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Mindelo: Feedback from Cruisers

By Sue Richards — last modified Nov 19, 2015 02:01 PM
This is a collection of reports received from cruisers since December 2009, about their experience in Mindelo.

Published: 2015-11-19 01:00:00
Countries: Cape Verdes

Posted 19 November, 2015 - by SV Proteus

Mindelo, Cape Verdes -- Your last update was December 2014 (below). Everything is still accurate and the reported noise issue next door is no longer an issue. The repair services here are very good, but during busy times it can take a few days to get things done.

There is no way to haul out here except in a major emergency, which is done with a crane in the dockyards. And, by "emergency" I mean that your boat is actively sinking.

The marina has quite a secure feeling and has locked doors. Outside the marina, there are a number of hawkers and beggars that offer to help you with things, but it is best to ask in the marina office for a recommendation.

Posted 15 December, 2014
Marina Mindelo - continuously in motion
Scott Fraser, SV Billy Ruff'n

We spent 10 days at Marina Mindelo waiting for crew before making the crossing to the Caribbean in late November, 2014.  While the marina is probably a big improvement over what was there before, we were disappointed in a couple of aspects of our stay there that others might want to keep in mind as they consider a stop in Cabo Verde.

First, the docks at Marina Mindelo are nearly continuously in motion from swell in the harbor.  Walking down the docks you often feel like a "drunken sailor" -- unable to walk a straight line. The docks are not secured with posts in the seabed as is the case in most marinas, but are "moored" presumably with chains to concrete blocks.   The boats are secured to the floating docks with stern lines and springs to the dock and a bow line or two to a mooring ball (assuming a stern to mooring -- of course, the opposite is the case if you're bow in).  With boats moored on either side of the dock there tends to be a lot of movement fore and aft and, to a lesser extend, side to side.  When you try to adjust your boat's position relative to the dock, say by slacking the stern lines and springs and taking up on your bow lines to the mooring ball, it is sometimes the case that you pull the dock and the boat behind you along as you attempt to move away from the dock.  Likewise, when the boat directly across the dock from you adjusts their lines it can effect on your boat's position relative to the dock.

Sometimes the motion gets dangerous.  Even though we used a passerelle and always tried to have the lines adjusted so that our stern was at least 2-3 feet from the dock, our self steering unit was damaged one night when the swell came up and/or the guy behind us adjusted his lines.  Another boat on our dock had the swim platform damaged by hitting the docks.  Some boats without passerelles opted to launch their dinghies and position it near the stern so they could go from the boat to the dinghy to the dock.  Of course, that solution is also not without risks.  In short, the engineering of the docking system is not good.  You need to be well fendered and you should expect to lose a few docklines to the strain and chafe caused by the near constant motion.

Our second disappointment with the marina was that when the ARC+ is in town it seems nearly impossible to get any of the resident service technicians to assist with repairs unless you are an ARC boat.  We arrived about 3 days before the ARC+ arrived and we were there several days after they left.  Lots of promises were made, but the job we asked to have done the first day we arrived never got finished.  We were told there was a "first come, first served" policy -- it simply was not the case.  Every time I inquired as to the status of our work order I was asked, "Are you an ARC boat?".  If the answer is "yes" you get service, it it's "no" you didn't.

Another consideration in stopping here (over which the marina has no control) is the availability of drinking water and local provisioning resources.

If you ask the marina staff if the water is safe to drink, you get a vague reply something like "it sometimes affects some people with a little GI disorder but generally it's OK".  Some staff say they drink it, others say they don't.  Our crew drank it for a few days (after passing it through a SeaGull IV filtration system) and said they didn't like the way they were feeling.

There were many boats seen loading up with hundreds of liters of water in plastic bottles.  When we arrived in Mindelo we had one tank full with Tenerife city water and the other near empty, which we filled with Mindelo city water.  While in Mindelo we drank bottled water and once underway we drank our Tenerife water until the tank ran out and then relied on our watermaker.  We arrived in Sint Maarten with the tank of Mindelo water untouched.  We used it to wash the salt off the boat.  Almost forgot:  the marina charges Euro 0.03/liter for the water on the docks.

Regarding provisioning -- think of Mindelo as a place to replace basic provisions and a source of limited fresh produce.  The supermarkets cater to local needs, as you would expect anywhere.  You will find a better and much wider selection of almost everything in the Canaries.  The local produce and fish markets are well worth visiting, but the selection is limited.

Finally, spend 10 days in Marina Mindelo and you will certainly tire of being solicited by the husslers (male and, in the evenings, female) who hang out just outside the gate and the children begging for money every time you enter or leave the docks.  It tends to take some of the joy out of visiting what is otherwise a nice island town set within a very impressive landscape.

Posted 10 January 2013
We signed for one year contract
Roel and Jacqueline, s/y "Horizon" (Holland)

We have been cruising seven years now and we arrived in Mindelo-marina in August 2012, coming from West-Africa where we cruised Senegal and The Gambia during seven months.

After a five months stay in Mindelo we decided to sign for a one years' contract. We like the little town of Mindelo with its very friendly people, the music everywhere, the "down to earth" life, the small restaurants and, of course, the nice weather all year round. We think that almost everything is available here but yes, you have to find your way!

Making new friends here is very easy. We met a lot of cruisers on their way from Europe and the Canaries to the other side of the Atlantic, either Brazil or the Carribian. Some arrived here with broken booms, broken rudders or other damages. All of them could continue their voyage after satisfactory repairs by Kai Brossmans' BoatCV.

We feel very happy with the helpful German marina-staff and the Capeverdian marina-crew as well. Daily rates for the marina are not really cheap but still a lot cheaper than some of the Med-marinas in Spain or, even worse, South-Italy. And, remember, you're in the Mid-Atlantic here! Longer stay rates are however very reasonable priced.

There is a good anchorage here but we (and our two dogs) do prefer the great social life in the marina here. There is an almost constant breeze here from the NE (the trade winds!). The floating pontoons in the marina run roughly from NW to SE, so make sure that your berth is on the SW-side of the pontoons, you will then be blown off the pontoon. There is always some swell in the marina so the pontoons do move (as the floating bar does). Going from your boat to the bar this movement is quite acceptable, going back from the bar to your boat it seems much worse. We think that good line-handling does all the work.

Don't forget that, long ago, Columbus found the Cape Verde islands to be the best starting point for a fast crossing of the Atlantic. Hope to see you soon, coffee is ready on our boat!

 

Posted 25 October, 2012
Excellent Marina with Friendly Helpful Staff
Linda Hufnagel - Catamaran Ebo

I imagine everyone has different experiences but I would like to say that we were in Mindelo, Sao Vicente and they are VERY friendly and helpful and it seems wrong to write they are not. It is an excellent marina and they are trying to deal with the loud music that their neighbours are responsible for. I would not penalise them for this as they will win in court I am sure. They run a nice marina and are very friendly and helpful, and in terms of chandlery you do better there than at La Palma, Canaries!

Posted 02 August, 2012
Three Nights in Mindelo before our Atlantic Crossing
Rainer - SY Ja Ja

Night Arrival - We arrived in the night and anchored about 300m south of the marina in front of the brightly lit oil tanks over sand in 4,5m of dirty and smelly water. Finding our spot presented no special problem with recent electronic charts but would have been a nightmare without. Identifying lights of navigational importance was basically impossible once inside the bay. There are too many shoreside structures like tanks or wind turbines as well as all kind of anchored vessels presenting lights of all colors and flashing frequency.

The Marina - We moved to the marina next morning and spent two nights here. The marina is not separated by breakwaters or walls, it's open to the large bay / harbour of Mindelo. It does not provide more protection than the anchorage right beside it. There is noticeable swell present all the time, the floating pontons are sometimes rocking back and forth really hard. We experienced sudden gusts of up to 45kn in only 20-25kn of wind in the marina so tie up well.

Mooring is stern-to with lazy lines or mooring buoys, our mooring line looked OK but a bit short. The marineros are helpful, laid back and friendly, speaking good English. Electricity and water at all pontoons.

The little phone both on the outermost pontoon is a fuelling station. It provides diesel at prices cheaper than the normal filling stations (0,93 EUR/l as of 2/2012), open Mon-Sat.

A small open air bar in the marina serves beers, coffee, spirits but no food. There is a modern complex with restaurant, bar, boutiques and a pool adjactent. There is an open air club playing very (!!) loud techno / house music until early morning. And I mean louder than any music I have ever experienced outside discos or concerts. Highly annoying.

Berthing cost is high even by European standards and is based on square meters, making cats particularly expensive. We were charged 50EUR per night for our 41ft catamaran, including electricity and 50l of water. And that was already a bargain compared to their published price list. Additional water is extra @ 0,02 EUR/l. The marina runs a pretty weak WIFI network, with decent speed but expensive @ 6 EUR per 64MB .

Office staff was highly ignorant. First time there were three ladies chatting to each other and ignoring several customers for minutes, then only two of them continued surfing the net while one decided it was time to work a bit. Later there was a single lady continously chatting on the mobile while simultaneously trying to slowly serve the customers that queued up at the same time. Even though frequented mostly by yachts in transit the marina staff is unable to provide information about the immigration procedure or office hours of the authorities. No handout, no map of the city, nothing. Immigration is in the commercial harbour, left of the main gate to the harbour area. The officer on duty is laid back, speaks excellent English and helpful to give you directions where to go next. Open Mon-Sat, closed on Sundays. The other authorities are open Mon-Fri only.

The marina is currently almost empty and has little to offer beyond some security for your boat when going ashore. For the price they charge this is very little. Many yachts choose to anchor instead and only use the security of the marina's dinghy dock, for which they charge a few EUR per day. We would do the same now.

The Town - Mindelo does not have much to offer as well. Some areas are nice but most are neglected, showing the discrepancy of highly expensive SUV beside very poor people digging in garbage bins. Some houses still remind visitors of the time when Mindelo was relatively rich town but that is long ago.

Some limited shopping in small supermarkets nearby. Several shops selling the same cheap chinese stuff, a small hardware shop, a few small pubs and restaurants. The best source for fresh food is the produce market in the market hall, prices are reasonable if shopping for local fruits. Not cheap but not outrageous. There is some produce / fish market on the street in front of the old customs house (highly dubious hygienic standards included).

Some begging here and there, some liming, overall a friendly but poor place - afterall this is still Africa.

Mindelo is a good stopover for a few nights, but not a highlight.

Posted 07 October, 2010
Our Experience in Mindelo
Andreas - SY Nemo of Sweden

The marina can be a bit affected during late nights (especially weekends)of noisy music from the club close by. Bad techno music at high volume. If your main reason is a good sleep while in the marina...

We got the viral infection (see link - http://www.asemana.publ.cv/spip.php?article56700&ak=1) during our stay. One after the other on board. Brutal vomiting followed by high fever and diarrhoea, not the thing you want on a boat.

Also during our stay there was one attempted and one actual robbery from boats at anchor outside the marina. On one boat there was 300 EUR missing and the other boat made resistance but got in to a little bit of a fight. The robber swam out alone which of course is not a common thing. This was later said to be the first incident in a few years.

The dinghy landing within the marina is possible to get for a longer time, like 14 days for 10 EUR. The marina WiFi is not worth the money, you are highly charged by MB. Better to use one of the internet cafes. On the second floor of the restaurant Cocktail, not far from the marina, you can use your own computer with OK speed. Good live music at night there.

The marina manager is professional but there are a few too many signs and regulations around to be called a friendly marina. The little shop is now a reseller for Raymarine.

Posted 27 May, 2010
A Positive Report on Mindelo
Tim & Betty Smart - SY Smyrna

Reading the Related Reports we figured it would be a good idea to give a report on our stay in Mindelo. We stayed at the Marina for three weeks with our 12 m yacht "Smyrna" and paid a little over 20 EUR/night which seemed reasonable.

The toilets and showers are well furnished and very clean. During our stay in the Med and in the Canaries we remember only very few times where we have seen equally nice facilities. The best time to take a shower though is between 4 and 6 pm because the showers run on solar heaters only i.e. after sunset the water can get chilly.

The Marina is guarded 24/7 and we never had the feeling of being unsafe. We too locked our boat but than again we would lock our boat anywhere, wouldn't you? The marina runs a WiFi Hotspot with decent speed. People are very friendly and helpful but of course one has to be careful (as everywhere else in the world).

Service: We had to replace a 3/8 shroud and had some autohelm trouble. The yacht-service inside the marina manufactured our new shroud within hours and the autohelm was replaced under warranty!

The chandler inside the marine is limited but they run a warehouse in the city with a surprisingly extensive and well sorted stock. If the don't have it in their store, ask them. Although be careful if you order goods from abroad (our neighbor had to wait almost 4 weeks to get his spare propeller).

The prices in Cape Verde are rather high. This applies to almost everything except staple, fish, gas and diesel-fuel.

Reading all the negative stories about Cape Verde we were lucky our autohelm quit on us, because otherwise we would have missed this fantastic place. We made new friends here and if the winds are with us we will sure be back some day.

Posted 25 March, 2010
Marina Mindelo
Anthony Swanston - SY Wild Fox

You may anchor for free in the harbour but be aware that holding can be patchy as there are areas of volvanic gravel. Make sure your anchor is well dug in.

The ONLY safe place to leave a dinghy is the dinghy pontoon in the marina where they charge €3 a day to tie up.

The marina itself is expensive by Atlantic Island standards - €25 per day for an 11 metre boat. You pay extra for everything else - electric, water, WiFi. There is a fuel dock and security, but it is common to see people walking around the pontoons. Always lock your boat. A professional delivery skipper was robbed at knife point at the gates to the marina during my stay.

If you come into the marina the person who takes your lines will not be an employee but a boat boy. His reward for helping you is to offer his services as cleaner etc. for between €10 and €20 a day. Be sure to write down the price and time he will start and finish - some are much better than others. Never leave them alone on the boat.

Haul out only in an emergency. The marina owner described the haul out system as "adventurous". No sail repair but engine repair and the marina owner does electronic work, but at €60 per hour. He also employs normal marine electricians. There is a small chandlery but with very limited stock. There is an ATM near to the marina but only use in daylight unless you are with several other people.

Expect to be overcharged by everyone. The trick is to carry a small notebook and pen and to get taxi drivers, fruit vendors etc. to write down the price before you buy. The quality of fruit and veg varies so shop around. Even the supermarkets sell eggs which are bad.

The very modern complex adjacent to the marina with swimming pool, bars, cafes and eateries, is actually one of the cheapest and best run establishments in the city.

If you leave the pier and turn left past Clube Nautico there is a tourist information kiosk in the corner of a small park adjacent to the Post Office. Their English is very limited, they do not have bus timetables and cannot tell you what taxi fares should be. They will sell you a map of the island at the extraordinarily inflated price of €14.80.

Posted 7 January, 2010
Lights and Shadows about Mindelo
Rocco De Sanctis - SY Nesis (Italy)

I spent October and November 2009 in Mindelo (Sao Vicente) during a voyage from Italy to Brazil. I moored my boat in “Marina Mindelo”, a marina well managed by Kai Brossman, a germany engeneering specialized in electronic equipments. I needed to replace the engine of an old Autohelm 4000 and I had the fortune to come in the right place. Kai Brossman has a Raymarine shop in the Marina and I obtained to replace the autopilot in short time at the right price.

The standard of the Marina is good if one consider that you’re in Africa but all the sailors must pay attention at the people that moves around the Marina. Not all this people can be considered reliable. Particularly a “Rasta” boy named Divan is famous for his frauds. Before to know this, I gave him my wears and the money to wash it but I did not see no wears and no money. A friend of mine lent a few money to Divan with the promise of Divan to give back it but the money, of course, has not yet gave back.

The companion of voyage of mine and an italian friend were robbed in front of a discotheque by night. A dinghy has been stolen during my stay ....

I know that the people of Cabo Verde is not friendly as 20 years ago. Here the people is changing and now all the yachtsmen must pay attention.

Posted 29 December, 2009
Mindelo – A Good Place to Stop but Take Care
Mike Marshall - SY Zeus

Having read and heard some rather disparaging comments about Mindelo and after spending 2 weeks here, I can recommend Mindelo without any reserve whatsoever as a stop over prior to the Atlantic crossing.

The marina is reasonably well run with polite and helpful staff, sure its not downtown LA but we have found the people to be friendly and open. the facilities are basic but reasonable considering the islands location and infrastructure. Things are a little more expensive but not unrealistically so. A new bar and restaurant with swimming pool has opened where all are made to feel welcome, beers are very reasonably priced and served ice cold.

We have shopped every day in the town and have felt no undercurrent whatsoever, in fact, the opposite. local markets are a good source of greens and vegies, without the overcharging which we have come across in other locations. There are 3 main bakeries in town and depending on how you like your bread will depend on which one you revisit, but all are good. Overall, a very nice stay.

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Mindelo (Sao Vicente)
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