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Friday, January 31, 2014

Workdays in Nova Iguacu

Weekdays start at 7 AM with wakeup. Routine morning and some quick e-mail to keep things moving, like welding, customs, spare parts etc. Taxi to Marfran Logistics garage. Temperature is boiling the brain there, but still a lot better than minus 10 Celsius at home. Different works every day. First cleaning and organizing all stuff, left in the car. Only washing the sea salty items took 3 days. Next, smaller repairs, bents left from lifting hooks, pump connections change, broken lights repair. Even broken light and flag masts get repairs. As until spare key arrives, the wheel is locked not everything can be done at storage area. No cutting, drilling or oiling there.

Amphibear with its costly neighbours. No wonder, that cutting is prohibited. Nobody needs copter with holes in it from sparks of repaired amphibious car.

Marfran Logistica owner Marcelo Marques (right) and financial director Jose Franco

At 6 PM have to finish. Somehow need to get to hotel and ordering taxi here does not seem to work. So I relay on some help from leaving workers or later discovered option some bus lines. Walking is considered not safe way, as criminal record around the place is real. At hotel quick dinner, some e-mail, blog and facebook, and day ended again. And some think I am in vacation here, in Rio in Brazil...

Weekend has more fun. Then it is time to evaluate discoveries made by teammate Peeter. Peeter is master of finding places. So we go from one shop to another and I get needed spare parts, hoses, connectors, rubber shock absorbers. Only thing not discovered here remains the canisters. Seems there is no shop selling these kind of weird items. But I need ones, as they form part of sleeping place and were lost on resque.

On sunday we took Nova Iquacu Nature Park visit. A lot of photographing of butterflies and watching the nature. This one is native (Tijuca was 150 years ago planted). Somehow I get the feeling that all nature paths in tropics have the same idea. First to walk you to exhaustion. Then give you half meter of cool water to sit on cool down and glorify this place as heaven. Then walk back and feel proud of conquering another nature path. But you do not see monkeys in nature every day. We saw. Still happy.

Some streets after rain at walk to national park. Not much left.

Weird bicycle parking at the gate of national park. First time saw this type.

Who finds, sucs. Who has not found flatters around and does not let you to take a picture.

Joy of tropical paths, knee deep water to cool yourself. With clothes. These are wet anyhow from sweating.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Rio for tourists

Offices are closed and car cannot be accessed on weekends. Therefore we have freedom to look around in owen. Sun from senit, looking around is easy. No sun glare to eyes. Most valuable places here are the cool ones.

Botanical Garden of Rio is majestic and cosy simultaneously. Has nice shaded pathways. Trees are withs signs, indifferent of nature. It is not colorful and blossom at this season. It is refreshing with shaded places and forms of beauty.

Tijuaca National Park is similar place to rest from metropol noisy heat. Due to water supply to city, not place for bathing, just walks on riverside in mountains.

Different places for owe escape are famous Ipanema and Copacabana beaches. There is thermal wind, some degrees cooler and also has cooling effect itself. Crowded and breaking waves first resist you to go to swimming and then send you back with sand filled trousers. Copacabana was more crowded than Ipanema.

Shopping street Uruguaiana and neighbouring market had as well a lot of people and a lot of boutiques. That does not mean, you find what you are looking for, but shopping you can do endlessly.

Naturally to metropol, there is quality entertainment as well. Marina da Gloria hosted Cirque de Soleil, I visited. So famous, that no need to describe in detail. One can not make pictures of performance, but even curtains were attractive.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Flying Amphibear

Initially we planned to avoid expensive dock service and launch Amphibear to Rio bay. I prepared Amphibear for water again, empty pontoons from water, remove not needed ropes, temporary repair of borkon drive and cleaning the mess I left into car. Soon we discovered the disadvantages of the plan, like special permission needed for lifting Amphibear into water or needed tow plan with 10 days of notice and approval time. In the middle of the week ship management decided to go to portside and lift car to land. For me relief, as sailing with broken pontoons in bay did not seem easy task, especially as car keys still in customs in equipment boxes.

Ship we reached with water taxi. I got a lot of help from ship manager Gustavo Magalhaes. He mostly found possibility to join my travel by expensive water taxi with some other specialists travel to ship.

Went to Geoholm to prepare my vehicle for land. Big crane of Geoholm lifted the car off the ground. Wanted to raise pontoons, but no way. Half empty battery and salty joints resisted my attempts. So we moved lifting points further away from car and so with car weight got pontoons moving again. And when half way up the reason became more obvious. Not matter my pumping, still plenty of water in pontoons, which now cascaded out of cracks. 

Amphibear again in road position. In backround big crane of Geoholm. Water cascaded out of pontoons when turned upside down.

This resolved the mysterious behaviour of driver side pontoon also. I suspected puncture at the rear end. In reality whole structure under internal support was cracked and leaking. Both pontoons are cracked on main structure. As also questioned experts defined "You can repair pontoons, but not for Ocean any more. Only smaller inland waters."

This means two things are needed. Temporary repair to pontoons to continue journey in South America and new pontoons to cross Caribbean sea and continue around the world journey. There are no new pontoons on our travel budget. Before asking for more support, I have to know the cost of seriously modified pontoons with strenght for ocean crossings. Factory prepares their offer. Looking forward.

At darkness, 22:00 I got on shore again. Next day at ship situation was still not clear, do we have permission to lift the Amphibear on dock. Captain was sure, we will lift today.

It is not easy task to prepare big ship for working in Brazilian waters. Even signs, "Do not pollute sea and throw garbage overboard" I saw were replaced with "Do not dispose solid waste into water. It is prohibited by laws of Brasilia. Underwater side of iceberg was replacement of all safety gear, even garbage cans, filters, working clothing etc. had to be replaced and dozen of inspections passed. Courageous, decisive, and open minded - his decision and strenuousness were critical factors for finding Amphibear. Safety clothing must even captain Reinold Lederle wear at ship deck.

So I attached the pontoons above the car and we planned the lifting with Geoholm technical team. Geoholm went to dockside at 19:30. First lifting had to be done by car-crane ordered to port, but finally as it was on the reach limit, Geoholm crane did final lift to waiting trailer. And trailer went to not known location to me, out of city.

Two times Amphibear had flyed under the crane of Geoholm. This time was final flight to land.

Not known location became known next day when Port Logistics brought us to the car. About 40 km from city, but otherwise ideal location. Car is in garage of Marfan Logistica. Ideal place to take some so needed repair. Company owner Marcelo personally appointed the place, there are all needed tools and around dozen of car repair, spare parts or metal works companies. Toyota specialist and aluminium welding specialist promised to come and see the car for repair estimate.

It is time to make some conclusions, what works and what not on Amphibear. First the systems that worked fine during our land journey and more than 1000 km on Ocean.
  • Frame, proportions and general layout worked well. Now overlooked by some captains and chief engineers it is confirmed, little small but otherwise well done.
  • Car has lasted problem free. Engine run, frame held on. As  expected brake drums are rusty and some sensors stopped working under the car, these are minor issues.
  • Hydraulics works foolproof. Small topic was one nut getting loose but compared to system size it is not topic. I was happy to see, that one side drive separation worked well also, when it was needed. Instead of chain for driving hydraulic pump some less service demanding solution would be welcomed, but chain runs also.
  • Winches worked, as they got some modification for waterproofness, there were no issues even after ocean. Some fluid pumps striked, but it was only blown fuse. Broken was low pressure air pump for pontoons. It should be duplicated by the X-Jack solution - to be filled directly from car exhaust. All pump connections I have to make external and unify, to make different operation quicker and simpler.
  • Purchased and donated equipment worked well. It is not surprise, that Matkasport, Cascade Design items are lasting and comfortable. It is surprise to me, that all electronics from Tehnoturg and other lasted also, not matter the salty fingers. Toolbox items are also qood quality.  
  • Must be admitted that car was saved by inflatable pontoons, special order from Polymersvarka in Estonia. Without these the car would have been capsized. Good work.
Did not work
  • Aluminium pontoons. Factory conformation before journey was mistaken and my own judgement also. As we tested pontoons for cracks just before start they were initially ok, just did not last the ocean. There are needed new ones and not only new, but a lot different. To describe this all takes another blogpost, but in short more strenght and different drive attachment are main topics. Factory installed inspection and pumping tubes to sections are needed also for quick operation on sea. To avoid misjudgement again, some experts will examine the pontoon project before production. 
Cracks were evolving on ocean already. Lifting just exposed these more clearly.

Breaking drive plates were just beginning of the problems. Aluminium is good material but does not stand repeated bending. Construction has to be strong enaugh to avoit it. 

These bents are result of salvage lifting. Inevitable in ocean waves.

If new sponsors found and donations received then new pontoons can be ordered and journey continues. New pontoons must be ordered now, to get them for Caribbean sea crossing. So, it you plan to donate or sponsor, this is the time.

Logistical experts have suggested to import these to Chile or Peru, as Brazil, Argentina and Columbia import regulations can be too difficult to cope with. Timewise then Peru, Lima is the option to take. Just can somebody suggest the delivery address...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Tourist Owen - Rio De Janeiro

In the morning, I headed to town looking for the necessary new pieces for my boat, but it was a fruitless endeavour. If you want to shop for souvenirs, Rio is an excellent place but if you need to buy something for your boat, then you encounter a problem. I can find fifty times more stainless products in my own Estonian e-shop than in the best shops I was recommended to visit here in Rio. Ordering the necessary parts might work but the price would be so high that it is cheaper to send for them from Estonia. I thought that I probably didn’t know yet where to buy the boat equipment in Rio because it didn’t seem possible that in such a world class city the options could be so limited.

The captain Marcelo I met at the harbour and who was well-informed about the Amphibear confirmed that finding the necessary boat equipment actually was a problem in Rio. All industrial enterprises were in Sao Paulo and if you needed something in Rio, you had to look for their local representatives or change your location.

The architecture in Rio is a mixture of beautiful Portuguese colonial buildings, modern sky-scrapers and shabby brick wall houses

Rio itself was like an oven. The weather was so hot that even the local men took off their shirts. During the day, the temperatures rose to 32-34°C and when strolling in the city, it took less than half an hour to be completely sweaty, regardless of your walking pace. The only way to escape from sweating when going to the logistics company every day was to take a taxi; otherwise my shirt would have had ugly sweat stains by the time I got to the office.

The Copacabana is further away from here but the beaches of Guanabara Bay were also crowded

The Brazilian customs system seemed very similar to the Moroccan one. The local big logistics company Port Logistics and its operational manager Bianca Pires tried for four days (from Monday morning to Thursday night) to get the permission for the Amphibear to enter the country. Everything was well-advised and professionally performed. The results were successful. Amphibear was lifted from the Geoholm to the ground and it was legally in the country. For the time being, the vehicle remained in the warehouse outside the city but maybe it wasn’t such a bad place to store it.

My travel companion who finally arrived admires the size of the Marina da Gloria. The fact that the marina simultaneously hosted Cirque du Soleil and the electronic music festival gives an idea of how big it is. The port captain Ricardo Ermel gave us many useful contacts and agreed to find a place in the harbour for the Amphibear

Unfortunately, both car keys and the rest of the equipment were stuck in the customs and the Air Cargo warehouse. The Estonian Honorary Consul, whose address was marked on the consignment, was out of the country and didn’t come back until the end of the month. They wouldn’t give the consignment to anyone else. Luckily, the Port Logistics promised to help me again. For example, to release a package from customs, you need a list of all things and pay the 50% customs duty. If every country would ask that, then I would have to pay in total 1500% duty on my equipment. It isn’t in the budget...

Next time, I will talk more about lifting the vehicle, going through the customs with it and its current condition.

Translated by Luisa Translation Agency

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