Vagabund Log

Fernando de Noronha

Passage Recife to Ilha Fernando de Noronha 

and Ilha Fernando de Noronha

17th July 2013 Wednesday

With the turn of the tide we fill Vagabund belly with diesel at Iate Club de Recife that is close to Pernumbuco Iate Club. 


We were ready for our last destination in Brazilian water. The first day was an easy sail with the asymmetrical G2 and a following sea and a south wind. The first night was the usual gusts to work through.


18th July 2013 Thursday

The wind was backing from South to ESE and the wave direction changed more towards East. These changes made our ride less comfortable. The mainsail screecher were flying. With one of the adjustments to the the screecher the loop sheet derailed from the rotating drum, causing it to wrap around the furler and jamming it. The bowsprit with tangled sheets were overhanging the open sea with more than a meter. We were both sitting down on the front deck to figure out how we would overcame the newest challenge when a rogue wave splashed up all over the bow. Much to the delight of our captain I took most of the onslaught and was soaked from head to toes. Three hours later we got the screecher fixed. The wind angle has changed more towards the bow and we had to settle to fly the genoa and main, beating at close haul (to be able to maintain the minimum coarse over ground).


The waves were breaking over the bow and inside all loose things had to be stowed away. 


Later that day it was Zack's turn to be sprayed by seawater (much more to my delight). We knew our last night will be a night of beating into the wind. The fresh breeze wind helped us to overcame the strong current (1,5 kts) on the beam and only just allowed us to maintain our course towards the island.


19th July 2013 Friday

With daybreak we were still beating with the southeast on the bow.


A five-degree up or down makes a difference of two knots. Carefully we had to calculate boat speed, drift, wind as well as our angle that we had to get to reach our final destination in Brazil. It was misty and at midday the island was visible. 


From far off the highest peak of the island Morro do Pico could be seen.


We sail into Baia de Santo Antonio on the northeast of the island. At the end of the bay is a small L-shaped jetty on the riprap breakwater. We anchored on sand in 16m water on the edge of the restricted zone of the marine park. 


20th July 2013 Saturday

At the marina office we paid a fixed charge for anchoring of R$ 68,19 per day. You also have to pay an environmental preservation tax of R$68,60 per day per person (the first day is free of charge). To be able to visit the beaches you have to pay another fee of R$130 per person that is valid for 10 days to the National Marinho.  Our total payment of taxes for 5 days were R$ 965,75 (R4359-23).  This jewel of Brazil is one of the most expensive places to visit but still worthwhile. We were glad that we made the choice and even the beating and stiff prices faded in our memory as we enjoyed the beauty of this archipelago.


Facts of Wikipedia

“Fernando de Noronha (Portuguese pronunciation: [feʁˈnɐ̃du dʒi noˈɾõɲɐ]) is an archipelago of 21 islands and islets in the Atlantic Ocean, 354 km (220 mi) offshore from the Brazilian coast. The main island has an area of 18.4 square kilometers and had a population of 3,012 in the year 2010. 

The islands of this archipelago are the visible parts of a range of submerged mountains. Consisting of 21 islands, islets and rocks of volcanic origin, the main island has an area of 18 km² (7.1 miles²), being 10 km (6.2 mi) long and 3.5 kilometers wide at its maximum. The base of this enormous volcanic formation is 756 m below the surface. The main island, from which the group gets its name, makes up 91% of the total area; the islands of Rata, Sela Gineta, Cabeluda and São Jose, together with the islets of Leão and Viúva make up the rest. 

In the late 18th century, the first prisoners were sent to Fernando de Noronha. A prison was built. In 1897 the government of the state of Pernambuco took possession of the prison. Between 1938 and 1945, Fernando de Noronha was a political prison.The island was covered in forest until the 19th century, when it was cleared to prevent prisoners on the island from building rafts. The islands are now predominantly covered by shrubs, with some areas of recently planted secondary forest. Many of the plants on the island today were introduced by people.

In 2001, UNESCO declared Fernando de Noronha, with Rocas Atoll, a World Heritage Site. The reasons for this were a) the island's importance as a feeding ground for several species, including tuna, billfish, cetaceans, sharks, and marine turtles, b) a high population of resident dolphins and c) protection for endangered species, such as the hawksbill turtle and various birds.

Nowadays, Fernando de Noronha's economy depends on tourism, restricted by the limitations of its delicate ecosystem. The life above and below sea is the main attraction of the island. Sea tortoises, dolphins, albatrosses and many other species are frequently observed.”

By taking the local bus we managed to get a good overview of the island. It took us an hour to drive to the other side of the Island and back. Extra notes and remarks of the places were made on the map as we identified it on our route. Lunch was enjoyed in a restaurant overlooking the beauty and splendor of the harbor and bay.


The afternoon was spending snorkeling in crystal-clear water around the port of Santo Antonio. 


We watched the sunset from Saint Peter's Chapel where you have a look out over the secondary island Ilha Secundarias as well as over the harbour with the breakwater with the mooring area in the background and Morro do Pico. 


21st July 2013 Sunday

With our dingy we visited the magnificent beach of Praia da Cacimba do Padre with clear sparkling water. Underneath was as pretty as above the water.


The afternoon we sort out our diving gear. We dived to end of our anchor chain to inspect our anchor in 16m water and could also tweak our diving equipment to be ready for diving the next day.

22nd July 2013  Monday

At 7h15 we joined up with Agaus Claras Diving onboard their well-equipped and comfortable catamaran (even a toilet). On the way to the diving spot the dive briefing was done and we were able to kit up.


Our first dive was at the furthest Western point of the island at Sapata Vacena with the end of the dive entering a cave. We saw a Spotter Eagle Ray as well as several rays lying camouflaged on the sand.


On our way to the second diving spot we passed the beach Praia da Cacimba do Padre with the clear water.


Our second dive was at Lajez Irmaos. It was if you were diving in an aquarium. We also saw three reef sharks of about a meter length swimming past us. Especially the first dive is rated one of our best dives ever. 


The afternoon we rented a beach buggy (pronounced boogy) to explore all possible angles of the island.


23rd July 2013 Tuesday

It was pouring down with wind gusting up to 28 knots. We spend a lazy day on Vagabund with our body’s recovering from the previous days excursions.  Midday we went to shore to do some shopping. The main thing was to exchange money as all the taxes and buggy has sucked up our local currency at an alarming rate. After 2 ATM and a bank we still could not draw money. Dollars saved the day and could be exchanged at the local diving shop.


24th July 2013,Wednesday

On the subaquatica (glass bottom boat with a bow hydrofoil) we saw the spectacle of spinner dolphins that is a trademark of Fernando de Noronha.

The buggy was used to explore the different beaches. Various tracks where followed in the coastal forest to lead us to spectacular look out points one of which was the view over Baia do Sueste.

Leao beach is the green sea turtles spawning place and sanctuary.

Time was running out to quickly. The sea breeze was calling us and the promise of the unknown harried us up.  At three we visited the Capitania dos Portos for our final saida out of Brazil. With some extra bureaucracy we managed to lift Vagabund's anchor just before six and set sail. The Island have a special place in our hearts and we could still see the profile of land as the light faded away.

Thank you Brazil for allowing us to explore your boundaries. We are thankful and we have enjoyed the opportunity. The diversity is mindboggling but the most rememberable is the friendly people of Brazil. Thanks to each and every one of you!