On the road again…With a bad hair do…

Hair by unknown Bahian artist

It’s been a slow month blog wise. A month of waking up at 11am, wandering up to the restaurant for a habitual morning chat with Peter over coffee while waiting for lunch (breakfast for me). None of which makes for entertaining copy. Some of his sailing adventures would, but unfortunately they’re not mine to tell.

The best I can come up with is my cheap and nasty haircut story. For 7 Real (approx. 3 Euro) what was I to expect! I must however sympathize with the barber, because I don’t think he gets to deal with gringo hair very often. The problem is the heat! It’s so hot I’m almost always covered in a sheen of sweat. It appears to worry the locals (who by the way are not bothered in the least by the sultry conditions), when clients look like they’re about to expire of heat exhaustion at any moment, and I can see that the barber had my continued well being in mind when he turned on his counter mounted electric fan. What he failed to realize was the effect an artificial breeze was to have on my hair (think Bee Gees 1980s video clips).

A big smile from Rennany the receptionist

Judging by the look of the locals I suppose it takes nothing less than a tornado to displace a single hair on the head of a Bahian, but in my case a nearby fan is all that’s required to make impressive Medusa impersonations. As my hair danced every which way, so too did the barbers scissors. What a spectacle of non-choreographed live theater. I can only applaud his artistic interpretation of the abstract form so painstakingly rendered upon my head. I call it “The wild wail”. I’m afraid that the end result is too sublime for general distribution but here is a sneak peek.

"The wild wail" haircut....

Wandering aimlessly about town, burdening Renanny the receptionist with my life story or killing time by reading trashy fiction for hours on end doesn’t inspire much creative writing, so I’ve spared you most of the humdrum by remaining uncharacteristically silent.

Sailors leave their mark in the marina lounge

Fear not, this hiatus was but a mere aberration while antibiotics rid me of my lingering bronchitis. I’m now done with Salvador. I’ve left my mark (in the sailors lounge) and provisioned Eileen of Avoca with enough goods to carry me to new exotic locations. Regrettably a month of sedentary marina life has taken it’s toll on Eileen, and my boat isn’t going to take me anywhere before I rid her of the invertebrate reef that has taken root on both propeller and hull.

Scratching around for cockles at Pier Salvador

Swimming at Pier-Salvador is out of the question (unless your immune system is miraculously adapted to it in which case you can apparently withstand dining on the local shellfish), so I parked Eileen on the beach opposite to give her a last minute bottom scrub.

Parking Eileen for a bottom scrub

Two days later, sporting a new layer of red anti-fouling I was ready to move back to the marina and say my goodbyes. The maneuver itself was uneventful but before changing the topic, there is an aside about a simple shackle that I feel compelled to share with you.

The story of the wandering shackle

Many visitors to Brazil hear numerous horror stories of the crime and lawlessness here. Nobody is safe! I do not deny that bad things do happen but I’m beginning to wonder if the hearsay is a little exaggerated. The same way Australians take delight by striking fear in the hearts of English tourists with alarming tales of killer fauna (including illusory drop bears and hoop snakes), Brazilians boast of their rampart lawlessness!

I was looking forward to adding my own tale of the great shackle heist to the annals of Brazilian crime but was thwarted at the last moment by an honest “do-gooder”.

Being single handed, I’d left a large shackle (part of my anchoring tackle) on the seawall to facilitate departure when I motored back to the marina at high tide. Naturally I intended to fetch it as soon as access by the beach was possible but lo-and-behold, even before the tide changed it had gone astray!

Upon discovering this my rage was witnessed by a nearby fisherman and stomping about I half expected he had had a hand in its disappearance, but what was I to do?

Later that evening the same fisherman rowed up to my boat and unexpectedly returned the missing shackle. He’d asked around and found the tourist boat operator who’d “borrowed” it and took it upon himself to return it to its rightful (if somewhat falsely accusing) owner. Thrilled to have “my precious” back, I burdened him with beer in gratitude.

Apparently not everyone in Brazil is out to steal all your gear at the first opportunity…

Michel Balette on Izarra

With the help of Michel Balette I made last moment corrections to my copy of his Brazil Cruising Guide (isn’t it amazing who you run into when sailing. BTW Use this link to get the vital supplement), said goodbye to my friends on the French yacht Graffiti with a last meal before setting sail for northern Brazil. I should reach landfall in about a week.

Stay tuned!

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. 🙂