News: 7 Jul 2010, Goal










I said plans can change, and they did. Reason: Spain v Germany, so we had to stay in Mindelo for an extra day to watch it. A surprisingly large number of Spanish happened to be staying in our hotel so our Germans were outnumbered for once. Except for Bastian our sound man, most of our little group profess little interest in football but I happened to be videoing the audience when Spain scored the winning goal. Antonio later asked me not to show it to the World as he lives in Germany and it would be bad for his credibility, Bastian (in the foreground) took the loss particularly badly and disappeared off to his room as soon as the match was over, not to be seen again until breakfast.

It sounds like the fishing trip from São Pedro beach was interesting rather than fun. It's all quite basic, and risky too, if the outboard engine fails then it's next stop Brazil; it would be a hell of a work to row back against the wind and there are no rescue services in Cabo Verde. They took two open boats, one for the camera crew and one for Stéphane and the fishermen. In quite a severe chop they went out maybe five miles and stopped. I think the film crew were assuming that vast local experience was telling the fishermen this was a good spot, but out of a plastic bag they produced quite a high tech fish-finder and once its transducer was lowered over the side they slowly motored about until it said there were plenty of fish below. The actual fishing is done with hand lines using a small mackerel-like fish as bait. Apparently the way the bait is cut and attached to the hook determines the kind of fish you catch. Anyway, they told me it very easy fishing and catch something almost immediately your bait has got to the right depth, but hard work pulling in the line by hand while the boat rolls around in a very seasick inducing manner which also made filming difficult. They didn't get anything particularly big like a Tuna which are apparently still fairly abundant around here.

There was no room for me in the boats so I wandered around town with Marcello Meggiorin, a retired Italian who now lives here most of the year and found me on the beach when we landed in Mindelo port the other day. He is a microlighter who started flying hang gliders in the early 1980's - with none other than Angelo d'Arrigo with whom I did several expeditions, including Everest in 2004 and Aconcagua in 2005. Angelo was quite famous in Italy and had the rare ability of really being able to raise funds for expeditions, and we had ideas for several other major trips. After all the dangerous things we had done together it was therefore a ghastly tragedy when he was killed in a stupid accident whilst a passenger in a light aircraft in 2006.

These days Marcello flies hot-ship microlights and has (I think) a Eurostar which cruises at something around 200 Km/h and even has an auto-pilot. I think it is almost certain he's the first and only person to have ever flown a microlight to Cabo Verde, which he did a few years ago. He showed me a photo of it parked at Praia airport in almost the same spot as we parked the FIB. These islands are 800 Km off the Africa mainland but he seems to have absolutely no fear of flying over vast tracts of open ocean in a single engine plane and I think did quite a lot of flying here and visited all the islands which have active airports. Being unused to uncertified aircraft, eventually the authorities refused to let him keep it here any longer so he flew it 5000 Km back to Italy. Even if there wasn't a gale this morning, which there was, I couldn't have flown because all day there was a big security operation up at the airport, and in town, while the Portuguese President visited São Vincente accompanied by the Cabo Verde President. Early this morning they were gluing a red carpet to the steps of our hotel, it had a bit of a curve in it they couldn't get out without causing a ruck. Rather than have a President trip over, it just curved. Next to the fish market is a copy of the Torre de Belém, a fortified tower in Lisbon, which they've just finished rather beautifully renovating. There was a yellow cloth with tassels over some sort of plaque I suppose a president would reveal at some point during the visit.

We never actually saw them, Marcello and I watched a brass band playing outside the town hall, they were obviously expecting VIP's but we gave up after half an hour or so of hanging around.

Marcello told me he's fitted his aircraft with extra tanks which give him a prodigious range. He has an ambition to fly south from here along the same route as Sacadura Cabral and Gago Coutinho's 1922 flight across the South Atlantic. Of course he wouldn't be able to stop at St Peter and Pauls rocks so it's a leg of 2300 Km from Praia to Fernando Noronha. From there he would continue on to Brazil, then North to the USA, returning to Europe via the classical north Atlantic route of Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Faroes, UK. A circumnavigation of the Atlantic like this would definitely be a first for a microlight, but at 71 he's not getting any younger.

Tomorrow afternoon we take the ferry to Santo Antão, which takes an hour and a half or so. I shall be at the airport early to derig the FIB.

Joint Aviation Services, suppliers of insurances to the expedition
Micro Avionics - Suppliers of pilot intercom and radio equipment to the expedition
Articole Studios - GRP mouldings
Cam-ARA - Suppliers of video equipment to the expedition
Polaris - manufacturer of the FIB
SKYDRIVE, the UK Distributor of ROTAX engines