Diego Gets Fleas
13 April 2012 | Atlantic Ocean somewhere off of South America
We used the tides to help pull us out of the mighty Amazon. Switching every 6 hours we would anchor when the tide flowed in against us and as soon as it went slack we would pick up and be running with the outgoing tide by the time it turned in our favor. Going day and night for most of the past month we had managed to cover over 1200 miles of Amazon River along with several of her tributaries. It was the trip of a lifetime.
Upon reaching the open ocean Diego was happy as ever, saying that if the Amazon was the earth than surely the ocean was heaven. The steady winds, majestic sky, and gentle rollers of the infinite sea we floated upon confirmed what he said. Finally being able to kill the engine and sail with the wind was music to my ears. Both Molly and Steve were excited to be sailing on the ocean for the first time.
Even though back at sea, the Amazon had left a few friends with us. I had contracted a 'bicho do pe´ (a spider that burrows under your skin and lays eggs) in my left foot. The proper way of dealing with the white sack that grows, is to wait until you can feel the eggs move around under your skin, then pop the sack and scrape them out before they grow enough to burrow further. We were excited to see them hatch, but unfortunately the salt air helped expel them naturally. A few crickets remained aboard with one especially loud one that would sing the night away in the cockpit. Diego showed us lumps on his back and further inspection revealed that he had fleas. He claims he got them from the river children he was playing with but surely his lack of showering for five days also contributed. He spent two sleepless nights with them jumping around him before we finally got sunshine so we could bleach his bed (the cloud) and bucket him down which seemed to do the trick, allowing him to sleep again.
Usually open ocean water is deep blue color, but being near the worlds largest discharge of fresh water we noticed different colors of the sea. For the first day the ocean water remained muddy brown and a taste test revealed it was still mostly fresh. By day two the sea was a murky green color and remained that way for the duration of the day. On day three the water around the boat was a black I had never seen. Climbing the mast I was surprised to see a black ocean extending to the horizon in every direction. Getting in the water for a better look showed there was at least some visibility, more than the muddy brown or murky green, with its clarity that of a black tea. With the overcast sky, sailing on the black ocean was quite the surreal experience.
Several little things have broken beyond sea repair and being away from any spares requires a little extra effort. To start the engine we now hot wire it in the aft cabin where sparks fly everytime (Molly gets quite a kick out of jump starting it this way). Our bilge pump has long since worked and when the hand pump went we were required to scoop the rank water out by hand (we have enough slow leaks on the boat that the bilge is constantly being filled with water and if left unattended could sink the boat) using a cut two liter coke bottle and the bucket. This may sound easy enough, but with 20 knots of wind on the beam and the boat heeling at 20 degrees and hitting waves it becomes quite the task. Add in Molly´s seasickness and the foul smell of the water and you have the recipe for misery. A stripped screw on the impellor plate while changing it required some gasket maker and a clamp to stop the leak in a repair job I am quite proud of.
On day four we ventured up a well buoyed jungle river to a dock. On the way in we passed another sailboat which we waved excitedly to as they were the fist other sailors we had seen since Belem. Once tied to the dock a large, well fashioned, black man approached us. ¨Bonjour¨ he said before explaining, in French, that were now in the French Amazon of French Guyana, a territory of France. We were hungry and our mouths watered for the nearby begets.