My only near death experience was on a boat. It happened when a friend
from New York and I went to visit Canela Island on the coast of Belem.
I had thrilled before with the arrival of some 10.000 Scarlet Ibis
that nest and shelter there and I was excited to contemplate it again.
The original plan was to do the 50 miles of open sea in two and a half
hours, observe the spectacular avifauna, photograph and only return to
Belem on the next day.
Limited options made us choose B/M Garoto(boy) a miniscule fishing
boat with a crew formed by three young married men.
We got on board and left we had loaded her with some packs of
biscuits, water and wherever you can find in a small village that you
can still feel alone as a tourist.
I can't remember any incident that may have taken place between the
moment we unanchored and the arrival at Canela.
The bird show had been spectacular with big flocks of Scarlet Ibis
flying over head dropping the curtain.
Before setting camp we did not disagree much about the value of a cold
beer in a nice bar and other pirate things and Bill decided to ask:
-Do you think we can return to Belem in time?
- I was born one thousand kilometers from the Atlantic where tides
have no meaning, let me check with the crew.
I said to Bill leaving the decision in the other six hands that
answered positive without showing any sign of hesitation.
Probably we would have had enough water to reach the coast if the
journey had not been spiced by the mightiest torment B/M Garoto had
It was too late to puke Bill's words and the crew's decision.
B/M Garoto's propeller had been lost and her anchor literally floated
on the scary waves.
This time was God's time to decide and He had not much time to ponder.
Holding tight and working on my balance I spit my last joke.
- Bill, changing plans again! We are not going to a bar, we gonna fucking die!
He agreed without smiling and I noticed one member of our crew crying
in despair while assisting his other friend severely vomiting of
Without much to do on the helm, the captain was at the water pump like
punching his worst enemy's face on the ground.
The bonanza took a light year to come and it came with a fantastic
Atlantic phytoplankton show bringing into my mind a cloud of fireflies
in the floodplain.
Extremely exhausted and without much to do in deep dark waters we
played plan A and felt asleep.