Horses, boats and bicycles - and birds
While safely anchored off Clube Naval Charitas, Marcy was our comfortable base for exploring urban Rio and Niteroi.
But soon we craved a quieter part of Brazil to explore, and motored up river. We anchored at a pretty little island called Paqueta. We arrived as the sun set and found a spot to drop the hook without getting a good look at the harbor. In the morning, we got up early to explore. We startled a beautiful egret who was on Marcy's deck fishing.
We were quickly enchanted, the island has no cars, just horses, boats and bicycles - and birds. As we rowed ashore, we saw a line of horse drawn carriages lining up, waiting for the first ferry of the day.
What better way to see the island? We signed up for a ride around. As we set off at a brisk trot, our driver enthusiastically pointed out the sights and explained everything in detail – in Portuguese, of course. We couldn't understand much.....
The houses are beautiful, the roads shady and picturesque, and the place has a sense of peace and calm. The lack of cars seemed to make pedestrians, dogs, and horses all more relaxed.
One lady passed by with her bike loaded aboard a carriage, no doubt opting to pay a few reals to avoid the effort of cycling across the island....
After our ride, we found the quay submerged at high tide.
Back aboard Marcy, we watched the ferries come and go. The skippers were very skilled, docking their big single screw direct drive vessels and making it look easy. No bow thrusters here! They use lots of throttle, backing and filling with flurries of black diesel smoke filling the air.
The waterfront scenes in Brazil must be similar to the 1920's in the USA, with much varied action. Fishermen row past in skiffs loaded with nets as bigger fish boats motor past with the pleasing ”pocketa, pocketa” of slow a turning inboard engine. All sorts of goods move by small boat. We watched a load of cooking gas bottles motor past.
Even the smallest and humblest craft is used, named, and taken care of. We think that this little skiff might have a rude name. Sometimes it's just as well not to speak the language.
One of the most common boat types here is the dory, absolutely familiar in fishing history of the USA. Not surprising, when you remember how Portuguese immigrants shaped the fishing industry in the northeast part of our country. Rowed with single thole pins, or fitted with little inboards, steered with yoke and tiller ropes, various sizes of dories are everywhere.
This little skiff was gathering mussels from anchor rodes.
We're thinking of Joshua Slocum these days, the American ship captain who was the world's first solo circumnavigator. Slocum was familiar with Brazil. He was stranded here and built a cruising boat, the Liberdade, and sailed home in 1888 to the states with his family. Later, he rebuilt a junked fishing boat, named it the Spray, and sailed around the world alone. For a dinghy, he sawed a dory in half to fit on deck. We noted that the lines of the Brazilian tourist “schooners” are very similar to the Spray – shallow, bluff bowed, long keeled.
We went ashore for showers. It would not be right to avoid describing the Brazilian technology used to heat shower water – the shower heads have 220 volt heater elements inside them. Wiring is usually exposed and casual. The potential mix of lethal amounts of electricity with your shower water adds a unique component of excitement.
Ashore again, we rented a tandem bicycle. It's an enjoyable experience to cycle without fear of cars, only giving way to the occasional horse buggy. Ginger negotiated with the bike shop for a good price.
The only motorized vehicle we ever saw was a garbage truck (a Volkswagen!) that arrived and was taken away by a barge on the beach.
We left Paqueta refreshed and eager to cruise further down the coast.