11 July 2015

Arquipelago de Tinhare

From one of the hilltops
After a daysail of 30NM from Baie do Camamu, we arrived at dusk to anchor at Morro do Sao Paulo, a tourist town built on several steep hills with four beaches, a rack and ruin fort, many restaurants all serving the same food and pousadas galore.  The beaches were beautiful, as usual, protected from the Atlantic by coral reefs.  We explored and found the town on the hills where the locals lived much more interesting than the tourist mecca.

The boat valet service taking TomTom to anchor.

The ambulance arriving...

at emerg.
No vehicles in this town with the exception of the ambulance above.  This is the festive main drag of the non tourist town.
We relocated to the less affluent Gamboa, only 2 miles away - a great footpath connected the two towns - which was more authentic, with a town quay, two “supermercados”, a boardwalk in an attempt to be touristy, and a welcoming helping hand or two when beaching TomTom.
The clay/sand combo of this landslide is apparently medicinal.  Others roll in it before bathing in the sea.  We chose not to but my foot is glowing in health.

The shoreline hike to town at high tide

Street of Gamboa a little more bedraggled than Morro do Sao Paulo

The landslide

Finally, we continued around the island on the mainland side among sandbanks and dolphins, that we now recognize by their breathing snort before we see them, to an impoverished town called Galeao.  From the distance a sweet looking church topped a hill in town but when we climbed the hill, the church, like the town, was in a sad state of mildew and disrepair.  The people were not as welcoming and friendly as we had so far experienced and we felt conspicuous in our beautiful Milly.  We did not stay long.
Traditional dugouts favoured by most of the fishermen in the area.  The pegs keep them in place during the astounding tidal currents

Sweet church from the distance


Main drag in Galeao

The kids were having fun but the impression was that adults were disheartened.

The most fun part of our adventure in the arquilpelago was a dinner spent in Gamboa.  A beach restaurant, as is our habit, hosted by Claudio, a overly welcoming man dressed in a speedo that had seen better days and a towel wrapped around his neck doubling as debonair scarf and drier of tables and chairs.  (Rain here is intermittent all day.  Large banks of clouds dropping a downpour for ten’s of minutes, followed most often by blue sky or other less heavy clouds.)  Claudio sat us down and offered us a drink on the house.  This was no ordinary drink.  The ice was taken from a freezer that had never been defrosted and was encrusted with ice so thick that nothing fit in it except another block of ice.  Claudio chopped a chunk of this, smashed a few smaller chunks off with a wooden stick, blended some ripe passion fruit, poured other key ingredients into a shaker and shook with vigour while swinging his hips.  The decorated glass was served to me.  Peter got the dregs in a plastic tumbler.  
Claudio's restaurant was decorated with driftwood and natural centrepieces.  

Claudio behind the bar

He had a habit of planting his head very close to us when he spoke.

At work

Finished!  There is a glass behind the decoration.

While waiting for our meal, another cloudburst of the lengthier version rained down on us.  Claudio reset our table behind his protected tiny bar.  Other passers-by took sanctuary with us in what became tight quarters.  Then we were served a delectable dinner of mixed grilled fish, shellfish and fruit with beans and rice.  The chef, who may have been Claudio’s girlfriend, mother, sister, cousin, business partner - who know’s - came out to regale us for quite some time about something or other in Portuguese, smiling all the while.  Finally, the meal was over.  It was dark and TomTom was beached with a surf and current to be negotiated.  Claudio waded us out and along the beach up to his chest, chanting “Relax, relax” and, of course, smiling.  He had invited us to have pizza with his family at a campfire later on the beach.  But it poured with rain and after our difficulties getting home, we were no-shows, sadly.  We didn’t see a campfire, in any case.
An enthused wave good-bye from fishermen practising their trade traditionally.  Very cool.

9 July 2015

Baia Do Camaru

Campinho.  From the boat at sunset with palm trees everything looks nice

Campinho main street and village ferry dock
We anchored outside two different villages in the Baia, Campinho and Sapinho, only 1.5 NM apart but had very different vibes.  Campinho, our first stop for three nights, was seemingly less cared for with many houses that were only partially finished or finished but in a sad state of disrepair.  It’s few streets were sand but wide enough for cars and pick ups. 

Sapinho was a cluster of homes on both sides of a river crossed by a wooden foot bridge. The buildings were tiny but painted and tidy with tended minute gardens.  Some were decorated with shells stuccoed into the outside walls. The “streets” again sand were footpaths - the village was inaccessible to motorized vehicles.  Perhaps this made the difference between the two villages - accessibility to the outside world.  We kayaked through it’s mangrove surround.  It will be water accessible for sometime to come, I’m sure.

The foot bridge joining the two halves of the village.  I guess this is Sapinho's main street.

Those are little shells covering the whole house.  A lesson in diligence.

The mangroves surrounded Sapinho like a moat.  The shadows and light make a swamp quite beautiful

In both villages the people who we met were very friendly, colourful and helpful.  In Campinho we met “Friday”, our name for a guy who was desperate to offer us whatever he could provide.  He was toothless, shirtless - very few men wear shirts and most, we note if they smile, are toothless - a scourge of poverty and sugarcane?  He had talked to us in Portuguese for at least half an hour one day while we were waiting for a boat bus to Camamu.  He persevered with gestures, words repeated with different tones and volumes with hopes that we would gradually catch on.  Eventually we settled on agua for the boat to be arranged the next day.
Sally "in conversation with" Friday
 Friday did not let us down.  By midmorning he had made a visit to Milly in his long fishing dory.  After much communication difficulty, we agreed to buy fish and coconuts to be delivered to the boat.  Off he went and returned with two young men who we learned through sign language and our trusty Portuguese-English dictionary brought by Anne and Rob, had never seen a catamaran and wanted to look around.  Peter did the honours.  Friday was a hustler of the friendliest kind.  We enjoyed him immensely.
Friday and the boys.

Our character in Sapinho, actually at the only building, a restaurant, on a little island off Sapinho, was the restaurant owner and chef.  He was an older man of uncertain ethnic background, likely European from way back.  He and his friends and small family were enjoying what looked like a potluck assado when we arrived.  Miming to ask if we could eat something, he offered us grilled fish and vegetables.  We got the distinct impression that the building was under continual construction.
The restaurant.  Work continues on the second floor.
We sat on the sand at a jury-rigged table and bench surrounded by three dogs and a cat who liked Peter - each of the animals preferred to perch table-top.  Atop the remaining tables around us were the detritus of life on the beach and ownership of an establishment where all was made and repaired and recycled from whatever was available - a partially inflated plastic bathtub backrest, a chainsaw, a generator, a tired kayak for river rapids, etc.  

The location of the restaurant.  Idyllic.
The chef became friendlier as the food came out.  He served a shot of pinga, a potent white rum or alcool, according to our dictionary.  And then two whole fish, delicious beans with bacon, rice, and salad with the, now we know ubiquitous, incredibly hot pepper sauce which he asked me to taste and laughed when I quickly followed my sample with a gulp of beer. 
Lunch and dinner

He then gave us some local cut up fruit with sugar - it was kind of spongey and sour but again, yummy.  And finally, he offered homemade pineapple ice cream.  We noticed it was only for the females at his table and he only served one dish to me.  I guess ice cream is not machismo?  I slipped Peter a few bites.  When we tipped him a small amount on a ludicrously inexpensive bill, he gave me another bowl of ice cream.  No dinner necessary that night!  
The view from our table.  Not bad!

It was not until thinking about  our meal at the end of the day that we realized our chef who had obviously enjoyed his own food and drink for many years and who was hot from working over his stove in the Brazilian heat and humidity was dressed only in shorts - no shirt, no shoes, no hairnet and no North American health department standards.  I guess this is what going native is all about.

We took a bus boat to Camamu, an adventure in itself.
 Our final adventure in Baia Do Camamu, was a trip to the bustling, cacaphony of the town of Camamu on market day.  Wow, was it busy.  There were people everywhere, some selling, some buying and many loitering.  There was a riot of colour with tiny stores selling everything from mattresses and pick axes to fishing poles and bikinis.  Street vendors with wares on blankets, sold cd’s. shoes, freshly dug peanuts, crafts etc.

Fish and meat were sold within walls while the fruit and vegetables were sold by farmers in an open air market. The “food court” was jammed with people eating kebobs or fish stew.   People came to and from the market in large trucks with wooden bench seats on the back.  Motorcycle taxis transported purchases and/or people through the narrow streets.
The motorcycle taxi stand.


We purchased farm fresh vegetables and fruit.  One vendor gave us an orange to test before buying and when he didn’t have exact change for which I reassured him not to bother, he gave me a candy and a bulb of garlic. 
Success.  Buying in sign language is always a challenge but laughter and a smile goes a long way
We wanted to try twleve odd hairy fruit about the size of a yellow plum.  The vendor gave us a kg for a deal - I think he wanted to pack up and go home.  Luckily, we liked the fruit.
Turned out they were Brazilian lychee nuts.

After exploring and visiting a less frenetic supermarket, we waited for our boat bus back to Campinho.  We had our first coconut and a deaf, mute and village character befriended us trying to communicate in very exaggerated gestures.  All in all, another great adventure.
Straight edge razor enjoyed at the market.

The town was quiet away from the market.

In every town we seem to climb hills.  A church is usually at the top.   The view here was nicer than the church.

Baia do Camuru was a wonderful taste of northeastern Brazil, off the beaten tourist path.

Peter cracking our first coconut.  We have since purchased a machete.

Rob & Anne's Excellent Adventure Aboard Milly

8 July 2015

Passage-making again!

We spent a wonderful month with two sets of dear friends, each for two weeks.  Milly proved an easy home in which to host - lots of room to sit, cook, laugh, talk, read or nap as mood would have it.  The freezer kept ice well frozen and the fridge ably held plenty of food.  So we were all happy while exploring Paraty and Ilha Grande with Anne and Rob, making an overnight passage to Rio where we picked up Lee, explored, said good-bye to A & R, overnight sail to Arraial do Cabo and then to Buzios where we hiked steep hills and said good-bye to Lee.  Both good-byes were sad - it was so great to share our adventure and excitement with Milly with friends who were truly happy that our dreams of the past few years were coming true. 

Cacti can be spectacular, too.
Buzios topography was a startling change from Rio.  Like the whole Brazilian coast to the south, Rio was still mountainous right to the beach with lush, jungle growth up the slopes.  From Araial do Cabo to Guarapari, our next port, the land was dry, the mountains were in the distance quite far inland.  The soil was sandy with low scrub or cacti or with great slabs of granite.

After almost six weeks “holiday” it was time again to head north in earnest.  Our destination was Baia Do Camamu, about 60 NM south of Salvador.  We plan to spend another month or so exploring the Salvador cruising area before the next much lengthier passages.  We weighed anchor in Buzios in the late afternoon.
It proved a glorious passage of sailing in two legs.  Finally, the wind was as forecast - on the beam and the aft quarter.  It made all the difference to comfort and headway.  Although, the deck was still swaying, bouncing, rocking and rolling, the motion was going with the sea, not against it - the movement still required balance and a firm grip on the boat but was gentler, somehow, particularly on the stomach. 
Sunset is shortly after 5 p.m., a touch early, no matter how beautiful.  
  A highlight of the first leg, indeed, of our whole adventure to date, was enjoying the company of a large group of dolphins playing/fishing at our bow.  It was so exciting, I was giddy with delight and actually shed a few tears.  When dreaming of our future over the last few years, I have always looked forward to the stereotypical sailing with dolphins at the bow and so the fulfillment of this part of the dream, at least, was moving to say the least.  They are such elegant and graceful creatures, seemingly always with a smile on their friendly looking faces.  They cavorted, jumped, breached and dove.  The water was crystal clear, allowing us to watch them swimming in the waves and under the bow.  It was truly awesome!

Another wonder is bioluminescence, a constant entertainment and companion during nightwatches.  Sometimes it lights up the wake from both transoms so we seem to be blasting through the water.  More often flecks whiz through the wake and swirl over the bottom step of the sugar scoop like tens of shooting stars.  Through the escape hatch you can see the occasional fleck scooting by through the turbulence created by the hulls.  It is a light show I will always marvel at.

River leading into Guarapari and the tiny, tight space at the gas dock, just before the bridge with a heavy current threatening to send us under it.
The first leg was to Guarapari, a resort town.  After great team work to get the boat docked - we’ve come a long way since La Paloma - we filled up with fuel after a 48 hour sail.  We changed the the oil and oil filters on both Volvo engines - it may seem mundane but it was another first on our checklist of tasks to complete.  
Peter's oil changing outfit.  Gloves, headlamp and undies.

We anchored in a tiny bay with some fishing dories and some elegant homes with community security guard.  Very posh. 
Great slabs of granite were fun to explore - flip flops are not the best for such hikes.  Our barefeet proved more secure but were tender after a km or two.

After two peaceful nights we were off again, this time for 471 NM in 69 hours.  Compared to our first long passage of 560 NM the way the crow flies (but we were not crows, more like drunken sailors without a drop to drink, beating to and fro, approx. 780 NM) over six days, this sail was a real pleasure.  The voyage was the best yet.  Again, the wind was on the beam, with consistent speed.  We are now in the trades and expect the same until Trinidad.  Hallelujah, I say!  The waves were about 2 meters but we skittered along on top of them.  Milly surfed them beautifully, some with incredible speed.  Her record was 21.2 knots or 39 km/hr! 

Oil platforms are not on the chart or on AIS (Automated Identification Systems) but their ugly heads rear out of the water and are easily spied during the day.  It's in foul weather and at night where watch is imperative.  
A few ships got in our way and fishing boats with minimal lights were a hazard but there were no feverish moments.  Oh, except when a huge cargo ship that we had maneuvered around in the dark of early evening to find that they must have been oblivious to our whereabouts and changed course to head directly at us less than 1 NM away.  Peter peeled us off on a speedy beam reach and we got out of the way with room to spare.  Other than that, all was well.  I was pleased to manage sail trim and squall avoidance on my own.  My confidence is returning.
Looking out to stern at dawn.  This is what I had got us through on watch.  Proud, was I.
After marking nautical mile 3,000 (5,556 km), we arrived in the Baie do Camamu, a large estuary surrounded by mangroves.  We were exhausted after three hour night watches but happy and excited with the sail.  We had not turned on the engines for 69 hours!  A record!
Baie do Camamu