Stranded in Brazil: How COVID-19 impacts some International Bluewater cruising yachts

Jacare Marina View from the River

Apr 21, 2020

Jacare Marina – View from the river

Complex problems faces American yacht SV Wavelength, who has been refused entry to Brazil with 72 hours notice to depart. The main issue is that SV Wavelength’s crew members have different nationalities. With the Caribbean shut down, the skipper, an American citizen, is considering either sailing back directly to USA, or otherwise leaving the boat in Brazil and flying home. Neither option is workable for his female Argentinian crew who would not be allowed to enter America and would therefore have to disembark in Brazil. “The Marina Manager has checked for me but there are no flights back to Argentina from here” she says.

SV Nero 4

The Canadian / American crew of Hawaiian registered long term cruiser SV Nero are battling a similar problem as SV Wavelength, even if right now they are not under quite as much pressure to leave Brazilian shores. Passionate sailor Glenda is a Canadian national from Calgary, whereas her husband and skipper Bob is an American citizen. Neither holds a residency permit for their spouse’s respective home country. “For Glenda to become eligible for the American Green Card, we would have had to live and physically stay in America for a number of years.” Bob explains. “Since such a long spell in the same place was not compatible with our sailing lifestyle, we simply never bothered with the Green Card application.”

Brenda and Bob aboard SV Nero

SV Nero was one of the yachts that were fortunate enough to slip into Brazil just before the sea borders closed, and they were duly issued by the Brazilian immigration authority with the standard 90-day tourist visa. Their original plan was to rest in Jacaré for a week, re-provision and continue on to Trinidad. “We were going to haul the boat out there and fly home to Canada and America for a well overdue visit to our family,” says Glenda. “Bob’s mother is ninety-two and mine is eighty-seven years old. At that age you take nothing for granted and we had been looking forward to spending some time with our moms. But then Trinidad closed its borders and that plan was scuppered.”

With the Trinidad option out of the window, the pair considered sailing their boat to the USA and booking Glenda on a flight to Canada from there. But then they got talking to Mark from SV Wavelength who had queried the matter of entry permissions for foreign crew with the American embassy, and realized that Glenda – as a Canadian citizen – would in all likelihood not be allowed to enter America, even on a temporary basis.

So where does that leave them? “Right now, we do not see any concrete way forward.” Glenda sighs. “We will just need to wait and hope that the travel restrictions are relaxed soon. I am of course worried and disappointed about the cancelled visit to my ageing mother, but for now there simply is no other option for us than staying put here.”

FishermenMost of the people in Jacare are fishermen

Most of the other cruising yachts that have opted to stay in Jacaré are of the same view – in this unprecedented worldwide crisis situation, Jacaré Marina Village provides a safe haven. At least for now… And there do seem to be niggling doubts in the sailors’ minds, seeing that all of the visiting yachts, without exception, have provisioned up to the rafters as a safety precaution, each carrying two or three months worth of food, with diesel, gas and water stocks likewise refilled.

One thing is for certain: At present, the community of international blue water sailors is getting a rather larger dose of adventure than they have bargained for!

Report authored by Monika Thomae, SV Harmoni,

Harmoni Monika Like everyone you know here in Canada, Monika is killing time in Brazil breaking bread and contributing to CYOB.

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