Sailing South America

Below I have described some of our experiences, as well as listed the places we’ve stayed at and the cruising guides we used. Our route began in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and followed the coasts of Uruguay and Brazil to the Caribbean. We spent most of our Brazilian cruising time in the Ihla Grande area.
Our Experiences
Picking up our boat in Argentina ourselves was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we are tremendously grateful for. Our original plan was to sail to the Caribbean over the course of a few weeks but we were so taken with southern Brazil that we changed our plans. The tropical climate, wildlife, quiet beaches, safe anchorages and moorings, and Brazilian hospitality made this adventure a cruiser’s dream.Our biggest challenge was not being able to speak Portuguese or Spanish, however, people were tremendously helpful and friendly and we were able to communicate somewhat with pictures and gestures. It helped to radio to our destination in advance even where there were no english speakers on the other end, as Catamaran seems to be a universal word and they at least knew something was coming. We were able to find chandleries along the way at major centres, with Angra dos Reis being the best place for repairs. Clearing Brazilian Customs and Immigration took time and patience and required lots of paper work for arriving as well as leaving our boat while we left the country. Office hours are limited and again language was a challenge but we always found officials to be helpful. We made sure we did as much as we could well in advance. Although we were told by locals that it was not always necessary to check in with Capitaine dos Portos (Port Captain office) at every port once we had cleared Customs and Immigration, we did wherever we could. For us it was a safety issue, as well as respect for the local authorities. If we ever got into trouble, officials would at least know who and where we were and there was a paper trail of our whereabouts. We relied on cafes for wifi which worked well in Argentina and Uruguay with more limited access in Brazil. 

Cruising Guides
“Cruising the Coast of Brazil” English Version, Updated 2008 edition by Marcal Ceccon. Produced by Rapunzel.This was an invaluable resource for our Brazil cruising. It is detailed and easy to follow. We ordered it off of the internet ( or before we left Canada at a cost of about $50.00 Canadian but it has been worth every penny. It takes about three weeks to get it.

“Admiralty Sailing Directions: South America Pilot Volume I”, sixteenth edition, 2008. Published by The United Kingdom Hydrographic Office. A comprehensive resource more geared to larger commercial vessels but provides valuable and detailed information regarding currents, tides, and harbours. Cost: over $250.00 Canadian.

“Brazil and Beyond” by Annie Hill. Published in 2000 by Tiller Publishing.A bit dated but interesting stories and some information on anchorages.

Moorings, Marinas and Anchorages Dec. 2010 - Apr. 2011

December 10-16 Yacht Club, Punta Del Este, Uruguay; Dock
Moderately protected but southwest winds were challenging to dock in. Immigration and Customs offices were at the dock but had very limited hours. Provisions within walking distance. High season (Christmas) is expensive and advance bookings are required for this time. We had the Yacht Club staff phone ahead to La Paloma to check for availability. 

December 16-19 La Paloma Port, La Paloma, Uruguay; Dock
A very small but protected dock. Docking was challenging due to high winds and small manoeuvering space. Customs office was at the dock but had very limited hours. Provisions within walking distance but no fuel at the dock. We hired a cab to haul fuel in containers. Radio in advance. 

December 23-26 Florianopolis, Brazil; Anchorage
A city of close to one million people. Tried anchoring in front of the city but the anchor dragged. Anchored north of the bridge across from the Port Authority. Our mast is too high for the bridge, therefore, we were committed to the north side. The Yacht Club is on the south side. This was our first check-in to Brazillian Customs and Immigration and they were unable to check us through customs because they were not a designated port. Itajai would have been a better option for official check in. Moved to anchorage on the east side of the bay 2 nm from the city for the lastr two nights. Great market downtown.

December 26 Porto Belo, Brazil; Anchorage
Anchored securely on the northwest side of the bay.

December 27-January, 1 Yacht Club Capri, Sao Francisco do Sul, Brazil; Dock
Very secure and protected dock with english speaking boaters. Great Club facilities (restaurant, laundry, showers). Worth the cost. Old city 30 minutes away by car. Provisions by cab. 

January 1-10 Ilhabela Yacht Club, Ilhabela, Brazil; Mooring Ball
Very reasonable rates included access to the club. Provisions within walking distance. 

January 10-12 Saco da Ribeira, Ubatuba, Brazil; Mooring Ball Picked up the red plastic oil jug for mooring near the outside of the moorings with help from a local boater. Light provisions within walking distance. 

January 12-17 Paraty, Brazil; Anchorage
Excellent anchorage across the bay from the city of Paraty. Returned several times.23 degrees 13.4 South Latitude44 degrees, 41.66 West Longitude

January 16 Saco de Mamangua, Brazil; Anchorage
Anchored past the small island in the fjord to a bay on the east side. Very secluded but lots of bugs.

January 18-19 Ilha do Cedro, Brazil; Anchorage
Anchored on the north side of the island. Protected and filled with herons. Nice beach and restaurants on the west side of the island. My favourite place.

January 20 Cunhambebe Island, Brazil; Anchorage
Small bay but a relatively secure anchorage. 

Jan. 21-23, 30-Feb 14 Enseado do Sitio Forte, Ilha Grande, Brazil; Mooring Ball
We called this bay home for three weeks, getting to know restaurant owner/operators Eduardo and Ana. Mooring balls are free and the mooring ball closest to shore has two fresh water hoses. We dinghied to snorkel sites and regularly ate at the restaurant. We took the island ferry “bus” to Angra dos Reis for provisions.

January 24, 25 Saco do Ceu, Ilha Grande, Brazil; Anchorage
Very protected. Great restaurants around the bay.

January 26-29 Enseada das Palmas, Ilha Grande, Brazil; Anchorage
Exposed to northeast winds but otherwise secure. 20 minute walk to the other side of the island and Lopes Mendes Beach, most beautiful beach on the island. Great floating bar/restaurant owned by Oly from Denmark. 

January 27 Angra dos Reis, Pirata’s Mall, Brazil; Anchorage
We anchored a few times near the marina breakwater. Noisy but close for provisions.

February 22-March 28 Brachuy Marina, Brazil; Anchorage
Left the boat here while we returned to Canada. Good security, okay prices; hired a car from the marina to take us to the airport at Rio de Janeiro.

March 28-April, 27 Passage from Bracuhy, Brazil to Chaguaramas, Trinidad
Provisioned along the way at Vitoria Yacht Club in Vitoria, and Jacare village near Cabadelo. Checked out of Customs and Immigration at Cabadelo. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you had a good experience along the Brazilian coast. I'm surprised you skipped Rio de Janeiro, my home town. For the record, for anyone reading this later, for now don't dock at Marina da Gloria in downtown Rio, as the bay is still poluted, and the marina very below average. The best marina by far is Iate Clube do Rio de Janeiro, just behind Sugar Loaf Mountain as you enter the bay.
    Safe Sailing!