Sao Nicolau 16:34.14N 24:21.64W
Serenity of Swanwick
Phil and Sarah Tadd
Sat 19 Dec 2015 18:27
After a very windy night off Santa Luzia we set out for Sao Nicolau expecting the wind to ease as we left the island. It did but increased again as we passed each of the next two, Ilheu Branco and Ilheu Raso both uninhabited and nature reserves where landing is by permit only. These winds appear to be like the acceleration zones in the Canaries but don't just blow round the ends they blow down off the hills as well. As we approached the channel between Raso and Sao Nicolau we had the cruising chute up in light wind but then saw us changing right down to 3 reefs and a scrap of headsail to cope with 30 Knots easing down to nothing as we approached Tarrafal where we anchored.
Tarrafal is a small town which started to be developed as a sport fishing resort until recession hit and building on that project stopped. The town still looks like a building site as there are buildings in various states all over, Apparently people who emigrate to find work have houses built here for when they return. Some are very well finished and painted whereas others are rough concrete blocks. It is the main port for Sao Nicolau and has a regular ferry service and visits from inter island cargo vessels. The ‘fishing harbour’, and fish market alongside and merging with the port, is where we land and leave the dinghy, guarded by young boys for 100CVE, about 70p.
The boys will do other jobs for a few CVE, one took me to the Gas cylinder exchange this morning, carried the bottle, told the lady what we wanted and then searched the bottles for a full one. It would have taken me longer on my own so he deserved his tip. Camping Gas refill 370CVE, about £2.50. why does it cost in excess of £25 in England?
It has been very windy here as well, up to 25 knots on our first night, and although the anchor seemed to be holding alright we put out a second anchor the next day. Sarah swam out with snorkel & googles to check on them and could see them clearly 9 meters down and well dug in to the sand.
Last night, Saturday, there was very pleasant classical guitar being played somewhere in town and we could sit on the boat and listen. Tonight apparently its a ‘Car Wash’ Party, somewhat more noisy.
Today we have been up the highest mountain here, a very pleasant walk from the road on the south side through a dry volcanic landscape, around to a deserted village then up to a col on the edge of the crater and finally down through Tropical forest and cultivation on the north side. We were led by a very pleasant local man, Toi, who has set himself up in business arranging and guiding tours on the island. The day cost us around £50 and gave us more insight into the island and its people than ‘doing it ourselves’, and allowed us to travel around and see the capital town as well.