7/1 at 14hUTC Position, 14°57’N 28°26′ W
It is 8:40 UTC and I am watching the sun rise. The wind is blowing from
the North and my computer screen is shaking from its blow. We’ve had good
wind so far, oscillating between northern and eastern, in the 8 to 16 knot
range. We’ve been traveling with the main sail and the geneker up until
this morning when the wind grew a bit stronger, so we rolled in the front
sail in favor of the génois. The waves are coming at us from the North as
well. They are rocking the boat quite a bit but are sparing us from any
major crashing between the hulls. Our speed over ground (SOG) ranges from
5 to 7 knots.
For the two first nights of our crossing, Pierrick and I had decided to do
our regular night shifts (4 -2-4) while the rest of the crew did alternate
2 hour shifts. The “jeuntzes”, which is French slang for youngens and what
we affectionately call them behind their backs (oops! The cat is out of
the bag, but if they ever read this it will only be once the adventure is
over!), have little sailing experience so we wanted to supervise them a
bit more closely in the beginning. The following nights we plan on doing
alternating 2-hour shifts like we did when traveling with La Macif. This
consists of one person doing a 2-hour watch. An hour into that watch a
second person in. The first person goes to sleep after his 2 hours and the
second person is joined by a third. The second person stays on another
hour, at the end of which he goes to sleep and the third person is joined
by a fourth, and so on throughout the night.
As for our departure, it was delayed by 6 days. We originally wanted to
leave on 31 January but Clément could only join us that very day, so we
postponed our departure to the 3rd so that he may get used to being on the
boat. He was also bringing parts from France to fix the toilets and we
wanted to do that work before leaving. Then his flight got canceled
because of the cloud storm that hung over Sao Vicente. All flights were
canceled in and out of the Cesaria Evora airport and I won’t even get into
how dirty it made our boat! He finally arrived on 2 January. We gave
ourselves 2 days to complete the last-minute repairs and food purchases.
We were all ready to go on the 4th, as planned. We had had our last lunch
at the floating restaurant in the Mindelo marina. We were all wearing our
Slow Motion polo shirts. We looked like a team ready for the ride!
Unfortunately, the boat was not in agreement. Starboard motor wouldn’t
power up, which means it wouldn’t start. Pierrick investigated. This
involved removing the ceiling of the back portboard cabin (Hugo &
Pauline’s) to check the control panel. Everything seemed fine. Then he
opened up both motors and exchanged parts between them until we found the
problem. The problem is a small electrical box that Volvo sells for 600
EUR. We were discouraged. If the very tiny shipchandler had the part, it
would cost us 600 EUR. If they didn’t, it would cost us 600 EUR and we
would have to wait at least 3 days for DHL to deliver in Cabo Verde.
Miraculously, when we put everything back together again the motor started
up. By then night was falling so we decided to stay one more night in the
marina and leave the next morning.
The next morning became noon. It turned out that we didn’t have enough
food. More precisely, we didn’t have enough of the right food. After
bringing in the New Year and fixing the toilets, we spent our last days in
Mindelo washing the boat and buying fresh produce. Pierrick and I brought
half a branch of bananas back with us from our trip to Santo Antoa – which
is illegal and liable of a heavy fine but we didn’t know, so sorry! – but
we needed more to feed our crew, especially the boys (who are actually
young men, but still) who each eat about 3 times the amount Pierrick does.
Now, Pierrick and I had noticed that the cleaning ability of our boys was
not exactly up to our standards, so we decided that Pauline and I would
wash the deck while the boys went to the market to buy food. Moreover,
Hugo, being thorough as he is, had been to the market the day before and
dealed prices for different produce with the different standholders. While
the boys bought the food and we girls washed the deck, Pierrick went to
the police to indicate our departure. It turns out that sending boys to
the market was not the best idea. They bought only the items that were on
the list without doublechecking what was needed, like more onions. Onions
are important. They also bought an insane amount of some vegetables, like
green peppers and tomatoes. We now must figure out what dishes we can make
with huge amounts of green pepper before they go bad. Meanwhile, they
bought practically no fruit. Before arriving on the boat, Clément had this
strange fixation with being able to eat a clementine a day in order to
have his daily amount of Vitamine C, and yet they came back from the
market with only 10 clementines – far from enough to feed 5 over 2 weeks!
Maybe he thought he’d be the only one eating them? I didn’t ask and it
doesn’t matter. What mattered was buying more fruit. Thursday morning
Pauline made 2 trips to the market. First to buy papaya, onions and
garlic, then to buy more apples. Still, our quantities are limited. While
watching Clément eat an apple then a clementine yesterday for breakfast, I
made a quick mental calculation of the pieces eaten in a day and what we
seem to have on the boat and figured that we’d need to ration the fruits.
And I was right. Later, I counted 75 pieces of fruit (clementines,
oranges, apples, pears and passion fruits). Divided by 5 people makes 15.
Our trip should take 15 days minimum, which means we each are allowed 1
piece of fruit a day, plus the bananas (that Pierrick doesn’t eat) and the
Fruit is the second food we’ve rationed. We combed the town to find plain
unsweetened yogurt, but it would appear that the boats that left in the
week before of us took all the stock. We did find some fresh yogurt that
expires on 10 January. Pauline, Hugo and I, the yogurt-loving crew
members, are allowed to 4 yogurts each, to be eaten by that date. We found
some big pots that we’ll be using to make tzatziki and papaya mouse.
And so finally at noon on 5 January, after last minute trips to the market
and a visit to the gas station, we left Mindelo using both motors. First
we sailed southwards towards the lower islands of Cabo Verde and now we
are headed South-West. We are following this route to remain in the strong
north-eastern winds corridor, which shouldn’t be more than 15 – 20 knots.
Indeed, the forecast for our trip has us travel with weak winds. Tonight
they are meant to weaken to the point that we’ll need to travel by motor
for a few hours. Oh, and starboard motor, which rode us out of Mindelo,
has decided to stop working again. This is annoying not only because we
are bound to 1 motor but because starboard motor is the one that heats the
water. In other words, cold showers.
In addition to all this, here are a few highlights from the trip so far:
– Our toilets are fixed! And yes, toilets definitely belong at the top of
our highlights list. Both were filling up because the boat is so heavy and
the exit spout is below the water line. Pierrick ordered special pipes
that have a small hole on top to let in air. The idea is that the pressure
from this air pushes the spout water back down, hence the bowls don’t fill
up. He ordered them express and had them delivered to his daughter
Camille’s place in Paris, who then brought them to Clément at the airport.
Hugo installed them and they work like a charm! He also fixed the problem
we had with the electronic starboard toilet, which means I now send silent
gratitude blessings his way several times a day!
– Pauline got seasick the first day, poor thing. She slept through the
first night, so of the jeuntzes only Hugo and Clément did shifts. She is
now in fine form.
– The roping that fastens the lazy bag came undone on one side. Pierrick
was able to repair it by taping a flat key to our rode and insert the end
of a rope through the small pulley that is almost 2 meters above the mast.
– Starboard motor no longer ignites. I know I’ve already discussed this
but I find it significant so I’ve given it its own bullet point.
– Yesterday we opened the valve to use the sea water faucet, which we
pump up with a foot pedal, and happily proceeded to wash the dishes with
salt water. Luckily, I seem to have a 6th sense for floating. A little
after lunch while foraging under the sink I felt that the floor was damp.
I took everything out from under the sink and tasted the lake of water. It
was salty. I tried the pump and indeed it was leaking. I cleaned out the
liter of water that had accumulated at the bottom of the cabinet. Hugo
later dismantled the pump to try to fix it. Working with his head in a
confined space made him a little seasick, but that passed quickly.
– Doing burpees on a moving boat is not fun. Meanwhile, the boys have
started taking advantage of my free weights. I’m happy about this because
it means the extra weight I brought on board at Mindelo to do my circuit
training is being put to good use, hence was a good idea, hence Pierrick
can’t possibly ask me to get ride of them… right?
– We have not yet fished anything. The three dead mini flying fish that
found their drive grave on our trampoline last night do not count.
– Only sighting so far has been a fishing boat. Where are the dolphins?
Where are the whales?
– We have been eating very healthily and plentily. Courgettes & white
bean gratin. Papaya mouse. Ratatouille and rice. Vegetable salad with goat
cheese. Grilled chicken. Grilled green peppers. Homemade tzatziki and
– Pierrick made a “galette des rois” yesterday. He made the crust himself
and it was delicious! Today I will make a banana bread with the ripest
from the branch.