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Senegal from Cruising Information Community


By George.Curtis2 - 15 Oct 2015

Flying Fish Articles

Dakar – 14°42.40'N, 17°25.50'W

This information is provided by Peter Haden, Yacht Papageno. 1997/8

He has provided this on condition that members using it should send him a postcard to:

Peter Haden, Lisheen Ballyvaughan, CO CLARE, Republic of Ireland.

The following information is derived from a winter 1997/8 spent in part of West Africa.

We departed from and returned to the Canary Islands.

At that time, little advance information was available. However, during our voyage, a remarkable pilot book was published (which we reviewed for “Flying Fish”), and also there are now several good travel guides for Senegal and The Gambia. The internet is a good source to review up to date political situation. Essential reading is “Cruising Guide to West Africa” by Steve Jones, published by RCC Pilotage Foundation ISBN 0 9527771 2 6

Yacht is a 35ft Westerly Seahawk with bilge keels and a draft of 4ft.

Besides the author, the crew consisted at various times of 2/3/4 others, including local natives.

Passage Notes and Log, Yacht Papageno, Senegal, The Gambia and Guinea Bissau.

Departure was from the excellent marina and harbour at La Gomera (Canary Islands).

Good food supplies available.

We stayed right off shore and had a good downwind passage.

Wind filled in when we were 18hrs from the island and three days later we had continuous F5 and a following sea. One night it went up to F7 for a short while.

The passage takes about 7/8 days. Dakar may come into view 18 hrs before arrival, depending on haze.

Set waypoint well off shore (perhaps double what you think !), west of the city to avoid lots of reefs and shallows. After 8 days at sea it is easy to drift in-shore when everyone is looking at the city !

ON NO ACCOUNT go into the huge Dakar harbour, or any part of it.

We later met an English family who had been completely cleaned out by security man’s “brother”.

Instead go to Hann Bay south of the city. You will pass the huge French military base which has a breakwater with gap on the shore end. From the outer end 285M will lead you across the bay to the friendly and very informal Cercle de la Voile du Dakar.

There is good sand anchoring except over small patches of grass.

Club launch, ladies to do laundry, Hemingway style bar, helpful club owner, excellent restaurants nearby. Do not leave dinghy and outboard engine unattended on beach. Lock engine onto yacht at night time. Otherwise everything is fabulous.

Very cheap taxi into town. YC will tell you the tariff….please stick to it.

Formalities in town are a bit of a drag, but it is a one-stop location and straightforward and no bribe requested.

We took in some cold drinks which were appreciated. A few cigarettes also appreciated, and they allowed us to check in and out in one operation, we we were only staying two days. All crew have to be present.

Do not speak to the people in cages just down the corridor, but do sneak a look if you get a chance !

Excellent European supermarket…….take credit cards.

You can get anything you want in Dakar….eg (fuel containers for windless days ahead !) A taxi driver will find anything you want, but barter very sharply indeed, otherwise you will not be respected.

AVOID Independence Sq. Nothing to see and FULL of muggers looking for tourists.

Do go to see the Presidential Palace, especially if the guard is changing.

The Rough Guide has excellent Dakar info.

Well worth a trip ashore if you are there on a Sunday, is to take a taxi to The French/African Benedictine Monastery at Keur Moussa It is about one hour’s drive.

Be there for the 10.00am Mass. The music is internationally famous and you could not but be deeply impressed by this experience. Book the taxi the night before and make sure the driver knows where he is going.

Consider an overnight when leaving Dakar, at Goree Island.

There is a sheltered harbour and it is possible to securely lie alongside the stone wall.

Allow a couple of hours to explore. There are a couple of OK simple restaurants.

No officialdom, and no charges.

Clinton and The Pope have both visited, so it must have something going for it !

Sailing south, consider a stop off the lovely French style resort of Sall, anchoring in sand close off the magnificent beach. Apart from the excellent food, swimming pools etc it is then possible to plan a day sail to arrive in daylight in Banjul.

Arrival in Banjul can only be on a rising tide which you will pick up from quite some distance out.

On the way south you will pass entrances to the Diamboss river system.

We entered (on a subsequent passage) at Djifere. This required careful sounding but otherwise presented no problem. A few days in this river system is worthwhile. Most nights we anchored off small French owned hotels and used their swimming pools and simple restaurants. The wild life is good, but only a fraction of what will be seen in The Gambia River and further south.

The people are more “savy” and tourist conscious. The towns are all Muslim, and with little to see. Worth seeing are the sailing pirogues. We exited the system near to Banjul after interesting navigation between the rivers. This teaches you a whole new technique of sounding from bank to bank when it gets shallow. Anything you touch is only sand or mud.