Salvador – First Impressions – by Karin (the Mom)

We started seeing Salvador’s lights around midnight. It was very dark and we were approaching the land under sail. Why? Because our engine broke – again.

The wind was very light so this was definitely not by choice. But then…… if we had the “luxury” of using the engine, we wouldn’t have been near Salvador at all!

Every now and then a rain squall hit and then the wind would strengthen for a little while. One can watch a group of lights for a loooong time sitting on the water like that. With the boat moving at about 2 knots we knew we would have plenty of time to enjoy the view.

Normally there would be only two people on watch, but as with any approach, Frans was in the cockpit and because we didn’t know what to expect, we had our big guns, Marike and Franci, at the ready too. Just as well.

We have become more and more expert at launching the dinghy, Shampoo, and that night we needed all our skill in a hurry. Just after a rain burst (in which we got thoroughly soaked since we just put away the cockpit awnings to start Operation Dinghy), we quickly realised that the dinghy needed to get into the water NOW!

It was as if the wind died at the exact moment that the current started sweeping us towards the shore. It was clear on our chart plotter that there were quite a few rocks in that direction. We did NOT want to go there.

Frans jumped into action and also into Shampoo and soon we were being towed behind our noble steed again. What a wonderful thing that we upgraded our 2 horsepower engine for a 15 horsepower engine in Rio!

Even so, we JUST held our own against the current and moved VERY slowly around the point and into a general anchoring area in front of the Marina. We anchored at 6:00 am and fell into bed utterly exhausted.

At 7:30 Frans had to get up again to find Adelio (our mechanic who flew in from Rio). He returned, not with Adelio, but with Mark from the boat Mambala. We were delighted to meet up again with our French family. Mark expertly helped to move Shang Du to tie onto the jetty.

Mark and Frans planning the moves that would dock Shang Du safely.

He worked at a marina before and knew just how we had to manoeuvre Shang Du – with the two dinghies – into her “parking space”.

This was not a moment too soon, because the Brazilian Navy with a scary megaphone and big boat, came to tell us that we cannot anchor where we did and had to move immediately. Fortunately Mark could explain our situation in Portuguese. Such a handy guy to have around!

Mooring with the ‘stern to the jetty is a fairly new way for us to moor, but it is used extensively in Brazil. The bow of the boat is tied up to lines that are anchored on the sea bottom. These lines lie in place under the water with the ends tied up to the jetty. Inevitably, when you pick them up to use, they are covered in real yucky, green slime.

Our first view of Salvador from the safely moored Shang Du.

We found Adelio. He fixed up our engine nicely and then took us all out for lunch to the restaurant on the top level of the Mercado Modela building. The restaurant was dedicated to a very famous cook, known for his Bahia type food. On the Menu they refer to him/her as Maria and list all the famous people who liked eating there over the years. The photo attached definitely looks like a man.

There are actually two restaurants that share only one huge room. They do this effortless and without any visible conflict.

One of the waitresses in traditional costume standing here with Marike.

One of the waitresses in traditional costume standing here with Marike.



While walking into Salvador, our very first impressions were of great past grandeur that have fallen into complete and utter decay. The buildings were all blackened as if a fire had passed through and everywhere plant life thrived. In between cracks and even on the ‘roofs’ of the buildings.



The Lacerda Elevator was the one building that looked well maintained'

The Lacerda Elevator was the one building that looked well maintained’


We did not venture far in (or up) on that first day, but after lunch and our farewell to Adelio, we returned to Shang Du for a much needed early night.


1 comment

    • Trish Roberts on November 7, 2015 at 2:30 pm
    • Reply

    That elevator looks way too scary!!! No thanks!! Haha! i can’t even climb up a ladder!!

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