Vagabund Log


Sailing trip from Santo Andre to Salvador and


 3rd July 2013 Wednesday

At nine we left Santo Andre with the tide still low we still managed to safely navigated through the sand banks and reef to deep water. We set our course to Mamamu Bay. The wind was light and we had to run on one of the motors.

After running two hours with the port motor the low oil level alarm came on. The motor was immediately switched off. Upon further investigation the oil level was not even detectable on the dipswitch. This was strange, as the motors had been checked just before our departure from Santo Andre.  There was no indication of leaking oil inside the engine room. Zack topped up the engine with oil and we decided to only use the port motor to dock and in case of emergency. 

The wind slowly started to pick up from a gentle to a moderate breeze. Initially we started of by flying the screecher and later as the wind angle improved we where able to deploy the asymmetrical spinnaker (G2). That late afternoon we enjoyed another pictures sunset on the fore deck of Vagabund. Vagabund was in her element. With only the wind power of the G2 she was gliding through the water with now and then a shiver of joy going through her hull as she vibrated to her natural frequency resisting the water flow over her belly.  With the big sail up we were sailing more than half the actual wind speed in the following see. Thank you Phil for a well designed boat and for Rudi and his team for excellent boat building (


In the early morning hours we started to encounter our first squalls. The G2 was brought down due to the risk of having too much sail up and being over powered. 

The squalls have the ability to change a down wind run into a close hall or even worse into the dreaded jibe risking your sail being caught in the rigging and being shredded into pieces. The squalls are an intense rainstorm accompanied with a gusty wind that most of the time occurs in pitch-black darkness. The variable direction but intense wind blows up to double the proceeding wind. Fortunately it last only last a few minutes but enough to cause chaos on deck. Every time with my shift I make sure before Zack goes to sleep that I know what to do in the different situations. As we are basic solo crew during the night and you want your partner to get a 3-4 hour sleep you must be able to take control over al type of situations. With every squall passing by I have adrenaline flowing through my veins till Vagabund is under control again.

You cannot be hit by a squall with too much sail and for this reason we adopted our sailing strategy to:

  • Cope solo with the squall by maintaining Vagabund’s angle to the wind by changing the course steered.
  • Sacrifice speed but fly a single sail by night preferably the genoa with its roller furling drum. This sail fully deployed can handle the 30-knot wind gusts over a short period of time and if necessary can be furled in should conditions further deteriorate by one crewmember
  • Only wake the captain or crewmember when the wind exceeds 30 knots.


4th July 2013 Thursday

After experiencing heavy rain for most of the night and only 20 nm from Mamamu Bay we evaluated our plan of sailing into the river. With one motor running and the heavy rainfall navigation into the river will be difficult. With the favorable winds from the cold front still pushing north we decided to rather set sail to Salvador. Hopefully we will be able to get a Volvo agent to have a look at the port motor.

In the first hours of daylight Zack discovered that the Tiagra 80 fishing reel has slowly winded off through the night. Zack was targeting Broad Bill with bait and glow sticks. Apparently the drag cannot be set to firmly as the fish has to swallow the bait first before you slowly increase the drag to set the circle hook.  For his daily gym session he was reeling the more than one km line back in poring rain fighting the resistance of the line, his teasers and the bait. The sea was big and the sail trimmed back, so he decided not to turn Vagabund around but to grind the gym session out.  After half an hour work out he recovered all the line back onto the reel but did not had a fish to show for it.

At 11h00 it started to clear up a little bit. We brought the G2 down and rather switch to the screecher that is easier to handle in the squalls. With the wind between 12-19 knots we were doing good time and phone Baia Marina to arrange to come in about 20h00. To our surprise on the other side of the phone was somebody that speaks English. We sailed in the dark into the bay both of us watching the AIS overlay on the radar and scanning the thousands of light of the city on the horizon to pick up a moving red or green navigation light. We dropped sail just before Bahia Marina. Call them on Channel 16 and battled through there zero English and our limited Portuguese. We ended up just sailing into the marina without permission where the radio control officers waving hands indicated where we could dock Vagabund. Minutes later a club dingy appeared and assisted us with our mooring. We thanked the local assistance, shut down the electronics, lock up Vagabund and fell asleep for a solid 10 hours.

5th July 2013 Friday

We were on the end of one of the long piers that were filled with motor yachts. The water was a light torques color and so clear that you could see the props of the motor yachts. It was the cleanest water we have encountered in a marina (SA included). Early we were at the club with our passports and boat papers. They asked us R$ 96.00 per day (R433.00 p/d). We thought it was reasonable prized with good security. For security reasons you do not sleep in the bay of Bahia on anchor. “We think of our foreign fellow sailors that have been robbed and those that have paid with there life’s in this bay. “


The Baia Marina is well placed. It is close (relatively) to all the various offices for the paper formalities. The moment you leave the marina personal security is an issue. We were advise to not walk the relative short distance to the elevator connecting the Historic town with the see front. We took a taxi as soon as we left the marina grounds.  Expensive watches and big cameras were out of the question. It all sounds rather terrifying for us but we felt perfectly safe by playing to the rules. It is an awareness we are used to in South Africa.


On Friday morning at 11h00 we arrived with all our boat papers at the Capitania dos Portos only to be advised to return on Monday. We simply refused to turn around and explained that we are sailing out before then and need to get the Capitania passé. A sympathetic guard managed to contact an officer that could help us. We needed to do an entrada and saida passé in one day. This meant that we first had to go to Police Federale. Get an entrada; bring that to the Capitania that only then gave us an entrada passé. We then had to go back to the Police Federale (to the office we have just visited) to get a saida, and then go back to the Capitania to get the Saida passé.

We were happy that we could do them both in the same day. With the paper work finished we could now enjoy Salvador.

6th July 2013 Saturday

Some facts from Wikepedia:

"In 1549, a fleet of Portuguese settlers headed by Tomé de Sousa, the first Governor-General of Brazil, established Salvador. Built on a high cliff overlooking All Saints bay as the first colonial capital of colonial Brazil, it quickly became its main sea port and an important center of the sugar industry and the slave trade.

Salvador (Portuguese pronunciation: [sawvaˈdoʁ], Saviour; historic name: São Salvador da Bahia de Todos os Santos, in English: "City of the Holy Saviour of the Bay of all Saints")  is the largest city on the northeast coast of Brazil and the capital of the Northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia. Salvador is also known as Brazil's capital of happiness due to its countless popular outdoor parties, including its street carnival. The first colonial capital of Brazil, the city is one of the oldest in the Americas.

Salvador is located on a small, roughly triangular peninsula that separates Todos os Santos Bay from the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The bay, which gets its name from having been discovered on All Saints' Day forms a natural harbor. Salvador is a major export port, lying at the heart of the Recôncavo Baiano, a rich agricultural and industrial region encompassing the northern portion of coastal Bahia.

A particularly notable feature is the escarpment that divides Salvador into the Cidade Alta ("Upper Town" - rest of the city) and the Cidade Baixa ("Lower Town" - northwest region of the city), the former some 85 m (279 ft) above the latter, with the city's cathedral and most administrative buildings standing on the higher ground and where the majority of the population lived. The lower city was the financial center, with a port and market. In the late 19th Century, funiculars and an elevator, the Elevador Lacerda, were built to link the two areas."

The best way to explore a city is to first go on a bus city tour. We left with the double deck bus at Mercado Modela a big circular building that used to be the slave market and host now several restaurants and a flee market. We had lunch the previous day on the top floor in a restaurant overlooking the bay. 

The bus tour was conducted in a double decker bus with the top floor having a convertible canvas top that can be closed during the rain. We drive past the more rural area with their  buildings and street markets vibrant with people.


The bus stopped at the Church of Nossob Senhor do Confirm. The construction of the Church ended in 1754.


We also visited Sister Dulce Memorial (Memorial Irma Dulce). The memorial is established in a building annexed to Hospital Santo Antonia, which is part of OSID (Sister Dulce Social Works) Association. Philanthropic work created by the nun Irma Dulce, she left Salvador a legacy of faith, charity and altruism. She gave special attention to the street children. Every night after 9 she walked, accompanied by a policeman through the streets, to perform as she called it “Incurcoeos Rapto”. She waited until the boys went to sleep on the sidewalks to bring them to the hostel.


Driving through Salvador three meters in the air we saw the main tourist sights of Salvador. Opposite the beach of Ondini we saw the sculptures by the artist Eliana Kertesz, which form the ensemble as the girls of Brazil. Catarina is turned to the land, Damiana is facing Africa and Mariane catches sight of Portugal. 


The bus drive past long white beaches, modern skyscrapers and a long lane of trees making a canopy over the road.


We pass the Farol do Forte Santo Antonia da Barra. The construction was started at the end of the 16th century and received a lighthouse at the end of the 17th century.


Still having some exploration energy left after the bus tour we decided to take the elevator to the historic town.


With the Elevador Lacerda we did go up to the Pelourinho. The Elevador Lacerda was opened in 1873 with one tower and two cabins, powered by a hydraulic system. In 1930 it was enlarged with one more tower and two cabins and being named after its constructer, the engineer Antonia de Lacerda. 


The historical center of Salvador, frequently called the Pelourinho, is renowned for its Portuguese colonial architecture with historical monuments dating from the 17th to the 19th centuries and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985. We walked the cobbled stones of Pelourinho, the oldest part of Salvador, where millions of slaves were imported and used and abused.


We visited the historic Santa Casa de Misericordia da Bahia, foundation in 1549. We were accompanied by our own English speaking guide and various security guards keeping a close watchful eye as we proceeded through the historical artifacts mostly coated in gold but apparently some in solid gold.  In the Ritual Wing we were able to perceive and appreciate the artistic evolution of its architecture, paintings, sculptures and ornaments ranging from the 17th to 19th century. The first gasoline-powered car in Bahia is to be seen. On exhibition was the Wheel. A wooden turntable set on one of the outer walls of Santa Casa de Misericordia used to receive the rejected babies. 

There are about 365 churches in Salvador. We visited the Church of Saint Francis. It is one of the churches with the most gold and the dark woodcarvings of cherubs and the phoenixes were amazing. The rich families, owning the tobacco, cotton, in Brazil owned the churches. The wealthy families sat in their own exclusive balconies high up in the church. At the back of the church sat the other men with only the widows, left by rich men. No other women were allowed.  The influential people were buried under the floor of the church.  Depending on the amount of money contributed the biggest contributors was buried lying down, the not so rich was buried upright. 


The little shops were intriguing with every one trying to make a living. We walked through the cobble streets and see places where you can enjoy the local music until sunrise. Everywhere ladies in front of restaurants were wearing the traditional Bahia clothes inviting you to dine. We end our day by eating lobster in a restaurant. 


7th July 2013 Sunday

Because we could not use Vagabund’s port motor we decided to visit the close by island of Itaparica by ferry boat.


Itaparica is a little island of 240 square km. We went with a taxi from to the eastern side to the western side of the island.  The western side of the island is more touristy.


There is a restaurant called Amigo's of which the owners is South Africans.  Just walking down the street at the beach, we found Amigo's BBQ restaurant. It is a quaint bar and restaurant with a colorful garden to their home at the back.


We met Willem van der Merwe and his wife Robin. Originally he is from Rustenburg, but they sailed from Saldanha to Salvador 6 years ago. He fell in love with Itaparica, and sold his boat and bought a business, and is now running this restaurant for all the Gringo's (SA foreigners). The aim was to cater for sailors visiting Salvador but the local Brazilian enjoyed the South African food as well as improving their English. Boerewors was just one of the featured items on the menu.


In Brazil most of the meat are deboned. He gets his meat delivered in bulk and makes his own cuts to get the chops and T-Bone locals SA style. Our lamb chops and chicken was prepared on a charcoal fire. Best meat we had since landing in Brazil.


His son Francois has joined his farther and is running the original Gringo's bar a little further down the street. If you are in Itaparica make sure to visit them.

The water front street is filled with a variety of ice cream style colored buildings with little shop mostly selling fruit, beer or bread.


At the end of the road is the Fort of São Lourenco build by the Dutch Colonials in 1647.


From Itaparica Island you could see Salvador with her skyscrapers on the horizon.


8th July 2013 Monday

We were both absorbed in a world of technology. The Wi-Fi of the marina did not work. We tried the Oi chip and could create our own Wi-Fi network. Both getting lost in catching up on emails. We borrowed a data chip from a friend enabling us Internet in the rest of the harbors we are visiting in Brazil. Will posted it back upon our return to SA. Thank you, thank you, and thank you!!!!!

A local mechanic has serviced our Suzuki outboard.  Zack took her for a spin in the marina. We waited for the Volvo agent to come and look at the port engine. With the help of Google translator Zack was able to talk to them. An silinder ring was broken and Brazil do not have any parts. The parts have to be flown in from Sweden and then 8 days of work. We decided to have it fixed in Trinidad. We will proceed with one engine and only use this one when we wanted to moor in a Marina. 

We stock up on fresh products at a near by supermarket. We never waited longer than 3 minutes for a taxi in Salvador. As long as you move around in taxis and not walk around in the streets you are relatively safe. 

There are 4 restaurants with a base parking area at the marina grounds. It works like a waterfront with a few shops and restaurant and the marina on the end with the security to the pontoon jetties. The restaurants and shops are not only for club members and are not run by the club. We had a lovely gourmet dinner at SAD restaurant. Even with a desert shared between us. After our desert we were served coffee and tiny biscuits.  


We were surprised with Salvador between what we expected and what we have experienced. We enjoyed this Brazilian city.


9th July 2013 Tuesday

Zack was scheduled for a scype session with the esco members at Tecroveer. It was wonderful to hear all their voices. What a privilege to have such a team back that are keeping the company going. We are so proud to be part of the team. 

Zack serviced the starboard engine. A lot of pampering to make sure that she is in tip top condition being the only one we could rely on for the rest of the trip. We filled Vagabund's belly with diesel and water and was ready to leave for Recife.