Travelling to Las Palmas on the island of Gran Canary followed the strong wind and high waves. We lost Bitanga on the horizon and once again remained persistent on its course. Meermowe is almost ideally, broke through the waves reaching speeds of up to nine knots. If we continue like this, we thought, in Las Palmas will sail in less than twenty hours. Life is really nice but due to the high stress sails under wind gusts we decided to shorten the sails in order to save the ship and ourselves from unwanted problems. In the capital of Gran Canaria, we sailed in the morning and tied for the pier where was already Bitanga. It was again one cordial meeting with Vanja, Mani and Bond.
Muejo Deportivo is the busiest place in this time of year in Las Palmas. On the occasion of the largest ARC regatta across the Atlantic to the Caribbean island, here they come, every year, hundreds of sailboats from around the world as members of one of the two existing fleets, racers and cruisers. In contrast to the group of cruisers, whose participant was Meermowe, which was sailing on the route Las Palmas – Mindelo, Cape Verde – St Lucia, Caribbean, a group of racing boats was launched two weeks later sailed directly from Las Palmas to St Lucia. This is also the city where they gather and boats that sail independently discovering a new world, as well as those who have repeatedly crossed over the Atlantic. For most of us amateur adventurers, who are obsessed with discovering distant lands on the other side of the pond, along a miserly sailing experience, made sure Jimmy Cornell, owner of the London-based magazine Cruising World, who in 1986 founded the first ARC transatlantic rally for cruisers. Since then, all participants, regardless of age, from start to finish accompanied by an organized control service. Since then, all participants, regardless of age, were monitored from start to finish by organized control service. To this end, I can not but mention a sailboat Corona AQ and skipper Peeke, the participants of the first ARC rally, which are along with a new crew, wife Barbara and a friend Thomas, again crossed the Atlantic this year in class “C” with the same enthusiasm and won victorious plaque and thus marked the thirtieth anniversary of the ARC. Is there anything more to say other than “want to be, want to do.”
Sailing into the Las Palmas three weeks before the start, we had enough time for preparation and tour the city. ARC office opens at the beginning of November, so we used the first two weeks for installation of boom for a genoa, change the berings on both steering wheels that are completely collapsed and check all the important points on the board. ARC office opens at the beginning of November, so we used the first two weeks for installation of tangun, boom for genoa sail, change the berings on both steering wheels that are completely collapsed and check all the important points on the board. Creating menus and preparing meals for a month of traveling seemed to me a great pleasure. I enjoyed watching how Peter immersed in the whole situation. Simply glowed with happiness and satisfaction. Vanja and Mani have also been tied up with work while the fish was attracted to Bond’s attention at which he particularly licked. We helped each other, the more so as Vanja sailed for Mindelo one week before. Final World Cup in rugby, which took place in late October, brought a lot of excitement among us. They played New Zealand and Australia. At the door of each pier was a poster with the match details. It was definitely something that even in a dream not supposed to miss. That evening we went to the Irish Pub “Sheehan”. The huge screen on the wall provided a cheering ambience and the indescribable pleasure of watching the match. When we arrived the pub was full of people. We managed to get hold of free space at one of the bar tables, where we had an unobstructed view of the screen. The atmosphere was apsolutely crazy. The New Zealand teams were played great and once again proved to be the best. We jumped, cheered, screamed and celebrated every “try” and me feel very proud of New Zealand and the flag that we sail under. After the game we were guests on board of our dear friends from Switzerland, Kim and Claudia where we are, with their two beautiful daughters Lenja and Neele joined Hallowind game. Ponton “S” was located right next to ours. Teemed with children with strident music, celebrating Halloween with creepy pumpkins, candles and scary costumes. While our friends have dresseds, I brought full bucket of candy and lollipops specially designed for the occasion. It was great even though the rain held off. You would found there Dracula who is under the full moon, with a knife and a bottle of wine in his hands, sought his victim with which to quench the thirst. The inevitable was the encounter with the Indian chief, the Mexicans and sombrero and colorful spiders represented by our friends. It was an hour after midnight when we returned to the ship.
How are the jobs coming to an end, and the time until the official program of the rally shortened, we decided to devote ourselves and curious wandering through the past of this city. The old center is located away from the marina so we drove by bus to the Plaza Mayor, where there is a large Gothic Cathedral of Santa Ana, built on the eve of Columbus’ big journey 1497 years. Opposite the Cathedral it was built the first town hall in whose vicinity there are historically significant monuments of wild dogs. My husband and I thought that the Canary Islands named after the canaries, as we have imagined, green islands full of canaries. Looking at these beautiful dog sculptures, on whose place in another city, could stand statues of famous people, we realized that we were wrong. At that time it was not at all canaries. The most numerous inhabitants of among animals were wild dogs, in Spanish, “Canes” from where derives the name, whose busts are located around the city.
Las Palmas is known for the famous sailor of all time, Christopher Columbus called Colon who is in his travels, in the discovery of new world stopped by in this town. In the oldest part of the city Vegueta there is completely preserved Columbus’ house that was built in the Canary colonial style in which he often stayed. There was also the seat of the first Spanish Governor of Happy islands. We were fascinated with the authentic look of the surrounding streets and buildings as well as the chapel of San Antonio itself where Columbus prayed for a good wind, and the success of his first race across the Atlantic.
The oldest harbor fortress Castillo de la Luz, light tower has built to defend against intrusion of Dutch and English pirates. It was set up on the foundations of wooden forts and was originally located on the ridge where he was influenced by natural tidal waves of the Atlantic. With later development of the port, castle is far from the ocean and became a part of the oldest section of the city. Square in shape and is now used as an exhibition center. It was interestingly knowledge about the exibition of Inquisition and instruments of torture, from the time Columbos’ travel. To disobedience and mistakes sailors were hanging in a cage on the cross mast or were stretched with winch anchored chain. No one came to mind to think of rebellion or conspiracy to captain. Who knows it might be something of this fun, with more modern methods, which could be made today on modern boats.
In the end, we sat tired and cooked from the heat, in one of the restaurants and ordered Caldereta, one of the typical fish portions and cold white wine. Enjoying the food and the kindness of the local population, we went back further planning Meermowe’s Great Adventure.
The official program started the next morning. Still we were only five days separated to departure. Meermowe was more than ready and thirty-cooked meals neatly arranged by plastic boxes and stacked in the freezer. Not lacking frozen berries, vegetables, cakes and ice cream. Delivery of large quantities of drink and drinking water we expected last day before departure. The days were filled with ARC program. There followed seminars, demonstrations rescue and evacuation, gathering sailors through joint dinners, lunches and other activities. The inevitable was the traditional festive farewell designated by the city authorities with a beautiful show program. Truly memorable. Dawned that day, a day that usually is called the day “D” when something significant and important has to happen. Today we sail, the only thought which occupied all of our senses. Excitement and happiness we shared with Dino and Pipo. The weather was quite windy and pleasant for sailing. Fifteen to one, Meermowe and his entire crew were ready in places. Releasing the ropes with cleats and waving crowd of people on the pier, we were among the many yachts, we spread the sails and on the sign of the salvo, successfully crossed the start line. We enjoyed the whole atmosphere, which could only display the painting brush. As a flock of white albatross boats are spread in all directions. From the very start we decided to sail in mid-channel in order to come close to as many African coast and used the favorable winds and stern waves. As we sailed under full sail during the day spread in the butterfly, at night, we are shortening. Peter and I were taking turns in duties every 4-6 hours. Sailing down the coast of Western Sahara wind brought us a large amount of desert sand from which all the ropes, sails and entire deck were yellowish brown. There was no time for boredom, we were always occupied with some activity that brings the fishing as number one. Waiting for something to bite, we sunbathed and showered with seawater, unusually warm for this time of year. The only shock that we experienced, but one of which we were jumping with joy, was when it fly in the cockpit large Dorado weighs 8 kg. I have no idea how we were able to raise it the ship. We stared at him as a wolf in Little Red Riding Hood and we could not believe it’s happening to us. Peter had him barely kept raised while I was taking pictures. In the afternoon, sitting with coffee we had fun watching the dolphins and flying fish, which are like planes descended on our deck and to Peter, who got one hit in the chest. In the evening, before going to sleep, we have found peace in the romantic sunsets. All in all, until we reached the first island of the archipelago of Cape Verde did not believe that we have already arrived. Through objective we passed between Cape Joao Ribeiro and rocks Ilheu Dos Passaros located, near Marina Mindelo on the island of Sao Vicente. Happiness knew no bounds when we heard over the radio Vanja’s voice who was greeted us at the pier along with Bond and rest of team. Mani has traveled home for a month and we have invited Vanja that night on čevapi, baked potatoes and tomato salad. Bond was looking at me cheerfully and pleadingly, as if to say: “Please do not ask me how I was, I’m still alive, and that’s enough”, enjoying your favorite and certainly a well-deserved meal.
Capo Verde Archipelago, for us, were the islands of surprises. As scattered pearls are located in the endless blue of the Atlantic Ocean across from Senegal. They were named after the westernmost tip of Africa Cap Vert.
In Mindelo we stayed four days and considering on the program did not have much time to waste. That same evening at the main pier at the entrance to the marina with a cocktail and music, we enjoyed a welcome party. The next morning at seven o’clock we stood gathered in groups around the tourist guides and with the boat headed to an all-day tour of the second largest island of the archipelago, Santo Antao, only an hour away from the island of Sao Vicente. Volcanic in origin and is characterized by mountains, wind and water, subtropical climate and lush vegetation. Carlos, guide of the first group to which belonged to my husband and I, took us to the dock. The boat was crowded with people. We decided to look for a place on the outdoors deck in the lee, while some the wind protection were found out under the cap. We finally settled on a bench next to Susanne and Rita from Switzerland. In the visit to the island them brought a love toward hiking and conquest of walking trails. Our time has simply flown in good company. The van which we started our very interesting trip, has already waited for us on the pier in Porto Nova. Driving along the old road through the resort, with the interest we watched the mountain inhabitants of the region and their residence. Despite all the joys of life that provide these islands, on their faces was read the harsh and difficult past with no future. Namely, Capo Verde is one of the first centers where it was developed trade in black slaves from Africa called “Maafa” or “Great Desaster”, which means “Great calamity”. The slaves were transported to the colonies as free labor to work on plantations and in mines. Their centuries-long history is still felt in the air and, like a spider, generational interwoven their strings through their lives. Everything was reminde me on the movie “Twelve Years of Slavery”. Passing through the small village Lombo de Figueira, we reached the edge of the volcano Cova. Standing on the steep cliff, we enjoyed the view of the fertile valley over which they descended clouds in the form of mist and together with volcanic ridges they were reminded on a mystical age of the dinosaurs. One of the most beautiful places of the island of Santo Antao is located about Corda and Delgadingo mountains where we merged with a fascinating view of the valley Ribiera Grande. The houses they seemed to grow out of the mountain. In one of the villages we were served with the local rum, which Peter especially enjoyed. This sweet little girl from the picture, which was trying to protect herself from the cold by her scarf, on a cool and rainy day, was drew my attention. Leaving Corda to the capital of the island of Santo Antao, we drove almost vertically down the mountain range. The road was built of cobblestone, small granite cubes. Slaves built it in ancient times and going through Delgadingo Mountain dividing it into two parts. Frankly, we admired the diversity of the landscape of cascade fields’ mango, papaya, citrus and other crops to dry barren land and pine forests that stretched along the road.
City Ribiera Grande is located in the eponymous valley in a wonderful position overlooking the mountain range and the stunning scenery. In the city center there is a small square and the church of Nossa Senhora do Rosario. Embellishes it picturesque streets with small shops and restaurants. Opposite the church is a school from which is, just that moment, going to the church, came out a group of children led by the teacher, whose faces are decorated with beautiful hairstyles full of different hairpin. On the way out of town there is a playground for various sports activities. Driving along the coast, we arrived to the place Vila das Pombas, located in the bay, which is characterized by houses painted in pastel colors, while the north of town there is village of Synagogue, the former settlement of Jewish immigrants.
On the way, we stopped at a private estate along the road, where we were served a traditional meal of fish and candied mango, which is the hostess of the house prepared for us and with the local drink grogue, local rum, which has still been produced on the old way, destillation in the old furnace. Before leaving, my husband did not miss the chance to, like an old sailor Popeye, instead of the spinach buy a few bottles of the original rum. At ten minutes away and fifteen minutes of walking uphill, beside banana plantations, in a very simple hut called “restaurant”, we were greeted warmly. Flowers decorated tables already were served for lunch. The choice was a large number of domestic and freshly prepared dishes based on vegetables harvested from the garden. Everything was very tasty, and we went back several times to fill plates. In the end, as children, we were melted in the divine taste of “banana dessert” cooked in orange juice.
Our tour ended with a visit to the lighthouse Melo near the village Janela, built in 1886, which offers a fascinating view of the Atlantic Ocean and the wild coast of the island of Santo Antao. It was late afternoon when we were back in Mindelo. With dinner in a very pleasant restaurant with live music, for a long time we talked about everything and were laughing to tears on Carlos’ story about only one horse that we saw during the entire trip. Namely, the residents of Capo Verde love to watch western movies, so they filmed several westerns on the island of Santo Antao as well as coloring that horse in the white and black, depending on the needs. Original, isnt’it!!
Before leaving the marina we decided to dedicate visiting and exploring the city of Mindelo, the more that I planned to buy some fresh fruit and vegetables at the market, which turned out to be pure utopia. Mindelo is a famous port city, whose marina hosts every year about 60 ships, the ARC regatta participants. When approaching the marina we immediately noticed that we have not sailed in Beverly Hills. The city does not characterized by high living standard and neatness street but is known for a very cozy restaurants and bars, delicious food and excellent wines. The offer on the market is rich but expensive and with very low quality. The fruits were mostly rotten and collapsed or dry and small. Fruits and vegetables are sold in many places in very dark, dirty, damp and musty rooms, better to say in the holes. Considering that we are in supermarkets encountered a similar situation, except the two packages of rolls, which we bought instead of the normal bread, because we were late, we gave up on any purchase. No matter what, Mindelo is a very interesting city. The streets are full of the local population and the music is at every step, which gives a relaxing atmosphere and comfort. People living in poverty, while some so poor that they are prone to begging, including the youngest. Mindelo is a city of barefoot diva Cesaria Evora, the queen of morna, celebrated around the world, even she had a few concerts in Novi Sad in Serbia. While Batuke, the oldest music brought by slaves from Africa, Morna is the most popular on the islands of Capo Verde and is characterized by a sad songs and a slow pace. One of the songs we sang in the van on the way back to Porto Novo on Santo Antao Island, along with Carlos. Walking through the wide streets we passed the University and came to the beautiful long sandy beach with turquoise blue sea. At that moment we forgot the market, rotten fruit and vegetables and indulge our self to the pleasures. Leaving Mindelo, we said goodbye to both our wonderful friends, Vanja and Bond. While the city disappeared on the horizon we felt happy that we, at least briefly, were a part of this environment, we had a chance to meet with a new world that we have only seen on television and in the end we get the original picture of the struggle for survival life of this friendly people. Turning toward the bow, Meermowe was carried us farther and farther in the direction of Saint Lucia, where we greeted a very dear beings Pedja and Marika.