Mindelo progress report

JJMoon Diary
Barry and Margaret Wilmshurst
Sat 15 Jun 2013 18:13
There is not a great deal of tangible progress to report although we have not been idle.  Our advisers rallied round to help and sympathise and we obtained several quotations.  Having chewed the fat and taken all things into consideration we opted for a radial-cut Dacron sail with full vertical battens from North Sails' Cape Town loft, partly because the company had performed so well with the genoa.  The sail is in production and should be ready for dispatch during the coming week.  Then what?  We have no idea.  We may know a little more once we are committed to a carrier – or we may not.
Wherever cruisers gather they meet new people and soon make new friends.  An English/US couple on a smart catamaran have been here since Christmas. They were due to leave on New Years Day but on New Years Eve were rammed while at anchor by a ferry.  The big inter-island car ferry comes into the harbour, turns round and goes astern into his berth.  On this occasion he failed to find reverse gear and came on and on until he fouled the cat.  The ferry's short flag staff at the bow got tangled up with the yacht’s shrouds and brought the whole rig down. The incident took about half an hour and in the end our new friends had to chop away their anchor cable because they were carrying the whole load. The marina people here are carrying out the multiple repairs and the yacht’s insurers are paying up without any fuss, doubtless recovering their costs from the ferry company, a large Spanish-owned outfit.  A new jib arrived from Turkey yesterday.  However, the mast is taking time.  It was extruded in France, dressed in Germany and is now lying on a freighter in Rotterdam.  Once it gets going it will take about two weeks to get here, via Lisbon. They say.  No-one is holding their breath.
Nearly everyone arriving here has gear damage. A French boat that came in yesterday lost one blade of their prop to a fishing line on leaving the Azores. On arrival here it was blowing 30 knots, of course, and they came in under storm jib alone doing 8 knots.  We didn’t see it but it must have been exciting.  Other Frenchmen fouled the “lazy line” from the pontoon to the buoy when trying to turn round from head-on to stern-on.  Not much drama but it had to be cut free from their prop and a new line provided.  Dutchmen two days ago had broken bits of rig. There is always something to look at.
When not thinking about the new sail I decided to get an electrician’s opinion of our batteries - there had been some evidence of deteriorating performance.  It was soon revealed that they were on their last legs; all needed immediate replacement.  I think we were fortunate.  If it hadn’t been for the sail problem.....
There is plenty to enjoy here – the longer we stay in any place the more we learn about the good things on offer.  We now know about some excellent bread shops and a conscientious hair dressers.  The barbers may perhaps be a little over-enthusiastic as they go about their work with a will, wielding flashing scissors and whirring clippers but in the end my female advisers assure me it could be a lot worse.  We are taking a trip across the island on Sunday to a very highly regarded “beach brunch”.  Next week we shall take the yacht-bashing ferry across the storm-tossed, sail-wrecking waters to Santo Antao, reputed to be a beautiful island with some spectacular scenery.
It’s quite warm here but with 30 knots gusts across the pontoon again it makes everyday life a bit of a struggle.  The mate is busy scrubbing weed from the waterline.  It is obvious that the whole bottom will badly need a scrub before we leave.  This will not be difficult to arrange - as we leave the marina every day we are assaulted by very keen locals anxious to assist with all the mundane jobs the marina boys do not want to undertake.  At the same time they can renew the sacrificial anode on the prop.  Mags could do it with her mini scuba gear but it might be a bit of a struggle – the bolts are secured with Loctite.  It is interesting how different is the rate of growth build-up at each stop.  A few weeks here and the bottom will be thickly covered with weed and crawling with small marine life.  At Ascension we stayed as clean as a whistle.  All day shoals of small black triggerfish circled the boat looking for food scraps, nibbling away at anything.  They were voracious and had all-embracing tastes – used tea bags were considered a delicacy.  At night they slept on the bottom, probably so that they could be close at hand for the first sign of breakfast.  Someone told us they were related to piranhas, but quite harmless – so they said.