Goodbye Canaries. Hello Cape Verdes

Mystic of Holyhead (successor to Lynn Rival)
Rachel and Paul Chandler
Mon 21 Jan 2013 10:49
16:53.21N 024:59.48W

After our disappointing motor across from Tenerife - not much of a shakedown for Helen -  we had two very comfortable nights in the marina at San Sebastian.  The nearby all-night disco seems to have been shut down, much to the relief of marina residents.   It was also decidedly warmer on La Gomera than we'd been experiencing at Las Galletas.  On Saturday morning the fresh produce market was full of goodies, including starfruit, so we added to our stocks for the passage.  In the evening we had a memorable paella in our new favourite restaurant, El Peijin, to which we were introduced by Rob and Jen Storrar over Christmas.  We were joined by Sue and Tristan from s/y Meriva whom we met in Rabat - they are also heading for the Cape Verdes but have been held up by repairs (those wooden boats!) 

Tristan, Rachel, Paul, Sue and Helen prepare to be paella filled - our last night in Europe!

We had a leisurely start on Sunday morning, expecting the winds to be light that day.  When they picked up we had to beat to windward for a few hours.  By nightfall the northeasterlies were setting in and we took one reef in the main and two in the genoa when the strength reached Force 5.  The seas were not at all comfortable: the mix of northwesterly groundswell and northeasterly winds creates a rolly, jerky movement that takes time to get used to.  Despite the temperatures being higher in San Sebastian we needed our fleeces for warmth and oilies for protection from regular dousing by rogue waves.  This was not quite the introduction to sailing in the tropics we'd promised Helen.

With the highest point in Spain behind us Helen and Uncle Paul enjoy a brief spell of sunshine as we head south west

On day two we put a second reef in the main (our reefs are deeper than normal - the third reef is to trysail size) and settled down for what turned out to be six days of much the same conditions.  For most of the time the skies were overcast, though we were able to do some star gazing from time to time at night.  On a couple of days the wind was more in the East and we accumulated a light covering of red Sahara dust.  We experimented with a system of 3 hour watches at night and 4 hours during the day.  This meant we didn't have the same watches every day, which provides variety but makes it more difficult to settle into a routine.  We hardly saw any other vessels, though the AIS did alert us to ships passing between us and the African coast - two were around 400 miles away!  We didn't even have the distraction of catching fish or watching dolphins, although manoeuvring Lynn Rival to catch a haul of flying fish was a small achievement. 

Found on the decks at the end of the voyage - too late for breakfast

So it was a tedious passage but at least we made good speed.  Once we covered 164 miles in 24 hours, which is good going for us.  As luck would have it, we had to slow down for the last 36 hours - to avoid making landfall at night.

Landfall at last - a happy Helen!

The island of Sao Vicente - our first 'Cape Verde island'

Approaching our destination - Mindelo on Sao Vicente island - the skies began to clear and the temperature rose.  We had a easy landfall, with the larger island of Santo Antao in sight at first light.  But then it almost disappeared in the murk until we were much closer to the channel between the two islands.  All we had to do now was avoid the ferry coming across from Santo Antao while we got the sails down and made our way into the harbour.  By 10.30am we were berthed in the marina, helped by friendly and well organised staff. 

Approaching the marina at Mindelo, the old British coaling station (they shipped the coal from Wales)

Mindelo marina, from the citadel

We hadn't been sure what to expect since it's a relatively new development and the only marina in the Cape Verdes but the place is buzzing with activity, including a number of French boats on their way to Brazil.  The facilities are very good and we were soon sitting down at the marina bar for an arrival beer.  Because we arrived on a Saturday we had to wait until today (Monday) to check in with Immigration. 

We snuck into town to see the palace of the people - it was a very quiet Sunday morning