Gran Canaria to Mindelo, Sao Vicente, Cabo Verde Island

On Wednesday 24 October, my daughter Tia and her partner Marco joined Lisbeth and I for a wee sail to Tsavarte, a small community and bay to the NW of Puerto Mogan. We had a nice swim and lunch together, and when we got back had a pizza in town. Kim Fasting from Denmark joined Svalen’s crew on Thursday, which means we are three to sail to Cabo Verde, about 880 nautical miles. On Thursday the engineers  I had arranged from Las Palmas did not come, and I could not reach them to find out why until very late in the day.  They said they could not come on Friday either. So on Friday I had to get the bus up to Las Palmas port, find the Volvo agents, and pick up spare parts, oil etc to do the job myself. Meanwhile, Tia and Marco gave the crew a very interesting tour in the interior of the island. Last minute crises are not helpful, and I give no points at all to the Volvo agents in Gran Canaria, although they were all personally very kind and helpful. 

Despite rather than because of the support services, we managed to  prepare for the voyage, and Tia and Marco came to see us off from Puerto Mogan after we filled the diesel and all available spare 20L drums on Sunday 28 October, casting off at 1030am.  There was hardly any wind until later in the afternoon, when the wind picked up to a NE’y \F5 or so. This continued into the next day,and Kim and I put up the Parasailor while Lisbeth controlled the sheets and guys, allowing us to sail at up to 6.2 kts. However, we took the parasailer off before dark, and continued under main and genoa. The wind stayed into the following day, but now accompanied by nasty cross-seas, which made sailing, sleeping and cooking very difficult. During the night we had a good moon and mostly good stars, noticing that Orion’s belt starts really low in the sky on the aft port side. We also noticed that the fridge and freezer were not functioning well – everything was beginning to warm up and melt. Bad news. The little water pump was still running and the compressors seem to work, but be very hot. I suspect that the gas has evaporated off again! The difficult seas overnight caused a couple of glass item breakages.
Nevertheless, we made terrific progress,  regularly hitting 6-7 knots, and even 9-10 at times. The slight wind shift allowsed us to sail with both genoa and main, and the wind was excellent. We now knew that we would reach Mindelo on November 3rd, and probably before darkness falls, which is highly desirable from Skips viewpoint. We regularly maintained 6 knots and often more, and fairly surfed down the large Altantic waves, which were also troubled by cross waves. But the boat stayed amazingly dry and took the seas easily. As we gt closer to Cabo Verde we found more and more flying fish landed on deck during the night and knocked themselves out, or became stranded. But we were disappointed to see no whales.
We did not see many ships, and only one sailing boat came into view during the voyage. It had no AIS showing so we could not identify it.
Lisbeth was  terrific on deck and at the wheel, taking good watches at night, and mostly sleeping in the cockpit when off duty. However, in spite of Scopoderm patches, she still felt sick down below and was upset that she could not contribute much to cooking, washing up, cleaning etc. So very reluctantly she has decided to fly to S America and join us again in Brazil rather than undertake the cross Atlantic voyage. We have put out a ‘crew wanted’ notice. We will certainly miss her cheerful company on the long trip. Ocean voyaging is not everyone’s cup of tea. Fortunately Kim and I seem to enjoy it and cope ok with the problems. But even so, I caused the crew much amusement in those heavy cross seas when, caught unawares, I was seen literally flying across the cabin a few times. Not very much fun, and often the food was spilt, creating dangerous conditions underfoot until cleared up (another hazardous operation.). As when the box of good organic flour flew out a couple of times when we had bread-making in mind!
Needless to say, the venturi effect came into play on arival in Cabo Verde as we went between the islands of Santo Antao and Sao Vicente, the wind picking up to near gale as we sailed in towards the harbour. It remained very windy overnight and the next day, the area of the harbour feeling like a wind tunnel. Several boats were unable to anchor.
We were too tired to cook, and so took advantage of the reasonably priced café restaurant (floating bar) in the marina itself, although Lisbeth and Kim were laughing at Skip who was falling asleep from time to time. We leaned about the local currency CV Escudios – about 110 to the Euro and  enjoyed a large beer. We returned and slept as long as we could –  it was Sunday next day, and no repairs could be done.

As always we have a list of repairs to be done:
1.      The Parasailor was ripped along its foot again because we were not sufficiently aware of the anchor when we put it up.
2.      The Jabsco pump in aft heads is blocked . It seems that the valve has inverted for some reason.
3.      The solar panel bracket, which is connected to the davits for the dinghy aft, needs to be raised about 1 metre in order for the wind vane self steering to work properly.
4.      We need to find someone who can fill a propane gas bottle!
5.      The fridge and freezer have both stopped working, and we need them both to survive! I suspect that the gas has boiled off again and needs topping up.

The CV Boat folks seem pretty efficient, but I worry about spare parts. For example there was no Jabsco service kit in their small shop at the marina. The parasail was repaired overnight by the Marina Captain, Jose Augusto.
First thing on Monday we cleared in via Immigration and police at the port offices between the ferry terminal and the clean sandy beach. No problems, and very helpful officials. However, they keep the ship’s papers until one clears out before leaving. They are not open at weekends; we and others need to watch this.

Skipper John Bryden, 5 November 2018

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