Plume

Amazonia: What if this was Paradise?

The family crew of Plume have just spent a few weeks sailing in the Amazon. An adventure punctuated by currents and tides... but above all it’s bewitchingly beautiful!

Who: Flo, Lili & their 3 daughters
Where: In the Amazon, Brazil
Multihull: Athena 38 (1997)
Facebook: @voyagedeplume
We entered the Brazilian Amazon under spinnaker. The main channels are the highways of the forest, and we had to keep an eye out for barges of all shapes and sizes. Every day, we were followed by pink Amazonian dolphins. They even came up alongside us when we were swimming. We wanted to know how to get to places where other boats couldn’t go. We meticulously examined the satellite views to get to places that aren’t on any map. And sometimes, we were not really sure if we could get through, with obstructions above, in front or on the sides. But it’s beautiful! The people we met were extraordinarily kind. We stopped in front of a house that was a little out of the way, whose family had waved to us as we passed. It was a real little piece of paradise, and we stayed there for two weeks. The extraordinary thing about the Amazon is being able to listen to the sounds of the forest and the animals, and immersing yourself in this return to nature. The forest is impenetrable, so water is the best way to get around. Rowing pirogues, speeding ‘motorbikes’ (a kind of floating sled pushed by a powerful engine with no exhaust) or family boats with old diesel engines that can be started by turning a cranking handle: anything that floats is used. Navigation in the mouth of the Amazon is one of the most difficult we’ve ever experienced. The river is the longest and most powerful in the world; it alone provides 20% of the fresh water that flows into the oceans. We were carried by a 5-knot current - up to several dozen miles out to sea - but it reverses at every tide, so we have to be able to take shelter every time it does this to avoid going backwards. And we have to do this before dark, because it’s far too dangerous to sail here in the dark. When the wind is against the current, the waves of muddy water come crashing in. The charts are imprecise, if not completely wrong. What’s more, there are branches, debris and tree trunks of all sizes, some of them bigger than our catamaran, with roots and foliage still attached, swept away by the current if they aren’t embedded in the bottom... That’s it, we’re out of what many call «green hell». For us though, it was more like a corner of paradise.

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