The Journey South Begins
Date: 30 November 2010
Position: Ilha Bela 23:46.212S 045:21.216W
The three drunks and I were to be together for just over two weeks, sailing 1,200 miles south from Bahia Ilha Grande, in between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, down to Uruguay where they would then get a ferry over to Buenos Aires for their flight home. I had split the trip into seven passages ranging from a nice day sail of 50 miles, up to a three day passage of 450 miles between Porto Belo and Rio Grande. I had tried to select stopovers which would be of interest to them so that they could get to see a bit of Brazil as well as get some good sailing in.
But to ease them in we started off with a little trip round the bay and a lazy day at anchor, so that they could see some of the lovely places Maria and I had enjoyed. The sun was hot – unusually not a cloud in the sky – and Lawrence the Sun God got down to a serious bit of sunbathing.
Lawrence popping up the mast to fix the deck light – nice bit of thigh
Our first passage was an overnight sail of 70 miles from Paraty down to the island of Ilha Bela, a very pretty island with massive mountains of volcanic rock covered with the ubiquitous rain forest and palm trees. Ilha Bela is reputedly also home to the biggest colony of the dreaded borrachudo, a small insect with a big bite. You never see them coming and the first thing you notice is a pin prick of blood. Then the trouble starts. The itch is ten times as bad as a mosquito bite and they last ten times as long. We had a pleasant sail with the wind behind us and no more than the yankee (big sail at the front) wafting us along, as if we went too fast we would get there before dawn. We only had to turn the engine on for the last few hours when the wind died away. I have some fishing gear on board but can never be bothered to use it, but Tom and Lawrence got it all out and in no time we were streaming a couple of lures. In the middle of the night Lawrence hauled in the most ghastly looking thing. It had a prehistoric head with large teeth and enormous eyes. Long and wafer thin there was clearly not a lot of meat on it. None of us even liked to look at at it.
Lawrence, in typical pose, and his devil fish
We picked up a mooring of the Yacht Clube de Ilha Bela (after some difficulty in identifying the exact location of the club) at 23º 46.212S 045º 21.216W and even though it was only 0730 we kept the age-old Mina2 tradition of an “anchor nip”. As we sat drinking the early morning tonic, Tom yelped. There was a tell-tale pin prick of blood on his arm. The first of the borrachudos had arrived and we all dived for the cans of Deet.
We got the dinghy down and checked in at the yacht club. Security was tight and the bureaucracy bewildering. To stay one night on one of their mooring buoys, why did they need to know exactly what frequencies all my various radios transmitted on, and how many flares , lifejackets and fire extinguishers we had on board? To get our passes that would grant us entry to the yacht club, they needed an ID number. We’d left our passports on board, but they seemed happy with the number of Tom’s Esher & District Senior Citizens Bus Pass, Lawrence’s membership number of the National Farmers’ Union, Richard’s VOP* Rail Card and the number of an out of date Visa card that I carry to hand over in case of muggings.
(*Very Old Person’s)
Ilha Bela is a stunning island that we didn’t have the time to explore. The little tourist town has nice enough but not worth blogging too much about. Quite why it is on the cruise ship itinerary is a mystery. Every morning two enormous ships disgorge their overweight punters into the town, swamping it with Kiss Me Quick hats and tattoos, lining up at the lanchonetes – the fast food snack bars – for another injection of deep fried high fat delicacies.