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Thursday, 1 August 2013


The travels continue down the coast

Traditionally Pete takes his friends for a sail on the river at Jacare, but this year Theo, his young Swiss friend, was leaving for Switzerland before our new sails were quite ready. Theo, Lucy and their two girls have become regulars and it didn’t quite seem the same without them. Pete was determined to take Brian for a sail, but we were both concerned about Silvia, as she becomes motion sick and isn’t too keen on boats. We decided to invite Brian to sail overnight with us and to have Silvia meet him at Fort Orange for lunch the next day. Pamela his daughter was going to join us, but then fell ill.

Pete and Brian rowing out. 

Ferry bus off Cabedelo

The weather was beautiful and “Oryx” was behaving well. Unfortunately the wind was light initially and due to the time constraints we motored for a couple of hours, until we were clear of Cabo Branco. The rest of the trip was slow but steady, pounding lightly to windward. Unfortunately, my sea legs supported me whilst preparing supper, but then became wobbly when it came to serving dinner! How embarrassing!


It was great having an extra person on board, as it meant the watches were fewer and we each managed six hours of uninterrupted sleep. Brian was very impressed with the self steering’s ability to keep us on course and I think he enjoyed the sail tremendously.

We sailed into the river mouth at Fort Orange and then had breakfast. We had arrived with plenty of time to spare and took turns to shower and freshen up, before Silvia and Pamela’s arrival.

Amphibious vehicle on beach at Fort Orange

Silvia, Carly and Brian with Bruna the beagle (she's a girl) and Othello the yorky

We booked a table and ordered lunch at a beach restaurant before exploring the fort that gives the place its name. Fort Orange was by the Dutch for their small garrison, but was taken over by the Portuguese in 1654 after the capitulation of Recife. The fort was restored in 1991. After a lovely lunch we said our farewells and returned to the boat, whilst Brian and family drove back to Jacare.

Pete, Brian and Silvia with their daughter Pamela between her two friends.

Fort Orange has a rehabilitation facility for manatees, which we visited on a previous occasion. These shy sea mammals, who gave rise to the mermaid legend, often get injured in the muddy waters of the rivers by speedboat propellers. The rehabilitation facility introduces them back into areas that are protected reserves.


We stayed overnight in Fort Orange, getting up early to catch the tide going out. We then sailed overnight to our next port of call - Suape. Again the wind was heading us, so we had to tack down the coast.

Suape is a large international port serving the Recife district. It has grown tremendously in the past four years. It now has a fully functional shipyard. We called into this port in 2009 on our way down the coast and we entered the river through an area of shoals that now shows up on Google Earth as having silted up! Beyond the shoals was a little paradise. We spent a lovely couple of days anchored off Ihla Frances. We ate a lovely fish and chip meal at a bar called “Bico’s” sitting on logs with our toes in the sea sand. The bar was still there, minus the sign, but only does meals for the employees of the Suape docks. We did have a chilled beer though.

We anchored off the hotel. Examples of Brian's tripper boats alongside the jetty he repaired.

Three generations fishing.

"Crake" on ihla Frances while we enjoy a beer at Bico's bar.

Shipyard beyond the bar.

We were repeating some of our previous stops because Pete is still continuing to write and update existing guides of the Brazilian coast for the pilotage foundation. Suape needed a second look, as the entrance we came in was the trickiest. This time we sailed in from the north, through a gap in the reef and then left by sailing all along the reef until we reached the harbour entrance. All exciting stuff, as the timing of the tide and a good echo sounder are crucial.

Between the reef and a shallow place!

We sailed through the gap in the reef to the left of the photo.


Our next stop was to be Maceio, as we needed to renew our visas and wanted to visit Raul and Nidia who live nearby. The wind was heading us again and one tack found us off the entrance to Maragogi, where we anchored for the night. We sailed to Maceio and arrived just after midnight. Fortunately there was enough light to anchor safely. Maceio is a lovely small city with many beautiful beaches and colourful jangardas. (Small, flat bottomed wooden boats, often stuffed with polystyrene to aid buoyancy.)

Jangardas on Maceio beach

Maceio has always been a favourite of mine, but this time the beach where we landed spoiled the city for me somewhat. We land at the yacht club and leave our dinghy safely within their yard, free of charge. They are always very welcoming and have basic shower facilities and a small bar. However the yacht club is sandwiched between two favellas and the beach is strewn with plastic bags and decomposing dead cats, as well as shrimp remains and fish offal. The municipality clean the beaches daily, but for some reason stop at the first favella and leave the mess to worsen.

We sailed off to Praia Frances before contacting Raul, only to find
that Nidia was now based in Maceio, running a vegetarian/vegan restaurant.

"Badger" 1993 with Raul second from left and Nidia fourth from right.


"Oryx" behind the reef at Praia Frances

Praia Frances is 22km south of Maceio. It is a beautiful place with a safe anchorage tucked behind the reef. The beaches are pristine and the sand is fine and white. The reef is literally just offshore and so it provides sheltered bathing too. The beach beyond the reef provides the best surf is the Alagoas state, so there is something to suit everyone. Beach bars line the front. The town has grown over the years, but generally everything shuts down after sundown when all the day-trippers return to Maceio.

Soft white sand and beach bars - yet another Brazilian paradise.

We returned to Maceio and walked along the splendid beaches to
the restaurant where we enjoyed a magnificent buffet. Everything is organic and the focus is on health. Please spread the word, there aren’t many vegetarian restaurants in Brazil and only two that we know of in Maceio. The restaurant is called “Sera fim”

We spent the evening with them at Nidia’s brother’s pousada at Praia Frances. Nidia and Raul are both Argentinean, but have lived in Brazil for many years. Over the years Nidia’s siblings have joined the couple and her brother and sister and their families now live in Praia Frances. Nidia’s brother made fabulous empanadas (savoury pastries) and these we the best we’ve had in Brazil.

We invited Raul and Nidia to join us for a meal on “Oryx” and had a lovely evening. During our stay in Maceio we stocked up on groceries and tried to sort out our phone and Internet connection problems. We now have a lovely Samsung smart phone that provides a hotspot for our computer connections, but the speed seems too slow for Skype or blog building. It is nice to have a reliable smart phone again. I killed the Blackberry on the passage over and we have been using a very old, but very reliable Motorola Razr that my daughter gave us many years ago.

I also reverted to my past stunts and measured my length on the pavement Fortunately a papaya in my bag cushioned the fall and apart from grazed forehead and knees, a stiff left wrist and bruised dignity I was fine. 

Time was marching on and because neither Pete not myself are particularly superstitious (it’s bad luck to be superstitious) we set out on the Friday. As usual the prevailing wind was from the southeast and off we went, almost laying the course, but close hauled. The passage was slow and we spent a few days sailing from squall to squall. The sailing was rough, but I had resolved not to complain for the next 700 nm. The first night was filled with ships and boats and we sailed around a huge Petrobras drilling ship, lit up like Christmas tree.

Pete’s log fro Sunday 9th of June reads:
0630 Co216 Wind ESE5 1 reef in each – went over a big wave and the wind gen pole broke – managed to get it on board – probably ruined.

Wind generator and port rudder damaged. but retrieved.

I was sleeping and heard a load crash. It was the radar reflector smashing into something. In my dream befuddled state I thought it was an old aluminium pan we had discarded. Pete called to me and at first light, in soaring seas we managed to haul the broken pole on board. We had meant to strengthen the pole in Jacare, but the time constraints and other jobs got in the way. We sailed on. We rarely use the wind generator, as the sun and the solar panels provide more than enough electricity in Brazil. Pete was a little disappointed with the wind generator anyway, as it does not seem to produce much electricity.

On Monday in the late afternoon, however, the bottom fitting of the starboard rudder broke. Again we managed to get it on board in fairly big seas. Worried that we might lose the other rudder we changed course and headed down wind to Salvador.


Salvador from our saloon.

We cleared into Salvador and spent the night and then set off
across the bay of Salvador to the lovely island of Itaparica where we dried out on the sand bank and between heavy rain showers Pete managed to repair the rudders. (Fishermen in Maceio had wrapped their net around the port rudder and when Pete was checking the rudder he found some damage!) We scrubbed the bottom and I finally found an Internet café and called my son and daughter without the frustration of Skype dropping every two minutes.

High and dry

Fort at Itaparica


Itaparica is a favourite amongst yachties and a South African family sailed in on a forty-foot steel boat called “Mojo” and swallowed the anchor. They run a bar called “Gringo’s” and now also run a restaurant called “Amigos”. They enjoy meeting sailors and once chilled a bottle of champagne for me, for Pete’s birthday. We saw evidence of other acquaintances, but unfortunately we were so busy with repairs and scrubbing the bottom, that we didn’t stop to socialise. We met up with Roy, a Liverpudlian on a ferrous cement boat called (). He has been sailing since the 1970’s and has completed three circumnavigations, by just travelling around. He is a talented artist and designs jewellery and is a scrimshawer.

Village square preparing for Sao Joao Festival

Degausing gear

Fast ferry between Itaparica and Salvador.

We sailed back to Salvador and Pete cleared out whilst I typed this.


Salvador's condominiums

We anchored in the inner harbour just below the elevator.

Salvador is a city not to be missed. It was the original capitol of Brazil in colonial days and is an Afro Brazilian jewel. It has fine examples of 17th and 18th century architecture and churches laden with gold. Tome da Souza landed near the Praia da Barra. He founded the city on the cliff tops and the original inhabitants numbered 800 – 400 soldiers and 400 settlers. The city thrived on sugar cane and tobacco production. The first slaves were brought in the mid 1500’s. It was seen to be the second most important city in the Portuguese Empire, after Lisbon.

It earned the nickname of “Baia de Todos os Santos e quase Todos os Pescadores” (Bay of all Saints and nearly all sins!) Today Salvador is often just called Bahia, which is also the name of the State. The bay is still called All Saints Bay and is a wonderful cruising ground. The city is divided into Cidade Alta (Upper city) and Cidade Baixa. (Lower city.)

Spot "Oryx" in the inner harbour?

Looking down at the lower town (Cidade Baixa) from the upper level of elevator.

Mercado Modelo is centre right

The Mercado Modelo or custom’s house was built in 1861 to receive shipments of new slaves awaiting auction. The building was partially destroyed by fire and was rebuilt in 1986 and now serves as a tourist market. It is in the lower city just beyond the marina and in front of the Elevador Lacerda. This art deco elevator building houses four elevators, which connect the Cidade Baixa to the Cidade Alta. The charge to use the elevator is nominal and the views of the bay are magnificent. The elevators travel 72m in 20 seconds!

Rooftops from Pelo

The upper city contains the historic heart of Salvador – Pelourinho or simply “Pelo”. It is the heart of tourism and nightlife. The area of Pelourinho is a Unesco world heritage centre.

Sao Joao Festival

See the name of the restaurant.

Salvador was in the midst of celebrating a festival. The Festa San Joao is a big festival held in the northeastern Brazil. The streets were decorated with bright streamers and people were celebrating the build up to the finale, but there was also a forecast for reasonable northerly winds, so we left the festivities to continue down the coast to south of Vitoria.

The adventure continues. Crossing from Itaparica to Salvador, we sailed to windward for the first time since we had cleaned the bottom and Pete’s adjustments To “Oryx” in Jacare seem to be paying off. We are tacking at about 100 degrees, the leeway seems to be down to about 10 degrees and our speed, going to windward is approximately 4 – 6 knots, depending on the wind. So Pete is relaxed and smiling for the first time in a while.

Thanks for you patience.
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