22 December 2019 | Christchurch, New Zealand
16 December 2019 | Christchurch, Canterbury, NZ
28 November 2019 | Christchurch, SI, New Zealand
19 November 2019 | Picton, Marlborough, NZ
04 November 2019 | Collingwood, Tasman, South Island, NZ
04 November 2019 | Collingwood, Tasman, South Island, NZ
29 October 2019 | Nelson, South Island, NZ
22 October 2019 | Christchurch, Te Waka o Māui, New Zealand
15 October 2019 | Scarborough, Queensland
05 October 2019 | Scarborough marina, near Brisbane, Australia
16 August 2019 | Southport Spit, Gold Coast, Australia
06 August 2019 | South Stradbroke Island, Gold Coast, Queensland
15 July 2019 | Boatworks, Coomera River, Gold Coast
25 May 2019 | Biggera Waters, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
12 April 2019 | Coomera River, Gold Coast, Australia
02 April 2019 | Southport, The Gold Coast, Australia
16 March 2019 | Southport, Gold Coast, Australia
09 March 2019 | Currigee, South Stradbroke Island, Gold Coast
21 February 2019 | Santa Barbara, Coomera River, Gold Coast, Australia
04 February 2019 | The Broadwater, Gold Coast, Australia
Tomorrow could be the day.
05 January 2014 | Mindelo, Cape Verde Islands
Photo shows Alison's amazing brother Toby in full flow somewhere in France
As I type I can't actually hear the whistling of the wind and surprisingly a number of yachts departed today with unreefed sails. There is it appears from the weather predictions a short lull in the NE trades. Seeing is believing. We'll wait till tomorrow and if the prog is good off we will go.
Still here! Waiting for mañana
27 December 2013 | Mindelo, Cape Verde Islands
Geoff, windy and cool
Still in Mindelo under anchor. Everything was lashed into place and the anchor stowed this morning with a forecast of 10 - 15 knots, but it has been howling ever since! The forecast easing in the enhanced trades we have had for nearly two weeks now didn't happen yesterday or today - in fact, the wind piped up to over 30 knots today, so we will wait for mañana.
The boats that left the Canaries 12 days ago have had 20 - 30 knots every day - no fun! Two boats on the daily radio net have diverted to Mindelo - 1 with its wind vane snapped off two days out of Las Palmas, the other with a broken autopilot. 2 weeks of strong winds and confused seas are not so bad in a large yacht with experienced crew to help out, but exhausting in a small short handed yacht like ours. On the bright side, everything is actually working. The anemometer, the Honda outboard and the barometer all tried a last minute bid to go kaput, but we managed to outsmart them!
20 December 2013
Before complimenting us on the fantastic pictures, we have to be honest and say the only one that is ours is the photo of Saraoni in the middle! But at least we have seen the animals around the outside and are hoping soon to see some more of them!!
For photos of Sao Vicente and Santo Antao - CLICK HERE
It has been horrible weather here in the Verdes the last few days. A harmattan
haze has affected much of the group, with strong winds, reaching gale force over the last couple of days and heavy rain! We are almost ready to go with a few stores and souvenirs to buy and a putter around the anchorage to make sure nothing else falls off the boat. We managed to get a spare wind vane blade off a German guy in a tiny motor sailer so will try it out. Supposed to have matching blades, but his blade is the same age as ours so perhaps it'll work without having to make any modiifcations.
There are some very interesting boats in Mindelo at the moment - some boats half our size or even smaller!! Amazing what some people are using to cross this turbulent puddle.
Looking at the weather (don't we ever stop?). Boxing Day looks like a good day to leave, though that could change. We don't particularly relish the idea of having two and a half weeks of 20 - 30 knots, which some yachts have been experiencing and would like to leave at least when the forecast shows average wind conditions for at least the first few days.
The irony is in the Atlantic that we have got a new engine and now a new propeller precisely when we least need them - ever since we left the Moroccan coast we have had plenty of wind and almost all of it going in the right direction!!
And where are we going? We think Surinam at first. It has an easily navigable river we can get into at night and anchor. It seems to have a very laid back population and very few other boats. More importantly there is a lot of jungle and wildlife upriver we can experience. From there the logical route would be via Guyana and Tobago into the Caribbean proper.
One of the best things about sailing of course is that you can change your mind almost constantly without worrying about it!!
The Prop Op
12 December 2013 | Mindelo, Cape Verde Islands
Alison and Geoff, windy and cool
The new prop is in place looking a lot shinier and cleaner than the rest of the hull, which has accumulated a lot of gunge since being in the marina.
After finally wrestling our new propeller from various arms of Cape Verdean bureaucracy and after it had taken up almost permanent residency at Praia airport on Santiago Island, we lifted the back of our nice, new Nanni engine up and slid the prop shaft forwards so that the end of the prop shaft was sufficiently clear of the rudder for the whole process to take place. The reason this had to be done was because the space between the rudder and the prop is too narrow to slide the prop on without moving the shaft forwards into the boat.
We were going to get the assistance of BoatCV the maintenance arm of Mindelo Marina but we didn't want to negotiate a price plus all the hidden additions just for the privilege of supervising someone else. Jingle bells had already been ringing enough as our prop made its way through a series of money grabbers. Luckily, we have a 12 volt compressor and dive pipes aboard which allows us to do work comfortably underwater. It was originally bought so we could join the fish, but it's been a boon to cleaning the boat off, removing offending objects and ..... replacing props!
The old bronze locking nut was the first thing to get off and was in excellent condition with no sign of corrosion except for a little superficial stuff on the surface so the fate of the original bronze prop is still a mystery.
The new key had to be cut and shaped which meant a few trips "down under" to get it right. We had a length of key material and bought a wad of play dough from a toy shop to use the dough to form a mould of the key hole. We then cut the key material in two and used the mould to mark the correct curve on the key then using the grinder carefully ground it to shape.
We then had to grind a couple of milllimetres off the end of the hub and the locking nut so that the nut could be fitted tightly and in the right place. The prop fitted perfectly on the taper and it is now in place with just the split pin to put through the grooves in the nut and into the shaft. As usual there are various things to put back, such as lowering the engine back down into the correct position and re securing. A mechanic did the realignment the first time so we'll have to be a little careful that we line it all up properly.
We also have to refit the steering system even though we didn't need to have taken it off - the one small hatch in the cockpit floor was sufficient to be able to lift the back of the engine enough to slide the shaft forwards to get the nut and the prop off and on.
Now the wind is up into the 20 to 30 knot range on the Caribbean run for the next 10 days so there is no hurry to go. We will probably anchor out in cleaner water when we have finished here. We have been busily tapping away on the computers when not doing anything else as the money making arm of Saraoni Corp has been active since we arrived here - so much so that we have paid back everything we have spent because of the prop op and even made a profit!
San Antaao Interlude - A Step Back in Time
02 December 2013 | Santo Antaao
Alison and Geoff - tropical heat!
Just returned from a few days on Santo Antaao island - what a gem of an island! Those yachties who have reported that their stay in the Verdes on the way to the Caribbean was not a highlight have obviously not been across the strait to Sao Vicente's larger and more spectacular neifhbour. .
The private car disappeared when we crossed the 6 mile turbulent stretch of water in a temporary lift in the trades from Sao Vicente to Santo Antaao. The hustle and bustle of Mindelo was replaced by the quiet town of Porto Novo. We didn't wait to look around the town but were directed to an aluguer (shared people transporter) and were whisked up into the mountains along a narrow, winding, cobbled road. Our plan was to get off at the crater of Covo and walk the 1200 metres down to the coast. This we did, but in thick mist. The acceleration in the NE trades had pushed a blanket of cloud onto the eastern side of the island with some drizzle.
After a couple of hours of walking and getting lost a few times in the mist we stumbled on the sheer cliffside which led down to the north east coast. The trail was an extraordinarily well maintained wide cobbled mule path which switchbacked down the cliff. All we could see at first was the path etched into the sheer mountainside but eventually we emerged from the cloud to be greeted by a vista of tumbling streams and terraced gardens.
Everything imaginable was being grown in the verdant Vale de Paul. We passed gardens of cabbages, carrots, corn, bananas, cocoa, coffee, paw paw, sugar cane and breadfruit trees and so intricately laid out on the steep mountain slopes and not a whiff of pesticides or herbicides that filled the air in the hot houses of the Canary Islands.
We realised that we were in the tropics and there would be much more of this to come in the Caribbean.
We alugered it from the bottom of the valley down to the sea at Paul and then through the island's somnolent "capital" Ribeira Grande to the little colourful town of Ponta Do Sol where we stayed in a B & B run by a Portuguese woman married to a Verdean.
The well maintained cobbled trail we experienced on the coastal walk the next day was an indication of how much people walked on this island in the absence of a family car. Again the path was literally carved into the sheer coastal mountains overlooking the Atlantic and passed through occasional villages up and down steep valleys.
We realised that we could have just kept on walking across the island staying at the odd gite scattered along the trails. Life on the island is undoubtedly harder for its inhabitants, but for those of us outsiders it was an image of how the other Atlantic islands - the Azores, Madeira and the Canaries - might have looked a few decades ago.
We are now back on the boat surrounded by even more boats than before waiting the arrival of the new propellor which should arrive at the marina hopefully tomorrow.
Gridlock in Mindelo
28 November 2013 | Mindelo Marina
Photo shows Sao Pedro Bay not far from the rarely used airport.
Things are slowly getting fixed for us while yachts are streaming in from the Canaries. One would never have thought there has ever been a European recession as the wealth surrounding us runs into millions and millions of euros.
Many of the plastic fantastics are confined by a fixed schedule as they have packed their production yachts with crew to ease the otherwise often sleepless nights of long distance voyages that hamper the more independent adventurer.
Air fares and Christmas deadlines will be encumbering these voyagers as they look dismally at the next week's weather forecast which has omitted the fabled NE trades. Too early to make the passage perhaps. or maybe an unusual year. No year is ever that usual, however, for the world sailor. The marina is packed to overflowing and the anchorage is stern to bow.
We took a break from the chaos and cycled to the other side of the island at Sao Pedro, where we found a lovely, almost deserted beach with clean, clear water and a 1 meter wave crashing on the shore.
The prop we hope is on the way today and then we have to confront the problem of fixing it while still in the water. We will leave that problem until next week while we wander around Santo Antaao, across the water.
24 November 2013 | Cape Verde Islands
Alison and Geoff, sunny and warm
Photo shows yachts anchored in the bay at Mindelo - the town and marina are on the right. The nearby island of Santo Antaao is in the background.
Prop gone, sail UV strip undone, wind generator blade gone, computer crashed. What more could happen in a place where you can't get anything? Mindelo is quite well serviced with all the necessities of life, but not for luxury items that yachts people always seem to be chasing.
There are the usual wind generator towers facing NE, where the wind is the strongest, but buying a blade for a 400 watt one here is impossible. Desktop computers are everywhere, but will we be able to buy a tablet or net book at an acceptable price? We will have a look tomorrow. UV strip can be repaired either painfully by us or by the local sewing machinist via the marina owner at 27 euros an hour. It will be done no doubt. As for the prop, we will be getting another flown in so are now busy tapping away at what's left of our computers to pay for it.
Meanwhile, we have been wandering around Sao Vicente by bike. It has dramatic scenery, with vegetation which reminds us of Africa - particularly the thorn trees. Nearly everybody on the island lives in and around Mindelo. The people here depend on the port for income as well as money remitted from relatives living abroad. Like the Canaries, cruise ships have been coming into the bay regularly, disgorging their occupants onto the streets. No doubt the cruise ships and the marina have made a big impact on Mindelo's income.
The island is more expensive for most things than the Canaries or mainland Spain, but there are exceptions - we got a sim card from CV Movel and 3 gigabytes of data for only 9 euros and this provides a much better internet service than the expensive wifi from the marina. The veges and fruit are found all over town in unusual locations - not just the clean and orderly market. The fish market has some superb fresh fish at very cheap prices. Diesel is available tax free in the marina - about 85 euro cents per litre and at last, for the first time since Egypt we have been able to fill our NZ gas bottles!!
So Where did the Bloody Propeller Go?
21 November 2013 | Mindelo, Cape Verde Islands
Geoff, cool and sunny
Photo shows Saraoni's 3 bladed propeller firmly attached to the stainless steel shaft while the boat was on the hardstand at Almerimar in Spain last year. Now there is just the shaft!
"There's nothing so sad" sung Aussie singer Slim Dusty "as a pub with no beer!". Too right. But almost as sad is a brand, spanking new €8,000 Nanni diesel engine without a propeller. And that's exactly what we found when we arrived in Mindelo. A dive over the side revealed the absence of the propeller - but how did it make its escape to Davy Jones? The locking nut was still firmly attached at the end of the prop shaft so the offending implement couldn't have slid off the end. We are flummoxed and have heard that it could variously have been active electrolysis or age and fatigue. Age and fatigue have certainly set in amongst the crew of the good ship Saraoni, now wondering how to fill the void in the barren islands of the Cape Verdes. Perhaps it was a conspiracy amongst all mechanical objects aboard the boat that can turn. Yesterday, an ominous silence from the top of the mizzen in the gusty winds prompted a glance above to find that one of the 3 blades of the Air X wind generator had followed in the footsteps of the propeller, meaning no more electrical power from that direction until an expensive replacement takes place.
We have noticed an almost insatiable appetite for boat gear to jump overboard over the years. We have never met Davy Jones, but he obviously has a fatal attraction for non animate objects. Spanners, screwdrivers, cups, spoons, outboard motors, you name it - they all have the tendency to leap over the lifelines as soon as your back is turned.
While we work out our options, the wind has abated in the Verdes and it is pleasant wandering around the little city with its strange combination of West African and Southern European culture. The ARC + - the 40 odd boats that departed Las Palmas earlier than the main fleet - have now left and the harbour is a little less manic. We expect to be here for some time before we can fix a rotational device on the mischievous prop shaft so will have time to explore Sao Vicente by bike and the neighbouring higher island of Santo Antaao on foot.
Windy Arrival in the Cape Verde Islands
18 November 2013 | Landfall on Sao Vicente in the Cabo Verde islands
Alison and Geoff
7 days and 6 hours from Tenerife and we have made landfall on the Cabo Verde Islands, 840 miles from Santa Cruz. The passage experienced mostly light to moderate winds and moderate seas. We didn't spot any whales and we haven't even caught a fish although a couple of flying fish dried out on the deck. It seems like a turbulent, watery desert in the Atlantic. Once you start the journey there is no turning back as the sea conditions are only good for running with the wind.
The Cabo Verde Islands were shrouded in a trade wind haze and it was difficult to make them out as we edged forward towards Mindelo harbour on the island of Sao Vicente - our destination for the moment. Fortunately, the last few miles were in the dark, so we didn't see the massive swells as they passed by us. A common occurrence when entering a passage between islands when the wind is blowing against the tidal flow. As we turned into the harbour, the effect of the wind increased and with a hanky sized sail up we safely made our way up the harbour and dropped the hook.
Sunny, warm days on the Atlantic Ocean
17 November 2013 | 143 miles north of Mindelo in the Cabo Verde islands
Alison and Geoff
The cloud cleared and the sea started to dance and sparkle. We lost hook, line and sinker to something!!! Saw a fishing boat on dusk last night but nothing today and what a surprise the scenery hasn't changed much over the last few days. There is surprisingly little sea life apart from the occasional skitter of a flying fish. The radio sked in the morning was a lot better than previous days after tinkering with wires and terminals and the email was working faster than usual too. One boat ahead of us has already made landfall in the Verdes while the rest remain in the Canaries for a while.
Getting closer to the Verdes
16 November 2013 | 270 miles north of Mindelo in the Cabo Verde islands
Alison and Geoff
Still sailing along under overcast skies with light to moderate trade winds. Nothing much to do but wait to get to the next place. Found the source of a radio transmission anomaly. We have been not getting out on the HF as well as normal since we left Santa Cruz and resorted to removing the beast from its cubby hole to find a loose power connection at the back. Maybe Radio Saraoni will be back on air tonight! Also discovered that the VHF aerial wire was not actually connected to the back of the VHF radio, explaining why we couldn't raise port control on leaving Santa Cruz and the ghost yacht we had been trailing for a few days, probably "Tacoma"! All this suggests that the initial sail down to the Verdes for anybody whose boat has been doing nothing sitting in a marina for nearly a year and intends making its way across to the Caribbean is useful if only to discover how many things need fixing!
Back into the tropics - day 5 on the run to the Cape Verdes
15 November 2013 | 350 miles north of Mindelo in the Cabo Verde islands
Alison and Geoff
We reentered the tropics when we passed the Tropic of Cancer this morning. The relatively mild NE trades continue, but we are sailing a little faster today with landfall now either in the middle of Monday night or Tuesday. We will have to sail right into a spare spot at the outside of the anchorage because we cannot use the engine. Rig has settled on a poled out genoa and mizzen. Have tried wing and wing, but too much roll means the genoa becomes blanketed. Otherwise all is well on SV Saraoni.
Day 4 - Gentle NE tradewind sailing
14 November 2013 | 450 miles north of the Cabp Verde islands
Another yacht drifted past. That's two so far but they never come quite close enough to identify. No ships today but our propeller has somehow worked loose on the shaft so we won't be able to use the engine for propulsion. Oh well the wind is there and is in practice free and we won't be tempted to gobble up expensive diesel but the saving won't last long as we will somehow have to tighten up the propeller which will no doubt require the services of some semi marine professional of which there are always many wherever a yacht needs some assistance.
Our ETA now in Mindelo won't be until late Monday or even Tuesday,
Day 3 on the run to the Verdes
13 November 2013 | Eastern Atlantic Ocean 150nm from the West African coast
Geoff and Alison
Lovely weather out here in the Atlantic, but the forecast 15 knot winds have evaporated and we are now motoring along with the drifter up and that doing very little. Another yacht is close by - possibly the Swedish yacht Tacoma that was in Santa Cruz. They are not responding to the VHF, so can't have it on. They are far enough away not to be a navigation hazard at night. Another yacht - Rhi Malti - is on the daily Atlantic Crusiers SSB net on its way to Mindelo but other than that it is a lonely place out here with no marine life visible and no planes or ships either. Still, it is quite comfortable for an ocean passage. 600 nm to go. At present, we should make landfall on the North coast of Sao Vicente on Monday morning.