12/07/2009, 110 nautical miles South West of São Vicente
is 03.45 in the morning and we are once again careering downwind in the
trades doing 8 knots. We hit 9.9 knots a short while ago. The Cape
Verde islands are left astern. I cannot see the lights any longer. We
made a 26 hours pit stop in Mindelo or Porto Grande (its colonial
name). All in all, we lost two and a half days, but it was worth it!
After all we got things fixed and having been to the Cape Verdes is
certainly an experience. It is much more Africa than Europe!
Unfortunately, we were so busy fixing things that we had little time to
The broken Hydrovane (wind rudder) bracket was mounted back on the stern and sealed again. Hopefully there is no more a leak, or at least it is much less. We have a back up rudder and back up self steering again. The autopilot has been checked by Kai Brossman and wiring improved. The generator problem was likely to have been dirty pre filter for the fuel, which we changed together with one filter for the main engine.
The departure from Mindelo was magical. The afternoon sun was casting a beautiful glow over the moon landscape of Ilha de San Antão. Hans thought he had spotted the Apollo 11 moon landing pod. We enjoyed a fast ride in Canal de São Vicente, the channel between the islands, to later basically become becalmed under Santo Antão which highest peak is 1979 meters. We severely underestimated both the height and its effect. Two or three very small dolphins leapt out of the water to welcome as back to sea again. We haven't seen any dolphins since before Porto Santo so we were grateful that they came to greet us.
We choose to go close to the island which probably added on hours, but it was great ot get a close up. As darkness fell, the lights from the two small villages were beautiful contrasts to an otherwise barren coast. We had an excellent three course dinner made by Hans with wine chosen by Peter. It was better meal than the one yesterday, which supposedly was at the best restaurant in Mindelo. It was three of us that set sail from Mindelo this afternoon; beside us one Swedish wooden sail boat and a Norwegian Swan. It must have looked quite good; three sailing boats setting out across the Atlantic in the fading sun light! The Norwegian took a more Southerly route and we lost sight. Soon after darkness, we also lost contact with the Swedish boat.
Swedish boat fading on the horizon (Hans)
Peter and I had discussed whether we had lost or gained confidence in the boat, ourselves and our venture following the detour to the Cape Verdes. I think Peter maybe lost some, but for me it was evened out or maybe even gaining some confidence. We know now that we settled in well into the routine at sea and that we basically work well as a crew. We provisioned well and current supplies only need to last two rather than three weeks. All of us enjoy the trip and are not bored. I am on the contrary feeling a bit too busy and wish t was more time to relax. The watch schedule is great as it doesn't tire us. The fact that the autopilot fairly easily could be knocked out is disturbing, but not surprising. We certainly know more about it now and had it properly checked. That the Hydrovane could come loose is worrying. It most likely was a result of the strong forces on its rudder (which was not locked, but can only swing 30 degrees) when we were sleigh riding under the auto pilot in fairly big following seas. I think it is a mistake that Hydrovane doesn't highlight in the manual that the rudder should be taken off in those circumstances.
I enjoyed Cape Verde, but I am also very happy to be back at sea!