A breezy day round São Nicolau

Caramor - sailing around the world
Franco Ferrero / Kath Mcnulty
Sun 15 Feb 2015 20:03
16:28.8N 24:18.8W

The rain seemed to be slowing down, still breezy though. I got the binoculars out for a look at the three boats anchored off Carriçal, one of them was flying a British ensign and there, on its hull 'Avocet' - Joe and Debora's boat, our neighbours from Las Galletas. The second was the black wooden boat which belongs to the Norwegians we briefly met in Sal, I remembered Joe mentioning he was hoping to join up with his norwegian friends but we hadn't made the connection.

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When the sun comes out the brown becomes many more shades of brown

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A deep canyon opposite our anchorage, the shrubs are inaccessible to goats and definitely greener since the rain

The clouds were clearing, we hanked our staysail onto the inner-forestay and set off for Tarrafal, the other side of the island.

The staysail is a small foresail that we use instead of the genoa in strong winds, it attaches to the inner-forestay which is moved out of the way when sailing with the genoa. This rig keeps the centre of effort closer to the middle of the boat and makes it easier to sail close to the wind.

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Sailing under staysail only

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São Nicolau - a brown hilly island

'Avocet' and the Norwegian boat followed us. However, as we cut across the bay to round Punta Vermelharia, the southern most point of São Nicolau, they stayed closer to shore, probably headed for Preguiça, once the main port for the island, now reverted to being a small fishing village.

The charts show a light on P. Vermelharia, eyes peeled we scanned the shore. A strong tide runs round the tip and we saw several flying fish heading against wind and tide though none as impressive as the one off Carriçal. Franco spotted the light beacon ... on the wrong headland! Surely these charting mistakes have been reported to the cartographers? Approaching by dark with the light marked on the wrong headland would result at very least with premature greying, at worse shipwreck, though the pilot does warn that lights in Cape Verde are at best unreliable.

We didn't take photos of the point, we were rather busy. As we rounded the cape we no longer had the wind behind us, it would now be on our beam, we needed to hoist the main and put in a couple of reefs. All went well and we sailed the 6 M to Tarrafal on the west coast.

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Approaching Tarrafal

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The pilot says: "The south coast of São Nicolau is of unremitting orange-brown until one reaches Baía do Carriçal". It also states "São Nicolau is wetter and more productive than most of the other islands." I mistakenly had expected to see some lush greenery.