The leg from Natal to Fortaleza was enjoyable at the beginning, but very tough once we got near Fortaleza.
First of all Fortaleza is a very inhospitable and dangerous town. There is only one safe marina where to leave your boat. There are reports of boats being robbed twice in the same night when they anchored in front of the city harbor.
The “safe marina” is called “Marina Park” and it’s part of an Hotel that French sailor Michel Ballette describes in his Pilot book (the only pilot book of Brazil available in English) as follows:
“The marina is locate in front of a luxury hotel, a long white 4 story building that it’s easy to spot […] The marina can hold around one hundred boats.”
I’m not sure what kind of “luxury” is Michel Balette is used to, but the Hotel is run down with a lobby that reminds me decaying hotels in Reno NV, with a mediocre swimming pool. In more than a week, I haven’t seen more than a few guests.
Regardless, their rate for the marina are just outrageously high. There is no pontoon, no water and no electricity either.
I don’t see any reason for yachts stopping in Fortaleza, they should all continue for French Guyana. Other then us, there was a powerboat from Alabama and a sailboat from Cape Verde. The few other boats in the marina, I was told they were confiscated boat that the authority is leaving rotting there for god knows how many years before auctioning them.
The town of Fortaleza itself is not noteworthy, except for its water front. So we stayed there only for a week, just to wait for Philippe, our Brazilian/Swiss/French friend, to join us and sail with us as a crew all the way to Trinidad and Tobago.
Bye bye Brazil, you threaded us well. I’m glad we didn’t listen to all the people that said we were crazy to sail to Brazil. Nothing happened to us, we never felt unsafe and we enjoyed this country immensely. The nature, the food and especially the people. We had our challenges, this country despite it has the one of longest coast in the world, it’s not really sail boat friendly. Treacherous currents, reefs, tides, cold fronts. Sailing along the coast was very challenging, with very few harbors were you can stop if you have an emergency. Sailing at night, with all the jangadas and saveiros without lights, it’s extremely demanding. Finding spare parts, with the 100% import taxes imposed by the government, it’s really hard and expensive. All the bureaucracy, checking in and out of every town with the Navy. Complicated laws for boat and passports.
But we made it. It’s all about your attitude, I think. The Navy, the Customs, the Police, always treated us fairly. An amazing country, who doesn’t deserve its bad reputation. We spent 7 beautiful months in Brazil. We hope to be back one day.
Priceless memories. But now it’s time to turn the page.
Caribbean, here we come!