Travel Journey 6 | Kaapverdie-Martinique

Travel Journey 6 | Kaapverdie – Martinique 


We are anchored in Palmeira, the northwestern tip of Sal. The first days after our arrival, we get some extra sleep and rid our laundry and bedding of the kilos of salt that has been drawn into it. In the meantime Wessel, a study friend of Niels and a sailing sailor, has also arrived in Sal to accompany us for the next 2-3 months. We also have to clear customs when we have now officially left Europe. We arrive at an old building with 2 rooms with the immigration service on one side and the police on the other. In the middle of the room of the immigration service is a simple table with a computer on it, otherwise the room is empty. Behind the computer an African agent of above average posture is watching a movie with his earplugs. He sees us standing, but does not pay attention to our presence. Whenever we decide to ask whether we can clear customs, we first have to go to the police. This appears to be on the other side of the island because someone has been beheaded. Attempt 1 to clear customs has no chance of success and we are requested to come back at 4 pm at the end of the day. For example, we knocked on our documents a number of times, but each time it turned out that no one was present or they had no time / desire to help us. Then don’t clear customs!

4 days after our arrival several Dutch newspapers mention: Dutch family mistreated and robberies on Cape Verde. It appears to be a family that lay with their ship on an island next to us. Fortunately we don’t notice crime here. The people on the street are extremely friendly and willing to help with anything and everything without having to pay for it immediately. The people here are happy with what they have, even though that is often no more than 4 concrete walls with a roof, which then has to represent their house. Walk in the streets

children to play among the hundreds of street dogs on this island. The biggest event of the day is when the fishermen return from the sea in their beautifully colored boats and every family manages to get their meal together. Every now and then we see a pick-up or taxi van with tourists from southern Santa Maria to take pictures of the African culture that prevails here in Palmeira. The contrast on this island between the luxury all-inclusive resorts in the south and the African villages and slums is huge!

Meisje in sloppenwijk

On Sunday the party is in this village. The whole village comes out to celebrate a party on the street. The men in particular celebrate, the women provide the partygoers with drinks and food. There are several mobile bars where they serve beer, homemade punch and croc and on every street corner there is a barbecue where the most delicious smells come from. When enough alcohol is consumed, the musical instruments come on and a jam session is held. Before I know it, I have 2 samba balls in my hand trying to make my sense of rhythm win. I don’t know if it’s all punch and croc, but it all sounded very nice!


Samen op strand plastic verzamelen

The following Monday we have an appointment with 2 men from the municipality. They work for the government and deal with the plastic pollution on the island. They have heard of our project and are very excited to support us. We meet the president of the island, who welcomes us to go out with some children to teach them about plastic pollution. A few days later and postponed appointments, we set off with 15 children, all armed with a puncture stick, to the northeast of the island. Due to the strong NO wind that prevails here, the beaches are covered with plastic. Within a few hours we have collected garbage bags full of plastic and we have to stop because we can no longer take back in the school bus. After the clean-up campaign we drive the school bus to the school where we give a piece of education and show how we recycle plastic on board with our shredder and solar oven. This happens half with hands and feet and half through an interpreter, since Niels and I don’t speak a word of Portuguese and they don’t speak a word of English. I do not know whether the story or the 4 large white men have made a more impressive impression, but that aside.


After 2 weeks on this island it is time to leave. We have prepared ourselves for the crossing to the Antilles! Fortunately we had already bought supplies in the Canary Islands, because real supermarkets do not exist in Sal. The weather forecast gives a monotonous picture for the next 10 days. NO wind, force 4-5. We are under the Cancer Circle (23.5 degrees N), so we don’t expect real depressions. Our final destination is Martinique, 14 ° 20 N 060 ° 47 W. This has about the same latitudes as Sal, 17 ° 10 N 022 ° 47 W, so that means that we have to sail almost 270 degrees to the west with the wind to the right from behind. Because of our extra crew member we only have 2 services of 3 hours a day, the rest you are free to do whatever you want. What a luxury suddenly!

We are leaving on December 21, 2017, which means that we will be at sea both Christmas and New Year since we expect to be on the road for 18 days. During the first few days everyone has to settle in again and Wessel in particular has a lot of problems with seasickness. I take a seasickness pill for the first 2 days, but I don’t really have any problems anymore. We go like a rocket in the first days and cover distances of between 140 and 161 miles. After 5 days everyone is enjoying the rhythm and everyone gets more energy. During the day we are often all 4 awake and play a game of clover coat or make an effort to work out.

The days fly by and time is playing less and less.


Midden op de Atlantische oceaan

The sea is turbulent and every now and then a wave comes over the boat completely. This means that we must keep windows closed while sleeping. With an average temperature of 27 degrees, this is not easy, so now and then a window (secretly) opens somewhere, with all the associated risks. This also goes wrong once in a while when a wave of about 100 liters of salt water hits the rear cabin of Niels and Bas in bonjourt over their beds. At night we hear the bangs of flying fish coming to watch on board. The smell of it keeps us from eating these fish.

Christmas has arrived and in the evening we have a cozy dinner together with mashed potatoes, red beets and fresh dorado. Unfortunately, since the start of the trip, Wessel invariably comes across his food twice and this Christmas meal is also shared with the fish a few minutes later. Merry Christmas.

The weather is very changeable and the sun shows very little. Moreover, the wind is decreasing during Christmas to 3 Bft. We notice that on a windward course our axis of the electric motor generates little power in this wind to charge properly. This combination of little sun and the course for the wind means that we have to use energy on board again. After having sailed on the autopilot for a full week, we have to return to manual steering, 24 hours a day. On the one hand this is a lot more uncomfortable, on the other hand it feels a lot more like achievement when we reach the other side in this way! In retrospect it would appear that we have sent as far as Martinique, even though it was no longer necessary in the last few days.

We celebrate New Year’s Eve with champagne and we shoot a few bullets from our gun. We wish everyone on the VHF a happy new year, but we don’t get any response. We have now been at sea for 10 days and are just over halfway. So we have already traveled more than 1100 miles and have not encountered another ship and have not seen a single ship on the AIS. Then Bas suddenly shouts; Whale! He sees a whale jumping 15 meters from the boat. Unfortunately we see the whale come up a few times at 50 meters and then he has left again.


At night we regularly have to deal with squalls, rain showers accompanied by a lot of wind. It happens more than once that the direction of the wind also turns relative to the normal direction. Both Niels and I make a blowpipe during a night shift during one of these squalls (boom suddenly flies to the other side) due to wind and waves coming together unhappily. Our bulletalie turned out not to be able to cope with this and the eye on the boom to which it is attached breaks off. The latch also locks behind the sea railing, as a result of which the railing breaks and the legs are pulled out of the deck. What a power is released with such a blowpipe! Fortunately, the damage is still limited and we can repair it ourselves when we are on land again. In retrospect, this turned out to be the only damage we suffered during the crossing, so it’s not too bad.

It is January 3 when our rod is once again bent into the handle and the slip puts it on a vulture.

Land in zicht

We immediately know that this is a big fish again and we are careful because otherwise the 21 kg line will break. After an hour of fighting, a beautiful swordfish emerges from behind the boat. We hoist the beast on board and measure it, 203 cm! We leave the rod on board, but less than an hour later our other rod starts to bend. This line can hold 40 kg, but we are still afraid that the line might break due to the weight of the fish. In the meantime, the boat is sailing at a speed of 6 knots, so we decide to roll in the breeding to make it less heavy to tackle. After 2 hours of work, Niels hoists the pitch dark into a swordfish that is clearly even larger than the previous one. After measuring the fish appears 230 cm and we estimate it between 60-70 kg, what a fish! It takes a lot of weird antics to get the fish on board. The next morning there are 2 fillets of well over the meter on the counter. We eat swordfish from the grill until our arrival at Martinique. A Groninger would say; it could be worse!


Aangekomen in Martinique

After 18 days we finally have land in sight between the morning mist. It all seems a bit unreal, but that feeling quickly disappears. We see a beautiful green island with white beaches and palm trees. The water is turquoise blue and the bottom can be seen at a depth of 12 meters. We are not the only ones who have ventured and were drawn to the beauty of Martinique. The anchor bays are full of ships, one even larger than the other. I estimate that there are about 1000+ boats. The anchor falls at a depth of 3 meters on a perfect sandy bottom. What a pleasure to stand still again while cooking, eating and sleeping! Now first rest and enjoy this island.