Want to sail one?
Hitching a Ride – This is the most adventurous way of sailing a jangada. Go to a fisherman in some of the places we will mention here and ask him if you can join him for a day while he goes fishing. Potentially this is also the most risky way of getting to know the jangada.
Although even a jangada needs to carry life vests by law, do not expect the same standards of safety you are used to while sailing yachts or dinghies.
The fishermen will probably ask you for money since strictly speaking you are passenger. Agree on the price beforehand. Keep in mind the general rules we gave earlier on the homepage for these type of ventures. You have the best opportunity of finding the last traditional fishermen in Ceará state.
There is a very small chance you will encounter a fisherman with a jangada de piuba, a log jangada. The only ones left are used for excursions and there are still an estimated fifty of them. You have most chance of finding one in Maceio in the state Alagoas. The preferred choice of boat for the jangadeiros is the jangada de tabua made of industrial wood.
Whatever you choose it will be an adventurous day. You can even decide for a trip lasting several days, if you can prove to the owner of the boat and the fishermen that you will not be a danger to them and the safety of the boat. However, we know of very few non-fishermen who have had the courage to spend more than a day on a jangada.
The maximum number of crew depends on the size of the jangada. It is usually between 3 and 4. If you do not speak fluent Portugese you need to bring a translator with you. This means that there will be only two to three experienced crew members on board, additional to you and your translator, which will decrease the likelihood for the mestre, the captain, of a good catch. In other words: you need to pay for your trip.
Ask outsiders in the village nearby what a reasonable fee for such a trip would be. You will sleep inside the small hull of the jangada and it will be the most claustrophobic experience of your life. In the chapter ,Where can you find jangadas´ is a list of the places where you can find these vessels
Renting a Boat – Renting a boat is different from ´hitching a ride´. Any jangadeiro will take you on a trip when he is not fishing at sea. He will be the captain and you are the paying passenger. These trips are strictly speaking charter trips and can be for a few hours or the whole day, or until one of the passengers gets seasick. Depending on the community/city you can book them at your hotel. Or just go to the beach and arrange it directly with the owners of the boat.
Jangada at sea, Canoa Quebrada, Brasil, 2007 © Mario Kojima
Renting a boat is also a great way of getting to know the jangada as a sailing craft, and it will sometimes introduce you to the life of the fishermen. If you want to get to know the boat itself better you can hire one on some beaches without a helmsman. You´ll be responsible for the boat and you´ll do be the skipper. This is only advisable if you have previous experience with the jangada and are a very experienced sailor, especially with relatively unstable dingies. Remember that jangadas are the livelihood of the fishermen and very few would trust their boat to anyone.
Here are the names of hotels in Ceara state where charter trips are offered in jangadas. The list is not exhaustive. Before you go to sail a jangada confirm with the hotel whether they still organize trips or whether in the vicinity of the these hotels jangada charters are still available.
There is, however, one place where you have most chance of arranging a jangada trip in a hassle free way. This is in Prainha de Canto Verde. A Swiss guy called René Schärer together with his local friends built up a community project around the jangadas. They organise an annual ,ecological jangada regatta. To contact Scharer directly: fishnet(at)uol.com.br
There is also a community tourism network for other coastal communities in the state of Ceará. Their name is Tucum and they too might be able to help you
Building a Boat – The jangada is a small fishing boat with one of the most gracious sails in the world. However, as opposed to for example Pacific outriggers, they are not popular boats to build by amateur boat builders in the Western world. One of the reason might be that due to the shape of the hull their maximum speed hardly exceeds seven knots. The only occasion we know of where jangadas have been built by Westerners is in France during a Brazilian-French cultural festival in Nantes, in 2003 (see link). Some building maps they provided are here.
Jangada, Ceara State, 2008 © Carlos Olimpio