Vagabund Log

Abrolhos & Santo Andre

Sailing leg from Vitoria to Abrolhos, 


Sailing leg to Santo Andre,

and Santo Andre

25th June 2013 Tuesday

We were like busy bees on Vagabund for the whole day. I had three loads of washing on the line!!!! This means that there is washing on every part of Vagabund flapping in the wind drying in sun. I wash all the floors to get rid of the fine black dust from the coal terminals close to Vitoria. Zack made sure that all the black dust disappears on the outside of Vagabund. We filled Vagabund's belly with freely available water. The Starboard tank will be our drinking water for the rest of the trip up North. The Port tank will be for using water every day and we could fill this tank regularly with our water maker. 

With a trolley loaded from the close by Supermarket we were almost ready to go. Just updating the latest weather report. Back on Vagabund making slip lines we saw a catamaran coming into the marina with a South African flag. Witblits! The two men of the club in the dingy quickly helped us unhooked the mooring buoy so that Witblits can be moored where we was leaving for the fuel jetty. We filled Vagabund up with about 150 liter of fuel (R$2.41p/l the cheapest till now in Brazil). It was good to see that they accept all credit cards, master and visa, and we could save our cash for another day. Safely secured to the fuel jetty we took the opportunity to meet Chanie and Pieter on Witblits. We introduced them to Ataipava Premium Beer and Guarana Zero. How good it feels to talk Afrikaans!!! They are on their way South to Rio and will later start going north to Caribbean. So we will meet again somewhere. 

The sun set quickly and before we could set sail it was already pitch black outside. We battled getting used to the quick nightfall, big swells and lots of shipping activity in the bay.  After two hours of intense radar, plotter and visual observations we passed the Southern Breakwater outside the Bay leaving only the ships on anchor to maneuver around. The big swell put a rhythm to Vagabund’s motion and with both motors running Vagabund was gliding through the water glad to be in her element again. I was feeling queasy and not in shape to make supper knowing that my sea legs will appear again after settling back into our 3 hours on 3 hours of at night time and 5 hours on and 5 hours off during day time 24/7. Our captains understanding is appreciated as he has to settle for a two minutes noodles supper for the first night knowing that I will make it up to him later. Some dry rusks are the only food I find that I can indulge on my first night back on sea. The early night sleep was welcomed and helped to set me up for my shift starting after twelve.

26th June 2013 Wednesday

Now in the deeper water, Vagabund was rolling gently. In the early morning hours we were at the 1000 m drop off. Serious fishing for a few hours for our Captain. A Wahoo half destroyed a lure only to be eaten by a White Marlin that came unhooked after a good first run. The same mutilated lure was put back into the water and 30 minutes later another Wahoo came to finish the job. With only a lure head and hooks the lure came to early retirement after a single day in the sea. Later that same afternoon a Dorado cut aggressively across the surface to grab one of our lures. Close to Vagabund he was entertain us with showing his shining green body by leaping into the air. I manage to get a good action photo.

After dark the wind was blowing a steady 15-18 knots and we had an awesome sail with the screecher speeding up our arrival to the Abrolhos Archipelago. 

27th June 2013 Thursday

With sunrise we could just manage to see the irregular disturbance on the smooth horizon profile. Abrolhos was in site.


Some facts from Wikepedia:

"The name Abrolhos is said to come from "Abre os olhos" (open your eyes, or keep your eyes open) - a sailor's warning in an area rich in coral reefs. The Abrolhos Marine National Park encompasses of five islands which make up the Abrolhos archipelago: Redonda, Siriba, Sueste,Guarit and Santa Bárbara. These days the primary residents of the archipelago are migrating birds and humpback whales (June to October), which come here to rest and give birth. The preservation of the islands is important to IBAMA (Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis; Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources), so visitor land access is limited to daytime hours on Ilha da Siriba if accompanied by Marine Park ranger. 

Santa Bárbara is under the jurisdiction of the Brazilian Navy. Only the Ilha de Santa Bárbara has a handful of buildings, including a lighthouse built in 1861. Within the limits of the national park is Parcel dos Abrolhos, the archipelago's coral reef with mushroom-shaped formations, known as chapeirões, between 5 and 25 meters tall. Also protected is the Timbebas Reef, directly across from Alcobaça.

Birds are plentiful on all the Abrolhos islands. Masked booby (Sula dactylatra; brown booby (Sula leucogaster); and red-billed tropicbirds (Phaethon aethereus are among the species that nest in Abrolhos."

As we approach the anchorage area we called the lighthouse (“Farol de Abrolhos" on VHF Channel 16).  With the by now normal language barrier, our Fanigalo-Portugese we managed to obtain a “Si” out of the Abrolhos control centre. We sailed past another catamaran that was on anchor. We picked up a mooring buoy switched of the engines relieved and tired. The park ranger came shortly afterwards to Vagabund in a dinghy to explain all the rules of the Marine Park. No fishing, no landing on any island and no wasting of any garbage in the water. We could snorkel and kayak. After visiting the other yacht he came back to escort us all in a trip to the Siriba Island.


We meet Luiz and Mauriane with their friend Luiz on Sailing yacht Cascalho. 


We walked around the whole island and see the different species masked and brown booby birds nesting. The young ones that could not yet fly, the adults and then the older birds. The different sounds of the males and females. They are used to people and are not scared with us coming close to them.


The open seaside of the island has huge cliffs into the sea with black rock formations. Careful climbing over rocks and boulders and between rocks we walked all around the island.


Back at Vagabund we were informed that there is a possibility of visiting the lighthouse. We did not have a permit but Luiz and Mauriane did have a permit. Apparently we could have applied on the Internet for a permit to visit the lighthouse. 


The rest of the afternoon was spending snorkeling and kayaking around the Santa Bárbara (the biggest island). The water was clear enough to sea about 10 meters. We saw huge variety of coral fish among the mushroom shaped coral reef.


Just before five our VHF come alive with permission granted to visit the lighthouse. The lighthouse is built in the 1860s, (the second oldest lighthouse in the world) and is well preserved. During the day curtains is hanging in front of the lenses to protect them from the sun. The lighthouse is physically started up and shut down by hand every day. This causes for a Navy officers to climb the many stairs to the top to hanging or remove the curtains and put the light on or off.  Fortunately we could be part of this ceremony.


The lighthouse helped navigation with its range of 20 nautical miles. It is majestic views from the top of the lighthouse in all directions. Walking back in the dark and having answers from my childhood days the rhythmic rotation of the bright light into the horizon gave me a special appreciation to see the second oldest lighthouse in full bloom.  


Back on Vagabund the overstimulation of days made way to a calm drowsiness and our tired bodies settled in for a 10 hour solid sleep.

28th June 2013 Friday

Zack wake me up with coffee and a rusk. He was already on deck watching the sunrise over the main island. I joined him and we both sat in awe as we watched the sun declaring day over night with a bright red smile.  We enjoyed the harmony and detail in Gods creation.


We have an early morning snorkeling expedition tagging the kayak with us. After an hour we kayak the rest of the island. The water was much clearer and Zack saw two barracudas as well.

Around 11h00 we hauled in our anchor and was informed by the control post that we do not have to pay anything for our stay. 

We reached the open sea around Abrolhos, where the tide and the sea and the wind met.

Zack was experimenting again with all different kinds of lures. A booby bird jumped the queue and dived in to fish out one of Zacks Rapala’s. We managed to unhook the bird with only a small gauge in the beak and were relieved to see it flying away. 

The sea state was calm with limited amount of wind. The screecher only managed to assist marginally with our progress with the one motor running. One of the big advantages in having the sail up was that we could run under a tricolor light at night giving us navigation priority above steaming vessels. Periodically we will shine a torch on the sail to inform other passing boats of our priority.

29th June 2013 Saturday

Baia Cabralia shelters the village of Santo Andre and a little furthers south, the small town of Santa Cruz Cabralia, behind a long barrier of reefs. Early morning we spot Cascalho at our port side more inland. We spoke to Mauriane on the VHF and they went first into the channel by being there a previous time.


With the two long barriers of reefs you have a narrow entrance with a sand bank on the right between the reef barrier and the beach. With careful navigation and following on Cascalho footsteps we were safely anchored in front of the restaurants.


Zack slept for about 3 hours after lack of sleep the previous night. The noise of fireworks wakes him up. A big boat accompanied by several trip boats passes Vagabund, to the river mouth and back again. Everybody were dancing and singing. Later we were informed that it was Saint Petre’s day. We enjoy Brazil with their people that are so full of joy. 


The current was ripping underneath Vagabund. Apparently in Santo Andre the current can reach up to 4 knots during spring tide. The space amongst the boats was relatively small. Zack decided to drop another anchor on the stern to prevent possible anchor drag during the change of tides. Our empty stomachs told us it was time to pay one of the restaurants a visit. The bigger Suzuki 9,9 Hp was digged up for this occasion and mounted onto the dingy. But she decided that she was neglected for to long and didn’t want to start. She will only be alive again after she is serviced.  Fortunately plan B kicked in and the 9,9 Hp was replaced with the 3,3 Hp Mercury.

We did not know which restaurant to pick so we decided to investigate the one where the life music was coming from. Two musicians were playing and singing. The last of the trip boats left and we were the only guests in Aldeia Tangerina Restaurant.  After each song Zack and myself clapped hands and cheering them on by showing our appreciation.  They ended up playing only for us for almost an hour. We ended up buying their signed demo Cd with a make do tourist pamphlet cover and received an invitation for a show at a friends house later the evening.  True artists to the core.


We enjoyed the food at the restaurant as they offered a big variety and we paid per weight of your plate. Every day the trip boats moored to the jetty and we heard the music upon Vagabund. 


We explore Santo Andre. If you close your eyes you could as well be in Inhaca Island in Mozambique. The same gravel roads, palm trees and other trees with the houses and shops next to each other on the road. We walked back along the beach.


We decided to visit our friends and were invited on board. With Luiz taken the dingy rope and washing my feet to come onboard nobody tied our dingy! A little while later Mauriane spotted our dingy under Vagabund. With the incoming tide she decided to go home. It would be a disaster if that have not happened. We most probably would have thought that she was stolen and it was already dark. We could only thank God in our prayers for protecting us and use the elements. Soli Deo Gloria. In everything we saw His hand every day. 

30th June 2013 Sunday

We decided to go as a group to Porto Seguro. At 9h00 we fetched Luiz, Luiz and Mauriane at Cascalho. Left the dingy at the jetty of the restaurant. We walked about 2,5 km on the road towards Porto Seguro.


At the end of the road is a ferry. A ticket cost R$1 (R5) to cross Santa Cruz Cabralia (a 10 min ride in sheltered waters). There is a ferry every half hour crossing the river. There is no direct access by sea to Santa Cruz Cabralia. The barriers of reefs extend to Santo Andre.


In Santa Cruz Cabralia we bought our bus tickets and boarded the bus for a scenic 60 minutes ride to Porto Seguro.


The region has a wealth of historically important because it was here where the first Portuguese sailors set foot in Brazil in the Year 1500.  This landing was officially seen as Portugal's first entry into Brazil. All the streets of Porto Seguro were decorated due to the festivals in June.


The small streets are lined with Historical buildings on the cobble stone roads. A street corner restaurant. We ate at a charming small restaurant and wander back. 


In Santa Cruz Cabralia we visited the small church on the mountaintop overlooking the bay. The first mass in Brazil was held on this Plato and later a church was build. 


The road back to Santo Andre was walked along the mangroves instead on the road. Overhead you could hear the sound of green parrots returning to their nests. Two by two they were flying. Mates for life – may Zack and myself be blessed to grow old together.


Upon our return we found our dingy with children playing in it. Very proud they explained that they looked after her and washed her. 

The final soccer game of the Federal Cup was at seven. Brazil against Spain. GAIVOTA restaurant was closed but lend us a TV and the keys of the bar. We wrote on a piece of paper what we used and could settle the bill the next day. Brazil won with 3 goals. At 22h00 we took the keys of the restaurant to Ana and Aloisa where the whole town was gathering and celebrating. 

1st  July  2013 Monday

We decided to wait another day for the weather to change. The wind is only turning south on Tuesday. We explore the mangroves, rock cliffs and river by kayak. The afternoon we went with the dingy to Santa Cruz Cabralia to the supermarket and hardware store.


I was out of Hibulk bran and in Vitoria it was not available. Up to date that was not a problem to buy the Hibulk bran in local supermarkets but in Santa Cruz Cabralia as well I did not succeed to find any. We agreed a set prize with a taxi to the next town’s supermarket. He was happy to wait ten minutes outside the supermarket and then took us back. I took all eight boxes on the shelve. That will last me for 4 months. You could buy chick peas already ready to eat in a box. In Brazil you get vegetables in a box instead of a tin. In boxes so much lighter and easier to pack away.


That evening we were spoiled with Langoustines at GAIVOTA restaurant. Again I received a hug of a little girl that is living with 8 brothers and sisters with their dad. Two wife’s has left him with all the kids. The weather update show that we have to stay another day but then have to leave on low tide.

2nd July 2013 Tuesday.

Early morning we took the kayak to investigate the river mouth on low tide for leaving the next day. We marked the sandbanks and rocks under water. Making sure of the line to take to navigate safely out to deeper water.

We have brought with Gideon’s Portuguese Bibles. We trusted that God will lead us were to plant His Word.  In the early morning hours while praying I know we have to go to the local school. The problem is to get permission and a translator. We explained to Ana who the Gideon’s are and what we stand for. With her as our translator we visited the school and permission was granted for us to plant the Bibles the next morning at eight.


3rd July 2013 Wednesday

At eight we were received by the Principal of Escola de Santo Andre.

Accompanied by Ana we went to three classes with children older than ten years that could already read. She explained what the Gideon’s stand for and every child eagerly put up there hands to receive a Bible. The teachers was also keen and requesting a Bible.  The girl that came and hugged me the previous night was in one of the classes that received Bibles. I give her a hug and prayed that she will receive lots of true love and that if not on earth that we will meet one-day in heaven again.


That night Zack got a vision of that This Bible is only words on paper but that the Holy Ghost will make it alive. When we arrived the tide was going out and half an hour later upon our return the tide was coming in with a complete change in direction. A vision of what happened if you allow the Word of God to become alive in your heart. May the Word of God that was planted prosper in the hearts of those that received it. Amen.