Crossing an Ocean – Chapter I. Las Palmas – Cabo Verde

Diary Entries:

November 16, 2020 (Day 1)

Setting out. No wind, motor’s on. First night: around 1AM I took the helm from Domi. Still not much wind, the sky cleared out, myriads of stars shining bright above us, the whitecaps in the water are dazzling with plankton. Around 2 we hoisted the sails again, barely 3-4 knots an hour. Getting sleepy.

November 17 (Day 2)

04.30-07.00 Domi was in charge of the boat, now he is down in the cabin sleeping, my turn to steer. Saw many abandoned immigrant boats on the radar at night. Spotted two now around noon, drifting away empty. The weather’s nice and clear. Today’s show: a fishing boat 50 meters from us, and a couple of freight ships. Had a good slumber in the afternoon.
Our girls are so cute. Tomorrow, weather permitting, I would like to study with them. Every evening/night I do my exercises when on duty, as much as one can on a rocking boat.

November 18 (Day 3, second night)

Calm, bright; most beautiful night on earth with a huge shooting star. Flat, calm, big waves, tranquil sea, nice wind. Can’t get more beautiful than this.
Freightliner was coming in our direction at night, radiod “port-to-port” passing …
Sunny, calm day, the girls played stationery store this afternoon. What cool works of art they created! Once the store opened, the eager crew stormed in and started shopping: fruit, veggies, umbrellas, jewellery were on offer; no one left emptyhanded😊

November 19 (Day 4)

Wind at 15-18 knots coming at 177-180 degrees (perfect tailwind), the two jibs wing-in-wing. Our speed is 5,2 knots/hour, riding on bigger and bigger waves.
22:10 Domi is exhausted, now asleep. So are the kids. Our guests are still watching a movie.
Strange that even more than 200 nautical miles away from shore we can still hear the VHF radio from Las Palmas…wind has gotten stronger, 23-26 knots windgusts and bigger waves. Then settled down between 19-22 knots.

06:00 Couple of minutes ago “met” Yoni. Based on AIS data, it’s a 12 meter long boat, possibly a catamaran given its width. Got relatively close and started turning towards us. Domi was very wary, motor ready to be turned on, but at the last minute Yoni changed course, took a turn behind us. (close call, not more than a ship’s length between us at that point). Tried them on the radio but no answer.

06:30 Domi was up almost all night. Went to sleep a while ago. Didn’t get much rest. Now dawn is breaking. All day it was quite rough with fairly strong wind. In the morning, we didn’t think we could cook anything today. But in the afternoon there was a calmer period, so quickly put together some turmeric chicken with rice.
The waves were dancing all night long from all directions, cheekily splashing the cockpit. At times the 26 knot wind filled both sails, then just the one …average windspeed was 18-23 knots. Got quite used to it by now.
Yoni hasn’t left us ever since, sailing at around a decent 3 nautical mile distance. Noémi and Ray (our guests) were on duty between 20:30-23:30, then I (Anna) until around 3, Domi came out but was very sleepy and cold so after about two hours I relieved him again.

November 20 (Day 5)

As we head south you can feel how the water and the air get warmer. You don’t need to have multiple layers on at night, and you don’t have to put a sweater on in the morning. In the morning we saw two turtles swimming next to our boat! Our speed was great all day, 5-7 knots. The wind has weakened over time, by the evening it was only 10 knots, but the waves haven’t calmed down yet. Our speed is 3-4 knots now … we’ve tried all sorts of sail combinations to get it right. Domi emailed and called his friend, Szapi to get some advice on how to improve the situation.

To save our bananas from rotting, today we had delicious banana-oat pancakes for lunch courtesy of Noémie.

November 21 (Day 6)

It’s 6 in the morning, Domi is sound asleep, I slept two hours, then was out of sorts … The whole day we had fantastic weather. We were riding on the back of beautiful, elongated waves more or less keeping direction (right now Mindelo, Sao Vincente Island; Cape Verde).
In the morning Noémie played with Kati, and Rachel with Boró, they also studied a bit of English. In the afternoon Rachel baked chocolate cookies using up the last ripe bananas, with the recipe coming from Moni over email.
While the cookies were in the oven, we heard the most awaited whizzing sound from our fishing rod – we caught a fish! A mahi mahi plus a small sardine in its tummy, nice and fresh!

The girls are getting excited about the upcoming holidays, did a lot of drawing today.
At 2 AM we switched on the motors with the wind at only 4 knots.

04:14 seems like I’ll be up all night (only awake since midnight). Poor Domi is exhausted (he needs to be on alert 24/7 and as captain there’s a lot of responsibility on his shoulders) It was the second night that the Moon was out, we could see the silver bridge and a nice “Moonset”: painting the horizon orange as it was going down before moving onto the other half of the Earth.

Sunday, November 22 (Day 7)

04:59 Only 195 nautical miles to go, sailing at 6 knots/hour at a heading of 222 degrees.
The hat feels good, and the warm blanket. The Big Dipper is “hanging” upside down on the horizon.
05:05 Not dawn yet
06:00 Domi got up, now it’s time for me to get some shut-eye, very sleepy by now.
08:45 Everyone is awake around me.
Rachel had a nightmare in the sole hour she managed to fall asleep. Noémie dreamt about a sailboat race, and Katika about a weird house …

This morning we saw dolphins jumping in the distance. Every morning there are flying fish around the boat. Fairly big. Not one has landed on board yet. During the day we got a call from “Yoni”, the French catamaran, they wanted to apologize for the close call last time, it was change of guards when it happened, they were heading for Sal island. We baked two loafs of bread today, one with walnuts and another from white flour. We had curry chicken with pumpkin for lunch, and for dinner we served half of the mahi-mahi roasted in garlic oil.

Monday, November 28 (Day 8)

I took over from Noémi at midnight, Domi is still asleep. Rachel went to sleep earlier.
00:55 The sky is a bit overcast, no Moon, no more Silver Bridge. The waves are still friendly. The wind is at around 8 knots, reluctant to get stronger. For the very first time in days I notice something on the radar. 24 nautical miles away, sailing 6 knots/hour, moving the opposite direction.
02:43 Domi got up, I am very sleepy and tired …

During the day we tidied up the boat a bit, and kept watching the horizon in the hope of catching sight of land!

21:30 We caught the first glimpse of some lights! Land in sight! Approaching Mindelo, just passing Santo Antao. A bit hard to navigate as we don’t have a proper map of this area, only on the tablet.
23:44 Got around a freightliner on its way out from Mindalo, and a couple of minutes later we were greeted by dolphins jumping around the boat.

Mindelo, Republic of Cape Verde

In daylight we can finally see where we have arrived. There are incredible mountaintops all around us. People are dressed in colorful clothes.
We are delighted to notice the 4-5 sailboats in the bay whom we met earlier. We hung out with 4 of them for a week on anchor in the bay back in La Graciosa.
The French flag is hoisted on all boats except for ours and another Belgian one. We got some good pointers from our sailor friends about what to see, where to get things done, where you can anchor best at other islands … Domi is away now trying to get us registered.
ARC+ has sailed out yesterday for Santa Lucia.

We took a stroll in the afternoon, there is an exciting cavalcade of colors in town, semilit shops, catholic church, museum, market … lots of stray dogs everywhere, they didn’t seem ferocious only hungry. People seem friendly, almost everyone wears a mask in the street, it’s compulsory in the stores. Poverty strikes you, and the island is indeed green! Cape Verde is part of Macaronesia, together with the Azores, Madeira, Canary Islands and the Savage Isles. These volcanic islands lie about 600 kms west from Cap-Vert, the westernmost point of continental Africa, which gave its name to the islands.