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Cape Verde Sailing transocean crossings

Mooring at Palmeira or Mindelo on Sao Vicente

Sailing in the Cape Verdes is exhilarating, under the constant, steady Trade Winds. It is a far better sailing area than the Caribbean or Canaries as it does not suffer from storms or hurricanes. In fact it exports them.

It is possible to charter sailing boats from Santa Maria including catamarans and Bavarias. At Palmeira there is a larger port with many passing sailing boats. The only marina is at Mindelo. Sailing conditions between the islands can be quite trickty due to wind acceleration zones which can take sailing boats unawares.

One Atlantic ARC sailor headed south after reading about Cape Verdes.

"Without this book I would have made my crossing from Gran Canaria to Antigua - boring!! - but the book diverted me to the Cape Verdes for an unforgettable month and then on to the Gambia and then to Tobago. The revised route turned the milk run into an adventure."

P from Sydney called in at Palmeira on a world-wide cruise.

"We left Arrecife, as scheduled, on 14th November with three on board. We had 900 nautical miles to go to get to Palmeira, Cape Verde. Surprisingly we had a lot of light winds (less than 8 knots) and even a couple of days of calm. I thought we were meant to be in to theTrade Wind area.
We caught no fish at all, unless you count the small flying fish that jumped on board. Altogether a bit surprising. We did however have a whale visit us for a couple of hours whilst we were lying around in the calm one day. It appeared every now and again and at one point seemed quite interested in us and nosed towards us. He was only a medium sized whale but had a long body with a fin half way down and some white spots on its body.
We eventually reached Palmeira in the early evening when it was fully dark and the moon wasn't up. However, all the charts, paper and electronic, all tallied and the depths were exactly correct, so I decided to try and anchor in the bay. As we got closer we realized that there were about 35 boats in the bay (we thought that perhaps 5 might be a lot for this place|). We could see enough and got the anchor down and holding well. It had taken us 9 ˝ days whereas I thought it would take 6 or 7 days.
Palmeira is a small port with hardly anything there. There is a town, Espargos, a short taxi ride away which has a few shops and an internet café and a couple of banks etc. The people are friendly and not too pushy although it is obvious it is not a rich place. Master card doesn't work in the ATMs though Visa does. "

D from Sussex liked the yawl.

"The whole thing went very well. We had a really brilliant day sailing in the S&S. I cannot sing the praises of the Cape Verde Jetaway Reps enough. When we did not have enough cash to pay for tours, they were quite happy to let us go on the tour and pay afterwards."

Mindelo, Sao Vicente

This is the best harbour in the Cape Verdes and so far the only safe place to leave a yacht, in full security as the marina berths have lockable gates and guards. Visit the Club Nautico on the sea front and someone may offer you a sail. There are Bavaria yachts for charter from a German in Sao Vicente and a Briton in Sal but we cannot reccomend this type of craft or organisation in these waters. Berthing rates are high , but you can anchor in most places freely.

A from the Solent sailed through the Barloventos
"We arrived in the port of Palmeira on Sal, which we found just charming. Our first experience on land was Amilcar Cabral national holiday. First stop was the bread shop in that little square. Found a sweet local lady to do our laundry (we were amazed to find she had a washing machine and tumble drier) and wandered about. In the evening, the bar by the dock was heaving with gyrating bodies of all ages and stages. Such fun - and everyone so welcoming. We went to Burracona and swam in a volcanic pool there, which was pretty spectacular... and luckily caught sight of tiny little sea urchins in time!
We also drove across to Pedra do Lume for a quick look, which we found very majestic and thought the beach near there was pretty spectacular: We sailed to Sao Nicolau, calling in at Carrical - another beauty, where we happily wandered through quiet streets, with smiling faces lazing on each corner. On to Tarrafal, On first sight, I have to admit that it was not terribly appealing - all those half-built concrete block houses.. However once we went ashore to explore, we found that yet again there was a charm about the place, particularly the small dock with fishermen and market ladies who seemed ever ready to help and welcome as best they could. The little vegetable market was hilarious with them all vying for our attention and custom. Massive tuna being hauled onto the dock later widened our eyes (we had caught nothing on our way across!)... and again, such lovely sweet unassuming people. Fascinating architecture too: massive houses in the making, the finished ones painted painstakingly perfectly in quite extraordinary hues and with funny details like curtains hung on the outside balconies! We walked round to the area where the primary school is and met bright, happy children on their way back from school.
We walked round to the beach on the other side of the port, which had a dilapitated charm to it - with young men avidly doing their exercises in the late sun and chasing leggy girls along the beach. We went for our first 'walk' in Sao Nicolau: from Cabecalinho over the top and down to Ribeira Brava. Jaws dropped when we went over the brow of the hill and started down one of those cobbled paths. WOW! Having gone in boat shoes, thinking would be a little stroll, I ended up going barefoot as seemed safer and less likelihood of getting blue toes from bashing all the way down! Loved the psychadelic Madonna in the Catholic Church of Ribeira Brava.
Sailed on via Santa Luzia where we stopped and swam. Beautiful. Picked up some driftwood from the beach, which I wittled on the way to Sao Vicente. Arrived in the chic marina of Mindelo. We ended up staying for a few days and explored Mindelo -- enjoyed the Galleria, where we had coffee and I bought some CDs. There was also a dance class going on in the back, which was a hoot to watch (bit like a dance-aerobics class). To our amazement, we fell upon a Portugese tv filming a documentary about Malaquias (87yr old musician who was part of Cesaria Evora's original group), when we went for dinner by chance at Gaudi. What luck - he is extraordinary! Food was good too and pretty 'authentic' although French owned. We also visited Praia das Gatas, which was eerily deserted and had a spectacular banquet of a lunch at Achote 2.
We took the ferry over to Santo Antao and found a funny little place called "Lina Luxe" which is run by Lina, a lady married to a Frenchman. We were her first real breakfast customers.! Delicious farm eggs in a 'garden/ patio' which is all dug up and ready to be planted and built! We managed a spectacular drive up to the crater, Corvo do Paul, where we began to walk back down to Vila das Pombas. Parts were like walking along a Cape Verdean version of the Great Wall of China and then flashes of a Thailandesque type of landscape.... then down into the varied plantations and on to the village. We visited a grogue distillery in Vila las Pombas, which had apparently been in the same family for generations . We had a delicious dinner in a restaurant overlooking the sea and with a view of the statue of a scuba diver.
We then pretty much retraced our steps back via Santa Luzia again, where we spent another night and then again via Tarrafal before heading across and down to Boa Vista, since sadly we just didn't have enough time left to tour the southern islands. Had a bit of a shock when we caught sight of another of those awful, massive Italian hotel developments on Praia da Chave as we arrived but anchored off-shore near Sal-Rei and were pleasantly surprised by the little town. It did however have the air of being more developed and touristy.We took a quad bike down south and literally noone but us on Santa Monica beach. We just loved the little village of Povoacao Velha too, where we had a game of table football and a coke after our hard bike adventuring. In Rabi we had a scrumptious lunch of goat with vegetables and the best crispiest fries:) After our brief whirlwind snip-tour of Boavista, we had to sadly set sail back to Sal as time was running out. We decided to visit Santa Maria- one cannot ignore the amazing clear blue water and pretty beach there. Then off to the airport, which is extremely civilised with its outdoor waiting area! Bought some CDs in the shop there (best selection I had found) and boarded the plane feeling very sad to be leaving. "