round we go!!

Vessel Name: Bubbles
Vessel Make/Model: Fast Passage 39
Hailing Port: Seymour IN
17 September 2012 | Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVIs
22 July 2012
10 June 2012 | St. Martin
04 June 2012 | St. Martin
31 May 2012 | Saba Rock
19 May 2012 | english harbour, antigua
07 May 2012 | Bridgetown, Barbados
27 April 2012 | Georgetown, Guyana
22 April 2012 | Paramaribo, Suriname
19 April 2012 | French Guyana
13 April 2012 | Atlantic Ocean somewhere off of South America
08 April 2012 | Amazon River, Macapa, Brazil
01 April 2012 | Amazon River, Brazil
30 March 2012 | Tapajos River, Brazil
28 March 2012 | Amazon River, Brazil
21 March 2012 | Xingu River, Brazil
20 March 2012 | Amazonia, Brazil
18 March 2012 | Para River, Brazil
18 March 2012 | Belem, Brazil
13 March 2012 | Capim River, Brazil
Recent Blog Posts
17 September 2012 | Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVIs

The final blog, Bubbles sold yesterday

First lets go back to that week in May in the British Virgin Islands… we had over 20 sparkling crew on board Bubbles (all wearing the coral crew shirts) approaching the round-the-world finish line at Nanny Cay. With only a few hundred feet to go the propeller fell off. Not being able to raise sail [...]

22 July 2012

the last leg sail

We had good wind on the morning we set sail to complete the 90 mile last leg (from St. Martin to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands) of Bubble’s circumnavigation. With a full boat, I was on deck explaining some navigational markers to some of the more virgin crew when Trevor at the helm yelled [...]

10 June 2012 | St. Martin

Magic Aboard Bubbles

That night in St. Martin the party aboard Bubbles can only be described as magical. With Christmas lights strung up both in the rigging to light the deck, and in the interior to light below, a special glow illuminated the boat that had carried us around the world. Paddy King lead a conga line of Bubbles [...]

04 June 2012 | St. Martin

The Round the World Pre Party Begins!!

The seven of us woke well before sunup to the Indiana Jones theme song cranked over the Bubbles sound system. Sails were up by sunrise with Paddy King at the helm and brother Joe standing by as we watched the morning light illuminate mountainous Saba's cliffs rising from the sea. With 20 knots of wind [...]

31 May 2012 | Saba Rock

the Sea Hawk 4 takes flight

The day sail to Barbuda was sunny with good wind and buzzing excitement from both new crew and old. Arriving in the poorly charted waters we ran aground, but jumping into a shallow sea full of starfish isn't a bad place to get stuck. Ashore the six of us strolled on an endless beach of pink sand with [...]

19 May 2012 | english harbour, antigua

Adding more Bubbles

Bubbles and crew ran completely broke of funds after Carine flew back to Amsterdam. Having neither cash nor credit via any type of card, Diego and I resorted to trading. For a couple dive tanks we got the jib sail repaired, for a regulator we got fresh produce out of a local garden. We were able [...]

Amazon River, Day 19 and 20, The Search for Fordlandia

30 March 2012 | Tapajos River, Brazil
cap'n alex
At Santarem the clear blue waters of the Tapajos River flow into the muddy brown of the Amazon in an epic spectacle of conspicuous collision. On the docks we met a man named Elvis who told us of an abandoned American village deep up the river and overran by jungle called Fordlandia. Started by Henry Ford nearly a century ago the place sounded more like legend than truth and so we took it upon ourselves to find it.

At first with directions that the ruins of Fordlandia was 30 miles up the Tapajos River, we set off only to discover nothing but jungle. As I had promised the crew it would be a quick trip then back the civilization of Santarem at least one mutinous groan was heard when I discovered another proposed site for Fordlandia an additional 100 miles up the Tapajos.

After a full day and night of motoring I decided to pull over and ask directions. We happened to pull over at the small town of Aviero where like at any other place we stopped the pier was soon crowded with inquisitive locals. However, these locals, upon hearing we were American asked if we knew the other American, Patrick, and quickly lead us over to small raft made of jungle logs. Patrick is the only American we had seen in the Amazon and is a bit of a local legend. He had started his journey a couple hundred kilometers upstream and was floating down river on a tiny raft he had built himself from jungle logs. Upon seeing the raft the first thing Molly said was 'Huckleberry Finn', while Diego and I wondered how he steered. Upon meeting the 22 year old Texan, he lead us through town where we ate a free meal at the Mayor's house (free daily meals to anyone in town). He explained how to find Fordlandia by looking for the American style water tower and that it was only another 30 kilometers further up river.

Moving on that afternoon, by dusk we still hadn't found the water tower and decided to ask some fisherman on the river if they knew where Fordlandia was. On approach we watched them pull in a four foot catfish and seeing we were curious invited us aboard. With foot long whiskers and eyes on top of his head the alien looking catfish (known locally as the dorado) was a sight to see. Diego and I joined in the fishing activities, catching a few dorado ourselves in the large nets. By now dark, the fisherman explained the lights to look for to find Fordlandia and cut up a dorado for us to eat that night. Stephen says it was the best cat fish he ever had.

Following the fishermans directions we docked by midnight amongst a chorus of river frogs. We woke in the morning to find several people peering in the boat along with the local journalist ready to give us an interview (apparently they don't get many sailboats up here). We could now clearly see that American style water tower (just like the ones you see in every small town across the Midwest) jutting from the jungle but far from being uninhabited there were 3000 native Brazilians living amongst the Ford ruins.

Wanting a way for cheaper way to make rubber for his tires, Henry Ford, had dumped $200 million (in todays dollars) into creating a mini American town to support his rubber tree plantation in the middle of the Amazon. Not realizing rubber trees cant grow in the Amazon (where they are native) in close proximity to one another (as they do in the Malaysia plantations) the entire operation was a failure especially after synthetic rubber came around in 1945. Although all the Americans have long since left, and the golf course long since taken back by the jungle, much still remains of what Ford had built. Walking through the huge tire making factories we came across abandoned lathes, presses and all sorts of heavy machinery (all US made and some stamped from 1903). The old hospital, now without a roof, is home to so many bats that when walking through it we had some hit us as they flew around in frantic swarms. The water tower proudly displays its 'Pittsburg Steel Co' stamp with jungle vines wrapping its way around its supports. But the most surreal was the American Villa where concrete swimming pools, sidewalks, old fashion fire hydrants, lampposts, and perfectly lined rows of trees decorate the boulevard of mostly abandoned American style homes built here in the 1920s. A few rubber trees remain and some of our local friends cut one with a machete and showed us how to make an eraser from its sweet milk by simply rubbing it together between your fingers.

Back at the boat we did some mast jumps with our new friends before saying our goodbyes and casting off. For the first time since Belem we headed down river but our impellor went out (common problem on muddy rivers) causing the engine to overheat and so we pulled back into Aviero (the cleanest town in South America) to meet up with Huck Finn (Patrick). Stephen had to nearly sacrifice himself to stop Bubbles from crashing into the dock as the current pushed us into it. Huck took us to watch a local soccer match after which a party and fireworks commenced in the streets. Everyone in the town knew and loved Huck and it appeared he would never be able to leave the place and carry on down river. We ate another free meal at the Mayors house and by 3 am were sailing once again now with 20 knots of wind on the nose, heavy rain, lightning, river islands, and barge traffic. Good to be sailing.

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