Ystafell - Cruising in the Bijagos

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The sandbanks shift and we sail serenely in 30 feet (10 m) of water when suddenly, our hearts are in our mouths because we have just sailed over a shallow spot with a depth of 6 feet (2 m)! Further on, the chart gives us 30 feet (10 m) of water, but the sounder disagrees, giving 5 feet (1.5 m). That’s not much when we draw 4’3” (1.3 m), so we take out the hand sounder to check and the good old plumb line reads 5½ feet (1.7 m). We breathe a little easier! The next morning, we set off again towards the island of Orangozinho, quite close to the Bijagos village of Wite that we wanted to visit. On the map, we couldn’t find a path that led from our anchorage, but from the beach in the south of the island, several paths led to the village. Six of us therefore make part of the journey in the dinghy. If the wind picks up, we will need to make two trips in the afternoon! The next day we leave for Boloma, former capital of Guinea before Bissau and whose guides praise the charm of the old abandoned colonial buildings. We came across a run-down town, almost deserted, where the main market had only two stalls. We were planning to clear out from Guinea-Bissau in Boloma but the immigration office was closed, as were most of the shops. We would have to go back to Cacheu, against the wind and the current. We got used to sailing in 10 feet (3 m) of water with inaccurate charts, while savoring the opportunity we had to be there, in the middle of this incredibly rich flora and fauna and in contact with the extremely nice and welcoming inhabitants. We are now in Cacheu. It is Sunday and everything is open. We were even able to organize the supply of diesel. We will be delivered, (in jerricans), tomorrow morning on the quayside! And we started topping up the water supply but were interrupted by the daily water cut. So, yes, sailors and others, do come here! Don’t be afraid! Guinea-Bissau is a great country!

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