It was not easy anchoring in the harbour at Palmeira, Sal in the dark. On the first attempt the anchor chain jammed in the locker with about 5 metres of chain and the anchor hanging over the bow. I could not free it. Jeremy managed to free it and we tried again. This time we were too close to the ship quay and had to weigh anchor. Third time lucky is the expression and fortunately it was for us.
|Sunrise over Palmeira Harbour|
The next morning we launched the dinghy and motored ashore to a busy fishermen’s quay, where I had to climb up the wall as there were no steps. Friendly people met us and no-one asked for money. We were directed to the Policia Frontera but the officer was not there and we were to return later. We started walking towards the main town of Espargo, about 7 kilometres away. The landscape was totally barren. Dust and volcanic ash stung our legs in the wind. We flagged down an aluguer, a local minibus, and we were able to pay in euros as we had no local currency, Escudos or CVE.
The second ATM worked and we were both able to withdraw CVE. This was a relief because there were over 100 people in front of us in the queue for the bank counter. Jeremy spoke to a local man who had good English and we found out where to eat and where to buy groceries. Back at Palmeira, we checked in with Policia Maritima and our boat papers were kept until 24 hours before our departure.
|Kathy at Salina|
The next day we saw Policia Frontera and had our passports stamped. Policia Maritima returned our boat papers. We caught an aluguer to Espargos and Jeremy asked where we should catch a bus to Salina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The driver said, “Stay on this bus,” which we did, getting a bit worried when we were the only passengers. We realised we’d accidentally made a private hire and there was no way we could avoid paying the fare of 1000CVE (approx. 10 euros). At Salina we walked around a volcano crater where acres of sea water were drying in massive salt pans. Some tourists float in the water, which is said to be saltier than the Dead Sea.
|Catholic church at Santa Maria|
From Salina we wanted to see the tourist resort of Santa Maria. There were no buses, so we hitched and were picked up within minutes by a Portugese couple who were going to the same place. After lunch and a wander round the pleasant beach resort, we caught an aluguer back to Espargo for 100CVE each, then another to Palmeira.
|Porto do Tarrafel|
The following day, Wednesday 8th February, we weighed anchor at 0350, in the dark, and set sail for Sao Nicolau, 90 miles away. The sea was rough and the wind was strong. At first light, I noticed a vessel, Altair, on the AIS, which was on a collision course dead ahead. It took several VHF calls and a DSC alarm call before Altair answered and said he could not see us. Jeremy gave our position and Altair avoided us by 0.3 nautical miles. He did warn us of a ship astern of him on the same course, so Jeremy called Harpa Doris and they gave us 0.2 nautical miles clearance. We were glad it was light.
|Looking down from the mountain path|
The sun went down as we approached Porto do Tarrafal, Sao Nicolau. We anchored in the dark. Next morning we had to re-anchor as we were too close to another yacht and our chain was stuck on something. Three attempts later, the anchor held and we went ashore. A young “boat watcher” took us to Policia Maritima, where we checked in, causing some amusement as one of the police officers was called Spencer, like us.
|Fabulous peaks behind. Getting tired now.|
We caught an aluguer to the main town, Ribeira Brava, hidden in the mountains. To our surprise, two English speaking men were on the bus and we were given lots of information about the island. The scenery was completely different from Sal. Up in the mountains there was a fair amount of agriculture taking place with terraces up the hillsides. The views were spectacular as we wound and twisted our way to Ribeira Brava. We had lunch in Banana Secca eating al fresco in a shady courtyard. Feeling refreshed, we walked to Cachaco, which was only 2.5 miles, but most of it was uphill and some was almost vertical. Two worn out sailors arrived at the top and caught an aluguer back to Tarrafal, where we collapsed on SD with a couple of cervejas to celebrate.
|Resting on a flat part|
We were unable to retrieve our boat papers from Policia Maritma until 1500, so we had lunch ashore in a restaurant recommended by Casa Aquario.
We struggled to weigh anchor the next morning. Fortunately, the wind that rushes furiously down the mountain ravines and into the bay had died down in the small hours. Our anchor chain snubber had snapped and our chain was stuck on the stony bottom in several places. Once free, we reefed our sails and started the 45 mile passage to Mindelo, Sao Vicente. We arrived here on Saturday evening, 11th February. There are a number of international boats here preparing to cross the Atlantic. All being well and assuming we stock up with food, water and diesel, we should leave here on Tuesday or Wednesday for a 2091 mile passage to Martinique in the Caribbean. We’re allowing 20 days, but might be a little faster if we pick up a decent current.