and started the engine with no trouble. There could be a problem with the VSR, and I plan to do some snooping around next week. In the meantime, I'll manually switch off the starter bank when the engine is not running to make sure that it is physically isolated from the house bank. (I'll see if the VSR circumvents the isolator switch.)
It appears that running the engine an hour or 80 minutes a day is not sufficient, so from now on I'll do 2-hour runs until I get the batteries well charged. [Note: I found out later why the batteries had been so drained: I had accidentally flipped the refrigerator thermostat to "high" and the compressor must have run continuously to turn the refrigerator into one large freezer. That thermostat is in a very vulnerable spot and I must put a guard over it because this has happened before.]
How I miss the electrical setup of the old SABB engine! I had frequently seen the Balmar delivering the full 160 amps into the house bank, knowing that the smaller alternator was delivering another 18 amps to the starter bank. The alternator on the Volvo engine is rated at 115 Amps which I was not that happy about when we planned the installation but I accepted it because I figured that would get me by. In fact I've never seen it deliver more than 70 amps, and during my 1500 RPM charging runs it delivers about 50 amps . (If I heard right, its output is related to RPM.) This translates to many more engine hours to keep the batteries charged, and more precious fuel during a long passage. During charging runs I am forced to run the engine at 1500 RPM, otherwise the battery fault alarm will go off; and this puts a lot of strain on the mooring lines. This “battery fault” hair trigger is another extremely annoying characteristic of the Volvo setup.
I'll deal with this after I return to Australia. I'll start off by discussing the problem with Volvo. If I do not get sensible help from them I'll go elsewhere and attempt to have the Volvo alternator replaced with the Balmar (which I still have), using the same external regulator as before, which is still mounted in the electrical closet. I want to totally bypass that bullshit Volvo electrical management system.
It was very fortunate that I had taken the shopping bag with me because the fruit and vegetable man, whoever he is, had paid a visit. There were big fresh carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, garlic, and bananas, both ripe and green. I loaded up Big Time with the vegetables and bananas, and skipped the loaf of bread although I couldn't resist getting four of their fresh-baked buns. Unfortunately there was no rum so I took a chance on a bottle of “Askov” vodka, at 35 Reals for 900 ml of 35% alcohol.
On the way back to the boat I spoke with Ricardo who told me about a better provider of fruit and vegetables, “Alex”. His shop is only 50 meters past the guard post on the way to the beach and I had missed it, but when Ricardo told me that it was across the street from the machine shop (which I of course had spotted) I knew exactly where it is. Alex supplies hand picked fruit and vegetables, including lettuce, which I haven't seen since Argentina. I will be visiting Alex next week.
After sunset I had to make a decision on the Vodka. I had no ice or additives. I improvised by pouring it neat into the stainless steel cup then squeezing into it juice from the limes that I had purchased at the shop. Let's call it a Pachuca desperation cocktail, which tasted OK but packed a big punch.
After complaining to Brenda that I had not been able to find meat for the pressure cooker she had responded that there MUST be meat somewhere near by, given that there were people living all around. Armed with this encouragement I had checked the freezers of the shop a few days earlier and discovered that they had in fact frozen meat, and I had purchased a slab of what appeared to be beef.
There had been a happy confluence this day of the advent of the fresh vegetables with the thawing of the meat which I had put out in the morning, and in the evening I began to work to work on the pressure cooker meal. I have never thought of myself as a cook but I realized that I was enjoying cutting up the fresh carrots thinking of what they would do to the stew. (Onions are a sine qua non to my meals, but I've come to realize that the humble carrot is also indispensable.) Into the pressure cooker I threw in two large carrots, several potatoes, and several cloves of garlic, all chopped up.
Then I began to work on the meat, which was labeled “Carne Congelada de Bovino”, dated 12/09/2011 with another date of 12/09,2013, which I presume is the “use by” date. I looked up “bovine” in the Oxford dictionary, but found it to be not helpful, defining it as “(1) of or like an ox (2) dull and stupid”. It could be pork but it looked like beef to me; but it didn't matter. I spent a lot of time cutting away the fat while dicing the meat. I suspect that as at the my previous boat Angie's mooring in Rockingham, Western Australia, the local crustaceans would by now have discovered Pachuca as a source of all sorts of culinary goodies thrown over the side.
The vodka cocktail was really good. It set me up well for a great meal and a good movie. By then I had already decided to visit Paraty (spelled as “Parati” in the charts) tomorrow (Friday). To that end I had charged up my video and still cameras.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
|What Was It?|
|... Well? ...|
For the Toshiba I ran a Windows 7 full system backup and for good measure I produced another System Repair CD. I then backed up the photos and videos again into their own directory for easy retrieval.
The next day I ran Macrium Reflect to produce an image of the entire C drive of the Acer machine. I also backed up its photos and videos separately.
All of these backup files are stored in the external Seagate 1 terabyte drive named “Data”.
Yesterday afternoon I went for a walk out through one of the security gates to visit a nearby beach and community. Unfortunately I was not able to find a shop selling fruit and vegetables (The nearby shop has not stocked bananas and carrots for over a week.) but settled for a cold beer at a beach side table enjoying the splendid views.
On the way to the beach I took the accompanying photos of ruins near the marina and next to the hotel. I'll leave it to the reader to guess that the buildings represented, and I will reveal all in the next exciting chapter of the blog.
Last night I met Francois, “Marian”, and Henrique for dinner at Phillipe's. I was soon introduced to one of the iconic drinks of Brazil with an unfamiliar name that I cannot recall, but included plenty of ice, a chopped up lime, and a bit of sugar. It reminded me of my favorite drink in Mexico, the Margarita.
Before dinner was served Francois and I exchanged contact information and rough outlines of our plans. I will have left Bracui well before Francois returns from Europe in early January. He expects to set off for Cape Town with a crew of four friends on about 9 or 10 January, heading SE. I expect to set of from Florianopolis, 370 miles down the coast at about that time. Blue water sailing in close company is impractical but we'll keep in touch via Sailmail and HF radio.
Over dinner I asked Francois and Marian how their visit to Paraty went. Francois had been there before and told Marian that it would be good, but Paraty exceeded all her expectations to the point where they stayed a third night. Apparently a visit to Paraty is like going back in time to the Portuguese colonial era. I was warned to visit now rather than during the High season, and to avoid weekends. Henrique told me that I can catch a bus to Paraty on the highway and he offered to drive me there, but I didn't want to trouble him so I told him that I would walk those few kilometers. I plan to go on Monday, prepared with fully charged still and video cameras.
Dinner for me was a wonderful big and thick medium rare steak, and I meant to tell Francois what a great wine he had chosen – went down like velvet compared to the wines that I am accustomed to drinking. I had taken cash to be ready to jump in and pay for my meal, but Francois handled the payment so deftly and quickly that all I as able to do was to thank him afterward for dinner and his generosity. He had become interested in the MarinePlotter software that I've been using and we agreed on a visit to Pachuca at 9 AM this morning for a demonstration.
I knew that Francois and Marian would not have a lot of time because they had to return a rented car by 1 PM (on their way out of the country), so I made sure that everything was prepared for a fast and efficient demonstration. I moved the Toshiba laptop to the cabin table so that they could sit on each side of me for an easy look at the screen. I put the two little GPS antennas on the table and connected them to the laptop so that Francois could see the entire package at work. I made sure that I had fast access to some screen photos that I had taken on the way to the Horn as well as the video of the approach to the Horn.
It all went very well. We zoomed in on the Horn area so that he could see the advantage of actually being able to see the ocean bottom. We zoomed in on the Bracui marina and they could see the boat in the exact position that we know her to be in at D jetty. The satellite shot must have been recent because they found his 54-ft ketch GLENNIV tied stern-on. We panned over to Trisan de Cunha and had a good look at the area and discussed anchoring spots. Then we visited Cape Town and had close up looks at two marinas. I showed Francois how easy it was to download Google tiles. I wasn't able to show all of the features – for example, although I mentioned that MP can handle ENC and RNC electronic charts I didn't bring one up. However, there was enough to give Francois an idea of the power and usefulness of MP, and he plans to download it soon after returning home in Switzerland. I handed him a piece of paper bearing the URL of the Club Cruceros web site and asked him to contact me if he had trouble downloading the software onto his XP machine. He asked me about payment and I told him that MP is free. (David's gift to mariners.)
During our session Henrique showed up with a copy of just about every paper chart of this area, along with other material. He told me that he could supply me with any chart that I wanted to purchase. I had a look at the material but decided that I will rely on my electronic charts of Brazil. What I really need is a chart covering the South Atlantic ocean from South America to Cape Town, and I'm hoping that he can bring one in from Rio.
Then it was time to say our farewells. For Marian it was Goodbye, and I was so glad to have met such a pleasant, alert, and cheerful person. With Francois it was the hope that we meet again.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Today I managed to plug the Acer netbook to wall power. The 3-prong Brazilian plug that I had recently purchased in Angra would not fit and the wall socket appeared to be a standard USA 2-blade 110V. I went back to the boat and found the 3-prong USA plug, fitted an adapter to make it a 2-blade connection, and that worked fine. Now I don't have to work in the office using the slow "point and click" screen keyboard of the Toshiba because its keyboard is faulty. ... And it means that this marina is using 220V on the jetties and 110V in the office.
The charge for the American Airlines round trip ticket to the USA showed up in my Visa account, the final confirmation to me that all now OK with that. Today I had the office staff print out my E-ticket. They also printed for themselves a short document translated into Portuguese in which I stated my departure and return dates as well as contact information while I am in the U.S.A.
I spent hours preparing a DVD covering my passage to the Horn and stay in Argentina and reviewing the videos and photographs that I took revived a lot of memories of the Horn adventure. To be honest, I can hardly believe that I did it.
I cannot resist presenting two hitherto unpublished photographs that could be seen as book ends to the Horn adventure.
|Rick and Bob|
The first bookend is of the last thing that I saw at Marina de La Paz when I set off for the Horn. To the left is Rick and at the right is Bob Carroll being helpful as ever, pointing me in the direction of the Horn.
The second bookend is of me at the end of the journey.
Sunday, August 12, 2012
|Note previous location below|
|Starboard Side After Polish|
I put in two hours of work immediately after breakfast while the sun was still low and the day cool. The task was to finish off some welding work that had been done in MdP.
The riggers had been unable to fasten the rear of he new wire rails because the U-bolts that had been welded to the frame as attachment points did not allow enough room for the fitting. This had worked OK previously because the rail had been fastened through he U-bolts with heavy cord, but the new rails would be connected to the frame with turnbuckles.
The riggers returned to Buenos Aires with the rails completed and ready for new and larger attachment points at the cockpit frame. Pato didn't waste much time in finding a welder to to the job, which was to cut off the old U-bolts and weld new ones. On the upper port rail I asked that the U-bolt be welded 1 inch higher than before, to correct a mistake that I had made when telling Scotty where to weld the fittings.
The man showed up a day or two later and he seemed keen and enthusiastic. However, it bothered me that he had come late in the day, which might put him under a time pressure, there was a bit of a breeze blowing, and worse, he would use stick instead of MIG welding. Stick welding stainless steel presents problems, one of which is that it puts more heat onto the parent metal than MIG welding.
Nevertheless the man must have known what he was doing because he did a very good job. The welds around the roots of the U-bolts were built up nicely and showed no overlaps or pitting. The welds had to be strong because my life might depend on them.
A day or two later he hailed me from behind the gate separating the two clubs and asked for payment. I knew that the areas around the welds would need a good buffing and polishing but given his prompt and good welding I decided to let that pass and do the buffing myself. I went back to the boat and paid him through the fence with my thanks and a bit of a bonus.
This morning attended to the buffing and polishing. Fortunately I had a full bottle of metal polish in stock, and I started to work not knowing how long it would take or the quality of the result. After two hours of work I stood back and assessed the result and couldn't complain. There is some discoloration but it would be noticed only by someone who was looking for it.
I did find a section 5 mm long on outboard side of the weld of the upper port U-bolt that was not built up but appeared welded at the root. Had I seen this in time I would have called the welder back, but I made the usual mistake of having a quick look and relying on the expert. I am sure that the weld is strong enough but nevertheless I may tie a loop of rope through the upper turnbuckles and around the frame for my crossings to Cape Town and Australia. In Australia I'll get Scotty to look at the welds.
The alert nautical types may notice that I have not put split pins inside of the turnbuckles. The riggers gave me the small pins for the job but I decided to wait and allow the rails to stretch and settle down before I do the final tightening and pinning.
|Bus Schedule to Rio|
|Great Tourist Information Team|
|Fresh Fish Market|
I walked to the bus stop at 7.45 AM and the bus to Angra arrived at 8 AM as that passenger's hand written schedule had predicted. I arrived at Angra about an hour later and crossed the main street to the Tourist Information center where was attended to by the same person who had been so helpful on my first visit.
The first question I asked was where I could find a computer store where I could purchase a Brazilian plug for my Acer's power transformer. He showed the location of two places on the map then gave me directions. I then asked a few questions about the plug (e.g. “Will the same plug fit on 110V and 220V outlets?”) I learned that Brazil has recently switched from a 2-pin to a 3-pin plug with the round pins in an arc rather than a triangle, and that one plug should be good for both voltages. He was surprised that the Bracui Marina is on 220V because the town of Angra is on 110V. I asked why Brazil is on two voltages. It appears (and I am prepared to be corrected by electricians) that 110V is the standard, but houses, organizations such as hotels, and marinas and presumably whole towns can go to 220V by going to 2-phase power. In the town of Angra, for example, anyone wanting to run an air conditioner must put it on 220V 2-phase.
At the corner to where I had been directed I found two computer shops on adjacent corners. I purchased the plug and lead for the Acer transformer in one of them for only $R10, but nether had one that would suit the Toshiba transformer (2 pins at the transformer end, not 3). That was OK. I need a Brazilian plug for the Acer because I expect to use it in the hotel in Rio and with its short battery life I must have wall plug power. The Toshiba is the one with a healthy battery life but at last count 15 keys were not working and using the screen keyboard is very slow going.
The second question had been where to find a bank with an ATM that could handle my Visa card. I was pointed to Bradesco across the street and HSBC farther up the road. I tried Bradesco first because its branch in Ilha Bella had recognized my Visa card. Unfortunately the one in Angra would not accept my PIN number. After a few tries on different ATMs I gave up and walked over to HSBC, which not only recognized my VISA card but also had a hefty limit of 1000 Reals. I withdrew the limit, which gives me a present total of just over 1100 Reals. Assuming I pay $R500 for the hull cleaning and polishing I'll still have $R600 to carry me through to Rio, which should be enough.
By 10 AM my business in Angra was completed. I headed back to the Information center, showed them the plug that I had purchased, then asked them where I could catch the Costa Verde bus to Rio. He showed me the bus schedule, which listed 17 buses running per day from 4 AM until 10.40 PM. I started to copy down the bus schedule and he suggested that I photograph it. What a great idea! I pulled out my camera and took the picture. He then showed me on the map where to find the bus terminal.
I then walked to the bus terminal, and I'm so glad that I did because it was much farther than I had expected. But it was in the right direction for me, and I noted where I would get off the bus from Bracui so that I could simply walk across the street to the “Terminal Rodoviario” inter-city bus terminal. I strolled through the small but modern terminal and saw that one could take buses to the big cities such as Rio, Brazilia, and Sao Paulo, as well as other smaller destinations such as Ubatuba.
I then went back to the Information center for yet another “last” question. He teased me about the number of “last” questions that I was presenting, and I told him to expect more because I would be around until December. He replied that this is the off-season in Angra. In December the town will be packed with people. I consider myself very fortunate to have arrived in Angra during the off season, with all of the advantages that it presents to an English speaker trying to get his bearings. I have great understanding and sympathy to those whose holiday time is constrained by responsibility to work and children at school, but anyone else who has a free choice on when to visit Angra would be nuts, in my opinion, to come in the high season. The winter climate is wonderful, with very little cloud and rain, and the temperature moderate but definitely warm enough for swimming in the ocean.
In answer to my question, when I arrive at the Rodoviario terminal from Rio in November I can catch the bus to Bracui at a stop in front of the terminal. They will not charge me extra for my luggage. The only risk is that the bus may be too full by the time it arrives at the Rodoviario stop, in which case I would probably take a cab to the center of town to catch the bus to Bracui. The exercise made me realize that I will have to travel as light as possible. That will be easier on my way to the USA, but more difficult on my return because I will be bringing equipment for the boat. I figure that my absolute limit is the backpack, a laptop bag, and one duffel bag.
I was going to take the bus to Frade then get off at Rio Bracui and walk to Bracui but the next Frade bus was one of the ones passing through Bracui, so I was back at the marina at 1.30 PM.
Enclosed are photos that I took from the bus on the way to Angra, and in Angra itself.
- Back in the U.S.A.
- Flying Out Tonight
- Video: Sugarloaf Mountain
- Video: Sugarloaf Mountain
- Video for Sandra
- Day of Touring
- In Rio de Janeiro
- Preparations for Travel
- Trip to Angra
- The Rutland 913 Wind Charger is Working
- Deck Light Working
- Video: Bracui
- Video: Bracui
- Video: Bracui
- What IT Was
- Visit to Paraty and Another Grumble
- My Ship Came In
- Dinner With Friends
- Quiet Days and Bookends
- Polishing Metal
- Visit to Angra
- 2 out of 3
- Fresh Bread, New People, Walk to ATM
- Videos: Sitio Forte
- Electrical Work
- Airline Booking Problem
- Video: On way to Bracui
- Boat Moved and Visa Problem
- Room Booked
- Videos: Dentista
- Fuel, Skype, Keyboard Problem
- Videos: Ilha de Paqueta
- Video: Ilha de Paqueta
- Videos: Bracui Marina
- Expanding Horizons
- Video: Sitio Forte
- Headsail Stowed, Laundry on Way
- Video: Ilha Bella
- Video: Ilha Bella
- Photo Retrofits
- Productive Day
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