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Sailing Letter November, 2015

December 1, 2015

We left Arrecife November 1, heading south. We hoped for an anchorage on the south coast of Lanzarote, but the swell was to heavy so we ended up with a night sailing to south of Gran Canaria: Plasito Blanco. As this bay was rather boring, with alomost nothing to do onshore, we went another 10 nM to Anfi del Mar where we found a perfect spot with all sand bottom (not sand over rock, which has been common). The marina is tiny, but the anchorage is safe from all but southerly winds. We stayed here for 3 night, enjoying the clear water, the local turtle and nice weather. We also managed to finally get our solar panels delivered!

After another night sail, with good conditions and Spotted Dolphins keeping us company, we arrived at the harbour of Restinga, El Hierro. Fabulous breakwater, one of the nicest decorated I have seen. OK harbour with a very friendly harbour master. The village is tiny, but we found, as usual, some charming bars, a good fish restaurant  and the local turtle. During some snorkeling we saw more turtles, “pipe fish” (looked like a striped snake) and some bigger fish. Bonito? We saw a big Trigger fish from the pontoon. The weather was not that good, rather windy, with huge swell, so we ended up staying for almost a week before taking the big jump to Cape Verde.

First two nights were beautiful, with bright stars and Venus and Jupiter keeping us company. The last two of the 5 days were more bumpy with 24-25 knots and rather unstable waves, swell against wind waves. We also had the wind “Harmattan”, following us from Africa. With that we got sand and also phosphorus from the open mining fields in Spanish West Sahara and Mauretania, covering our boat. Both Peter and I felt that in our lungs! During the passage we got company from dolphins (Common this time), some Storm Swallows and Petrels, loads of flying fish and we also managed to see the fins of two Killer Whales. We managed to catch a Dorado which made a nice dinner one of the calmer evenings, and a Mahi-Mahi (Golden Mackerel) which had to be put in the freezer for calmer weather.

When we after 5 days and about 800 nm spotted Cape Verde, Sal, with only 10 nm left due to bad visibility, we were rather tired from all the waves. The anchorage in northern Sal, Palmeira, is the only one safe from swell and very comfortable. We thought, as sailors from Sweden, that it would be a couple of yachts combined with the small fishing boats, but were surprised when we found approx. 30 sailors at anchor, a majority being French. The bay is safe from swell, has good holding ground and the small village is poor but with friendly people. Loads of sleeping, friendly, dogs at all street corners. As Peter wrote in one of the blogs the place took us to our hearts.

Water temperature was now reaching between 26 and 27 degrees C. Nice! Unfortunately the bay was not clean enough for snorkeling, but we took a quick swim almost every day. The harbour was frequented by “old time” cargo ships, carrying containers, a car, people and other things necessary for an isolated island. However, Sal has the only international airport, huge, built during the apartheid times in South Africa, when the planes from that country was not allowed to fly over rest of Africa but used Sal as the bunkering point.  During the slave trades it was also the connection point for the ships going west, and later it was an important supply stop of water and salt.

In Sal we tried to by fresh fish but did not want to compete with all ladies buying fish at the landing selling them later to the restaurants in the south, so we ate what we had in the freezer. Good enough. The bars were small and “cozy” and at Sundays it was music and street food together with all the locals. Almost no tourists except for the yachties, who seemed to keep themselves on the boats. We met 2 couples with whom we had some great time. We also met our friends from Galicia, “Naranja 3”, and spent a day with them in their rental car. Interesting to see the part of the island not reachable by foot. Sal has a peculiar topology. It has a few volcanic tops and between them it is almost flat. Very dry and almost nothing green. Even so an opportunistic person had some cows, we saw some goats, a few chickens and loads of white herons (an endemic type) with black beak and feet together with the cows.

As we are far south and west, the daybreak is now at 6.30 instead of at 7.30-8.00 as in Las Palmas. It is something we find easier to live with, since the temperature is so high at noon that you try to spend it in the shadows. We also find it dryer here, which is a relief.

So what did we do/spend our day with? We read books, and checked internet (a local sim card gave us true 4G speed!), doing a few “to do’s” on our project list. Talked to the two persons selling “stuff” in the village, and mostly just “watched the world drift by”. We are now down at 2:nd gear, from 5:th when we started 1,5 year ago.

From Palmeira we took a night Sail (90 nm) to St Nicolao, and dropped anchor around noon. Lots of random gusts from the mountain forced us to re-anchor further NW. We did not really come to terms with the place and growing swell so the day after we left for Mindelo on St Vicente, 40 nm away. No fishing luck this time even though it was supposed to be perfect water for catching big fish.  The anchorage in Mindelo is big and relatively safe. Good holding ground, but you mix with a peculiar fleet of “tramps” and old ships waiting to be “scrapped”. As Peter mentioned one of them went “belly up”down 2days ago.  In Mindelo, a bigger city, we have eaten a good meal on a restaurant close to the harbour, listened to live music (Morna) on some pubs, mingled with other yachties and today also managed to visit the dentist. Eva destroyed a tooth and peter had some pain when drinking warm coffee. 129 Euros later we had both had our tooths cleaned, Eva’s tooth mended and Peter gotten a receipt for penicillin etc. to make the passage to Brazil comfortable. Don’t ever misjudge the competence of people “in far away places”!

We will now stay here in the marina for a few days, trying to visit our neighboring island Santo Antao, doing some final shopping and waiting for good weather for our next passage.

Gastronomy

  • Cachupa: national dish from Cape Verde. Supposed to be with either fish (the cheap one) or meet (the expensive one). We got neither so it was a “dry” experience. With chick peas and two small slices of chorizo.
  • Fish carpaccio and grilled langoustines: a very nice experience here in Mindelo.
  • Peter’s “Fiske frikadeller” (Fish cakes) with mahi-mahi, potatoes tomatoes and cream.
  • Vegetables almost nonexistent on Sal but here in Mindel we have found a market place for vegetables. Be aware of the cost, though. It could be ridiculously expensive – reminding us of west Norway (no offence) J

 

Until next time,

BR, Eva &Peter

 

From → Sailing Letters

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