About five years ago we started following Tassio and his adventures on Instagram, at that time he was sailing on his previous boat, Netzah. For years we scrolled through each others adventures, commenting and liking images, hoping that one day our paths would cross. Well, five years later they finally did off the coast of Costa Rica in Bahia Ballena where we got to do a little spearfishing and beach lounging. We got to know each other a bit more over the next few days and a couple of good meals together. Tassio is one of those people that just exudes joy and positivity. When we first met him he had just had a terrible bout of food poisoning after an exhausting two day sail north to meet up with us and he had a huge smile on his face and only shared his excitement to be there. Tassio is a true sailor and his love of the sea shows in everything that he does. He is a passionate surfer, spearfisherman, kiteboarder, sailor and overall waterman. His life revolves around the sea and it is by no means a mistake, he has done everything in his power to design it to be that way. Growing up in the middle of Brazil, and far from the sea, he began making choices at a young age that would eventually lead him to a full-time life on the water. He first created a tree climbing company in his home country of Brazil, where it was the first of it’s kind, he took adventurers and photographers, including film crews from National Geographic and the Discovery Channel, up into the dense jungle canopy. That venture was so successful that in the rainy season he took his savings to Europe where he earned his yacht masters and his love of sailing truly began. From there he started working as a delivery captain and went on to buy a boat of his own. For years he has gained experience working on and delivering boats, captaining his own boats and sailing thousands of miles. Even after breaking his neck in a dingy accident alone at night, he has done the hard and consistent work to keep his body strong and healthy, practicing yoga every morning, in hopes of one day getting to sail the high latitudes. As a boy from the landlocked jungles of Brazil, to a man exploring the high seas, I don’t believe anything can stop Tassio when he has a dream.
We are thankful to have had the opportunity to meet Tassio and now call him a friend. We’ve been able to meet up with him again in Golfito, Costa Rica and in San Carlos, Panama where he was kind enough to let me take these photos of him and his boat Yoyo. Below his a short interview with Tassio where he shares a bit more of his story.
“My name is Tassio Jose Azambuja. I am from a landlocked city in Brazil called Campo Grande. I have been living and traveling on different sailboats for the last 10 years. Be it caring for or sailing my boat, surfing or spearfishing I strive my best to connect with my surroundings. The body intelligence and the awareness of the present moment brought by these activities is for me not only a way to grow but a path I dedicate my life to. I work with other peoples sailboats, doing deliveries, I sell fish that I spearfish or I work with anything really that can keep me sailing, surfing, spearfishing and living on the water longer.”
Can you share a little about when and how you first got the idea to start cruising?
Being from a landlocked town I had no contact with sailboats when growing up apart from a lot of reading of maritime books. For some reason I felt strongly draw to this kind of books from a young age, particularly the polar exploration stories and I was doing lots of river fishing and boating. I dreamed of doing one of my own travels thru the sea and in one of life’s cross roads I decided I would study to get a commercial captain license, work with that, gain some experience and one day buy my boat to live and travel on. That day came sooner than I imagined and I found myself living on a boat on a full time basis, either my own or working on somebody else's. I don’t really like the word cruising and I think that I never did that myself! Since the first time I stepped on a boat to study it became my home, my pursuit, my way and means of living and the word cruising for me sounds like a retiring plan for some , a temporary escape from something else or a leisure sightseeing tour with a caravan on the water. I don’t want to cruise on the sea with my boat, I want to live on and from it and find the means to do so on the water while interacting and learning from it.
How did you make the transition from land to a boat a full time reality? Any practical advice to give others looking to make a similar decision?
I had a lot of river motor boating time but no sailboat experience whatsoever. Like I said on a crossroad in life I enrolled on a course for a commercial skipper license in Gibraltar. After getting my tickets I got jobs straight away with references from the school. I lived from boat to boat, working as a delivery skipper, sailing instructor or skipper for charters and in between those jobs I would live in hostels or friend’s couches until I bought my first sailboat together with a ex girlfriend I had. I knew very clearly that this is what I wanted and I think the best advice I can give to someone is to try by any means the boat life the most you can before you commit on your own. If you like it for real and you are “bitten” by it then that passion will become your fuel to find the ways to make it happen. I like to say that the sea is for everyone but not everyone is for the sea! So go out there and give it a good real try.
How did you end up choosing your boat? What were the most important factors in picking your vessel?
My current sailboat is a conscious downsizing and simplifying decision. I owned a bigger boat and wanted to go simpler, less cost demanding and easier to handle and maintain. I like to keep my boat shipshape and I knew having a small sailboat would make my caring for it straightforward and to keep it like I want to keep it easier. Small boat small problems they say and it is very much true. My previous boats where made of steel and aluminium and I like the strength among other things the metal can offer but since I was going small, I think metal would be to heavy for the size I wanted. So I choose something old, from when fibreglass boats where overbuild like a lot of people choose. I wanted a cutter with a full keel for seaworthiness and sea kindness being mindful of the small size of the boat and that I would most likely sail it solo most of the time. I wanted small to simplify my life but my comfort limit was having head room in the cabin. I found all that on the Hallberg Rassy monsoon 31. Since I was downsizing my budget was ample and I could fit the boat as I wished. I did so and I am really content with my small home. Easy to handle by myself and with everything I need and not a drop of what I don't’ need.
Can you share a bit of the history of where you have sailed? Total nautical miles traveled?
I spent 8 years sailing my boat and other peoples boats in between, the Caribbean Islands, Atlantic Islands, Europe and the Mediterranean. I crossed the Atlantic twice as a crew and 5 times as a skipper. Did lots of zigzagging sailing and hoping close to the coast as sailing instructor or skipper for charters in Europe. I only crossed the Panama Canal with my boat on the beginning of 2017 so the Pacific is new to me and I have been in between Panama and Costa Rica since and it has been a blast! I have not kept good track of the miles I have sailed and I honestly think it does not matter much as all I did was the best I could do then I am totally aware that the sea has let me pass and the numbers insignificant before that.
What has been the best part of cruising for you?
Since I am not cruising ;) I enjoy very much everything this lifestyle I choose to live has to offer. From the sound of the water taping on the hull early dawn to that sweaty moment on an awkward position fixing a broken something I try to find joy in this lifestyle. I chose it, so might as well enjoy it the best I can. And I find that with most things in the sea life the higher the efforts and sacrifices the higher the rewards will be. So I try and live accepting that.
What has been the most challenging part of sailing for you?
Being for so long, far away from my relatives and close friends. It is a price I pay for my choice for the sea.
Can you share a favorite memory from your journey so far?
It is very hard for me to pick one, I have sat with eyes full of tears so many times just staring at the vastness of the sea that any of those times could be a favorite. It is impossible to describe the feeling of your vessel making way gliding thru the seas pushed by a breeze with a merry crew going where you want, one wave at a time while you sit there and your let your dreams and feelings expand as wide as the horizon in front of you. It has to be lived to be described.
What has been the scariest experience you’ve had so far?
I was very scared for the boat and all my material possessions a handful of times and I was scared for my life another handful of times but they all been good, pedagogic experiences at the end. No traumas just a few dirty pants :D
Any advice for others who are new to cruising or looking to sail in the future?
If you have a urge to do it, go! Go now! You don’t have to do it if you are happy with the life you have but if you have the urge to try it, I say go now and don’t wait for tomorrow. This is the type of thing people leave for when they retire and I have seen it more than once that yes people do it when they retire but then they can’t profit as much from it as they would if they were younger as their bodies don’t allow them.