What a marina… what a hotel… what a city!
Not a day goes by without something to entertain, amuse or horrify the visiting yachtsman. My last stop in Brazil is fast becoming the most interesting and I am becoming increasingly reluctant to leave. Nor am I the only one. Everyone else at the marina has already doubled the intended length of stay and with a few photos I’ll endeavor to show you why. But before I deliver the rave review, let me point out some of the perceived inadequacies…
It’s not the price that has us all enthralled with Fortaleza. In fact, the marina is absurdly overpriced (1 US dollar per foot per night) given the appalling state of the facilities.
The pontoons are disintegrating rapidly, connecting (or should I say wiring yourself in) to shore power is a risky affair (I didn’t dare), and water (if you can reach it) is of dubious quality.
However, a little price negotiation with the marina manager yields dividends. I paid 700 Real for the month and 35 to 40 footers managed the same amount (+- 50R) for two week stays. Oh, and you didn’t hear any of that from me… 😉
The big plus is that you get to use the Marina Park Hotel facilities and one dip in their pool will have you sold on the idea of an extended stay. Last chance to swim for nearly 2000 nautical miles… Why not enjoy it?
Perhaps it is a bit unfair to criticize the state of the marina so flatly. Only last week there was a hive of activity as a dozen or so INACE workers chipped rust, welded fittings, filled holes and daubed fresh paint all over the place. It was almost looking rather spiffy!
Unfortunately the renovations were limited to one third of the pontoons, those that were to be used in the commissioning of three new fast patrol boats built at the neighboring shipyard.
Two were built for the Namibian Navy (Terrace Bay and Mowe Bay) and a third (Anequim) was reserved for the Brazilians. For those of you interested in this sort of thing, have a look at this link.
The yachties, were assigned the other other end of the pontoons, given a pump to keep them afloat (I’m serious!), and left to their own devices.
Don’t expect to have marina staff lend you a hand with your warps upon arrival. Everyone relies on the good will of other sailors to move lines (strung across the entrance) or to help yachts maneuver to a safe mooring.
This fellow didn’t have any marina friends…
I’ve probably frightened most potential visitors away by now, but I assure you that Marina Park is no junkyard. It’s the ultimate in luxury! Only the owners of that 100 footer (called Atrevida and registered in Rio De Janeiro) seemed to think it was a tip; depositing their mounds of refuse in front of Eileen of Avoca and expecting a non-existent pontoon cleaning staff to deal with it…
If you come across the owners, tell them their rubbish is still waiting for them to collect in Fortaleza. I’m not their cleaner!!!
One last horror story before I get to the good stuff! Despite our best efforts (including getting up at 4am for pump duty), Marina Park marina is now significantly smaller than it was a week ago. The above-pictured pump died in a squall over the weekend and with all the electrics shorted (and nobody at the hotel willing or able to lend a hand), three more pontoons have sunk.
Surely none of the above will put you off visiting Fortaleza!
Remember, it’s only a minor maintenance issue… nothing serious…. According to my South African friend John, Brazil glories in its state of advanced entropy. Maintenance just doesn’t appear in the Brazilian vocabulary, and in his words the whole country is: “Run-down”.
Due to certain redeeming features upon which I will soon elaborate, I remain ambivalent on this issue.