Barry and Margaret Wilmshurst
Sun 2 Jun 2013 22:43
We are safely tucked up in Marina Mindelo on Sao Vicente, Cabo Verde. It seems to be a very windy spot but that makes us all the more grateful to be secured to a pontoon in a well-run marina. We arrived on Thursday afternoon a little bedraggled with salt in our hair - we had experienced two boisterous and splashy nights. The days had not been so bad but navigating passages between two islands found us with 30 knots of wind on the nose and more than two knots of current and tide against us. Our speed dropped off dramatically, we upped the engine revs and started to glance anxiously towards the fuel gauge. Water sluiced along the decks and splashed over the spray-hood. It was alright, we got through before our reserves were threatened, turned to port and surged south-west towards Mindelo with 30 knots of wind behind and a foam-topped swell. As we turned in towards the harbour and yacht marina we caught gusts of 40 knots (sustained wind speeds of over 34 knots constitutes a full gale) and after a very brief consultation decided to anchor for the night and wait for easier conditions. I called the marina to let them know of our arrival and intentions. “Come on in between the blue boat and the steel boat.” “Sorry, with this wind I cannot hear you very well, the anchorage looks crowded, can you advise the best spot?” “No, you can see my chaps on the pontoon, they will help you, come in there.” The marina master was strong-willed and insistent. “Change of plan, Mags,” I yelled, “forget the anchor and dig out the warps and fenders.” All the time I had the wheel in one hand, the radio in the other and was struggling to hear anything over the wind. Looking round and over my shoulder I noted the options for bailing out and retreating fade one by one. Soon, all that was left to us was to go for it as directed and make the best of it. We slid into the berth without bumping anything or scratching anybody, the mate reckoning that she had never, ever arrived less prepared. Not her fault. But we were very glad to be tied up securely.
Mindelo waterfront and the old colonial custom house
Taken overall the passage from Ascension was successful. At 1700 miles and 14 days it was one of our longer ones and included mixed conditions. We were fortunate to find wind when we expected calms and were able to conserve fuel. When we suffered from brisk headwinds during the last two days we had enough left in the tank to press on.
The wind remained a nuisance all Friday; the pontoon was covered with spray and swayed and bucked in the swell. We had not been ashore for 23 days and were somewhat wobbly on our pins. Just to be out in wind like that is tiring. But this is a great spot. The marina is well designed and run. There are wi-fi, repair facilities, a small chandlery, and knowledgeable advice. There is a floating bar and restaurant offering a limited menu from breakfast time to 2130 with a very convivial atmosphere during the early evening. Ashore, fresh fruit and vegetables are plentiful but the shops are not well stocked with top-quality goods. This is not a wealthy country. The food in some of the restaurants is excellent and the policemen are tall and handsome. They are also helpful, and smile.
Cabo Verde is an African country but the atmosphere is European. We went ashore for dinner on Thursday night and found a small hotel, the Gaudi, where the light was dim and the food was prepared by a chef who cared. “Live” music was provided by a soulful chap in a flat cap who played the classic guitar very well and sometimes added his voice to deliver a mournful Portuguese ballad. He was another man with a delightful smile. We shall return to sample more of the menu and more of his evocative music.
We had another good meal with music last night.
Our German neighbours who left yesterday have just returned - their mains’l is in tatters. It sounds like a serious problem because getting goods imported here is far more difficult than in Namibia. It could take months. For all of us it’s a constant battle.
Beautiful new sail