Don’t rely on skyhooks when visiting Fortaleza. Read this and save yourself time and money.
While I would like to take all the credit for gathering the following information, it was in fact a joint effort, with contributions from the many yachtsmen moored at Marina Park in May/June 2011.
I’ll start with the basics:
The water from the taps at the marina is of dubious quality (some days it flows yellow). Fill your tanks with it only if you have amazing filters or only use tank water for washing and showering.
Drinking water can be delivered to your yacht in 20 liter bottles (5 Real a Bottle). You can either catch up with the truck that delivers for the hotel 3 times a week (it parks just opposite the pontoon entrance in the morning) or you can give Ligou Chegou a call on 32121402 (the office), 30877972, 30941849, or 86861006.
Why they have so many phone numbers is a mystery to me but take note that they will also fill your cooking gas bottles for a fair price (3 Real per Liter).
If you have trouble calling, their shop can be found as follows:
Walk across the freeway opposite the hotel (near the BR petrol station because the condemned buildings opposite are a hive for drug addicts, stay well clear day and night. Don’t take the stairs. Don’t take the bridge).
The road you follow to town is called Sem. Pompeu.
It takes you past a large mustard colored building (more on that later).
Take a right (onto Rua Dr. Joao Moreira) and you will come across a bus station / flea market.
At the diagonally opposite end of this bus station square you will see fishing tackle shops (look for nets hanging outside).
Follow the road (Rua Castro e Silva) and you will see the water bottles outside the Planeta Agua shop.
Retracing your steps to the square with the buses and flea market, take an immediate right and follow the road (Rua 24 de Maio for 2 blocks) to a small supermarket (on the left called Mercadinho Lene).
This is the closest to the marina. A couple of shops further up is a butcher.
The nicest (but somewhat overpriced) supermarket is Pao de Acucar, one street up from the night markets at Beira Mar.
It boasts free WiFi at the cafe inside (but no power outlets). Free Internet is a issue in Fortaleza. It’s 20 Real for an hour from the Hotel! Try the Internet cafe next to McDonalds for a better rate or buy a long range WiFi antennae for your boat.
The previously mentioned mustard building (with arched doorways) is a tourist center and contains many small shops. You will find a Bank of Brazil Automatic Cash dispenser here. Cover the keypad with your hand when using the cash machines in Brazil, two crews have already had their bank accounts emptied by thieves employing hidden cameras and card duplicators.
If you follow the Pompeu road rather then taking a right to the bus station, you will reach several pedestrian only crossroads. Taking a left at the first or second will take you to the main square.
If you need to stock up on pharmaceuticals the place to do so is here (on the side of the square with the taxi rank).
Head toward the obvious landmark of the cathedral if you want to buy a hammock (Fortaleza has the cheapest), and stock up on pet food or souvenirs. There is a post office here.
Diesel is purchased at the BR station just to the left of the hotel as you exit the foyer. You will have to carry your Jerry cans unless you are willing to part with 30 Real to entice a taxi driver to help.
A word on Taxi drivers. Make sure the meter is running when you catch a ride. Complain if it is not. It should be on setting 1 during the day and setting 2 at night. Otherwise agree on a price beforehand.
Share a taxi to get your paperwork done as only the skipper needs to attend (must take crew passports).
For Fortaleza you visit 4 offices starting with the Federal Police, followed by customs, Health and the Port Captain. Wear long pants!! The same (less Health) on the way out. The officials are efficient and polite.
You can take the 52 bus to the Passenger Terminal where these offices are located (Look for a submarine conning tower as a landmark). Take the number 11 on the way back (2 Real per person per trip). Don’t walk!
Going out you can book a free ride on the Hotel Bus which takes guests to Beira Mar (and it’s night markets). You need to reserve your place with reception. You can also catch this bus back (check times with the driver).
Note: There is an aquatic center opposite the night markets where divers can get their air tanks refilled.
Beira Mar is where everyone goes for their evening promenade. It also has the best beach (Praia do Futuro is a tourist trap, even though there is a free bus from the hotel, give it a miss).
There is a new building going up (called landscape), and just opposite this development is a sweet day anchorage (03’43,404S 038’29.881W). If you get organized, 3 to 4 boats could anchor here indefinitely (in 3 to 4 meters) by keeping a rotating watch (to discourage night swimmers).
The beautiful people hang out at Boteco (on the western end of Beira Mar) opposite the pier, or at the Centro Dragao (great pizza there at Buoni Amici’s Sport Bar!).
Go to Pirata on a Monday night (Half price for guests… see reception), or take in a concert at Mucuripe (wild!). Too lazy? Don’t go anywhere… Some of the best concerts are held in the Marina Park grounds,in which case your entertainment is free.
I’ll leave you to discover the rest yourselves… Enjoy!