The dark side of Cape Verde

While Maio was a really great place to explore I never felt unsafe or bothered by anyone basically the same is not true about the rest. But lets start it at the beginning. 
The passage from Maio to Sao Vincente was unpleasant as expected, beating to the wind all the way, small but steep waves, lots of water on deck. Although Victor claimed that he enjoyed the sailing he indeed developed a nice level of sea sickness. Not a surprise, smashing chop, strong winds, heeling… even Susana suffered a bit at the beginning. But it all turned to sunshine on the 2nd day with a great fishing. We cought a tiny barracuda a small but already plate-size yellow-fin tuna and a comparable large mahi (ok, it was a baby according to Victor, but for me it was the second biggest one) unusually for the mahis it fighted big time. It was soo massive we even had to give half of it for the night-watch guys after we moored up in Cape Verde’s only marina at Mindelo.
It is scary how two island from the same group can be soo different, here, ppl consider you as a walking atm, beggars are everywhere, and they turn aggressive  if you bump them off. 
Walking home at night alone would be a guaranteed robbery.  One of our friend got almost stabbed, everybody we know from the marina had some stuff stolen. They tried to steel my phone too but I was lucky and I felt the hend in my pocket in time. We where there during carneval period, on the main day I walked out to take some pictures, at the entrance of the marina I saw some lockals grabing someones camera and running away with it, later I also vitnessed a few mobiles stolen during bright sunlight, millions of ppl and police on street, so I decided to give it a pass. The whole event (and the island as well) does not worth the trouble.
Security is just one issue (and I have been before some places around the world considered spooky or unsafe, but indeed this was the first time I actually felt threatened) but also locals do not like to work here too much, not like on Maio, everyone is actually offended if you disturb them and they have to stop fiddling around on their phone and have to work a bit. If you order 3 things in a restaurant usually you only get max 2 and maybe if you are lucky one was among your original order. If you let them know, they feel offended. This is valid for most of the caffes, restaurants, shops, anything… anywhere. Two exception to be fair is the small pizza place infront of the marina and a lovely tiny fammily restaurant around the market. ‎Even at the german owned and operated marina, all the staff except one small fella is rather rude and agressive. Really horrible place and seriously overpriced. In the shower you have to pay per liter (after paying large bucks for the mooring) my personal record was 6.5liter for a full shower but if I remember well Victor beated me big-time. Also the pontoons move soo much that you break a line in every few days (and obviously the only place where you can buy ropes are the marina shop where it is 3times more expensive than in the uk) it is very comon that fairleads (the place where the rope leaves the hull of boat) are breaking out, I was happy that it did a little damage on Psyrema when it eventualy happened. Onece a week the motion is soo strong you hardly can sleep, you jump more in the bed than during rough storms at sea.
Locals claim, that they have the 2nd biggest carnival on the word after Rio, well… hahahahaha
As I can not say anything positive about Mindelo lets switch topic. 
For a short break we went to the neighbouring island of Santo Antao. It is one of the more mountainous of Cape Verde, also it is claimed that it is the greenest one as well. The experience is way better than Sao Vincente! Ppl generally are indeed very friendly and helpful, but not even close to Maio or even to Sal. The landscape is really nice, the hils are wanderfull, slightly green, especially compared to the rest of the islands. Beautiful colorful vilages are dotted next to ridges, blue see around. It was nice to see finaly some vegetation around our legs. 
One night we went for the local bar in a small village to listen to some live music, which is soo famous at Cape Verde. I have to be honest I really dislike the local tones, for me all of them are boring and featureless, but it is just me, and my twisted taste. But truth is truth even in the smallest countryside pubs the quality of the music is really high! I actually never heared any bad quality music, I just dont like the tones that’s it.  
We had a guidebook which suggested some hikes around the mountains, they titled them as easy walks, so we decided to do 3. Easy, eh… the authors must laugh now… from sea level to 1500 in basically no time 🙂 we thought we will die. Especially we caried a tent in my backpack with the idea of camping out rather than paying serious bucks for the hotelrooms. Haha, what a stupid idea, there are absolutelly no leveled grounds on the whole island and the ones which is straight at least a bit had some agricultural activity on them for sure. The only night we managed to sleep in tents was the one when we asked someone to pitch our tent on their roof. The whole village was interested, especially the kids enjoyed a lot the strangers building something on the roof. 
Antao is a nice place with lovely ppl, although they are already too accustomed to tourists, everything is rather expensive and they always say hello to you in french, which I do not like at all but Susana felt personally offended as she is portugese as the official language should be on the islans and she also speaks creolu a bit which is the more widely used language. 
After a few tiring day walking around we where absolutely hammered on the way back on the ferry. Also I was rather nervous how many of our lines where broken or if our boat is still there as I was sure if it brakes away the marina staff would not even realize it or if they do they for sure would not be too concerned about it. And yes, I was right, several of our lines broke away, smartly I puted tripple lines to any point, but still, one more day we are away and Psyrema floats away, but at least nothing was stolen and that is already a good result here. 
During the next week the whole sailors community developed some strange disease involving fever and dizziness including me. Some went for some medical checks and was told they had zhika. You never know, all the news where full with it so maybe thay just said they have that… maybe not… I have no idea, it does not felt serious at any level. Everyone recovered in a few days…
Victor and Amanda with the little David came to Mindelo by plane to make some courses about turtles and sharks for the locals on Antao, and also to check out a german boat which is for sale close to the marina. I went with them to give an eye so did Susana too. They where really keen to buy some sea-worthy boat, as here all is available is the small fisherman dinghies and they do not even know the concept of gps or charts, and they only go as far as they can see the shore, so for the Victors to do some experiments on open water it was a struggle to find a proper vessel. Once they went with Hans-Peters boat, but the event was not entirely succesful. In the meantime we prepared the boat for the crossing, filled up the tanks with fresh water, shopped more food, and some essentials, we checked all part of the boat, corrected all the tiny mistakes, checked the rig booth of us, super-carefully. To cross the Atlantic is not really difficult, or technically hard, usually the wind is constant (except this year, when the tradewind actually turned backwards for two days… what?) navigation is easy, you go due-west, weather is never too dangeurous outside of the hurricane season. It is more a test for the boat, one month constant force from the wind, masts and sails do break easily. For one who is coming from eu, especialy from the northern teritories this is the reward, the milk-run. No chance of big weather systems or storms. We discussed the things with Susana, she was not happy with some of the rules or way of working we had before, also we triple checked our grab-bag (the one you grab the last minute before the boat sinks and you are forced to deploy the liferaft) on Psyrema it is quite a large backpack, as Im a bit security concerned, we discussed all the drills, and checked the weather, not mainly for the passage, but more for the channel between Vincente and Antao it works as a wind chanel, even if there is only 10knots of wind around the islands here in the chanel you can have anything above gale force. No surprise the windsurfing speedrecord was made here a few years ago. It was wednesday afternoon, and we set the big date for friday! We will start to cross the atlantic ocean in two days! Yezzz… I was quite nervous but excited as well.
Later during the afternoon Victor and family came back, with a shocking news. They would like to buy the boat… took me a min to realize that they are not speaking about the one we checked out during the morning they where actually talking about Psyrema.
Well what happened next is history 🙂 I said yes 🙂 why? I was tired  worrying about  boat things, thinking where to put it and will it be there after a day if I go to land somewhere. Sailing is not as free as one would imagine, you always worry about something, the sails, the rig, the storms, will the anchor drag?… always something… also I do not enjoy spending time with sailors at the marina, or at the anchorage, some of them are really nice, and we booth made new friends, ones I will never forget that we met and we spent some time togother, but as a generic mass, I do not like sailors, and the sailing life. My concept is, and I do not want to offend anyone, but sailors do not really travel, or visit places, they enjoy being at sea, not like me (ok, it is beautiful, but also super-boring) and than they spend rest of the time in or very close to the marina. And I wanted to travel, get lost to countries and interesting places, see how locals do and live and apperently I think it is not possibly with a boat on a way I would loved to do it. For me the most interesting aspect of the boating life is the fishing, but for that you do not have to have and maintain and pay after a massive vessel. I felt good with my decission, the only negative part was that I made a promise to Susana that I will take her across the pond, and it is already quite late, around the end of the season, so for her it will be harder to find a new boat if she decides to continue that way. Also not just Susana but her parents as well, I personally promised them that I wil be very carefull and take a good care of their doughter, as they where very worried. Now if something happens with her on the new boat what will I tell to them? 
She was surprised a bit from the news, but she acknowledged it, so we agreed that I will not look for a new boat for myself to cross before she finds her new home. She went around for days and days on end but no success, even I tried for her, maybe they listen better for the ex-captain, but still no luck, some maybies and some perhaps but nothibg sure, for two week! We where a bit nervous and also the amount of good condition boat with responsabe captains (which is rare!!!) started to fade away with the days passed.
And finally, the ice broke, the nice French family who was moored infront of us said yes for Susana. What a great news! A really responsible and sympathic family, mother, father a nine year old little girl and a 14 year old dog. And a lovely boat… boat, a massive super-yacht 🙂 20m, two mast, all the instruments and toys you can imagine, Sus actually had a room alone just for herself, with an own shower, loo… ah, I almost forgot, with air-con 🙂 what a difference, her room is almost the size of Psyrema! Ah, and they have a 3D printer on board!!! I was excited about it a lot. 
They where so nice they even offered a place for me as well, unfortunately they where leaving in a few days and I still had a lot to do with Psyrema, before I could finally leave Cape Verde! Oh, I really wanted to leave!
We packed all the food-stock from my boat to Sus’s new one, they where same surprised as my uncle Zoli was about the amount of food we carried. Well yes, we never went hungry on Psyrema, which to be honest was more to thank to Sus as if it is up to me I could eat beans in the can cold all day long, every day. The only thing I could add to the kitchen is actually the fish, but after cleaning we agreed it is better if she takes it over.
We met a couple of nice sailors during our stay here, Daisy and Paul, doughter and father, the kindest and friendliest ppl ever, – I will never forget the night bbq-ing in your cockpit -, Friedric the swedish sailor with a tiny 6meter boat, he was dreaming about crossing the atlantic since he was 6!!! (and he made it!), Hans, who is the happiest  young chap I ever met, he was a hitchiker picked up by the grumpiest (on the funny way) old german salty dog who was also sailing with his family.
Soon the big day arrived for Susana, they dropped the lines and turned the wheel towards the Caribbean. Everybody came to wave goodbye for them. I was sad, who knows if we meet ever again, and by the end we really formed a superb team. We had the best experiences together battling big sharks, fighting frightening waves, enjoying the sunshine and the many islands we visited. Hard to find someone as good company as Sus, she is always happy, enjoys and appriciates life after quiting the job should be left behind many years ago… Thank you very much Shorty for everything, this 5 month I will never forget! 
Me… well left behind late in the season… no more reasonable boat to hitch hike on… it seems sailing is done for me right here, right now…  back on the lovely Maio, after delivering Psyrema on the last ever passage we made together. A few days later, on a beautiful typical sunny Maio afternoon with the forming wonderful sunset above Santiago, my ferry turned out from the slip and I had a last ever blink towards Psyrema, I remeber she was hobbihorseing calmly on the turquoise water while we rushed away towards Praia. 
The last 8month in my life was something… something extraordinary, challenging, educating, fun, a wonder.


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