Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
An Expensive, but Beautiful Place

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Arriving in Fernando de Noronha
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Our third Atlantic crossing is completed.

The trip from Ascension to Fernando de Noronha took 8 days and we had mostly favourable, but light winds and were able to sail most of the time. The following seas and swell combined with the slow speed made it a very rolly journey, quite uncomfortable at times. At night we had company from small black birds that refused to move away even when I tried top pull them of the rail by hand! One night I heard Malla screaming as half a dozen birds tried to get into the cockpit. Almost as from a sceen of Hitchcock's film. Every morning we found several dead flying fish on the deck.

Just before departure from Ascension we discovered that our LPG gas bottle had been leaking and as no gas was available at Ascension we faced the prospect of not being able to do any cooking during the trip. Fortunately Elaine had a small extra bottle with some gas left that they let us borrow. There wasn't much gas in the bottle, so we had to plan the cooking carefully and only prepare meals that required minimal cooking time. When we arrived in Fernando, to our horror, we couldn't get gas there either: the bottles were different from ours and we couldn't find any regulators on the whole island! I have a huge collection of adapters and regulators, but none fitted the Brazilian bottle. So, no cooking until French Guyana now?

Fernando de Noronha is an archipelago of 21 tropical islands and islets about 220 miles from the Brazilian mainland; a World Heritage Site and a protected marine park. It is probably our most expensive stop ever. We had to pay roughly 500 USD for the 3 nights we anchored here, out on the rolly roadstead, hanging to our own anchor, no services included. Everything was very complicated, my Visa card didn't work, the banks did not change money, practically nobody spoke English. We filled our fuel tanks using jerry jugs, making several trips with the dinghy, which was quite difficult in the rolly anchorage. After several years in countries with affordable prices, the cost of living at Fernando was a shocking experience - almost as expensive as French Polynesia. The people were extremely nice, however, and the nature extraordinary striking and we rented a beach buggy, which was fun, but also necessary for transporting the fuel jugs.

We finally convinced the guy at the fuel station to sell us a propane bottle (normally they only swap them), but as we couldn't find a regulator anywhere on the island, we first didn't buy the bottle. But then luck strike. At the restaurant seen in the photo below I found the first person on the island who spoke good English, one of the waitresses, and I told her about our problem. She said she probably could help me and would try to locate a used regulator. And she did! The next day I got the regulator, but when I tried to pay for it I was told it was a present! Absolutely amazing.

View of the harbour from the restaurant where we also found an internet connection (photo by Elaine)
There are quite a few tourists at Fernando, but almost all of them are Brazilians from the mainland. Diving and sport fishing appear to be the main attractions and the harbour is full of dive operator boats and sport fishing boats. There were only three cruising yachts during our visit: Scorpio, Elaine and one catamaran.
We are planning to leave Fernando de Noronha on 9 March for Ile du Diable, also known as Devil's Island, in French Guiana. The distance is about 1,300 nm and we should arrive around 19 March. If we find internet there we will let you know. Otherwise we may not be able to update the web site until we arrive in Trinidad in April.