Skippers Blog from Itaparica, 19 February 2019

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Photo: Elisabeth, Alan, Gabriela and Me at anchor in Itaparica, January 2019. Photo, JMB

I last wrote just after Lisbeth had left to return to Colombia on 18 January.  Elisabeth, our Saxaphone playing friend from N Jutland, came on board and we sailed together to Ilha Bom Jesus da Cases, anchoring for the night. Next day we sailed on to Itaparica where Gabriela Aranda from Chile and her Brazilian boyfriend Alan Christi joined us at anchor bearing charcoal, beef, and Chilean wine. We had a nice BBQ on board and chatted a long time. Next (22nd) morning we swam twice before sailing back to Salvador.

I then spent a couple of days locating and fitting a through-deck fitting for the anchor up/down remote controller. I finally found this in Electrica e Electronica Popular near to Sao Joaquim market. In Salvador there are clusters of shops all in more or less the same business and side-by side in particular streets and districts. But e-popular was full of stuff, and not expensive.

Yann, the solo french sailor friend in a lovely S&S from the 1960s, was away sailing with his daughter Clara and Mercedes a sailing friend from Patagonia. He called asking if he and Clara could stay the night on Svalen on 24thas his anchor was stuck, and Clara needed to catch a flight back to France. That was very nice, and we had a nice dinner and chat together on board with wine . On Friday, Clara left early, and Yann caught a ferry back to his boat in the middle of the day. Yann is now en route to Cape Town from Rio, once more on his own.

Yann and Claran on Svalen

Yann and Clara on Svalen. Photo JMB

Meanwhile I got to know the young Dutch couple Bram and Petra (ON the small steel sloop HAFSKIP: see even better, because Bram soldered the electrical connections to the anchor remote for me with his efficient kit. So Bram and Petra came for a supper of stuffed aubergines that night, and Elisabeth also joined us. On Saturday, I gave Bram and Petra an extended tour of the old town as far as Sao Antonio. We had Acarajé at Liu’s stand in the square and later ate as  cheaply as we could at a too-expensive restaurant just up from Caflier (which had a very long queue!).


S/Y Hafskip: Bram and Petra en route to Patagonia. JMB.

My friend Viviana who was supposed to be coming sailing next week writes that both she and Alice now have whooping cough, so it looks as though I will be without crew for most of February. Elisabeth returned to continue her pedagogy studies in Aalborg, but she visits quite regularly before leaving, also with various friends from Chile and Brasil. Her boyfriend is also returning from Cuba, where he has been playing his Bass.  I think they make a good couple, and they plan to get married in July.

A couple of new boats arrive from France. Siegfried was one of the crew, and the captain told me he had been talking about a Hallberg Rassy 49 all the way across the Atlantic, only to find me on Svalen on arrival! He, Siegfried, plans to sail around the world with his wife after he retires from the French air force next year, and his current crossing was a test. Of course I invited them on board for an inspection, and have since answered a lot of questions and sent many photos, because he is a potential buyer for Svalen after we get home.

Yes Karen and I have decided to sell Svalen as she needs to be sailing oceans and not stuck in a harbor, and we cannot afford her now that I am really retired. We also still have Aldarion in dry dock in Denmark, and she will be fine for the sailing we plan to do in future. She is wooden, and although a classic style, she is very hard to sell. I will also tell Kristian and Diego who have also expressed an interest in Svalen.

At the end of January, we were still tackling the fridge and freezer, with help from Mario. However, the fridge now works well, but the freezer does not, and it seems that a new compressor is needed, which is impossible to find here.

By the beginning of February, it seemed all the friends and family who had been around had left again, and suddenly it was rather lonely! Bram and Petra left for Uruguay, via Rio. On 6thFebruary, I sailed solo to Itaparica and managed to get into the inner part of the harbor by arriving at high tide. There I got tucked in. I met a nice sailing couple from Rio – Lucia and Marcello –  who had good English, and helped me get settled. Lucia is a restaurateur, owning the quite well known Celeiro Culinaria in Leblon for 30 years, and Marcello has a sailing school and deals in yachts. We had an evening together later on, before they left to return to work.

Local boat handiman, Irismo, offers to scrub the weed and shells off my hull, clean the topsides, and clean the dinghy all for Rs 300 (about 60 pounds), so I jump at the offer. He spends most of two days t this and is very cheerful, working hard and doing a good job. We are now amigos.Svalen in Itaparicamarina

Svalen in the corner of the inner harbour, Itaparica. February. Photo: JMB

I also met another French couple Isabelle Harlé and Ariel Waksman on Skol( Skol is a modest sized aluminium sloop designed by Isabelle’s grandfather (a naval architect) in La Rochelle. They have been sailing the world for five years, most recently spending two years in Patagonia exploring the remote areas in Southern Chile and Argentina. They catch and cure their fish, using salt. They also have a canner on board. They came to a deal with the local Poussada of chocolate fame to pick up fallen mangoes in the large garden, and have canned a lot of mangoes for the next sail. And they have sourdough culture and kefir grains to make bread and kefir (kossak mare culture yoghurt!). I was the beneficiary of many these goodies, including Kefir grains, and sourdough!

But sailors inevitably sail on. Isabelle and Ariel left with the tide early this morning to sail north to Jacare, after which they will also sail to the Azores where we may meet again in May or June.

Meanwhile I have sewn a small repair in my mainsail which might have got worse when we next sail, cleaned the boat inside, kept up the laundry and stores, and worked a bit on our next fundraising campaign, which will be about cleaning the oceans. My next crew, Brazilian-Swede Jan, is helping with that a lot, and is even bringing T-Shirts for the purpose. Trying not to think about the awful-ness that is Brexit, and its personal consequences for me, which in addition to everything else, involve both trouble and expense. It makes me too angry!

I  have also finished four books – the wonderful Out of Africa by Karen Blixen, which Karen brought me for Christmas; the powerful book about the Japanese wartime effort to build the Burma railway linking Malaysia to China called The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanigan; Wliiam Moberg’s  first volume of The Emigrants, about the large emigration from Småland in Sweden to the USA in the first half of the 19thC, and a couple of new Rebus books by Ian Rankin. Now I am half way though Alvah Simon’s book about sailing to the Canadian Arctic via Greenland, North to the Night. I will soon run out of books, but there is not much time or energy for reading when sailing.

I especially enjoyed Karen Blixen’s account of the night skies in the Kenya highlands – so like those in mid-Atlantic, dark, clear and starry! But all of the aforementioned books are excellent!

Thankfully Jan will arrive on 25thFebruary, and on 26thwe will talk to the local Rotary club about doing something together on Ocean clean up, and also hear about their social projects in Salvador. We will leave for the north on 28th, so studiously and advisedly avoiding the biggest party in the world, which is said to be Salvador’s week of Carnival. We still hope that Viviana will also join us at least to Jacare, and hopefully all the way to Fortaleza.

Here is the plan for homeward bound between here and the Azores, in brief.

  1. Salvador to Jacare/ Cabadelo , 472 miles non-stop. Leave on 28thFebruary from Salvador and arrive 4th
  2. Cabdelo/Jacare to Forteleza, 353 nm non stop. Leave Cabadelo on 7th March to arrive in Fortaleza on 10th.
  3. Forteleza, Brazil to Cayenne, French Guyana.1001nm  (Rhumb line.  Leave Forteleza Leave 12 March 2019, arrive by 23 March.  Thomas Kringlebotn Thiis and Killian are crew.
  4. French Guyana to Azores, About 2400nm. Depart about 10 April 2019, arrive around 30 April. Janne Olsson is crew.


I am looking forward to sailing again, and to a visit from Karen in the Azores. meanwhile, I usually have a morning and evening walk or cycle around this pretty village at the north end of the Island where the small Marina is.


Mermaid mural, Itaparica. Photo JMB


itaparica front

North eastern shore of Itaparica. Photo. JMB


Itaparica Fort

The Dutch Fort, N Itaparica. Built 1711 by Dutch ‘Raiders’ who must have been here a while!

blue tiled entrance

Nice entrance with old Portuguese tile work well preserved in Itaparica. Photo JMB.


2 thoughts on “ Skippers Blog from Itaparica, 19 February 2019

  1. Dear John,

    I have virtually no sailing experience as you well know. Nevertheless (or for that reason?) I am impressed by what we learn in the Skipper’s Blog. Your organisational ability is impressive.

    Hanne and I look forward to seeing you back in Scandinavia, safe and in good health.

    Greetings to Karen when you see her.

    Yours Aye



    1. Thank you Peter and Hanne. I am glad to hear from you, and hope you are both well! I too look forward to seeing you when i get back. I will pass your message on to Karen, who is currently suffering from ‘flu.
      Warm regards, John


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