New Year Brazilian Style

Mina2 in the Caribbean - Where's The Ice Gone?
Tim Barker
Sat 2 Jan 2010 07:54

I 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 Salvador – 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 – PARTY ISLAND! 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 DEPTH.

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 go figure, maybe they just like to keep busy.

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.

We 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.

We 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 beautiful.

That 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 homes.


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 in  giggles... 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.


30th January: 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 bathing.

We strolled along the beach, bathed in the water which was, in the midday 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.

It was 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 off.

Once 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!





New 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.

We 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 have to get used to the Bahian rhythm of life.

At 11.30pm 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 midnight 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.

Homeward 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.

As we 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 another.

Hugh Barker 1909 – 2010.

And so 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.

A 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 YOU.

Also a 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: )

This is over and out from the Mina2 crew.