It’s time for another slightly different perspective on this adventure. Dantelle has written this story.
I have been welcomed into a country in many different ways, but one experience that will always stick with me is the one we had in Fernando de Noronha, a small island off the coast of Brazil. As we were approaching the anchorage we were greeted by a playful pod of dolphins, jumping out of the crystal clear, turquoise water, doing flips. A truly remarkable sight! After anchoring next to the local fishing boats, we set off to Customs and Immigration. Besides the language barrier, it was a delightful experience.
After a good night’s rest, Lloyd and I set off to explore this stunning island. With snorkels and flippers under each arm we headed to the Marine Park. It is home to turtles, dolphins, reef sharks, manta rays and many more tropical fish.
Our first stop in the Marine Park was Sancho beach, known as the most beautiful beach in Brazil and popular for its snorkelling. I have never been snorkelling, so I was buzzing with excitement to have my first snorkelling experience. What brochures tell you is that you walk through a forest-like trail for about 5 minutes and then you’re greeted by a spectacular sight, what it doesn’t tell you is that you have to descend down two ladders of about 5 metres, through narrow rock tunnels and then walk down steep steps to get to the actual beach. It felt like Jacob’s Ladder from St Helena island all over again.
After a snorkelling lesson from instructor Lloyd, we made our way to the water. I have to admit, I wasn’t blown away by the sea life that we saw. A few colourful fish here and there and some rocks, but nothing worth writing home about. We decided to check out some of the other beaches in the Marine Park instead, with hopes of finding some better snorkelling spots.
We walked 3.5km to Sueste beach, yet again, a beach known for its snorkelling. We arrived there at about 3:30pm, thinking we would have a chance to snorkel, only to be told that the beach closes at 4pm and that we could not hire the mandatory float vests to go snorkelling anymore. We walked along the beach instead, taking in the beautiful sight when Lloyd commented on the murky water in the small bay, saying it was a perfect spot for the nursing of sharks, he was right! Not even two minutes later we saw many baby black tip reef sharks swimming in 10cm shallow waters. Honestly, I wasn’t disappointed that we couldn’t go snorkelling anymore, because mama shark could be lurking around.
We found the rest of the crew on the way back to the boat, stopped at a restaurant and had some Caipirinhas, a traditional local Brazilian rum/lime drink (very strong), before retiring back to the boat for the night.
Waking up the next morning we had to say goodbye to one of our crew members, Monica, who has been on the boat for a good 3 months. We were sad to see our MasterChef leaving as she made some incredible meals on the trip, but she was on to a new adventure. Werner went along with her to the airport while the rest of us went snorkelling in the port, which is not part of the Marine Park, yet had more sea life than the other beaches we had been to combined.
We saw a turtle before even entering the water and that was only the beginning. The 28°C port water was home to many pufferfish, crabs, zebra fish, disco-looking fish and rock cod. A manta ray made its appearance a short while later. I was very relaxed, looking at some astounding sea life, until Mr1.3m nurse shark swam right under us, and yes, I know it wouldn’t do anything to me, but you try keeping a calm composure with this animal passing so close to you and this is merely the second time you’ve been snorkelling.
We spent a few more days exploring the island and stocking Catching Up with some of the finest Brazilian fruits, vegetables and foods. One of the favourites that was discovered was a wafer biscuit called Bis. It is a chocolate covered wafer biscuit that is incredibly addictive. Other interesting foods were these tear drop shaped fried pastry foods stuffed with potato and chicken. Fernando De Noronha had an excellent selection of fresh fruits like bananas, mangos, pineapples and as many limes as we could carry. After stocking the yacht, it was back to exploring what the island has to offer.
We sat at the Port Control making use of the free WIFI available when our friends from Elcie, that we met in St Helena, showed up to clear in. They stopped at Ascension Island before making their way to Fernando de Noronha, hence their later arrival. We invited them to have some traditional South African Bobotie onboard Catching Up. They brought us some lovely Mahi-Mahi that they had caught on the way to the island. Having only caught a 6kg tuna the whole trip, we were happy to have some fish, that we didn’t take out of a tin, onboard. After the meal, they went back to their boat and the 5 crew on Catching Up prepared the boat for the passage the next day. A saying in Afrikaans ‘Haastige hond verbrand sy mond’ (all haste no speed) became a reality, when trying to tidy up the boat in a haste, I dropped the aft locker door on my hand, fracturing it… You live and you learn.
I really liked this little island and I didn’t want to leave so quickly, but the Caribbean was calling our name and were ready for the next leg of our trip.