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Sunday, April 08, 2012

April 8, 2012-The Amazon Dilemma

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Six hundred miles northwest of Fortaleza lies the Amazon River Delta. Sailing into the Amazon has a lot of appeal to us. We would not have to go far, just a couple of hundred miles, and we could stop at some Amazon river towns such as Belem on the south bank and Macapa and Vila Amazona on the north shore, stay a few days, then return to the ocean and head further north. How can we sail past the Amazon River and not experience it?

But there are significant security concerns.

First of all, books we’ve read report that the two most risky places for yachts in Brazil are Fortaleza, where we are now, and the mouth of the Amazon, where we want to go. We know full well the security issues in Fortaleza and we know how to avoid trouble: we keep the boat in the marina and out of the main anchorage. But there is no marina at the mouth of the Amazon, just endless river channels with little population and no police presence. Anchoring in remote places within the river is said to be dangerous.

We know that four or five boats have been robbed in that area in last four or five years, some in the towns, but at least one while anchored in a remote area. Anchoring in these remote places is virtually required to avoid travelling at night, when hitting debris is a big risk, or going against the strong currents which reverse direction every six hours. That small number of occurrences does not seem like very many, but the fact is that only few yachts go there at all and maybe the odds are not as good as we’d like.

We were worried about this and as of yesterday had not made a decision.

Then we met a couple of boats which have just come down the coast. The crew of Mila, a South African yacht, was chased at gun point while in the town of Belem. The other yacht, a Brazilian flagged vessel, has just passed through the same area and told us that the first hundred miles of the river was very dangerous. They know some local people there who do not go through that area without armed guards. They said the coast is OK, but not the river.

OK, that does it. We are not going into the Amazon.

This is sad for us because we’ve already bypassed the Red sea and Europe due to piracy risks in the Indian Ocean and now it seems that we need to skip some interesting parts of Brazil.

Plus, the Caribbean itself has some problems and that’s where we are going next so the whole cruising experience seems less fun and more dangerous now than it used to be.

It’s something we don’t like but we have to accept.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Fortaleza Centro

But in the meantime we’re enjoying Fortaleza. For the last week or so we’ve been exploring the nearby central area of Fortaleza and some of the beaches.

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Beach Volley Ball

And for the last two days we’ve been watching a beach volleyball tournament which has been fun and which reminds us of the many beach volleyball games we’ve played in years past.

These things take our minds off the unpleasant realities of the next few legs.

We’ve got to face them soon enough.

Click here and here for more photos of Fortaleza

Click here for more volley ball shots

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Fortaleza Brazil

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Blogger jan roswold brown said...

Oh well ... We can share stories and pics of the Amazon river. Not the same but safe. :)
Don't know what's ahead, or where, or when, but your bro & sis will be there with hugs.

09 April, 2012 18:33  

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