Voyage to Cape Verdes

Fri 23 May 2008 17:53

So the date is 14 may, the last I had the opportunity to write anything in the web diary was a month ago so this addition will shed light on how easy to turn a corner and experience a totally different and much more difficult period in the wanderings of an cruising boat. The first thing that you would notice if you were able to look over my shoulder is that I am having to write this entry in biro onto paper, how long ago is it that you actually sat down and wrote with pen and paper. My computer is sick having been launched across the boat and landing on the floor, there is a gentle hum of a Honda generator trying to charge our boat batteries, our beloved Percy the perkins is even more sick than the computer we have not heard a murmurfrom it for a good long time. We now have a 25hp Johnson outboard connected to a bracket on the stern. Penguin continues to sail on faithfully Niamh and Rob are still in good spirit, and have 510 miles to go before we get to the Azores. The last sent sentence being all the more remarkable after you consider the story which is to follow.


To recap from Salvador our plan was to sail east as far as possible before crossing north of the equator, my last web diary had us sailing and motoring gently along with fair conditions trying to achieve this. Once we crossed the equator the winds would be stronger and from the north east and would make it difficult to get to Cape Verde. We eventually crossed the Equator for our fourth and final time on the 7th of  april but had not got as far east as we would have liked crossing at 26degress west, I had hoped we could have got closer to 20degress.  The Cape Verdes are situated at 24 dgs so this put us almost directly south of them at a distance of 1100miles. For the first 300 miles we had the usual equatorial conditions, Thunder clouds with wind rain and lightning for a few hours then light conditions until the next cloud formation appears. The following 700 miles would be the be the hardest stretch of continuous sailing that we have experienced and endured. For a period of 8 days Niamh and I sailed into 25 knot of wind with large seas, Penguin was reefed down sailing superbly riding through and over the waves, now and again on a step wave her bow would rise up and come crashing down with an enormous thud spray flying everywhere all very dramatic.

So while you all were carrying on with a normal life for a period of 8 days 24hrs a day Niamh and I were doing 3 hour watches sailing Penguin through large seas into strong winds trying to choose when to tack to make the best progress it was relentless hard sailing.

 I do hope that at least one or two of you are wandering what on earth we were doing choosing to sail this route, it would of course be far more sensible to sail from Salvador straight to the Azores and save ourselves this ordeal. So let me see if this explanation carries any creditability. Sailing attracts people through the lure of the romantic dream, sailing to beautiful Islands, sailing under moonlight starry nights, and just the sheer pleasure of moving through the water using only the wind to drive you. All of which is just one side of a very complicate way of life. That said it is of course only the nutters that enjoy what we have just been through. I chose to sail to Cape Verdes because we had not had the chance to visit them on

Our way out with the ARC. The other reason being that i was hoping that some of our friends would like to experience part of our travels on our return home. So we included a number of places that people would be able to get to and meet up with us, with week long hopes between the various locations. So there it was Cape Verde to the Canaries part of our passage plan, an opportunity for someone to get some sailing sea miles and visit two interesting countries as well.     I do, or did have great friends  Phil & Alison both mad keen Windsurfers. With both of the above locations being strong wind windsurfing Mecca`s how could they resist, It seemed to Phil an Heaven sent opportunity to go and test out what Cape Verds had to offer. Then a week sailing on a beautiful 44ft yacht with another few days thrown in windsurfing in Tenerife. It would also mean they could break their Yachting virginity with a weeks ocean sailing. It must of course all be a dream this chance was to good to resist, he emailed me immediately to say they were keen. He replied so quickly that I had to go back to the charts and see where they had chosen to do their sailing. I noticed that they had chosen a hard upwind leg and replied warning him that it would be an uncomfortable 750 miles of sailing where they sure that was what they wanted.  He replied that they were both keen and that was the most convenient time for them. So that was that, during my visit home we meet up and talk enthusiastically about the trip. 

It so happens that Phil and his Mum are amongst my most loyal fans and are very encouraging of my scribbling, sorry about the spelling Mrs T I do hope its getting better, I am afraid spell check has not quite developed enough to cope with my errors. I hope that both Phil and Alison will not need to much therapy.

I am going to have to finish for now trying to type this up and send it, as once again we are running out of time ashore. With a bit of luck there will be a few pictures, and hopefully in Porto I will have a computer that works and time enough to finish this little tale for you.





Spectacular evening thunder clouds





Crossing the equator



The innocents arrive...