We departed Mindelo in the early afternoon, after a visit to the market for fruit and vegetables and filling the boats tanks with water. Heading south down the channel it was a little hazy and the island of Santo Antao was not visible although only 5 miles away, conditions not unusual for the Cape Verde Islands.
Out of the channel we continued south for some miles so that when turning westward we would not be affected by a wind shadow from the mountains of Santo Antao.
We soon settled in to the routine of watches, deciding on 3 hour watches this time so they would naturally rotate.
We trolled a fishing line and were successful, catching a fine dorado which gave us a tasty dinner and cerviche for lunch the next day
Despite a good forecast for the passage, after a couple of days the skies clouded over and remained so for a week. The wind was stronger than I had been led to believe that the Trades were at 20 to 25 knots apparent and with big seas and a cross swell the seas quite lively so the motion in the boat made life quite tiring. At one point we were reduced to running under just a storm staysail with apparent winds of over 30 knots. This was definately not trade wind sailing like the glossy brochures had suggested. Even when that nasty patch of weather passed we had frequent rain squalls with the wind gusting to 30 knots and more. This slowed progress as you would spot the squall, and reef down but there was a certain reluctance to increase sail again too soon after a squall had passed as sometimes there was another hard on its heels. Particularly at night, with squalls hard to spot we would leave the boat well reefed down so we were not always making best boat speed. We also had a period of non-stop rain for about 7- 8 hours. I was wondering at this point which particular god or gods we had offended so badly, and we hadn’t even left on a Friday!
Most of the time we were running under a reefed main with staysail and partly furled yankee with the wind on the quarter. we tried to run more downwind with a poled out yankee but with the confused sea state we experienced the rolling was horrendous and the risk of an unintended gybe far too high, even with a gybe preventer rigged.
It had been the intention to make Barbados as landfall but at some point, rather than struggle to get south enough, it was more sensible to make for Martinique instead especially since from Barbados it was my intention to head north up to Martinique anyway.
The weather did improve for the last 3 days of our passage, sunshine, blue skies and fluffy white clouds and the seas were not so big with winds of between 10 to 16 knots, much more like the trades.
On our last night at sea we could see the lights of Martinique and with first light, there lay the coast, perfect timing for a landfall. With the wind falling lighter we even dug out and rigged the big cruising chute for the last few miles.
We handed the chute approaching the channel for Le Marin and piloted our way into the anchorage. So many boats after seeing only 3 freighters for the whole passage. We eventually found a clear spot to anchor, hook down, we had arrived. 21 days out from Mindelo 1,111 miles logged, Sea Bear had crossed the Atlantic.
Winter refit 2023