Brazil, Salvador de Bahia, Itaparica Island: Assault and Robbery – March 2014

Assault and Robbery in Itaparica, near Salvador, Bahia.

Published 9 years ago, updated 4 years ago

We have been anchored in Itaparica Island, near Salvador, Bahia, NE Brazil, since last December. Before coming here we knew that a few years ago a sailor had been murdered by robbers here, during an attempted boarding, but that countermeasures had been taken and the area enjoyed a quiet period since then.

Last night a very near tragedy almost happened in the boat anchored next to us, at around 0030. We noticed them raising anchor at around 0100, but I did not get too alarmed because the owner had told me in

the afternoon that they intended to move the next day to the marina nearby to fill water tanks etc.

This morning he called me on the VHF and asked me to pass and see them when going ashore. When we got there we saw him with a big bandage on the left side of the neck and when going aboard the same was true for his wife. They had been boarded just before we saw them moving. The assailant climbed on board by the stern, under the raised dinghy stored on davits, went to the aft cabin (where they sleep) hatch, tried to raise it and the boat owners tried to shut the hatch and keep the intruder out but did not succeed. They had actually heard some noises and were alert by the moment he got to the hatch.

The attacker hit our friend with a machete blow to the neck, jumped in, did the same to his wife and then demanded money, jewelry etc. Our friend offered money, a mobile phone, and a laptop, then was forced to lower the dinghy, start the engine and let the attacker go.

They called the marina night watch on channel 16 VHF, were asked if they could move the boat without assistance, and proceeded to the marina. This was the moment we saw then moving.

They report that the police was very helpful, took them to the hospital for treatment and returned several times during the day to offer assistance.

The dinghy was found on the nearby beach.

This follows the also first-hand account we received from a friend who was boarded in the city of Itacaré, some 80 NM south of here. He was anchored with his girlfriend inside the river bar and in the night was

boarded by a man, who tried to grab the girl´s leg and then to penetrate the cabin, where he was received by gunshots by our friend, some of which were well aimed. The attacker fled bleeding and jumped


These are not hearsay accounts, but cases that we either saw with our own eyes or were told by the victims directly.

The anchorage in Itacaré was deserted, but last night in Itaparica there were 6 boats quite close to the scene.

We have been quite carefree since arriving. Before coming here we spent a month in the Bay of Camamu, and there we felt safe.

The anchorage is usually shared by just a couple of liveaboards during the week and gets full of local boats during weekends. The same happens with the local public marina. The anchorage is just outside the area occupied by moorings, and from the boats to the marina the distance is around 300m.

Up to now, we were going ashore at any time, leaving the dinghy at the marina floating dock and in general had no special worries. Some of the surrounding areas, where the grocery stores and vegetable markets are located are no going zones for tourist looking people after dark, and we avoided them. We still feel safe leaving the dinghy in the marina and walking around the waterfront even after dark, but our level of awareness has been raised.

As a rule, we were locking our companionway hatch but leaving the pilot house hatches open for ventilation when going to sleep, but now we are closing them and enduring the heat with some electric fan help.

The problem here seem to be crack drug addicts that are quite desperate for money to pay their debts, and in the last few days, a lot of similar assaults occurred on land too. We only did find that out today.

If I was opting today I would probably avoid coming here, as the social contrasts that exist in this part of Brazil will unavoidably lead to this kind of situation, even if sporadically.

The consequences of even the small probability of the events we reported happening to you are too great to warrant the stay. I heard a few other first-hand reports that involved guns being fired at cruisers over the last 3 years.

It seems that Camamu is a pocket of safety, and the other areas are a bit risky. After the murder, I commented yesterday police presence had been increased, and the consensus was that the anchorage was safe, but that obviously has to be revised now.

Luis and Marli Pinho

SY Green Nomad.

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  1. March 18, 2019 at 2:29 AM
    Data Entry says:

    The man responsible for this robbery and others in the area over the last two months was shot and killed by Military Police while robbing a pharmacy in a neighboring city. Quote from the news – translated from Portuguese, “Ends so terrified of the Itaparicano, because this boy brought much fear and insecurity in the last 60 days. Another victim of crack addiction.”