01/Dec/2009, Mindelo - Sao Vincente - Cabo Verdes
Well that's almost all the food on board and stowed. Fruit and veggies (including the onions of course - Liz:-)) washed down with mild bleach solution to keep those nasty creepy crawlies at bay... Food for 3-4 months in all but still a bit more fresh and frozen stuff to get this morning .. Sue's chores. Andy is off to the Maritime Policia and the Immigration chaps at the main harbour offices to get the all impoirtant Saida stamps in the passports - and our clearance to leave the Cabo Verde for pastures new across the Atlantic Ocean.
We aim to update the blog periodically as we travel (by sending emails over the HF radio) to report any highlights apart from lots of Blue! Blue! Blue! Not sure how many pictures we'll upload as we need to keep our "Connection MInutes" allowance for pulling down weather information.
We have sent an email, this morning, to Herb Hilgenberg ... he is a Canadian HAM radio expert who is also a weather forecaster, his hobby is to do a daily radio schedule at 2000UTC with yachts crossing the Atlantic and for them to provide him with actual weather reports and he provides individual forecasts for your area of sea. The daily cycle of life at sea will revolve around our watch keeping cycles, obtaining weather info, talking with other yachts via the SSB radio, fishing (hopefully more successfully - we have had some cunning new tips) and lots of time for reading the stack of novels sitting on the bookshelf.
Off to continue the day's chores. We move to the fuelling berth after lunch then anchor at in the bay to enjoy the swell for the evening and night to start the re-acclimatisation process for going to sea for two and a half weeks.
We have just uploaded a short (6min) video of our trip to Santo Antao to give an idea of what that wonderful island was like. The link should be below.
Bye for now - The Sprucettes heading West.
|News & Updates||
28/Nov/2009, Cape Verdes Archipelago - Ilha Sao Vincente
Back at Mindelo for two days and busy, busy, busy! Preparations for a 2,015 Mile sail to Barbados. Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA)... we'll get there when we get there. Estimated Time of Departure (ETD): Wednesday, 2nd December, 0800UTC.
Today the Sprucettes have checked out where the last minute stores will be obtained on Monday, that leaves Tuesday for obtaining our clearance to leave Cabo Verde. Passports already have the "Entrada" stamp so we now need a "Salida" stamp before we turn up at Barbados .. if we don't want to be told to go back to Cabo Verde. It may take hours to get that all important stamp.
Fruit and veggies will need to be washed in a mild bleach solution before embarkation, packaging and cardboard not to be brought on board - lest they harbour unwelcome guests - we do have the ultimate cockroach fumigation remedy if all else fails, light the blue touch-paper shut the hatch and stay on deck for 12-hours:-)
Today has been a jobs aboard day. Twin-trade-wind-running-headsails are now rigged on the furling gear, complete with extra controlling sheets. The storm jib has been adapted and reinforced to fly amidships between the headsails - this will reduce the inevitable rolling induced by twin-headsails. Radio communications with two other yachts this evening confirm it does make a difference - so thanks "Pylades" (Kay and Fergus) for that tip, three yachts already benefiting from your hard won experience. Rigging checks started. Mast climb and detailed check tomorrow. The list is being worked through and steadily ticked off.
Hooters sound in Mindelo each day as another French yacht sets off for "Le Caribe". It is all very exciting. We already have a radio schedule running with British yacht "Rapau", a week out from the Canaries, and two German yachts, "MoMo" and "Heimkehr", friends from Madeira. Danish yacht "Ing" and French yacht "Toaz" leave here about the same time as ourselves and we will also maintain communications with them as we head for the Caribbean. This part of the ocean will be a relatively crowded space with the 250 ARC boats passing by over the next week... it is truly amazing how many sailing boats are following the old square rigger's paths each year come November/December.
|News & Updates||
25/Nov/2009, Cape Verdes Archipelago - Ilha da Santo Antao
Awakening to the sound of tropical sparrows was strange after living aboard for several months. An early start with a day's hiking up the valley, led by two guides familiar with the terrain and local knowledge to arrange introductions. A steady climb was rewarded with extensive vistas across verdant ravines, widespread terracing installed over centuries of cultivation. Today's inhabitants may well be descended from slave labour used by Portuguese colonists to build roads and terraces in years gone bye.
The day was enjoyed at a steady pace with plenty of time for drinking in scenery and visits to local houses, farms and tiny shops in hamlets. One family proudly showed us their home, lunch was stewing on a gas burner. We saw many other women hauling firewood for cooking. Their homes were cared for although very modest by European expectations. Food was evidently plentiful and excellent quality. One family invited us into their courtyard and brewed locally grown coffee, served with local sugar and home produced goats milk. It tasted wonderful as we sat with four generations of Cape Verdean folk, great-grandmother was eighty-four years old and looked incredibly fit. She probably still walked the equivalent of up and down Ben Nevis a few times per week due to the volcanic landscape in which she resided.
Our party of "ten tired yotties" rewarded themselves at the conclusion of a long day's walk with one last stop at a cafe selling Grogue. A locally distilled product brewed from the abundant quantities of sugar cane. New Grogue, Old Grogue or Honey Grogue... all were duly sampled and supplies procured to conduct scientific testing as to how an ocean sail across the Atlantic might improve the taste... well it worked for Madeira Wine:-)
|News & Updates||
24/Nov/2009, Cape Verdes Archipelago - Ilha da Santo Antao
A clatter as the gang-plank was pulled away and the inter-island ferry left Mindelo to cover the 10 mile stretch of water to Porto Novo, the main port on the island of Santo Antao. Martha, a friend aboard the catamaran "African Seawing", with the Ralleye Iles de Soleil, had organised a three day excursion to the nearby island for ten intrepid sailors.
Porto Novo was a thriving hub of economic activity for Santo Antao. Building materials, furniture and a host of other commodities were emerging from the vessel onto the dockside, small lorries and pick-up trucks laden with agricultural produce were lined up ready to embark. A cacophony of noise and commotion were accompanying the disorganised chaos at the dockside. Police officers strutted between arguing and gesticulating traders, maintaining some semblance of order.
Our guide, Sonya, found the party and led us to our transport. A short delay and the minibus rumbled across cobbled roads climbing into the mountains. Alpine vistas greeted our upward gaze as the coast dropped way below and disappeared into the hazy sea level mist. Over the rim of a dormant volcano and we enjoyed our first hike down and into the ancient crater. A flat patch-worked floor of farm plots divided up the large area enclosed by the rim. Old stone dwellings, some long deserted, lay in various states of decay.
Back aboard the bus and the next valley was a veritable Garden of Eden. To quote our guide. "The people here are very poor but there is an abundance of food, nobody goes hungry!" Bananas, paw-paw, sugar cane, breadfruit, yams, to name but a few, readily grew on the hillside and atop man-made stone terraces. One amazing fact is the banana tree here takes only 6-months to grow from a shoot to delivering a crop of fruit.
Our accommodation for two nights was at a house high above the road, about a 150 metre climb up a steep stone track. Thankfully we were told our baggage would be portaged. One of the porters was a weather-beaten 50-year old grandmother. She casually hoisted a couple of weighty bags onto her head and sprinted up the track to the "Casa Da Ilhas". None of us, although more lightly loaded, could maintain the pace. Our dusty, sweaty arrival was met with good natured grins and banter from the porters... and more importantly a fridge stocked with cold liquid refreshment. A fantastic place to stay with wonderful views run by a cheerful Belgian lady, Kathleen. They also ran an afternoon kindergarten school for the local children... well behaved, keen and a tremendous credit to their community and families.
|News & Updates||
23/Nov/2009, Mindelo - Cape Verdes
Sailblogs had a problem wih the mapping function so while we were sailing here the Map Picture wasn't updated correctly. That has now been corrected and the position reports are now shown correctly.
|News & Updates||
22/Nov/2009, Club Nautico - Mindelo - Cape Verdes
Our first couple of days in the Cape Verde islands and we like it very much. This is one of the Atlantic sailing cruisers cross-roads. Yachts converge here from Senegal, The Gambia, Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. Many nationalities are represented and a variety of destinations planned: Dutch boats heading for Suriname, French en-route for Brazil, Americans and Canadians heading home after cruising Europe, others looking towards the Caribbean, Venezuala and the Pacific Ocean. We hadn't realised the sheer magnitiude of the mobile cruising population ... and this is an annual mass migration as boats gather in the Canaries and Cape Verdes to cross the Atlantic once the hurricane season ends in November.
The Sprucettes have been "chilling out" after the sail from La Gomera. Shopping in the market was an experience, our haggling skills need some hasty honing:-) Local currency involved a 40 minute queue at the only functional "Hole in the Wall" ATM. Meeting friends and catching up on what people have done in the weeks since previous encounters has occupied most of the weekend. Sue enjoyed several hours playing guitar music with Eileen who hails from the West coast of Ireland.
The Ralleye Iles de Soleil crowd, we made many friends in Madeira, are in Mindelo, stopping off after visiting Senegal and before departing for Brazil in a week's time. A small group have invited us to join them for a three-day excursion to the nearby island of Santo Antao. A chance for a mini-bus tour, hiking in the mountains (6,000' altitude summit) and some swimming from magnificent Atlantic beaches. Accomodation will be a pension with a chance to enjoy local fare within a traditional community. So on Tuesday off we go on the ferry and bus for a grand 3-days out!
The local music scene was checked out on Sunday evening at the Club Nautico, an outside coutyard venue (only 200mm of rain per annum here) with a bar, meals and live music every night of the week. Music was Cape Verdean: a fusion of African, Caribbean and European sounds but their very own proudly performed concoction... we were just amazed the violinist managed to wear a patriotic Cape Verde flag woollen hat the whole evening in temperatures we found just a tad warm.
|News & Updates||