Fun in Ribeira?


No, I'm still not sailing anywhere...

I’m still in Salvador Bahia, Ribeira to be precise, the “gringos with their camera’s aren’t welcome here” zone I’d written about earlier, but the atmosphere has changed.

Pre-Carnival, I felt somewhat unwelcome, but now that it’s the off season (and the rainy one) the locals seem much more relaxed and agreeable. Perhaps I just needed to stay a little longer in order to break the proverbial social ice.


The crew of Rhapsode

I’ve even manged to meet with and befriend what is a surprisingly rare site in Brazil, the English sailor! Peter (see photo) is stranded at Pier-Salvador marina due to severe weather damage. The bulkhead of his yachts mizzen mast cracked in rolling seas and must be repaired if he is to continue his journey.


Everyone needs to have a hobby...

While the tradesmen are at it (in a slothful frenzy evoking memories of my Brazilian banking experience), we make the most of the local beaches, where I enthusiastically conduct a study in comparative anatomy for remedial purposes.

You don’t suppose that all this solitary sailing has made me develop obsessive tendencies do you? 😉


Party like a rock star!



The crowd gathers for a street party

Convalescing, I missed most of carnival… Most… but not all… With one day left and my flu reduced to a mild case of the sniffles, I decided to join in on the last of the festivities.

Gamboa hosts an increasingly popular series of concerts and street parties for those who choose to shun the gross commercialism of Salvador’s event. I never expected to be in Gamboa for carnival, I’d never heard of the village, so imagine my surprise when I discovered that this is “the place” to be if you want to experience the real thing… time to to go out and meet friends, have a beer or three and mingle with the locals.


My friend Pierre is also ready to party!

Here is the bit where I go out to meet with some friends….

Even the beer is beautiful

Here is the beer or three (I’ve lost count) I promised myself….

Here is a YouTube link to show you what the party was like…



Plenty of room to sunbathe on a Yarmouth23 🙂

And here is some of the recovery-party participants relaxing on Eileen after the previous evenings mingling.


It's smiles all round!

I’m leaving Gamboa but…. I’m still smiling 🙂

Bound for Itaparica


Bedsheet and tablecloth sailing in Bahia Salvador

Convinced that there was more to Bahia than tourist traps and “gringos aren’t welcome here” zones, I motored Eileen of Avoca across the bay of Salvador to the northern tip of Itaparica. The island was once a popular getaway for the well to do of Salvador city and still attracts many a floating “gin palace” (or should that be a “cachaça palace” in Brazil?) on the weekends, but the “in the know” crowd have adopted Morro de Sao Paulo as their current playground…

I’ve taken note of this and will investigate soon… 😉

Mural map of the Bay of Salvador. Itaparica in green.

I found thirty or so sailing vessels anchored outside the marina. Quite a crowd, and not the most considerate in terms of swinging room. It’s an unwritten law that there must always be a few anchorage hogs with boats bigger and uglier than yours threatening collision as the wind or tide turns. For peace of mind I moved several times to avoid them. It’s times like these I wish I sailed a rusty steel monstrosity. 🙂

What could possibly draw so many yachtsmen here anyway?

Admiring the flora of Itaparica

Is it the women?


Where are the beach babes?

The beaches?


It's rush hour in Itaparica

The slow pace of village life?


The seaside promenade at Itaparica

The sea side promenade?

No…None of the above….

In fact it’s fresh water!

There is a natural spring across from the marina and everyone here is filling their tanks with wonderfully clear mineral water. Nobody dares taint their storage tanks with what comes out of the hoses at marinas elsewhere. So my first day was spent toting water to claim my share.


Filling up at the natural spring in Itaprica

I also tried to restock my boat larder but there is a very limited range of packaged foodstuffs to be had. Other than fruit, nothing is very fresh. If you are not quick enough to eat what you have bought, you get to share your biscuits, pasta or rice with all sorts of critters. Fine if you’re an entomologist, but I’m not too thrilled about the added protein, especially when I discover that I’ve been charged 20% more than what the price tags indicate I should have.

Hint: Advice from a local….Make a list of everything you buy and do the sums yourself. If you are asked to pay more, make a fuss! Even suggest that the police might want to check their dubious accounting practices.


Fortaleza Itaparica

The northern tip of Itaparica has its share of white sandy beaches though only the tidal sand spit across from the marina is frequented by the boating crowd. Other attractions include one old Dutch fort, a collection of reasonably priced restaurants / bars (the unreasonably priced ones are situated within the marina complex), and a small town feel.

Weekends is when things get lively as there’s usually plenty of organized entertainment in the main square. I had my heart set on a “Miss bikini” contest but had to settle for “drag queen night” followed by “children fantasy fashion night”.

Disgruntled, I did not linger in Itaparica….

Just another gringo with his camera

Like I said, the marina has seen better days!

So what wondrous tales of sybaritic excess have I to tell after my week long stay at Pier Salvador marina in Ribeira?


While still harboring “great expectations” for Bahia, (I know I’ve experienced but a morsel of what the region has to offer) I’ve had to be satisfied with imbibing freely on its visual and auditory splendor (plus several cold beers for good measure).

Unfortunately I leave unsated.

No tourists on this beach in Ribeira

Yes, Salvador is the diverse and interesting metropolis I’d sought, yes, its beaches are spectacularly lively, and yes, music is everywhere, spontaneously encouraging both young and old to dance openly in the street (and wow can they dance!)….


Music in the streets!

Salvador is also the first place where I’ve actually been made to feel like an intruder. Not at the marina, not at any of the restaurants or main tourist traps, so obviously not when I’m seen as a potential source of income (yes I’m a cynic!).

The “bad vibe” (a cynical wannabe hippie) is apparent when I’m out on the street, amongst the locals, making my habitual photographic rounds. Somehow I doubt it’s just a case of “gringo-photo-phobia” (fear of featuring in some tourist’s holiday snapshots, or heaven forbid… a sailing blog!).

No smile for the camera?

I chose to stay in Ribeira because it’s where the majority of tourists don’t. It’s my way of effectively mingling with the general population. Here the strategy has backfired!

Bahians appear troubled by my presence. It’s as though I’ve bullied my way into their last tourist free oasis. I’ve gatecrashed, an uninvited guest and I’m not sure they’re too thrilled about it.

Not too thrilled about being photographed…

Given that the city is overflowing with hoards of carnival party pilgrims, I can’t really blame them.

So if you were wondering why there are so few smiling faces in my latest collection of photographic impressions, you now know why.

It’s because the “gringo” with his pocket camera has been noticed!

Oops! I’ve been spotted…

So, I’ll just wander off to take a few shots without people in them before surreptitiously sneaking a couple in while they’re not looking… 😉

Knock knock….

Except it’s harder than you’d imagine…

Who’s there?

Ah! The secret is to catch them while they’re distracted…

Too busy to notice Mr Cameraman!

Yes, operation ice-cream is a success…

The best ice-cream in Salvador!

and I’m finally able to show you what the locals get up to on the beach…

Highlighting that Bahian tan!

Don’t ask me… I’m just the photographer…. but apparently this is the way the women work on their tan.

Under the inflatable doll tree

The men on the other hand look for some shade…

Sunglasses for sale, Ribeira, Salvador

Or shades?

Food served on the beach!

But Ribeira is not just beach, bikinis, beer and food stalls.

Freelance recycler

Some people have to work for a living (present company excluded).

Working out Bahian sty;e

Bahians don’t always get that lean muscular body by going to a gym.

I’m going this way…

I get mine by going for walks… 😉

Six days sail to Salvador, Bahia

Traditional dress, Salvador Bahia

So why would I set sail for Salvador Bahia (almost 500 NM away) after just a week in Jacare? Especially when I’m supposed to point Eileen in the opposite direction to reach my next objective (the Caribbean)…

You will just have to believe me when I tell you it just sounded like a good idea at the time.

When I heard other travelers speak of Salvador with its exotic mix of culture, music, religion and race, how could I let a measly 460 extra miles prevent me from experiencing the delights of this city?

Essential tropical sun shade and rainwater collecting device

Out came the fishing gear, up went the canvas sun shade and “ta-da”, I was on my way!

The winds along this part of the Brazilian coast are generally easterly but before I could turn south I needed sufficient sea room to avoid wrapping fisherman’s nets around Eileen’s propeller, or running aground while I slept.

It’s very shallow along the coast (with the 50m depth contour a good 15 to 20 miles offshore), so much of the first day was necessarily spent motoring eastward against the wind.

Once I’d bounced my way beyond sight of land I changed my course (to 220º) and settled into my now habitual cruising routine…

How am I supposed to cook this beast?

I dozed… sailed, snacked, and dozed some more… that is until my cruising stupor was interrupted by the shrill wail of my fishing reel. “Ha! Looks like dinner has taken the bait!”

With a burst of indefatigable hunger induced enthusiasm I set to processing my unexpected prize and made a fine meal (several in fact) of it……

Appetite sated, I continued on to Salvador only to be struck with a worrying thought. Is ciguatera poisoning prevalent in Brazil? Are mahi mahi (i.e. dorado), safe to eat in these waters?

Seeking help in Maceio

With doubt inspired paranoia now muddling my thoughts, I hurriedly altered course and angled toward Maceio. That way, I’d reach assistance relatively quickly if I happened to succumb to the agonies of nausea or vomiting. Ten anxious hours later, arriving in Maceio symptom free, I began to feel rather foolish about the whole affair.

Now I know that of all fish, dorado is probably one of the safest to eat, even in areas where ciguatera is the norm, but at the time…

I'm not eating my letter opener

My only other catch on route (it launched itself onto the deck at night), was a magnificent swordfish, which naturally I refused to eat…

Well it was too small for a meal anyway, but it does serve quite admirably as a letter opener. 😉

Salvador city, the elevator and marina

Three days later I was entering the bay of Salvador, passing the famous elevator and the infamously expensive and sometimes dangerous (especially after dark) marinas nestled at its base. I ignored them all and made for Ribeira to find Eileen a berth at the airport.

Yes, the airport!

I left my yacht at the airport!

Peir Salvador was once a proud airport terminal for seaplanes. It’s looking a bit shabbier these days but the service is exceptional (nothing like a welcome drink to make you feel at home!), the price is right (less than 1 Real per foot per day), and I’m in Salvador Bahia.

Relishing this city, its bay, beaches and surrounding islands, might prove to be challenging, but I’ll do my best, besides, someone has to do it.

I’ll let you know how I fare. 🙂