The Grenadines

Passing the Pitons of St Lucia  in the early morning, pitons1

we sailed past St Vincent to Bequia, the northernmost island of the Grenadines. The anchorage off Princess Margaret Beach was very pleasant.

beq1It is either a short dinghy ride to one of the many dinghy docks in the town, or a walk along the coastal path, past the picturesque restaurant and shops along the waterfront.


beq3The tropical fruit at the Rasta market was delicious, but of course ended up being overpriced as I’m not good at bargaining.


It was a hot walk across the island to visit Brother King’s turtle sanctuary.

beq turbeqtur1The Sugar Reef resort in the old plantation building was a delightful place for lunch.


beqsug3beqsugbeq sugar1beqwalk2Alik, the sail and canvas maker in Bequia had been recommended. His service was fast and very good.


The islands are all so close in the Grenadines. A brisk sail took us to the island of Mustique, where we picked up a mooring. The bay has a reputation for very rolly, we were lucky and had a few very calm days.

must anchThe famous Basil’s Bar was being demolished, a disappointment as it was the place to go on Mustique.


Other than that, Mustique quickly became one of our favourite islands. The beaches are beautiful and snorkelling good.



And you can get a really good coffee and croissant at Sweetie Pie bakery.


Mustique is the only place we’ve seen where you need to reserve a picnic table for lunch. As we wandered past to find a snorkelling spot, tables were being decorated and set with white tablecloths in preparation for island guests. The old cotton plantations have been turned into exclusive resorts, such as the very beautiful Cottonhouse.mustdinner

Unlike peak periods, there were no restrictions as to where we could walk. We only saw two other people in our 4 hour hike along north and east coast track.


IMG_1963mustwalkThe lunch time view over the bay from Firefly was beautiful, unfortunately the meal very ordinary and overpriced.

must fire

Navigating through the reefs into Tobago Cays takes plenty of concentration, but is well worth it. Turtles are everywhere, fish are plentiful and the colour of the water spectacular in this marine park.


Having read John Caldwell’s book, Desperate Voyage we really wanted to see Palm Island. As a non sailor, he bought a boat and sailed from the US to Australia post WW2, almost killing himself numerous times along the way. He settled on what was initially called Prune Island, developing it into a small resort, which is now the beautiful Palm Island.



palm3Chatham Bay on the lee side of Union Island, was a wonderfully calm anchorage after days of sitting in the wind. Apart from the numerous small establishments offering beach barbeques, there is nothing much here, except, once again, the big Sea Cloud.

scloud chat

The people, the veggie market and the town of Clifton, the capital of Union Island are all very colourful.



clifton2clifton3Happy Island, a small island on the reef was built by a local out of conch shells. At sunset the bar was a very lively spot, with very interactive dancing staff and killer rum punches.



Antigua to Dominica

Nelsons Dockyard is the place to be in Antigua. Sea Cloud was docked next to Nina Too. It was good to catch up with Andy, her skipper, who we’d in Corfu at the beginning of last season.

ant scThe Dockyard has been beautifully restored.

ant nels2

ant pillarsSome of the beautiful old yachts are here – Antigua race week is less than a month away.

ant ships

ant ships2

The Sunday night BBQ at Shirley Heights was fun. The view of the anchorage at Freemans Bay, the Dockyard and Falmouth harbour was wonderful at sunset.

ant shirley view

ant shir danc

The Dockyard seems to be the end of many great journeys. How people paddle across the Atlantic is a mind boggling concept for us. Sea Cloud seems small at sea, but these craft?

ant row

The horns of the large boats started blowing early one morning, heralding the arrival of Chris, a South African who had just arrived after paddling his stand up paddleboard across the Atlantic, in 93 days. he’s talking about continuing around the world…

ant sup4

ant sup2

He had arrived earlier than expected to a small, but enthusiastic crowd. Seeing the 3-4m seas off the coast to Antigua we could see why he didn’t linger to arrive later in the day.ant sup1Antigua was a good place to get jobs done, our hair cut, and enjoy the Dockyard.

The view out of the hairdressers window.

ant donk

It is always fun to see the items for sale in local supermarketsant drinkThe wind dropped below 30knots, and the seas below 3m, time for us to leave for Dominica.

We were met by at the mouth of Prince Rupert Bay by Cobra, who helped us with a mooring and tours. The bay is very well organised by the local group, PAYS who provide security, tours and services for the many yachts (60 in the anchorage) who visit this wonderful island.

dom 1 pays

dom cobraThe local town of Portsmouth is very colourful, the dogs friendly and the beach lovely.

dom truck

dom dog

dom drain

dom baeachA tour of the north of the island took us through small colourful villages, rainforests and fishing villages.

dom fish

dom raindom rainfOne village boast being the home of the oldest woman in the world.

dom old

We walked through the rainforest and jumped off the rocks into the Chaudiere pool

dom hike

dom chau

then were guided around the beautiful windswept red rock area by the resident caretaker.

dom red2

dom red rockDavid, one of Cobra’s team was our guide for an early morning tour along the Indian River, spotting many river birds, crabs and iguanas along the way.

dom david

dom ind3dom ind4

dom indDominica is so green – lots of  rainbows, and rain.

dom rainbow

dom rain copyAfter a few days of sun, the rain had set in. We left Portsmouth for Roseau, the capital of Dominica hoping to do some walks.rosea anch

Unfortunately, the unseasonably heavy rain made many of the walks we’d hoped to do unsafe. Our planned hiking tour out of Roseau abandoned, we pottered around the colourful town.

dom ros5



We’d hoped to do some walks in Guadeloupe as well, but as this was all we could see of Guadeloupe we moved on.

IMG_1939IMG_1902We thought we’d have plenty of time to explore the Caribbean slowly, but here we are with only a month before we need to be in Curacao. The sailing has been great, with Sea Cloud and crew speeding down through the Leeward Islands, with just short overnight stops before moving on to the next island. We’ll spend our last few weeks in the Grenadines and Grenada, hopefully relaxing, before our 4 day passage across to Bonaire in the ABC islands.

Anguilla to St Barths

The sail from Anegada to Anguilla was relatively pleasant, given we were crossing a dreaded piece of water and had to work to get there.



Anguilla looks beautiful, but more for land based tourists than yachties. We anchored in Road Harbour and found that to take Sea Cloud anywhere other than Road Bay (and there are lovely looking anchorages) we would have to pay US $56 per day, and double that if we wanted to anchor overnight. After a night of not much sleep, the thought of chilling out on an island was pretty appealing, so we left Sea Cloud at anchor and caught the water taxi out to Sandy Island. Good that we did, as the northerly swell would have made anchoring unpleasant and crossing the reef to the island via dinghy looked positively hairy!


The water taxi guys made it look easy, backing their boats to the beach so we could jump off without getting too wet.



Some needed a little help.

What a great place to spend a day! Pina Coladas, music, beautiful water for swimming, a yummy lunch and friendly guests.


I enjoyed watching the boats coming in and out of the ‘lagoon’.



Ian had his eyes elsewhere…

St Maarten

Relaxation over, we sailed the short hop to St Maarten, where we anchored in Simpson Bay, before navigating our way into the lagoon to a berth at Simpson Bay Marina.



We settled into a frantic pace of trying to get jobs done – sails tweaked, rigging and steering tightened and most importantly, sourcing a new dinghy to replace our leaky one. We were so pleased to find a home for our old one – two Aussies Ben and Chloe.

dingy-ownersThe daily 7.30am net on Channel 10 was a great source of information. There is a real cruising community here – it seems many cruisers settle in here, stay for weeks and I think some never leave. We settled into a routine of shopping at the great chandleries, the inevitable sitting around waiting for service people to come and meeting other cruisers at the Lagoonies happy hour. It was wonderful to meet up with Karen and Dave Bowes almost a year to the day since they stayed with us in Sydney. We’d last seen them in Gibraltar, so had so much catching up to do. Ian and Dave didn’t stop discussing boats and widgets..



Jobs finally done we set sail for Saba, an island we’d been really hoping to visit.

sabaSaba can be a tricky place for yachts, as it has limited shelter in a number of winds and can be affected by swell. What it does have is good, secure mooring buoys on the west and south coasts and a safe dinghy dock in the harbour at Fort Bay. With relatively calm conditions and Sea Cloud secured to a mooring buoy off Fort Bay we had the opportunity to explore this gem of an island.



Saba is tiny, but has so much to offer. It is so beautiful, lush and green with picture postcard villages. The locals (population of less than 2000) are extremely friendly offering lifts up the very steep hills and around the island. They are all very proud of and committed to their wonderful safe island. We were so lucky, Glen, the head of tourism picked us up at port and gave us a mini guided tour and potted history of the island.


You have to love a place with a capital named The Bottom that is actually at the top of an incredibly steep hill, but is also at the bottom of other steep hills.


The main town is Windwardside, and yes, it is on the windward side of the island. The main road between the two main towns was built by the locals after all the experts deemed it was impossible.


Saba is known as a top dive spot. The water is crystal clear, blue and pristine. An afternoon dive with Saba Divers was fantastic. The colours of the corals, the geography of the rock ledges and the fish life were the best we’ve seen.



DCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPROUnfortunately we only had time for one of the many walks on the island.


The climb up 1064 steps through the rainforest to the top of Mt Scenery was rewarded by magnificent views of the island towns and the surrounding islands.saba-walk




St Maarten in the distance

Saba’s peak is the highest point in the Netherlands.


You had to access this point via a very steep climb.


Saba’s other claim to fame is that its airport runway is the shortest in the world.



The walk ended back in Windwardside, with lunch at Juliana’s, one of the small boutique hotels of Saba.

As the northerly swell had calmed down, we moved around to a mooring off Ladder Bay on the west coast. For many years this steep series of steps was the only way to access the island. Everything had to be brought in this way.


It was a beautiful anchorage. Currently there are 7 yacht moorings, with more planned.



After a last snorkel in Wells Bay, we reluctantly moved on. It would have been very easy to settle in and stay longer so there were so many more walks, diving and snorkel sites to be enjoyed. Saba was well worth the visit. It has definitely been a highlight of our time in the Caribbean.

St Barths

What a contrast to Saba! Where very few make it to Saba, it seems everyone gets to St Barths, the home of the superyachts and beautiful people.


That said, our stay has been great. Apparently the anchorage off the main town of Gustavia can be very rolly, but in the strong easterly winds it has been very pleasant anchored off Anse Corossol.

img_5194Our timing was impeccable, we arrived the day before Carnivale. Gustavia town closes completely and everyone dresses up whether or not they are part of the main parade. Lots of fun, colour and movement and music.






Gustavia, with its Swedish heritage is an attractive town. It is very French, full of designer shops, good restaurants and bars. The port is always busy, but has great secure dinghy docks for cruisers.

img_5189Driving the winding roads is the only way to explore the island which has no public transport. The views are spectacular and the island and beaches very beautiful.


Strong easterly winds and nasty seas meant that our planned 2 days here has turned into 5 while we wait for calmer conditions for our 80Nm sail to Antigua. Not a bad place to be stuck!

Virgin Islands revisited

Our sail back into the USVI was upwind, something we hadn’t done for a long time. So instead of usual downwind sailing-set and almost forget the sails, we actually had to tack our way back to St Thomas, entering the bay followed by a cruise ship.


We had a few days of shopping while anchored in the huge calm bay of Charlotte Amalie close to the cruise ships and superyachts. Apparently this one has 60 staff, 2 teams of 30!



Francis Bay was a wonderful base for walks, with beautiful views over Cinnamon, Maho and Francis Bays.



Ian had been keen to get to the Soggy Dollar bar, so we left Sea Cloud at anchor in Great Harbour



gr-harb-viewand walked around to the beautiful White Beach,


white-boats2where we (as one does) drank our painkillers in the water.

soggy-drink-waterthen relaxed on the beach – something we never do

soggy-ussoggy-dollarBenures Bay on Norman Island was beautiful, close to ‘the Indians’ for a morning snorkel.

benuresAfter an anniversary dinner on Cooper Island (where it all began), we sailed to Anegada, the northernmost island in the BVI. We had hesitated about coming here as it is shallow! As the conditions were so calm we decided to try as it made a logical spot from which to sail to St Maarten. With a maximum height of only about 6metres, from a distance all you can see is a long spit of sand, beautiful blue water and a few trees.

aneg-scBy the look of the charts, with Sea Cloud’s draft of 2.35m, we should have been able to get into the anchorage (just). But as the depth gauge read 2.1m, we made a hasty retreat, fortunately without touching bottom. aneg

The anchorage at Pomato Point was a little rolly, but not too far to head into town for Anegada’s famous lobster. Excitement during our dinghy ride – a stingray launched itself into the air in front of us…. amazing site!


I had vowed never to get on a scooter with Ian – he’s not great even on a pushbike. But Anegada is so flat, there are almost no cars, just the odd goat and cow on the road and I really wanted to snorkel on the other side of the island.



Cow Wreck Bay


Loblolly Bay


Spanish Virgin Islands

We had heard that the Spanish Virgin Islands were well worth visiting, lovely uncrowded bays, and towns a little like the other Virgin Islands 30 years ago. The thought of some Spanish food and culture was also enticing. What we hadn’t realised before we arrived, was that the islands were actually part of Puerto Rico and has been under American control since the 1890’s. So although Spanish was widely spoken, the food was good, but far more American than we’d expected.

Culebra, the northern island was a pleasant downwind sail from Jost Van Dyke. Navigating through the tricky shoals at the entrance to Ensanada Honda, the main bay, we were surprised at how many cruising yachts have discovered the place. Many were anchored in the Dikity anchorage, just behind the reef at the entrance to the bay.

dikity-anchorAs we’d had gusts of 30knots just outside, anchoring further into the bay was a better option for us.


We’d read the information on formalities in the pilot books and on Noonsite, but hadn’t realised it is mandatory to call before your arrival. The very pleasant Customs officer at the airport helped us through the process and provided us with a 12 month cruising permit for US waters. We ended up spending the morning at the airport – great wifi and coffee, difficult to find in the Virgin Islands. Flamingo Bay on the north of the island was well worth the walk.


Culebra town is small, with friendly inhabitants,


iguanaand a good sense of humour.


Cruisers centre around the appropriately named Dinghy Dock restaurant, a good place for happy hour.


dinghy-dockBahia de Tortuga on Culebrita island was a picture perfect Caribbean anchorage. You would not want to be here in northerly swells. Although the bay was calm overnight the relatively small breaking swell on the way out through the gap in the reef was nasty. It would be treacherous in big seas.


We sailed down to the southern island, Vieques, and were pleased to find a mooring buoy off Esperanza, its southern town where we could leave Sea Cloud for a few hours to explore the island. On the local public (van) we met Luis, who was born on the island but has spent most of his life in Puerto Rico. He walked us around Isabela, the capital and gave us potted history of the islands. Vieques had been used as a target for naval and aerial bombardment for many decades, sucking the life out of the island. Although the bombing stopped in 2003, many land and sea areas still remain off limits.

Virgin Islands

We have great memories from last yacht charter in the Virgin Islands in 1986.


John  (who had been with us on our previous visit)

copy-20130305-2022and Lindsay left freezing Ottawa to join us for a week of sun and sailing on Sea Cloud. As a big northerly swell was running, we spent most of the week in the beautiful bays on the south coast of St John.


Salt Pond Bay with its reef, walks and nearby restaurant was a great place to spend a few days.




John and Lindsay are great cooks and treated us to some lovely meals. Ian acted as sous chef to John, we are hoping that he will have learnt some more skills in the kitchen!




We met Bob the Barracuda who seem quite attracted to the underside of Sea Cloud.

DCIM100GOPROSwimming with the turtles and snorkelling over the reef behind the boat were daily treats.




DCIM100GOPROWe had planned for a big dinner at Caneel Bay where John had helped us celebrate our engagement in 1986. Unfortunately it was too rough to take Sea Cloud there, so we visited the lovely resort by taxi instead.



followed by lunch at Cruz Bay.


John and Lindsay left us in Charlotte Amalie where we picked up Andrew, Emily and Sam, all very tired after a 40hours travelling from Sydney.


We headed off to Francis Bay in St John- to the delight of Andrew and Sam we caught 2 fish on the way.


As we’d all recently completed our scuba training, we took the kids on a dive out of Caneel Bay to Mingo and Congo Cays. Cruz Bay, always fun, was a good spot for dinner and an introduction to Painkillers at Joe’s Rum Bar.



Bob, the turtles and the eagle rays were still at Salt Pond Bay. Having a photographer (Sam) on board was great. We actually have some good photos of the whole family.


We stopped into check out of the USVI at Cruz Bay, only to find that we didn’t need to check out if we were only going to the BVI. Sam captured the sentiment of the local St John women in the rally held in the park in Cruz Bay.


Great Harbour in Jost Van Dyke was our next stop.


l9998948l9998944l9998960After dinner at Foxy’s and a big night with the locals for Andrew and Sam, we sailed to North Sound at Virgin Gorda, catching a few more fish on the way. We anchored off Saba Rock close to the Bitter End Yacht Club.



Dinner at the Bitter End Yacht Club

The other Sea Cloud was also anchored in North Sound, the last time we had shared an anchorage was in La Gomera, Canary Islands.

The Baths at Virgin Gorda, although crowded were a lot of fun.


DCIM100GOPROAndrew Emily and Sam prepared a lunch BBQ’d fresh fish.


Cooper Island (where Ian proposed in 1986) was an essential stop for us. We were one of 45 boats, quite different from our previous visit in which we’d been one of 2. It is still quite beautiful, much more developed but in a very low key way.




family-cockpitWe hadn’t realised that there was good snorkelling on the reef off Cooper Island.




Emily and Sam’s last night was spent in The Bight on Norman Island, with swimming and a last few Caribbean cocktails before they flew to Miami to start their US road trip. Sad to see them go!




Our last few nights with Andrew were spent in White Bay on Guana Island, then the beautiful Diamond Cay on Jost Van Dyke.



Caribbean – Barbados to Guadeloupe

The beachfront walk from Port St Charles to Speightstown made us realise we were actually in the Caribbean.

Speightstown was a very pleasant, quirky little town, quite a contrast to the busy capital, Bridgetown.


img_0930img_0931img_0932The anchorage of Carlisle bay off Bridgetown was pleasant enough, if you didn’t mind a bit of loud music at night.


Race horse training

Bridgetown itself was so crowded, but I guess 4 cruise ships in port do that to a small town. After hearing that flying fish were the delicacy here, we had to try the flying fish sandwich for lunch. It was surprisingly good, and fortunately did not in the slightest resemble the smelly creatures on our deck each morning.


Most of the yachts from the Cornell Atlantic Odyssey were in port amongst the Christmas trees.


Port St Charles is definitely the place to check into out of Barbados in a yacht. In Bridgetown, you have a long hot walk to the cruise ship port. We only spent 2 nights in Barbados, more had been planned until we saw the weather forecast. Unless we wanted to stay another week, we needed to move quickly to beat the predicted strong winds and big seas. After a boisterous and squall studded night at sea, we passed the Pitons of St Lucia


and arrived in Marigot Bay, a very pleasant spot to spend a few nights.



The weather is definitely still rainy season. One minute sunny, the next pouring.




We anchored off in Rodney Bay for a few nights. Although the ARC rally had finished, there were still quite a few ARC yachts still in the marina. The limitation of being part of a rally with a specific departure date was very obvious this year. We left when the winds were right, taking a total of 19 days to cross. Many ARC boats were becalmed for up to a week mid Atlantic, some taking 30days to complete the crossing.

The strong winds and 4metre seas dropped so we headed across to Martinique. Caribbean sailing is quite different from sailing in the Med.  Sailing is brisk, there are consistent winds 15-20knots, quite big seas between the islands then calm sailing up the lee of the islands. You need to pick your day to cross between the islands in this part of the world.

Martinique is lush, green and mountainous.

martinique-new Since arriving here, we’ve had heavy rain most days with beautiful rainbows.



We’ve anchored in Anse Dufour, good for snorkelling and St Pierre, the small seaside village where, in 1902 its substantial population of 30,000 were killed by the eruption of nearby Mt Pelee.

peleeWe only had one night in Dominica (more to come, we hope).




We picked up a mooring in the very windy main bay of Les Saintes, a small group of islands just south of Guadeloupe where we were to spend Christmas.


Les Saintes is a very pretty spot good walks, good anchorages and a pleasant local town with friendly people. Unfortunately the French Christmas dinner did not live up to expectations!




les-saintes-goatsOur last few days with Tine and Gordon were spent at Pigeon Island, a beautiful anchorage with fabulous snorkelling with the turtles right off the boat. We also had our first scuba dive in the Caribbean.


pigeon-sunsetLa Touna near the anchorage was a fitting farewell meal for Gordon and Tine – great food in a wonderful setting.

pigoen-dinnerTine and Gordon were great crew for our Atlantic crossing. They headed back to cold, dark Copenhagen while we sail north towards Montserrat for New Year.tine-and-gordon We have about a week island hopping our way north to the Virgin Islands where we meet friends and family in mid January.

Atlantic crossing

We were incredibly lucky. After 13 days and 2 hours, we arrived in Port St Charles, Barbados after 2083 miles at sea. Our conditions were almost perfect, the trade winds we had been waiting for had arrived.  Two hours out of Mindelo we turned off the engine, only to turn it on again to enter the marina in Barbados. We had between 15 -25knots of NE winds, and reasonably comfortable seas, about 80% of the time between 1-2 metres, with the rest 2-3+metres. Apart from the expected squalls, which came later in the passage, we had pretty good weather. The biggest issue was coping with the relentless movement, a bit like being in a washing machine for a few weeks. Any activity is tricky.

What did we do for 13 days? Most of the way, Sea Cloud’s sails were set as below, genoa poled out and a little mainsail held out by a boom brake and a preventer.

img_0862We ate well – we rotated responsibility for meals

We had 3 hour watches, most of us slept at every possible opportunity. Having 4 of us to share the night watches was wonderful.img_1244

After six seasons in the Med, we hadn’t caught a fish. We have a good rod (thanks to Sel at Pruva Hotel in Gocek) and reel (thanks to John Bowyer) and, according to the man in the fishing shop in La Gomera, the perfect lure.


The fishing in the Atlantic was fantastic – put out a line, catch a fish…

Our first fish caused a lot of excitement. When the reel ran out Ian was in the shower, Tine and Gordon were showering on the back deck.


we managed to land the fish, anaesthetise him with Amorgos Raki, img_1157

and cook him – a great meal for 4. It was even calm enough to eat at the table with proper plates rather than our usual plastic dishes


Gordon caught his first fish, a very respectable MahiMahi. img_1211img_1212The fishing was so good, we had to limit Ian from putting out the line. No one wanted fish EVERY night.

We spent time relaxing, sewing, reading, img_1213

sunbathing (not the Aussies, of course!)


Ian tried his hand at celestial navigation


We celebrated Gordon’s birthday with Tine’s freshly cooked bread,


and brownies


Checking the boat daily for chafe and damage was an important task


and for flying fish – we had 10 of the smelly little things on deck one night, plus one which joined me in the cockpit at 5am!


We saw whales, dolphins and had a blue marlin chasing our Watt and Sea hydrogenerator.

A very tired bird joined about 200Nm out of Cape Verde. He rested on the foredeck for about 12 hours, then at about 5am decided that it looked more comfortable in the cockpit. Time for him to leave.


img_1225While on watch we tweaked Ted, (the Hydrovane) who steered us across the ocean.

img_4712We enjoyed some wonderful sunrises and Atlantic clouds



Squall management became important later in the passage. The radar was really helpful in determining whether or not we were likely to be hit. We could see the rain, but had no idea how much wind we’d get or from which direction it would come.



img_4727Our last night was the worst of the passage. We had 12 hours of constant squalls, wind shifts and strong gusts with very confused high seas. No one slept. We were pleased to have experienced this short taste of not so pleasant Atlantic weather. It reinforced just how lucky we had really been.

A beautiful day followed, so Ian put out the fishing line for his last chance at an Atlantic fish. We were all cursing him when minutes later the line ran out – Sea Cloud was doing 8knots, we had 2-3m seas and 20+knots of breeze! Gordon and Tine did a great job of slowing the boat down while Ian and I wrestled with this very frisky fish on the heaving back deck.


The sight of land was pretty exciting! We arrived in Port Charles, Barbados, a delightful small marina, and a very easy place to check in. Once Sea Cloud was safely berthed we enjoyed a bottle of Moet, a lovely dinner in the yacht club marina overlooking Sea Cloud sitting in the turquoise blue lagoon and most importantly, a full night of sleep in a bed which did not move!!

img_0924img_0919img_4751Having delivered Sea Cloud and crew safely to the other side, the skipper could finally relax! img_4753

Cape Verde Islands

Mindelo – San Vincente Island

After our 6 day sail from La Gomera (Canary Is), we arrived in Mindelo marina, on the island of San Vincente, Cape Verde Islands.


Mindelo harbour

Mindelo is a feast for the senses, from the colourful fruit market with many types of banana, papaya and root vegetables to the fish market with its rather overwhelming scents and sights and an incredible collection of fish. Apparently this is one of the under-fished areas of the world. Huge locally caught tuna were being carved up and sold in the market, in doorways, on planks in the park….



locals buying fish, Mindelo








Santo Antao Island

As the trade winds haven’t yet arrived, the forecast for a few days of light winds meant it was a perfect time for us to head for the adjacent island of Santo Antao, a one hour ferry ride away, which we had heard was great for walking.

It wasn’t easy to find out about the island, but we managed to book a small guesthouse, Casa Cavaquinho, in the small village of Cha de Manuel dos Santos a the top of Paul Valley.


Casa Cavaquinho – orange building

It was a great find, helpful hosts, delicious food, with stunning views down the valley from our comfortable room. Jose arranged the local shuttle (aguluera) from Porto Novo to bring us to the hotel. The other, more expensive option was to dropped at the top of the Cova de Paul and then walking down into the Paul valley. Jose’s suggested walk to Pico d’Antonio and down the Paul Valley. This took us via the villages of Chazinja, Cha de Mato, then up to the peak, then down to Boca de Figueiral. Jose gave us a laminated card with the route and directions, but said to ask the friendly locals, which we did many times, especially when we took a wrong turn at the pig….


The path winds through small villages, fields of sugar cane, banana and coffee.


Unlike the other islands, water is plentiful in this valley. Large catchment areas such as this one are used for bathing, washing and irrigation.

img_0509As we cautiously trekked down the cobbled paths we pass the locals carrying their produce or building products.


0r offering their produce for sale.



A lunchtime stop in Cha de Mato a friendly local brought us oranges, guava and sugar cane to taste. Portuguese and the local Creole are spoken but many of the islanders speak French. French tourists, especially trekkers have certainly ‘discovered’ the magic of this island.



At the end of lunch, Sandra, the owner of the café at the top of Pico d’Antonio arrived and led us through the plantations and up the seriously scary ridge to her village. The mist had rolled in- it was good that we couldn’t see the drop off from the ridge but not so good that we missed the panorama on the other side.

img_0538Five families (and a few pigs) live on the ridge. The children have an hour’s walk (took us 2) down a steep path to nearest school.



The walk through the fertile valley was spectacular. Most of the way there are good paved paths, with short parts of the walk along the river bed. Erosion is obviously an issue with large amounts of planting in vulnerable spots.





vous avez chocolat??


Just before dark the path ended at the road, where we picked up an aluguer (local collective transport) for the steep ride back to Casa Cavaquinho and a wonderful dinner of local produce. Unfortunately, we could only stay one night at Casa Cavaquinho. Following their directions, we walked up the dauntingly steep hills to the volcanic crater of Cova de Paul. This walk was more straight forward – walk through the village, turn hard right at Bob Marley, and keep walking up!


The village is about 500m above sea level and the crater about 1200m. Very quickly we were level with ‘Sandra’s place’ – we couldn’t quite believed where we had climbed the day before.



The path is in great condition, cobbled most of the way. The views……



After about 2 hours, we reached the Cova de Paul.

img_0607The weather has been unusually unsettled, the ‘rainy’ season is usually August, September, but we had some rain most days, luckily not so heavy as to stop us walking. We lunched at Biosfera, the only restaurant at the top, a rather quirky place run by an Italian. Luckily we met up with Amilcar, a very pleasant local driver who helped us out with transport for the rest of our stay. The road between the Crater and Ribeira Grande at the coast is like nothing we had ever seen before. The road, which winds along the top of ridge, affording spectacular views down the valleys on either side.

img_0600Our second night was spent in Ponta do Sol, where we a great meal at La Calheta. The hotel was modern and comfortable, but in the weirdest position, a disused airstrip then the coast in front, a big of a garbage dump with chickens, kittens and a very annoying rooster behind!


img_0662Ponto do Sol is a good place to stay before the spectacular walk along the coast to Fontainhaus. Corvo, then Forminghaus. Part of the track had been damaged by recent rain so we didn’t go the whole way.img_0628

On the outskirts of Ponto do Sol is a pig farm with the best views. In most other places this would be the site of a 5 star hotel.




The track was rated as easy, but there sure was a lot of up and down, luckily once again on very well made and maintained cobbled paths.


There are terraces everywhereimg_0647







We were meant to stay in Kasa XoXo the next night, where Tine and Gordon would join us. A bungle in the booking meant we ended up back near the rather colourful Riberia Grande, then made the trek up to Xoxo the next morning.

Being Sunday, some of the locals were in their finery heading to church, while many others worked.



XoXo sits at the head of the Ribeira da Torre, which is narrower and steeper than the Paul valley.



Erosion is a big problem here, the rains must really come down in a torrent given the size of the watercourse.


We walked up to Agua de Rabo Curto, passing through many small villages along the way.







Kasa Xoxo staff

Our last day we drove back over the middle of the island then


walked back down from Cova de Paul into the valley,






img_0751into the valley for a coffee at Pension Chez Sandro.


then down to Passagem past many locals



before heading back to get the 4pm ferry from Porto Novo to Mindelo.

Our impression of Cape Verde – a place you should not miss! Not only is it the logical stop for sailors en route to the Caribbean, it is a place to wonderful experience. We arrived back in Mindelo to find the marina full of ARC rally boats on the docks and in the bay. After days of no wind and wallowing out in the Atlantic, many have stopped here to wait for the trade winds to kick in. The forecast is looking good for tomorrow – hopefully we will provision and cast lines heading for Barbados (you’ll be pleased to hear that John Reid!).