Finally the winds abated and we decided to make our break for Santiago on Thursday.

Sunshine and sunny smiles as we set off.

Sunshine and sunny smiles as we set off.

It was perfect sailing to begin with, but as soon as we cleared São Vincente, the wind got up and we were back in the same sort of ‘washing machine’ waves that we had, coming down from the Canaries.

We sailed over night and decided to stop in Tarrafal on the north end of the island to break the journey down to Praia.

Our anchorage in Tarrafall.

Our anchorage in Tarrafall.

We anchored amongst four or five other boats and had an early night to catch up on our sleep. Unfortunately we put our anchor alarm on after we had moored, which meant it went off when we swung with the tide or the wind changed slightly. It seems that Jenni and I are the only ones able to detect the alarm, so I was up 8 times in the night to check our position, whilst Dan and Marcus slept peacefully on.

In the morning, I was aware of voices nearby and welcomed the distraction from fruitlessly trying to get back to sleep. Once more into the cockpit, once more!

It turned out to be the local fishermen making their way out into the bay.

Fishing boats heading out into the bay.

Fishing boats heading out into the bay.

Look outs perched on top of the wheel house.

Look outs perched on top of the wheel house.

Each boat had at least half a dozen men on the bigger boat and towed two more in the boat behind……..so many families reliant on the catch. Luckily we don’t have to catch fish to live……we wouldn’t survive!

Later, one of the fishermen came along side and sold us two big red grouper. Jenni is learning as many new skills as she can get her hands on. To add to her newly acquired bread and yoghurt making and knitting skills, she learnt how to gut the fish today.

Gutting and cleaning our dinner.

Gutting and cleaning our dinner.

Ready for the Barbeque!

Ready for the Barbeque!

On Friday, we spotted a stage being erected at one of the cafés next to the beach and thought no more of it. We went ashore and having set off in the little dinghy, that served us so well when the kids were little, we got about 50yds and all got very wet so we turned back to lower the big one!

How ones memory plays havoc with the reality of the here and now……….. being bigger and heavier than back then it was obvious there was no way we could all fit into what is little more than a rubber ring with a floor and say dry!

 Braving the swell and breaking waves on the beach, we were helped ashore by a ‘boat minder’ who said he would guard our boat for a fiver. We have read a lot of bad press about dinghy thefts in the Cape Verdes and so took up his offer.

We wandered around the town, which had wide cobbled streets, not a super m

arket in sight and a lot of small shops that have open doors, but no shop windows, so you have to pop your head in to see what’s on sale.
We returned to the boat and were treated to the sound check for the stage we had seen being put up. The sound check was tame compared to the music that struck up at 10pm and went through until 6am. Sound carries so well over water!
At 10am we pulled up the anchor and set sail for Praia in the south of the island. On the way it was calm enough for Jenni to do ‘the swingy thing’………when they were little we used to strap them into the bosun’s chair and they could push themselves off from the bow, swing out away from the boat and land on the stern

Jenni doing ,the swingy thing'.

Jenni doing ,the swingy thing’.

…….great fun, but again a trick that is easier on a smaller boat and not as a heavier adult!!
After collecting bruises to her feet, knees, leg and a whopper on the back of her thigh, Dan had his go.

Dan's bruise free go!

Dan’s bruise free go!

He’s always been the one to let Jenni go first and learn by her mistakes!!
We got to Praia at about 6pm, just as the sun was setting

Sun set over Praia lighthouse.

Sun set over Praia lighthouse.

and were looking forward to a calm night, before exploring in the morning.

We have had a great time here in Mindelo. To think we nearly didn’t come here after reading the cruising guides!

We have met and made more friends and old friends have turned up and caught up. Dan and Jenni are delighted to have met up with their Swedish friends, Sven and Kirsten, on a 30 ft steel yacht ‘Ash’. We are so pleased that there are a lot of young people, Scandinavians mostly, who have decided to sail now rather than wait for retirement. I was a bit concerned that the Crew would be surrounded by people our age all the time, but the age range so far is from 5 to 75. There has been a lot of socialising and late nights, repairs and restocking as well as some sight seeing.
The neighbouring island is called Santo Antao and is well worth a visit. Several Yachties had told us about getting a minibus tour, so I booked a bus and by the evening we had eight to catch the 8 o’clock ferry the next morning.

On the ferry bound for Santo Antao

On the ferry bound for Santo Antao

The ferry took about an hour to cross some fairly choppy water …. the sick bags were passed around, but they missed us out…… we clearly looked like competent sea farers!
Once ashore, we were met at the very modern ferry terminal by our guide and driver for the day ‘Drongo’.

Drongo.....our guide for the day

Drongo…..our guide for the day

After managing to assure him that we had booked a minibus and not the open backed pick up truck with bench seats, which he tried to usher us into, we set off for a day of the most incredible sights.
The island rises steeply and our trip took us away from the bustle of Porta Nova and up the winding road leading to the old volcano. The road was made of individually laid cobbles which took 47 years to build, every single one laid by hand with no machinery! The Portuguese apparently paid the locals by giving them 75% in food, clothing and fuel and 25% in money……that’s one way to keep your workforce dependent on you!
After climbing for a very bumpy hour or so, with the occasional photo stop, up a very arid mountain side we started to see a bit ore greenery. Drongo pulled up for another photo opportunity, but none of us were prepared for this view. We were overlooking an incredibly deep fertile valley. For those of you old enough to remember a film called Shangrlila, they could have shot it here!

Shanglrila!

Shanglrila!

The contrast between the almost dessert approach and the lush green valley was breathtaking.

Back a bit! Back a bit!  Behind us was a sheer drop.

Back a bit! Back a bit! Behind us was a sheer drop.

Having set off at 7.30 to catch the ferry, we were all in need of a breakfast break. On we went through one incredible view after another, until we came to an unlikely looking stone fronted building that opened out into a terraced cafe/restaurant overlooking a valley.image

It was run by an Italian who had clearly built most of it himself and grew all his own produce. Being self sufficient so far from any town is vital and terracing provides fertile soil and a means of retaining water and preventing erosion during heavy rainfall. This island has a seasonal rainfall and in the past, used to ship water over to Mindelo, but even so, up in the mountains, people don’t have running water and we saw these kids happily collecting water from an irrigation tap.

Such young children fetching water. You can see the cobbled road we were traveling on.

Such young children fetching water. You can see the cobbled road we were traveling on.

After breakfast of home grown coffee, home made bread and home made goats cheese, we were off to see the cauldera of an old volcano. Standing on the rim, we looked down into the fertile plain that covered the floor of the volcano. It was vast and covered with small farms, orchards farmsteads. Drongo told us that most of the produce is shipped over to São Vincente, to feed the ever growing populous of Mindelo.

Breath taking views at every turn.

Breath taking views at every turn.

.....and another!

…..and another!

Back into the bus and we were off to the Ribera Grande for a stroll around before heading on to a fishing village for lunch.

Our restaurant.

Our restaurant.

Our restaurant certainly had a sea view, overlooking the harbour with the boats pulled up on the beach.

The local fishing fleet.

The local fishing fleet.

We watched men hand line fishing from the rocks,

Hand line fishing from the rocks.

Hand line fishing from the rocks.

whilst others gutted their catch in the rock pools,

Gutting fish.

Gutting fish.

weighed them on a balance

Weights and measures?

Weights and measures?

and passed them on to the women to sell.

Fish for tea?

Fish for tea?

Dongo had phoned ahead to place our order, but it seemed they only did the fish of the day, grouper, and chicken drumsticks. Lucky that was just what we wanted!

Lunch with Dongo at the head of the table

Lunch with Dongo at the head of the table

After a brief wander round the village, we were back on the ‘bone shaker’ bound for the ferry, with three students onboard. They were all on a Swedish Sailing School square rigger moored in Mindelo and had been hiking down from the volcano and needed to get to the ferry too, so one of the locals flagged us down and in they clambered. The Swedish have a very enlightened education system……these kids were doing the normal syllabus, but by sailing were experiencing different cultures and environments first hand.
After a brief detour to see a traditional stone and thatch village

Whether it is still lived in, we didn't find out.

Whether it is still lived in, we didn’t find out.

we took the cliff roadblock back.Suddenly the cobbles ran out and we were on smooth tar mac …… we all promptly started nodding off!

A great day visiting one of the least tourist affected places we have ever been. Long may it stay that way.