Cape Verde Islands

Graham Shaw
Sat 10 Jan 2009 22:23

16:35.00N 25:45.00W

After a long night sort of hove-to we arrived at Porto Grande on the island
of Sao Vincente on Wednesday morning. After contemplating the anchorage,
the comforts of electricity, water and wifi (though that doesn't seem to
work) were obviously too attractive, so we opted to take a berth in the
Marina Mindello. It took a couple of hours to clear in: police,
immigration, customs, etc. we were clearly not in a rush. A wander round
town to find all the essentials - bank, market, etc. and then to the Club
Nautico for a couple of Strellas (the Cape Verdean beer).

The three pilot (guide) books onboard that mentioned the Cape Verdes were
all pretty disparaging about them. They all mentioned that theft was a
problem and they talked about a severe lack of facilities for yachties.
Well, having spent three days there we didn't experience any problems with
theft (I know theft is a pretty binary thing, you either are a victim or are
not but the security at the marina seem entirely sufficient), there was a
new 'yacht chandlery' at the marina which sold the same rope as we bought in
Las Plamas ("to replace the one Gareth threw over board, we thought Lucas
was bad enough" - yes, thanks for that comment Lorraine) but cheaper and the
wifi eventually started working about an hour before we departed. Admittedly
there was a lot of poverty on the island and a fair bit of begging but you
see more beggars on the trains out of Waterloo
at 5pm on a weekday (god, I don't miss that commute) than you do in down
town Mindelo. We hired the services of Luis to 'look after' the boat, but
having bumped into him again one evening he seemed to have blown his wages
on something that slurred his speech slightly. He took a bit of a shine to
Lorraine and spent the evening convincing her of his trustworthiness and
island connections. The following morning he seemed a little more coherent.
A day on the beer has the same effect world over!

After working on the boat on Thursday we gave ourselves a day off on Friday
and hired a car to see the rest of the island. When the islands were first
colonised by the Portuguese in the 1400's they were thick with vegetation
but after centuries of abuse, over cultivation and a couple of decades of
drought they are now extremely barren. Driving around we realised just how
desolate and dry the island was. From one vantage point you could see almost
the entire island and it was very dry (bit like this blog - sorry!). There
were also surprisingly few roads and the only sealed road was from Mindelo
to the airport. After a bit of 'off-roading' we managed to find ourselves on
a new road that was definitely under construction, at the crest of every
hill and apex of every corner you expected to be confronted with a vertical
drop where the road just ran out. Instead, after a couple of miles, we met
the construction crew, complete with bright orange boiler suits making them
look like a bunch of convicts from Guantanimo Bay. The rest of the island is
dotted with partially completed and deserted holiday resorts, all very odd.

The ladies did a fresh victual on Saturday morning (yes, shopping is womans
work even when you give it a fancy name like victualling) and we left the
marina about 11am ships time (Z+2, or 2 hours behind GMT).

Out of the five us onboard, little Lucas found the transition between land
and sea the hardest. It was rather amusing watching him learn to walk all
over again after 7 days of crawling, his little bandy legs (they are from
his mother's side alledgedly) wobbling beneath him as he tottered from one
hand hold to another. In much the same way I'll be when we reach Barbados no

Glad to be at sea again but thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Sao Vincente,
Cape Verdes. I wouldn't recommend a special trip to visit but if you ever
find yourself in a yacht, in the vicinity then drop in.