Ihla do Campinho, Baia de Camamu

Caramor - sailing around the world
Franco Ferrero / Kath Mcnulty
Fri 5 Jun 2015 19:26
13:54.90S 38:59.38W

The Brazilian coast between Salvador and Rio is miles of surf beach, sometimes protected by reefs and backed by palm trees or mangrove swamps. Boats can make landfall only where rivers have carved through the low land to the sea. The river mouths are guarded by sand bars but as long as there is a channel deep enough where the surf doesn't to break, there is a way inland. This is where people have built villages and towns since the 16th century when the Portuguese started settling in Brazil.

From Morro de São Paulo we headed out to sea until we had 40m of water under the keel then we sailed south for 30M to the Baia de Camamu. We ducked and weaved around the sandbar and some shallow patches and dropped the anchor off the Island of Campinho. It was Sunday evening and one of the beach bars was open so we paddled ashore for a caipirinha. The barman offered us a tap to fill jerrycans if we needed water and there was a beach shower. Perfect! Campinho village is peaceful, a mishmash of houses built along sand streets. There are few hostels and holiday homes and the locals have a strong sense of community. To buy bananas, you have to ask at one of the bars, and the barmaid will get some from a closed shop.

A beach bar at Sapinho

On the next sunny day, we went kayaking. It is winter here and some weeks can be as wet as  Wales, only the air temperature never drops below 24 degrees and the rain and sea are warm.

The dugout is better for fishing

Ilha Pedra Furada

The pierced rock that gives the island its name

A vulture of some sort, looks rather like a turkey

The Island of Campinho is separated from Barra Grande (Big Sandbar) Island by a small shallow river. At low tide it is possible to wade across. In the past there used to be a dugout canoe ferry service but this no longer exist. We set off to walk to Barra Grande, unfortunately the water level was too high to cross so the only option was to catch a fast launch. The village of Barra Grande is a very tasteful resort. The streets are sand and the hostels and shops are one or two storey colourful buildings with timber balconies, verandas and decking. Each one is unique. We chose a café called Empório Orgânico. The owner had moved here six months ago from South Brazil, she likes the more relaxed lifestyle in Bahia. We were overjoyed when we realised she was selling oats ... only one bag of muesli left. She struggled with the concept that we weren't Brazilian despite our atrocious accents. I finally convinced her I wasn't, she waved towards Franco "but he must be!" she said. When I told her we had come by boat, she hugged me.

On the way back to the boat pier, I laughed out loud when I  saw a sign which read "Atracadouro" and had a picture of a boat docking. The name of the village where we caught the bus to Valença wasn't Atracadouro, it was Bom Jardim!

That evening we went back to our beach bar for dinner. It was just the two of us and the food was good though it came with the obligatory rice, beans and farofa (manioc flour with the consistency of sand that you sprinkle over your food). We ordered caipirinha but she told us she didn't know how to make it! Her husband was away.

We were leaving the following day and needed to buy fruit and veg so we caught a fast launch to the local town, Camamu, up the shallow river lined with mangroves. Camamu was closed for business; it was Corpus Cristi! We followed the procession through town until it stopped in the square to say mass.