Dreaming of Saveiros

I had difficulty sleeping as I lay awake anxiously waiting for tomorrow to come. Of course I did nod off several times always waking to vivid dreams of sailing these colorful and interesting boats.  On a beautiful clear morning with a gentle breeze we showed up early at the marina. Captain Binho and Gustavo were making last minute arrangements. Before we knew it we were saying our goodbyes to Kristi, who would be joining us later in the week, and we set sail.

Seveiro Captain
Captain Binho

An easy broad reach took us across the wide bay past the island of Itaparica. As we entered the wide mouth of the Rio Paraguacu a pair of large, bright blue tropical birds flew by.  In this setting with occasional white sand beaches dotting the otherwise rainforest banks of the river we seemed to be entering a magical land that was taking us back in time.

The only other vessels we saw were Saveiros carrying their cargoes to the smaller islands in the bay. Captain Binho would call out to them as they passed by in that sweet sing-song Brazilian Portuguese, a language that sounds more like poetry or music.

As the river narrowed it seemed that we were being enveloped by the jungle. Eventually we came to an inland bay which stretched several miles in every direction. Our course took us to the west a short distance then up a small tributary toward the village of Maragogipe. We passed a rudimentary shipyard where repairs to a saveiro were underway. As we approached the shore Captain Binho simply lowered the sail as he walked forward and put a tire over the high stem. As we gently nudged the stone waterfront Binho stepped ashore with the bow line and tied us to a tree.

We then went to a local waterfront Cantina where we met the Master shipwright who operated the shipyard. He was an elderly man and highly respected for the skills he had developed in his long career. That night we stayed in a local Pousada and returned in the morning to continue our adventure.

Gustavo had returned to Salvador and we were joined by Captain Binho’s ten year old son. We first sailed across the inland bay to the ruin of a great convent, one of many that were established in the colonial days. Then we proceeded further up the river to Coquerios. This name means rapids or the end of the navigable water.

Again we sailed up to a stone waterfront. This time Binho used one of the long poles kept on board to maneuver to slow us down in the strong current.

Binho walked us up the hill to another convent. This one has been preserved and made into a hotel. Ann had  fulfilled a childhood fantasy to sleep in a convent. We said our goodbyes and thanked them for the memorable trip.

We would be off on other adventures to the south but we knew this was the highlight of our trip.