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Trip From Brazil to Venezuela

By Val Ellis last modified Dec 27, 2010 01:20 PM

Published: 2010-12-27 13:20:01
Countries: Brazil , Venezuela

Our trip took place during NOVEMBER and DECEMBER 2010. Leaving from Santos “Iate Clube”, Brazil to “Puerto de la Cruz”, Venezuela

The boat: a 100’ motor yacht with 4 crew. Average speed 10 knots.


IALA B (port green – Stb. red)
Sailing along hundreds of miles of beaches and huge sand dunes, river deltas, large towns and small fisherman villages.

Some people say it is dangerous in Brazil. I did not see any dangerous people. I have seen only poor people - sometimes happy and sometimes jealous. I walked through the harbour area of Santos, declared as highly dangerous - I met some very nice people there like an old German sailor who “stranded” there, got married and opened a Sailors Bar.

Compared to most harbours in the world I have been, the Brazilian harbours are as much as safe as all the others in the world. It may depend a little bit on your behaviour, the daytime you go into some areas and off course in which areas you go, but this rule applies for all the whole world - "safe Europe" included!

I agree that anchoring in isolated areas, specially from north of Fortaleza north bound, could be dangerous and more of a risk. As far as I am concerned, it’s not organized crime and piracy comparable to Somali waters, it’s more like the crime and piracy in Yemeni waters, done by very poor people. Of course they are, or could be, dangerous, they have nothing to loose. But again, how things end may depend on your own behaviour. It is very easy to buy guns in the Favelas of Brazil - therefore thieves and people living on the streets are basically all armed and will not hesitate to use their firearms or knives! Do not run around like a Christmas tree covered with gold and silver. Do not wear show up designer outfit. No big wallet and try not to look scared even if you are. This, by the way, applies also for the railway station in Milan and other places.

We had a good experience talking to local guys on the beach, and hiring them as personal “Taxi service” from and to our boat with local built “Jangadas” Kept our tender on deck, gave them some money and made them feel important. The “driver” you have chosen will be your “local protector”, look after your boat and you can rely on him. It is amazing what you can learn from these people about the place you are in, and they will help you to find whatsoever you need. The pay rate to make them happy is around 10 Reals per day (2 reals per transfer) and some cold beers.

Navigation and weather
Prevailing winds from NE (range NNE – ESE) winds from the beginning to the end with an average of 10 and 25 knots.
Prevailing swell NE 1,5-2,5 meters / 8-12 sec period
Wind waves were between 0,5 and 1,5 meters and 6/8 sec period across the swell.
Temperatures were between 25° - 36°C
Sky mostly clear with isolated Cu Nb coverage and local precipitations.

WX pages used for the voyage: and

Arrival/departure by boat is less problematic than it appears. Take a deep breath and be sure to accept “loosing” a whole day to make your paper work with the authorities straight. You will find officers of the Capitania, Customs, Health office and Policia Federal very helpful and courteous – they will even apologise for the Brazilian way, meanwhile your are waiting for your papers. Make your move telling them that it’s not different from where you come from with a smile on your face. At the end they are only following rules and procedures. Some of these rules are for your safety!

Go first to the Policia Federal, after you check in with them, they will send you to what ever they think is the office to which should go next. You will have to go through all offices, but make them choose the sequence! If you don’t speak Portuguese, take somebody with you to translate – things will be drastically faster!

Once you have cleared into Brazil, you are free to navigate in Brazilian waters. It is always wise to check in every time you have a Coast Guard station near your anchorage and it’s a must to clear in every port you stay, specially if you move from one state to another. This is also for your safety! You have to clear out at your last port before leaving the country. Start again with the Policia Federal and so on. You will have than 72 hours to leave!

Remember that, even if they tell you so, Marina’s do not have the power to take care about your clearance! You will have to follow the path yourself or hire an agent!
Have always at least 3 copies of your crew list ready, stamps and - a smile are always helpful.

Avoid dealing with or through banks in Brazil !!!!! It’s a demoralizing experience.
All major credit and debit cards usually accepted, even in smaller shops.
Currency exchange is not a service option in banks! Usually nobody speaks a foreign language in official places in Brazil!
Use the currency exchange in hotels, private persons or special agencies.
Wire transfers, are complicate and take a very long time.
Transfers by Western Union – only through central Banco do Brasil. Max. payment limit is between 3-5 k US$ per day/person. Ask before using.
ATM machines on the road around shopping centres (not always working).
For diesel purchases, - best is cash!

We had a terrible experience in Fortaleza, no credit card accepted at the only fuel dock. The owner made a wire transfer to the fuel station - it took us nearly 2 weeks to get the diesel because of some internal banking rules/clauses. Nobody actually could explain to us properly what was wrong (I have Brazilian crew – so the language was not the problem)

Inmarsat: From Brazil you can call an Inmarsat number only through the Embratel provider net which is the land-line provider - cell phones (even your international cell phone) are not allowed to dial Inmarsat numbers. You will need a Brazilian national to purchase prepaid SIM cards and Internet keys.

Cell phones: there are several providers in Brazil. We found VIVO the most reliable. Still, you have to unblock your card for International calls (very difficult procedure - we gave up after 2 days) and you will have also to unblock your card for Interstate calls within Brazil. Roaming fees like in Europe for Interstate calls. Recharges are sold at Petrol stations.

Internet: VIVO makes the best offers for connections with Internet Key. It works fine and the connection is very good along all the coast.

Taxis are relatively cheap in Brazil. Use a Taxi for large shopping – the Taxi driver will wait for you without surcharge (tip him at the end or offer him lunch). He will also protect you and your shopping! We had some nice experiences with Taxi drivers, hiring them for the day to make sight seeing tour - he’ll bring you safe through the unsafe areas and watch your belongings.
Buses are well organized in Brazil. They take you from / to anywhere. They are cheap but you should have some basic notions of Portuguese.

Food/shopping and drinks:
The famous Brazilian beef is probably edible/chewable only in the south of Brazil. Sorry for this sarcastic comment, but I have a background as chef and I found the food in Brazil generally as very poor. Surprisingly good are the “cat grills” you find on the road – cheap, tasty and good.

The shopping is very good in large super markets in all towns. Best quality can be found in the “Pao do Asucar” chain and the “Carre Four” and “Compre Bem” Generally you find all you need and more! I found also the fruits and vegetable offers of better quality than in the local markets. The reason is that supermarkets store facilities are temperature controlled.

Check expiry dates of all other items! Items like foreign spirits, Champagne and sun blockers. These are kept at the entrance under key. You will have to ask your cashier for it.

Restaurants: Churrasco is the magic word in Brazil but we only found one place where it was a relative pleasure to eat it – in all other places, the meat was un-chewable. Fish is always a good option. Shrimps are generally fresh and well prepared. Stay away from Italian Restaurants. They are miles away from Italian cuisine!

Nice solutions are again found in shopping centres. A very interesting system is the “por kilo” In restaurants with the “por kilo” ensign, you take whatever you like on the large buffets with good choice and pay per kilo – everything has the same price!

Sushi is probably the best “Brazilian” food! Brazil has the largest Japanese community in the world and therefore the preparation is genuine.
Beer is very good in Brazil. The breweries have access to the best quality of the most important ingredient to make good beer - Water! Brands like Brahma, Antartica Original, Scol and Bohemia are the most common sold beers in Brazil. Brazilians drink beer for lunch and dinner. It is served in chilled glasses draft or in ¾ bottles in thermo coolers.

Although the wine is excellent in Brazil (and becoming better) there is no wine drinking tradition in Brazil. The south of Brazil “terra gaucha” is the region with the largest wine production of Brazil. “Don Laurindo” and “Casa Valduga” are the most quoted wine producers in Brazil with exceptional red wines like DON LAURINDO MERLOT RESERVA 2007 12,5%vol and DON LAURINDO CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVA 2006 13%vol .

White wines are mostly barrique. You will enjoy whites like CASA VALDUGA GRAN RESERVA CHARDONNAY 2010 , CASA VALDUGA NATURELLE BRANCO 2010 and CASA VALDUGA ARTE BRANCO 2010 (Riesling, Pinot blanc & Flora California).
A “must” is to try the CASA VALDUGA PREMIUM BRUT 2006 or CASA VALDUGA 130 BRUT sparkling wines … absolute world class!

Tipping is not requested in Brazil but it makes the little difference!
You over tip = bad. You do not tip = bad.
A 5-10 % tip is adequate in most of the situations involving direct services.
Taxi drivers mostly own their own Taxi and do not expect tips. You might “tip” them for a “sight seeing tour” or if you use them for shopping.

Have always some small coins (25/50 cts) in your pocket to give to really poor people or street kids you find on your way - they’ll remember you! You are not able to finish your plate in the Restaurant? - take a “doggy bag” and leave it with the poor on your way back. You cannot help everybody but it’s a good thing to help a little bit on your way. Beggars are not persistant in this country if you do not give. Do not be rude, there is no need. Street kids are collecting plastic and aluminium trash to sell for a few coins to recycling companies. There are people here living with less than one dollar per day!

Santos and Guaruja:
(State of Sao Paolo)

Santos is the largest commercial harbour of South America. The entrance is easy and the tides do not give you a headache. Beware and keep clear of the Ferry boats round the area of 23°5925 S and 046°17,50 W - give way!

Here you will find everything you and your boat needs!
The best choice out of different options is probably the “Iate Clube” of Guaruja. Guaraja on the east side of Santos, connected with the “Balsa” Ferry boats to Santos. There are other Marinas but they are isolated.

The Ferry boat connection is round the clock and divided in three different services: a) for cars, b) for bicycles and c) for pedestrians. 2,40 Reals for the trip from Guaruja to Santos for pedestrians.
The other way round is free!

Guaruja is the “poor” side of Santos but has very good shopping in the centre and the more beautiful beaches like “Enseada”

The “Iate Clube” 23°59,22 S and 046°17.17 W has safe moorings and a 24/7/365 security.
Rua Funchal 1.140, Guaruja
Tel: +55 13 33484000
[email protected]
VHF 68, 74
SSB 4431.8 and 8291.1

The Club is for members only and you will not be allowed to use the club Restaurant or pool (anyway, nothing special there you’ll miss!).
But the mooring is good and safe and the staff is nice and helpful. Inside Fuel dock with prime quality Marine Diesel. Credit card accepted.

Outside of the “Iate Clube” (say Yatch Clube), you will find a series of good stores and work shops. 10 minute walking distance to the Ferry boat and Bus terminal. (right hand on the main road coming out of the Club). If you do not feel safe, at the gate of the Yacht Club, they will be happy to call a Taxi for you which will reach within a few minutes.

Technical assistance:
MCP is a famous and modern ship yard in Santos. The director Manoel Chaves and his daughter Karen will be of great help if you need any technical assistance in the area and make sure that the technicians you need will come to help you in reasonable time.
They both speak English very well.

GALATI MURAT is a maritime agency you can use if you want or need your paper work done.
Mr. Joao is the local agent of Galati Murat. +55 13 91725030, email [email protected]

Another very helpful contact may be ex-Brazilian Navy Capt. Abraham L. Rosemberg. He is a freelance broker, Yacht manager and a very nice and helpful person with good connections to all major harbours in Brazil. Email [email protected]

Shopping in Santos is best at the “Praia Mar” centre.
Shopping in Guaruja is best at the “Pao do Asucar” super market in the centre or in the beach.
Shopping centre at the “Pitangueiras Beach”.
Fish market is at the Ferryboat terminal in Santos.
Quality meat & wines at “Premium Beef” Rua Gov. Fernando Costa 41 in Santos.
Taxis are at the Fish market in Santos.

Well equipped and clean with some English speaking doctors and Emergency entrance is the “Hospital Ana Costa” in Rua Pedro Americo 50, in the Campo Grande district of Santos, (you need a Taxi)

English speaking and very nice dentist with a modern studio is Dr. Bruno Ribeiro Guimaraes. Avenida Conseilheiro Nèbias 580 in Santos.
Tel: +55 133 235 3413 [email protected]

If you want/need a local guide or a local sailor/fisherman contact my previous Stewardess Mayara and my first mate Mario. They will both be happy to help you around in the area.
Tel: +55 13 78134389
[email protected]
Mayara, is local, speaks English and is a Marine Biology Student.
Mario has excellent local knowledge, is a qualified Skipper, good engineer, a professional fisherman and a genuine guy - but does not speak English.

Salvador de Bahia:
(State of Bahia)

Av. Porto dos Tainheiros, 1704. Ribeira, Salvador
Tel: +55 71 33161406
[email protected]
VHF 16/68

The Marina is off the centre of Salvador. A quiet and safe place to leave the boat also for longer periods. There are a few foreign sailing yacht on the pier and Mr. Sandoval, a sailor himself, takes care about them in the absence of the owners.
Mr. Sandoval’s son has a private clinic with MRI and X-ray. For medical issues you are in good hands here.

First go to Waypoint (red buoy) 12°5373 S and 038°29,86 W wait for high tide! And go through the channel to the Marina at 12°54,82 S and 038°29,47 W – use Google Maps.

Director, Mr. Sandoval will wait for you and take your lines!

There is also a small Fuel dock next to the Marina. Mr. Sandoval will arrange for you.

The Restaurant in the Marina is very good. The place itself, Itapagipe, is poor but the people are nice. Precautions are wise and it is not recommended to go around alone during the night or to sleep on the beach. The locals of Itapagipe love to party from Sunday to Sunday and 24/24! At the Marina you will not notice the crowd and the party noise!

Mr. Sandoval will call you a Taxi for shopping and arrange a Taxi for a daily trip into downtown and the upper town of Bahia, the beautiful historical centre. Go and see the market square, have a sun downer at the lighthouse and see the church of N.S do Bonfim. Go to visit the enormous shopping centre in the “new town” or just relax on some beach and enjoy Bahian rhythms. The majority of locals are black Brazilians and this is what you can feel in the music and percussions. In Bahia everything is slow - “other” Brazilians say that even the way Bahians speak is slow.


We have not been in Natal but we had a positive contact with the Yacht Club of Natal
Tel: +55 84 32063377 and
Mr. Luzardo from the local Fuelstation (no credit cards accepted)
Tel: +55 84 32024402

(State of Cearà)

Mucuripe is an important commercial harbour and one of the most organized tourist centres of northern Brazil. I could be wrong, but it is probably also the last “civilised” place on your way north (or the first coming from north) I am not considering Belem, as Belem is difficult to get to due to currents and tides and – it is a long way up the Amazons river and far off the direct course.

The traditional Jangada boats have their origins here. These wooden jewels have amazing sailing performance due to the shape of the mast and sails, similar to Latin rigs. The Jangadas are still used by local fishermen and we see these little boats as far as 60 miles off coast doing their job. You will not see them on the Radar! There is not one single piece of metal in these boats. But they have strong white lights for fishing. Stay clear from them and don’t get in their way, they have long nets and they are doing a very heavy job handling the boat, the sails and the equipment – all by hand!

The local Yacht Club of Fortaleza does not have moorings and the club is strictly private.

There is a Marina west of the commercial harbour behind a giant wreck of a stranded tanker ship. At 03°43.06 S and 038°31,59 W
Call +55 85 91034984, Mr. Armando
VHF 16/74

The MARINA PARK HOTEL has good moorings and a pool Bar/Restaurant. It’s a safe place but personally I was not very impressed about the place. (we went to visit the Marina by tender and had lunch). No shopping facilities and no Fuel.

Best anchorage:
If you don’t use the mooring facilities of the Marina, drop the anchor in 3,5 m, good holding, muddy ground at 03°43.11 S and 038°28,89 W, just south of the commercial harbour. (you may move a little closer to the Jangada’s after a while and knowing Tonico - see below at the end).

From here you will see at approximately 73°T bearing, a white cistern with a green stripe and the letters BR. This is the only fuel dock in Fortaleza. But it’s not an official fuel dock and the only way to get fuel is with cash payment. The dock belongs to the local fishermen association – ASPEMARF.
Nobody speaks a foreign language. The manager is Mr. Josè Nilton Barreto, Tel: +55 85 86818352

Use this dock to go to the authorities but you cannot leave the tender there. Tide height is significant.
Ask for the Policia Federal. It’s within walking distance along the commercial harbour buildings. Here you will make Immigration. You’ll be send further 500 metres to the Custom office and maybe to the Health officer, than back to the Policia Federal.

Now you’ll be send to the Capitania – Coast Guard which is actually in front of your anchorage at approximately 130°T bearing low white building with a grey coast guard vessel moored in front.

You are not allowed to enter the building from sea side but only from the road side.

Well, when you have completed these tasks, it’s probably time to go for a sundowner on the beach. Good luck. But the good news is, I found all officers extremely nice. Also the coast guard tender may come by and see you. Very nice guys and they’ll take their shoes of without you having to tell them!

At around 180°T bearing you will see the Yacht club, after that you will see the anchorage area for the local Jangadas. Go to west end of the anchorage area. There are a few tourist boats like the “Atlantida” moored and you’ll see a stranded, 20m motor yacht on the beach. If you go close to shore with your tender and loudly shout “Toniecoo” you probably will meat the nicest man on the beach! Tonico is a retired fisherman and owns a small rowing Jangada. He sleeps on a fishing boat and is a sort of guardian for local boats. He well take your tender for a small fee and watch it while you go on shore. He will taxi you from shore to the boat and back. These rowing Jangadas are used to bring tourists to the excursion boats and back.

Armando de Gregori
MY "Red Pearl"

Our thanks to Captain Armando de Gregori for this wonderfully detailed report.