Cast Away (by MAPG)

Trip Start Aug 11, 2009
Trip End Feb 19, 2010

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Where I stayed
On the Titan

Flag of Brazil  , Bahia,
Saturday, August 29, 2009

After spending two wonderful days on the beaches of nearby Prado, we returned to Caravelas Friday night for a 3-day boat trip starting in the early morning of the following day.

The boat, a 30 feet mighty yacht called "Titan" was about to take us 70 km offshore to a paradisiacal place called Abrolhos, an area consisting in 5 islands, the home of the most diverse coral reef in the Atlantic Ocean (4 times more species than in the Caribbean).

The 3-day-all-inclusive boat rip came at its price, but after a couple of conversations with T. (in French!!) and his wife L., the owners of the boat, the price tag became affordable. Our negotiation skills (mostly developed on the eastern coast of Bahia) didn't play much of a role, more important was the fact that neither one of us had a diving certificate. Nevertheless, we were promised loads of snorkelling.

As agreed with L. we spent the night to Saturday in our cabin. When we entered the yacht we were amazed. It had suffered a major transformation in the past 2 days. Before it looked more like a wreck from the inside, with dust covering the messy furniture and the hallway. Nearly surrounded by luxury we spent a quiet night on the docked Titan.

The next morning at 8:00, after trying on our diving gear (the trip included a dive with the instructor, our first dive, a so called batismo or baptise), we set sail. Out of the other 8 passengers we met at the abundant breakfast buffet, 4 were German speakers. This didn’t come as a surprise in light of the past 3 weeks.

Although the Titan won the battle with the Atlantic waves and brought us safely to Abrolhos, we got really seasick from the whole ups & downs. During the 5 hours trip we spotted many humpback whales. Each year they choose the shallow & warm waters around Abrolhos to give birth.

While the Titan set anchor next to the biggest island (also served as an outpost for the Brazilian marine, with some 7 families living on it), our guide gave us a crash course about the do’s & don’ts (mostly don’ts). Basically we weren’t allowed to touch anything under water. Access to the islands was very limited and controls took place to make sure that tourists don’t leave the place even with a tiny rock in their luggage.

Snorkelling followed in the beautiful clear blue water. Soon it became obvious that the focus was lying on diving – the snorkelling team consisted beside us two of 2 wives and 1 daughter. A total as 3 diving sessions followed, 2 in the open ocean, making snorkelling impossible. Thing were getting boring on board. In the evening I got lucky to join a couple that went nocturne snorkelling. Both of us were looking forward to our diving baptise planned for the 2nd day.

Sunday started with 2 dives in the middle of nowhere. As divers returning on board were telling stories of huge barracudas and cat fishes, ship wrecks and more, our patience was reaching extremely high levels. The yacht was now next to the islands and we were preparing for our dive. Meanwhile, the only child on board made a stunning discovery when going to the toilet one deck below: water was covering the wooden floor. The crew reacted promptly, jumping beneath to boat to assess the damage. Our guide kept calm, looking as if she had been through numerous situations like the one described. Because none of us spoke Portuguese we had no idea about the severity of the event. What initially sounded like a basic procedure to bring all the electronic stuff on the upper deck, quickly transformed into “evacuate the boat”. This made sense, with the Titan not leaning on the horizontal any more and resembling more to the TitaNIC!

Armed with our entire luggage we embarked on a pneumatic boat that took us to the nearest island. This small piece of land, inhabited only by seagulls and other small creatures, became our home for the next hours. Other crew followed with valuables including the flat screen TV, the DVD player, and most importantly for us: food – a delicious moqueqa made of shrimps and potatoes.

The only disturbing element in the fantastic landscape was the view of the Titan, its crew and a dozen others, fighting with every means (pumps, buckets) to keep the boat above water. Our rescue appeared slowly from the horizon in the form of a catamaran. Sunset brought also good news from the Titan. The crew managed to repair the 1 m long and a few millimetres wide crack emerging from the steering system.

We on the other hand got a really warm welcome from the crew of the catamaran. It included a great dinner, a cosy place, and most importantly a smooth ride back to Caravelas.

Back home, the king-size treatment continued. L. was waiting for us and brought us to a residence. The news had spread fast in the small town and she had to ensure everybody asking if we are safe. An appropriate compensation followed the next day. The boat had been regularly checked and none of this was imaginable.

Happy with the experience but also with having to spend one day less on the 30 foot big and rocking water bed, we left for Rio the very next day.
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