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Saturday, 24 August 2013


The journey continues.

"Oryx" off Macae, Espiritu Santo,

We left Salvador on Saturday the 22nd of June in the midst of the Sao Joao festival. The breeze was light initially, but the sun was shining and the sailing pleasant. The Brazilian navy were out in full force, doing some sort of exercise and at times it seemed as if we were part of their exercise. Two frigates and a patrol boat came close to “Oryx” before wending their way back towards Salvador. While Pete was napping another patrol boat came nearby, deployed their dinghy with six combat ready marines. They circled “Oryx” awakening Pete, before coming alongside to ask for our details. After ascertaining that we had life jackets (we never wear them) and where we were headed, they wished us a safe journey and headed back to the patrol boat!

We spent the next several days going to windward. The forecast northerly never materialised. Our progress with the newly cleaned bottoms continued to please, but Aeolus just wasn’t playing along. It was a little like being back in the doldrums. Fierce squalls were interspersed by periods of being becalmed. The pounding to windward took its toll again, loosening the tri colour navigation light fixture on top of the starboard mast. Pete noticed it nodding madly at first light and broke the news at breakfast. We were going to stop again to repair the light. He had selected Coroa Vermehla as it was nearby and had a sheltered anchorage behind the reefs.


Coroa Vermehla (red coral) is a small village. Beyond the reef lies a long beach with barracas (beach bars). It is considered to be the very first Portuguese landfall in Brazil and there is a monument to commemorate the landing. It is also renowned for its nearby indigenous Indian reservation. The Brazil Indian tribe here is the Pataxo and walking to the town from the beach, one passes through a piazza lined with Indian craft stalls.
One of the many baracas on beach at Coroa Vermehla

Four years ago, when we first stopped here, I inadvertently photographed a little Pataxo boy of about five. I was photographing the monument and there he was reflected in the marble, in full Pataxo regalia. One is supposed to pay one real for the privilege, but I had no change. I almost acquired the little boy, as he wouldn’t let me go. I tried picking him up and although he was slender he was not a lightweight. I promised to pay him on our return, but it started raining and he was no longer there. This time I searched the faces for the gorgeous little kid, but four years is a long time and none of the nine/ ten year old's resembled him.

Notice his finger!

Pete spent no time dallying about and scooted up the mast to repair the tri colour light fitting, by replacing the dislodged nut and securing it with lock tight and sikaflex. Pete decided to stay for a few days as we both like the place.

 We were well sheltered behind the reef and Porto Seguro was a short bus ride away. When we explored the coast four years ago, we sailed into Porto Seguro on “Pelican”, but couldn’t stay, as there was nowhere to anchor. The coast between Coroa Vermehla and Porto Seguro is filled with hotels and pousadas and swarms with Brazilian visitors on package holidays in the summer.


Three years after Pedro Cabral’s landing at Coroa Vermelha, Goncalvo Coehlo’s expedition placed a marker at Porto Seguro. (Porto Seguro literally means secure port another example of the prosaic nature of some of the Portuguese names.) The local Brazil Indians were the Tupininguin. They were rapidly conquered and enslaved, but the Aimore, Pataxo and Cataxo tribes resisted and retook Porto Seguro twice, reducing it to rubble in 1612.

View from the historic city
Tourists browsing through Brazil Indian handcrafts under shade of tree.

Looking down at the lower modern part of the town of Porto Seguro

Once again the town has two parts. The original settlement was on the upper reaches, so this is where the historical city lies. We explored the beautifully restored buildings and then picnicked with a panoramic view of the bay.

One of the beautifully restored churches.The upper city is a World Heritage site.

A Marmoset comes to investigate.

We then headed down the steps to the lower part of the town and the harbour. Porto Seguro was still celebrating the Sao Joao festival and their streets abounded with colour. After checking out the anchorages we headed to the main drag with its many restaurants and bars. The road is called “Passada do Alcool” (Alcohol Alley) Don’t you love the aptness of the names? We caught the bus back to Coroa Vermehla.

Along Passada de Alcool
Dugout canoe



This is the biggest group of Brazil Indians in the Bahia region.  They number approximately 3500. The name is pronounced Pa tash o.
They are mainly subsistence farmers, fishermen and hunter-gatherers. They utilise local plants for medication. Their traditional pharmacy is bio diverse and utilise more than 90 different plants. They have remedies for colds, asthma, fever, toothache and rheumatism to name but a few. Their healers are revered, but they are struggling to maintain the tradition. Many healers are over sixty and so this knowledge could be lost within as little as two decades.

We left Coroa Vermehla on a Friday and sailed to windward again, but managed to lay the course. On Sunday Aeolus and his promised north wind arrived just after sunrise. We were sailing off the Abrohlos islands (Open your eyes islands! Low lying, hard to spot!)

This was taken from "Pelican" Abrohlos Islands

Pete always does the final watch and then starts breakfast. I was starting my watch and did the usual look around for ships and boats etc. I called to Pete that I had seen “something big!” It was a Southern Right Whale. Thereafter, between 0700 and 1700 we saw whales on almost every point of the compass. We were enthralled. I stopped counting after the tenth pod of three. Most were distant fountains of water, but some were close enough to see them breaching, slapping the water with their side fins and also flashing their tails! Unfortunately my slack jaw seemed to impede my photographic skills and I shot mostly views of the sky.

One of the pods of whales.
Dusk the day before we had a fearless visitor.

Perhaps Faye can identify again. He had webbed feet.

The next day there were still a few distant squirts of water near the horizon. We spent several hours becalmed and Pete and I relaxed on the trampolines enjoying the sunshine and the relatively flat seas.

By the Tuesday a front was coming through and we reached our intended destination south of Vitoria. We had to sail through several small islands and breaking rocks, dark clouds were obscuring the horizon ahead of us. Fortunately we dropped anchor in an unknown bay, near Guaripari and took cover. The topography south of Vitoria is stunning. There are tall blue mountains and some of the shapes seem to be precursor of the sugar loaves of Rio. We were now in the state of Espirito Santo.

The beautiful homes in the restricted condominium north of Praia Cerca, Guarapari


It took me a while to figure out the 'kiosk'

As soon as the front abated we launched “Crake” and rowed to the nearest beach, but as we approached we saw that the beaches were private and part of a walled condominium, so we headed for the public beach, but unfortunately the surf was not quite Hawaiian, but getting there. We tucked our tails and returned to “Oryx”. The following day we sailed to the next bay – Enseada de Cerca and anchored there. We managed to get ashore, but the return to “Oryx” after exploring the town was reminiscent of Lagos. Pete was drenched. We were swept by two waves; our groceries were floating on the bottom of the dinghy, but on the bright side:
·        It was warm,
·        We didn’t capsize
·        And it was Hannah’s first birthday.

Enseada de Cerca

The day after we sailed slowly and blissfully around the point, which is a nature reserve and anchored off the town’s main beach, which proved to be one of the nicest anchorages yet. (Enseada de Guaripari.) We rowed ashore and landed in a corner with virtually no swell. When we were stowing the dinghy, a Brazilian chap from the Nature reserve came and chatted to us.

Pete's encounter with a constrictor.

The apartments of Guarapari from the nature reserve,

We went off to get the fixings of a picnic and then returned to have our picnic on the beach before heading for the reserve. The reserve charges the princely some of R$2.00 (60p) and when we were about to pay, the nature warden approached and let us enter without payment, because we are “Estrangeros”!!! The nature reserve was well maintained with paved pathways and verdant foliage. Unfortunately, the path is not circular, so we couldn’t view the Praia Cerca anchorage.

Sailing around from Cerca we seemed to pass into a parallel universe! (A 'Fringe' moment)
Anchored off main beach Guarapari
Bikers visit blue marlin on main beach
Beautiful mountainous backdrop.

These teenagers were paddling between our hulls and then stopped to pose for the photograph!

Guarapari is a very ordinary Brazilian town with few foreign tourists. The mountains that form the backdrop to the town add to the aesthetic beauty. We tried out another anchorage, in the centre of town, near the fuel dock and bridge, but found the one a little short of space and the other not ideal for overnight.

Anchored in the channel for lunch.
Close up. A man on the beach offered to buy 'Crake', but Pete didn't take orders!

 We had lunch in the channel and then sailed on to Meaipe.


Do you see any black sand?

The Lonely Planet describes the sands around Guarapari and Meaipe as ‘black’ so I was expecting sand similar to that of volcanic beaches. (Myrtos on Crete comes to mind.) The beaches however are golden with the occasional black streak. A bit like oil pollution, but nothing that was very obvious, even in places called Praia Preto. (Black Beach.) According to LP these beaches are said to be ‘healing’ but are actually radioactive. My Geiger counter was on the blink, but my hair texture seems to have change and Pete now glows in the dark!


We sheltered at the ore terminal overnight, which was well charted. The pilot boat came to ask if we had a problem and then bid us welcome.

Not many yachts visit this man made ore terminal and harbour, but we sheltered for the night.

Next stop was the village of Ubu, which was just around the corner and off the chart. We sailed in amongst breaking waves on the rocks and anchored amongst a small fishing fleet.

Ubu  is the recorded first landfall for the explorer Amerigo Vespucci, who gave his name to the Americas. Ubu today is a small town where the locals are apparently reticent because they don’t want an influx of developers, but the swells were so big, that Pete braved the natives alone and returned unscathed with some good photographs and some fresh bread rolls.


Still exploring the coast we managed to visit the old town of Anchieta. We had to anchor ¾ miles from the shore, because the bay was so shallow. Anchieta is one of the oldest settlements in Espirito Santo State. It contains many relics of the 16th century Jesuit priest Jose’ de Anchieta.

Tree in square where walk culminates.
View from the upper town

The original church built with the help of the Brazil Indians.

The popular 100km Steps of Anchieta walk along the beaches from Vitoria to Anchieta takes place in June. Local Indians built the church walls. There is a statue of Jose’ de Anchieta giving a blessing to the Goitaca warriors. These Brazil Indians stirred my sympathy and evoked remorse. According to Lonely Planet these fierce warriors were longhaired, tall and robust. They lived on the coastal planes of Espirito Santo and Rio de Janeiro region. The early Europeans found the Goitaca almost impossible to capture. They were outstanding runners and swimmers and by all reports were equally at home on land or on sea. According to legend they could capture a deer with their arms and disembowel a shark after wedging a stick in its jaws. In the 18th century this tribe, never defeated in battle – around 12 000 people- were exterminated by a small pox epidemic, apparently introduced deliberately! And we talk about chemical warfare and ethnic cleansing in the 21st century. Imagine what splendid footballers and Olympic athletes the Goitaca would have made!


Iriri was yet another splendid anchorage. Huge rocks surrounded the small beach. One of the disadvantages of Brazil is the noise. People having parties and having fun like it LOUD, but Iriri’s beaches forbid excess noise! Even in Joao Pessoa noise pollution is being addressed in the form of contact numbers on the local trains.

Another 'black; beach?


As we sailed overnight to Macae, rounding Cabo Sao Tome, Pete reminded me of an incident four years ago when we almost ran into a fishing boat with no lights. I thought the likelihood of history repeating itself, highly unlikely, but guess what? Not only did we almost run into another trawler, but at 0300 we got caught in a drift net. Pete spent the next two hours trying to free us without damaging the net too much. Our boat hook got horribly ensnarled and at times Pete was severely doused by waves on the stern deck.In the end we had to cut the line and later found that the net had cut into the leading edge of the new rudders. Usually the fishermen stand watch and warn off approaching vessels with a spotlight showing the lie of the net, ‘our’ fishermen were sleeping and no one witnessed our struggles.

This fisherman came to welcome us to Macae, just off Ihla Santana

Free at last we sailed on to Ihla Santana off the city of Macae. Not many yachties visit the oil fields of Macae. Both a fishing boat and some Brazilians on a powerboat welcomed us to the anchorage off Ihla Santana on a Sunday afternoon. We had a quick lunch and then joined Pierre and his family ashore. Pierre lives in Macae and extolled the virtues of the place with its fabulous islands, coast and the nearby mountains. He said that the people of Macae always have the choice of seaside or mountains on the weekend. As the oilfields drive Macae, perhaps this is affluent privilege. Pierre plied us with beer whilst his fisherman friend gathered fresh sea urchins and introduced us to sea urchin roe cured with lemon juice. Sea urchins are better eaten than sat upon.

Pierre and his family and friends lied us with chilled beer...

And fresh sea urchins!
The island of Santana belongs to the  Brazilian navy, but the beaches are open to the public. Pete had a yen to see the lighthouse, so Pierre spoke to the chap in charge and we rowed ashore the next morning with a packed picnic. The marineiros couldn't have been more friendly, but had to escourt us to the lighthouse and where expecting a boat with supplies. Pete and I explored the beach and the rocks on either end and had a relaxed picnic basking in the winter sun at noon, watching the supplies being unloaded.

Picnic at Santana Rock

A pleasant young Brazilian called Daniel escorted us to the lighthouse, stopping to show us all the viewpoints along the way. He then duly unlocked the lighthouse and up we climbed. He allowed us to snap pictures to our hearts content, but asked us not to publish a photo of him.

The modern led light.

Daniel pointed out some impressive spiders!


Macae is the city closest to Brazil’s offshore oil rigs and the majority of the people work in the oil industry. There are few tourists who visit Macae and we found the people very welcoming and interested in “Oryx”. Whilst clearing in with the port captain, he asked to see photographs of the boat. We explored the city before having lunch at a kilo restaurant, and shopping for supplies. At dusk we saw an interesting interpretation of a jangarda. The sailor was an environmentalist called Vincente, who was as interested in “Oryx” as we were in his jangarda. He came alongside and came on board. Unfortunately the language differences made communication difficult, but fortunately not impossible. Vincente has worked on the manatee projects and had just sailed in from Buzios on the fringes of a front. He capsized at one stage, but managed to right the boat. Light was fading fast and he had other commitments, but we exchanged contact details and have subsequently met friends of his in Rio.

Vincente comes alongside in his jangarda.

There is a small yacht club up river in Macae, but the entrance is dotted with rocks and without local knowledge, we didn’t attempt to enter. We simply anchored off the Enseada Macae, which provided excellent shelter from the south and west.

Tortuous entry to yacht club up the river

Celebrating Louis Braille

Thought of Pam's birthday dinner on the other side of the ocean.


En route to Buzios we anchored alongside a fishing boat off the island of Feia. The next morning we heard a squawk, which I attributed to the fishermen, but was actually coming from a pair of Magellanic penguins. In the 20 odd years that Pete has been visiting Brazil, he has never see penguins in Brazil before. We consulted his bird book to find that these little fellows were some 1500km north of their northernmost hangout – the river Plate. Ihla Feia is uninhabited, but the bay has clear water and some good snorkeling, so tripper boats from Buzios come out regularly.

Day trippers from Buzios.


Buzios is a favourite amongst Brazilian and international tourists. It is in the Rio de Janeiro state and is a short drive from Rio. Unlike the majority of Brazilian beaches, Buzios has 17 small beaches tucked away in coves all around the peninsula. The beaches almost disappear at high tide, but they have a cosy intimacy. The snorkeling all around seems good. Buzios is known as the Brazilian Riviera. In the 1960’s Brigitte Bardot and her Brazilian boyfriend ‘discovered’ Buzios. There is a street on the seafront named after her and various cafĂ©’s and cinemas bear her name.

We initially anchored off the northern side of Buzios off Enseada Tartaruga. We headed for the town after breakfast, just as the crowds were starting to arrive at the beach. We had packed a picnic and after looking around the tourist shops we walked to a beach on the far side, Praia Forno. The tide was high and the beach a little crowded and as it was still a little early we walked across a hill to Praia Brava, one of the main surfing beaches and had our picnic there. It was no less crowded, but we found a spot on the rocks and sat watching the surfers.

Enseada Tartaruga with ihla Feia in distance

Praia Forno

Lavish house en route to Praia Brava

Picnic at Praia Brava

The next anchorage was off the main beach of Buzios at the yacht club, at Praia dos Ossos. The yacht club made us welcome and we enjoyed there shower and filled up ourwater containers. We wandered around the town again and found a bookshop selling second hand English books for R$1.00! We were starting to run low on actual books, as most yachties have gone the ebook way and we haven’t started exchanging ebooks yet. After buying some books and an ice cream, we went back to the yacht club and bought a Caiparinha to drink as we watched the sunset. The commodore came over to welcome us and told us that the club was only for sailing boats! Unfortunately, most of Brazil is overrun with powerboats and yachts are often a rarity. Because of the pollution in the bay at Rio de Janeiro, it looks likely that the Olympic regattas will be held here.

Central Buzios with tourist shops, restaurant along pedestrian streets

Praia de Ossos

Fishermen. (Lifesize sculptures)

Yacht Club Buzios
Bus shelter Buzios

Wouldn't these tripper boats be perfect for kids birthday parties?


A cold front was approaching so we headed for the bay near Cabo Frio. We anchored in a sheltered spot called Enseada do Forno, which is surrounded on three sides by high cliffs. The town is a kilometre further and the path between the beach and town is well utilised. It is steep in places but affords great views. The fishing harbour is packed with fishing boats and tripper boats and on the days when the weather was good, the tripper boats brought visitors in droves.

After crossing the hill we did the usual - explored the historic part of town, the beachfront and then raided the supermarket for a suitable picnic and some beers. We knew the cold front was imminent so we headed for a beach on the exposed Atlantic side and had our picnic there. Once again we were back to the Brazilian norm of long wide beaches stretching for as far as the eye can see.

Crowded harbour off Arraial do Cabo itself

Even in the midst of all the joy, there is always a hint of homesickness!
Yet another beautiful Brazilian beach.

We spent a week in the bay near Arraial do Cabo, Pete scrubbed the bottom, I caught up on laundry… all the mundane things that need doing. We found some splendid ten-year-old Argentinean wine at a reasonable cost and stocked up our now diminishing cellar. Once the front had abated we explored the bay around Cabo Frio. The Portuguese explorers who named Cabo Frio were a little disorientated, as Cabo Frio (Cold Cape) is not a cape, but is an island. Still it looks like a cape,just like Rio’s Guanabara Bay look like an estuary…


We anchored off Cabo Frio lighthouse, where we met a singlehander called Luc. Luc is a Belgium polyglot who is currently working in Sao Paulo. He went to explore Enseada do Forno, but returned just before nightfall with a bucket full of red grouper, which he shared with us. He had asked local fishermen what their catch was like and they showed him, literally! He joined us for my version of Pete’s Portuguese Fish Stew.

Beach at Cabo Frio

We left Cabo Frio in the late afternoon, to utilise the afternoon breeze and also to ensure arriving in Rio by daylight. Just beyond the Cape like island we saw a flock/ school of penguins swimming in formation!

Heading for the gap!


Rio, the city that is named after a non-existent river is surely one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I have never visited by air, but sailing into Rio de Janeiro from the west in 2008 filled me with suadade – the indescribable longing to return. Approaching from the east was a little different and just as beautiful but unfortunately we were met by a tide of litter, which dampened my enthusiasm somewhat. Our first port of call was the village of Itaipu, where the surf was tremendous. The following morning we hastened to go ashore, but after examining the surf, decided to skip the landing. The village has a unique service, in that the one restaurant brings out a menu and should you desire then delivers a meal of your choice to your cockpit! The next morning we sailed into Rio de Janeiro itself, but that will follow.

Approaching Itaipu

Keep reading and please keep the comments flowing by blog or by email. Thanks for the positive feedback. If you read the blog regularly, could you please 'follow' it? If any of our Brazilian friends know the name of the bay in Guarapari, with the gated condominium, could you please email us with the details - can't find it on the charts or on Google Earth.

Sugar Loaf beckons!

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