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Ferries in the Cape Verdes

A variety of old cargo ships, roll-on roll-off mixed passenger /freight carriers and rustbuckets serve the Cape Verde Islands as ferries. The Govenment has deregulated and private Cape Verdean entrepreneurship is rapidly improving Cape Verde shipping services. Many of the older ships, withdrawn decades ago from the Norwegian fjords are now being replaced by more modern, if still second-hand ships, You cannot buy tickets in advance or at the Praia harbour but must search out the hard to find ticket agencies on the day before departure. Serry times are approximate and often not published until a week or so before the voyage.

Fast Cats Jet Caraibe and Auto Jet

Two modern water-jet catamarans were brought from Venezuela. Service was suspended, due to the rougher conditions found in the open Atlantic, which did not suit them.Cargo Ships Barlovento, Sottovento & Janela

Barlovento and Sottovento (RIP)

Sottovento sinks off Fogo-Captain reportedly asleep

Built in Germany in the 1980s, although it looks as though it must have served the Kriegsmarine these old cargo ships link the islands in an unpredictable and changeable pattern with little reference to a timetable.It can take about 2/3 days and costs £25 one way for an island hop but is uncomfortable and unreliable.The lights do not work and the toilets overflow and run out onto the companionways, The ships stop at islands en route, for a few hours, when they happen to get there. The Sottovento sank when it drove onto the coastline of Fogo whilst sailing between Brava and Praia - supposedly avoiding the island in the way. Scuttlebut alleges that the captain was asleep in his cabin and the mate asleep on the Bridge, at the time. It has been replaced by the more modern but still ancient ferry Janela.  The Barlovento also serves Maio three days a week frpm Praia.

Bvento Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
Praia 0700   0700   0700    
Maio 1600   1600   1600    

R from Wilts took the ferry Maio-Praia when TACV cancelled his flight at the last minute. As the airport is now closed this is the only way to get to Maio. Madre de Dio may she protect you.

"The ferry was 11 hours late which meant it was still in port. We had no choice. But it cannot be recommended as it was very full of livestock such as goats and donkeys and there was nowhere to sit."

Ro-Ro ferry Sal Rei and Musteru to Fogo and Brava

A better ferry, the Sal Rei serves Fogo departing at midnight from Praia. On Wednesday nights it sails to Boa Vista returning on Thursdays. It is quite unreliable as to timing and often has to wait hours or even days to enter the unprotected harbour at Sal Rei. Especially in winter the trip can be bad and is sometimes cancelled. . The Musteru a more modern ship built for the Greek island trade in 1973 and also operates the Praia Brava Fogo route at the same times..

Musteru/Sal Rei Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
Praia 2400 2200   2400 2400 2200  
Fogo   1300     1300 1300  
Brava   1200     1200    

Musteru sinks off Brava

T from Santa Antao reports
"Since April 2nd, two of the large ferry boats that carry people, vehicles, goods and other cargo between the various islands, have sunk. To the bottom of the ocean. On the cover Fridayís edition of the Cape Verdean national newspaper, was a story concerning the ship Musteru, owned by Agencia Polar (who also owned the boat that sank just South of Fogo on April 2nd, and the boat that I had been scheduled to travel to Maio on at the end of this month) which sank in rough weather in the middle of the night last Tuesday. At the time of the accident, the boat had 108 persons aboard, including one American. Although nobody died, passengers were forced to swim to several fishing boats which arrived from Porto Mosquito. It was equipped with life boats, but there was no information about whether or not they were used. Although Iím sure the story was plenty embellished by the time it got to me via word of mouth, I heard the American that was aboard was forced to dive from the bow and swim through shark-infested waters to a small fishing boat. Too cool. If my Portuguese is right, I heard on the radio that the Government has temporarily suspended all boat traffic between the islands pending an investigation. One of the largest impacts of this second accident then, will be that the tiny islands of Brava and Maio will be completely isolated in terms of communication and transportation. Since the airportsare closed, anyone currently on those islands will remain on those islands until boat traffic resumes, although at this point Iím not sure if Agencia Polar has any more boats, and even if they do, Iím not sure who is going to be willing to get on them anytime soon."

Ro-Ro ferry Tarrafal

The Tarrafal, a much larger ferry operates the Praia, Sao Nicolau, Sao Vicente routes leaving Mindelo on Wednesday mid-day and returning on Frida nights from Praia. It calls at Sao Nicolau in each direction. Timetables are always being changed and it has no cabins. But for £7 you can have an aircraft seat which reclines and gives a fine view.

In drydock for major repairs

Tarrafal Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
Praia         2000    
Tarrafal       2000   1000  
Mindelo     1200        

Ro-Ro ferry Praia d`Aguada and Djon Dade

These ships operate a route from Sal to Santiago and back once a week. Departures are late evenings but the days of the week can vary, Most recently departures from Sal were on Wednesdays and returns from Praia on Fridays. They may call in at Maio and Boa Vista if there is traffic. The Praia can also run between Sal and Sao Vicente, but it is impossible to fund out the timetable in advance, even for locals.

Ro-Ro ferry Mar d`Canal

By far the best ship in the Cape Verde islands, relatively modern , fast and reliable. It arrived from the Norway Coastal run where it was built in 1975 via the Canaries and operates the sort of service they are used to there between Mindelo and Porto Novo twice daily departing from Sao Vicente at 0800 and 1500 every day, returning at 1000 and 1700. Prices £8. On Wednesday only the early service operates. And on Sunday only toe early service to Santa Antao and the late service back operate.

Ro-Ro Ferry Sal Rei

More recently this has started to operate between Praia and Sal Rei on Boa Vista, continuing to Palmeira on Sal. Departures are Wednesday at midnight leaving Praia arriving in Sal Rei the next morning and returning from Sal Rei at 1300. The service is not reliable L from Boa Vista reports
"Unfortunately this ferry has already given up because of the problem in entering Boa Vista harbour when the sea is rough......this means 3 months during the winter period. In the last 16 days we just had 3 ships coming from Praia to Boa Vista. Anyway the schedule for Boa Vista is always related to sea conditions - rough sea the ferry can't unload - sometimes she has to wait 2-3 days"

Cargo ship Ribiera de Paul

This old warhorse leaves Mindelo every day bar Sunday for Porto Novo on Santa Antao at 0730, returning at 1030. It is cheap and reliable. Prices just £2.50 Buit for the Norwegian fjord trade in the 50s it was a gift to the people of Cape Verde on independence, Since then it has been re-engined. It is a better ship than it looks.

Trimaran for Boa Vista day trips when not u/s

Boa Vista Island can be visited on a day trip from Santa Maria pier, costing £75 for travel, lunch and a minbus tour. The 30 mile voyage takes three hours each way and leaves at 0700 on a trimaran operated by James from the Isle of Wight.