Called upon to repair and rescue a yacht in Rio de Janeiro – part one.

5 am. on Tuesday 11 November 2019 .

We fly to Rio de Janeiro tomorrow… oversee repairs to a yacht in distress and then sail her back to Cape Town. Here’s the rundown on how my life changed in the space of 4 days….

Received a desperate phone call sometime last week from a yachtie friend I had not spoken to in more than a year. They bought a yacht in Croatia, a 54 foot Sovereign , and organised a South African skipper to deliver her home to Cape Town.

Off he sailed into the sunset with his girlfriend as crew, all the way to Recife in Brazil, everything (according to the emails received by the owner), was going well. 5 days out of Recife, he decided he was not going to continue with the Atlantic crossing but turned around and headed for Rio. His reason was they seemed to have a “leak” and the autopilot was “stopping intermittently”. He had taken on a Brazilian crew member who had not sailed before (yes, really) so perhaps this was an issue.

The owners were in a total panic, which marina in Rio should the skipper head for (there are a few and they are all pretty pricey), where do they find a new skipper, how are they going to get their dream boat home, how bad is the damage (leak?), who could they trust to go and oversee their boat? They cannot do it themselves due to business obligations plus no experience in crossing an ocean! To say the owners were completely shell shocked is an understatement.

While we were chatting – on speakerphone -Captain Mike merrily says ” don’t worry, we will do it”…….say whaaaat????

That’s how it all began……

We met, discussed, planned and bought tickets to Rio in the space of a few very short days. Captain Mike has sailed solo across the Atlantic twice before, so they were confident with his ability to do the crossing.

The plan is that we fly out first, chat with ex-skipper, once we have checked the boat out thoroughly with him and see what needs to be done to make her safe for the crossing, he leaves. There is a small amount of fibreglassing to be done plus Captain Mike has to check out all the electrics, being an electrical engineer, this is right up his alley.

We have one suitcase dedicated to equipment: current clamp meters, an AIS receiver, new autopilot display unit and various other tools and bits and pieces as we have heard it is hard to source things in Rio and also very expensive.

My son and new daughter in law fly in 2 weeks later to do the crossing home with us. We will do sea trials to Ilhe Grande for about a week before we head off for roughly 30 days across the Atlantic, home to Cape Town.

It has been hard to think of all the things we take for granted on this boat that we will not have on the delivery boat. I have just thrown 2 loo rolls into my bag plus light bedding! Books, music, medicines, a lot to plan.

Feelings right now are a jumble of excitement, nervousness, disbelief, trying to think calmly and logically so that we are well prepared, or as well as we can be. We have been so lucky, Royal Cape Yacht Club where we have been for the past 2 months with our own boat, has arranged a month’s free mooring in Rio as the yacht club there has reciprocity with us. We are looking forward to chatting with the marina management and staff about their preparations for the Cape to Rio race which starts from here in early January. Will have to brush up on some Portuguese…..

Last seafood platter in Cape Town for a while!

So I am signing off now. Need to check our checklist for the zillionth time.

Chat next from Rio!

Captain Mike and Nikki.

Part 2 – we have arrived – click here.

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