It was a beautiful, peaceful morning, at first light, when we sailed from Enseada das Palmas on the north eastern side of Ilha Grande. We were rather sad to leave this beautiful area after having explored and enjoyed it for almost two months.
We had to sail directly east, past Rio de Janeiro, to round the cape at Cabo Frio before we could head north. We were grateful for good wind of 16 -20 knots from the starboard aft quarter to push us along but the sea was boisterous and lumpy with short, steep swells and breaking crests, the odd one drenching the boat. If it wasn’t for our canvas covers the cockpit would have been totally soaked. Karin got terribly seasick again and I got only about two hours’ sleep that first night, partly as I was by now unaccustomed to the noises of ocean sailing.
We hoped to spend a day or two at Arrial do Cabo, a beautiful and popular area close to Cabo Frio, but we rounded it just after midnight on a pitch black night. One of the cardinal rules of cruising is to never arrive at a foreign harbour (or anchorage) at night, so we pushed on, seemingly having to thread our way between the little islands and hoping that the electronic charts were accurate; a pretty good bet however for such a well-known area.
Buzios to Salvador
Short as it was, it had proved a challenging passage, and both being fatigued, we decided to pull into Buzios at about nine o’clock the next morning. Then, after a good night’s rest, we both woke up with itchy feet and decided to lift anchor to utilise the pleasant zephyr of a breeze. The sea had flattened out in the shelter of the cape and we cruised along gently, enjoying morning coffee and banana loaf which Karin had baked, using bananas that I thought should have been consigned to the bin – but apparently are best for this recipe. This time we were ultra cautious to prevent her from getting sick again, so she spent as little time as possible down below.
We hoped to sail offshore to pick up some breeze, but as the wind direction changed in the late afternoon, we decided to find shelter for the night at Ilha de Santana, which is about 8km off Macae. The latter is the operational shore base for the nearby offshore oil rigs and this area is busy with service boats, tankers, barges and ferries. However, we found a peaceful anchorage just off the main island of the Sant’Anna archipelago, an environmentally protected area.
Running along the coast, 40 nautical miles offshore and stretching for about 60 miles, is Brazil’s biggest oil field, with about 100 rigs in operation. They are fortunately easy to see at night but one has nevertheless to be careful to stay well clear.
A bit more challenging were the local fishing boats that don’t have the correct navigation lights and with crews that sleep at night. Whenever we saw a boat with one single white light which didn’t show up on our automatic ship identification system (AIS), we were extra cautious, mindful that they could have lengthy nets strung out. Complicating matters was the fact that our AIS system tended to go on the blink, always it seemed when we most needed it at night.
At Vitoria the rain started and from there on, for the next four days, we had many squalls with accompanying rough seas, gusts and spray over the boat. On one of her night watches Karin noted a blast of 26 knots and was thankful that we had reefed the main sail and reduced the genoa before night fall.
Salvador and Itaparica island
We again felt quite fatigued by the time we reached Salvador and headed across the big bay to the northern point of Itaparica island where the quiet little village of Itaparica is situated. We dropped anchor around midday and I had a short rest before changing the engine oils and filters.
Whilst I was busy finishing this, Karin realised that the adjacent boat had came dangerously close. Nobody was on board and it was dragging its anchor, so we had no choice but to raise our anchor amidst a hectic rainstorm and move Moondust to safety.
We mainly spent the next week or so at Itaparica doing maintenance jobs, filling up the larder, going to Salvador by ferry to clear in and out and to do some boat shopping.
Thankfully, albeit after rewiring the AIS system, I deduced that the intermittent fault was caused by radio frequency emissions from the power saving LED globe that I had put into the mast head light which affected the VHF aerial alongside it. Karin winched me up the mast once more and I inserted the old incandescent globe – the AIS problem was solved!
Itaparica is a surprisingly quiet village, relative to Mar Grande and Bom Despachio from where the ferries leave for Salvador.
We enjoyed going for walks whilst exploring the village and often whilst enjoying a sundowner, game fish were out hunting, causing shoals of smaller fish to repeatedly surge out of the water and sail through the air on masse.
We had plenty of rain during our stay here and it was partially that which encouraged us to move on. We sailed across the bay to Salvador to get an early start with a good weather window the next day, spending the night anchored near the marina, before heading north for the Caribbean. However, we still have to cover about 2 000 nautical miles of the enormous Brazilian coastline…..
20 Replies to “Heading north up the Brazilian coast”
Thanks Pete and Karin, your blog is SO interesting.
Enjoy your sailing!
Thanks for your comment! xxx
Thanks for the update which I always look forward to.
Thanks Peter. Glad you’re enjoying the updates.
Hallo you two and thanx for the update. Special thanx that you added the maps Pete. It makes it much easier to get the full picture of where you are and how you are moving. As always we love to hear about your epic experience. Much love from a fairly cold Cape Town. We cannot wait to get the next blog entry. Xxx
Hallo Beth and George,
Glad that you are still with us….. even more wonderful to hear about the good rains in Cape Town!
Klink my jul het self ‘n opwindende ervaring in die Kgalagadi gehad. xxx
Thanks for the latest as always very interesting blog . Keep well and safe sailing . Hope Karins sea sickness will improve . Love Roger and Lorraine .
Hi Roger and Lorraine,
Glad you enjoyed the latest blog; we’re just off Recife where we picked up some cell signal to enable a response. We’ve made a quick passage north and luckily I didn’t suffer as much as previously from the sea sickness.
Nice report. Now up towards the Caribbean I guess. Watch out for the pirates on the Black Pearl 😉
Yes, we certainly are heading for the Caribbean and the Venezuelan pirates are apparently no joke around Trinidad, so were are hoping to head to Tobago and then north to Grenada.
Your blogs are great – thoroughly enjoy them and your visual record. Happy sailing .
Thanks Rob. Glad you’re enjoying the blogs as we do put a lot of effort into sharing our wonderful adventure with friends and family.
Good to have another update. So nice to be part of your adventure in this way. Safe sailing !
Hi Errol, nice to know that you are enjoying the voyage with us!
Really enjoying your blogs, and surprised at the architecture close to Rio. Also thought the u-tube when scuba diving which brought back some pleasant days some years ago. great pictures and views from the boat and I liked the one of getting rid of unwelcome passengers. When do you expect to get to the Caribbean, as you say it is a long way off. Regards, Barrie & Pam
Thanks very much for your comments and glad you enjoy the content. We are on our way north and are writing this just off Recife. We hope to reach Tobago by July/August but can’t enter the Caribbean proper until after the hurricane season in November. Best wishes to you both.
Karin try eating ginger before sailing. It helps with the seasickness.
Thanks for the advice, John. However, I have tried it (even raw ginger) but unfortunately it doesn’t help me.
Great to hear all the adventures are going well
Keep up the blog and have fun
Give us a heads up to your future trip plans
Cheers for now
Hi Pete & Karin
Happy new year and best wishes for 2019.
Brilliant account of your sailing adventure, just caught up now., thinking back when you started off looking at a few boats with the idea in mind, great to see it all happening, well done.
Have you had any problems when leaving the boat when you go shopping or sight seeing in terms of security ? Just wondered , as always conscious of this aspect being in SA.
Enjoy the sailing and take care, all very envious! Cheers chris
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