All things fishy 16:57.50N 24:43.10W

Saturday 26th December 2009, 18.33
Good afternoon and we hope you're having a lovely Christmas and not suffering from the after effects of too much of everything.  We're on the road again as the place we chose to spend Christmas day in didn't quite live up to expectations.   Robin emailed me with approach details, and congratulated me for choosing the most uninhabited island of the whole group.   We stood off 'till daylight and then slowly entered and nosed our way in towards the beach.  We were a little concerned at the breaking surf either side of the entrance but made cautious progress through a patch of quiet water in the middle.   Once past the entrance we continued towards where we could see a jetty in the distance but stopped when shoaling meant we had almost no water under our keel.  Turning around and heading to a deeper part we dropped anchor about 1.5 miles off a beautiful beach.  A Spanish guy who was having an early morning Christmas day surf came paddling over to us when we hailed him.  He said it wasn't 't possible to reach the jetty in the prevailing conditions and said that there was a warning for big seas coming into the bay in the next couple of days and then some bad weather.    He suggested that if we were to stay there it would be uncomfortable as they were expecting a 6 - 8 metre swell.   We decided to get some diesel and get out the way we'd come.   We spent an action packed 45  mins getting the new dingy (which I have never seen before) out of its stowage and onto the coachouse roof.  After a short time we got it all sorted and into the water alongside.  Next the new outboard (which I have never seen before) fixed onto the bracket.  Filled with fuel and ready for off? Not likely, Max pulled at the starter for what seemed like an eternity, at one point it reluctantly  fired up for a moment then died.  This is a new engine and I expected it to start OK, What do we need? fuel and spark, well fuel we had so I backed the spark plug out and it was oiled up.   It came with a spare so I fitted that, still nothing, "Shall we row" asked Max - Interesting concept as we were planning to pick up 75 ltrs of diesel.  Then we discovered that the fuel tap was marked in a totally non-sensible way and what we had thought was on was actually off!  Right we're all loaded with empty cans, Passports, money, hand held VHF to be able to update Gaynor, who had reluctantly agreed to stay  behind and make sure that LadyC didn't drag her anchor.  We made it to the beach and there were a few slightly curious locals checking us out but absolutely no signs of any Christmas activity.  Max hailed a passing pick-up and the driver very kindly agreed to take us, and our cans to the petrol station where we started filling them up with diesel. On filling the second 25Ltr I noticed that it had a very small puncture hole in the bottom. The attendant was very helpful and took me into the workshop where he offered me the only drum he had which was 50Ltr.  This is going to be a challenge to get this back in the dingy, but we had to have fuel.  Our newly acquired "Driver" then took us to the Hotel to see if we could get any more info and the people there confirmed that we'd be better off clearing out than staying.
I made a solo trip back to the boat with two full cans and put 25ltrs into the tank and went back to the beach  with the recently emptied drum,where, with the unasked for help of a local guy who didn't really seem to be with it and was definately under the influence of something , managed to take 25 out of the full 50 ltr drum so we could carry them both back.   It actually worked quite well as we now had 100 ltrs.  Arriving on the beach I actually felt sea-sick as soon as I stood on land and was very floaty for the duration of the fuel procurement and transporting episode, which seemed to go on for ever.  Fuelled up and everthing stowed we  upped anchor and set off .  It was our intention to go North of the island of Sau Nicolau, but it would have been difficult and would have put us on a lee-shore (a shore which the wind is pushing you straight onto) so we dived South until reducing depths spooked us in the early hours of this morning and we tacked out away from the island.  We have spent the day coming back and going around the East end of the island and we are now heading up to Mindelo on the neighboring island of Sau Vicente where we are told that there is a new marina.  Robin, do you think I'll ever be as wise as you are?  We need to do some work to sort out the rope munching blocks at the mast head as we can't set off with them having to be replaced every couple of days. I'll see if I can find someone to splice wire onto the top section of the halyard where they run through the blocks (encased pulley that a rope runs around). It may mean getting new blocks but should sort the problem out.  When Zara and Simon came out to Mowgan to see us they left us a Christmas present with strict instructions that it mustn't be opened 'till the 25th.  When they heard that we were  likely to be ashore we got permission to open it.  Christmas eve saw us, very excitedly, opening a present about the size of a shoe box containing everything you could possibly need for a party, hats,crackers, party poppers, small bottles of vodka, whisky and Baileys a CD of Toones with a lovely personal greeting from them and a miniature tree bedecked with flashing lights. We're enjoying the tree but still looking for somewhere we can start our party, glancing at the screen beside me that will be in 3 hours and 57 minutes and is at the top of our priority list.  It's 19 miles to Mindello and I'm doing a very comfortable 5 knots under main,inner and mizzen.  There are a couple of Dolphins beside me, I keep hearing them exhale as they break the surface to come up for air. Today was a lovely day and the wind across the water was creating a steady pattern of breaking white horses on the surface of the fairly large swell we were heading into. This morning I went and sat up on the  pulpit (Tubular stainless steel frame that runs around the front of the boat at about mid thigh height) and watched a mass of Dolphins all around, including two babies who appeared top be out with their mothers for the first time, they were being well chaperoned.  As the swell was quite big, occasional peaks saw the front of the bowsprit, 8ft ahead of me, rising to around 20ft before coming back down so hard it momentarily went underwater, giving me a dousing at the same time. I was only in board shorts but the water is so warm here it makes me wonder if the volcanoes, that are all around, are actually dormant.   On the way back to the cockpit I found a flying fish on the deck,  (sorry Tristan, and we didn't even have a line out for this one) rigormortise had set in so I didn't even attempt mouth-to-mouth in spite of it having its lips all puckered-up as if it was expecting a kiss. We named it Beefy as it looked a bit like a B52 and gave it to the Dolphins.   The Flying fish are pretty amazing things, seeing as they are near the bottom of the marine food chain, they are pursued by, amongst other things, Dolphin and Tuna, and when they see a predator they use a strong tail fin wagging technique to exit the water and then, with their wings outstretched, glide above the surface,  When they  can't fly any further they touch the surface and use their tails to give them another lift off,  This can go on for some time and they can cover quite a distance, that is until some idiot puts a 15 ton wooden boat in their way,  The _expression_ on his face was one of pure comedy.  Not for him but I don't think he would have suffered. Next on the list were what appeared to be Dolphins who had either been working out at Cannons or taking illegal steroids.  It turned out we had sailed right through a vast number of pilot whales and they were all around us for about twenty minutes, surfacing and blowing,  They were swimming under the boat and interfering with the signal sent out by our depth sounder. Makes me wonder if those depth readouts last night were shoals or Whales.   Thanks to everyone who sent us Christmas wishes it was great to receive your emails.
 
Hasta a Fiesta
 
Lady C and pre-party crew