DIARY - Tenerife to Cape Verdes

Sat 15 Dec 2018 19:00
We set sail from Santa Cruz in Tenerife for Palmeira in Cape Verde islands on Wednesday 28th November at 14:35pm.  We had been in a berth there for the last month, with trips back home in the meantime to visit family.  Corkman Scott Mackeown joined us for the journey.  Weather forecast was in our favour, with winds from NE, forecast to change to East by the weekend.  We'd lovely clear skies leaving Tenerife.  There was an amazing blood-orange moon-rise (quarter moon), and plenty of phosphorescence created, with little explosions of light in the water behind us.  According to Scott, its "Champagne Sailing"; beautiful sunny skies and seas, genoa poled out to port, mainsail to starboard, wing on wing, doing around 6.8 knots downwind, with around 16 knots of wind.  Feeling very privileged to be experiencing this amazing trip.  By Friday morning, we had covered 283 nautical miles, about a third of our journey to Palmeira.  Beautiful Venus-rise in the mornings, following the path of the quarter moon, followed by a stunning sunrises....blessed!   Its such a wilderness out here; nothing but sea and sky, the odd bird and some porpoises.  We covered 179 knots on our third  day/24 hours.  More birds, porpoise, phosphorescence, sunrises.  Helen got drenched with a wave over the port at one stage, and had a speed record of 11.3 knots...Carpe Diem!  Baptism of fire...again!
We're seeing flying fish for the first time, scurrying across from wave-crest to wave-crest...very cute they are.  Poet / writer Theo Dorgan has a great description of flying fish in his book "Sailing for Home - A Voyage from Antigua to Ireland"....I hope he doesn't mind me quoting him here!   "We've had them on deck nearly every morning - small, stiff, mullet-like things, the wings hard despite their gossamer appearance...the tail is asymmetric....the lower portion is longer that the upper...the fish launches itself out of the water, wings hammering, then as the tail dips into the top of a swell it beats furiously, the sculling or sweeping effect giving lift and forward impetus.   Long afterwards I came across a curious book, 'Creatures of the Sea' by Frank T Bullen, published in 1908 by, of all things, the Religious Tract Society.  On the subject of these curious creatures, Bullen had this to say...'In order that the Exocetus may indulge easily in these aerial excursions, it is provided with a very much enlarged swim-bladder, which when inflated, fills the whole cavity of the abdomen.  There is also in the mouth another bladder that is filled with air through the gills, and both these inflations are performed automatically at the moment the fish leaves the water.  The bladders are kept full of air while the fish is on the wing, but the moment it touches the water, they are deflated, allowing the fish to plunge as rapidly as it wishes to the limit of its depth, which is not very great.  They are small, compact , muscular things....they fly only to escape predators, which gives their jerky little rushes a mean and panicked air'."
Helen spotted a whale broaching during her sunrise watch.   
Arrived in Palmeira on Monday 3rd December at 1.30pm local time, having covered 505 nautical miles, averaging a speed of 7.5 knots.  After we anchored and sorted Luna Quest out, we had a walkabout in this beautiful, relaxed little fishing village, after clearing in with the police and customs.   Cool beers and good local food were much appreciated, before a good night's sleep.  We spent another three days here; went to the local "GAA" club for music, went to local town Escargas for Frango chicken dinner, ate in the local "yacht club" cafe and Rotterdam cafe and enjoyed the 27 degree C warmth, with a constant cool breeze.   Jay, the local boat-taxi guy was so good to us, providing everything a boat may need. 
We said farewell to our friend Scott who winged his way home to Cork, and set sail again on Friday 7th December at around 5pm for an overnight to Mindelo marina, which is approximately 120 nautical miles west in Cabo Sao Vicente; Austin and Helen's first overnight alone without any other crew.  Arrived in Mindelo at 1.30pm after a very pleasant downwind sail, during which we saw dolphins, lots of flying fish and beautiful starry skies.   It was also our first East to West sail since we had brought Luna Quest back to Dingle from Ipswich in May 2017 along the English Channel and Celtic sea.
From 8th to 15th December, we spent a very pleasant time hanging out in Mindelo, in the "floating cafe" in the marina, dining on the nearby beach (the most turquoise water we've ever seen), fixing things (the tricolour light for one!), meeting locals (helpful, friendly Adilson being one), eating lovely creole food, and finding the best crew members anyone could wish for - Lluc Argiles Baro and Maxime Fleche - for our trans-Atlantic voyage. 
After provisioning, we set sail on 15th December at 3.15pm, as ready as we could be for our 2,000 nautical mile voyage.