Update 1 - Atlantic Crossing
04 December 2019 | Atlantic Ocean
We departed Sol at 07:40UTC on 3rd Dec with the promise of good winds for at least the first week of the passage and we were not disappoint with consistent winds of around 15-20 knots, initially on a beam reach giving us a good start. Other than a drop in winds as we sailed through the wind shadow of some of the other islands we have been keeping a speed over ground above 6 knots. In the first 24 hours we have sailed 144NM and are 138NM from our start.
We have not seen any other yachts yet but we should as we get into the Canaries/Caribbean routes but have seen a few merchant ships that work the Cape Verde Islands. The plan is to gradually work our way south but concentrate on initially heading west to enter the trade winds giving us the better sail to Barbados.
We have seen a lot of flying fish again but fortunately none of them have made Sally a target yet!
Ilha do Sal, Capo Verde
02 December 2019
We arrived at Porto da Palmeira on the island of Sol, Ilha do Sal, just after 7AM and were anchored by 7:30AM and having breakfast after a sail of 858NM taking us less than 7 days and using the engine for 9.5 hours but mainly for battery charging. We fortunately had an uneventful passage, which is always the best ones, and if you got chance to read our brief blog updates whilst on passage we generally had pretty good winds after the slow start. We saw quite a few pods of dolphins including over 30 large ones on one particular day, as usual using us to mask their approach and for us to flush out the flying fish for them to devour, a few turtles gently sauntered by and thousands of flying fish. We had a few flying fish land on the deck to keep us on our toes on night watch and even discovered a stowaway by the mast that we hadn't noticed on our arrival. The dawn and dusk at sea are absolutely amazing with the clarity of the skies. We saw only a few yachts during our passage, quite a few ships, generally heading to Gran Canaria, and a reasonable number of aircraft, but surprisingly mainly only at night. The photos from the sail have been added into the Cape Verde photo album.
Sally shared the watches with Dave during the night as he is colour blind and enjoyed each others company making her watches fly by.
The first job, after breakfast, upon arrival was to pump up the dinghy, go ashore to clear customs and immigration. Here the young boys rush to greet you promising to look after your dingy in exchange for your loose change. It took us a little while to find the correct building as most of the streets looked the same and there isn't the luxury of a tourist information centre or a local map to follow. We had been warned that this can be a laborious and tedious operation and we anxiously waited our turn. Thankfully they weren't terribly busy and after only half an hour wait with the Harbour police and Immigration, fortunately located in the same building in the centre of Palmeira (Policia Marítima), they registered our arrival and we received our stamped passport. We were then officially entitled to lower our yellow quarantine flag and fly the Cape Verde courtesy flag on our return to Mirage.
Whilst looking around Palmeira, a Port and fishing village, we found the fresh water taps, public showers (0.5 Euros/person), small supermarkets with expensive food, cafes and bars, the fishermen selling their fish on the quayside and ladies selling car boot style clothes and vegetables. The local guys are friendly but not too pushy when selling their 'genuine branded goods' for a few Euros as this is not the true tourist area of the island! We noticed that they all get along very well, have an amazing personality and sense of fun and comradery.
The rest of the first day was used to sort out the boat, a rigging climb and check, and going for a swim as it was 24degC using the excuse I needed to check the anodes on the boat. Dave enjoyed snorkelling whilst Sally observed from the deck. The final trip ashore in the evening was for a shower to wash away the 7 days at sea! The showers were basic but clean. Despite the water being tepid, which makes it sound warm (but we are soft Europeans) it was welcome.
After a good nights sleep we went ashore, initially to fill our three water containers, before going for a nice walk to stretch our legs. The walk headed south along the west coast, and although not very scenic as the island is pretty brown and barren with very little greenery, there was a good amount of surf coming in from the Atlantic on to the deserted rocky beaches. We even saw a herd of cows! On the very south coast of the island there are the sandy beaches but most of these are now surrounded by the tourist complexes that bring a large source of income into the island. We were joined on our walk by three local dogs who decided to follow us to ensure we didn't do anything we shouldn't. They were well behaved, friendly and didn't even scrounge for food when we stopped for lunch. If Sally could have smuggled them back in the dingy undetected I think she would have. Again on the return to Mirage we went for a swim and found the spoon that Sally had thrown out by mistake earlier on in the day! This was a joint effort with Dave doing the spotting and me diving down to the bottom as I had fins on.
We used the local transport, mini-buses and pickups called Aluguer (literally translates as 'to hire') to visit Espargos, the main town on the island, to have a look around and for Dave to visit the airport where he flies home from. The key thing to remember is that this is Africa and not an off-shoot of Europe to fully appreciate the place and to understand how the island operates but this all adds to the wonder of Sol. The local currency can't be purchased outside of Cape Verde but they do accept Euros at a direct rate of exchange which naturally is higher than their Escudos. The town is a lively place with market stalls, shops, cafes, supermarkets and even a fantastic ice cream parlour that needed to be sampled with each of us having a two scoop cone, albeit at European type prices so definitely a treat for the locals, thanks Dave for the treat. Sally did a check on two supermarkets for fresh and frozen food ready for our small amount of restocking needed for the next part of our journey before we returned to Mirage. The Christmas decorations are up, including a giant snowman and street lights depicting snowflakes, reindeer etc. just as we would see at home. I wonder when it last snowed here, may be back in the last ice age!
On Sunday we caught two Aluger each way to the southern point of the island, Santa Maria, where the area is much more touristy. We made use of the sandy beaches to swim and sunbath, exploring the reefs snorkelling and admired the local marine life, before walking along in the surf a couple of miles to where the developments ended. The beaches are used by turtle to lay their eggs and if you see a turtle laying it's eggs you are supposed to record the serial number of the turtle but not go near it, a bit contradictory!
The beaches are also used as anchorages for the various charter boats, fishing boats and yachts that make it down to this end. Any travelling yacht should then in theory sail back to Palmeria to check out of customs but I bet the Aluger would be used in reality!
When we returned back to the tourist area Dave treated us to a delicious meal in one of the local restaurants, with Sally having a local spicy tuna dish, I had roasted squid and Dave had a local bean and pork dish. We returned via the local minibus now like pros and enjoyed the banter of the locals returning home from work. After returning to the boat I had a final dive on the boat giving the underside a final clean with a scrubbing brush to remove the slight trace of fouling to help with our sailing speeds.
The final day on Sol was spent getting the last water, the fresh and frozen food with another Aluger trip to Espargos. All this before finally, clearing out of customs and preparing the boat for departure. We also said goodbye to Dave as he flew back to a lovely warm UK in the afternoon.
We will try to update the blog and blog map as we sail across the Atlantic to Barbados and we are hoping to take around 16 days to complete the crossing, so we should be there by Christmas but just in case we are not we wish you all a Merry Christmas!.
On passage to Cape Verdes - 27-10-2019
27 November 2019 | Atlantic Ocean
With just over a 100NM to go to Sol we hope to arrive tomorrow morning just as it get lights. The wind has been quite light, especially last night so speeds have been quite slow. We has a fantastic display of fluorescing dolphins again last night and we are also starting to see many more flying fish. As we sail through a shoal of flying fish suddenly the sea erupts into a massive amount of movement as the fish jump and fly through the air. We do, of course, have a few that land on the deck at night and require clearing off each morning and Sally was hit by one over night as it flew past. Luckily only the 'wing' hit her and the fish carried on back into the sea. Sally was easily 2.5m above sea level as sea was standing in the cockpit when it grazed her hand.
We will gybe through, hopefully for the last time this morning for the run into Sol.,
Sally, Dave and Paul
PS Happy Birthday Bec!
assuming you read our blog!
Passage to Cape Verdes - Update 26-11-19
26 November 2019 | Atlantic Ocean
Yesterday was a busy day we did two, yes two sail trim alterations the first was a gybe and the second a switch to wing-on-wing sailing configuration for the night. We saw another turtle yesterday, and Sally actually saw it, her first, and have seen another yacht 'two tribes' at a distance of around 4NM.
We currently have just over 200NM to go so hoping to arrive Thursday, or the week as originally hoped. We had our first flying fish land on our deck overnight but didn't have it for breakfast!
We are doing distances consistently over 140NM per day now the winds have stabilised
Sally, Paul and Dave
On Passage to Cape Verdes
25 November 2019 | Atlantic Ocean
We have started to make good progress now as the trade winds have steadied and have logged distances of over 140NM regularly now over a rolling 24 hour period. We are hoping to arrive at Sol, Cape Verdes on the 28th.
Looking at the routing we will have to gybe in around 20 hours time to take us into Sol and then gybe when we clear the north coast of the island. The wind over night picked up and were on a 2nd reef on the genoa and 1st reef on the main for most of the night and still making good speed. The wave are aroung 3m peak to trough but far enough apart that we simply glide over them with only the very odd rough wave splashing us!
With the higher boat speeds the towed generator is supplying nearly all our electricty and the solar panel simply topping the batteries slowly back up to the top. So far in total we have now sailed (0800UTC 25112019) 483NM and have made a distance of 445NM from Pasito Blanco
All the best,
Sall, Dave and Paul
Cape Verdes Passage - day 3
24 November 2019 | Atlantic Ocean
As dawn broke on the third day we launched the cruising chute and kept it up all day and then through last night. With three of us on-board we flew the chute at night as the weather forecast predicted winds to be force 3 until the morning..If Sally and I are on our own we don't generally fly it at night.. The F2 to F3 wind lasted all night and as the sun came up started to strengthen as forecast. So at just after 08:00 UTC we dropped the chute and returned to the full genoa and 2nd reefed main. We reef the main so it does not block the wind from the genoa due to the angle the wind is on this particular point of sail.
We saw another yacht during the day that was gradually closing on us until we gybed onto the same tack as they were and started started to pull away from them and by dusk they were only just visual on the horizon. One advantage of a cruising chute is the greater sail area in light winds. With their course being very similar to us they may be heading for the same island on the Cape Verdes. They didn't have ASI so we don't know who they were!
Life goes on on board and we are now getting used to the watch system and recovering from the initial sleep deprivation you always suffer from on the initial couple of days. The weather has been pretty kind to us but we did have a small amount of drizzle for all of 2 minutes! The sun was extremely hot until lunchtime and then clouded over but the temperatures were still in the high twenties. The sea temperature in now 23 degC so almost ready to have a bath in.
We do see quite a few aircraft at night as I suspect we are on the route from Europe to South America at the moment.
With the higher wind strwnth we have had a higher boat speed even whilst running 'white' sails. At midday after the first three days sailing we have sailed 355NM in distance but only 327NM from our departure point. This averages just 5 Knots which considering the slow start we had is better thn expected. With the change in the winds to a more traditional trade wind we have had cloudy skies with sunny intervals and have had to wear a fleece as it is that warm.