21 March 2012 | Xingu River, Brazil
Now motoring 24/7 to cover as much river as possible we split into two teams handling 8 hour alternating shifts. The debris is so much in the bigger of the rivers that a bow watch is constantly needed. A perpetual game of frogger is played zig zagging through the river grass and logs, but despite our caution the prop continues to get fouled multiple times a day (and night). After Diego and I had cleared the prop several times I decided it was time to baptize Steve (19 years old, from Texas). It was a night entry and he performed his duty well coming back aboard as a bonified Amazon River prop cleaner.
With someone constantly at the helm Molly has performed as one the best steerers of the boat so I was surprised one morning while at the bow to see us going off course to starboard. I turned back to see her with the wheel hard to port but Bubbles wasn’t responding. We were in huge slick and small whirlpools formed around us in the current. Not being able to control the boat one whirlpool after another would spin us this way or that until we were finally able to get out of the slick. Talk about going with the flow.
Because of the heat and moisture in the air the cloud formations here are the most spectacular I have seen. Large, bright white, anvil shaped clouds fill the lower sky with fish scale altocumulous and streaky cirrus covering the upper sections. This has given us some amazing sunsets and sunrises with the peacefulness of the river adding to the enjoyment. However, not always are things calm. Lightning flashes frequent the night sky and heavy rains can last for hours. On one night our dingy (holes 2) that we tow behind nearly sank due its filling with rain water. That same night we were forced to anchor for a couple hours as visibility due to the heavy rain was so low we nearly ran into a jungle island.
Now in the mouth of the Xingu river we took a turn through a small canal to take in some jungle. As we neared the big river again we heard some Brazilian dance music and as we neared the junction to the river could see its source at small river town. Like the sirens from the Odessey I foolishly turned towards the sweet music and was lured into shallow water and the familiar lunge of running hard aground. The current was pushing further into the mud and our situation looked dire. Small children in dugout canoes appeared first offering assistance followed by a river boat from the town. After much tugging and pulling didn’t budge her, we finally freed her by rafting up with the river boat (named ‘Pe de Deus’, the ‘Foot of God’ in English) and letting her eat. We were then lead to deeper water by a group of natives and wished well on our way. Next time we hear music like that I’ll have the crew tie me to the mast.