Making The Final Preparations In Praia

I had just survived food poisoning – well sort of – on the final stop of the sailing adventure around Cape Verde prior to the SY Staatenlos’s grand crossing of The Atlantic Ocean.

Having recovered from this near-death experience, there were still sights left to see on the island of Santiago, which you may recall is is the largest island of Cape Verde. And of course both myself and the crew had preparations to make before departing Cape Verde for the far-flung country of Brazil.

This is how we spent our final days before embarking on our trans-Atlantic voyage…

Ready to continue the island tour after nearly dying! From left to right: me, my local tour guide Admilson, Corinne (who sailed with us from Boa Vista), and Admilson’s Portuguese wife.

Northwest to Northeast

We had just visited Tarrafal on the northwest side of Santiago, which features a beautiful and pristine beach surrounded by mountains and forests. After my near-fatal lunch, we continued the tour on the northeast side of the island.

A glimpse of Tarrafal in the northwest

As we drove, we saw that this side of the island was different than the other places we had previously visited.

A nice view of the road we drove

The northeast side of Santiago was a bit rougher, there were fewer residents, and we saw quite a few viewpoints that were perfect to fly the drone.

The rocky northeast coast

A Step Back in Time

We visited a town called Espinho Branco, where the local Cape Verdeans still live the way that humans lived hundreds of years ago. Their community is called “Rabelados,” which means “rebels” in Portuguese. They earned this name when they revolted against the Catholic Church in the 1940s and sought refuge in this isolated mountainous region of Santiago, where they could continue to maintain their independence and practice their own religious and cultural traditions without interference.

Simple handmade homes of Espinho Branco

In the past, no foreigners or tourists were allowed to visit Espinho Branco because the locals there were so private and protective of their way of life. The community is extremely traditional, with the rabelados still living in simple old huts lacking basic electricity or any modern conveniences, similar to the lifestyle of the Mennonites or Amish.

A local lady in front of a simple but functional structure

Within the last decade or so, they have begun to welcome visitors, so we were lucky enough to visit them on our trip to Santiago. The locals mostly work in agriculture, fishing, or handicrafts which make for excellent souvenirs. They also play traditional music for people to enjoy as they walk around the village of Espinho Branco.

A local child in front of a store called “Rabelarte,” which sells Rabelado art to tourists.

We enjoyed visiting the settlement and seeing how the rabelados live today. Their lifestyle is much more traditional than that of most Cape Verdeans, but they appear to be living a good life, albeit in huts. They seem to have a good education system there, and the children were all busy in school when we visited. It was nice to meet some local people there and see their way of living first-hand.

A closer look at the huts and local life

We left Espinho Branco and continued further to the south, passing plantations and the coast as we drove. We made one last stop at a coconut palm plantation where I flew the drone, enjoying the beauty of the landscape from a bird’s eye view. We finally ended our grand Santiago Island tour and drove back to Cidade Velha.

A coconut palm plantation with a stunning view

The Crew and Gear Multiply

The next day I did a lot of consulting work before going out in the afternoon. After work, I went to the biggest local market on the island to buy local produce in preparation for our impending trans-Atlantic journey. We bought lots of fresh fruit and vegetables that have a long shelf life, including staples such as sweet potatoes and apples, to take with us on the long voyage.

A view of the local produce from above

Very late that night, we were joined by five new crew members who would sail across the open Atlantic aboard the SY Staatenlos from Cape Verde to Brazil. We had to take the dinghy back and forth many times in the middle of the night to pick them all up and bring the gear to the boat. We all introduced ourselves and everyone was shown to their cabin for the night. Although it was very late and we were all tired, there was a sense of excitement buzzing in the air as we awaited the adventure ahead.

The new crew!

The next morning we welcomed my tour guide Admilson and his Portuguese wife aboard the SY Staatenlos, expanding our tight-knit group of three to a total of ten people. Admilson had previously expressed to me his and his wife’s desire to sail, so we thought it would be nice to invite them to Brazil.

Just kidding, we only took them to Praia, the nearby capital of the island. 😂

Admilson teaching some Creole to the new crew

The ten of us sailed together from Cidade Velha to Praia. The two cities are only about an hour apart by boat, but we took about three hours to fully enjoy the trip and give our guests a great morning aboard the catamaran. Everyone really enjoyed the ride, and although we didn’t see any whales this time, we took the opportunity to try out our new sails for the first time before we would really put them to the test on our trans-Atlantic crossing.

Ready to sail away from Cidade Velha and on to Praia

You may remember that our gennaker sail was destroyed in the Canary Islands, and we were still waiting for the Code Zero sail that we had ordered from our Croatian sailmaker. The sails were sent to Portugal, where one of our new crew members picked them up and brought them from Lisbon to Cape Verde.

New sails, who dis? 😝

The new crew members also brought a water scooter, similar to the manta we had enjoyed ever since the SY Staatenlos’s maiden journey. Unfortunately, the original manta had broken down, so we gave it to some local guys in Cidade Velha to be repaired.

It seemed to be fixed after they worked on it, but it was only temporary and soon broke down again, so we were glad our new crew members brought a replacement. We were glad to have this opportunity to check out the new equipment and test out at least one of the new sails on our way from Cidade Velha to Praia.

Let’s put these babies to the test!

Welcome to Praia

Other boats may be afraid to go anchor in Praia because it is considered to be “dangerous,” but after our experience cuddling up next to a shipwreck in the harsh port of Fogo, this was easy. We anchored just 300 meters from the Presidential Palace, right near a beach.

Our anchorage in Praia

The beach had jet skis available in the afternoons, so we took those out for a spin the next day. It was fun riding the jet skis, but the water was dirty and smelled bad because all of the island’s waste is released into the ocean there. We only stayed a couple of nights, but we enjoyed the jet skis and seeing some more of Praia.

Having some fun on a jet-ski

The capital has a historic center, a nice boardwalk, and some nice restaurants. We went out there for dinner at restaurants in the evenings, and in the daytime, we also made sure to shop for provisions in Praia. We would need a lot of goods to sustain us throughout our trans-Atlantic voyage, and in Praia, they have one of the few supermarkets in Santiago.

Interestingly, Cape Verde has very few local markets and a lot of Chinese supermarkets. The Chinese government apparently pays the Cape Verdean government to have Chinese supermarkets, so the locals can’t afford to compete with them. The Chinese government also bought all of the fisheries about a hundred years ago for a fairly low price. They are now building a huge university that is meant to serve 20,000 African students in Praia, so there is quite a lot of Chinese influence on the island at the moment. 😬

A car-full of goods and very long receipt from the supermarket

Preparation Underway

For the sake of convenience, we did all of our shopping at the best Chinese supermarket. We practically bought the entire meat counter (you may remember my meat habit from back in Mallorca). We already had bought fresh produce with a long shelf-life, as I mentioned, but we returned to the local market to buy more fresh fruits and vegetables which would not last for as long.

All in all, it was a lot of shopping, but it would be a long journey across the Atlantic and we had a lot of mouths to feed. When we returned to the dinghy, the local kids were eager to help us load the goods onto the boat.


Most of our time in Praia was spent shopping and completing final preparations before departing on our trans-Atlantic journey. We checked out with the authorities, as we had been forced to check-in and out of every island we stepped foot on in Cape Verde.

We only planned to spend two nights in Praia, but that turned into four nights. Anyway, it was nice to eat at some of the different restaurants while we were there. They have some good establishments with great food, and even in the age of Covid-1984, it was generally relaxed in the capital city. Everything felt pretty safe and there didn’t appear to be any security problems for us to worry about. The police kept an eye on our boat to make sure we were okay because we were the first boat there in a while.

This restaurant in Praia had something for everyone

Overall we had a good time in Praia, and I’d say its bad reputation is undeserved. The bay was pretty sheltered and it was nice to sleep out there without being rocked by any heavy waves. After several days anchored in the port of Praia, we were finally ready to go.

A tranquil sunrise in Praia, as seen through the window of the SY Staatenlos

We sailed off into the sunset on a Wednesday afternoon, after having some minor problems with the boat in the morning that we had to fix. We watched Cape Verde get smaller and smaller in the distance as we sailed away from the last dry land we would see for quite a while. We were now on our way to cross the Atlantic toward our destination country of Brazil… with an interesting new crew.

Some of the new crew learning the ropes, in our journey to come 😍

Stay tuned to learn all about the SY Staatenlos’s adventurous crossing of the Atlantic Ocean from Cape Verde to Brazil and whether, upon arrival, we would actually be allowed to enter the country. 😂