Our blogging hiatus is over! We have new electronics and a new video!
Early this year we had an great passage from Brava, Cape Verde to Salvador, Brazil. The first minute of our new video shows clips from day one of an 18 day voyage. We set sail on a very wavy day, and had fresh winds for three days. Continue reading Video: Sailing from Cape Verde to Brazil
Our time in Cape Verde has come to an end. We cleared out with immigration, left Mindelo, and sailed to Brava for a short visit before the Brazil passage. Brava is hard to bypass. It is a quiet Island with friendly residents. Farms dot the mountainsides on steep terraces.
The Harmattan is dust laden air blown from the Sahara to Cape Verde by the strong winter Northeast Trade Winds. Sailing in the Harmattan feels otherworldly. Like fog the visibility is greatly reduced, at times less than half a mile. But the air is dry, a muted blue can still be detected in the sky overhead, and a horizon line can oddly still be perceived. The sun filtering through the reddish brown haze turns the sky sepia like in an old-timey photograph. Continue reading The Harmattan
Over the past few months we have been sailing Islands in the Azores, Madeira, Canaries, and Cape Verde. In the Azores we experienced variable summer winds, and from Madeira southward were the Northeast Tradewinds. All in all, the sailing was quite lovely. Next, we’ll be crossing the Atlantic to South America.
Approaching 4 weeks in Mindelo and fully recovered from a stomach bug, we decided it was a good time to move. After scrubbing below the waterline and filling the water tanks, we checked out of Mindelo to sail 130 miles to Tarrafal on Santiago. The passage was short, under 30 hours, but proved to be exciting. Continue reading Fishing in Cape Verde
The sun is shining on Mindelo! After nearly two weeks of mostly gray skies and intermittent drizzling rain, our battery bank is now beginning to claw out of a deep solar deficit. At the dreariest times we were regularly seeing daily energy productions of only 4 amp hours. This is just enough electricity to power a single 100 watt lightbulb for 30 minutes, or an angle grinder for a mere 2 minutes. Typically we need 10-20 amp-hours in a day to meet our consumption levels. During the last 4 cycles, we have seen over 25 amp-hours/day generated. We are still a few cloudless days away from being fully recharged, but we can now loosen our miserly grip on energy conservation. Hence, the computer is now charged!
Once I fully recovered from a stomach virus, It was Debbie’s turn to be sick. Our staggered illnesses meant we have spent the majority of our time in Mindelo resting aboard Dawn Treader in the anchorage. This has given us plenty opportunity to observe the harbor traffics’ comings and goings.
Mindelo has a special sailor buzz much like Horta, Azores or St. George’s, Bermuda. The vast majority of sailboats had to make an 800 mile passage to get here and will be making an 1800 mile passage from here to the Caribbean. This must be a particularly busy year because the usually rock steady trade winds have been fickle, causing a bottle neck of weather waiting voyagers in an already crowded harbor. For example, many ARC boats embarking on non-stop passages from the Canaries to Caribbean, diverted to Mindelo to wait for stronger winds. Standing room only crowds at the floating marina bar/dinghy dock discussed chiefly their speculations of the wind’s whereabouts.
Now, with the sun, the winds have returned! Good strong NE’ly trades, predicted to continue through the run of the forecast, have eager sailors queuing their yachts in front of the fuel dock to top off their diesel and water tanks. The harbor is clearing out fast as cliques of voyagers informally organize into mini-regattas. Yesterday we watched the small boats leave. The day before it was the catamarans. This morning saw many french yachts depart, and some Brits are weighing anchor now, our friends aboard SY Florence amongst them.
We are thankful to have been a part of this caravan of camaraderie as we watch friends and almost friends disappear over the western horizon. Joining the European sailors in Porto Santo we became familiar with many boats as we transited the East Atlantic Islands. Even crews with whom we never spoke, felt like travel companions. Our divergent path is now apparent, they are westbound in a quest for longitude, and we are southbound in search of latitude. We wish them all safe passage. Perhaps we will meet again out there.
Before expiring visas forced us to leave the Canaries, we crammed in as much hiking, swimming, and birthday party-ing as possible. Much of it was nostalgic as we remembered the same anchorages and walks from 2 years prior. It was then that Deb flew to meet me aboard Dawn Treader and assess what exactly she might be getting herself into. It was fun retracing our steps and we felt we were leaving a bit too soon, but there is no negotiating with immigration officials.
Cookie cake from the Omnia
View of Valle Gran Rey
Putting out the vibe?
Deb loves a hammock
About to dive in
View of the anchorage from above
The Sail to Sao Vicente from La Gomera was fast by Dawn Treader’s standards. The wind started out light but filled in during the night and pushed us 113 miles the first day. The Northeasterly wind steadied at 20 knots the rest of the way and we saw daily runs of 141, 131, 128, 134, and 126 nautical miles.
The seas continuously grew and a handful of 15 footers rolled under our keel toward the end of the passage. We measure seas by standing in the cockpit and while in the trough we stare out to where the horizon should be. If the horizon barely disappears below the wave crest, we figure that’s about a 7 footer (I am 6 foot and standing 1 foot above sea level). If we stare out and only see halfway up the wave, then that’s about a 13 footer. We had a couple waves splash into the cockpit and fill the footwell with seawater. One wave even found its way into the cabin through the small hatch under the dinghy. That night I made a note to find a way to better shield the hatch from waves in Mindelo, as if I was going to forget the waterfall cascading onto my bunk.
Leaving La Gomera
Forward hatch lookout
The sailing was fantastically easy. Two weeks ago we arrived in Cape Verde and I can still clearly recall each time we made a sail or course adjustment on the entire passage. We set the Jib deeply furled on a pole to starboard and did not touch it until arrival. We jibed the triple reefed main only twice which is super easy with our dual boom vangs to port and starboard. As far a course changes go, there weren’t any. The windvane auto pilot course control gearing broke early in the voyage making it somewhat inconvenient to adjust course. So we left it as it was, and it steered us straight to Mindelo.
View of Mindelo Marina
Watching the ARC rally depart
Once in Cape Verde, we were immediately taken by the vibrant people and their unique and beautiful music. Then I became ill with a stomach virus and Debbie cared for me aboard the Dawn Treader for 4 days. Slowly we are venturing out again and also squeezing in some chores and projects. Debbie cooked a wonderful and bountiful Thanksgiving dinner which we shared with friends Matt and Amy from SY Florence. Next we have our sights on Santiago to obtain our Brazilian visas.