Feeling Fabulous in Fernando!

There’s only one way to get around on Fernando and that’s in a buggy. However, with a pro-circuit surf competition on they were hard to come by! Eventually we found one while Aurora Polaris hired motorbikes, that and a bit of hitching and bussing meant we all managed to explore the island - not just the fabulous Bar de Maio, which we probably spent too much time in anyway!

The absolute highlight beach for me was Praia do Sancho - great walking along the cliff tops seeing the stunning land crabs (related to those in Christmas Island), and then a ladder through a cave down to the beach! It all has to be timed with the tides and there are set times for going down and different set times for getting back up - never the twain shall meet!

Also fabulous and unforgettable were the sunsets - particularly from above Boldro Beach, the walk to Baia dos Porcos (yes - Bay of Pigs) from Conceicao Beach (where the surf pro champs were taking place), walking the headland its tiny church at the north of the island near the anchorage, walking to the Forte São Joaquim do Sueste, and of course getting around in the buggy and hanging out with the guys from the other boats with us. We even had an award ceremony for the Gobows - with all taking away prizes for the likes of best fisherman, best chef, bravest crew, best hairdo, best radio voice and so forth.

All in all it was a great stop to finish off our Atlantic crossing and one we will never forget!

Squall spotting!

Leaving Ascension was not my favorite thing to do - I wanted to stay longer but then I may have never left! However, we had a hot and fairly uneventful eight day 1200 miles and eight day sail to the jewel in Brazil’s crown, the archipelago of Fernando de Noronho - famed for its surf and having the best beach in Brazil.

Our radar had stopped working so the key to this journey was squall spotting. We did an admirable job except one night when we missed it completely and were hit with sudden 30 knot winds and heavy rain with the full main up and the genoa out! Ouchh! We managed to control that - get the first reef in, drop the furled code zero to the deck, furl the genoa, get the main fully reefed, staysail out. Done!

Squally skies

Squally skies

Matt is in his element when the going gets rough - anything under 15 knots and he gets ants in his pants, code zero up, code zero down, genoa poled out, genoa pole in, engine on, engine off, and so it goes on. But when it’s 30-40 knots he’s all over it and rather than it being uncomfortable, it seems like his happy spot - he’s amazing at the helm!

Meanwhile, we spent most of our waking hours lolling around like seals trying to cope with the heat, (good thing we had a freezer full of ice blocks and air con if we really couldn’t cope), and being entertained by the daily Gobow quiz, and whatever wildlife or ships crossed our paths.

We had couple of terns hanging with us for a few hours mid journey, chasing the flying fish. We decided flying fish are quite smart as they seem to stop flying when the birds are hovering! Mind you, the one that managed to fly through the tiny window and straight into the head (toilet bowl) may not have been that smart. We also found a tiny stowaway - the cutest little crab that had somehow got into a shower.

Finally the day came we were going to arrive at Fernando. About three hours off anchoring we were joined by the famous spinner dolphins, local to this area. Spinner, because they jump high and do a 360! They were amazing - the length of time they stayed with us was extraordinary, but of course the minute I went down to do something was when they did their spinning! Oh well - it was wonderful to watch them for so long and the number of babies was incredible.

And then we were there - Fernando de Noronha. It is truly spectacular, with idyllic beaches, the best surf in Brazil, great walks, amazing food and jaw-dropping sunsets. The only negative is that it’s a rolly old anchorage and apparently we have timed it at its worst!

After checking in with Immigration and Customs and paying sizeable fees for landing and entering the National Park, we were ready to explore. I was excited to find my Spanish is useful and the Brazilian officials and I can make ourselves understood with the Spanish – Portuguese conversation!

Our first afternoon and night were spent exploring the headland above the harbour and at the best bar of the journey yet; the Bar de Maio – full of Brazilian life, music and fun. It is everything a bar could be with stupendous views to top it off.