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28th January, 2014

Porto Grande, São Vincente, Cape Verde.

Porto Grande
We sailed into Porto Grande accompanied by our Bagpiper David McRobert who was stood on the bow of the ship with the sound of the pipes travelling far and wide marking the ship’s arrival into the Cape Verde Islands. Porto Grande is on the windward isle of Sao Vincente and covers 88 square miles. Over 90% of the island’s inhabitants live in its capital, Mindelo.

I have been to these islands recently quite a few times, in fact this is my 3rd time in a year, coming with Ruby on the Grand Voyage, this ship on the Eclipse cruise and now today so know the port and its procedures very well.

We have to berth on the only pier available and there was a ship on it as well so there was only 200 metres left for us so our stern was going to be in line with the end of the breakwaters. Anyway we approached slowly ensuring we did not over run into the shallows and as my father always taught me, take it slow in order that if you need power to get out of trouble or to stop, you don’t need that much.

We were alongside by 8:00am and passengers were up and ready for an exciting day in port. The tours on offer today were ‘Scenic São Vincente’ which gave an interesting over-view of the island. This coach tour travelled to the top of Mount Verde – the highest point on the island, with some spectacular views. The ‘Island Discover Tour’ took passengers to an abandoned village that was occupied by English traders back in the 18th or 19th Century. From here passengers trekked into the central part of the island that has contrasting landscapes of rock hills and mountains alongside some lush farmland. Passengers on this busy tour also visited the charming fishing village and beach of Salamansa where they had some free time to relax on the beach or meet some of the local fishermen before their return to the ship for a well earn rest.

Passengers wanting to get off the beaten track were given the chance to go on a ‘Four-wheel Drive Safari’ tour. The first stop on this tour was Palha Carga, a one mile stretch of unspoilt beach, which then travelled into the agricultural area of the island with views of the uninhabited islands of St Luzia, Raso and Banco to the left, and to the right, the crater of the island’s volcano. This tour continued along the white sandy beaches to discover some natural caves which were formed from lava of the volcano.

Porto Grande
The fourth and final tour on offer today was ‘The Charm and Culture of Mindelo’. Not only is it home to one of the deepest and most scenic bays, but Mindelo quickly became a compulsory stop for ships making their way between Europe, Africa, Asia and South America during the 19th Century. The port city of Mindelo has therefore always been influenced by the different cultures of those passing through. This tour began with a walking tour within the main square with a visit to the local museum with its handicraft exhibition. All were back on board and ready to sail by 4:30pm. The Perfect Mood Duo set the scene out on the Verandah Deck for passengers to enjoy our sail away from the Cape Verde Islands, with the cocktail of the day.

It never ceases to amaze me that the Pilot said you don’t need me to come onboard do you? I said no its straight forward, but then he said but you need to take the tug boat as it is compulsory. But we don’t need it I said as there is no wind. Port regulations I am told!!

One rule for one, and one rule for another. Ah well I did try!

So it was a straight forward sliding aft of the berth, my Safety officer Vlad, who was on the after mooring station giving me distances from the anchored vessels behind, and then we turned north  and around the west side of the island and set course for Barbados, with a few pleasant days at sea hopefully.

Our after dinner entertainment began with Team Trivia in the Drawing Room, followed by The Perfect Mood Duo who performed a selection of dancing tunes until the wee small hours.

For this evening’s Cabaret Showtime in the Britannia Lounge, we welcomed ‘The Electrifying Violin Virtuoso’, Izabella Zebrowska with her first performance which was thoroughly enjoyable.

We will now spend five days at sea, crossing the Atlantic on our way to the Caribbean.  The temperatures are hotting up and I’m sure many of our passengers will enjoy spending time out on deck enjoying the sunshine and gentle sea breeze.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.