What's the best thing about cruising??
One of the best aspects of cruising is the comradery between cruisers in port. We had the great pleasure of meeting a fantastic group of people. We met a family from California on “Lola”, a group of friends and hitchhikers on “Fat Susan”. Boat names I don’t remember: Deiter, Claudia, Charlie, (baby), and dog Rocky from Hamburg, Germany; three Irish guys on a boat; some English and South Africans; and an amazing character called Craig Wood or “Woody” from England. Now I have to say a few words about Craig and strongly recommend you Google this amazing guy or search for him on Facebook. Please do this – his story is amazing. I will not try to tell it here as I can’t do justice to it. But Craig is a British veteran in his 20s that lost both legs, an arm, and sustained other injuries while on active duty in Afghanistan. He is know sailing around the world on his Beneteau 45 as an inspiration to other veterans. [post note: Deiter’s boat name is Whitebird]
|Beach at Mindelo|
Feb 1/2 – Day 1
We departed from Mindelo, Cape Verde at 3pm local time. One cruiser we met said that this town should be called “Windelo” He was right. It has blown pretty hard since we arrived and as we were leaving, we measured steady winds at 33 kts. However, we were convinced that this was a funneling effect between the islands with peaks rearing up to around 3-4,000 ft. Sure enough, this was the case. We sailed on jib only for a few hours and then were in the wind shadow of the adjacent island, Ilha De Santo Antao. Then suddenly the wind died to just a a few knots. We were about 7 miles behind the island. We switched to the Code Zero and tried to sail, but an hour later there was no wind. Reluctantly we motor-sailed as we were definitely in fuel saving mode, but drifting towards land. Two hours later BAM….back to 27 kts! And a quick sail change needed back to jib. The seas built and winds stayed in the low 20s all night. The next day, we were still in the 20s and seas 8-12 ft, so we stayed on jib only for most of the day. When the waves became more organized we decided to raise the main and picked up some speed as we moved into our second day. Miles made towards mark – 125. Not bad
Feb 2/3 - Day 2
Winds have lightened a little. Now 18-20 and almost behind us. We have steered up a little to maintain speed. We have been on starboard tack since leaving. (winds from NE). We have lost track of the two boats we left with “Lola and Fat Susan”. But we kind of expected that would happen. We have all agreed to try radio contact at 8am and 8pm, so will continue that. So far we have seen 2 ships – and that’s about all! Miles made towards the mark – 160 miles. A good day
Feb 3/4 – , Day 3 ( we have decided our running days go 3pm to 3pm, based on our departure date)
Last night we had light winds. One ship seen that I think was a fishing boat around 100 ft long. He was not showing on AIS, and would not respond on VHF. We got far too close for comfort. His decks were lit up making it difficult to determine his direction. We approached him fast and he still would not respond. As we got close I saw his green light (starboard side). Normally a higher white light at the stern would determine his direction, but with flood lights on deck it was uncertain. I aimed for the highest white light (stern). We had to gybe and control sails making this a more difficult maneuver (code zero was up). Still unsure whether he was underway or drifting, I started engines and put some distance between us before I crossed his path and resumed course. Amazing how you can have a close call like this in the middle of nowhere! In the morning, winds filled in. Distance made towards mark – 137 miles.
Feb 4/5 – Day 4
Last night winds popped up to mid 20s. Boat was making 11kts, but I was concerned about Code zero, so we switched to main and jib. Needless to say we slowed down and the wind also dropped, but we decided to stay with the conservative sail plan until daylight. In the morning we switched sails back to Code Zero and main to keep up sped in lighter winds. Due to wind direction we are now steering high of the mark by anything from 10-30 degrees, putting us about 50 miles north of the rhumb line. We tried jibing for a few hours, but our VMG went way down, so we are now back on starboard tack, with NE winds at about 14 kts. Not expecting today to be a spectacular VMG day. Miles made towards the mark – 137 miles, again.
Feb 5/6 – Day 5
Weather and conditions are about the same today. We are making good progress. Wind piped up a little at night (seems to be a pattern), so we switched from Code zero to jib, then back again this morning. Passed one ship at night headed for Brazil. Miles made towards the mark – 149 miles
Feb 6/7 – Day 6
162 miles winds were fresh! Our best mileage day so far on this leg
Feb 7/8 – Day 7
143 miles, winds lightened, and seas flattened, but otherwise similar conditions. During the early evening, we passed the halfway point and also the “less than 1,000 miles to go”. Since it as after dinner, we decided our celebration dinner would be tomorrow.
Feb 8/9 – Day 8
133 miles* We are continuing to veer north of our mark (originally set as St. Lucia). To get south, we need to either jibe or go dead downwind and lose speed. We have decided to revise our planned landfall to Antigua, rather than try to get south. In terms of distance to the mark, this moves our waypoint about 16 miles farther west. Our celebration dinner for passing halfway and less than 1,000 miles to go was steak, baked potatoes, English garden peas, and green beans. I think that’s the last of the potatoes!
Feb 9/10 – Day 9
As the sun comes up, winds have again gone light, but with stronger winds forecast for tonight. To be honest, that is a pattern we have been seeing – winds lighter during the day, particularly early morning; then building after dark (of course!), typically between 8-10 pm. Miles today – 132
Feb 10/11 – Day 10
Another beautiful day on the Atlantic. So far today, winds have been in the pattern we have become used to – picking up a little overnight into the low 20s, and backing off to about 73-78 degrees true (making for good speed and direction), then as the son comes up, dropping to low to mid-teens, and clocking into the 80s true. Probably the least clouds we have seen so far today. Miles today – 135
Feb 11/12 – Day 11
The night was a little squirly with winds up and down from 8 kts, to 22 kts and a couple of rain showers thrown in the mix. This morning we saw a couple of thunder heads pass us and now we have another blue-sky day with scattered cumulus clouds. Just a note about our mileage – although it seems our daily mileage is reducing, it really is not. The trade winds are moving in direction from about 75 degrees to 110 degrees – while generally from the east, sometimes ENE and ESE.this makes moving east slow when dead downwind. So our distances reported are all “distance made towards the mark”. Our sailed Miles today - 132miles is always greater than this.
Feb 12-14 - Days 12, 13
Very similar conditions; 140 miles and 143 miles....but nearing our destination!
Feb 14/15 - Day 14
the night was probably the squirliest night of the trio with wind shifts and squalls up to 34 kts. However, the worst one only lasted 30-45 minutes.....Run with it and hope there's nothing in front of us! The boat performed great. 150 miles
We arrived at sun up on the 15th - 14 days, 19 hours and made out way into Mamora Bay for a say at St. James Club resort - a little advertised marina at an all-inclusive resort. Not really geared up for cruisers, but definitely geared up for R&R! We plan to stay 4 nights to recoup.
2,075 Miles as the crow flies....sailing miles, about 2,200