After shopping for fresh veg at the market, filling the tanks with water, some last minute chores and getting some exit stamps from the Canaries in the paperwork we were ready for the off, the 870 nautical miles to the Cape Verde Islands.
Ollie blew his fog horn from the marina breakwater to give us a send off. Outside of the harbour sail was set and our initial course followed the coast of La Gomera south so we could appreciate more what a wonderful island this was. Winds were light and variable at first , later clear of the island they picked up and gradually more reefs added so we ended with a triple reefed main and a reefed staysail then later just the reefed staysail with 35 knots of wind. This wasn’t what the forecast had promised at all. The seas built so motion was quite lively and our novice sailor Jason succumbed to ‘mal de mer’ so was excused watches until he recovered.
Conditions improved on the 2nd afternoon at sea, Jason was recovering so sat in on mine and Bertrand’s watches until he had been shown the ropes and we were confident he could stand watches alone. We then ran a 4 hour watch system, 8-12, 12-4, 4-8 This gave us an 8 hour break between watches so a decent sleep could be had. On this passage we did not rotate watches, I had the 4-8 watch so had both sunset and sunrise at around 6.30 but both watches had periods of dark, whereas the others had one ‘dark’ watch and one in daylight.
There was not a lot to see, no land, no other ships, After a while you could wonder if the rest of the world still existed but a sighting of a vapour trail from an airplane assured us the world was still there. There was very little bird life, just the occasional small black birds skimming the waves, I regretted not having a bird book aboard to identify it but thought it might be a sooty petrel. We had a few visits from dolphins and saw turtles and flying fish. One morning found a flying fish on the deck , it was promptly cleaned and popped into the frying pan to provide a small but very tasty morsel for breakfast. Towing a fishing line was unproductive, we lived in hope but were poor in possession.
On the morning of our 8th day out we were within 30 miles of the Cape Verde Islands, but they remained hidden in the haze from the Sahara, the boat had a fine coating of red dust on the windward side. Later the very tip of Pico du Crux on Santo Antao peaked above the haze and as we drew nearer , things though still very hazy became a little clearer. We ran down the channel between Santo Antao and Sao Vicente and turned into the bay Porte Grand where lay Mindelo. Sails handed we were soon moored bow to on a pontoon. 8 days almost to the hour after leaving the Canaries, having reckoned on at least 8 and a half days for the passage I was pleased with our passage.