Sailing the new boat home.


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This was before the lockdown from Covid-19.

In the middle of 2019, Neu decided that his jangada (a traditional raft-like sailboat) was simply too heavy for him to operate. The fistula in his arm that he uses for dialysis needs to be cared for and that means not using too much force with that arm, he hoped that a new, lighter jangada, one made of marine ply covered with fibreglass, would allow him to fish more frequently.

There is a short video of our trip at the end of the text, you can skip straight to it by clicking here.

Although some people think Neu is mad to want to go fishing, it is very much a part of who he is and the belief that he will one day be able to return to the profession that he loves, if not full time then at least when he can, has kept him going through some very, very dark times. So, in June 2019 Neu sold his old jangada and commissioned the new one to be built in Fontainha, a small fishing community along the coast from us where Neu has family, and was meant to be ready by Christmas. As is often the way, time ticked on and it wasn’t until the beginning of March 2020 that we finally got the call to go and collect the boat.

As it’s my birthday in March, as a sort of birthday present Neu asked me if I would like to sail the boat back with him. The Jangada is only big enough for two people and so I was a little reluctant at first, I can do the basics on the boat but if anything were to happen to Neu, it could be tricky. Neu said his cousin, who lives in Fontainha, would be sailing his own boat back to Prainha, so would accompany us and anyway, we would only go when it was calm. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to go sailing and reassured on the safety front, I was happy to take up the offer.

As the crow flies, the distance from here to Fontainha is about 49 km, however by road, it’s roughly 70 km and the last part of the journey is over a dirt road that can, depending on how much rain we’ve had, be full of huge potholes that are difficult to get around, it makes for slow going. To be there early enough for the morning tide, we would have to leave here in the dark of pre-dawn.

We set off at 4.30 am, arriving in Fontainha just after sunrise. The boatbuilder had told Neu he would meet him on the beach but apart from one man who was getting a small boat at the waters edge ready to put to sea, the beach was empty. We walked up the beach a bit until we spotted the new boat and as we began to look it over, the man with the small boat came over for a chat, then offered to go and let the boat builder know we had arrived.

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