THE ROAD TO RIO
After all the problems in Recife, it was wonderful to go to sea again. It’s a four-day trip to Rio, staying on the 300-foot depth contours to avoid the South Equatorial current that heads northwest. The countercurrent is a great assist. However, you need to pay attention to longline nets and fishing floats that are barely below the surface. Occasionally a boat steams in your direction, frantically waving and gesticulating, giving you the hint that there’s some kind of fishing apparatus in the vicinity.
Eventually we rounded Cabo Frio and soon had the mountains that surround Rio in sight. Before long we could pick out Corcovado and Pao de Azucar.
We arrived at Marina de Gloria, a horseshoe-shape basin near Sugar Loaf Mountain that was to be our home for a month. Our guests arrived in Sao Paulo, and an attorney friend who was going to assist them met them with a translator, a couple of guards, and a van for tours of the city. They visited the famous beaches, Statue of Christ, Sugar Loaf Mountain, the Maracana football stadium, parks, and museums. In the evenings there were splendid samba shows, superb restaurants, and even an impromptu samba band on the aft deck of the boat. Rio has a bad rap as far as security goes; however, you need to be aware of where you are. In the tourist areas, there’s a conspicuous presence of police, on foot, on horseback, and driving around in riot vehicles. They patrol continually, causing the criminals to operate elsewhere.
The other thing to do in Rio is eat. There are some fascinating restaurants, the favorite being churrascaria-style. Here the meat is cooked on skewers, and then the skewers are walked around from table to table, where slices are carved onto your plate. This continues until you put your arms up in surrender. There are also mountains of side dishes and desserts; you really need to be hungry to enjoy all the food.
We took a short cruise to Angra dos Reis, 90 miles southeast of Rio. Angra is quaint, servicing the islands and surrounding region. We had to clear in before heading to Parati, an old Colonial town dating back to the 18th century, when gold was shipped to Lisbon. The sailing ships’ ballast became the cobblestone streets, which are closed to motor vehicles. It has retained all its old buildings and churches and is mostly populated by artistic people, with boutiques, galleries, quaint hotels, and restaurants. It has been awarded World Heritage Status by UNESCO and is a superb place to visit.
After a great visit, we sailed through the beautiful islands near Parati to Isla Grande, a high island with many bays just near Angra dos Reis. We opted to spend time in Abraao, a magnificent, well-protected bay on the west side. The guests spent a few hours ashore visiting an old jail and walking past some of the magnificent cottages built by wealthy Brazilians.
Eventually we had to return to Rio. While the guests flew home on New Year’s Eve, the crew was given the night off to partake in the Reveillon, the local New Year’s festival on the beaches. The major attraction is the honoring of Lemanje, a goddess of the sea. The faithful, dressed in white, carry huge flower arrangements, which they float out on the tide near midnight. If the arrangements float away, their wishes will be granted. If they float back, they have to wait until next year to try and appease the goddess. People banged on all sorts of drums and chanted. The New Year was greeted by fireworks, launched from many different locations in the city; a splendid sight.
After our hectic time getting down to Brazil and getting ready for guests, it was time to see the sights. The crew and I opted to drive to Buzios, about 190 NM east of Rio de Janeiro. We were amazed: It’s an old fishing town with quaint cobblestone streets that has become a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of urban living. It has about 20 beaches offering calm surf, and beautiful houses nestle on the hills. The streets are lined with restaurants, bars, and boutiques. As Buzios is a peninsula, the police control the only road in, creating an environment where people feel comfortable. (It can be visited by boat, although there’s nowhere to tie up, but the anchorages look safe.) The place is a ghost town until 10 a.m., when the “early birds” rise; they head off to the beach, take a siesta and then dinner at 11 p.m., and then dance and party ,til the sun rises!
There comes a time for maintenance, which we did before taking on bunkers and getting ready for the next leg, to Buenos Aires. This trip was something we had all looked forward to,and the crew were ready to depart as well.
Next page >
Part 3: Sovereign of the Seas > Page