Hummingbird - Down Down Deeper and Down

The Cape Verde islands gradually came into view on Saturday morning. One by one their jagged teeth appeared on the horizon and Chris set to work identifying them by looking at contours and bearings. It had been a quiet night after a kite wrap and we had decided to finish the race under normal sails so the Yankee 1 was flying nicely giving us a speed of 6.5 knots. We were on target for a lunchtime crossing of the finish line with a cold beer imminent!
The freezer had started to falter on Friday, only cooling at -3 celsisus, but after Fraser spent 2 hours dissecting the patient on the operating table in the saloon it fired back into life and acted as an excellent beer cooler, which John stacked up ready for arrival. You can trust the Australians to ensure that there’s cold beer ready for every eventuality!
The finish line was between a small islet with a lighthouse and one of the headlands just north of Mindelo. The proximity of the volcanic crags of the coast made us all a little uneasy after 6 days out on the open ocean, but it was a spectacular view with sheer black rocks and sweeping sand dunes. The wind increased as expected in the acceleration zone between the islands so it was a dramatic finish with a last minute gybe and impromptu reef as we screamed across the line, Erika at the helm.
After a clean up and a well earnt beer and shower, we headed into town for dinner. We hadn’t booked anything so asked the marina manager for a recommendation and he suggested a local Italian. After sailing all this way, no one wanted to go for that! Was there anywhere more local, we asked. He took a deep breath and only half jokingly said “Yes… you will need to go into the dark parts of the city, but I don’t know if you’ll survive”. He gave a little chuckle and we weren’t sure whether we might not survive a spicy local meal, or the journey back!
Needless to say, we set off for the dark parts of the city feeling somewhat trepidatious, with John chanting “Down, down, deeper and down”. After a fruitless half hour we hadn’t ventured very far from the centre of town and were about to give up and return to the Italian when a local woman offered to show us to a restaurant tucked away up the hill from the harbour. It was just what we were looking for. We gathered round a wooden bench outside, and ordered a round of Caipirinas. We weren’t allowed to order food but instead were brought tray after tray of delicious dishes which a hard working chef prepared there and then.
A bar nearby playing Cape Verdean music completed the evening’s activities for those of the crew that were still awake, with tales the next morning of wild revelry from even the most dance shy amongst us! The Ladies of the Kite & co certainly don’t need street lights to have a good time. Bouyed by a huge sense of achievement after a fantastic 900nm sail, and carried away with the immense camaraderie on board, the celebration lasted late into the night.