It was to the sound of tambourines and drums of carnival and ‘mandigas’ that the crew of the sailboat Mirpuri Foundation loosened the moorings in the commercial port of Mindelo and began crossing of the North Atlantic this Sunday, January 29, at dusk.

Northeast strong winds set the pace for the team of international professional sailors and special guests led by skipper Paulo Mirpuri who received a resounding farewell to the city of Mindelo in a series of initiatives that lasted all day.

In the morning, the visit of local authorities and especially a group of children from the Tia Maria Cristina Association on the island of Salamansa brought a special coloring that would be amplified with the sound of the carnival band that played right there on the pier, along with the presence of a group of fishermen from the Salamansa Fishermen’s Association, especially the oldest of them, Manuel Teodoro Bandeira, 97 years old and retired, and Antonio Luis Fontes, 82 years old and still in active service.

A well-attended press conference was the stage for presenting the message of the Mirpuri Foundation regarding the preservation of the oceans. “This ocean crossing will promote this work of the Mirpuri Foundation and the choice of Cape Verde as a starting point for this voyage was not by chance, as we know that a substantial part of the island’s economy is based on the oceans, with artisanal fishing, and we would like to sensitizing the local authorities to an involvement in the preservation of this universal patrimony that is the ocean “, stated Paulo Mirpuri.

This message was made evident by the presentation of the video “Eleven hour wake up call -Save the Ocean Program”, a work that the Mirpuri Foundation has prepared with other foundations to raise the awareness of the largest number of people to the question of the preservation of the oceans for the future generations.

From a local perspective, the Portuguese diver Nuno Marques da Silva, with 28 years of experience in the Cape Verde seas, warned of the important initiative “Artificial Reefs in Cape Verde”, a work that aims to restore areas of fish and coral habitats on the seabed, already devastated by overfishing. The main idea is the introduction of artificial reefs made of concrete or old vessels that can be placed in the sea bed in strategic places, near natural reefs, to attract again the diverse species of fish, thus creating a network of reefs that can also include parts of the African coast.

The captain of the Mindelo Maritime Port Authority, Antonio Monteiro, also presented his contribution in words of encouragement and support to the crew of the Mirpuri Foundation, as well as the president of the National Institute of Fisheries Development in Cape Verde, Osvaldina Duarte da Silva, who highlighted the importance of the diversity of marine life on the islands and announced the creation of the Oceanographic Institute.

The fisherman Auxílio Matias, president of the Salamansa Fishermen’s Association, confessed that he was disturbed when he saw the scale of the problem regarding the destruction of coral reefs. He also added that there is also a need to consider the fuel pollution of ships on the surface of the waters in Cape Verde, calling on local authorities to create protective measures against vessels from other countries that pollute Cape Verde seas, where local fishermen only practice artisanal fishing.

Taking advantage of the statements of the veteran fisherman and the questions of the local press, skipper Paulo Mirpuri confirmed the intention of Mirpuri Foundation to work with the government to find possible solutions to these problems, including also a responsible attitude on the part of the fishing industry, which will contribute to the benefit of all. And one of the local initiatives already under way is precisely the support for research work such as that developed by diver Nuno Marques da Silva, director of the Manta Diving Center on the island of Sal.

After the press conference, another high point of the day was the mass celebrated at Igreja Nossa Senhora da Luz during which priest Peter blessed the crew wishing a safe trip to all aboard the Mirpuri Foundation’s sailing boat.

Outside the church a group of Mandigas of Mindelo and dancers and drums of Carnival flooded the streets of the city with an irresistible rhythm dragging the crew, the guests and even the tourists all along the road by the beach to the commercial port where the priest blessed the boat and the team began preparations on board for the depart.

In a synchronized movement the nine sailors began the maneuvers of loosening the moorings, and at one glance they left the dock and followed the bay under strong winds while hoisting the sails preparing to face a first agitated night, with winds around 30 knots and an agitated sea with waves of 3 to 5 meters of height. “The weather conditions are perfect, with a high-pressure system stationary in the middle of the North Atlantic, producing a steady stream of northeastern trade winds that will allow a downwind navigation virtually all the way to Barbados, 2.000 miles away.” explained the co-skipper and project manager, Johannes Schwarz, adding that the incredible performance of the VOR 70 sailboat – the fastest ocean monohull – will make the duration of the crossing between 5 and 6 days, with ETA 4 February.

Official sponsors of the transatlantic crossing:

Mirpuri Foundation – main sponsor

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Photos by Jorge Leal

Communication Officer – Nysse Arruda (