Cape Verde mon-amour… tips for making the most of Sao Vicente and Sao Antao


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A few days ago, we told you the story of Erika and Stephen and their leisurely round-the-world voyage, as well as their helpful advice for those sailing in Cape Verde, one of the world’s most popular destinations for “grinder” sailors. In this second installment, the two guys tell us in detail about the islands of Sao Vicente and Sao Antao: a must-read if you plan, sooner or later, to savor firsthand the magic of the African archipelago.

Erika and Stephen

A few days ago we gave tips to our sailing friends for sailing in Cape Verde, we started by telling you about two of the islands we chose for the first leg of our first Atlantic crossing: Sal and Sao Nicolau, today we will tell you about Sao Vicente and Sao Antao! From Sao Nicolau we reached Mindelo, Sao Vicente with a nice sail of about 55 miles, done with an average of 5.5 knots with wind at the grand slack at a constant 15/18 knots, certainly since we left Las Palmas, the most pleasant sailing, with very little wave (and this is what I like even more, the famous clement ocean wave we will probably find in the middle of the ocean, for now of clementness we found little to be honest)!

We arrive in Sao Vicente by skirting Razo and Santa Luzia, two beautiful wild, uninhabited islands. The ‘arrival to the cape before the bay of Mindelo gave us a beautiful Lampuga of about 3 kg!!! I will preface this by saying that we are not too lucky fishermen, and in all these years we boast very few trophies of this magnitude, every time we feel the fishing rod pull we party already thinking about recipes and accompanying wine of the gift that the sea is about to give us!!!! So tonight on the menu we plan a fantasy of raw Lampuga with: tartare and Ceviche, a Peruvian marinated fish recipe of which I am particularly fond, I learned how to make it thanks to the suggestions of the owner of the excellent Peruvian restaurant in Las Palmas “Aji , Limon y Canela” located in Las Canteras, if you pass by there you can’t miss it!!!


Entering Mindelo Bay is pretty easy, so much so that you could even get there at night without any problems with a few tricks. Following the normal routes , entry into the bay is always from the northeast, through the channel between Sao Vicente and Sao Antao ( one of the largest islands in the archipelago). The bay of Mindelo houses the commercial port, the ferry station , the Marina and plenty of space to anchor comfortably, all of which is dominated at its entrance by a small island ( ihleu dia Passaros) , which I point out to Navionics users is not well positioned in the application’s cartographic, so for arrival with fog or at night you have to be very careful .

The bay is also known for the fair amount of emerged wrecks present, to which some local fishing boats even moor; this detail should also be paid attention to for nighttime entrances; however, they are all well marked both on the chart and with light buoys. Our plan is to stay a few days at anchor , to visit the island quietly and to visit , taking the ferry, also Sao Antao, after which we will enter the marina to facilitate supplies before the big departure and to wash our poor Alexa , covered with a layer of red soil, a typical inconvenience of these windy islands close to African deserts.

I immediately devote a few lines to the Mindelo Marina, which was strongly desired to allow the easy passage of the ARC+ and Atlantic Odyssey race boats, which, after leaving the Canary Islands, call here en route to St.Lucia. The Marina objectively and aesthetically is very pleasing, you can see that it is a recent structure, and it is quite organized and well laid out. Unfortunately, it is not cheap at all, especially for those of us who have been coming for two years to the port of Las Palmas, one of the cheapest in Europe. To give you an idea , Alexa measures 11.40×3.44 and the 20% discounted rate because we are in Carnival time, for us is 21 euros per diary versus 8.50€ in Las Palmas, with electricity included but water excluded ( they only include 100lt of water during check in).

Just water will be your Achilles heel, these islands are lacking in it, so it is worth as much as gold, besides the fact that you pay 0.02 cents per liter, it is a matter of respect and principle not to waste it! Washing the boat while trying not to use too much water, after a month out in the ocean, with sandstorms, ocean waves and flying fish is not easy (we in 3 days, washing the boat, taking one shower each per day, filling the tank, used more than 1000 lt of water , for a total of 20 euro, we feel very guilty , but we did everything to reduce the use).

For those staying at the roadstead, landing with the tender has its cost, for 4€ a day you can moor it at the floating bar dock just below the reception desk, apparently there is no alternative, They advise against leaving it on the beach saying they get stolen, I have no certainty this is true, but we didn’t want to test! Until you are in the marina you will not be able to use the bathrooms to shower unfortunately, although you can only access them with a paid card, you cannot buy it, even if you leave the tender and have objective proof that you are on the boat! It is still possible to refill water as soon as you arrive at the gas station dock.

You will have free wi-fi at the floating bar in the marina if you consume, but I remain of the opinion that buying the Caboverdian SIM card remains the best and cheapest solution, also because unfortunately this bar as much as it wants to follow in the footsteps of the more famous Sailor’s Bar in Las Palmas, does not have its character and typicality , and above all it lacks the inimitable charisma of the great Peppino, whom you must go and meet if you pass through Gran Canaria! Also here you will have to do the bureaucratic entry paperwork, the maritime police are located just behind the ferry terminal (1.50 € cab from the marina or on foot )as well as immigration who will have to stamp your passports to leave the country , you will spend a total of 12 euros for the paperwork !

Sao Pedro

Excursions: You absolutely cannot miss Baia Das Gatas, by cab 12 euros or during the week accessible by small local buses for 2 euros. You will take one of the most relaxing baths of your life, in turquoise waters! For kite and windsurfing enthusiasts, Saramanca Bay also has incredible appeal, amid sand dunes and rocky mountains, although swimming becomes unlikely. Also worth a visit , again by bus (which you pick up at the Mindelo open-air market for €1) is the village of San Pedro, which sits behind Cesaria Evoria Airport in a beautiful bay. You will notice how , certainly over the years there have been many construction and tourism implementation projects that have unfortunately been abandoned, leaving the country to its poverty).

Sao Antao

Finally, do not miss a day in Sao Antao, which can be reached by ferry (€16 per person round trip). For those reaching Cabo Verde and then crossing we recommend stocking up on long-expiring groceries and bottled water by passing through the Canary Islands, the Mercadona Supermarket chain is the best in terms of quality price, and has many tasty vacuum-packed products! Here in Cabo Verde, vegetables are very expensive, you will absurdly find a minimum of savings if you buy them at the supermarket rather than at the various local markets ( an example, 3kg of tomatoes plus 3kg of onions for a total expense of 14 euros, and I kid you not!). On the contrary, the fish has bargain prices, but we all always hope to catch it ourselves!!!

Definitely if you have to choose a time to spend in Cape Verde, think about the end of February to participate in one of the most beautiful carnivals without having to cross the ocean to get to Brazil, not with its pomp but definitely with the same joy, involvement and colors.
A final parenthesis due to this wonderful land is its music.
Every afternoon and evening in the various venues you will find jam-sessions by very talented local artists , the most played genres are MORNA and BOSSA NOVA with influence from Brazil , and Kizomba, a genre mostly danced on par with Caribbean bachata. You can’t miss spending a few evenings at Livraria Nho Djunga, the city’s new cultural center , a cosmopolitan space dedicated to art where you can listen to top-notch live music while toasting with Caipirinha !

The beach of Lajinha

One last piece of advice fellow sailors,
If you have the desire to sail to new horizons, never listen to those who tell you that a place is “not worth it”-the world is all beautiful; if we had listened to the people who talked to us like that we should have avoided Cabo Verde and years ago Morocco, both of which were instead wonderful experiences, admittedly with some difficulties , but those who like to stay in port then don’t have to cross the Strait of Gibraltar… I say this without controversy and with an ironic streak, here you meet lived boats, men who have the sea in their souls in almost legendary terms, we are far from the glittering boats in our harbors during the summer, but that is also the beauty of sailing and this life with the sea family! The next piece I hope to send you in 20 days from Martinique!

Erika Storelli

ps: I forgot the detail of Lajinha beach, just behind the port…it’s a paradise.

You can follow Erika and Stephen’s adventures on their Facebook page BARCHETTALOVE



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