The river Paraguaçu: in search of pink dolphins

For one week my life had become implementation of ideals from “Emile” by Jean-Jaques Rousseau.

On Sunday we left the marina for search of pink dolphins that Amazon is also famous for. Here the place of their habitat is the estuary of the river Paraguaçu.

Around 1.5 hours took us to cross from Marina Bahia to the island Itaparica. The bay is not a sea and definitely not an ocean but even here there’s some wind. Weather forecasts claim winds up to 20 knots. But even 10 is  enough for good sailing.

From Ilha da Itaparica is close to the entrance to the river. By the way, Paraguaçu crosses the whole state Bahia, taking its origins in heights of the national park Chapada Diamantina.

The first night we spent in the estuary. The place carries the nameTubarão, which in portuguese means “a shark”. Probably, they inhabited this bay millions of years ago.

No sharks today tho, and the place is just charming: wrinkled brown rocks come close to the water of the river and are separated from it by narrow white ribbon of sand. The beach ends on one side with little village on the tip of a peninsula – just several houses. At early evening we didn’t meet anyone there.

Gold of the river Paraguaçu

The sunset reminded me of evenings in Atlantic, when the sky was overwhelmed by invisible battles, pouring clouds with scarlet fire. Idyllic picture was ruined by oil platform in the depth of the river.

“ If we build too much, we destroy”, – says the slogan of Greenpeace. Here’s an obvious example.

The next day we go deeper to the river, in direction of a town of Maragojipe. The regata Aratu – Maragojipe is well-known in Salvador. Then more than 300 boats in some years fill narrow river of Paraguaçu.

The town lives in its own pace, much different from its big neighbor. Along the pier went a horse carriage – it brought wood for a barge. On the square there’s old building titled Mercado. There was a meeting inside, lecturer reading something loudly, people holding paper booklets. Our first thought was that the old market was transformed in a church. Later we changed our minds to some professional meeting.

Brazil is very religious country. You can see the name of God mentioned everywhere: on shops, numerous churches that look more than ordinary houses, on walls and T-shirs. Even cargo cars carry banners, claiming “Deus e Fiel”.

Citizens of Maragojipe are not in a hurry. Everyone leaves his house in the evening to spend last hours before the sunset in relaxed and themeless chat with neighbors. Fishermen’ boats swing silently near the shore. In dawn turn to go home late saveiros – traditional boats of Bahia, used for sailing inside the bay.

Unfortunately, we haven’t seen pink dolphins – the main reason I wanted to make this trip. But, well, Amazon is waiting for me ; )

 For sailors here’s the information how to get safe to Maragaoipe. Coordinates are taken from the book “Roteiro Nautico do Litoral da Bahia”. Can be uploaded to any electronic navigation program a la MaxSea.

The bay of Paraguaçu (Barra do Paraguaçu - BRAPAG) to the town of Maragojipe (MJIPE)
Nome do waypoint (name of the waypoint)
Coordenadas
(coordinates)
Distancia
(distance)
Curso
(course)
BPARAG S12 50.155 W38 47.771 0 ft
BROQUE S12 51.070 W38 48.851 1.40 nm 229º true
PARAG1 S12 51.081 W38 49.580 2.11 nm 269º true
PARAG2 S12 49.728 W38 51.497 4.42 nm 306º true
PARAG3 S12 48.949 W38 51.860 5.28 nm 336º true
SALAMI S12 47.878 W38 51.559 6.39 nm 15º true
FRANCE S12 46.713 W38 52.442 7.84 nm 324º true
MJIPE1 S12 46.449 W38 53.076 8.52 nm 293º true
MJIPE S12 46.976 W38 54.339 9.86 nm 247º true
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