8 July 2015

12 days aboard s/v Milly

Peter and I were very lucky to enjoy the company of friends for about one month.  They came from distant Canada. We were so grateful that they chose to share precious vacation time with us, thrilled to see them and excited to share a Milly experience with them. This post is written by Lee who visited from May 30-June 11
Iate Club Do Rio De Janeiro.  The port and starboard lights were cool art deco.

View from Milly's cockpit
May 30

Touch down in Rio de Janeiro at 10:30 a.m. Breeze through Customs and climb aboard a Royal Blue bus which winds through the downtown and eventually drops me a few blocks from the water. With a bit of broken Portuguese and a huge amount of luck was quickly trundling my suitcase down a leafy side street whose terminus was Botafogo bay and a large vine covered enclosure - it was the yacht club!
Even at night Cristo looked down on us.

Anne and Rob found me standing at the water’s edge scanning the yacht basin for a Canadian flag. We jumped on the yacht club tender to s/v Milly  - thrilled to see her after the years of discussion and planning. And – of course very happy to see Sal and Peter.
Pao de Acucar - Sugarloaf - from Milly's bow.

And there we were – the five of us – enjoying lunch on beautiful Milly while taking in the iconic images of Rio – the Sugar Loaf (Pao Azucar) off the starboard side and from the stern, in the distance, Christ the Redeemer (Christo Redentor) offering a benediction.

Highlights of Rio May 30 – June 3

Strolling along the seawall in Urca – just a short walk from the yacht club. This district hugs the shore below the Sugar Loaf.  Late afternoon – beer, liquor and wine can be bought in snack stands and grocery stores and drinking is allowed in public so the locals were perched along the seawall drinking and chatting as the sun lowered over the Rio skyline. 
The nightly sunset neighbourhood gathering
Fishing boat harbour at Urca, a feast of colour
Turning away from the sea wall we climbed cobbly streets to admire the houses of varying architecture with curlicue metalwork gates and windows, walled gardens and lush vines and trees. Passed the house of Carmen Miranda. A small monkey ran across the overhead wires.

Brazilian sand bottoms on Copacabana 
 The next day drizzled. We spent it strolling the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema. 
Sally disappointed at the lack of epic people watching: just a few surfers and volleyballers.
Ipanema not at it's best but still impressive

Another greyish day that did not diminish the brilliance of the “Escadaria Selaron” created by Jorge Selaron who covered 215 steps and the area around them with an eclectic mosaic using items ranging from hand made tiles to kitschy tourist plates.
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The other burst of colour that day was the surprisingly beautiful interior of the Catedral Metropolitana. 
The beehive
The exterior of this church, best described as a giant-sized dingy concrete beehive, was quickly forgotten as we stepped inside and marveled at the jewel box glow created by 4  - 60 metre installations of stained glass.
One of four spectacular windows

Incredible library with huge array of leather-bound books and a few paperbacks thrown in.  Amazing!
More grey on June 2 while attempting to get a close up look at the Christo. He was shrouded in fog – only the bottom of his robe was visible and then the rain started and everyone raced to get under a canopy. We found goofy plastic raincoats at the tourist stand.
When the rain let up, we again climbed the last flight of stairs, to discover that the full figure of Christ was now revealed. But sadly still foggy below, so no panoramic city views.

Now wet and chilled we made a short but enjoyable visit to a free museum of photography, formerly a small family estate, with a blue tiled water garden and paths to wander. First stop was the coffee shop for a warming café com leite. 

Final day in Rio – Wed. June 3 – SUN!  Up the cable car to the summit of the Sugar Loaf to look down on Milly waiting far below.  More provisioning and home to Milly to weigh anchor.
On the way up in the gondola.  Milly is down there somewhere.
On the top!
Motoring out of Botafogo cove and into the large Guanabara Bay, which leads out to the Atlantic. 4:30 p.m. Low cloud with orange horizon. It was a bumpy ride – though just “moderately” bumpy according to the two seasoned sailors.  Sat on watch with Sal learning about the radar and AIS system. A few tankers on the horizon.  An orange moon rose to light our way. 
Arriving in Arraial do Cabo.  Lighthouse perched on right side of island.
Arrived in Arraial do Cabo (pop 27,000) next afternoon. Milly anchored in a bay with 3 other monohulls, off a curving beach (Praia do Forno) populated with 4 or five beach bars.  There’s a lot of choice for beautiful sand in this area, and after our long traipse the next day I realize we are anchored at the party beach. Loud music, snorkelers, kayakers circling Milly for a good look, and best of all an impromptu beach jam – guitar, pop can and cooler lid percussion. There are two ways to get to this area: jump on a “party boat”, for the short trip from the town harbor or slog up a steep 1 km path and down the other side. We could see the trail of bathing suits toiling up and down the trail all day. The party shuts down and the music ends (Pharrel Williams et al) when the bluff behind the beach hides the sun. 
The slog

View from the top to the beach and Milly below.
A fishing boat parking lot.
A street bar on wheels.
 A pack of stray dogs arrived one afternoon, had a good sniff around and must have decided to stay the night. (Remember the turkey gobbling dogs in the movie Christmas Story?)  Early next morning they were happily barking and bounding up and down the sand as we pulled up the anchor and headed to the resort area of Buzios.

We had a beautiful day sail and late afternoon found ourselves anchored in a large protected bay ringed by a continuous wall separating the public beach from the residences behind.  Praia de Ferradura – Horseshoe beach.  From Milly we could see a red dirt trail winding up a cactus dotted hill. And soon we were off in the dinghy to explore.  More beautiful vistas of the ocean – you could look forever.

These are my last few days on Milly. We spend them exploring the Buzios area. The next day’s adventure was a long walk with an adventurous rock scramble . At one point we had to wade over to the next navigable section of shore – making sure to avoid the inky black and uber spiky sea urchins hiding in every rock crevice. 
Watch out for those spiky critters.

Returning to the boat we found neighbours: a catamaran (Catana)  “Lida”. Seemed to be a family with 2 energetic young boys jumping on the bow and swinging from the halyards.

Another half-day sail around the peninsula and anchored in the main harbor of Buzios amid fishing boats, tourist boats and other craft. No sign of the diesel dock or water hose that the cruising guide said we would find. And no sign of the “Brigitte Bardot” sculpture that was a guidebook feature of the harbor boardwalk– evidently it was Bardot who put this resort town on the map in the ‘60’s. More walking up hills to admire breathtaking views .

Sally and Peter seem well settled in to their new lifestyle.  I watched while Sally winched Peter up and down the mast – just part of boat maintenance – but still an impressive feat of engineering and teamwork.

June 11 Packing up and sad farewells.
Sad farewell.  Good thing we had our sunglasses on.
I head back to Rio for the flight home while Sal and Peter continue their journey north along the Brazilian coast. As the bus approached the city I caught a last glimpse of the Sugar Loaf, the Christo and the bay where we anchored – my adventure had come full circle.

Note to self – Live with less, Learn more –languages, culture, geography, history, Use less water, Work with nature and Remember the magical feeling of sun, wind and waves. 
Thank you Peter and Sally for 12 wonderful days.

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