On two separate occasions I visited the fishing village of Prainha do Canto Verde, on the northeast coast of Brazil, in the state of Ceará. I did this out of personal interest—to learn about the jangadeiros (the traditional fishermen in this area) and their unique sailboats called jangadas.
I went out on several fishing trips with the jangadeiros. Most of these were one or two days in duration, to check on lobster pots or set and retrieve nets. One trip, however, lasted four days and took me to the edge of the continental shelf, over forty miles offshore. The story of that journey, Walking On Water: Over The Horizon On A Jangada, will be told here in posts. Each post is a new chapter to the story.
This is a true story with elements of fiction and fantasy. Some of what happens on the longer voyage actually occurred on one of the shorter trips, and some of the stuff is purely made up. The characters in the story do exist, but again, there has been some minor melding of the various fishermen I got to know in the village. One thing should be made very clear: the actions of the jangadeiros, their prowess as fishermen and sailors, have not been made up or embellished in any way. They are the real deal.
Katherine Bean, for editing this story. David Lorimer, for thoughtful reading and comments. René Schärer (founder of Amigos da Prainha do Canto Verde), for introducing me to Prainha do Canto Verde and helping me while I was there. Mauro Fernandes Filho, for patiently answering all my questions about jangadas, jangadeiros, and cataventos. Catherine Benamou (Associate Producer of It’s All True: Based on an Unfinished Film by Orson Welles), for contacts in Brazil and early encouragement. Christine Pomerantzeff, for help in Brazil. Andrew Davis (Tri-Coastal Marine), for advice on naval architecture.
Special Thanks to:
All the jangadeiros who took me out and showed me the ropes: Mamede, Ze, João, Gaston (Jola), Neu, Kito Velho, Valdelin, Rogelio, Ivan, and others.