Santo Antao

Vanessa and I took a ferry to Santo Antao, one of the bigger islands of Cape Verde. Santo Antao is also higher than Sao Vicente but does not have a harbor where sailing yachts can anchor comfortably. Vanessa would not appreciate a sail of two hours to the other island anyway. So we took the ferry taking us in one hour to Santo Antao.

Small detail, the crew handed out throwing-up bags for people getting sea sick, which some people needed. The trip took one hour for the ferry to moor at the dock of Porto Novo, the main city of Santo Antao. There our hostel from Casa das Ilhas, had arranged a taxi to bring us together with a Belgium company, to the other side of the island where we would stay. There was a detour planned for the Belgium company towards the edge of a crater “Cova” (dead volcano) where they would decent towards the hostel, some four hours hiking further along the way. Vanessa and I had planned this trip for the next day.

I did not know what to expect of Santo Antao, but vanessa had visited this Island some years ago. I surely did not expect a beautiful green island after barren Sao Vicente. Santo Antao looks like a jungle where King Kong has lived and the bottom of the crater looks like a paradise with lush green and fertile ground with all kinds of vegetables and fruits growing there. Although not abundant, Santo Antao has fresh water running from the mountains, making the north west part very green.

Next day we did this hike also and luckily the clouds and mist cooled the area where we walked to a acceptable temperature. Also, we only had to decent towards our hostel which was not as luxurious as Hotel Kira’s but very idyllic in the middle of the mountain. Our new host cooked for us a simple but very nice meals for the three days we have spent there. The ever necessary shower was present as well. Also a place we can recommend.

Next day we did another hike presumably for four hours, but taking six hours with rest because we got lost. First we had to ascent for almost one hour without the benefit of a cool mist. The temperature was  above 30 degrees. Slowly, every 15 minutes stopping and hiding from the sun behind a small stone wall, we climbed up the mountain along a winding path toward a small village. In the village we met very nice people inviting us in their homes to rest outside the sun and we met a small group of children who climbed this mountain every day from school! After the village, the path became more adventurous, so we lost or way. However, people working in the fields where very friendly to point out the right direction but could not prevent us to take a more strenuous route from which we were not sure where it would bring us.

At the end of our tethers and water bottles we were directed in the right direction and stumbled our way towards the main road, finally. Just image, all the houses and small villages (five houses or so) where only connected by a trail we used to like for hiking. Regardless whether you had to go up or down, carrying all your shopping’s, food or water. We found a small bar along the main road selling the finest cold beer I ever had. Wonderful!

Santo Antao is a beautiful island where one could hike for days. The environment is green, often with small creeks and streams with fresh water. We found the people living there very friendly and helpful. A place well worth visiting again. 

Sao Vicente

The main city and the most sheltered harbor of the Cape Verde is on the island Sao Vicente in the city of Mindelo. Here I arrived beginning of September and Vanessa visited me here for 10 days. Sau Vicente also has and small airport.

This is Africa. You notice this of course on the color of the people but also on the rudimentary of housing, roads and everything, except the heat, usually about 30 degrees during the day. Mindelo also has the only marina in the archipelago of Cape Verde.

 

Nevertheless, the boat is never really without rolling and hard on the lines. Swell enters the harbor even though the harbor is well protected from all wind directions.

The city is lively and colorful. As well in the houses, people, clothing and activities. During the day people are active with sports (spinning in 30 degrees!)  and in the evening with dance and music. The evenings are very lively with families enjoying the more acceptable temperatures for activities and eating ice creams. People are friendly and helpful and something they speak Dutch. There is a large Cape Verdean community in Rotterdam. Of course people try to make a living from the tourists and offer their service like laundry or cleaning of the boat. Occasionally people beg for money or food.

Mindelo and the isle of Sao Vicente is not spoiled by mass tourism which we found very attractive. The markets are authentic and very colorful and well organized. Vegetables, perhaps limited choice and not also recognizable for me as European, and fish in abundance is offered. All very fresh. There are several markets in Mindelo selling vegetables and fish. There are also some supermarkets selling basic of most of the stuff you need on a daily basis. No abundance, however. The restaurants are well worth a visit. Perhaps a bit dangerous to drink tap water here but bottled water is readily available.

The island itself is very dry. It has hardly rained while it is the raining season. It worried Vanessa and me a bit for we like to hike in the nature, which might be dangerous after rain. However, we have not had any rain save from some more or less wet clouds. So water is limited on the island and the marina even holds its own water tank to be independent from the water supply of the city. Fortunately we did not have much problem with using water for showers or cooking. Drinking water we used from bottled water bought in the supermarket.   But as you can imagine, the water in the marina is paid by the liter.

We hired a taxi driver to drive us around Sao Vicente, not being very large anyway. It took us four hours and the very friendly English speaking taxi driver showed us proud his island. As expected, the island is barren with patches of green where bananas or papaya are grown. Water is stored in great barrels on the roof of buildings and the supply comes with water trucks.

Vanessa and I enjoyed Mindelo, also very much partly thanks to a small but wonderful boutique hotel Kira’s with a very hospitable host making us feel very welcome. The nights we were able to sleep in a cool air-conditioned room and the shower kept us fresh to appreciate Mindelo. Often we started the day with an excellent breakfast and a walk into town. The afternoon till four we sat in our air-conditioned room or on the terrace on the roof of the hotel reading a book and sipping a drink. Later in the afternoon we when for a swim in  the sea, or at least I did while Vanessa kept an eye on me.

All very pleasant and wonderful to be together again.

New plan

Okay, what is the new plan? The new plan is to sail back to the Canary islands the end of this month or the beginning of October. To El Hierro to be precise. The most south western island of the Canary islands. There I plan to lay up the boat for the winter months and return in March next year to spend more time at the Canary Islands during that month, sail to Madeira in April and then to The Azores in May. After that I will continue as planned towards home. With this new plan I have the intention to spend more time ashore and possibly with company. In the winter months I will be back at home to spend time with my family and friends. I am looking forward to that.

However, first I have to sail back 750 miles to the Canary Islands. That will be a challenge. I sailed in six days to Cape Verde, however it will take possibly twice that time to sail back against the prevailing north easterly winds this area of the ocean. This is why some sailors get trapped like me. Downwind sailing was easy enough but getting back is much more difficult, if not impossible. But, I found my friend Wim, to accompany me on this challenge. Wim is a very experienced sailor with Spitsbergen, Greenland, Canada on his resume. Together we will set out to sail the boat back. A big advantage I had already during my whole trip is another friend Ruud, a very knowledgeable sailor as well and a weather and routing specialist who will advice us about the weather situation and the best course to sail, along the route. So basically,  the three of us will take up the challenge against the prevailing north easterly winds.

All in all, we will have to sail up to twice the distance, tacking against the wind direction, giving us the best coverage towards the Canary Islands. El Hierro is probably the easiest isle to reach. About 750 miles. First thing we have to do is getting above 20° North, about 200 miles, to avoid thunders storms which are brewing above west Africa main land. Then, close to the Canary Islands we might meet a depression coming from the west and resulting in more wind, but possibly from an advantageous direction. During the sail we will have to navigate between more easterly or northerly wind, making the best to get good progress.

A challenge nontheless.

 

 

Change of plan

Sometimes you make plans and make them come true. Sometimes you change your plan. I usually stick to my plans and never regretted it. However, listening to my feelings and experiences I have to change my plan. I will not continue towards Cape Horn.

There are many reasons I could mention, but the main reason is I find myself not liking to sail alone for many days on the ocean in the heat I have experienced so far and will be much more en route. Basically, I sit during the day on the ocean inside the boat because outside the sun is burning ruthlessly on top of the boat with 30 degrees Celsius or more. Leaving my more or less in prison in the boat with the tendency to become lethargic. The nights are actually much nicer. Not only the ocean looks much more friendly to me, the temperatures are more convenient and the sleep rhythm breaks the night in smaller chunks.  Also the stars, moon and clouds are fairy-tale like scenary.

Of course, I did now three legs on the ocean, not too long, 280 miles, 440 miles and last leg was 820 miles. However, if I start crossing the Atlantic, there is no way back until next year from Brazil! And I do not want to find myself pitying me half way there in the blazing sun in the doldrums, fighting calms and thunderstorms. Beter safe than sorry for my in this case.

Did I not enjoyed myself so far? Yes, immensely. I do like parts for the ocean sailing and I have learned a lot about downwind sailing. Something we do not always have in the higher latitudes. I enjoyed the views and also the times the wind was a bit strong. Apparently I can cope better with to much wind than to little wind. I really love to visit new places, isles and people. I loved the sailing together with the Summerwind. And I am looking forward to sail back and have more time to spend on the places to visit with my wife and friends.