A Lively Passage to Cape Verde

Mina2 in the Caribbean - Where's The Ice Gone?
Tim Barker
Thu 19 Nov 2009 13:20

Noon Position: 15:18.99N 019:56.5W

Distance since departure (1530 yesterday):  150 miles

Date and time: 18 November 2009 1230 UTC


Colin Andrews, Neil Thackray and I weighed anchor at 1530 yesterday afternoon and left Senegal bound for the Cape Verde Islands 450 miles away in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Colin and I had mixed feelings about our departure from Senegal. Our time in the Sine-Saloum delta had been nothing short of magical, but neither of us shed a tear at leaving Dakar. Doubtless if one were to spend more time here, one would acquire the skills to circumvent the devious dishonest vendors and “guides” who had plagued our stay here. But we had not and we were pleased to be shot of the place.


We passed close by the spectacular basalt cliffs if Ile de Madeleine and headed out to sea with a pleasant Force 5 northerly which meant we were on a close reach (wind a bit ahead of the beam). As the evening wore on the wind increased and the seas built. For most of the night we have been charging our way at 8 ½ knots through big three metre seas, main and yankee well reefed, and the staysail pulling as well.


The last couple of times Neil has been on board and we have started a passage with lively seas, he has felt distinctly unwell for the first couple of days. As our pre-departure evenings have previously always involved going out on the town and sampling a few of the local beverages, we have put Neil’s illnesses down to nothing more than severe alcoholic poisoning. On this occasion however, there are no excuses. Since we hit the big waves Neil has spent a good deal of his time bleaching my decks with the contents of his stomach and we are forced to conclude that like many other great sailors before him, it takes him a couple of days to acclimatise. They say there are two stages to seasickness; the first stage is when you are feeling so ill you’re afraid you’re going to die; the second stage is when you’re feeling so ill you’re afraid you’re NOT going to die. Neil is currently moving into stage three. But being the stalwart pro that he is, he insists on standing his watches even though he is feeling like death.


Meanwhile, life below decks could, in all honesty, be more comfortable. Having battened down all the hatches as solid blue water courses over the decks, down below it is uncomfortably sticky. With Mina2 loving it all, and launching herself off the crests of large waves with gay abandon, one has to maintain a very firm handhold at all times or risk impersonating a pinball round the saloon. On deck, however, life is a joy: admiring the Sheerwaters, the fast jet pilots of the sea, as they soar, swoop and then with absolute precision glide at incredible speed, countouring the waves with their wingtips just a few millimetres above the surface. Watching the fascinating flying fish as they leap out of the water in shoals and glide incredible distances. As they are in their final descent, they wiggle their tails on the surface of the water which gives them another boost into the air. Even when a rogue wave knocks on the side of the boat and rather rudely invites itself on board, the soaking one gets is 29 degrees C – almost bath temperature. What a difference to the English Chamnnel!