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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    757

    Default Sailing southbound west coast of Africa ...any experience?

    Does anyone out there have experience of sailing southbound off the west coast of Africa?

    I spent a lot of time in my younger years working on Ascension island and I have a long term ambition to one day return there under sail. Traditionally on the route from South Atlantic to North and understandably not very appealing to most people, I have my reasons.

    I'm not actually a permanent livaboard. And I would be sailing the wrong way, north to south. Due to work it would be a case of get the boat to cape Verde one season, then make the trip south bound to ascension and back in another. Certainly many weeks of awkward sailing for say a fortnight rolling about under anchor off Georgetown. (Yes I know I'm mad).

    From my study of pilot charts, a favourable wind and set could be expected S to the ITCZ. I have a 750 litre fuel tank to help with the doldrums. Beyond that the current and wind are unfavourable offshore. It would seem 'hugging' the coast of Africa as far as the ivory coast would provide more favourable winds and current... But far enough off shore to remain safe from piracy? From there a close reach south all the way with the current providing the westings.

    Undoubtedly no one else will have been mad enough to make the passage I suggest.. But anyone out there sailed south off west Africa to get somewhere more normal and could share some advice?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
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    1,074

    Default Re: Sailing southbound west coast of Africa ...any experience?

    World Cruising routes by Jimmy Cornell might help
    Also heard of a few pirate atttacks close to coast , although beaten off by the owner having a crossbow
    Flying birds have no master

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    757

    Default Re: Sailing southbound west coast of Africa ...any experience?

    Quote Originally Posted by FlyingGoose View Post
    World Cruising routes by Jimmy Cornell might help
    Also heard of a few pirate atttacks close to coast , although beaten off by the owner having a crossbow
    Thanks I'll take a look for that one its not on my bookcase.

    Maybe if my jolly roger is bigger than theirs they will feel intimidated?

    What sort of distance offshore do the blighters venture I wonder?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Eastbourne
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    67

    Default Re: Sailing southbound west coast of Africa ...any experience?

    Contessaman, There is a good record of Gulliver G, Nic 32, as far as the Cape Verdes. They went on to do an Atlantic Circuit.

    http://gulliverg.com/the-voyage

    Others will have done it, and I recall someone went on to the South Atlantic written up in YM. Pics of abandoned buildings in the old harbour.

    I can't say whether you are mad or not, I'm not qualified and am probably a little mad myself.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
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    Dover
    Posts
    5,314

    Default Re: Sailing southbound west coast of Africa ...any experience?

    I found Steve Jones "RCC Cruising Guide to West Africa" very helpful when planning a visit to The Gambia and Senegal ten years ago, though in the event I went to Brazil instead. But unless it has been updated, the information on which it is based would now be about 20 years old. Please pm me with your email address if you would like more information about this.

    At the time I was planning there was an annual French rally of yachts to these countries, which I had thought to join. Yachts were also known to have visited Guinea Bisseau, Ivory Coast and São Tomé, but these were a challenge. Morocco and the Cape Verdes are of course regular cruising destinations. Mauritania would accept yachts in an emergency only. Otherwise all other west African countries were considered highly dangerous for yachts, until you reach Namibia. The Gulf of Guinea had - and probably still has - the worst piracy record of anywhere in the world.

    For a summary of more recent country information, see https://www.noonsite.com.
    Last edited by AndrewB; 14-06-19 at 07:02.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    757

    Default Re: Sailing southbound west coast of Africa ...any experience?

    Thanks for that, the reputation you mention is pretty much how I thought it would be. So I guess the real question is, how far offshore is considered 'safe'?

    It may well be that a battle into the wind and current on the open ocean is a safer bet than getting within interception range of the coast but I was wondering if there's any information / intelligence on how far out the pirates are a threat to small craft. Most certainly would have AIS etc on receive only and go passive on all other transmissions. Pot luck after that I guess..

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
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    Dover
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    5,314

    Default Re: Sailing southbound west coast of Africa ...any experience?

    Yachts don't go there, so there simply isn't enough information to answer your question. Perhaps look at the annual piracy incidence maps produced by the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre, and note their recent advice: "Reports of attacks [in the Gulf of Guinea] more than doubled in 2018 ... Some of these attacks occurred up to 100 nm offshore, well outside of the territorial waters of West African states."

    (The 2018 map is at https://www.icc-ccs.org/index.php/pi...iracy-map-2018).

    However, I believe the old sailing ship advice for going south to Ascension Island was to hug the coast down to Cape Palmas in Liberia, from there head south or south-east as conditions allow to the equator, then go close hauled port tack out to the Island. Tougher than following further around the coast, but this route seems away from the worst affected areas and perhaps less hazardous. There isn't a great deal of alternative short of a grand tour of the south Atlantic. As you say, Ascension is a place normally visited on the way back from Cape Town.
    Last edited by AndrewB; 17-06-19 at 10:26.

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