The trip down was uneventful, the wind was behind us but the swells were rolling us about a lot. The worst was to the bottom of Gran Canaria. The waves were coming beam on, hitting the shore and coming back so the motion was horrible. Poor Rowena was sick.
At the bottom of the island the motion improved and we set both the headsails, the genoa poled out to windward with the no1 jib to leeward poled out using a block on the end of the boom. This was very effective as the wind varied between 12 and 26kts. To reduce sail we just rolled away a bit of the genoa.
The seas were quite big - about 3m all the time and at first we had lovely moonlit skies with millions of stars until the Harmattan kicked in and the viz was much less. The reduced viz is due to Saharan dust which has covered everything. We were surfing down waves at over 10 kts sometimes, pretty exhilarating. We saw dolphins twice, the second time we identified them as Atlantic Striped Dolphins which we had not seen before, very nice, but very few ships.
One cruise liner came fairly close in the day and one night a big fishing boat was really close about 500m. He was not showing the correct lights so we could not work out what was going on. The AIS alarm had alerted us to them and we called them on the radio, a stilted conversation was had in broken Portuguese and English so we struggled to understand each other. By then we realized we were going to avoid a collision and miraculously the correct lights appeared!
|Lunch at an angle!|
The frozen vac packed meat has worked well. It is still all fine, but we did throw out 1 packet of chicken that had definitely gone off. We only had 2 and the other one was fine. We could smell it in the fridge so maybe the vacuum wasn’t quite sealed.
We stuck to our 2 hour watches from 8pm till about 8am each day and during the day we were quite loose about our watches. We even had time for a card school one day! With very little boat traffic and little marine life, watch keeping was pretty boring.
|The yacht 'Sens' Left at the same time as us and we never saw them!- Until now!|
On approaching the Cape Verdes, the dust was so thick in the air that we did not see S. Anto Island at all and S. Vicente only at about 2 mls. The ropes are all really dirty and the whole boat is reddish. We have not washed it because the water is charged for, 2c litre, so not a lot but we did not see the point of washing everything while the dust is still blowing.
|first sight of Mindelo in the dust!|
The town is all a bit run down Old Colonial. Lots of nice buildings but in bad repair, but a very nice atmosphere. Street markets and street vendors as well as a few proper markets, including a craft market. Lots of fresh veg on the street or in the veg market as well as in the supermarkets. Fish on the street as well, tuna mackerel, bream and bass. We have found 4 supermarkets and each one has something the others don’t so you do need to go to all of them if you need to stock up. I think you can get almost anything between them all.
|Buying Veg in the Market|
There is a laundry in town about €8.50 for a wash and dry. We had to dry because of the wind. It would all have been covered in red dust if we had hung it on the boat. We got a camping gaz refill for €5.00 at the petrol station near the marina and it feels like a really good fill.
The beer at the marina bar is cold so it’s not all bad. Do go to the Club Naval, good atmosphere. We saw a brilliant band there Wednesday night. The restaurant Don Street mentions across the street from its back entrance, the Chave D'Oro certainly has an interesting decor, atmosphere and waiter (Bit like Fawlty Towers) but the food is atrocious. However the house red was fine ( €4.00 per litre).
|Band in the Club Navale|
The only irritation is all the T-shirt and sunglass sellers try to get you to buy which is a bit annoying, especially when you have been past them a few times already. Still I suppose they need to earn a living too. We took a walk on Saturday to the town beach, a lovely stretch of golden sand and very popular with the locals, as were the beachside cafes. We had lunch there just chilling out.
|Mindelo by Night|
|Mindelo from the Marina|
We will be updating the blog via the satphone while crossing, Pictures to follow.