Samoa 34 home-builder goes for a canoe adventure

Our client Jayme Bubolz, a home-builder of the sailboat stock plan Samoa 34, is a chemical engineer who left the prosperous Southern Brazil to establish as a civil servant in the recently created State of Tocantins, located in the Central South American Plateau, a place where the typical savannah ecosystem of the central plains borders the Amazon forest. This region has its nature preserved like in ancient times, remaining almost untouched by modern civilization.

Jayme’s backyard is the perfect place for an amateur construction. Presently he is preparing the bulkheads of his Samoa 34 for assemblage. Gurupi, State of Tocantins, Brazil

When arriving in Gurupi, being a stranger where he would settle, he acquired a property which in the old times had been the most stylish brothel in town. He reckons that heaps of cattle heads and even farms might be buried there.

Being a lover of cruising under sail, he decided to build the Samoa 34 in his home garden in the secluded area where he lives during his spare time. He is lucky enough to have an affluent of the Amazon meandering in his backyard with direct link to the sea, thousands of miles away, so, when he completes his work, all he will have to do after launching will be to drift his boat downstream until reaching the Amazon River estuary.   

However since life is not only dreaming with the enchantments of distant places praised in books and films, he wanted to profit from the opportunity of already living in one of these places.

This photo shows the Javaé River winding along the natural boundary of the jungle. To the right is the fringe of the Amazon forest. To the left begins the Brazilian central plateau savannah and meadowland (Bananal Island, the largest fresh water island in the world)

However, while his sailboat isn’t completed, Jayme decided to make, in the company of Leo and Eduardo, his two sons , an open canoe excursion along the Javaé and Araguaia, this last river being an important tributary of the Amazon. From their account of the adventure, we reckon their experience was something out of this world, an experience to be printed forever in their memories.

We were absolutely fascinated by the description of their journey. What a privilege must have been witnessing the existence of such unspoiled region in the planet! Perhaps our friends and clients from the U.S., Canada and Europe may wish to follow their wake, and this report is intended to promote this suggestion. At any rate, we design cruising boats to take you to the most desirable cruising grounds, and this is a place that might stir your imagination.


Even though Jayme is fond of the quiet local pace of life, he admits being fed up of having to listen to country music all the time, and waiting for the frogs to start their preachy croaking during the days after August first full moon, as they did for ages, and will continue doing so if the Mayan prophecy of the end of the world in 2012 isn’t to come true.

The long and beautiful trail.  This will be our typical scenery for the next ten days.
Eduardo and Leo ready to start the ten days long journey

Human nature being permanently unsettled, what really counts according to Jayme isn’t arriving at your planned destination, but continuously going ahead in order to have a look at what’s hidden beyond the horizon.


 Jayme (to the left) and Leo enjoy supper at the first camping site. The paraffin Primus pressure stove is identical to the ones used by Amundsen and Schackleton in 1911/1912

The second day of the journey started from this heavenly nook

The report he sent us about the canoe expedition is pure adrenalin, and the gallery of photos attached are enough to let any cruising enthusiast with his mouth watering.  

Actually a cruising sailboat is just the tool to carry you to your endeavour. Notwithstanding, on many occasions you would rather leave your boat stationed in a safe haven or marina and extend your travel employing another type of craft more appropriate for the purpose, which may be your inflatable, in case of short distance gunk-holing, or yet, either kayaks, for leapfrog traveling, or canoes, for longer distance journeys, when camping for the night is required.

Alone in the savage water-world

Going downstream an Amazon River tributary is an amazing experience. The digital photos will help keeping  the adventure forever engraved in our memories. With the employment of two canoes instead o a larger one, the captures became more illustrative, saving for posterity the best scenes of the passage.

Following is Jayme’s description of the expedition:

While not being able to sail in salt water, I must find a way of enjoying life with the wonders our backyard has to offer us. From the first to the tenth of July, I and my two sons, Leonardo and Eduardo, had a ball going in a canoe safari exploring the nearby rivers Javaé and Araguaia. We roamed for 230km (125 nautical miles) downstream, starting at “Barreira da Cruz” (Lagoa da Confusão County), reaching the Araguaia at a locality called Caseara, ten days later. We traveled along the west margin of the Cantão Natural Reserve, visiting places of stunning beauty, with a profusion of white-sanded deserted beaches, where wildlife was a stone throw away from us; fish was plentiful, with human presence almost inexistent. For four days consecutively we didn’t find a single soul!  During these days we came to know things that we ignored, like discovering a five stars tourist resort encrusted in the jungle. However, we felt so lonely that we only came to know the winner of the match Brazil x Holland of the world cup three days after the venue was over.

In six of the seven camping sites we saw jaguar trail foot prints

Being bitten by the sailing bug, we couldn’t restrain our wish to providing some sort of sail propulsion for the canoes, which we managed to do with a  satin rag we found among our stuffs, profiting from then on from the morning breezes to improve our speed.

We made a makeshift sail with a satin rag, a welcome assistance when the wind was favourable

The trip lasted for ten days, seven of them paddling and sailing, and the other three just loafing, angling and drinking tots of white lightning, our favourite tipple.

This catch was intended for lunch; however ended up becoming supper,…hic…hic

The first day’s run was quite stressing. We were on the brink of a nervous break-down caused by the weariness of preparation, a forecast of wind storms, and a certain apprehension of camping in places where jaguars reigned. To crown it all Eduardo had a bout of yellow fever and we had to medicate him. After the third day we were already acquainted with the imponderable, and soon our self-confidence was reestablished.

This tiny two metres long aligator (Melanossuchus Niger) followed us for a while. The species can reach one hundred years of age and is capable of surpassing six metres in lenght

We were astonished by the incredible amount of fish, otters and fresh water dolphins. We were lucky enough to be able to sight a rare example of pink dolphin. For two long days we were followed by one of these mammals, and since catching fishes was so easy, we fed it with our own hands.

We were presented with gloamings of rare beauty. In late afternoons we progressed faster due to the lull of the land breeze

On late afternoons, when the choppy waters settled with the wind relenting, was when we progressed most. Our average runs were around thirty-five kilometers (approximately nineteen nautical miles).

The Cherokee canoes proved to be worthy for the task, being able to carry an impressive payload.

There was no chance of feeling protein starved so easy it was to catch a nice fish for dinner. We virtually had a larder following the path of our canoes. All we had to do was to throw the lure and bring the catch aboard.

Gator race…

Watching the local fauna from afar was a constant experience during the days we glided downstream. Large birds flying in couples sometimes landed on tree branches not far from our camping sites, fascinating us with their boisterous shrieks.


We saw many birds typical of the Central Plateau. This fowl, the red-chested jacu is an early riser. It started crowing way before dawn, waking us up for the next stretch

Whoops!!! Leo felt like an angling champion

There are nowadays few places left untouched by civilization as the thresholds of the Amazon forest. We felt privileged being able to visit it. The diversity of species is so rich that what we wish most is that the area remains like it is now, being preserved for the next generations as a sanctuary. The “onça pintada”, the South American Jaguar, is one of the dwellers of this habitat. We were lucky enough to have a glance at them from the distance, being pretty sure they watched us all the time


I only managed to see one of these pretty girls from the distance at the other margin of the Javaé River. Nevertheless, even though they were concealed, I’m quite sure that they watched us all the time. They are beautiful… and ravenous. The guess-work is that there are 2.35 jaguars for each ten thousand square metres in the State Park of Cantão

Finally we reached the Araguaia River and our journey was coming to an end. We were sorry that the expedition was over. On the tenth day we reached the first settlement since we left, Barreira do Campo, in Santana do Araguaia District. Now the river was so large that in some places we had glimpses of the gibbous horizon of the earth.

Enjoying the last evening away from civilization. Soon we would be back to the rat race. The “mate” bowl is the Gaucho’s faithful companion.

The first day brought us a mixture of exhilaration and apprehension. However at the end of the journey we felt like if that was our world. Our canoes proved to be excellent and we learned we could survive with our own resources. Sometimes we fished beyond our needs, and when catching a rare species we turned it back to its element.

Pirarara is a praised fish delicacy. However with the abundant catches we were experiencing, we rather freed this one, saving it for another occasion

Before freeing the pirarara Leo gave it a good luck kiss

The trip was coming to an end but our imagination was breaking loose. Before we reached the settlement an empty thatched roof hut with two hammocks set to be occupied by whoever came there loomed before us. With all that fish in the river, Leo’s guitar and those gorgeous gloamings, why not stay in that very place forever? But then we remembered that we wanted to know what was hidden besides the horizon in front and for that purpose the Samoa 34 construction was there to be concluded.     

A hut, the hammocks, the river, what else should we want more? Perhaps, who knows, Leo’s guitar.

Jayme Bubolz is a good friend of ours and he is a participant in our forum. Since he is a lover of adventures above all other things, we are pretty sure that if you have an affinity with his way of life and would like to contact him, he will welcome you. His e-mail is:

Barreira do Campo, Santana do Araguaia District. I could live here forever if it was salt water. Who knows if Mangue Seco in the Brazilian northeast coast could be the paradise on earth. The neighbour’s lawn is always greener!!!

Click here to know more about the Samoa 34 class

Roberto Barros Yacht Design