Canaries to Cape Verde and crossing the Atlantic

On december 27 we left Gran Canaria for Cape Verde. There was still a lot of sand in the air, so almost no sun and moon visible. We spend a very relaxed New Years Eve at sea, just had a bottle of sparkling wine and continued with our shifts apart from that. The young crews of cargo ships were going crazy on the VHF playing party music and exchanging new years wishes during the night. We had a bird visiting for 3 days, occupying all the floor space in the galley. We arrived in Mindelo on São Vicente after 6.5 days. After going to the immigration office we had some welcome beers in the floating harbour bar with the crews of Paloma, Mira Polaris and Isis. We liked the atmosphere of Mindelo a lot. There was a good live band playing in almost every bar and sometimes outdoors and most of the Cape Verdeans are happy and friendly people.

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Mindelo Harbour at sunset
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Mindelo city

Provisioning for the big crossing ahead of us was a little bit tricky as the supermarkets had only limited amount of food available and almost no vegetables and fruits. For that we had to go to the market, were it was difficult to get a good deal without speaking Portuguese. Lukas had problems buying fresh meat. Pretty much only fish was available. As the water quality in the harbour pipes was not the best, we stocked up on 35 five liters canisters of water. The good thing was that the supermarket had a very uncomplicated system of delivery. An employee just accompanied us to the marina with the shopping carts and took them back after unloading.

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Storing additional water under the saloon table

One day we went for a hike with some sailor friends on the neighbour island Santo Antão. We got up awfully early, caught the ferry at 7am and then jumped on a minivan to go up to a volcano and hiked down to the coast from there. The landscape changed a lot from being quite dry up in the volcano to super green and full of exotic plants when we went further down the valley. For the first time we saw banana palms, papaya trees, coffee trees, huge fields of sugarcane and many more. The vegetation on São Vicente is a lot more barren then the one on this island. We came trough little villages of the farmers and I managed to buy a papaya directly from the source. It was a wonderful day, when we arrived on the coast we were all exhausted and found a cozy art cafe, where we had some great typical Cape Verdean food. We waited so long for it that we almost missed the last ferry back to our island. The very laid back owner kept telling us not to worry and organized a faster minivan driver for us so we could enjoy our food. We were lucky that the ferry was delayed.

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Hiking on Santo Antão

After one very frustrating day of boat projects, a visit to the beach in Calhau, a nice barbeque on the pier with vegetables and fish from the market, some uno and drinks with the other crews, some more exploring of Mindelos nightlife, and some final provisioning, we decided it was time to go sailing for real and cross the Atlantic.

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Calhau beach

We left on January 11 some hours after Paloma. We already had about 20 knots of wind in the marina and dented our bathing ladder while getting out of our berth. In the acceleration zone between the islands we had about 30 knots of wind for a time. In the first night we had a hard time sailing because the wind behind the islands was not consistent at all, changing directions and sometimes dying completely. After sunrise the wind settled and we had about 20 knots from the East. We were starting to feel comfortable until I discovered that our beloved Booster had torn apart. I tried to tape it and sew it and gave up when I realized that we didn’t have enough repair tape onboard. We decided to postpone the repair until we had the right material. So we set our genua and still made a good speed of around 5 knots. On the next day we overtook the Paloma. When we were next to them, both boats caught a mahi mahi. As the fish was 95 cm long and I don’t eat fish, Lukas had some problems eating all of it.

Catching up with Paloma
Catching up with Paloma
95 cm Mahi Mahi
95 cm Mahi Mahi

On the next day we made 138 nautical miles with the boomed out genua and the boomed out jib. Every night flying fish were landing on the foredeck and in the cockpit. Whenever we heard a noise followed by some flapping we knew what happened, I got a torch and a glove and hurried outside to throw the little fella back into the water. About every second night I baked a bread or some buns in our omnia oven. The rest of the time we spend reading, watching stars and films, cooking, eating, washing up, taking deck showers, cleaning the boat, sunbathing, sleeping, playing guitar, fishing, snoozing, writing messages on our satphone and occasionally chatting to other boats on the radio. The days seemed quite short and resembled each other. Actually we did not have to do a lot during the crossing as we did not get hit by a single squall. Just sometimes a little bit of rain, but no wind gusts at all. We were a little bit disapointed that the sky was quite overcast for most of the time, but that got better in the second half. On January 20 we made half of the way, so I allowed us the last two beers that I had hidden to save them for that occasion. Thereafter we had two days of light wind, which made us miss our booster. At one time we needed to take in the sails and run the engine for a couple of hours. We did 6 hours shifts during the day and 4 hour during the night. When we approached Barbados on the 28th the wind increased and we had 20 knots again.

One of the many flying fish that died on our fordeck
One of the many flying fish that died on our fordeck
Fresh buns, one already missing
Fresh buns, one already missing
Reading one of the 40 books
Reading one of the 40 books
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Windpilot, doing its job great without ever complaining
Overtaking the Little Coconut
Overtaking the Little Coconut
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Mila, doing a great job as well
We can see the land!
We can see the land!

We had to come into the deepwater harbour of Bridgetown to clear in. That one is build for the huge cruise ships and was very bad to Mila and got her some black strains on the side because our fenders were too small for the gaps in the wall. Fortunately it didn’t take very long to get the formalities over with. We then went out to the anchorage in Carlisle Bay and dropped our anchor close to the Norwegian boat Isis. We were overwhelmed by the bright turquoise colour of the water close to the beach. The beach is quite noisy with some beach bars on it, jet skies, horse riding, these rocket thingies that I just know from the videos at McFit, ah flyboards they are called. We noticed that the sun was more intense here and both got our first sunburn on the trip. On the left side of the bay is a channel, which is convenient for driving into town with the dinghy. Landing on the beach is a bit hard due to the surf. We noticed that food is extremely expensive on Barbados. Now we are dividing our time between boat work and having fun, like we always do. On the fun side we went out with the dinghy to look for turtles. Didn’t see any yet, but instead we found a huge wreck with some interesting fish hovering over it, which was definately the highlight of our snorkeling experiences so far.

Anchored in the Carlisle Bay, Barbados
Anchored in the Carlisle Bay, Barbados

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Brownes beach, Bridgetown

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Snorkeling in Carlisle Bay
Mila's underwater hull needs some cleaning now
Mila’s underwater hull needs some cleaning now