Necessity is in Natal

Eva and Jan Fr. Mack
Tue 13 Nov 2012 17:22
Our position is 05:45:88S 35:12:30W
Recife was not our place. As mentioned the first marina wouldn't have us due to an ongoing audit. As it turned out, Policia Fedreal wanted nothing to do with us either, or so it seemed for a while. When you get to a new port in Brazil, you have to check in. You have to visit Policia Federal, the branch that deals with shipping. It is hard to see why we should see them coming from one Brazilian port to the other, but so it is. Challenge number one is to find out where they are. Policia Federal, the cicilian branch, had only a vague idea. A taxi was called. The driver had no idea, but started a search. We ended up at an unmarked gate, looking most of all like the gate to a prison (picture will be posted in the Norwegian blog). The armed guard confirmed, in Portuguese, that Policia Federal was there now and again, but not now. When? Hard to tell. We were well aware that not seeing them could result in a fine, so we went back to the civilian Policia Federal to ask how to reach these people. They were very helpful and agreed that the system sucked. They set up a meeting for the next day behind the bars in the mentioned prison looking premises. In the meantime we had a meeting with the "Capitania" (Port Captain - also to be visited). We spent the rest of the day doing some necessary provisioning.
The next day, the same gate, no Policia Federal. Back to the civilian branch, still helpful and English speaking. 20 telephone calls later they announced that the Policia Federal would turn up at the boat in a little while. We rushed back, and indeed, a police cutter turned up. It seems the man was not happy about our chasing him. At least he was in a somewhat somber mood. He wanted to search the boat. Fair enough, and he did without finding anything incriminating. He wanted to see ALL the papers related to Brazil. That is by now a considerable pile, and one that is a little complicated to read since the Brazilians often add comments to the forms by pen and stamp in somewhat unpredictable places. The man obviously thought he had something. We had overstayed - a very serious offence that can lead to impounding of the boat. I tried to point out the additional terms, but was ordered to shut up. "You are in my country" (poor country). Even officials don't order the skipper of a boat to shut up onboard their own boat. I got mad and he got even more adamant.
After a couple of skirmishes, he, together with the crew of the cutter did finally find out that the papers were in fact ok. They left, and the mood lifted. But Recife? We had enough and left after another visit at the "Capitania".
We are now in Natal in a very friendly, and very helpful marina. They even did the checking in for us. This is the Brazil that people invariably learn to love. And Recife? Just leave them alone.
jfm 13.11.12

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