Sunday, 19 June 2016

An Atlantic Island Holiday

We stayed 4 days at the Brazilian island Fernando De Noronha. After completing our mainsail repair we were able to tour the island, renting a beat-up buggy and exploring all the tracks and trails.

There are only two paved roads on the island, the rest being either rocks and mud, or sometimes even mud and rocks - no wonder they only rent buggys or trail bikes.

The main village is beautiful, with traditional buildings still serving as the seat of government. The church faces onto a cobblestone square. There were several Portuguese forts on the island, the main one being Remedios, on a strategic hilltop overlooking the town, the port and adjacent beaches. From the fort, Pico Mountain is the next dominant feature along the coast, a near vertical volcanic plug. In the heart of town we could sit on an ancient stone wall along a cobblestone street, in the shade of an ancient tree, surfing the free (!) internet. It wasn't fast, but it got the job done. The internet was a bargain - everything else in the place was breath-takingly expensive.

Of course everything is imported, much of the produce flown in, and the culinary and service standards are very high. This worked in our favour, as we were able to buy limes, lettuce, bananas, carrots, potatoes, green oranges, cucumber and tomato - really the best provisioning since we departed Cape Town. Three and four star resorts are dotted around the island, which is 70% assigned as a marine park and very tightly managed. Diving, snorkeling and deep sea fishing are popular tourist activities. From a cruising perspective this is one of the nicest places we've visited. Everyone was laid back and friendly.

 The anchorage, while open to the north and west, provided smooth water and stable conditions. It was a little rocky, perhaps 40% rock between large sand patches. Our stand-out memory is the gracious and obliging behavior of all the government officials - port, harbour, immigration etc. They were genuinely glad to see us, and keen to assist in any way.

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