What can we say… one year ago we did not know how to sail and now we have safely crossed the Atlantic Ocean, just like that. We are really pleased with Ipanema’s performance and we feel really thankful and blessed to be able to accomplish this passage and have this dream coming true. Hopefully we will manage to keep this going a while longer.
People ask us… what actually do we do during crossings?! Well to be honest, besides enjoying each other’s company, teasing Feijão, sailing, fishing, eating and admiring the planet (the waves, the ocean, the dolphins, flying fish, the stars, the sunsets, sunrises, moon sets and moonrises), we don’t actually do much. I just think a lot about life. I think about my previous choices in life and about people. I think about my close family, my grandparents that passed away, my old and new friends. I also listen to a lot of music and pay different attention to them; it is interesting how your taste changes and how some music have completely different meaning to you, it is quite hard to explain. I also think a lot about Brazil, about Rio and about how complex and messed up is the planet we are living in. Finally I think about how unfair life is to a lot of people, why do we deserve to take this time off and live like this for a while and how to give back.
A few important people have helped us to make this dream come true and we are truly thankful to them. That is why we decided to write our new post with a few things we learnt during this past year in an attempt to maybe help inspire a couple of crazy wild souls out there to follow their dreams too.
As per the actual crossing, it went quite smoothly. The weather, boat and crew performance were superb. We started with quite strong winds and it was only on the forth day that we managed to raise sails a little above minimum sizes. Of course we were extra cautious and not the fastest boat in the Atlantic for that reason, but we were not in a rush either. Than, on the fifth day the waves and wind started to decrease. By the time we got close to Barbados there was just a breeze and we where using the Gennaker plus full Genoa in “butterfly style”. We are proud to say that we managed to sail the entire way, barely using the engines apart from charging up batteries and when sails needed to be adjusted.
As per the crew, again, we were really lucky. The way we make our lifestyle feasible is by receiving guests who contribute towards the costs, it is certainly not the easiest way since we have to work more because of that, but we are really happy with our decision. Which other way we would spend a few weeks so close to an Italian, a Scandinavian and specially two Russians? It was a full-blown cultural immersion. Do you want to have a truly and deep multi ethnic experience?! Come and spend some time at Ipanema during our next crossing.
- First there was Jens, the Danish, who I have introduced on a previous post, and we continue to be amazed how he is an extremely positive dude. Just the fact that there is sunshine outside makes him thrilled about life and wanting to celebrate with a nice chilled glass of wine. We can’t wait to go kite surfing together in Barbados. He and Feijão are best buddies, of course Sarah and I became a bit jealous because of that, but we forgave them. First we forgave Feijão, just because he is cool and family, than we forgave Jens as during the trip he became a true baker. Of course that while Jens was making the dough, Feijão “the manager” was always around making sure he was adding all the right ingredients.
- Then there was Paolo, the Italian, this guy, man… this guy… I wish I could say he is Brazilian. He is a true ambassador of his country. He is currently on a sabbatical year journey to sail around the world and enjoy life. I am sure everywhere he passes by he will leave great memories behind. He is a natural sailor, who responds really well on stressful situations and is also a thinker, knowledgeable and brilliant mind. As expected, he knows who to cook a mean pasta and loves to eat Nutella. The only thing I don’t like about him is that he likes and defends iTunes… Who in their righteous mind likes i-Tunes?!?! Well, nobody is perfect, right?
- Finally there was Arthur and Phil, the Russians. Man… the Russians. To be honest we were really concerned about them. What can we say? They are Russians! We watch a lot of Hollywood movies and we were brought up to believe they are always the bad guys, right? On top of that Phil really looks like a badass ex-KGB agent.
- Phil, besides looking ex-KGB (I am still not sure if he is actually an agent or not), has a beautiful family (Russian woman… OMG) and great and dry sense of humor. He loves to sail and has more nautical miles than I will probably ever have. His experience includes crossing all the tough locations such as Cape Horn, Bermuda Triangle and South Africa. For you to have an ideal what type of guy we are talking about, him and Arthur took a huge boat from Cyprus to Maldives and to scare off possible Somali pirates, they turned a bar into a fake barricade and two pipes into a fake canon at the top of the boat. Got the picture? On top of that he likes to take a trip to the middle of nowhere in Russia to do sauna, then face bears and wolfs to jump on bellow zero waters in a hole made on the ice at the surface of a lake. Not a normal person indeed.
- Arthur is a passionate diver who loves to fish and amongst other stuff owns a diving business in the Maldives. I think I can say that because of him, during this crossing, Ipanema could be compared to a small Chinese fishing vessel overfishing the Atlantic. Arthur also knows how to dry the animal and cook fish head soup (I can’t say they are my favorite). For you to have an ideal what type of guy we are talking about, with no previous electronic experience, managed to open a satellite phone that was washed by salt water, clean it, fix it, close it and get it working again! Try to take your iPhone with a drop of water to an Apple store and just sit and wait for the laugh from the so-called “technicians”.
Well, did you get the type of people we were faced here? Well, who else do you think would be willing to cross the Atlantic with an inexperienced sailing couple from Brazil with a weird looking dog?
Then there was Feijão, now a true pirate of the Caribbean, who behaved like a long time sailor. We think he is thinking about growing a beard now. We love this clumsy beast more and more each day and he continues to be the heart and soul of Ipanema. Now on top of his old passion for bananas, he has discovered his new crazy and wild passion for deep-sea fishing, especially for tuna. Every time he listens to the fishing rod going off he runs wildly as he knows something special is coming for lunch. He also continues to “pee and poo” at the bow of the boat like a champ. We actually regret having thought him to do his business so far ahead of the boat and every time the sea is rougher we are scared he is going to be washed away by the waves. Feijão, on the other hand, couldn’t care less about the sea and the waves; fearless and clueless he goes! … and of course every time Sarah and I grab him back.
As mentioned before, fishing went extremely well, including a perfect start, since a few hours after we left we got a beautiful tuna! Next day we got a Jack fish, then another small one, which we lost on its way to the boat. A few days later we got a big Mahi-Mahi and then before we had time to take the fishing rods out we got another one, which we released. So the fishing followed like that during the entire trip. Bottom line was that we got more fish than we could eat and this is because we left the fishing rods out of the water most of the time. Apparently fishing is a lot easier that we had previously thought. We had so many fish that in order to not throw them away, the Russians decided to salt and sun dry them at the back of the boat. You can imagine how happy Sarah was with the smell and those hanging carcasses swinging at our stern. All I can say was that Feijão was a lot more curious and intrigued than us. Me… some days… I just hoped we did not get a fish so that I could eat my favorite canned food: Spaghetti a Bolognese.
By the way, one interesting thing I learnt to enjoy during this trip was the view on the opposite side of the sunrises and sunsets. It is just like the bride’s entry into a wedding, while everyone is turning their heads towards the beautiful lady walking down the red carpet, many times it is more amusing to turn around and watch the groom who is sweating like a pig, lost and clueless at the top of the altar. In a similar manner, I have learnt to also enjoy the view at the opposite side of the sunrise or sunsets; they usually have the most amazing colors of the sky and clouds…
In summary, this crossing was a truly unforgettable life experience. On one hand, it is a bit concerning when the wind is blowing too strong, and the waves start to increase and you think that if something happens to the boat you are on your own in the middle of the Ocean between Africa and the Caribbean; on the other hand it is great to feel the sense of adventure as nowadays things are so safe and controlled that you don’t feel like this too often.
Now that we complete all three legs of the Atlantic crossing, we can say we are becoming proper sailors for two reasons: One… we crossed the Atlantic; Two… we have put nets on the back of the boat for fruits as every cruiser does. These nets are completely useless and after three days all fruits were bad already. It doesn’t matter; the important thing is that we looked like really experienced cruisers leaving Cape Verde with those fruits hanging on those useless net bags.
Well, we finally have land on sight! Luckily the GPS was right and led us to Barbados. We are really excited for these next upcoming weeks. They are supposed to be amazing as everything we love is underway: visit from family and great friends, tropical weather, surfing, kiting, diving and seafood. Well, hopefully there will be some pizza and ice cream as well.
Now you know what?! We are in the Caribbean, dude! In the Ca-rib-be-an! We got here by boat! Sailing… Can you believe that?! Now it is time for some serious “Coconut Freestyle” action!