2006 – The year I had much holiday left. How should I spend it? A long trip? Where, when, alone or with a partner? Immediately, when I received an email from the Captain, I knew for sure. I had been so stupid! Off course, this is a golden opportunity to experience Love Boat in action on the southern latitude in Brazil. Urgently, I made an inquiry about the possibility to sign on the ship. Then I thought it would be pleasant with a travel companion. Who else could join in on the spot, than Børre? The Captain seemed fairly surprised when he, the day after, received the description of the travel route.
One and a half week before take off, the travel agency called me. The Brazilian airline Varig was bankrupt? Incredible! Oh no, we couldn't miss this trip. Feverish checking for cheaper alternatives, than the available bloodsucker ones, harvested results. There was only one drawback. We had to travel half the world until the desired destination.
With a 35 hours trip behind us, we finally reached Empire. The Bavaria, 42 feet long, did proudly gather new strength at the Iate Club de Espirito Santo in Vitoria. The love birds smiled widely, and showed excellent hospitality from the beginning. As long as we followed their orders. It wasn't hard to understand. The ship is not only a means of transport on Neptun's mysterious ways. It is also their home.
Following a couple of days with preparations, we traveled north to Abrolhos, a small group of islands that arise in the southern Atlantic Ocean . It was an awesome experience. For two days we sailed and covered 200 nm. It's the same distance as between Oslo-Ålborg, and a bit more.
During the first night I conducted a small sacrificial ritual in the honor of king Neptun and his crabs. In light of Captain's threat, that such events will be well documented in the future, I had no choice. The illness soon disappeared, so I guess it can be dedicated to an unusual bad day. Any assertions by the Captain of the opposite must be dismissed as groundless.
Abrolhos is a protected area, only inhabited by a research station. It contains of five small islands. Access to the islands is restricted, and it is only possible to put our feet on one of them. There we wandered around together with second cousins of Donald Duck. Stripped of bashfulness, they only looked at us as if we were stupid.
We spent most of our time on the ship or in the water – in the middle of the empire of the whales. Every year between July and September, Humpback Whales travel from Antarctic to these islands in order to make small whale babies and have a good time. It's not hard to understand. In this outlying paradise. We experienced whale many times a day, and had them close nearby while sailing and anchoring. It was sensational, just as if we had National Geographic live outside our living room. They were so close, that if the thought crossed our minds, we could hand out style markings to the enormous animals for best jumps and other fuss.
Empire is well equipped, and there is even a kayak onboard. Heidi had a present experience when the curios animals wanted to play. As stolen from a whale version of the movie Jaws, Heidi paddled intensely towards the boat with a whale in tow, getting closer, and closer.
With Heidi safely onboard, the madness became predominant. I went into the kayak in an attempt to allure the favorites of the Ocean. My heart beat faster, regrettably in vain.
Eivind could not be worse. He tried to get in touch with a whale, which for a long time were laying in between the islands with his tail straight up. Impatiently, and in good faith that no contact had been made, Eivind paddled back to the boat. With binoculars, however, the rest of the crew could from the boat see the locomotive getting closer the kayak from behind, until the animal gave up, reaching too ground water. Exited we told Eivind about the incident, and we could see a hidden disappointment in his face. The poor guy didn't even realize what he had been part of.
In order to put things in perspective, this specie of whale can reach up to 50 feet (ca 16 meters), 8 feet longer than the boat. The whales weigh up 30 tons, about 20 tons more than Empire. Their top speed is about 7 knots, while we roughly during the trip held 4-11 knots.
We were three days and nights at Abrolhos. The home trip took only one day and night and 160nm in lovely tail wind and surfing conditions. Among the greatest experiences that will be memorized back home, are he night sailings, with the southern stars locked in an embrace around my eyes, suitable for navigation. On our four hours watches, speechlessly I could only harvest every single moment, while the boat playfully danced to the Brazilian samba rhythms.
Abrolhos behind us, we had a couple of day pitstop in Vitória before our nose turned south to Guarapari, a small sailing day away. There is no need to describe Vitória further. Unless there is need for the city of commercial reasons, doubtfully the city has nothing more to offer than other cities along the coast. Rather less. We were in Guarapari for one day and one night. It was a charming alternative to Vitória , but not much more than that.
Therefore the snout pointed soon at Búzios, the peninsula on which Brigitte Bardot decided to live, and which today is transformed into a luxurious holiday place for rich Brazilians and French. It was possible to get 8-10 different currencies on Búzios, and to our big surprise Norwegian Krone were among them. We could also see the Norwegian flag in several restaurants, but we didn`t meet any of our countrymen.
Totally, we spent five days in Búzios, a bit longer than our previous assumptions due to bad weather. Unfortunately the weather changed to colder and worse during sailing. We experienced wind up to 23 m/s, and it is not easy to sleep inside somewhat a washing machine. Captain Eivind and mate Heidi who were acclimatized for warm weather, arrived and departured Búzios half frozen.
We could soon reject the old fantasy about being welcomed by dancing hulahula girls, flirting and handing out plaited wreath of flowers. In Búzios we were met by professional show windows, French styled, marketing the last fashion trends within bading suits, summer clothes and interior, together with restaurants as row of pearls.
It was too cold to lay on the beautiful beach. However, we had a great time playing minigolf on a 19 track field and doing other interesting activities. We did even celebrate Brazils national day on September 7., when Brazil got independent from colony power Portugal .
That night the peninsula changed to a panorama of youngsters with their challenging style.
I am convinced that Búzios is a great holiday place during season or on warmer days.
Off course, if you like a comfortable and commercial style. Despite the cold days, Búzios was very well worth our visit.
Our last stop was Rio de Janeiro, the city with splendid frontage and good sense of life.
The Captain and his Mate were slowly melted during sailing, as we reached pleasant warmth and stationary ocean. We could see the stars reflect in the water, easily mistaken as lights from small fishing boats.
Rio was the dessert in a meal of experiences. The white beach and string bikinis on Ipanema; the charming narrow Bohemian streets med unforgettable view in the Santa Teresa District; the special Comida a kilo restaurant “Monchique” with its playful garcons competing among themselves in order to offer best service and overload are plates with a dusin of variants of grilled meet at a low price; the many kinds of Caipriniha that easily gives you headspinn, and much, much more.
This holiday has made me richer on experiences, both at sea and on land. However, with 700-800 nm in my rucksack, it is with increased respect and humility for the Ocean and what the Captain and his Mate are doing, that I again put my feet on the Norwegian ground.
Thanks a lot!