According to popular belief, Pedro Álvares Cabral landed here in 1500 and that’s why the town was named Porto Seguro (Safe harbor). However, what is officially considered the first Portuguese landfall in Brazil is Coroa Vermelha, some 16 kilometers north.
Cabral sighted land most probably at Monte Pascoal, located between Cumuruxatiba and Porto Seguro, then sailed north and skipped Porto Seguro because the entrance in the river was not safe. When they reached Cabralia which is protected from the winds from the north and also the south, and this makes it a good anchorage, they went on land, erected a cross and held a mass to mark the occasion.
Apparently, it was only three years later Gonçalvo Coelho’s expedition arrived and planted a marker in what is now Porto Seguro.
The entrance into Porto Seguro is very tricky, because there are sand bars and reefs. Luckily, we met a fisherman at the entrance that guided us in. Anchoring in Porto Seguro is even trickier because there is very little room to swing, the currents are very strong (up to 4 knots) and you need to set bow and stern anchors.
This is what happened to a boat that was moored in the marina during the night:
We anchored very close to the channel where you have these strange ferries carrying cars and passengers from one bank of the river to the other, the nearest bridge being some 30 km away.
Of course having no experience in anchoring in rivers with strong current, the operation took us quite a while. By the time we finished, it was dark and I was exhausted. Of course, as soon as I get into the shower, the Navy shows up with their patrol boat and the blue and red light flashing.
They kindly informed us about the formalities and they had me promise that I would show up at their base the following day. Next morning both me and Joaquin, armed with a thick stack of paper, paid a visit to the Navy. The person in charge was very nice, and everything went well.
The town itself seems very touristic, with dozens of bars and restaurant. But being off season, we were probably the only tourists.
Leaving Porto Seguro was even trickier: my stern anchor, an aluminum Danforth anchor was stuck in the mud. Luckily, a fisherman come to my rescue and helped me retrieving it.
Then, my primary anchor got fouled with an old fisherman anchor. Luckily, Yuka and I were able to get the chain untangled.
Now we understand why most cruisers avoid Porto Seguro and opt to anchor in Santo André instead (some 10nm north). Then they take a bus to visit Porto Seguro. It’s just not worth the hassle.
We just come here because we thought this was the first Portuguese landfall in Brazil. And at the end we discovered that it was not.