13th to 20th December
A trial video! Gently heading south….
(M is going to write this himself. He’s the one who’s been doing things. Much of the past week I’ve just been left to swing around all alone on my anchor.)
The video was a first effort with iphone video. It was taken on a gentle weak wind day when approaching Cape Verde. Not much threat to the BBC professionals then – but I am constantly amazed by what you can do with a modern phone. (I just bought a cheap Cape Verde SIM card – about 6 euros equivalent for 1 Gb and that will keep me happy for at least a week. O2 UK contract roaming, in contrast, will quickly cripple the bank account of any normal person – once you leave Europe. Sailors take note! I think everyone knows that, but it’s not till you do it that you realise)
After reaching Palmeira on Ilho do Sal at northeast corner of Cape Verde archipelago, it took a day to adjust to Africa. After that, you appreciate that Cape Verde is full of delights and in fact very easy, tidy and secure compared with most countries in Africa (the UN concurs). It’s not Europe – that’s all. People are friendly and helpful. I like too that there seem fewer of the gross inequalities of wealth that are features of most of the world. But I’ve only been here a week and landed on three islands, so ready to be corrected.
First, Ilho do Sal: music, music, music! It’s really good and wherever you go there seems a rhythm in the air – day and night. (Police and immigration officials all have an ear-phone plugged in!) As you drift off to sleep at anchor, the sound of Afro-Calypso-Brazil type music comes across the water. I got aluguers (shared minibuses) to other towns. One such town, Santa Maria, was an unexpected surprise: it’s a tourist resort – completely out of keeping with everywhere else. But, if you want a tattoo, an Irish Bar or premiership football on telly though, that’s the place to be. I tried talking to the Yorkshire owners of a bar I visited (for wifi), but they didn’t seem very chatty.
Then a slow sail of about 90 miles (which took nearly 24 hours) to anchor at Tarrafal on Ilho Sao. Nicolau (the islands are quite widely spaced). Mostly peaceful empty brown dusty mountains, with playful children everywhere, relaxed and welcoming, delightfully untidy; it’s my sort of place! Apparently it’s wetter and more productive than other islands, and on my aluguer trip inland to Ribeira Brava, there were some bananas and papaya trees, and green terracing for vegetables – but it’s mostly brown and arid. Long chat with retired seaman running a little general store – a breed of their own, these seamen…reminiscing about Liverpool and Glasgow…”ah! too cold, always rain; this place better!”
It was too windy to visit nearby uninhabited islands (giant rollers crashing on the beach, an effective deterrent), so I came on to Mindelo on the island of Sao Vicente. This is a city. Thousands of people, ships, a marina (though for now I anchor outside), traffic and bustle. It’s also the setting off place for most sailors heading across the Atlantic.
This will be my last stop this side of the ocean so I’ll go to the marina for final stocking up.
I’ve been to the market once to buy fresh veg. and some fruit – spotted a cockroach in the onions, so I’ve washed everything before stowing (I gather cockroaches are an on board problem best avoided – though many schools of thought say it’s inevitable at some stage!)
Update:… I’ve had paperwork stamped, paid police and immigration people and have a bit of paper to say “…the above named master [me!] having complied with the regulations….the said ship [Henrietta] is hereby cleared…”.
Now I’ll just wait a day or so for swell to die down a bit, buy some more food, then head off to Antigua. It’s about 2,100 mile due west according to my phone, so my longest trip yet – feel a bit lost for words right now. There are a few other boats here heading more-or-less the same way, but I think we’ll all be a long way from normal Christmas goings-on. No posts for a few weeks…but position should update automatically with tracker. Last music in Mindelo
Happy Christmas everyone and Best Wishes for the New Year!