After completing our boat projects with the new parts in hand and some plumbing for the watermaker, we set out for Cape Verde, leaving around 2pm on January 22. Although the forecast was for 20 kts of wind, it was flat calm - we were in the wind shadow of Gran Canaria. This extended almost 50 miles offshore, when quite suddenly the winds filled in. We were now indeed in 20 kts of wind and 10-12 ft waves. The boat was moving and handling well we put a reef in the main – cautiously optimistic that we may have solved our reef line chafe issue.
After 2 days of sailing, the wind calmed and the seas subsided. Darn – seems like all or nothing out here. After struggling to sail for several hours, we started motorsailing.
We were visited by 6 sea turtles and a few dophins – which is always a great sight that I never tire of. But at night we had what I think will be one of the most spectacular and memorable experiences of the trip. It was pitch black dark before the moon came up. Stars were amazing and Venus came up over the horizon. Then we were joined by about 10-12 dolphins. Being so dark, we thought we would not see them – but the efflorescence caused by their turbulence in the water gave them a spectacular glowing white outline that made them clearly visible up to 100 yds away and maybe 10 ft deep. I had never seen a sight like this before – amazing, spectacular night show from our dolphin friends! I just can’t explain how amazing this was. We lay on the trampoline on the bow of the boat and the dolphins swam just feet below us. We made clicking noises and they clicked back to us. They rolled sideways to make eye contact, then dove below the boat, came around the side and under the pontoons to again swim below us. This lasted about 30 minutes, before one by one they peeled off and left us. What an amazing interaction. The night-time efflorescence was what made it truly special – very surreal! - sorry, pics did not work out!
January 27, 2019
We are now approximately 160 miles from Cape Verde. The winds never came back to the strength forecast so we have been intermittently sailing and motor sailing. Nice conditions but we are burning fuel and I would really like to arrive with enough reserve to safely be able to maneuver and get in. Its not that we have no wind – we have light wind directly on out tail – so that of course gives a dilemma – peel off a little and get better speed, but 30 degrees or so off the mark; motor sail closer to course and use boat speed to pull up the apparent wind; or try to sail dead downwind (slow). For the most part, we have been doing a combination of motorsailing and as the wind builds or clock around a little, taking advantage and sailing. So far it seems to have worked well, but its about to put us in another strategic dilemma. If we keep motorsailing, we will make our destination (Mindelo) in daylight; whereas if we sail at a lower VMG (velocity made good), we will probably arrive after sunset. Hmm….do we have enough fuel?...yes, we are in range but let’s see how the day goes. After all, we are a sailboat and we will only have very limited motoring ability on the next leg – so we need to get used to that idea.
We have now been in Cape Verde for a couple of nights. We arrived mid afternoon on the 28th, staying at the marina in Mindelo, Sao Vincente. To our knowledge, this is the only marina in the Cape verde islands. There are a fw anchorages scattered around.
The island terrain seems very arid, rugged and bleak, although I am told that Mt Verde has green vegetation at higher altitudes. WE may try to take a trip up there if time allows. I would describe the0 town of Midelo as semi-third world, meaning there is some poverty apparent. I suspect there is little work, except for the hotels, bars and restaurants and the local port. Police and military presence is visible, with most stores having security guards. But I must say, the locals are very friendly and helpful. For anyone that has been, I would describe this as a larger version of Georgetown, Exumas in terms of culture and facilities. We feel comfortable going around town, but many of the younger men will ask for money. We have discovered a very well stocked open market and there are a number of small to mid sized supermarkets (Fragata). So far, we have seen little in terms of boating supplies. I did find a small fishing store/chandlery and bought their last length of 12mm needed for another replacement to our reef line – no we have not quite solved the chafe issue so far!
We got a weather forecast yesterday from WRI, our weather routers, asking for advice on a Jan 31 departure. Although they said it was viable, they advised to delay a day to allow near gale-force winds to dissipate in the area of Cape Verde. So we certainly will do that as we are feeling those winds at the dock right now. I will try to get internet with my computer today to post this and a few previous updates.