Yacht Fathom - Setting off from England in May 2016 on a single-handed voyage somewhere a bit warmer

Cape Verdes

Time has flown by since arrival at Mindelo on the 15th. More and more yachts have turned up at the anchorage every day waiting for the weather to improve before crossing the pond. Daily conversations between boats usually contain “have you seen the forecast today” “glad i’m not out there now” and “when do you think you’re leaving”. The weather has been very strange with the prevailing north east trade winds, which should be blowing consistently at 15 to 20 knots, replaced with days of calms and even south and west winds. Possibly a knock on from La Niña. The first week it was very humid with rain most afternoons which again is very rare at this time of year. Stories have fed back from yachts sailing the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers), which departed 10 days ago, that many are low on fuel mid Atlantic having been forced to motor into the calms and headwinds for days on end. Not my idea of fun.


The anchorage here at Mindelo is very good and there is a nice village atmosphere about it. Friends I met previously have turned up and in turn introduced me to other friends of theirs of similar age (mid 20’s to mid 30’s). We now have a nice collection of boats enjoying each other’s company and spending evenings together. I think it must be my turn to cook though unfortunately.  The majority of visiting yachts appear to be French but for the first time since Spain there are more British boats about including another solo sailor with similar plans to me.

Mindelo is said to be the cultural centre of the Cape Verdes and most of the activity revolves around the harbour. The buildings of the town are painted different colours and you don’t have to walk far without hearing the sound of local live music known as ‘morna’ or ‘coladeira’. People are poor though and there are many beggars and care has to be taken when walking alone at night. I have been hoisting the dinghy out of the water after dark as there are stories of dinghies and outboards going walkies. Despite this most the locals are friendly. There are two supermarkets and a vegetable and fish market so it is possible to obtain a good enough range of provisions.

I have been busy doing jobs on the boat. The self steering paddle that caused me a few problems on the sail here has been fixed by filing down a washer that had swollen in its socket. I have added some eye bolts to the dinghy so a bridle can be attached allowing it to be hoisted out the water using a halyard. I’ve also gone through nearly every locker and improved some of the stowage onboard.  More chafe tape added to the mainsail where it rubs against the lower shrouds and up the mast for a rig check.

A couple of days ago a few of us took the ferry over to the island of Santao Antao for a day trip.  It has very contrasting landscapes with the south and west quite desolate and barren but the centre and north mountainous  and rich in vegetation. We paid for a small minibus to take us over the volcanic pass through forests of fir and pine to Ponto do Sol on the north coast where we walked into the hills and past some isolated homes of the local people. Then back to the village to sample the local dish of the Cape Verdes known as Cachupa. This is a type of stew consisting of mashed maize, onions, green bananas, manioc, sweet potatoes, squash, yams, tomatoes and cabbage which is served with meat. All for 3 Euros per person!

The weather is at last looking good from Friday onwards with the trade winds becoming consistent and gaining strength. I’m looking forward to getting sailing again and interested to discover how I am going to find spending 3 weeks alone on a small boat. I will be ‘racing’ three other boats to Barbados where we all hope to spend Christmas together. More on this in another post tomorrow 🙂

Posted on 30 Nov in: Cabo Verde (One Comment)

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