Belated Report on Fernando do Noronha

Mina2 in the Caribbean - Where's The Ice Gone?
Tim Barker
Sat 15 Dec 2012 16:52

Sally has taken on the challenge of writing the blog on our visit to Fernando de Noronha. Carefully crafted, it is now ready for publication. I loved it!:


Report on our stop at Fernando de Noronha (December 4-6th 2012) ( rather a little delayed I’m afraid!)

Our batteries recharged with a more up-market anchor nip than usual – a touch of bubbly to celebrate Larry’s birthday, we limped ashore with a still rather sick outboard engine and found a very helpful lady at the Visitors Centre who sorted us with transport to explore the island and a guide to take us snorkelling.

Fernando de Noronha 300+ miles off the NE corner of Brazil, and only accessible to most by small plane, is beautifully unspoilt having no hotels, only locally run ‘pousadas’ - typically family homes with a few extra rented rooms. No cruise ships are allowed to stop.  It is a low key holiday destination extraordinaire, a little gem, totally unspoilt and heaven for divers, snorkelers, and surfers.

It did not take Tim and I long to realise that our rental ‘car’, the ‘Yellow Peril’,  a buggy with huge wheels, rock hard suspension, 2 seats and space on the back for 2 more to hang on for grim death -  was the best birthday treat Larry could have been given. For the next 2 days he relived his youth, pretending he was doing the Round Brazil Rally, but on Noronha’s ‘roads’.  Well, the main road was really quite impressive, well tarmacced, straight and fast – and was called the Trans Noronha Highway!  Every other ‘road’ we soon discovered had been made by no doubt very angry political prisoners when the island had been a penal colony.  They had obviously vented their fury by making these ‘tracks’ as vertical, lumpy and pot-holey as possible out of uneven shaped ‘cobbles’ or lumps of granite. Le Mans style driving and these surfaces do NOT go together and we were soon crying for mercy from Stirling Moss!

When we stumbled upon our first beach we were in total awe.  Some ‘beach’!  A mile or two long expanse of pristine sand, skirted by luscious forests and staggering  towering granite pinnacles - with NO people and no developments – not even a beach bar!  Brazil it appears awards 5 stars to only four beaches in the WHOLE country – and THREE of them were right here on this island!  We sampled the water – at 28.5*C – a pretty decent temperature for the bath we had been looking forward to for 2 weeks! 

One way and another, it seems this whole trip has been dogged by drama after drama – some very serious and certainly expensive to get fixed, some just mildly frustrating. On our way back to the boat that first night, Tim suddenly announced he had lost his glasses – serious stuff as effectively he was now blind, especially when trying to dodge ships on watch at night. We were more than concerned. He had no spare pair. Our very lives are at risk. A search plan was put into action. We retraced our steps which included searching a whole half mile of beach in the fast fading light!! Needle in a haystack chance! Totally laughable and a waste of time!  But just as we were driving away some beautiful little local boy suddenly appeared with his specs! Unbelievable! The gods are with us all and particularly with Tim. It was more than time he had some luck.

As usual, when doing ‘a run ashore’ we had to continue our serious survey on the best capirinhas (cocktails of ice, loads of limes and cachaca (white rum)) in Brazil. A bar happened to fall into our path home and 2 hours later we started to find our way back to Mina2 in the dinghy at only 6pm but – in the pitch black, with no torches, no radio and a still very unhappy outboard engine!  Capn Tim had us safe though, as we eventually found Mina2 before we drifted off into the bowels of the South Atlantic! A salutary lesson as we had no mobile phone either between us with which to call Falmouth Coastguard whilst we still had a signal!  (For you land-lubber blog followers – the British CG at Falmouth is THE worldwide distress co-ordinating station-yes! They would have helped us even in Brazil!).

Next day at 0800 we rolled up at our guide’s house ready for the day’s snorkelling adventures.  Kevin had been recommended as he spoke English. He was superb! We were taken to a series of stunning bays with blue, blue pools of crystal clear water – which would not have been out of place in films like The Lord of the Rings. We swam through huge shoals of sardines, many multi-coloured reef fish, turtles and saw a massive shark. Several of the 26 beaches are maternity wards and nurseries for egg-laying and newly-hatched turtles, so restrictions are in force as Noronha and its 21 islands is a massive National Marine Park, which in 2002 was added to the Unesco World Heritage List.

Sad to be leaving this amazing place, we started to weigh anchor about 5pm. Not to be.  Again poor Capn Tim had to be tested. Our anchor was fouled on probably the only rock in the whole sandy anchorage.  Well and truly.  An hour later, in the now dark, and just as we were about to give up and thinking we would have to pay a diver in the morning as it was too deep for us, Lawrence suggested pulling from yet another angle and ……we were free!! Thank goodness for a strongly built Oyster (yacht) and a big Rocna anchor- none other could have withstood the strain we had had to apply and come out totally unscathed!

Greatly relieved to be free of the sea bed, but sad to be leaving such a lovely island, we set sail west for our next destination 5 days and some 800 miles away.