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The Explorer Guy Goes to Lat. 1° North, Long. 29.4° West, Peter and Paul Rocks, Brazil

The only way to get to this place is in an explorer yacht.

The main reason to visit these rocks sticking up in the Atlantic about 500nm East of Fortaleza Brazil is the fishing. They are owned by Brazil and are a marine sanctuary. You must get permission to stop there from the Brazilian Navy. One of the Inace Yachts 95’ Explorer “Veronika” I built with a client of mine stopped on the way back from Europe to Inace Yachts Shipyard in Fortaleza to do their haul and yearly upkeep. This allowed them to leave the med early as you go below the hurricane belt, costs are much less then Europe and the US and you can be stationed in the Caribbean refitted, rested, fueled (cheap fuel in Trinidad) and ready to go before most of the other boats leave the Canary Islands. The big bonus is to stop and fish this place.

Alternitively you can run from the cost of Brazil out, but it is dead into everything. You could stop at Fernando de Noronha 630 km to the Southwest which is also a marine sanctuary but a much larger island with great diving, surfing and some fishing and then run out to the rocks to fish for a few days.

There are daily flights and small cruise ships that visit Fernando. There are a number of hotels and Posadas on the island. The anchorage is not great but passable.

Attached below is a write up from the Captain of the Inace Yachts explorer yacht Veronika and some photos of the visit. The write up will be featured in “Destination Fish” Magazine August.

Peter and Paul Rocks
   Fernando de Noronha
From Capt. Darren Nightingale, Inace Yachts Veronika

Being the Captain of an explorer motor yacht with trans oceanic capabilities, and an avid fisherman, I get to fish some extremely remote places. When ever we need to cross an ocean to meet the guests at some exotic destination, for some reason our route always seems to take us over sea mounts and far flung reefs which are rarely fished. And so it was the case when we had to take the vessel to Brazil, from Europe in September 2007. En-route was a small rocky outcrop called the St Pedro and St Paulo Rocks, situated about midway between the West coast of Africa and the East coast of South America. I had wanted to get to these rocks for years, but never had a reasonable excuse to expend the fuel required to get there. As soon as the trip to Brazil was confirmed, opportunity wasn't just knocking, it was breaking down the door.

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Information on these rocks is extremely difficult to come by. There is a paper written by some Brazilian scientists from 2003, and another written by an expedition which was carried out by Charles Darwin. Both of them state that there is an unusually high number of sharks in the area, more so than anywhere else. Being an avid spear fisherman, this worried me a little. I would have to send the Mate in first I decided. So in reality we didn't know what to expect, but previous fishing expeditions such as this had always yielded huge pelagic fish, and that we were sure of.

We adjusted our speed as we approached so we would arrive at 1000, in good light, as navigating these sorts of areas which have little to no charting requires a good lookout. We had the rocks in sight for quite a way, long before we registered anything on the depth sounder, a Furuno colour unit good for 1300m. As the depth soared from 3500m to 200m we dropped 2 lines in, no use wasting good fishing time whilst looking for a place to anchor I thought. The crew didn't even get a chance to set the drags before they were both screaming and the line was peeling away like we had 2 freight trains on the ends. Someone was in for a good forearm pump, not me, I had fresh coffee. So the chef's Father Jimmy, and the Mate Stuart, spent the next 20 minutes getting dragged around the aft deck, squawking like crazed men. That was good coffee.

Colour was seen and they turned out to be 2 large Wahoo, around 30kg. To big for anything we could use and they were released. This happened another few times, all within 1 minute of the lines touching the water, all Wahoo. We hadn't even progressed 1 mile closer to the rocks for anchoring, and the girls were getting antsy as with the boat turning all the time it was interfering with their sun tanning technique. So we boated the lures and proceeded in to look for somewhere to anchor and drop in one of our tenders.

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It is extremely steep too, 20m from the rocks and you are in 100m of water. We managed to find a rocky shelf which came up to 35m, and we dropped on that, making sure to pay out a lot of scope. There is very little shelter, a lot of current, and swells you would expect to find in the middle of an ocean. We had zero speed stabilizers, and they can make any lumpy sea flat. Once these were engaged all was well.

With the girls now happy, we dropped one of the tenders in and rigged up for some big pelagics. But first off we would have to go ashore to the scientists hut and seek permission to stay. It's always nice to take in some outpost staples, cold beer and chocolate are generally high on the priority list. Jimmy, Stuart and I made our way into the horseshoe shaped bay. There was a huge surge running, and waves were breaking over the rocks so it was going to be an interesting landing. We managed to get the crew onto the rocks, and I tied the tender onto a mooring they had, and swam ashore. Reminding myself of the scientific studies made the swim quicker than usual. The scientists were very happy to see us, and we spent some time there talking with them about the area. Other than the occasional Brazilian fisherman, they had never seen anyone else at the rocks. They made the call to the Brazilian Navy to get permission for us to stay, which was given, but only for overnight. They were documenting all of the sea life on the rocks, as a lot of it is endemic to that area. They were discovering new fish, octopi, and corals all the time, and were very excited about the whole program. One of the scientists was studying the pelagic species so we homed in on his knowledge. He spoke of certain times of the year when the Dorado ran thick, 6 or 7 feet in length, thousands of them. They would pull them in with chord line to “study” as they were always being broken off on monofilament. Now was the time for Wahoo, and he said you could pull them in from sun up to sun down. With the sun being well up, we headed back to the tender.

We spent the next few hours hauling in Yellow Fin Tuna, Rainbow Runners, Trevally, but mostly Wahoo. As we got the Wahoo close to the tender there would be another 6 or 8 swimming beside it, all in the 20-40 kg range. The water was crystal clear and so you could see the fish from a long way away. We couldn't get the lines out and set before someone had hooked up. It was crazy. We managed to catch a small wahoo, about 10kg, which would go great for dinner. Everything else was released. With the 3 of us starting to get cramps in our arms, we headed back to the vessel for a late lunch and a rest.

After a fantastic lunch, and being well rested, we got back into the tender and decided to try another part of the area. It was the same situation, you could catch fish as long as you had a line in the water. Jimmy hooked up on something big, which sounded at first, then turned for Africa and wouldn't stop. We tried to chase it down but it was just too big for the gear, we could not stop the line paying out. Deciding to cut our losses we cut it off, thinking it was probably a huge Tuna. After another couple of hours, and another boatload of fish we were done. We washed and lifted the tender, and discussed the days antics on the aft deck as the sun settled on the horizon.

When we were sitting on the aft deck that evening having our Wahoo dinner we started hearing something thumping on the transom. We went down and there was a school of the biggest flying fish I had ever seen. Measuring some 18 inches in length with bodies about 2 inches in diameter they were soaring into the transom due to our underwater lights. We thought about live baiting one off a rod, but we were too beat to worry about that. We finished out dinner and turned in for the night.

The next morning we awoke to a great breakfast on the aft deck, with our backs and arms feeling the effects of yesterday. As we finished we sat at the table, grinning at each other, wondering if yesterday was a fluke. The sun was bright, so make hay while the sun shines. We dropped the tender into the water and loaded the gear in again. Setting off we decided to try another area yet again, and just as before it yielded similar results. For as long as we fished we hooked up constantly, mainly Wahoo. Can you get bored with catching Wahoo? After another few hours and cramping arms we decided we were beaten. It was time to head back to the vessel and get ready to depart. We washed and loaded the tender on board, washed all of the gear off and let it dry whilst we had lunch. After lunch we readied the vessel for sea again, making sure everything was battened down in case we got some nasty weather on the final 700 miles to the coast of Brazil.

We lifted the anchor and slowly passed by the scientific station, waving to the young scientists as we passed. I noticed they were waving back, frantically in fact. Something must be up I thought. I walked to the side of the vessel and looked over the edge from the fly bridge. Jimmy had managed to sneak one last lure over on our departure and was solidly hooked up again. I bought the vessel to a stop and watched for the next half an hour whilst he battled the final Wahoo to the vessel's side. We released that last one, packed the last rod away, and we were on our way.

We were given an escort by a large pod of dolphins on our way off the shelf for 5 miles or so. As they played on the bow wave and the crew took photos, I sat on the bridge reminiscing over the last 2 days. I felt extremely privileged and lucky to have finally made it to this distant group of rocks, some of the most isolated in the world. To fish some of these isolated areas is truly an amazing experience, and one not to be taken lightly. You need a solid, self sufficient vessel purpose built for these kinds of expeditions, a lot can happen when you're hundreds of miles from anywhere. Luckily we have exactly that, and as I sit here writing this short narrative, I think back to those days and smile. You had to be there.


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