The organised excursion around the Island was interesting with the small coach struggling up to the summit along steep, narrow, paved switchback roads.
The views would have been stunning had there been better visibility through the low cloud and mist. We visited deserted beaches and verdant smallholdings in valleys between barren mountains.
Away from the Mindelo conurbation, the Island is attractive with some striking features and an unspoilt charm.
It seems that two small islands further south are the holiday destinations and not Sao Vincente where we are moored in Mindelo.
Doing our final shop in the local supermarket we were reminded of the peculiar dynamic of Mindelo society with security guards dressed like commandos stationed at the exit with others patrolling the aisles. I can’t help including an observation about some (certainly not all) of our fellow sailors from ‘Northern Europe’. Not only do they just walk past with no acknowledgement when a door is held open or we wait patiently for them to pas by, in the supermarket yesterday we experienced an incredible example of lack of manners and rudeness. We had queued diligently waiting for the couple in front to finish packing their bags when they actually walked off to find a cash-point to get money to pay. On their return they didn’t even acknowledge that they had delayed everyone, let alone make an apology – incredible!!!!!
I also feel I have to report upon the importance of selecting the only cubicle for one’s ablutions not to have at least one split in the seat otherwise it’s a pinched bum!
The replacement pipe required for the water maker has so far failed to arrive so we will revert to ‘plan B’ which is to join two sections of pipe together.
Feeling somewhat guilty for the lack of adventure, we decided to take our final meal ashore in the same restaurant as the night before on the basis that it had been excellent and it was not the time to experiment! I even ordered the octopus and it was just as good as the night before.
Our bus tour was a revelation, as leaving Mindelo we traversed what can only be described as a shanti town and the reasons for begging and hawking became abundantly clear. The interior of the island had a desolate charm with subsistence farming interspersed with small oases of green. The yellow sand beaches were apparently a gift from Saharan sand storms and the dark volcanic landscape made for an interesting contrast. We were given a taste of the local `grog` by our tour guide on one of the largest beaches and it is best described as a throat challenging experience although the rum liqueur ,called `Ponche de Santo Antao’ ,was much smoother and we have added a bottle to our stores to help us through the long night watches. The watermaker has yet to be ‘sorted’ but the Master has a solution to hand and his cool brinkmanship is something to behold. The victualing of Hejira is almost complete although our quest for cheap Gin was thwarted by high demand from the other ARC+ crews. We did discover some Hendrick`s in the Master`s secret stash but apparently this is too good to be wasted on the crew. The pontoon has been a hive of activity as last minute repairs to rudders and forestays were carried out on several boats and the concerns of their skippers` was obvious as the deadline for the start approached. Tomorrow we have only to source water and fresh fruit and we will be ready to set sail for St Lucia a mere 2000 nautical miles away. Tonight we have had our last meal on dry land for the next few weeks so we have only ourselves to blame should we succumb to malnutrition or scurvy, and I have been left in no doubt about the crew’s expectation for fresh fish to be on the menu on a regular basis. On our return to the marina, once we had run the gauntlet of ‘ladies of the night’ and child beggars, we decided to turn in early so as to be on our best form at first light, although the Master has very kindly promised us a few extra minutes in our bunks before the obligatory tongue lashing begins. Our next blog will be written from the Atlantic so I hope to be able to report fair winds and small seas.
We believe that our preparations are complete and we have metaphorically girded our loins. I say that on behalf of the majority of the crew; what the Silver Fox does with his is a subject that has so far eluded satisfactory definition by all of medical science! We were slightly subdued during last night’s meal, most probably because departure was so close and the enormity of what we are undertaking finally sunk in. For my part, I am looking forward to the exercise of getting the most out of the boat without compromising safety, in an all-out effort to secure a podium finish! (One does have to have a dream!). I still find it fascinating that, apparently, more people have climbed Everest as far as base camp than have sailed across the Atlantic. At last night’s skipper’s briefing, we were advised that the trades have filled in and that we should have a favourable crossing. Here’s hoping!
Barry has his head in the bowels.