think it important to start this new entry with reference to the rumours that have been going around
about the ‘hijacking’ of Mina2 in the absence of CapTim.
Here’s an excerpt from a‘newsflash’ sent out by MinnieB** on 4th Jan: “News is just in that
Mina 2 has been located and Maria freed by the SAS-trained Brazilian Special
Forces, known as the CapRNA. There were several injuries among the hijackers
including chipped nail varnish, smudged lipstick and mussed hair....At midnight on 30th December an all-out assault took place with four hundred
CapRNA’s attacking Mina 2 by mini-submarine, hang- glider and parachute. The
hijackers, Neil, Sarah, Selina and Peter tried to fight off the attack with
water-bombs but they were no match for the SAS-trained CapRNA’s. It is believed
that the hijackers will be deported immediately as they have very posh accents
(apart from the Geordie, Neil) and it is feared this might cause severe unrest
in any Brazilian prison to which they could be confined.”
First of all – ‘posh accents’?! How very dare they?!
And Neil in particular has taken umbridge at the suggestion that any nail
varnish was chipped. He wears only the very best quality of nail varnish and
takes pride in its pristine upkeep, mini-submarines or no mini-submarines.
But here is our version of Mina2’s New Years
adventures when the crew were in charge...
28th December We got up
at the crack of dawn, careered around Salvador
stocking up on ice, cachaça, Doritos (for Neil) and we were off. The wind was
blowing a perfect..err...well it was blowing and soon engines were off, sails
were up and the crew took their positions: Pete at the helm, Neil trimming the
sails, Sarah in the cockpit eyes fixed on the horizon repeating her mantra ‘I
will not be sick, I will not be sick...’, Selina with a mirror under her chin to
catch every last possible ray and meercat Mary was, as ever, darting all over
the boat keeping watch for any kind of potential disaster: storms, pirates,
rogue ferries, god knows...
We were heading to the islands south of
out of the bay and a good half-day sail away out on the open sea. Selina had,
days before, managed to persuade the crew that the best place to spend New Years
Eve could only be... Morro de Sao Paulo – PARTYISLAND!
Of course she’d sold it with the promise of long white, palm-fringed beaches and
had made no mention of the 50,000 Brazilians that were also making their way
there for the party to end all parties...
And so, blissfully unaware that they were heading to
the Ibiza of Brazil, the Mina2 crew swept out of the bay, with the sails full,
and headed south.
We glided into Morro de Sao Paulo as the sun began to
dip, let down the sails and put the engine back on. Then spent the next hour
sh***ing it as we attempted to navigate a very shallow bay, whose actual shallows and sandbanks seemed to
bare no resemblance to the ones plotted on the chart. Seems that Bahian chart
plotting is much the same as Bahian punctuality – vague. Mary was up at the
front ready with a fender in one hand and the boat hook in the other to fend
off...well, sandbanks we assumed, no one was really sure. Neil and Pete edged
forward eyes glued to the ‘depthometer’ and edged forward, then back, then
sideways, then forward again and eventually...back out to sea. Finally we
dropped anchor a short distance from a deserted, idyllic, palm-fringed beach
next to the chilled out Gamboa bay. OK, so it turned out to be slap bang in the
middle of the regular ferry route, with party boats speeding past us, music
blaring every 3 to 5 minutes, but who cared - we had
And so the next morning we awoke early and rowed
ashore. We strolled along our paradise beach, dotted with beautiful wooden
pousadas nestled into the lush green.
There are no cars on the island and so donkeys and
wheelbarrows are used instead. We watched men on donkeys trotting by with boxes
strapped to their saddles. We saw them later shovelling sand into the boxes and
heading back to the other side of the island, where I’m pretty sure they already
have their own sand...so go figure, maybe they just like to keep
After breakfast we decided to head to the
main part of the island to explore the party town. We pulled up to the central
landing point, bustling with people. Selina, the Portuguese speaker of
the crew, was sent forward as translator and negotiator and as usual went
straight for hot young men, fluttered eyelashes and was successfully scammed
into agreeing to pay $20R for someone to keep an eye on the dinghy. Well, at
least it would be safe.
leapt ashore and up into the town. With the run up to New Years Eve it was
crammed. Men rushed about with wheelbarrow ‘taxis’ carrying the luggage of
newcomers to the island. The sandy streets were lined with brightly coloured
bars, shops and pousadas and the sun beat down.
made our way to the beach and found shade at one of the beach bars. It is a huge
holiday town, overrun completely by tourism but it really is
afternoon we went over to the less-crowded Gamboa beach. We walked along the 2
mile shore with its velvety sand and green calm waters. We made our way up to
the town where the locals live – a big ‘avenue’ of sand lined with shops and
We wandered back to the further end of the beach, close to our bay
and settled in at a lovely wooden beach bar where a barman, wearing nothing but
a pair of speedos and a bum bag, rustled up 5 strong caipirinhas.The downstairs skipper did her usual –
“is there any cachaca in this? Are
you sure you didn’t order a lime juice – I can’t taste any alchohol at all!” –
downed it and less than 10 mintues later was lost ingiggles... The barman in tiny pants kept
the caipirinhas coming and then cooked us a delicious moqueca complete with
lobster, rice, salad and piruim.
Finally after we’d sated ourselves on brazillian food and drink we
decided it was time to head back for the boat, ready for bed. The night was
beautiful, the sea was flat calm, the moon was full and we all sat in silence
bathing in the balmy breeze as we trundled back to the boat on the dinghy.
Suddenly Pete’s favourite – flying fish – came spinning past the boat, arching
through the air. Pete loves the flying fish, he was clapping in delight wanting
to see more. Selina on the other hand is not a fan – she instead was wide-eyed
and frozen in fear that one would come flying into her hair. And then it
happened. A shoal of 20 flying fish came leaping out of the water as we motored
over them. While 19 of them glided back into the water, one of them
miscalculated and went flying, not back into the water, but straight into the
boat and managed to wrap itself, flapping and flailing in panic, in Selina’s
skirt. Well, all hell let loose. There was shrieking, Sarah and the DS held on
to Selina who was making every effort to dive over board, Pete had brandished a
net to save his flying friend, Neil was barking orders at everyone – Selina,
Sarah, Pete, even the fish I think – with absolutely no effect. Eventually the
fish was unravelled and plopped back lifelessly into the water and order was
restored. Neil immediately announced that while he would, as ship’s captain,
have to strip Selina of any points she may have accrued thus far for good
seamanship, he was going to award her points for appropriate girliness.
Something that until this point he had found pitifully lacking.
Clay bathing... One of the things Gamboa beach is famous for is its
colourful clay cliffs that drip into the sea and apparently have skin-softening
properties. We decided that the day’s itinerary, after lounging about the boat
should be to head ashore, have lunch and then have a go at a DIY mud
strolled along the beach, bathed in the water which was, in the sun, every bit as hot as a bath and
finally settled in a beach bar where tables were dotted amongst a network of
colourful hammocks. It was gorgeous. We ate, we swung in hammocks and we watched
the clay-caked holiday makers stroll by looking startlingly like zombies.
our turn. We made our way to the end of the beach where about 10 young
Brazilians were slapping on wet clay and we dived in. It was brilliant! We
lathered it on, covered our faces and dunked our hair in it until we were
unrecognisable. Sarah loved it. She
was like a pig in sh*t! We then lay on rocks and let the clay dry
we had all turned a chalky white we plunged into the water and started rubbing
the clay off. It was true – our skin was silky smoothe!
Years Eve We decided that we wanted a more local experience on New Year’s Eve
and so we booked a table at our favourite beach bar with the tiny-pants barman.
headed over there at about 8pm. Festivities had already begun, in fact it would
be safe to say that they might have started their celebrations a little
prematurely. By the time we made it to the ‘tiny-pants’ bar, our barman and all
his helpers were glassy-eyed and super
chilled. But he managed to rustle up our usual order of super strong
strawberry caipirinhas and about 2 hours later the food appeared...you have to
get used to the Bahian rhythm of life.
we wandered up to the local
town where they’d set up a stage and a band was pumping out samba and scantily
clad women were booty bumping all over the stage. We joined the locals and
boogied around the beach. At
we all joined in the countdown and fireworks went shooting into the sky as the
clock struck 12. It was a perfect New Year’s Eve.
First day of
2010! We entered 2010 in tranquil bliss. The motor on the dinghy had
packed up. I’d like to blame Pete, if only to tarnish his ‘golden boy’ status,
but truth be told we had no idea why it suddenly happened. But we were happy to
spend a blissfully lazy day on the boat, soaking in the sun while our friends at
home made yet another snow man in what was turning out to be the longest
cold-snap London had seen in almost a century. We dived off into the 30° water
to cool down, sipped at mango bomb after mango bomb and in the evening continued
to lie out on deck and star gaze.
Bound Reluctantly we picked up our anchor early in the morning and set
sail for Salvador. No sooner had we
left and the clouds opened up and let rip. The kind of lashing rain that hits
the sea so hard it seems to be raining up as much as it’s raining down. Neil and
Pete took the hit at the helm while Sarah, Maria and Selina laughed and took
photos. The rain subsided and the winds started to blow, harder and harder.
Neil and Pete took in a reef or two but we were still ripping along. Neil was
keen to keep the downstairs skipper calm and only slipped up once when he got
over excited and announced ‘ we’ve just hit an extreme squall’. We did in fact
hit 40 knots of wind, but Mina2 took it in her stride and by the time we arrived
in Salvador the winds had dropped
and we slipped clean onto the pontoon without a hitch.
were sailing into the marina we got a call from CapTim. We knew what the news
would be. Grandpa, CapTim’s father who he’d flown back to be with, had passed
away. Almost to the hour of the day that he had been born 91 years ago. He had
died peacefully with his wife and children around him. He was a wonderful,
quiet, deeply intelligent man who had a wicked sense of humour and a love of
sailing. We remembered him with fondness as we sailed silently back into
Salvador and our thoughts went to our family and particularly Granny who’d been
married to him for 61 years and they were in love every bit at the end as they
were when they’d first got engaged just 2 days after meeting one
Barker 1909 – 2010.
ended the ‘hijacking’ of Mina2 by its mutinous crew.
Contrary to popular legend we had had a wonderful time. We’d missed
CapTim and the fun he would have brought to the trip. It wasn’t the same without
him. But if it hadn’t been for his trust and faith in us (some might call it
heat-provoked insanity) and our ability to look after Mina2 we would never have
had the unforgettable Christmas and New Year that we had.
special mention also has to go to our stand-in Captain – Neil. We knew he’d look
after the boat and crew well but he really did. So on behalf of the Mina2
crew: Sarah, Pete, Selina, DS and, of course, Snoopy – a big THANK
final thank you to Havanita, Minnie B, Suzie2 and African Sea Wing for being
fantastic companions on our journey around the Bahia dos
Santos. (**Minnie B's website can be found at: www.minnieb.me.uk