When to go

The weather in the northeast of Brazil is rather consistent. It is windy pretty much all of the time, although winds tend to be stronger between September and December. Fisherman go out and set sail every day of the year. Between January and May there is a closed season for fishing for lobster, but the jangadeiros continue trying to catch fish with lines during this month.

,Breathing life in dead weight´

Patrick Heffernan in Wooden Boat, 1997

,,In a manner similar to the way the natives of Easter Island moved their massive stone statues, we had just finished rolling Mamede´s jangada down the beach to the rising tidal line. Each wave that broke around the hull lifted it slightly, breathing life into what moment before had been just dead weight.

Mamede told me to get onboard and hold onto the espeque while his two man crew, Ze and Joao, stood beside him in the transom keeping the jangada bow pointing out to the sea. The next large wave allowed them to push it free, and, with Ze and Joao still pushing, Mamede jumped up over the transom to work the steering paddle and mainsheet.

The jangada gained speed in the early morning breeze, and Ze and Joao climbed onboard just in time to grip the espeque before the next wave buried the bow and washed fully over the deck. For an instant, the hull was lost under rushing white water.

Coming out the other side we again slowly gained speed, helped along by Ze and Joao, who had now grabbed oars and were furiously stroking at either side. Keeping a watchfull eye on our progress, Mamede steered as we punched through several more breaking waves before making it out to open water.

After hanging the rudder and trimming the mainsail, he looked at me with a hint of a smile and said: ,,With this wind it will take all day to make the fishing grounds.´´