By Dona Bertarelli
I want to thank all our partner schools, in France and Switzerland, and the 2,000 students who are following us.
Whenever I can, I will be answering your many questions throughout this journey around the planet, a journey that we are taking together to discover the wonders of our world.
With all the crew of Spindrift 2, through our observations and our encounters, not only with marine life, but also with the islands and peninsulas that we pass, with the meteorological phenomena we experience, and with the birds and the stars that accompany us during our voyage, we will help you to live this adventure, like Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne’s famous book.
We are calling our Spindrift for Schools series - Out of the Classroom.
Today, we will discover the small Brazilian islands of St Peter and St Paul and the island of Fernando de Noronha.
Fernando de Noronha island
It is Thursday night around 2300hrs (UTC), we are approaching the equator, and the watch on deck: Francis, Anthony, Loïck and Thomas, spot a lighthouse in the distance, it’s striking, alone in the middle of nowhere, it reminds us of civilisation. It’s on one of the rocks of St Peter and St Paul made up a dozen or so small islands and rocks some 1,000 km (621 miles) from the Brazilian coast and 630 km (391 miles) from the island of Fernando de Noronha, the nearest land.
They were discovered in 1511 by six Portuguese caravels when one of the boats was shipwrecked on one of the rocks. It is an area that suffers severe thunderstorms, and it was not until 1930 that the first lighthouse was built, replaced in 1995 by the current one, thus ending the perilous navigation in the area.
Whilst this first sign of civilisation is fearsome and unwelcoming, the second, the island of Fernando de Noronha, is spectacularly beautiful. Discovered in 1503 it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site meaning its flora and fauna are protected. The island has an airport, a hospital and a nursery school, with 3,000 people living there year round.
These two archipelagos attract many scientists, including Charles Darwin, who visited them in 1832 during his trip around the world.
If the winds remain favourable to us, our route will perhaps pass not far from another archipelago further south, that of Trinidade and Martin Vaz. These two islands are volcanic in origin, mountainous and rise to 620m in height.
Who knows, some time during the day, perhaps we will catch sight of them?