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Date: 18 Dec 2010 12:41:14
Title: Land ho!

17:46.64N 24:15.42W

Saturday 18th December 2010

Distance run in 24 hours: 90
Total distance run: 803
Distance left to run: 70

We've made a good distance in the last 24 hours considering the fickleness of the wind. The engine has been on for a few hours, at times when the wind was not only very light (less than 5 knots) but also dancing around and not coming from the same direction for longer than a few minutes at a time! This is extremely frustrating as we are constantly adjusting the sails only to re-adjust them five minutes later. The autopilot gets a bit confused, especially when set to wind, and we both spent some time hand steering the best course to windward to prevent the sails flogging. The swell has been long and rolling, and at times 2-3 metres high, and it likes to add its little bit by rolling the boat just enough to tip whatever wind we might have caught in the sails straight out! When, with all this effort, we are still only making 2 knots and that to 20 degrees off our course, it's time to put the engine on for a while and wait for the wind to fill in a bit.

Frustrations aside, it has been a pleasant 24 hours with sunshine and clear blue skies. The cold weather gear is gradually being replaced by shorts and t-shirts (or less!) by day and only a fleece and long trousers at night. The moon is now almost full and lit our way from sunset until two hours before dawn, when it was replaced by the most dazzling array of stars and planets. We have downloaded an App onto the iTouch which, having been given your position in lat/long, then displays the visible stars and planets and identifies them. We are both aware of our lack of knowledge of the night sky and hope in this way to be able to improve it.

Dolphins have become a common sight, visiting us several times during the day, and obviously aware of our human presence, as when we don't go on deck to see them they swim around for a while then go away. When we go out on deck they become much more playful, leaping clear out of the water and diving under the bow wave.

This morning we had our first sight of land for almost a week - and fingers crossed it is the Cape Verde Islands! Even the most recent charts warn that the area has not been surveyed for a couple of hundred years, so we will have to be very careful on approach and make good use of the mark one eyeball!

Serafina may well already be anchored or tied up in Mindelo, the port on the island of Sao Vicente where we are headed, as when we spoke to them yesterday on SSB they were reducing sail and speed so as to arrive with first light this morning. No doubt they will give us all the necessary info at our usual 1740 UTC SSB chat later. They were hoping to be able to go into the marina as their guests need to get their kit ashore as they are flying back to the UK from here, but the poor sailing conditions over the last week have led to lots of boats that were going to bypass the islands stopping here instead to take on fuel and water, so it's apparently a bit crowded. Alternatively they'll have to use the anchorage and dinghy guests and kit ashore, always an amusing exercise!

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