Sailing Adventures from Puerto Rico-Brazil-Direct-23 days
by Chris LeFevre
(United States of America)
Hi everyone, In 1992 some friends and I sailed from Ft. Lauderdale Fl. with the idea of sailing down to Salvador Brazil in my 56' Formosa Ketch. We started out heading east to the Azores as the wind chart suggested but hit a good size storm just east of the Bahamas and with 30' swells rolling southward. We followed the swells and landed in Rum Cay in the Bahamas on the lee side of the Island where we stayed for a week until good weather. Then I decided to head for Puerto Rico where we took on fuel, water and food and then set out for Brazil. 23 days later we entered Rio Parra as we couldn't go any further south as the winds didn't favor it and with our fuel running low I decided to make it to Belem, Northern Brazil.
It took us 2 days sailing on the Rio Parra to arrive in Belem as we could only run during the day as we didn't have the proper charts showing the way. We encountered many sandbars and with luck between my fathometer and my ability to read the surface of the water we avoided running aground in the shallow areas. On our second day we could see the skyline of Belem from a distance, lucky the tide was coming in and was nearly at its high level. My approach was off the main channel. We sailed under power between two islands where you could throw a stone to either shore.
After 23 days at sea we made our first encounter with people on these small islands living in there palm covered shacks with their dugout canoes laying nearby. An hour later we tied up to the city pier where the ferry boats were and shortly thereafter found our way to the Belem Yacht Club on the western side of the city. I tied up to a buoy there and this is where I stayed for 18 months. My crew soon flew back to the US leaving me alone living the life of leisure. I was very comfortable so I just didn’t want to leave.
Well after a year in Belem a Frenchman approached me in his speedboat informing me that a couple from Spain wanted to buy my boat, I recognized him as a club member. I told him no but the sailboat next to mine from Sweden had a 28 ft. sailboat for sale, he said no that they were interested in mine because of the size. I said no but then I asked for him to give me his phone number and maybe I would get back to him. That night I gave it some serious thought and decided that if these people wanted to pay my price, why not sell it as I already had my fun and head back to the US.
So the next day I contacted the Frenchman and that Day we set an appointment to have lunch with these people. So that afternoon I met the couple, supposedly from Spain but had been living in Canada and a friend of theirs from Italy. After a very good lunch and some negotiations we settled on a price. So I set up an account with a company in Ft. Lauderdale that took care of these matters and set up an escrow account so that the Spanish couple could deposit the agreed amount and once they did they would get all the papers for my boat.
Supposedly Carlos, the husband of the Spanish couple, went to Canada to arrange the money transfer. After a week or so, still no deposit, I ran into Carlos's wife, Mercedes and there Italian friend and they suggested we all have dinner on my Sailboat, so we went and bought some pasta and a bottle of wine. The three of us traveled to the yacht club, got into my rubber dingy and went the short distance to my boat.
Mercedes made the meal. Very nice pasta and when I had finished she handed me a glass of wine that had already been poured without my knowing as I was topside. Not long thereafter I felt very sleepy and told the girl to take my bed in the stern and that the Italian and I would take care of ourselves. I soon found myself in the wheelhouse cabin and fell asleep on one of the settees.
The next thing I remember the Italian was hitting me over the head in the early morning hours with my stern flagpole. The wine I drank was spiked and I could barely move. I rolled off the settee trying to defend myself as best as I could, managed to give a scream or two, managed to stand up with some more screams. Then the next thing I know is the girl Mercedes is tending to my wounds and a minute later my neighbor from Sweden pokes his head in the entry way and asks what’s going on.
I was drugged out from the wine and I didn't really know myself, I assumed the Italian woke up berserk, lost his mind or something. The Swed asked me what I wanted to do with my guests, and told him to take them back to shore in his rubber dingy, which he did. A friend with the Swed stayed with me and together with him we went to the Naval Hospital nearby where they stitched up my head.
By this time the drug had warn off and I began to realize that in fact these people, most likely Colombians, wanted to kill me and steal my boat and , yes, use it for smuggling dope. Later I returned to my boat and retrieved my 9 mm beretta. A short time later that day I ran into these people but because I have reached the maximum words for this story I end it here.
GOD Bless Chris LeFevre
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