As we approached the first islands of Cape Verde, the early morning sun was making its presence, showing us, in profile, just how mountainous these islands are. We soon rounded the point and headed in to a large bay where Mindelo, the second largest town of the islands is nestled on the slopes.
We could see masts poking up behind the breakwater making the anchorage obvious so we headed there past junk freighters and fishboats. We anchored between the marina and a half submerged wreck lying on its side, returning to the elements from which it came, the sight of which was a realization of how apt the term "keeled over" was (N16°53.016' W024°59.595').
We shared the anchorage with about 25 other sailboats, most of them like us making this their last rest stop before the jump across the pond. This was Sao Vicente, 1 of the 10 islands that make up this African nation of Cape Verde.
Check in was friendly and easy at Immigration and Police, both a short walk away from where we left the dinghy securely at the marina. As we strolled around, we could see that here had a more "African" feel compared to the Canaries.
In the past if you asked us what we would expect Cape Verde to be like, we would have thought verdant landscape, as in "verde" as in "green". However, the arid climate has left a landscape void of greenery. Did the authors of the name want to conceal the fact that their land was lacking vegetation so they used an antonym as did those who named Greenland. A totally reasonable approach, considering alternatives such as "Cape Browness" or "Cape Dusty" which would not work in tourist promotions. Well as it turned out there are some areas of the Islands that contrast what we saw with forests and streams in spectacular surroundings. Unfortunately we missed those parts.
Minute dust particles in the air are blown across from the deserts of western Africa and on the way collect moisture creating a pervading haze over the islands, reducing visibility at times to a few miles or less. Those conditions don't seem to leave dust on deck any more than the busy traffic of any town would. In any event, there is a rugged beauty to behold.
Many hazy days
This country with a relatively recent gain of independence is making great strides at improving conditions for its people. With endeavours such as encouraging tourism, capitalizing on their strong fishing industry, making education mandatory, and other promotions, it has lifted their standard of living well above the rest of most of the African nations.
Locally made boats
They also proudly produce a national liquor as strong as paint stripper made from nearly all of the sugarcane called Grogue. We tried this neat but it was much better in our cappuccino. The other local sampling was their national dish called Cachupa which is similar to a delicious stew. These 2 delights were enjoyed 1 evening at an excellent restaurant bar while listening to a couple of talents play and sing Cape Verdean songs.
Over all we found Cape Verdeans to be very pleasant and happy and it was not uncommon to see striking beauty in their dark features.
Of interest to yachties, the word was to be a little more vigilant about protecting against boat theft but other than that we felt safe. Basic supermarket provisioning is available and the local open markets provide a good selection of produce, as well as several sidewalk vendors lining the streets with their supply. The fish market is a bustling affair with a prodigious amount of large pelagic fish such as Tuna, Wahoo, etc.
To market, to market
Catch for sale
We were pleasantly surprised to be able to get our spare propane tank filled quickly and easily even though it is an American fitting and the tank is out of date by European law. The last available fill up for us was when we were in Gibraltar and it cost us over $100 CAD. Here is was about $11 CAD!
Now with the bottom scrubbed and provisions topped up we are ready to make the jump to cross the pond. Oh yes, also with a prudent weather forecast check and our respects paid to the Sea and Wind for a safe passage.
See you on the other side!