Installed at Ilha Grande

Reading: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (Jules Verne) (finished)
Weather: A little cooler generally but still humid …..
Thought for the day: Rock cover versions of Beatles tracks are just not right ….
Evening meal: Tortilla wraps with chicken and beans (on board) and burgers (ashore)
Wildlife headcount: Snake (green with yellow markings on its head), a lizard and an emu ….

Once most of the maintenance tasks were finished and a repaired Iridium phone was back on board (and tested!) we headed off from Angra dos Reis and motored round to Ilha Grande – an imaginative name just meaning big island. For over a century the island was closed off to ordinary people. The only way you could get here was either by having leprosy (it was a leper colony for years) or subsequently by annoying the government big-time as it was then a high-security prison. The prison housed some of the most dangerous prisoners in the Brazilian penal system and was finally closed in 1994. Since then more normal people (?) have been allowed to visit as well. The island perhaps as a result is well protected and is a national park. In 2019 it was also recognised with UNESCO World Heritage status. There are no cars at all, apart from policemen on quad bikes!

This time we anchored in Vila do Abraão bay – clearly a much more touristy location and the place where many of the ferries drop eager Brazilian tourists and perhaps a few ex-inmates wanting to see the island again! Our first evening we headed ashore and were eloquently persuaded by the owner of one of the bars (in English) to visit his as there would be a live band playing. The payback was that we could leave the dinghy moored to his pier. It was with a certain sense of dread that we looked at the kit the band were to use. One amplifier looked like it still had valves in it which didn’t give us confidence in the auditory experience we were about to have. However, with the very first chords all these doubts were shattered – they were excellent. The guitarist (and lead vocals), the bassist and the drummer all looked very similar and we speculated whether there was a genetic connection, but they certainly merited a band name of The Three Baristas or The Three Hipsters (we have no idea what they were actually called). The songs were all rock cover versions, but played with an enormous sense of enthusiasm, style and some creative guitar playing. The most creative part came when the bar tender gave the guitarist a glass of whisky which instead of drinking it, he used it to play for a couple of minutes. The effect was much better than the description makes it sound. A rock version of When the Saints was excellent, though, with the balcony over the water shaking and the lights flickering every so often, we did worry if they might literally bring the house down. Great fun …. After a couple of drinks, we then moved on to a beach bar round the corner for some food. The barman proudly gave us menus in English and then announced that they only had burgers anyway, so burgers all round it was. The band here were very different with an accordionist and vocalist with a triangle. We were less sure, but one couple spent a lot of the evening dancing to it in that fluid and languid Latin style, so they clearly enjoyed it.

The next morning we headed ashore to do a hike through the national park on the island to a waterfall and then on to one of the beaches – Praia da Feiticeira (translates as Witch Beach) – further west from our anchorage. The hike was excellent – heading steeply through the forest over streams and at times contouring around the peaks. Though it was only about 5km to the waterfall, it did take us nearly two hours, but we did see an interesting snake on the way, so that helped me focus more carefully on where we were stepping. The waterfall was clearly a popular spot, though not overcrowded and we went in the pool formed at the base and sat straight under the flowing water – an incredibly refreshing cool shower. From there we walked on to one of the beaches where we thought there would be a water taxi back to our bay. We were wrong about that, though inside a fence at the corner of the beach was an emu! So we retraced our steps and headed back to the next beach to the west. There we found a small shack selling drinks and a water taxi which we promptly booked to take us back a quarter of an hour later. We did start to wonder when he knelt in a small canoe and started paddling out to sea but the taxi turned out to be a small speedboat on a mooring and he was just picking it up. The trip back was a lot quicker at around 15-20 knots, but mind-numbing in the seas coming round the point. I think we might stick to sailing in the future!

In the afternoon the band from the previous evening were doing a set at the beach bar just inshore from us, but somehow this set didn’t work as well. Heavy rock versions of Beatles classics Sergeant Pepper and Come Together just didn’t seem to work …..