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Date: 19 Dec 2010 12:49:13
Title: Landfalll at the Verde Islands

19:12.10, 16:53.023N 24:59.623W
 
Fantastic sail from yesterday morning through to 8pm last night - conditions perfect, fairly light winds but as we were having to go across them we have been getting good speed, Stargazer has been going steadily at 5 to 6 knots. The sea has looked amazing - really calm but occassionally you get into areas that start to look like land more than sea - the swell has only been light but broad swell has been there and if you stare too long the sea starts to look like undulating grasslands (despite being blue not green - perhaps this is what happens when you have been at sea too long)  The weather is now feeling pretty much tropical and the sea is over 26 degrees.  Last night was warm with an almost full moon casting shadows.. . .  unfortunately for us though the wind has now shifted behind us on Sunday night and from that angle it's too light to move the boat at any reasonable pace so sadly the engine has had to go on for the final stretch to the Verde islands.
 
Yesterday lunchtime we were doing a bit of steering by hand (for a change) - the wheel seemed to be taking too much effort to turn it at certain points, remembering the ball of netting that we got wrapped round the rudder and prop on our crossing of biscay, and as the conditions were very calm - it was agreed that a check of the prop and rudder were in order.  I went in (I think Adam went in the water last time we had to do some task or other), Adam did a good job of heaving the boat to since it is usually pretty difficult to get her to stop.  I was considering not getting a bikini wet and just getting in wearing nothing since it is not as if anyone is around to see - however, had one of those moments where you imagine something going horribly wrong . . . me needing rescuing or something after some freak accident meaning that Adam couldn't pick me up (despite the fact that I was attached to the boat with a line). . .  and I decided that if I was to be recovered by any kind or rescue authority - then I wanted to be wearing at least something.  So in bikini and with a line tied around me in I got in - water was very nice and warm and absolutely crystal clear.  I did a quick check of the rudder and prop - all fine so must have been our imagination, then had a quick look around in the hope of seeing some sea life.  Didn't see anything but looking down into the blue was wierd - the colour was amazing and it is strange to think that there was three and a half thousand metres of water beneath me.  Even though I Scuba dive - still got out pretty quick as I was wondering what was lurking in the blue out of my sight.
 
Another large whale sighted as well on Saturday afternoon, unfortunately it wasn't doing anything particularly spectacular like the previous day - it was just sitting at the surface doing short dives and coming up and blowing - it was a few hundred metres off the side of the boat so we didn't get a really close view - but it must have been similar size to yesterdays whale for us to see it, we could see from the fin to the head and it looked like the size of a small 5 - 6 metre boat.
 
Much excitement having dinner in the cockpit at 6pm on Saturday evening - Land Sighted, not yet San Vincente - but several islands could clearly be seen to the south of us which would have been the more easterly islands, visibility must have been good as we were about 50 miles away from them.  It was the first land seen in a week! 
 
Now it's 0830 on Sunday - about 45 mins ago I watched the most spectacular sunrise over Saao Nicolau which is just to the east of San (or Saao Vincente), when I get a chance I'll put a photo up  - the colours in the sky were absolutely amazing, I have got to see a few sunrises over the last week - but this one was the best.  We're now approaching the channel between Saao Vincente and Saao Antaao, only about 14 miles left to go, I can see another two islands and several little islets to the east of us and Saao Antaao appears to be quite high with clouds just around the top of the highest point.  The Cape Verdean flag that I made is flying and it doesn't look half bad - even the circle of 10 stars I had to put on each side look pretty much circular, hope it passes the port captains flag quality requirements.
 
1130 on Sunday and we have arrived at Mindelo on Saao Vincente - we're anchored in another packed anchorage!  The scenery here is much more impressive than we had thought it would be - the islands are very mountainous, don't appear to be much in the way of trees but the mountainsides are fairly green.  It is Very warm - 30 degress in the shade.  The anchorage consists of yachts and ships - yachts on the inside.  We think it looks nicer than we expected - we will go ashore when we have blown up the dinghy, work out how to clear customs.  We have covered one third of the miles between the canaries and the windward islands which feels like a good achievement, we had a really good passage here - managed to avoid the nasty weather and not get too caught in the calms (some people have motored most of the way!) plus we've seen dolphins, whales, been for a mid atlantic dip and managed to get lots of sleep on the way.

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