Crossing an Ocean – Chapter II. Cape Verde – Marinique

2nd part: Cabo Verde – Martinique (Fr)

November 29, 2020 First Sunday of Advent

10.30 As we sail out of the bay, the family with two blond kids from the neighbouring Danish ship is waving farewell to us, alongside our relatives and friends from home on Viber. We also said goodbye to the doggie guarding a boat near us. We haven’t seen clear skies like this since we arrived, all the mountains far away are in really sharp focus. Strong winds in the past days helped clear things out.
Setting out is never easy: you need to do a lot of things simultaneously while you still have Internet access, as long as there is reception…Not far into the trip our wind sensor broke down. We were debating whether or not to return to the island (since there is no service option there, we might need to wait a month for a spare part to arrive)
Trying to fix it … the wire seems to be faulty. In the end Domi hooked it up instead of the autopilot system as we aren’t using that now anyway. We have a working wind sensor!😊
Leaving the islands behind, the wind died off, it was hard to find the right setting for the sails. The waves are neither too big nor too small.
Our night duty schedule: 20:00-00:00 Noémie, 00:00-04:00: Anna (me), 04:00-08.00 Domi, though he is always on alert besides the person on duty. During the day we are flexible about who is steering the boat, dependent on what else needs to get done or how tired everyone is.
We have a beautiful, bright night with a full moon. I am trying to keep an eye out for floating objects in front of the boat, for some reason our radar keeps turning off – you need to restart it every 15 minutes …I just checked it, then it switched off after two minutes.
It’s so bright feels like daylight. 02:30 Listening to Glenn Gould playing Mozart piano sonatas. This ocean crossing is awash with culture, earlier in the afternoon I was amazed
by the aerial ballet of a dainty seabird, and now this piano music.

The children fooling around

Monday, November 30

Almost 7AM. I just relieved Domi. Now it’s his turn to sleep. Morning has broken already, the Moon hasn’t left the horizon altogether, the Sun hasn’t fully come up yet.
A group of dolphins (Atlantic spotted dolphins) are playing at the bow of the boat, to the greatest joy of our crew. Unreal color cavalcade at sunset! The Moon rose behind dramatic dark clouds.
Our catch: we didn’t slow down, the fish stole the bait …

Tuesday, December 1

The waves have gotten bigger, are splashing our sails. Behind us there is no wind, we should keep the tempo up to avoid getting stuck in the doldrums.
05:30 For more than an hour now we’ve had company, a boat with many spotlights beaming on the water, its course uncertain, changing … maybe a fishing boat.
The weather was nice during the day. We were accompanied by dolphins for a while today too. Tropical heat settles in. We had a chance to do some homework today. We caught a small mahi-mahi but let it back into the water. It was too small, we caught it around 7. The radar still switches off too many times, maybe not enough power?
Around midnight we were trying to find out more about the strange behaviour of our radar …
13 miles ahead of us a cargo ship crossed our path, possibly heading from South Africa to North America.

Wednesday, December 2
At dawn we turned south. Then a couple of hours later north. It’s a bit more comfortable dealing with the pitching of the boat this way. The wind is 17-22 knots, in daylight we will switch to downwind. The boat is being thrown around by the sea quite a bit.
06:49 The Sun is getting ready to take its throne in the west. It’s painting the clouds pink as it emerges from the fluffy clouds. It was overcast today, we didn’t see much of the Sun. Domi battled with a strong migraine.
We got some studying done, then finished our advent “wreaths”. (Kati’s creation was made of sponge and pins while Boró glued Christmassy ornaments and candles onto a sheet) At noon we caught a sizeable barracuda, more than a meter long. I didn’t dare to touch it as I don’t have proper gloves, it had real sharp teeth. In the end it managed to wiggle itself off the hook, so we can reuse our bait. Later we had another big catch, at least so we estimated it, but it stole our bait and got away.
In the evening everything was pitchdark, or to quote the kids’ term for it: “kuksötét”. By midnight the sky cleared a bit. Now we are forecasted to arrive on the 15th. However, a lot can change until then.

December 3 (Day 5)
08:10 We changed sails, currently sailing at 7 knots instead of just 4 towards the Caribbean Sea. We celebrated Boróka’s nameday, what great joy! (in our noon all crew meeting we realized it’s not until tomorrow) Then we had another reason to celebrate – with hot chocolate and crackers – as we have completed the first quarter of our journey, 520 nautical miles!!! For lunch we had chicken broth with vermicelli and rice cake with the last apricot preserves made by my mom. Our radar has totally given up. Domi’s been in touch with the manufacturer, they can’t really help as the error code is unusual…
The waves have been coming from an unpleasant direction for a while, you feel like sitting in a centrifuge. 🤪
The weather forecast predicts strong wind for the next few days. The current 15-18 knots feel a bit too much for me already with the kind of waves we’re seeing. No need to fret in advance, though you can clearly see that the Moon won’t shine on us as we get closer to the islands, and we will face heavier boat traffic; all this without a working radar, will be tough… Tonight we had canned hot dogs with rice, rarely felt this good before.

December 4 (Day 6) Nameday for Boróka, Barbara, Borbála

Today we caught a lot of things. Early morning a bird got tangled up in the fishing line. Luckily, it managed to break free. Then a big fish swam off with the bait. Next catch a small tuna, and a small mahi-mahi, we threw them back into the water. The next small tuna we kept. Later on “someone” took half of our bait and got away with it. Finally, a medium sized mahi-mahi was caught. Noémi baked a loaf of bread. For lunch we had “rougail saucisses” a recipe from Réunion. Spicy but not hot sausages, a bit like ratatouille. Yummy! Today we celebrated Boróka one more time, and Kati too, as she had her nameday on the 25 of November. The treat was a special Belgian cake. There is salt water in the bottom of the boat. The source of seeping is under investigation. Dinner menu: lentil soup with fresh, crispy bread.

We are 50 nautical miles from another ARC boat. Another boat, Sakura, which left a bit before us from the port in Mindelo, is 1.5 days ahead of us. The first two ARC boats reached Santa Lucia yesterday.
Every night when I am on duty I exercise, just like I did on the previous leg of the journey. It boosts my energy, gets my blood circulation going, I don’t get sleepy that easily, plus I need exercise!
02:30 If I can make myself believe that it’s normal that we are surrounded by the ocean, and the boat is constantly moving up and down, left and right at the mercy of the waves, then it’s less scary, less frightening. This is the way things are.
I can tell that I didn’t have my daytime nap today (in the past few days I could rest 1-4 hours during the day) But the exercise, the cake, a bit of coffee and writing this diary entry helps me stay awake!

December 5 (Day 7)

We did not catch anything today, not even a broken bucket. On the other hand, we had a nice and sunny day. Towards the evening we saw a small raincloud on the radar (it decided to work again), but we managed to avoid the encounter.

In the morning, the girls painted and created ornaments for Mikulas and Christmas. We covered quite a bit of Rumini (a children’s book we’ve been reading), the girls were roleplaying, playing boardgames and cards with Domi while I took a nap in the afternoon.

In the evening everyone polished their slippers in case Mikulas comes around, the girls even left out some crackers for him. They also made us promise not to watch the bow of the boat at night, in case Mikulas lands there with his sleigh … Oops, he might have just landed, but I didn’t see him, I just need to fix the boom a bit, sounds a bit squeaky.