Posting from Rene & Danny - Cat Mousses - 24/05/2013
Hello Silvio& Lilian,
Finally, I have taken the time to write my comments on our visit to Brazil. We are just about to arrive in Bermuda. Our plans are to stay there for one week and then set sail for Canada. We are all very excited to get back home. Hope all is well with both of you!
One aspect of our preparation to visit Brazil (which we did not fully appreciate until we arrived on site) was the word translation exercise that we did with you on our SSB NET underway. It is essential to enjoy a visit to Brazil to have at least some knowledge of the basic words in Portuguese because we rarely found someone that would speak either French, English or even Spanish. We carried our word list with us everywhere and it proved to be extremely useful.
We obtained our visas from the Brazilian consulate in Cape Town and the process, although long (10 days), was easy to follow.
Fernando de Noronha
It is a nice place to stop en route from St-Helena. The only problem is that they now charge outrageous amounts of money to cruisers to visit the island. A detailed list of charges can be found on noonsite. I have talked to many cruisers while there and they all cut short their visit because of the price of visiting. We were supposed to stay there 5 days and only stayed 2!! The anchoring fee is the most expensive I have ever seen in the whole world for one of the swelliest bay I have visited!!!!
There is a bus to get to the closest town for shopping but renting a dune buggy is the best way to get around. When we rented the dune buggy we realized that to get to the nicest beaches you had to have another permit, which you had to purchase for around $50 US per person. You could only buy a 10 day pass, (nothing for casual visitors) so we ended up not visiting those beaches. It is a little sad considering that cruisers we met did not stay more than 2 days.
Although far from mainland Brazil, it was fairly easy to get fruit and vegetable from the main store, nicely welcomed after this passage from St-Helena. It is a shame that Fernando has become expensive this way because it has so much to offer, but you can't appreciate it because of the overall price to visit.
We decided to visit Natal because we had to bring our crew back so he could catch a flight to go back to Canada and chose to stop there based on Silvio and Lilian’s good comments about that place. When you are around 30 NM from Natal, you start meeting a flotilla of fishing vessels and it is essential to be on the lookout when you arrive at night, we met many of them anchored in 120 feet of water. It was an easy entrance into the river. The anchorage close to the marina is very safe security wise and offers good holding.
The marina staff were very helpful and we were allowed four days free usage of their facilities which included showers and internet. Starting day five you had to start paying to use their facilities and it was not cheap. There is a fresh fruit and vegetable market within walking distance but to do some serious shopping you have to take a bus which is taken just outside the gate. We were told that it was unsafe to walk around the neighborhood at night so we didn't. It is a large city with everything one may need, as long as you can make yourself understood.
We visited a fort close by and got there walking during the day. Our best experience was the dune buggy ride in Genipabu. We organized a trip for the seven of us that lasted all day. They picked us up at the yacht club around 09h00 and we came back around 17h00. It cost 300 Reais (R$) per buggy and was a day well spent being driven by a chauffeur in the local dunes. Thanks for the advice!
We really enjoyed our visit to Brazil and wished that we could have stayed longer. This visit was just our first visit and we will be coming back but this time with a better knowledge of Portuguese. Away from the cruising routes, Brazil is worth exploring but one has to keep in mind that it is not a cheap destination.