Isla dos Amores

In a time when we’re all supposed to be worried about global warming, and in particular about sea level rise caused by melting Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, I found myself wishing if I could remember where the sea level was in the various places around the world where I once lived. But it wasn’t something to which I ever paid any attention. So I have no recollection of where the sea level used to be, 50 or 60 years ago, and so can’t say whether it’s been rising as predicted.

But last night I remembered a little island in Rio de Janeiro’s Guanabara bay. Back in about 1958, my father worked in Rio de Janeiro, and we lived in Niteroi, across the bay from Rio. And he also owned a little clinker-built sailing boat which he kept at the yacht club on the north shore of the Saco de São Francisco. And so one day, while sailing in the Saco, we stopped off at the little Ilha dos Amores not far from the south shore.

I have a peculiarly vivid recollection of this event, perhaps because the Ilha was the smallest island I had ever set foot on. My recollection of it was that it was a small granite outcrop, barely ten yards across, and two three feet above the water, with a few small, scrubby plants growing on it, and yet equipped with its own tiny beach. We got out of the boat, and wandered about on it briefly. But there was nothing to see, and so after a few minutes we set off again, never to return.

But here was, at last, a distinct and clear memory of the sea level on one day at one single place in the world. And today I used Google Maps to search for the islet again. Perhaps it had been swallowed up by the rising seas?

But it was still there (right). And rather than having grown smaller, it seemed to have grown bigger. Instead of being 10 yards across, it was about 40 metres – 4 times bigger than I remember it.

There’s a simple explanation for the discrepancy. Back in 1958, we must have visited it at high tide. For Guanabara Bay is a tidal basin, and the waters in it are always rising and falling by 5 or 6 feet (2 metres). Almost certainly my father only took his yacht out when the tide was high. The photo above must have been snapped at low tide.

I found this morning another view of the island, by Diego Baravelli, possibly from 2017, which gives a better idea of its contours:

And what this little island tells me is that sea levels haven’t risen appreciably in Guanabara Bay over the 60 years since I last set foot upon it. In fact, if anything, it looks to me like sea levels may even have been falling. So what’s there to worry about? I’d have felt differently if the islet had vanished beneath the waves.

I also wondered why it was called the Isle of the Lovers. And I suspect that’s because it’s exactly what it was. It’s about 200 metres from the nearest beach, and would have been easy to row or even swim to. So probably dozens of Rositas and Ronaldos would have done exactly that, far from any prying, censorious eyes. And perhaps they’d even have brought with them a few cans of beer, and a barbecue on which to grill a kebab, and of course lots of cigarettes.

The Saco de São Francisco, if not the Isla dos Amores, is visible in the panoramic view below. In the foreground is the district of Botafogo, where my mother taught at the British School.

And it’s just possible, maybe, that the Rositas and Ronaldos on the Ilha dos Amores could have just been able to see the floodlit Christo eleven kilometres away, facing directly towards them.

About Frank Davis

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13 Responses to Isla dos Amores

    • Joe L. says:

      Thanks, Vlad! The world could use more people like Royce Bridges. He giveth no fucks. A real-life “Marlboro Man” in 2019.

      Hearing the reporter stutter and stammer while asking him to take the cigarette out of his mouth is insightful. It goes to show that the mainstream media is not just trying to prevent the “glorification” of smoking, but rather their goal is to present a fake reality where the act of smoking tobacco simply doesn’t even exist.

  1. smokingscot says:

    @ Vlad

    Ta, the comments are hugely supportive and amusing (best rated) and the pathetic reasons against, roundly refuted.

    @ Frank

    There is no evidence of rising sea levels around Sark, nor the Scottish islands. Those around Mumbai and Bangkok are almost certainly caused by the vast weight of thudding great apartments built on what is unsuitable land.

  2. Lepercolonist says:

    Simon Cowell is a defiant smoker:

    Union was labeled as “difficult” by Cowell and producers of the program almost immediately, when she complained about Cowell smoking inside the Pasadena, California, theater where the show was filmed, according to sources close to the production of the show. The theater didn’t have walls between dressing rooms, so they were separated by pipes and draped fabric, and cigarette smoke seeped into Union’s dressing area. (It is against California law for an employer to allow smoking in an enclosed workspace.)

    Union, who is allergic to cigarette smoke, was repeatedly rebuffed when she asked other staff members to request that Cowell stop smoking inside. Sources say Union was told by an NBC executive and production staff on the program that no one could stop Cowell from smoking and that previous attempts by a fire marshal and NBC executives had been unsuccessful. According to three sources, Cowell has smoked indoors for years, much to the frustration of staff, crew, and talent. NBC has given Cowell near-total control over America’s Got Talent. Virtually no decisions are made by the network on the show without his approval, according to three well-placed sources.

    • Joe L. says:

      Cowell would occasionally pop up in the U.S. “news” for his unabashed love of smoking. However, I hadn’t seen anything about it for a year or two, and just a couple months ago I saw a few headlines stating that he had lost some weight because he switched to a vegan diet, and I immediately thought, “Oh, no. The Healthists finally got to Simon Cowell.” I’m very pleased to hear he’s still a defiant smoker!

  3. Lepercolonist says:

    It has been proven that you can not be ‘allergic’ to cigarette smoke.Cigarette smoke is not an allergen.

  4. smokingscot says:

    COT (completely off topic)

    The pushback begins. Bloomberg’s past must be understood – and widely disseminated.

    • Joe L. says:

      Michael Bloomberg: “Some people say, well, taxes are regressive. But in this case, yes they are. That’s the good thing about them because the problem is in people that don’t have a lot of money. And so, higher taxes should have a bigger impact on their behavior and how they deal with themselves. So, I listen to people saying ‘oh we don’t want to tax the poor.’ Well, we want the poor to live longer so that they can get an education and enjoy life. And that’s why you do want to do exactly what a lot of people say you don’t want to do.

      Wow. Michael Bloomberg should not be running for President; he should have been committed to a mental institution years ago.

  5. Pingback: Is Coal Killing People? | Frank Davis

  6. Pingback: Are Sea Levels Rising? | Frank Davis

  7. Charles Burns says:

    In New York Harbor, the sea level has been riding at a constant, unchanging rate for 200 years

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