What the log does not say: As we approached the Amazon River, along about 9 in the morning, there was a noticeable sudden stop.... causing watertight bulkhead doors to close and spilled meals..... which Phyllis correctly identified as the the ship hitting a sandbar. We were at the location marked as SANDBAR on the map below - still well out in the Atlantic. Eventually the Captain eventually made an announcement: "We are on a sandbar and maneuvering to get off."

It was not an easy task. My GPS created this track as the result from the backing and filling over a 0.3 sq. mile area and we turned 180 degrees from our original SWesterly course up river.

We spent over an hour maneuvering.. eventually the Captain even decided to empty the two swimming pools to increase the buoyancy of the ship. The side thrusters were throwing up great clouds of silt from the bottom. It was later stated that a rising tide also helped free us.

After we had turned 180 degrees (but were still aground) and were now pointed NE two channel marker buoys were readily visable, both off the port side of the ship, one red and one green. We clearly were not between them!

Once free of the sandbar, the ship retreated down river on a NEasterly course 8.1 miles, then again reversed direction. This time the course took us between the two channel markers seen earlier (the lower track on the chart below), on a track 0.9 miles south and east of the position where we had run aground earlier. (The chart below shows the SANDBAR location, our path of retreat NEasterly, and the successful track back upriver heading SWesterly between the channel markers. The SWesterly original track that lead us to the sandbar is not shown.)

The available detail from the GPS is amazing: Here is an enlargement of the track as we eventually reversed track and started up the river again on our SWesterly course. (Temporarily lost satellite connection on the port side of the ship.)

Altogether this mishap cost us about five hours of cruising time. This forced the elimination of the Boca de Valaria stop (not a big loss in most folks' minds) and forced a serious scramble to salvage the tour schedules at Santarem and Manaus.

For the immediate 24 hours, and indeed the next three days, all the passengers felt poorly informed about our location, schedule and outlook. Every crew member (even highly placed ones) asked gave conflicting information or none at all. After we were free of the sandbar, announcements from the bridge were few and far between. The best sources for location information and an ETA for the next port of call were the half dozen of us with our hand-held GPS units.

A happy side effect was that we spent more daylight hours cruising the Amazon, getting glimpses of the riverside communities, ranches and side tributaries then we would have had on our regular schedule.

Crossing the Equator

As indicated in the ship's log we crossed the equator (0 deg N/S) at 6:44 pm, crossing at 50 deg 02.2' W, just off of the good-sized city of Santana to the west, where we then stopped for Brazilian Immigration clearance.

Undaunted by our delay, the official observation of this event had been held on deck some 5 hours earlier. Was your basic kangaroo court, presided over by King Neptune with first-timer volunteers liberally smeared with spaghetti, whipped cream, chocolate sauce and other sticky junk. (Happily, we had previously crossed the equator many times in our Buenos Aires years.)

As reflected in the Ship's Log, getting clearance from the Brazilian authorities was a long process - apparently unexpectedly long. More cruising time lost. So our one day of "At Sea" turned into two.

Continue on to Day 10 - Amazon River

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