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Porto Praia, Santiago, Cape Verde

Saga Sapphire blog - Captains' blogs

5th February, 2015

Porto da Praia, is located on Santiago, the largest island of the Cape Verde archipelago. It was the first island to be settled by the Portuguese, who founded the town of Ribeira Grande in 1462, known today as Cidade Velha. Today, Praia is the nation’s capital, and, with a population of about 250,000, is home to half the country’s population. Santiago is an important centre for agricultural production, partly because the high mountains in the interior of the island allow crops to be grown in some areas throughout the year, and also because during the summer months the island receives a fair though sporadic amount of rain.

We arrived at the pilot station at 6:30am. I had some previous experience with this port, and the pilot in that we differed shall we say in our Navigational opinions. So as we approached the entrance to the harbour, the pilot boarded and I waited on the bridge for him. And I waited, and waited, and waited, and in the end had to call the security Officer to find out if he had lost his way to the bridge. Anyway apparently the Pilot had to stop half way up to the bridge, find water and take his medication. Anyway once we were reintroduced I asked about the berth, its length, the depth, just to make sure it was long enough and deep enough for us to go alongside as sadly the last time, we were given a berth where we could not fit and had to spend time juggling ships around so we could get alongside!! Anyway this morning I was able to swing the ship and get the ship alongside without too much problem.

We were all fast alongside at 7:30am.

Many passengers had booked to take part in one of our organised shore excursions today and they were up early and ready to explore the first of our ports in Cape Verde. The tours on offer today were ‘A 4WD Safari Adventure’ which took passengers on an exhilarating tour of some of the island’s most remote places. The ‘Praia & Cidade Velha’ tour took passengers to visit the Ethnographic Museum which gave a better understanding about the early settlers. Next passengers visited the original capital of the country, Ribeira Grande, now known as Cidade Velha. This old city was used as a stopping-place by two great navigators: Vasco da Gama in 1497 on his way to India and Christopher Columbus in 1498. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and passengers were able to enjoy views as they visited the fortress that once protected the former capital from pirates. The third tour on offer was ‘Rhythms of an African Passengers visited the Tabanca Museum which is situated in mountainous countryside and was once a safe haven for runaway slaves. It later became the birthplace for the Tabanca cultural movement. This dates back to the 18th century and was seen by the islanders as a way to escape colonialism. Banned by the Portuguese, the islanders’ traditions were almost lost, but thankfully today passengers had the privilege to observe a colourful ceremony, accompanied by the sound of drums and conch-shells. A performance, which reflects Cape Verde’s passage through history.

All were back on board by 1.00pm, ready to set sail for our visit to the next of the Cape Verde Islands. The weather is getting warmer each day and many passengers enjoyed lunch out on deck.

Departure, was a bit of a struggle as the wind was blowing us onto the quayside so I had to use quite a bit of power.

Anyway I carried out the Manouvre and disembarked the pilot quikly and set sail to the North.This evening there was a very special early evening performance featuring our Assistant Cruise Director Resty who showed is talents and told the story so far of his career with Saga. This evening’s cabaret Showtime was Multi-Instrumentalist Anne Raynor with her show featuring music from around the World.

Captain Alistair Mclundie

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

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