|Fri 12-01-2024, 14:00Mindelo, Cape Verde||Sun 28-01-2024, 11:00Castara Bay, Tobago||Grayhound||16 Nights||GR120124|
Kick off this unforgettable sailing trip from Cape Verde, an island gem filled with culture and scenic spots. Learn Celestial Navigation using a sextant, and be hands-on crew members as we sail to Tobago. Enjoy a tranquil life at sea, spotting dolphins and albatross, and feel the daily grind vanish.
On arrival, clear customs in Scarborough before we head around the island and anchor in Castara Bay. This is a truly unique unspoilt village and you should consider spending a week exploring Tobago’s beaches and forests from here.
GRAYHOUND is one of the largest sailing luggers in the world today. She was built in Cornwall in 2012 and has a 20m long hull, is 33m overall and a canvas area of 470 square meters. The original plans were those of a three masted lugger from 1776. Luggers from that time were built for speed and swiftness ideal for privateering, smuggling…or for hunting the latter! “Pirate hand-break turns” and cannon firing are always on the menu on Grayhound!
As voyage crew you do not have to have any prior sailing experience or knowledge to join on Grayhound. A positive attitude and a wish for adventure is all! Our experienced crew will make sure that you comfortably and eagerly hoist the sails, make fast the ropes, participate in the manoeuvres, steer the ship and ready the anchor. It is all hands-on and you will be a crucial part of getting to our desired destination. You will learn fast while enjoying the feeling of freedom the ship offers as you get humbled by the sea.
Set sail on a life-altering long-distance sailing adventure across the Atlantic, from Cape Verde to Tobago in the Caribbean. In Cape Verde, you’re not just setting sail; you’re stepping away from a country rich in culture and landscapes. From its music scene to its stunning beaches, you might want to spend a couple of extra days soaking it all in before setting off.
Once onboard, we’ll dive into the basics of Celestial Navigation. Bring out the sextant and we’ll teach you how to chart a course using the sun, stars, and the old seafarer’s know-how. This is hands-on sailing, no armchair adventurers here.
Beyond learning the ropes, you’ll be submerged in the sheer joy of life at sea. Each day the sun will rise and set in a panoramic ocean display, giving you the chance to witness marine life like dolphins, flying fish, and even the majestic albatross. The horizon will become your constant companion, and with each day, you’ll feel the stresses of modern life receding like a wake behind you.
When we approach Tobago, roughly 2200 Nm later, you’ll be a different person, humbled by the sheer majesty of the ocean and the sky. Once we dock in Scarborough and sort out the customs, we’ll take you around the island to the Bay of Castara, a secluded haven that rounds off this adventure perfectly. We highly recommend you book yourself a bungalow apartment in this charming fishing village. Take a week to explore Tobago; it’s a little slice of paradise, with white sand beaches, lush tropical rainforests, and locals who embody the true meaning of hospitality.
You will learn how to sail a traditional Cornish Lugger. Whether you are an experienced sailor or not there is plenty to learn. Professional sailors are always surprised by Grayhound’s combination of sturdiness and sensitivity to the wind. She is nimble! There’s no limit to what you can learn about navigation and traditional sailing.
The Irish Sea is beautiful, mysterious and rich in history. We may find anchorages in Ireland or Wales, before setting a course for Land’s End. Grayhound was built in Cornwall from Cornish oak, so when she rounds Land’s End she’ll be giving a nod to her birthplace. Depending on the forecast, Grayhound might make a stop on the South Coast of Cornwall to restock and recharge before the final channel crossing to Douarnenez.
On a sailing voyage we never use the word itinerary, as skippers will always be aiming for the best sailing and shore landings for the forecast. This is a passage-making voyage, however, so there will be a need to make up the miles, and that can mean sailing in slightly stiffer conditions than on a round trip. The Irish Sea and English Channel can both get a little punchy, but Grayhound is a solid seagoing ship and will take good care of you.
Whether you are an experienced sailor or a complete beginner, the professional crew will train you to be guest crew from the moment you arrive, with the intention that everybody works together to sail the ship. The common thread to all Classic Sailing holidays is ‘Hands on’ participation on ships that use ropes, blocks and tackles and ‘people power’ to set sail. Handling cargo adds an extra dimension – building teamwork and communication skills and leaving you with a great sense of achievement.
We cater for a wide range of ages and physical abilities and how much you are expected to do varies a bit between vessels. See the vessel tab above which explains all about the ‘sailing style’ and what to expect in terms of hands on participation. There is a lot of information about day to day life, the ships facilities and accommodation on the vessel pages.
Flying is the most direct way to get to Mindelo on São Vicente Island. The island’s own Cesária Évora Airport is your destination if you can find a direct flight from some European cities. If you’re coming from the UK, Europe, North America, or Australia, you’ll probably have a stop in Lisbon or another European city.
Another travel option is to fly into Sal Island’s Amílcar Cabral International Airport and then take an internal flight to Mindelo. Many European Holiday companies use Sal making very reasonably priced flights.
Once you’re on the ground, you can easily get into town by taxi or local bus.
If you’re the adventurous type, consider taking a ferry from another Cape Verdean island.
Mindelo offers a glimpse into history with landmarks like the Torre de Belém, a scaled-down replica of the tower in Lisbon. There are also various old colonial buildings that provide a window into the island’s past.
The city is often called the cultural capital of Cape Verde and for good reason. Carnival in February is particularly colourful and lively, filled with music and dance.
Sites of Interest to a Sailor
If you’re into sailing, Mindelo has a deep-water port and marina that have served as a launching pad for tall ships bound for the Caribbean and North America. The port’s history dates back to when Cape Verde was an important coaling station, making it an intriguing place for anyone keen on maritime history. Today’s Marina Mindelo is well-equipped for modern sailors, and you’ll find stunning coastal views as you navigate the local waters.
Well worth a day of your holiday.
This is a ferry from Mindelo to the island of Santo Antão that takes about an hour.
Walking in Santo Antão is a real treat for nature lovers. The island is a paradise of rugged landscapes, steep cliffs, and lush valleys. The trails wind through terraced fields, past small villages, and into the heart of the island’s tropical forests. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just someone looking to soak up natural beauty, the trekking options here range from gentle walks to challenging hikes.
The famous Ribeira da Torre and Paúl Valley walks are particularly worth your time. The dramatic scenery changes from arid flatlands to lush green hills, making every step an experience. All in all, it’s a hiker’s dream with views that you’ll remember long after you’ve returned home.
Been there, done that and would do it again.
Market and Town Hall
The Town Hall has been converted for occasional exhibition space. An exhibition of African tribal artefacts from doors, to helmets, clothing and tools I saw was first class.
There is a large Municipal Market which is a great place to get a flavour of the island.
Mindelo offers a solid nightlife with plenty of bars and clubs, especially if you enjoy live music. Musical styles range from traditional morna to the more upbeat coladeira and funaná.
The local food scene is rich with options. Seafood is plentiful, and you shouldn’t leave without trying Cachupa, a hearty local stew that can include fish, meat, or both.
São Vicente isn’t the lushest of the Cape Verde islands, where you can find spots of natural beauty. Monte Verde offers hiking opportunities, and beaches like Praia da Laginha are perfect for relaxation.
What makes Mindelo special is its combination of cultural richness and maritime history. It’s not just a stopover but a place that offers both modern comforts and a sense of history that adds depth to your visit. Particularly for sailors, the mix of maritime legacy and modern facilities make Mindelo more than just another port—it’s a destination.
Mindelo is a gem of a destination, worth every effort to get there.
If you’re coming from the UK, Europe, or North America, the most straightforward route is to fly into Trinidad’s Piarco International Airport. From there, it’s a quick hop to Tobago’s ANR Robinson International Airport. Australians might need to make a few more connections, likely via North America or Europe. Alternatively, a ferry from Trinidad to Tobago takes around 2.5 hours. If you’re renting a car, the drive from the Tobago airport to Castara Bay is about 45 minutes.
The historical landmark that stands out is Fort Bennett, providing not just a slice of history but also a great vantage point for sweeping views.
Expect a genuinely local, Tobagonian experience in Castara Bay, a place that’s managed to dodge commercialisation. Keep an eye out for local festivals, particularly anything to do with fishing.
Sites of Interest to a Sailor
As a sailor, you’ll appreciate the natural harbour. It’s a fishing village, so don’t expect a marina with all the bells and whistles, but there are boat tours available. It’s a perfect anchoring spot as Grayhound know.
Things are fairly mellow when the sun goes down. There are local joints where you’ll find live music, mostly soca and calypso.
Try the ‘catch of the day’ in most eateries, it’s as fresh as it gets. And don’t miss out on the roti, a local favourite.
You’ve got the oldest protected rainforest in the Western Hemisphere as a backdrop, and the beaches are stellar. If you’re up for it, there’s scuba diving and rainforest hiking.
What makes Castara Bay special is its untouched, authentic character. It’s a mix of stunning natural scenes and genuine community spirit that makes you feel like you’ve stumbled upon a hidden gem.
Castara Bay really is worth a visit, whether you’re a seasoned sailor or just someone looking to unwind.
Thank you so much to all the Grayhound crew for an unforgettable adventure. I cannot imagine a kinder and better crew with which to sail.Caroline
Thanks all for a great time, I really enjoyed it. Fastest Channel crossing I have managed!Barney
An unforgettable experienceJonathon
We've had two idyllic sailing trips. One particularly fantastic day scrambling over big volcanic rocks down a deep craggy valley to a black sand beach with dramatically high cliffs. Grayhound was waiting, attracting attention because she's so beautiful and unique. Swimming out to her in the clear waters o the Atlantic rates as one of life's highlights.Grayhound Guest
Fantastic, exhilarating and an honour to be on such a ship.Des
Excellent company of genuine all round sailors. The wind in my face and the swell beneath. 5 stars for welcome, accommodation on board, safety, quality of sailing, food, skipper and crew.Barry
Outstanding and unforgettable experience. Loved learning the lug rig, meeting the crew and other guests, playing an active role on board.Charlie
Brilliant sail on an interesting boat with friendly and knowledgeable people.Steve
Three masted lugger Grayhound is a unique sight and a joy to take photos of. Not only does she look very unusual as it is a rig not seen much now, she has a mission to deliver cargoes under sail, so she is the darling of the press. Photos from Classic Sailing customers, ships crew and professional photographers. We hope it gives a flavour of her sailing, life on board, the people that come, her beautiful sailing grounds and what it is like to live below decks.
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