Atlantic ocean

Ilha dos Lençois / Brazil

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There are plenty of anchorages and we stop about every 60 miles. It’s better not to sail at night given the number of fishing boats and the flags indicating the presence of nets. Despite the flags we managed to get stuck in a net before arriving at Ilha dos Lençois. Thankfully we managed to disentangle ourselves fairly easily and head to our next anchorage. Ilha dos Lençois is an island that is ripped open by the rivers and mangroves. You can cover the whole island by just following the short estuaries. However if you want to take this on it is better to have a shallow draught ! 

We headed into the labyrinth at the end of the day, without really having any idea of what we were going into… The current pushed us into the interior. 

Behind the mangroves we are surprised to see magnificent dunes of fine sand. It completely takes us aback. The landscape is fabulous. We dropped anchor about 20m from the fine sand dunes. In fact the sand is a little too fine , and quickly gets stuck in the blocks and the travellers when the wind isn’t in the right direction, which is not ideal at all! 

The anchorage is perfectly calm. Not a single wave comes along to disturb our boat. We bob around at the mercy of the current and the tides. 

As we head further into the mangroves we come across hidden houses. These are where fishing families live. It took us a full five days to explore this magical spot in our dinghy… 

Weather Check :

The immortal south east Trade Wind is always present in this zone, so we head up the Brazilian coast downwind. In September, the wind is light and ideal for sailing. Squalls are relatively uncommon and rarely reach more than 30 knots. 

I recommend Weather 4D (for Apple) as my weather software. We have used it for 4 years and it is very rarely wrong. You can download 10 days’ worth of GRIBS, and we have often been surprised at how accurate they are a week after having downloaded them. 

The bottom line is that there is no really dangerous season in which to sail in Brazil.  

What To See And Do :

My main activity was to explore the area between the dunes and the mangroves. 

Any fresh water attracted numerous species of birds, including the famous Scarlet Ibis.   This was a bird which I didn’t know at all before arriving here. I was fascinated by their plumage. They are extremely timid birds, and it was very difficult to get close to them. For five days, all I did was to track them down and photograph them. It was a real challenge. Little by little, I started to understand their behaviour, and learned how to get closer. It was here that I took a photo which earned me a first prize in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year in 2015. On Lençois you can see them take off in their hundreds. It’s an amazing spectacle.

Another great family activity is to roll down the dunes and end up in the water. It’s a wonderful place to let your hair down! 

Anchorage Location :

Here are our anchorage’s coordinates:   1º32.360’S  / 44º 88.759’W

To get there it is better to go via the south of the island. It’s a little complicated, as the water is muddy and the sounder is all at sea. There can be some hairy moments… 

Ideally you would head there at the end of the high tide, just before the tidal bore forms. 

Be careful, as the sandbanks shift around. There are no reefs, just a mixture of sand and silt. 

The anchorage is solid and very calm. 

Once you’re by the dunes you could almost just haul the bow onto the beach. It’s up to you to choose the area which you like best!  

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