DIARY - Atlantic Crossing - Mindelo, Cape Verdes to Barbados

Sat 29 Dec 2018 19:04
Set sail from Mindelo on Saturday 15th December at 15.15pm for Barbados, over 2,000 nautical miles away, complete with our two crew members who were hitch-hiking across the Atlantic ocean to eventual destination Martinique; Lluc Argiles Baro from Catalonia, living in Montpellier - he had sailed to Cape Verdes with his friends on their sailboat "Mafaso".  His friend Maxime Fleche flew in to Mindelo to find a passage across the Atlantic with him.   We met them first when they greeted us as we arrived in Mindelo, letting us know that they were looking for a passage.  Turns out they were fantastic crew - accomplished sailors, amazing cooks, loved fishing for Dorado and Tuna, great musicians, singers, great company, incredibly helpful,  and fun guys to be with.  We will always be grateful to them, and have many happy memories of our sailing adventure with them. 
24 hours after our departure, we were about 160 nautical miles from Mindelo; mainsail on starboard tack, with the genoa poled out for our expected downwind sailing.  The sea was a bit lumpy since we left, but we had beautiful starry skies since the moon set at around 1am, and lots of shooting stars to be seen.   Day 3 (17th December) out from Mindelo, with 280nm covered by 10.30am; visit from porpoise during breakfast.  Sea is calmer today; wind is down to 10-11 knots.  Apart from a yacht off to starboard during the night (behind us now), and a tanker the night before last, there hasn't been any other human life out here since we've left.   Tuesday 18th December, and 433 knots covered by 11.30am, Genoa and mainsail on wing-on-wing, with wind at our back blowing at around 15 knots. Doing average 6.3 knots at the mo.  Had "Maigret" duck cooked by the guys...our first 'early' Christmas dinner...delicious.  Next day, 19th December , have covered 587 nm by 11am.  Great feeling being out here in the middle of the Atlantic ocean.  Great meals again....ceviche of Dorado for lunch, followed by spag. bol. for dinner.  Next day...21st Dec...Winter Solstice...we passed the 60,000 nm mark on our mileometer, and also we passed 880 nautical miles, which up to now was the longest passage we'd sailed Luna Quest (Ipswich to Dingle in May 2017).   
We raised the Parasail for the first time today...worked very well, pulling us along at around 5 knots in a 11 to 12 knot wind....slower speed than earlier in the week, but making heading right on our rhum line.  Its so bright by night with the near-full moon that its possible to write without any other light.   No boats or planes to be seen.  A white sea-bird appears now and then, screeching at us and putting on a show, with its fast wing beat and delicate-looking tail feathers, not what you'd expect to see out here in the wilderness.  We crossed the 1,000 nm mark next day 22nd December at around 1.30pm (we can now be regarded as full members of the OCC!).  Its surreal being out here in the desert of the mid-Atlantic, with around 960 nm reckoning to go to Port St Charles in NW Barbados, and 1,045 behind us.  Fair winds and following seas indeed...how lucky are we.  Christmas Eve, and its great sailing.  We celebrated Christmas "Catalan" style, with the songs/sticks tradition.   Lluc and Max caught 5 fish today; one landed tuna, filleted and in the fridge to be ready for tomorrow.   Helen on night watch: doing around 6 knots in around 16 knots of wind, with only the Parasail flying.  
Christmas morning, 2018 - 7.45am GMT sunrise; sky-gazing - seeing the Crux/Southern Cross - Venus is following, and so bright.   Lovely Christmas day - roast chicken and spuds for dinner - Spanish chicken, Cape Verde spuds, pears and Lidl Stollen with custard for dessert.  Fabulous sea conditions.  We spoke to our beloved families on the sat. phone....was great hearing their voices.   Late supper of tuna and risotto.   Drank a bottle of Albarino from Galicia with lunch, and mimosas later in the day.  Amazing moon-rise on Christmas night. 
St Stephen's day, or Saint Innocente's day as they call it in Catalonia, is according to their tradition, a day when people can play tricks on each other, like on April 1st...we saw loads of whales today...yeah!
We have 1,540 nm behind us, and at this stage our ETA is 3.4 days or so, Saturday 29th at 3pm ish.  Austin saw a tanker last night heading East, and a plane West of us heading South.  Back in the land of humans again...signs of life!
There's a yacht behind us to the North about 34 nmiles...Janine...with Alexis and Benoit aboard.   Its an amazing feeling to be out here, with 5km depth of sea-water below us.   December 27th - Helen spotted an eagle South West of us on her 8 - 11am watch, soaring very high.   Dorado ceviche for lunch today, thanks to Max and Lluc.  We took to rudder off the self-steering vane, as it was covered in Sargassum seaweed; we see patches of it on and off during our voyage, but its not causing us a problem, though we hear via sat-phone texts from Mafaso, who is on a course north of us, that it is a problem for them.
28th December; new record speed of 9.8 knots set by the guys last night.  We've about 165 nmiles to go.  Lot of grey, dense clouds around, and the sea is a dark grey...a bit of a swell is pushing us along nicely at around 6.9 knots/7.1 COG.   Very Irish-looking skies out here...that same shade of blue that we see at home.
The s*it hit the proverbial fan at around 4am on 29th December...42 knot gusts/squalls...Parasail got caught and ripped, and to cut a long story short, we made landfall in Barbados, Port St Charles at 12.45pm, with 2,046 nautical miles behind us, and 14 days crossing the Atlantic from Mindelo.