Cabo Frio

Caramor - sailing around the world
Franco Ferrero / Kath Mcnulty
Wed 15 Jul 2015 02:53
22:57.98S 42:00.85W

From Buzios, it was just a few miles to Cabo Frio, the Cold Cape. This is the 'windy corner' where the coastline changes direction and heads nearly due west to Rio de Janeiro. It is also the last possible stopping place before Rio, so a good location to wait for favourable winds.

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Approaching Cabo Frio

We anchored in a pleasant sheltered bay called Enseada do Forno (Bay of the Oven), just north of the town of Arraial do Cabo. The sun was shining brightly and the water was the clearest we have seen in Brazil. Franco dived in. I thought he was going to do like those cartoon characters which bounce out of the water and run on thin air. The sea was freezing, a mere 19 degrees Celsius, a whole 5 degrees colder than the last time we swam.

This phenomena is called 'Ekman pumping'. The predominant wind blows from the north-east down the coast, at the corner it continues straight out to sea. This causes a wind eddy, a steady coastal breeze blowing east from Rio de Janeiro which pushes coastal water out to sea and draws deep cold water to the surface to take its place.

Arraial do Cabo is, like Buzios, a holiday town for the citizens of Rio de Janeiro, but a bigger contrast between the two towns, there couldn't be. Buzios is 'boutique city' with conspicuous consumption the norm. Arraial do Cabo has a beach. That's it. Nowhere to spend money. Instead of mincing down Brigitte Bardot Avenue, the cool thing is to take part in beach football. During the daytime there are dozens of boat trips to chose from. They all go around the headland, ... to the other beach.

Time for some deep cleaning:

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Caramor gleaming in the sunshine (check out our unusual neighbour in the distance!)

It is possible to pass inside Cabo Frio island, cutting the corner in effect, though care must be taken as there are sandbanks over which the surf breaks at low water. Allan (SV Windward) had given us the waypoints for the safe route, so we upped the anchor two hours before high water and made our way over to Cabo Frio island. The wind was gusting from nothing to F7 but the sea was flat. The deep channel was fairly obvious from the colour of the water, we could easily see the shallow patches. We anchored off a sandy beach, so white it made me want to ski. To land there, a permit is required as it is 'military ground'. We were planning to spend the night here and sail early the following morning to cover the 60NM to Rio de Janeiro. The wind gusts were increasing, and although we still do not have the part for our Raymarine anemometer, I clocked F9 on my small hand-held one. Spray was flying everywhere. Franco sat at the tiller checking transit marks and looking rather tense. If our anchor dragged, we would be blown onto a lee shore. We watched a kite surfer fly across the bay. "He's brave" we commented, "how will he head back to the town against this wind?" We kept an eye on him to make sure he was safe. Somehow he did claw back against the wind. Then another one appeared. He was falling into the water frequently, but then, disaster, his kite collapsed. It didn't take long for him to drift safely onto the beach. Seconds later, two sailors from the Brazilian navy appeared out of their bunker. They helped him pack his kite and walked down the beach with him. The stopped opposite Caramor. We expected him to attempt to relaunch, instead in dived into the water and swam out. We lowered the ladder and helped him onboard. He asked us to give him a lift back to Arraial do Cabo, across the sandbanks, now on a falling tide, we could see the surf breaking, against a F9 gusting headwind! We said no. We offered him the use of the radio to call a taxi launch, or a lift to Rio de Janeiro. He declined both and returned to the beach.

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A nervous Franco in 'stand-by' mode

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Looking back towards Arraial do Cabo

Soon afterwards the gusts became more prolonged and we decided to sail through the night to Rio rather than spend a twitchy night on anchor watch. We passed through the gap, into the relative calm in the lee of the cliffs. There was just one little patch of water where the surface was being blown to spray. "How odd", I thought, "it must be some kind of weird wind phenomenon". "Franco, look over there, there is spray flying off the waves ..." as Franco turned to look, half a humpback whale appeared!

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The gap between Cabo Frio and the mainland leading to the open sea


Thank you to for the 'cleaning' cartoon