Two globetrotting sailors’ very useful tips for enjoying Cape Verde to the fullest


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Cape Verde – Erika Storelli and Stefano Mandrioli had a dream and are fulfilling it: a round-the-world trip in total tranquility .

Erika and Stephen

“We started four years ago from Finale Ligure.” Erika, from Biella, 36 (Stefano is 40 and from Pieve di Cento, in the Bologna area), tells us, “with our Alexa, a 1976 Alpa S&S 36/38 with plans to go around the world at a leisurely pace. In the meantime, we stopped to work in the Balearic Islands and then in the Canary Islands, from where we left last month to finally cross the Atlantic. Many people ask us how we live, what work we do: Stephen is a chef de cuisine, and me speaking 5 languages I always adapt and manage to find a job: in the airport, in stores as a saleswoman, in restaurants , where I was also a manager for years anyway. So far we have been very lucky.” From the Canary Islands, then, the two moved to Cape Verde. And it is precisely from the African archipelago that Erika wrote to us, providing lots of useful advice to sailors (of which there are many: it is no coincidence that Jimmy Cornell identified Mindelo as the sixth most popular long-distance destination in the world for those who like to sail long)! Here is what he revealed to us.

cape verde
Sao Antao

In Cape Verde, first of all take at least a couple of weeks to visit a few islands, clearly you can’t see the whole archipelago in such a short time, but I recommend choosing at least 3. Clearly depending on the time available, the choice is usually limited to the Barlavento Islands: Sal, Boavista, Sao Nicolao, Sao Vicente y Sao Antao (best to reach the latter by ferry from Mindelo).

I say this because, as fascinating as they are, the Sotavento islands (Maio, Santiago, Fogo and Brava) by sailboat can be “a trap.” Cape Verde is notoriously a very windy archipelago, and as is also usually the case in the Canary Islands, there are strong wind accelerations and channels of strong currents between the islands that do not always make for a pleasant trip. In light of this, you may lose a lot of time stranded on an island because excessive wind does not allow you to restart.

On our journey, from Las Palmas we landed in Sal, in Palmeira, a cove with a small fishing harbor that I highly recommend for the safety of your boat, for the easy way ashore, and for the possibility of provisioning, which with the help of Jay, the guy who greets you when you arrive, becomes even easier despite it being your first time there. The bay is among the quietest ever seen to date, there is no undertow , and although a lot of wind comes in your boat will be safe because the sandy bottom ( muddy) with a good anchor , holds that is a wonder!!!! We recommend entering from upwind, staying toward the pier on the left, the waves and current tend to carry against the reef on the west side of the bay. Jay has made the harbor a rather safe place, if you follow his advice you will have nothing to fear .

cape verdeBERTH 10 EURO
Aside from the initial 5 euros paid to Jay for his services, 5 euros paid to the police you find on site (no need to go to Espargos as they had told us, a police station is located in Palmeira itself), for immigration, you will have no other berth-related expenses! Jay provides water to the boat , with a 12v pump charges it for you in about 20 minutes can fill the tank up to 250 liters, with a total cost of about 12 euros.

cape verdeShowers in the harbor are there, they are modest and you will have to share them with the locals, but for the price of 0.50 cents you can use the village water instead of wasting your own. The water is heated by the sun, so we recommend that you go to shower at sunny times to have it at least lukewarm! There is no availability of electricity for hair dryers or shaving razors. There are small buses of locals at all times that take you for 0.50 cents to the capital Espargus, where you will find the fruit market, fish market, stores, a nice square with free Wi-fi.

We recommend that you make a phone card in each state where you travel, that way you will have internet at your convenience even on the boat. Here with Unitel with a 12.50 euro recharge you get 5 GB and I must say it works pretty well.

cape verde

To continue our trip among the islands, we had thought of Boavista, but unfortunately we found an extremely windy week, with 45 knots of wind, we therefore delayed our departure and to listen to common opinions, anchoring in Boavista, both in the harbor and in the outer bay is not safe with winds of this magnitude, so we gave up and opted for Sao Nicolau: Tarrafal Bay. The bay is beautiful, but the catabaths from all angles make for uncomfortable nights…. The bottom holds very well but there is a risk of plowing in southwest winds. The arrival from Sal, just past the extreme cape west of Sao Nicolao, may not be a quiet Sunday sail, instead of decreasing , by logic being covered by the island, the gusts increase to 45/50 knots. Be prepared to make the 5 miles to Tarrafal at 1.5/2 mph also because of the currents.

The island of Sao Nicolau really deserves a thorough visit, Juncaliñho for us was a discovery! From the harbor, on the other hand, you can walk west along the beach and continue until you find natural pools and a long beautiful black beach. The port is not as organized as in Palmeira; you will often find guys offering to watch your tender for a tip. Honestly it seemed like a safe place to us, but we had a guy who kept an eye on both the tender and the boat , and we basically gave him about 4 euros a day…. Also here in Tarrafal you have to go through the police to register your arrival for another 5 euros (500 Escudos Caboverdian) .

Fish can be found at bargain prices, vegetables as well as in Sal is quite expensive and the choice is limited to: tomatoes, carrots, yam, cabbage, a kind of long spinach (which boiled is seasoned with oil, salt, pepper and lemon is very good), fresh peas very good! The fruits: apples, papaya, bananas and pears!!! I recommend the fresh salted ricotta type cheese with caramelized Papaya jam, a sight to behold!!! No shortage of Italians, if you are lucky you will meet Roberto in Sal and Maurizio in Tarrafal. From Sao Nicolao we sailed to Sao Vicente, Mindelo for about 50 miles, a beautiful sail with calm seas and 20 knots of wind that pushed us to an average speed of 6 knots for the entire trip. To get to Mindelo you sail a few miles off the coast of the deserted islands of St.Lucia and Razo, very fascinating!
In the next piece I will tell you about Mindelo!
Good sailing and greetings from Cape Verde…

Erika Storelli

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



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