Cape Verde Sojourn

A few years ago I stopped briefly in the Cape Verde Islands while sailing with Aventura III from Cape Town to the Canary Islands. I vowed to return one day with Gwenda and I did just that last month.

In one busy week we managed to visit four different islands, and what I saw convinced me that this little visited archipelago deserves more than just a passing visit from the Barbados 50 fleet.

Punta Sol on San Antao

An hour before the start at Mindelo Marina

Islands Odyssey: An hour before the start at Mindelo Marina

The majority of boats that stop, do so at São Vicente Island, mainly because the only marina is located there.

Situated in a large sheltered bay, Mindelo Marina is close to the route to the Caribbean and in recent years several boats taking part in one of our rallies have stopped there.

The first to stop in Mindelo was the Islands Odyssey in November last year and participants later complained that the visit had been far too short.

Islands Odyssey: The crews enjoy great food and the world-renowned Cape Verde music

This is why it was decided to spend longer there this year to enable those who are interested to join a two weeks cruise around the archipelago.

Our base of operations will be at Mindelo Marina, the finish of the leg from El Hierro in the Canary Islands. Lutz Meyer-Scheel, the German manager of the well-run marina, has built up an excellent team to assist the visiting sailors.

The layover period can be spent enjoying this relaxed town, renowned for its excellent music that can be sampled in many restaurants and bars.

In between, you may be tempted to take the easy option of a day trip to the neighbouring island of Santo Antão, reputed to be the most attractive of all Cape Verde Islands. With no sheltered ports or anchorages on its east side, this mountainous island is best visited by a short ferry trip from Mindelo.

Sanding a finished boat on San Antao

This is what we did, by catching the early ferry at 0800 and returning on the last at 1630. A pre-booked taxi driver was waiting on arrival and took us on an exciting tour of the mountainous island with its panoramic vistas, deep valleys covered in luxuriant vegetation and steep terraced hillsides checkered by small farming plots.

As the islands are situated in an area of consistent NE trade winds, the proposed cruise will attempt to call at some of the most attractive, but also best-sheltered anchorages.

Cape Verdes map – Click map to enlarge

The proposed route will head first to an anchorage on the SW coast of Santo Antão, overlooked by an old village that is completely cut off from the rest of the island.

The route will then head for Brava, in the southern part of the archipelago, and its neighbour Fogo. This stark volcanic island is dominated by the cone of a volcano that erupted recently. A recommended trip by taxi is to the newly formed lava fields. Similar shore excursions are available at each stop.

The next destination will be the large island of Santiago, with a perfectly sheltered anchorage at Tarrafal, at its NW extremity. One morning we witnessed the returning fishing boats, brimming with freshly caught fish, as each was hauled through the surf onto the beach.

Fishing boats at Tarrafal, Santiago Is.

Altogether now!

A final stop will be made at the island of São Nicolau before completing the circuit at Mindelo.