The islands slowly revealed themselves as unprepossessing hard grey lines in the soft grey skies. Only close in did the jagged, rocky profiles become apparent. A couple of timid terns welcomed us and the wind increased. Around the stern of tall ship Frederik Chopin and into the little marina, we tied up gratefully.
For yachts these islands are a staging post for the westbound transatlantic crossing. From here it is about two weeks across to the Caribbean and the NE trades blow fresh and reliably. As they did for Columbus and the countless others who precede us.
In Mindelo it is overcast and very windy. They say it usually is. 30 yachts tug at their lines in the surge and crew are up masts, repairing sails and doing those countless tedious jobs which precede an ocean passage. There is a constant pall of reddish dust over the town, which is colourful and poor.
Elegant ladies carry fruit in baskets on their heads, a huge crowd watches an outdoor telecast of the Cabo Verde-Namibia match and a noisy procession is winding up the narrow streets – children, old ladies and glistening black mandinga celebrating the imminence of Carnivale. Boys idly kick soccer balls and old women sell cigarettes on the footpaths. It is good to be here, although it will take me a day or two to unwind.
After a sumptuous meal and too much red wine we collapse into our cots. Showers and customs formalities can wait until tomorrow.