Thursday 16th, Friday 17th and Sat 18th (morning)
Arrived at Sao Vincente Island in the Cape Verde island Archipelago at 0800 hrs UT o Saturday 18th Dec.
Thursday dawned with the sea a lot calmer and a good fresh breeze blowing from the north west. We were making a good 6 + knots through the water under our full cutter rig and around 1000 hrs Sarah announced that we could try a bit of fishing again! We put out just the one line and 3 minutes later the rod was bent double and the line was screaming out against the drum brake.
We had to furl the stay sail and let the main fly to try to slow Serafina down to allow us to play and recover the fish, which proved pretty exciting. We managed to reduce our speed down to 3 knots and Robert F and I watched in awe as a big Mahi Mahi leapt from the sea about 60 metres behind us. As I wound the line in further, the fish on the end (a beautifully bright coloured Mahi Mahi) also leapt out clear of the water along with its mate again. Finally we brought the captured fish aboard and were delighted to have a 5 kg Mahi Mahi. We will be posting a photo shortly at www.rhbell.com but sadly their colour subdues dramatically after death.
The wind continued to blow steadily all day and we were rewarded with some superb sailing and managed to put a load of miles under our belts.
Sadly Friday saw all the wind die away again and careful calculations showed that we had no chance of arriving at Mindelo, Sao Vicente Island before the late evening, so we shortened sail and settled down to a slow day sailing and occasionally motor sailing so that we would arrive in the Cape Verde Islands at dawn on Saturday. This made for a long tedious day and since R & J now knew they had to return to UK (and work) they got Joyce’s son, Thomas, to book them flights home which were arranged for Monday 20thDec. Since Robert F really wanted to catch a fish himself, we put our both lines all day but sadly we caught nothing at all (probably going too slowly now) but to make things worse, when he recovered one of the lines, he found the lure missing altogether so he genuinely now had a story of the one that got away!
The sea was relatively flat in that there was absolutely no wind at all through the afternoon, however the huge Atlantic rollers continued to tower over us as they bore down and then passed smoothly under us, raising us up and then dropping us down into their deep troughs. They are very impressive and rather intimidating (even without a breaking crest) as you try not to imaging what their immense power would be like in bad weather.
Sarah had another visit by dolphins during her night watch– at least 18 Atlantic Spotted dolphins bow rode for over an hour. She crept forward (this time well attached to the boat by her harness) and sat and watched them. The sea was so glassy that the dolphins seemed to be flying rather than swimming and disturbing what appeared to be squid that fluorescently lit up.
A long still night meant that we all managed to sleep well on our periods off-watch and just before we dawn we approached the gap between the islands of Sao Vincente and Santo Antao. Here we saw the lights of several other yachts heading the same way and soon they all seemed to fall in behind us, trusting us to lead them in. This was a case of the blind leading the blind as we had no electronic chart to guide us, but we pressed on using the old fashioned methods of a paper chart and the Mark 1 eyeball.
As dawn broke we were rewarded with a fantastic view of these two dramatic and beautiful islands, one very high and across the small channel, the other much lower, as we made our way into the busy anchorage at Mindelo and on past the main port to the new ‘marina’.
Our calls on the VHF went unanswered but we saw Stardust (USA) anchored nearby and they confirmed that the fuel dock would open soon, so we headed in and found a member of the marina staff standing on the quay watching us approach. We tied up on the fuel pontoon and he told us that it would open in one hour and that after filling we could take any place we liked in the marina. This turned out to be a good decision by us as by the time it opened there were 5 more yachts that had followed us in all waiting for fuel and they had a further wait as we were not allowed to leave the fuel dock until Sarah, 3rd in the queue, had done the full check-in and paid for the fuel in the marina office!
Having topped up the tanks we moored up in the marina using their lazy lines and I headed off on foot with Joyce to find Customs and Immigration to check us and Serafina into the country and to arrange visas for R & J as they are of course now leaving the boat and flying home. As we left the secure compound of the marina we were immediately accosted by some ‘boat boys’ who want to help and show you around etc. etc. but we put them off for now. We found the Police and Immigration office about half a mile away and were very lucky to find a helpful officer sitting in the office who was prepared to help us as strictly speaking the office was shut over the weekend. We completed all the formalities in good time and returned to Serafina where we all sat down to a light lunch and ‘safe arrivals’ which was a bottle of fizzy for Sarah, Joyce and myself and an ice cold tonic for Robert F.