We left Ilheus at 3 am in order to be able to get to Itacaré at high tide. We were really not impressed by the town and the Iate Clube. The rain didn’t help either. Sorry Jorge Amado! Some other times maybe.
Itacaré is located in the mouth of the Rio da Contas, and charts unfortunately are not accurate for this destination. If you are used to charts of the US West coast like I am, looking at the charts of Brazil it can be kind of a shock to realize how approximate they are.
The entrance of Itacaré is marked by a light on top of a reef, with sand bars, strong currents and breaking waves. We had drawings of the entrance and some waypoints, but we didn’t trust them. Our motto is “assume all charts are wrong unless proved otherwise”.
The best thing to do in these cases is to get guided inside by a fisherman. So we were hoping to meet one, when we got there.
The other thing that concerned us was the presence of the so called Baronesas. Baronesas are like floating islands of entangle plants that come down the river en masse after heavy rain. They can be up to one meter thick under the water and depending on their size they can weight several tons. Baronesas are dangerous for several reasons:
Carried by the current, they get caught on the anchor chain, accumulate on the bow and all around the boat and can even clog the propeller. It would then be impossible to raise the anchor and the captive boat can be dragged along by the significant additional weight.
Baronesas can carry snakes, that can climb onto the boat along branches reaching the bow or along the anchor chain.
To get rid of these large masses of vegetation you can use a machete to cut them along the chain and spilt them into two parts so that they can escape along either side of the chain. We really hoped we weren’t going to deal with it.
Anyways, as soon as we got to see the light off the reef in Itacaré, we also saw a fishing boat coming out. We asked if he could guide us in, and he told us to wait there half an hour, because he was going to get his nets. As promised, half an hour later he was back and guided us in. Entering was less nerve breaking than in Porto Seguro, but still not easy.
We anchored in 3 meters of water, among other fishing boats. The anchorage was very well protected from the swell and the wind, but the currents were very strong. We didn’t put a stern anchor, because there was enough space to swing. Needless to say, we were the only sailing vessels.
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The next day a little baronessa started to accumulate around the anchor bridal, so I had to go to town and by a machete (facão in Portuguese). I always wanted to have one, it’s very useful also to open up coconuts… Here is a pick of the baronesa that got around our anchor chain. Not huge, but it was still quite a job to get rid of it.
The town of Itacaré is very charming. At the beginning, from where we anchored it didn’t look like much, but once we went on land and we walked towards the area called Pituba, a totally different town opened up before our eyes. Itacarè is a typical surfing town with very good vibes, it reminds me a lot of Santa Cruz in California.
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The next day we went to visit a Cacau Fazenda. I’ve never seen a cacao tree or fruit before in my life. IN this trip there are countless “first time in my life” kind of things. We found ourselves saying this a lot. It’s been interesting to learn how to harvest and process the fruit to make chocolate. And on the veranda of many houses in this region of Brazil you can see cacau left out to dry in the sun, just like in souther Italy you see people making dry tomatoes.
One interesting thing that I learnt is that mosquitos – yes, those disease spreading awful insects – are the main pollinators of the cacao tree. I still hate mosquitos, but at least now I know their existence does have some purpose.
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The following day we organized an expedition to the waterfall, called Cachoeira in Brazilian Portuguese. We took with us two local kids that didn’t have school that day, because there was a huge national strike in Brazil against the decision of President Bolsonaro administration to slash the education budget by 30%. Needless to say, both kid had no idea what the strike was for. For them, it was just an unexpected vacation day.
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On the ocean side of the town there were several surf beaches with some beautiful pousadas. It looked like there was some girls surf camp or something.
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It was very entertaining watching the kids playing on the beach.
After a few days in Itacaré, we were ready to sail north. Next destination will be the bay of Camamù. We will explore the river and try to get to a beautiful cachoeira.