37 – Leaving Cape Verde
37 – Leaving Cape Verde

37 – Leaving Cape Verde

From Santiago to Fogo

Before leaving Cape Verde, we sail in 10 hours at a pleasant speed from Tarrafal to the only “official” anchorage on the island of Fogo, Sao Filipe. On top of that we come across an enormous group of dolphins just before arriving in the bay: 50-100 of them! What a welcome! We lower the speed, some come and greet us, play around in front of the boat, dive, jump, chase and then suddenly all are gone! We can now concentrate on the anchorage.

If you want to kow our actual position, it is updated regularly on: https://www.noforeignland.com/boat/illika

Tarrafal – Sao Filipe – Furna – Cidade Velha, about 130 nautical miles

First, lava ash…

The main reason for us to come to Fogo is to go up to the Chã das Caldeiras, into the crater of the tallest volcano of the Cape Verdean Islands. After checking left and right about our options, we decide to take a driver up to the volcano. He lets us out on one side of the “Pico pequeno”, the freshly erupted and smaller one of the two peaks. The short but anyway challenging hike on the lava ash brings us over the top of the peak down the other side to the little village of Portela in the crater, where we find our locally run B&B.

Amazing how the inhabitants don’t ever give up. After every eruption they rebuild their village. Now, tourism changed their main income, and most people live, at least partially, from renting rooms to hiking tourists or guiding hikers up to the top of the main volcano. Also here Covid has left it’s traces…

  • house
  • town
  • town
  • view
  • lava
  • sulfer
  • lady
  • garden

… then knee and shoe problems

In the morning we walk a couple of kilometres along the lava flow to the “exit” of the crater, which is still at about 1700m above sea level. Ambitiously, we start heading downwards. At first the vegetation starts getting greener and we walk through forest area until we meet the clouds. Our knees can feel the slope seriously, and Alexander makes us stop A LOT of times to re-tie his shoes…

… and finally: coffee

After a couple of hours, we stop for a quick picknick, clouds now above us and agriculture starting: coffee, mangoes, mahindi, coconut palm trees, guavas, … The vegetation is so dense, we feel like in the film “gorillas in the mist”, it’s so beautiful! But our knees are suffering. Just another few metres… After 5 hours downhill walking (and a hight difference of 1400 m!), we’re glad to be down at the road. Our driver brings our aching bones and feet back to the harbour with a quick stop at the natural pools of Ponta da Salina for a refreshing dip.

  • houses
  • I love CV
  • road
  • Pico
  • donkey
  • forest
  • clouds
  • mist
  • plantations
  • coffee
  • pool

Brava, the quiet one

2 days later we sail across to Brava where our friend Gil is already anchored with Cholgas. As there is not much space in the bay, we get help from the locals and Gil to get Illika into position, parallel to our friend’s boat. Not an easy exercise to anchor backing up to the jetty to attach a second line on shore… Obviously there is wind as well! But we learn with every new situation!

Hikes and cruising

Brava is nice for a short stop, and we enjoy the last days with Gil. He’ll be crossing the Atlantic from here. The boys go on two hikes with him early in the morning and we take a driver for one day to cruise the island – or rather part of it. Unfortunately, a couple of months ago, a land slide destroyed the road leading to a pretty village in a bay and to the old airport. So, we’re disappointed not to be able to stroll around the abandoned airport. According to our travel guide, hangars and building just got left as they were after closing down, so you can still see all the infrastructure and walk over the tarmac.

A memorable event on Brava is our Lobster-feast: with the help of Cha (a local, who’s been cruising on sailing boats all his life and helps us for all kind of questions) we cook, crack open and eat 6 enormous lobsters! What a delight!

Last stop

Before crossing to Senegal, we stop a last time on the Island of Santiago, in the south, in the first important town on Cape Verde: Cidade Velha (old town), now called Ribeira Grande. It was a big slave trading centre and has the oldest cobble stone road in West Africa! We expected a bit more of this historical place, but, if not for the cultural site, it allows us to get a few more fresh vegetables for the 3-day-crossing to come.

But looking back, not that we needed much food – but that’s another story!

  • view
  • road
  • memorial
  • flower
  • bell
  • ruins
  • boats
  • sea
  • sunset


  1. Silvis

    Catherine and family… What an incredible adventure you’re all having! So absolutely amazing to read what you’ve been doing.
    How long will your journey last? When will you be in Switzerland again? Would love to talk to Jean-Luc again someday.
    Lots of love to all of you and safe sailing… Silvia

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