Photos in Mindelo, Cape Verde

What follows is another small collection of photos that I hope will give you a feel for this place and it’s people.

It's Christmas here in Cape Verde

Nothing beats a glow in the dark plastic nativity scene for Christmas!

Even the local church glows in the dark!

In fact, the locals have gone to town with all the lighting, it’s all very festive… I’m impressed.

The French sailors, hangout!

But much of my time is spent seeking out the best Internet connection…. The french speakers go here!

Internet and Pizza at Cocktail...

While the rest hang out at Cocktail…

Service with a smile!

My preference is for the Alliance Francaise…. :)

Patron saint of stray cats!

Though I hear all the cool cats hang out here!

Sailors Bar

This is the Cape Verde equivalent of the Sailors Bar in Gran Canaria.

Pool by the Marina in Mindelo

But why hang out there when you can relax by the pool….

It was a teeny weeny.....

Where the view is so much more refreshing…. ;)

The local chandler

But enough loafing about…. I still have work to do on the boat…

Street market in Mindelo

Provisions to buy….

Typical house in Mindelo, Cape Verde

Places to visit….

Door to Chandler

People to see…

Children playing table football

and games to play….

But perhaps I’ll just have one last beer first…. :)

The Cape Verde ideal woman...

Here’s to a picture postcard land of beautiful people….

The next generation!...

…and their future…


Christmas in Mindelo

Something, somewhere went terribly wrong!

I am in Mindelo, Cape Verde, and as a fellow sailor passes by, I am reminded why I ‘m here. “Something, somewhere went terribly wrong” and I have made a brief escape from a life that gave me little joy. I’m all the richer and all the poorer for it, and if surmounting difficulties builds character, I’m absolutely full of it…

Hmmm… funny, my friends used to tell me that quite a bit… ;)

Exploiting the loophole!

Eileen of Avoca is at anchor because the daily marina fee is significantly beyond my means! Would you believe it’s 4 Euro a day just to leave your dingy tied to the pontoon? Fortunately I have friends with deeper pockets than mine (using the marina), and I am able to exploit a convenient loophole by tying my inflatable kayak to their boat.

More 3-day friends!

My companions here are the Bretons: Karen and Gwenael (on a Pogo 8.5) and Michel (on a Benetau First 28, see photograph). Michel is the Frenchman that delivered my tuna to the wrong boat, and I know Karen and Gwenael from when they rescued Eileen from collision with a boat dragging anchor in Sal.

You sure do meet people in bizarre circumstances here. Adding to the posse of francophone’s is Gerard, the owner of the above mentioned infamous yacht (an Ovni 385), that almost rammed Eileen.

Mindelo isn’t a tranquil sleepy town like Porto des Palmeria. It’s the “big city” and it can be dangerous after dark if you don’t keep your whits about you (or happen to be unlucky).

The anchorage and marina are reasonably safe, with paid personnel watching both. But about town things can get ugly, especially late at night. All is not well in Mindelo, as evidenced by quarreling youths openly dealing drugs in the towns main square, but locals tell me there have been encouraging signs of improvement of late.

Making that anode fit!!!

If you are looking to make repairs in Mindelo, don’t get your hopes up. The small chandler is poorly stocked and it’s four weeks wait for any delivery. I discovered that the zinc anode on my propeller was completely consumed and bought the only replacement available in Mindelo. Two sizes too large, but nothing that can’t be fixed with some help from Michel and a hacksaw!

My water in the propeller shaft problem and lubricating oil persists, and I now know Eileen will need to be lifted if it is to be corrected (thanks Gwenael).

I just hope it all holds together until I reach Trinidad. Lifting in Brazil is not an option and it will be several months before I reach the Caribbean. Fingers crossed that the bearings don’t seize!

From Sal to Tarrafal, Sao Nicolau

Tarrafal, Sao Nicolau, Cape Verde

The 22hr down-wind sail (averaging around 4 to 5 kts) from Porto de Palmeira to Tarrafal was exhilarating. Unfortunately, I was not able to get much sleep (for fear of running into the island), so I was mentally if not physically exhausted on final approach to Tarrafal, No matter, plenty of time to rest once at anchor.

Halil, my new Turkish "brother"

I was on a natural high, and having caught a large tuna on route I felt sure to win the fishing competition spontaneously organized with my Turkish sailing buddies in Sal. “Ah, what a fine meal it will make!”, or so I thought…

Of course, nothing ever goes precisely according to plan.

Upon arrival I found the small anchorage filled to capacity, and all shelter behind the breakwater taken by local boats. I spent almost two hours trying to set my anchor but it stubbornly refused to hold.

No problem, I can do stubborn…. besides I need the exercise. Hauling aboard my 25 meters of chain, I moved Eileen for the umpteenth time to seek better holing in shallower water by the beach.

I flagged down a Frenchman as he sped by in his dingy and asked if he could kindly deliver my prize catch to my Turkish friends so it wouldn’t spoil in the increasing heat (they have a refrigerator), and continued my game of drag the anchor.

Having unsuccessfully tried both my Danforth and CQR, (and motored backwards past everyone else’s boat at least a half-dozen times), a Spanish registered vessel took pity on my valiant attempts to plow the seabed, and surrendered their mooring to me.

I thought it was out of pity, but apparently it was out of extreme gratitude. Gratitude for mistakenly being the recipients of my tuna dinner. Curse that Frenchman, he took my catch to the wrong boat! Well, at least I will be able to sleep now that I am secured to their buoy…

No such luck…

Keep your mooring buoys!

What followed was a string of interruptions as several enterprising young men swam out to my boat, climbed aboard (despite my protestations), and began insisting they be paid a fee for using “their” mooring.

That triggered the proverbial “straw that broke the camels back” response in me, and I’m ashamed to admit that at this point I completely lost my temper…

Throwing the mooring buoy back in the water, I started Eileen’s engine, told my uninvited guests where they could put their fee, and sent them scrambling back into the water as I motored away.

So much for Tarrafal, I’ll sleep on route to Mindelo.

Photos from Sal

Sal, Cape Verde

It is generally agreed among sailors here in Sal, that anyone sailing directly to Mindelo is missing out on some of the best of Cape Verde has to offer. I concur, Sal offers a fabulously safe anchorage, effortless formalities, and genuinely friendly village atmosphere.

Just be sure to check the price of everything before you commit (such as a visit to the hair salon… hint hint…), to ensure the few unscrupulous business types in town can’t take advantage you.

Perhaps the best way to describe Porto de Palmeira is with images. Below is my collection of favourites, enjoy!

The anchorage is one of the best in Cape Verde and your dingy is perfectly safe despite what the dated guide book might say.

Anchorage, Porto de Palmeira

The village has a pleasant sleepy atmosphere and everyone seems rather content.

Wandering around Porto de Palmeira, Sal

Certainly nobody here is going hungry, a boatload of fish is caught daily just a few hundred meters from the harbour entrance. I’ve never seen such abundance!

Fish in abundance around Sal

Water on the other hand is only available from the desalination plant. Not that it seems to bother the locals, just don’t expect to find a hose anywhere to fill your yachts water tank.

There is still plenty of time for recreation, here the locals wile away the hours playing the African equivalent of board games.

Just playing games on Sal

While the women take care of more domestic affairs. Amazingly, the art of crochet is not dead!

Being a little more productive than the men!

Order is maintained by the men in blue, they even recovered a stolen laptop briefly left unattended by a German crew.

Wearing the uniform with a swagger!

With what is perhaps a little excessive enthusiasm, children readily pose for your camera,

Children in Cape Verde

and even the local school teacher accommodates my impromptu photo shoot by re-establishing some order.

Order out of chaos!

So, what did I get up to while in Sal? Not much, just hung out at the local bar.

The mini bar! No backyard should be without one.

Checked the weather at the Cyber Cafe,

Time to update the blog.

and mingled with the locals.

It's the local hair models.

Had I been a little less strapped for cash I might have spent some money on locally produced music and a souvenir or two. I guess these photos will just have to do.

Local art, music souveniers... See this man!

I hope you enjoyed the visual tour.

A week sailing to Cape Verde

On my way to Cape Verde

I managed to escape from Gran Canaria on the 11th of December, without any cockroaches or newborn baby stowaways. Ha!

While the forecast winds were in the right direction, they were too light for anything other than motor sailing, but that was fine with me because another monster low pressure system would reach the Canary Islands within 4 to 5 days, and I intended to be at least 400 miles further south to avoid its influence.

Isolated thunderstorms to the east and north made for an ominous departure but I needn’t have worried, winds stayed at under 10 knots for most of the journey and the seas were accommodating enough.

Sailing to the Cape Verde islands, there’s nothing to it…

Except, I’m really quite alone out here in the Atlantic.

When was the last time you can remember being totally alone, unable to see or talk with another person for days at a time?

While a few ships were visible on the horizon (or as dots on my AIS receiver) during the first half of my voyage, nothing, nada, niente, not a soul was in sight from the moment I reached Mauritanian waters. Perhaps it had something to do with the travel advisory for the country that read:

“We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Mauritania at this time due to the unpredictable security situation and high threat of terrorist attack including kidnapping.”

With the right technology you can always cheat loneliness by sending text messages to your friends, updating your facebook profile, calling mum or checking out prospective dates at your next port of call with satellite Internet broadband, but I don’t have any of that on board. I’m old school… ( a synonym for poverty stricken). The best I can do is listen in to other boats on my cheap Target HF radio receiver. So, how did I manage the isolation thus far?

To set the scene, I suggest the computer savvy follow this link for appropriate background music as I recount how I managed to do without all the modern conveniences used to make solo sailing merely single-handed sailing.

Rusty tack and water stain

Let me start by saying that there really isn’t much to do sailing wise on long passages. You set your sails, occasionally check your course, and watch the weather, but that still leaves plenty of time to fill. Time I passed entertaining myself by staring at the water stains on my ceiling lining and reminiscing.

It’s amazing what you can dredge up from the past to amuse yourself given enough time. I wonder if this is this how I’ll get to spend my twilight years while incarcerated in a nursing home…

I filled one day just reciting the TV advertising jingles absorbed as a youth in Australia.

Anyone out there remember….

It was an extra big, extra large, sizzling hot, family size, ham and pine, extra fine, pepperoni, big salami , dripping cheese, if you please, super duper pizza, oh yeah…”

Or how about…

Today’s the big surf carnival, so Ted’s big breakfast plan, are all those sweet sultanas in Kellogs Sultana Bran… well the race is on but there goes Ted… Hey where’re you going man….. Back for more sultanas in Kellogs Sultana Bran”


Everybody loves a better biscuit,,, so Westons make them good as they can be… Young will puts them to the test, to make sure that you get the best, from the Westons better biscuit bakery…”

Don’t panic, I’ll spare you the rest of my comprehensive recital which includes an international and multi-lingual repertoire of television advertising trash.

Then of course I have time to ponder on all those things I might have done differently given a second chance. All two of them! ;)

French Toast

Memories become my treasured companion at sea because in truth, looking at clouds drifting by only manages to hold my attention for three to four hours at a time.

Snack time inadvertently becomes the focus of my day. Hobbit style, it makes for at least seven meals in a 24 hr period, and depending on the success of my culinary experiments, (bounded by strict rules such as: everything must be cooked in a single pan), varies from the simply delicious (French Toast for pre-breakfast), to almost inedible (a mash of choriso sausage, sauerkraut and powdered potatoes for a midnight snack).

And here’s what I look like after seven days of solitary confinement!

Going quite mad!

Makes you wonder what I’ll be like once reaching Brazil.

I tried to catch some fish on route but my only success was thwarted by a shark (honest!). I know it sounds a bit like the excuse that “my dog ate my homework”, but it’s true, “a shark ate my dinner”, just as I was hauling it aboard. I hope my favourite lure gives it indigestion, and so much for my idea of stopping Eileen for a refreshing swim!

But the most dramatic event on route has nothing whatsoever to do with me. On day 5, I decided to tune in on my HF receiver to the weather routing given by Herb daily on 12359kHz at 20:00 UTC. The idea was to eavesdrop on any boats in the vicinity receiving weather information. Sure enough, two yachts were within 40 nautical miles of my current position and one (called Connect4), was in trouble.

I listened as a very concerned father sought information on the best options for reaching an airport or medical facilities as his daughter was suffering extreme abdominal pain and suspected appendicitis. Nobody could give him a definite answer on whether Mauritania was a feasible destination to seek assistance, and as far as the other HF users were aware, only Mindelo in Sao Vincente or Dakar had appropriate medical facilities.

I had done my homework and as mentioned earlier, knew of the travel alert for Mauritania, but as I am only equipped with a VHF transceiver, I could not tell him. I was effectively mute, confined to my line of sight transmissions and unable to assist. What a relief when I heard that he had decided to opt for Cape Verde, but if only I could have told him that Isla Sal was a closer prospect and had equal if not better facilities at hand. I did try, repeatedly calling on VHF 16 for several hours, but to no avail. They were just too far away.

In later transmissions I heard that the girl was improving with antibiotics and that after consulting a doctor on another boat, appendicitis could be ruled out. I hope to hear if she made a full recovery when I reach Mindelo.


Arriving on Sal, Cape Verde

At sunset on Saturday the 18th of December to the sounds of music and merrymaking I finally arrived in Porto de Palmeira after seven days at sea. Just in time for another party!

PS: I did make myself considerably more presentable than the above photos suggest before rejoining civilization. :)

Ready to leave Las Palmas Gran Canaria

I’ve stocked up on fuel and am now as heavily loaded (200L of Diesel, 100L of water) as I have ever been with Eileen. Surprisingly, she doesn’t seem to find the extra weight a bother. Now if only we all could put on so much weight and still look so handsome! One more item to add to my newly compiled list of why Eileen of Avoca is better than a real girlfriend… ;)

I’ve met a very diverse group of sailors while in Las Palmas and admittedly it is not easy leaving the last bastion of Europe behind, (Eileen has stayed 20 days, 7 of which I used to take a cheap flight back to Belgium). With everything so handy, it’s no wonder many sailors spend inordinate amounts of time dithering here before making that last step to head south or west. Not that Las Palmas Gran Canaria has much to offer and it certainly gets no special recommendation from me. Quite the contrary., and here’s why:

  • The marina has the rudest, most inconsiderate and arrogant ‘marineros’ I, and most other crews here, have ever had the misfortune to encounter.
  • While the chandlers are handy they are certainly not cheap! Do your final preparations before reaching the Canaries or pay the price!
  • With so many boats having been in the marina because of the ARC rally, the water is absolutely putrid. I hear there is an effort to gain blue flag status for the nearby beach. Not a chance…
  • The cockroaches are everywhere. Stay long enough and you will surely be invaded, and I’ve already highlighted the social stigmata that accompanies this misfortune.
  • Provisioning is inconvenient here and socializing hindered by locked gates separating sailors from both the public and crews on other pontoons.

I could carry on for quite a while here but I’ll spare you some of my habitual endless ranting… :)

The crew of Corner Muse

On the positive side, a little extra effort (climbing around the locked gates) and you are suddenly free to play social butterfly with a vast variety of boats and crews of all nationalities and walks of life.

I had the crew of the Swedish boat, Fot28 over last night for drinks and a bite to eat. I thought Eileen might have difficulty with storing provisions for a month but if the requirements for a crew of four (one extra ring-in for the Atlantic crossing) can be crammed into a 28ft boat then I have room for at least anther two crew. You can follow their adventures here.

While on the subject of sailing Swedes, the young but experienced crew of Mazarin (briefly mentioned as my neighbors in posts from Lanzarote, and my frequent companions over coffee at the Sailors Bar), were also busy making final passage preparations here in Las Palmas.

If you think crossing the Atlantic isn’t enough of a challenge, why not try it with your one year old child in tow? Click here

to get a translation of their website.

See, it can be done! An inspiration for all those would be sailors making all manner of excuses for not leaving home.

Keeping the “baby and no excuse not to be out there sailing” theme running, pictured above is the intrepid Belgian (the girl) / Portuguese (the dog) crew of Corner Muse, making an unscheduled stopover in Gran Canaria as her baby is due in just 5 days.

And just one more link to my neighbor while in Las Palmas (for my extensive German readership… lol).

Do I have a problem?

Oil feeding the shaft collar

I’ve been making extra checks before my next leg to Cape Verde and decided to take a closer look at the lubricating system for the propeller shaft. I’d noticed since the new engine had been installed that the level of it’s oil reservoir (nothing to do with engine oil), remained suspiciously constant and that there was some whitening in the tube near the nipple attachment (see photo). Obviously some water was getting into the tube but why? Are the seals in need of replacement? If so I’ll need to be lifted and this isn’t really the best time to be thinking of hoisting Eileen out of the water.

Oil resovoir

The other possibility is that as I am heavily loaded, I sit a few inches lower in the water. I noticed that the little plastic bottle was fixed very near the water line so perhaps there was not enough height to gravity feed the system. I’ve moved it higher and am hoping for the best.

I also sent a message to the other members of the the Yarmouth23 Owners Association (my defacto support team) to see if anyone else has had a similar issue.

Comments welcome!

Reader comments are always welcome on this blog. I do need to approve them first to filter out the SPAM, but be sure to check back for my reply as I do not always answer blog comments with a direct email.

It’s my innate laziness that is to blame…