Searching for a Solution in Mindelo

Our arrival in the Cape Verdes was nothing if not dramatic ; racing down the imposing channel between Santo Antao and Sao Vicente in 35 knots under trysail and No 3. Considering this wind , the bay of Mindelo ( another famous sailing ship anchorage) was remarkably sheltered and we were soon talking to the owner of the “Marina” who had e-mailed us a few days before, and found him to be impressively knowledgeable and helpful. Furthermore Ben had put us in touch with someone at Adverc , the maker of our smart charger who seemed equally determined to get a solution. The challenge was to get these two to talk to each other rather than through me and thus avoid a classic Chinese whispers effect whereby all the knowledge and understanding that they had was completely lost in translation when passed through me! We got there in the end and to cut a long story short it has been established that there IS a fault in the unit, and my original fix fed the charge through a diode thus dropping theĀ  charging voltage to an inneficient 13.5. It did however save the new batteries which appear to still function, and a judicious bit of rewiring should get us back up to greater efficiency pending getting hold of a new box of tricks. We could wait til one was sent out here but I think that might drive me crazy with all the possibilities of delay endemic in an African country.

Because the Cape Verdes are VERY African. To my shame it has taken a while to become confidant and comfortable here , but this is more a reflection of the sheltered European life we have led rather than any problems we have encountered. Thus various travel websites report theft but we had our wallet stolen in Lisbon , and not even a tiny threat here. The dengue fever is “officially” only a problem of the SE islands ,but be that as it may the wind is so strong all mosquitoes must be miles downwind by now. Mindelo itself is attractive with plenty of lovely old colonial architecture and seems to have avoided the surrounding shanty towns endemic to African cities. Best of all , the people are loud , colourful and seemingly universely friendly and fellow yachties who have spent some time here report hugely enjoyable trips around the islands on the cheap and cheerful vans that stagger round overloaded to the point of vanishing stability ( there is always room for a few more on the roof!) Everywhere there is music with a joy and beat that demands you stop , listen .. and grin! .. (with the same African/Portuguese background it is no surprise that there is a very Brazilian feel to it.) In short , had we come here with a different agenda it would have been a delight to have spent a few weeks exploring the islands, absorbing the culture and broadening our experience. As it is I have spent three days single mindedly pushing for a “solution” – and possibly – just possibly – we will finally achieve it tomorrow morning – and go!

From Canaries to Mindelo
From Canaries to Mindelo

We are not alone in having problems . Yesterday a brand new 50 footer set off into the channel , did an involountary gybe in the acceleration zone and broke her “Park Avenue ” boom and took off a shroud. Ouch! In one of the many waits for phone calls / e-mails etc I wandered round looking at all the other boats , and ALL of them , big , small , new or old , had toolkits open and were beavering away at something! As one of our new friends once said – “Cruising – its just the same as the rest of life . You fix your boat and do the washing – but hopefully the location is more exotic!”

If we come this way again we will spend less time in the Canaries and much more time here.

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