Go Brazilian for Christmas!

A new recipe for Svalen´s cookbook from Igor Wicken, our resident Bahian expert!

Moqueca (Bahian Fish Stew)

Cooked by John and Igor (the source cook!) on Svalen, Thursday 13 December.



Fillets (or bone in if preferred) fish (local) as required

2 LargeTomatoes

1 Green Pepper

2 large Onions

4 Garlic cloves

Stale bread

Olive Oil

Dende Oil

Coconut milk

Bunch Coriander

Spring Onions (Cebolita)

Dried Chillies

Salt and pepper



Chop 1 onion and Garlic, and fry in olive oil until soft. Then add the fish, and fry on both sides lightly. Remove fish, and set aside. Turn off heat. Put a layer of the dry bread in the pan, followed by the fish, then the sliced tomatoes, green pepper and second onion. Dribble about 2 tablespoons of Dende oil, and add the spices and chopped coriander.  Add the coconut milk and return to the heat, stewing for a while with the lid on.


Note this is normally cooked in a clay panella de barro (clay pot).

Note. Dende oil is oil from a special Bahian palm.


Serve with rice (garlic rice), and farofa (manioc flour cooked in butter with onions, which is delicious and very good for sopping up all that nice liquid).




A Night out in Salvador de Bahia

Crew X-Atlantic

Crew, somewhere between Fernando de Noronha and Salvador de Bahia


The arrival celebration in Salvador

Saturday 8th December. Igor took us to the old town while still light, and we were there until about 1130 in the evening. We walked about 2km past the port offices and museo moderna (with arts and crafts) to the elevator that transported us up to the old town. Once there we had a tour through this most lovely and surprising old town, which is not only very well preserved, but also very lively (and can be dangerous in parts.)

  1. Cravinho bar to drink cravinho. This is compiled from Cachaca, Cinnamon and Cloves plus sugar.  A hopping, very popular, bar!
  2. Next to the two well dressed ladies with nice hats on the street selling Acarajé. This is bean cake fried in the local Dende oil with Vatapá (cream with cashews etc), shrimp and spices. Excellent!
  3. Next we walked east to a bar with chairs in the street in a small square Sta Antonio, where we had first Carne de Sol (dried meat) with fried AIPIM (Cassava, looking like French fries), with beer, and then Escondidinho (mashed cassava with cheese) con Calabresa (sausage) with onion, and more beer.
  4. Finally we walk back to the top of the old town, listened to some music in the street from a Peruvian guitar player and singer, and drank two drinks, the first a Caipirinha (limes, cachaca, sugar, ice) and then a Seriguela Caipirinha (same, but with the fruit Seriguela instead of lime.).
  5. Then we got a taxi back to the marina.


Note: Salvador was at one time the capital of Brazil, for about 200 years, before Rio, and much later, Brasilia. The buildings in the old town date back to this grand period.

Note: Cachaca is a type of local rum based on sugar cane, and used for mixing drinks.  Many different fruits are used to vary Caipirinha. The fruit here is seriously good!


herb garden

This remarkable small herb garden has survived the transatlantic crossing, although the parsley faded away almost entirely after a dousing in salt water one day! The Basil has lived through it all, surprisingly for quite a sensitive plant!


Kim’s blog from Fernando de Noronha Island, Brazil 


We arrived at Fernando de Noronha after heading for open sea 11 days earlier, the sea has been kind giving us a speed of 7 knots, give or take. The waves came from many directions, making the crossing bumpy and what sometimes felt like the flying circus of Monty Python down in the cabin. When we arrived to Noronha it was like coming to the most beautiful place, the dolphins chasing tuna jumping up from the water, what a sight, Boats anchoring outside the harbor, mostly  local, a sandy beach just next to the pier. On the beach the locals were repairing their boats, along with the guests taking a swim and the local eating place, Recanto da Graca, with good cheap food and the coldest beers on the whole island. The chef of the harbour welcomed us with open arms and a smile, helping out the best he could, luckily Igor could speak Portuguese (Brazilian), for the chef didn’t speak English, but I’m sure that together we would have understood each other.


The people on Noronha are kind and helpful and you have no problems being out doing the night. The buses are going around the island and go direct to the supermarket and a cashier. The town is beautiful and even though it’s touristy, mostly Brazilian, it’s small and not overdone, with small haciendas.


Igor being a Brazilian and with a guitar on his back opened a lot of doors, within a few minutes of arrival he was invited to play at a reggae beach party the same evening. Igor and I went to the town that evening on our way to the Reggae concert. On our way we passed some young musicians playing on big drums and dancing the maracatu. We went along with the musicians down to the reggae concert, what an experience, they played so well.


We spent 3 days on Noronha, it’s quite expensive staying there with a boat, a lot of taxes, one day to settle in, and one day to clean the boat and one day to explore the island, we all did our one exploration, Adrian stayed on the boat, John took the bus around the island and walked in the marine park, taking photos, Igor  explored the waves on one of the many beautiful beaches, I went for a hike, hiking the mountain, Pica to find a rock to sit on. If you love a good hike and a good view its highly recommended, but its not easy to find the path and its not a tour so you need to ask around.

We left the Fernando de Noronha sailing along the coast with dolphins playing following us on our way, while Igor was playing a “I will be back” serenade on his Saxophone.


Almost there!

Skipper’s note as of last night:

We are 150 miles NE of Salvador de Bahia, and should arrive there during the day tomorrow. The wind has dropped, and we are rolling about in the swell, so now keen to get to anchor or marina. Its very hot and sweaty! Looking forward to those long cold Brazilian drinks, and of course the pool at the Yacht Club! It will have taken us just over 17days and nights sailing from Capo Verde, which we think is very good – we were afraid of a week in the Doldrums!

Skipper´s Blog in the Atlantic between Cabo Verde Islands and Brazil (N2deg 46´, W 29deg 45´approx)

By yesterday evening, Saturday 24th November 2018, we had sailed 778 nautical miles from Mindelo, Cabo Verde. Apart from the first three wind-less days, we have had steady NE (Trade) winds and have been running before them, or on a broad reach, with two sails flying. Often we reach 6-8 knots, which is fine for us. The waves and swell have been at cross-purposes, though, making life on board difficult. A couple of nights ago we lost our entire dinner, which flew from the stove all over the cabin floor. It was a special rendering of Penne Arabbiata which I love, and which I thought was suitable also for our crew of mixed vegetarians and meat eaters.
There was nothing for it but to clear up (which the crew manfully did) and start again using a recipe for pasta with a tuna sauce. But the boat was far from stable!
All in all it was not the best day as we also lost the generator, and so the means of charging batteries other than solar, which is not enough and does not charge the engine batteries. However Kim and I managed to fix that yesterday morning, and we now have power again.
We hit the Doldrums later in the evening. Suddenly the wind was all over the place, with violent gusts, and the rain came down in sheets, accompanied by some thunder and lightning in the distance. There was water everywhere, and the boat became very stuffy with all hatches closed.

Sunday 25th Nov.
By this morning, we appeared to have passed through the stormy section, and had a good gentle reach in a mostly ENE wind all day, allowing us all to catch up on much-needed sleep. The sky began to clear, and on reaching Sunday evening we seem to have gone south of the Doldrums for the moment. Tonight we hope to have some stars to steer by. Tomorrow we should pass quite close to the strange mid-Atlantic rocks of St Peter and St Paul, on our heading to the island of Fernando de Noronha, where we hope to be allowed to spend a few days at anchor to recover from the crossing! The island is inhabited, Brazilian, and said to be expensive. It is a nature reserve, and beautiful, and some 300 nm from the nearest Brazilian mainland coast. It has stunning landscapes, beaches and clear blue waters, and fresh food! We expect to arrive there on Wednesday afternoon, 28th November, and stay for 2-3 days if permission is granted. Since we are now only just over 2 degrees north of the Equator, we will have to give some offerings to Neptune in the next couple of days, and it is of course very hot and humid!

Monday 26th Nov.
What a night. Good wind, straightforward waves, no rain, a bright moon, and stars to steer by. Pegasus, chasing Orion through the heavens, was my best guide and quite clear for Kim and me for the second watch of the night. This was the best time for stars as often in our experience. Bright, beautiful Venus rose on our port beam, and cast her own delicate glow across the water. Now in the morning we are roughly abeam St Peter and Paul rocks, which lie to our port hand but are not visible. We have about 350 miles left to sail, and if we can keep up an average of 6 knots, then we will reach Fernando de Noronha by 1330 on Wednesday. I think that, although we have certainly had a good crossing and still have plenty of food, water and fuel, we all look forward to being in a sheltered anchorage for a few days, and being able to have a glass of gin and tonic with ice, or wine, again after our self-imposed abstinence during ocean crossings.
Igor, our resident musician, regales us with songs and tunes on his guitar, and is happy as I write because he is singing!
We expect to cross the Equator tonight, and plan an event to appease Neptune, and keep him on our side.

500nm into the Atlantic crossing

A quick update from skip.. excellent progress being made!

It’s getting very hot and humid now as we are less than 10 degrees north of the equator. we are also more than 1/3 the way to our destination – we have sailed just under 500 nm from Cape Verde, and have 826 left to do to Fernando de Noronha. Better wind now, so up to 8 kts.

Skippers blog – heading for Fernando de Noronha – first days

image1 (3)

Slightly blurry pic of crew, leaving Mindelo, Cabo Verde

We have left Mindelo and Cabo Verde, and are heading just west of South towards our next hoped-for destination, Fernando de Noronha, part of the State of Pernambuco in Brazil. This Island is about 300 miles off the nearest point on the Brazilian coast. However, it is a convenient stop for us en route to Bahia, being just south of the Equator, and more or less on the Rhumb line route.
Unfortunately we have little wind at the moment – we are barely making 3 knots! We have tried the Parasailor, but the wind changed to south east, and was in our face for a while, so we reverted to Main and genoa. Skip (me) got bored, and went to bake a cake for Igors birthday on the 21st.
New crew member Adrian  Fulcher arrived safely yesterday, and despite it being a weekend, we managed to clear out of immigration and get our passports stamped. So all our papers are in order and we can  officially leave.
Since we are sailing so slowly, we put out the fishing line having seen some Tuna jumping out of the water nearby.


Lisbeth´s Blog from Gran Canaria to Cabo Verde Islands (Sao Vicente)


Lisbeth at the helm, toward Cabo Verde, in high-ish seas. She was whistling or singing, mostly! Phot by John Bryden


We sailed from Gran Canaria Sunday October 28th, waiving goodbye to Tia and Marco, who were also visiting the island the same time as we were. The first couple of days the wind was not satisfying us, although we did managed to get the parasail up and sail with it for a couple of hours until we realized that it had been tore on the anchor, and had to take it down again to be fixed. However, we were lucky the coming days, the wind got stronger and we were blown forward with great enthusiasm. Then the waves got bigger and we had some turbulence with John trying to bake bread down below, twice the flour went on the floor and we also saw John flying through the air, which was a bit worrying, but he did manage in the end. He is now saying “We must simplify the cooking”. At night the flying fish flew on board, the piles grew bigger every day, and by the time John gather them together to throw off again we had nineteen flying fish lying around. One evening Kim and I also had one landing between our legs while eating dinner, and we thought we just might add it to our dinner, but were merciful enough to let it into the sea again so it could tell its friends what a terrible life the one on land was, all its flying fish friends lying around dead onboard. By the time we got to Sao Vicente, after six days, we were, I must admit, quite tired. John and Kim enjoyed a drink and we all went to bed, happy to for once get a whole night sleep.


Photos by Lisbeth Refsgaard. Kim at the helm; John and the Helm; small volcanic island at entrance to Mindelo harbour.


Coming from the Canary Islands, the life here in Mindelo and on the island of Sao Vicente is quite different. It is not nearly as touristy, which we enjoy as it gives the place a more authentic vibe, and it has its own twist of African and European mixed society. The music scene is great, we have seen the museum of the famous Cesária Èvora, where we mostly heard of the clothes she wore different places in the world, but having gone out in the evening listening to the live music we discovered the greatness and beauty of this music. Its rhythms, its softness, it has some kind of Brazilian touch to it, but in some songs you can also hear there’s sorrow in it.  I would definitely want to go back here to discover the music scene even further.

Yesterday we hired a car to go around the island. Monte Verde, the biggest mountain, was beautiful and green and the first place to see that they are farming the land, growing corn. We had lunch in a disappointing place, serving more American fast food than the local cachupa that we have tried earlier on, and we got to see beaches and volcanic areas. Other than this we have seen the local markets, which always is a pleasure and people here are in general very helpful and welcoming. I will be sad to leave this island, it is a name on the map not known by many people, but a place worth going to, and also to leave the boat, where I now have been for nearly two months. Despite the seasickness I have enjoyed a lot of the trip, the sailing, exploring new places and learning more about sailing and am wishing to come back with a lot of energy for Christmas and New Year.


Photos by Lisbeth Refsgaard: Farmer with Donkey in the national Park; view of national park with farming on the high slopes (maize etc); John and Kim near the top; John on North Beach; Kim on North beach.





Gran Canaria to Mindelo, Sao Vicente, Cabo Verde Island

On Wednesday 24 October, my daughter Tia and her partner Marco joined Lisbeth and I for a wee sail to Tsavarte, a small community and bay to the NW of Puerto Mogan. We had a nice swim and lunch together, and when we got back had a pizza in town. Kim Fasting from Denmark joined Svalen’s crew on Thursday, which means we are three to sail to Cabo Verde, about 880 nautical miles. On Thursday the engineers  I had arranged from Las Palmas did not come, and I could not reach them to find out why until very late in the day.  They said they could not come on Friday either. So on Friday I had to get the bus up to Las Palmas port, find the Volvo agents, and pick up spare parts, oil etc to do the job myself. Meanwhile, Tia and Marco gave the crew a very interesting tour in the interior of the island. Last minute crises are not helpful, and I give no points at all to the Volvo agents in Gran Canaria, although they were all personally very kind and helpful. 

Despite rather than because of the support services, we managed to  prepare for the voyage, and Tia and Marco came to see us off from Puerto Mogan after we filled the diesel and all available spare 20L drums on Sunday 28 October, casting off at 1030am.  There was hardly any wind until later in the afternoon, when the wind picked up to a NE’y \F5 or so. This continued into the next day,and Kim and I put up the Parasailor while Lisbeth controlled the sheets and guys, allowing us to sail at up to 6.2 kts. However, we took the parasailer off before dark, and continued under main and genoa. The wind stayed into the following day, but now accompanied by nasty cross-seas, which made sailing, sleeping and cooking very difficult. During the night we had a good moon and mostly good stars, noticing that Orion’s belt starts really low in the sky on the aft port side. We also noticed that the fridge and freezer were not functioning well – everything was beginning to warm up and melt. Bad news. The little water pump was still running and the compressors seem to work, but be very hot. I suspect that the gas has evaporated off again! The difficult seas overnight caused a couple of glass item breakages.
Nevertheless, we made terrific progress,  regularly hitting 6-7 knots, and even 9-10 at times. The slight wind shift allowsed us to sail with both genoa and main, and the wind was excellent. We now knew that we would reach Mindelo on November 3rd, and probably before darkness falls, which is highly desirable from Skips viewpoint. We regularly maintained 6 knots and often more, and fairly surfed down the large Altantic waves, which were also troubled by cross waves. But the boat stayed amazingly dry and took the seas easily. As we gt closer to Cabo Verde we found more and more flying fish landed on deck during the night and knocked themselves out, or became stranded. But we were disappointed to see no whales.
We did not see many ships, and only one sailing boat came into view during the voyage. It had no AIS showing so we could not identify it.
Lisbeth was  terrific on deck and at the wheel, taking good watches at night, and mostly sleeping in the cockpit when off duty. However, in spite of Scopoderm patches, she still felt sick down below and was upset that she could not contribute much to cooking, washing up, cleaning etc. So very reluctantly she has decided to fly to S America and join us again in Brazil rather than undertake the cross Atlantic voyage. We have put out a ‘crew wanted’ notice. We will certainly miss her cheerful company on the long trip. Ocean voyaging is not everyone’s cup of tea. Fortunately Kim and I seem to enjoy it and cope ok with the problems. But even so, I caused the crew much amusement in those heavy cross seas when, caught unawares, I was seen literally flying across the cabin a few times. Not very much fun, and often the food was spilt, creating dangerous conditions underfoot until cleared up (another hazardous operation.). As when the box of good organic flour flew out a couple of times when we had bread-making in mind!
Needless to say, the venturi effect came into play on arival in Cabo Verde as we went between the islands of Santo Antao and Sao Vicente, the wind picking up to near gale as we sailed in towards the harbour. It remained very windy overnight and the next day, the area of the harbour feeling like a wind tunnel. Several boats were unable to anchor.
We were too tired to cook, and so took advantage of the reasonably priced café restaurant (floating bar) in the marina itself, although Lisbeth and Kim were laughing at Skip who was falling asleep from time to time. We leaned about the local currency CV Escudios – about 110 to the Euro and  enjoyed a large beer. We returned and slept as long as we could –  it was Sunday next day, and no repairs could be done.

As always we have a list of repairs to be done:
1.      The Parasailor was ripped along its foot again because we were not sufficiently aware of the anchor when we put it up.
2.      The Jabsco pump in aft heads is blocked . It seems that the valve has inverted for some reason.
3.      The solar panel bracket, which is connected to the davits for the dinghy aft, needs to be raised about 1 metre in order for the wind vane self steering to work properly.
4.      We need to find someone who can fill a propane gas bottle!
5.      The fridge and freezer have both stopped working, and we need them both to survive! I suspect that the gas has boiled off again and needs topping up.

The CV Boat folks seem pretty efficient, but I worry about spare parts. For example there was no Jabsco service kit in their small shop at the marina. The parasail was repaired overnight by the Marina Captain, Jose Augusto.
First thing on Monday we cleared in via Immigration and police at the port offices between the ferry terminal and the clean sandy beach. No problems, and very helpful officials. However, they keep the ship’s papers until one clears out before leaving. They are not open at weekends; we and others need to watch this.

Skipper John Bryden, 5 November 2018