24 September 2013

Day 5 - Crash course in kindness

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Ilheus is nowadays a small village, populated by fishermen. In it’s glory days, Ilheus was the biggest producer of cocoa in the Brazil and extremely rich in gold.

We anchored in front of the yacht club, then John and I set up the awning -- one of our chores when we are anchored. How were we to get to shore? Just call the club launch on the radio and they will come and pick us up.

Fisherman in dugout sailing canoe

Three hours after later (I am glad I had that patience training) we were able to flag one down and get ashore.

A friendly Argentine cruiser gave us a ride into town. We walked around town, did some shopping and took a taxi back to Fiona with plans to get back to shore for some nice dinner and most importantly a shower(!!!).

Palace at Ilheus

As we entered the club, people ran towards us, yelling and pointing towards the water... Fiona was in trouble!

The weather had turned for the worst: waves were crashing on the dock, the wind had picked up and it was getting dark. Fiona’s anchor was not holding on and she was being dragged to the shore rocks. From where we were standing we could see two men on a small motor launch and an argentinian sailor we met that morning with his sailing boat.  They were desperately trying to save Fiona.

The workers at the yacht club called other boats for help. John and Eric left on one of these boats for Fiona and I was left on the dock with the groceries. Well, if you can call that a dock. It was a 10 by 12ft platform bobbing side to side and up and down, with water coming over it. The boat that dropped off John and Eric came back for me. “Hop on lady and make it fast, the weather is getting ugly and the yacht club launch broke down while trying to save your boat. So this is it, I am calling a day, move fast please.” Here I had the ride of my life holding on very hard, while this metal canoe with a motor (really that small) took me back. By the time I reached Fiona, I was wet from the rain, the spray and sweat.

By that time, the Captain and John had moved Fiona to a safer location and reset the anchor. We had a well deserved cocktail.  Actually, we had a double ration of rum, because of all the excitement. We toasted the men so bravely risked their lives and boats to help us -- complete strangers. Thank you.

It was a very violent night. The rain fell in buckets, the boat rocked not only from side to side but also front to back. The wind picked up and made the waves even bigger. It was scary and exciting and I was very nervous about tomorrow.

Next Episode: 36 Hour Tour

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