Jack with an intro by cap’n alex
23 February 2012 | Fernando de Noronha
After a stormy night of rain squalls we approached the island of Fernando de Noronha (known as the Galapagos of Brazil). I woke at 3 am for my shift. The wind had increased to 20 knots and we had to reduce sail to slow us down so we could have some light to sail in. As the sun rose the outcrop of the island revealed itself with a very LandBeforeTime look of jagged rocks with one rock in particular rising over 1000 feet to a pinnacle. I called all hands on deck and we started the morning by raising the staysail upside down.
Jack will take it from here.
We blasted into the island’s anchorage after sorting out the staysail with about 25 knots of wind from the bow. It was some of the most exciting sailing we had encountered after more than 3,000 miles of cruising the trade winds off our stern. Finally, we were sailing upwind in what seemed to be our own little regatta. With no engine we had to sail into the anchorage to where Captain Alex wanted to drop anchor. So, with the boat heeled over at 20 degrees, great winds and the spray of the sea, we battled our way through the anchorage full of moored boats. Tacking back and forth between the boats, ducking behind some and clearing others by only feet, we made our way to where we wanted to drop the hook and were soon busy on deck putting everything away.
Just minutes after our arrival, we were surrounded by a huge pod of dolphins. At least 100 of them, spinner dolphins, jumping and playing around the boat. Alex greeted them as our welcoming party. They eventually got bored with us and we dropped the dinghy (Holes 2) in the water and made our way around to the four other cruising sailboats that were anchored near us. (A number that once again lost me the “Ice Cream Challenge,” for the third time in a row.) The sailboat Momo, old German friends from South Africa, said they enjoyed watching us enter the harbor. We also met new friends, Frederick and Anna, from Sweden. We affectionately dubbed them “The Vikings,” and they proudly accepted their identity.
After checking in with Customs and the Port Captain, we made our way around the island. We met the Vikings for lunch and then headed for the beach. Just off the beach sits a massive rock, towering over the island.Alex was determined to climb it. It was my fear of heights that turned me around no more than a third of the way up. I turned back and chilled on the beach, watching the rest of the group disappear in the trees high above the island. It’s pretty difficult to blend in with the Brazilian beach crowd, seeing as I was improperly dressed. To fit in, you must first find the most flamboyant pair of flip flops possible as well as a colorful speedo, I don’t plan on fitting in.
That night, we rounded up The Germans and The Vikings and invited them to Bubbles for one drink. We later took the party to land as we had arrived in Brazil during carnival. It was a wild carnival night.
Diego and I woke up the next morning, and since Alex was’t back yet we left him a note, and headed for the beach. Fernando is known as one of Brazil’s best surf spots and rightfully so. The waves there are a great deal bigger than those on the U.S. east coast. Diego taught me the way of the waves, and the afternoon was a blast. I caught some pretty big waves and got destroyed by some others, a great chill day.
Fernando de Noronha is an exclusive tourist island, and the costs on the island reflect that. $100 US per day just for the boat to be anchored there and another $25 US per day for each person. Even finding water for the passage to Fortaleza was expensive. We had spent two days on the island, the window for good wind was closing and Alex decided it was time to leave. We said goodbye to the Vikings, sailing past them blowing our horn, and raised the sails as the sun dipped below the horizon. We caught our breeze and watched the lights of Fernando disappear from view.