Sal is one of the most barren of the group of ten islands and five islets in the archipelago of Cabo Verde, 1500 km south of the Canaries and approx 450km west of Dakar, Senegal, Africa. Although Sal is very barren, there are few who don’t succumb and fall under its spell without plans to return. Cape Verdeans call this "Sodade", which means yearning..
Barren Sal might be, but from a windsurfing perspective it had it all: reef breaks, point breaks, sandbar breaks and beach breaks if you want waves, and enough flat water to still blast and crack out a few freestyle manoeuvres in turquoise, warm water. With Sal being a relatively small island - 30kms long and a maximum of 12kms wide - there is the potential for port tack and starboard tack wave riding, with the best waves being port tack riding, at places like Calheta Funda, and of course the legendary spot Ponta Preta, home of the mythical “Windsurf Trilogy”.
With a little luck, you will certainly cross paths with celebrities likeBjorn Dunkerbeck and Josh Angulo (who has fallen in love with Cape Verde and made it his home).
how to get there
Flying is the only option. There are as yet no direct flights from the British Isles to Cape Verde, but TACV-Cabo Verde Airlines will begin operating a direct flight between Birmingham and Praia (Island of Santiago) from November 2000. This will of course still mean taking an internal flight.
The fastest and cheapest route is via Portugal. Air Portugal (TAP) is the main European carrier to Cape Verde, and fly scheduled to Sal, Amilcar Cabral International from London Heathrow and Gatwick via Lisbon. Flights to Sal leave late evening and return early the next morning.
TAP has high and low season fares in three price bands, with cheap seats selling to early bookers. Prices rise considerably after 9th December and drop again in January. We paid £460, booking as late as we could before the price rise on the 10th December, returning on the 12th February. We booked our flight through Travelocity. Generally we’ve found it slightly cheaper (£30) to book through an agent, as apposed to booking directly with an airline.
TACV also operates flights to several European cities. Check out Cape Verde Travel.
Company: Cape Verde Travel
They offer different UK departures with carriers like KLM and BMI then TACV to Cape Verde. TACV has no English site as yet. www.capeverdetravel.com
Or try the following agents and compare prices with those of the airlines:
transfer from the airport
Book your accommodation from the UK and a pickup can be arranged for you for around 14 euros. Otherwise get a taxi (an alugar Hiace bus if you have kit). This should cost no more than 10 euros (1000$). It’s a twenty-minute journey to Santa Maria.
Check the links below for all-inclusive package deals to CV.
14 nights (Jan-April) at the Leme Bedje including flights and transfers for standard room: £835- £1090. For kit costs see kit hire.
Full range of accommodation from £530pp for a week or £699pp 2 weeks at Les Alizes B&B, including flights & transfers. Kit hire Mistral centre.
how the wind works
Cape Verde lies within the northeast trade wind belt. The belt of high pressure in the Azores forces air to move towards the belt of low pressure air along the equator creating the prevailing north easterly trade wind that blows over Cape Verde consistently from October to June, but strongest from February to June. However, between November and February the NE trade wind near CV can become interrupted by the Harmattan wind from the Sahara giving more E to ENE Force 3-5. With high pressure over about 1030 hPa, the Harmattan can become very strong and because this wind blows off the Sahara it is dust-laden and can reduce visibility creating some very overcast and chilly days. The trade wind slackens in the summer.
Typical daily wind: The forecast proved to be pretty erratic while we were there with given forecasts not materializing. In general, the wind needs a forecast of 20/22kts for it to properly kick in at that strength. And although this sounds a little strange, a 15kt forecast just might not produce the wind. In which case expect to be on a 6m sail. Often the wind drops a few knots around 1pm, but increases again later.
how much sailing can you expect to do?
We spent sixty days in CV, and although December wasn’t good for wind, Jan and Feb saw some good conditions with it blowing 20kts+ for five days straight; so in total we scored 34 planing days, three 6.0m days, eight 5.5m days, three 5.2m days, eight 5.0m days, four 4.7m days,two 4.5m days, two 4.2m days, and four 4.0m days. I weigh 67 kilos. If we’d had a larger volume board we could have sailed a few of the lighter days too. After we left on the 12th February it blew 20kts+ for virtually one and a half weeks with good swell. So Jan and Feb are definitely the best months to go.
The great thing about CV is that it offers waves and super-flat conditions to suit all levels of sailor and on occasion, at the same time.
West coast wave spots like Ponta Preta work best with a NW swell but westerly swell also works. A minimum of 1.5m is needed (1.5/2m at Ponta Preta). The swell is generated from Atlantic lows and hurricanes that hit America. Best time of year for this swell is mid-Jan to March.
Swell on the east coast is, in general, wind generated but wraps to create some nice waves at Ponta Leme Velho, Salinas and in the bay of Santa Maria. However any storm driven swell from the south can also produce some waves.
The Santa Maria bay can be described as flat to choppy to big chop depending on the swell and wind direction. At the eastern end, it can be super flat near the shoreline in N to NE winds but if there is too much easterly, it can get pretty choppy right across the whole bay.