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Update on West African Territories

By Sue Richards last modified Sep 15, 2008 09:33 AM

Published: 2008-09-15 09:33:17
Countries: Cape Verdes , Gambia , Senegal

Received September 11, 2008.

Banjul, The Gambia

Clearing out: It is not necessary to have your yacht anchored off Banjul port to clear out. It is possible to take your documents by road from Lamin Lodge, for example. The one quirk here is that Customs do not hold blank copies of clearance certificates - these must be obtained in advance from one of the shipping companies.

Dakar, Senegal

All Yachts are directed to the Baie de Han anchorage. Here there are two yacht clubs, and it is more or less mandatory to use the services of one of them. Club CVD has a charge by the day, week or month. This includes the club water taxi, also water from the club - take your own filter. There are also moorings at an extra charge. The anchorage is somewhat rolly - particularly with SW winds as the swell is refracted round the headland and ends up at right angles to the wind.

Customs and immigration: Take a taxi as it is a long walk between the two. The club will give you directions. Customs require a payment of 5,000 CFA (US$12). Immigration will hold either the ships papers or a copy of same, will give you a receipt, stamp your passport and then enquire if you feel like giving them a gift - as customs charge. This should be politely refused - it does not cause any problem. On clearing out it is only necessary to visit immigration who will stamp the passports and then return even the copy of the ships papers in return for the receipt. No clearance document of any kind is available. If leaving for a port which needs one - make your own or go somewhere else first!!

Cape Verde Archipelago

There is only one harbour in this group with good shelter from most directions - this is Porto Grande, Mindello. All the other anchorages have a pervasive swell and it is usually necessary to spring the anchor or to put out two anchors. Some so called anchorages are very steep to - the depth will change from 80m to 5m over about 150m of distance!

Good for shopping both supermarket and produce market though a little expensive. Gas refills are available at the Shell depot.

Bad: Water quality in the anchorage - it is very polluted - if you use a water maker then purification is essential as there is a sewer opening into the river at the head of the bay.

Up to 2m of swell can appear in this harbour from the south. Dinghy landing in the fishing harbour. No water tap seen.

Customs / Marine Police will hold the original of your ships papers if you give them a chance. It may be better to have a copy laminated. Clearance for next port (internal or external) 500CVE. (US$7.5)

Duty free diesel is not available to yachts here. There is a fuel dock for the fishermen.

Tarafal, Santiago
Pretty anchorage not too rolly. Clean water - >10m vis. Some shopping ashore & new produce market.

Very exposed rolly anchorage, not much here apart from tourists. These out number the locals by about 2 or 3 to one in season.

Mindello - Porto Grande
As has been said before, this harbour is the best in the group. There are fair produce and fish markets, though no large supermarket. Most things can be found in the 4 or 5 smaller supermarkets.

There is a new marina here that opened in June 2008 - though it is expensive at >3000 CVE (US$42) per day for a 12m yacht with electric and water extra! The marina does however make a secure place to leave the dinghy at 100 CVE per day. Duty free fuel can be obtained from the new fishing harbour here. Bottled gas is available. Customs will accept a copy of the ships papers (laminated), and issue clearance for next port as for Praia.

We have finally determined a method to "rate" anchorages: take a set of scales and place a 100gm weight on them (or 5kg for fish scales). Note the maximum and minimum weight recorded and divide the weight by the difference noted. The higher the number the better Q of the anchorage. Mindello scores a Q of 7.9. a perfect anchorage will have a very high Q.

Our conclusions on west Africa:
Give it a miss. Unless you like shallow, muddy rivers.

Mike & Dawn Dorsett
White Princess