There is a very wide area of low pressure with light winds, often from the south quarter, in the patch of ocean northwest of the Cape Verdes where most of the Atlantic Odyssey fleet find themselves. The yachts are mostly heading south towards the latitude of the Cape Verdes to pick up stronger northeasterly winds.
Day 1 – Saturday 19 November
Almost missed the start line
The official rules stated we needed to leave our marina berth at 10:15, So of course we left at 10:45. Too busy giving and receiving knuffles (hugs to those who don’t speak Dutch). Leaving Santa Cruz we had fog horns blasting us out and friends from Bright Eyes waving from the dock.
In the excitement of leaving in the company of 30 other boats we almost missed the start line, only just sneaking past the officials boat for close up photo opportunities.
Giving that our departure date was fixed months ago we had lovely weather for the first 24 hours. Just enough wind from the right direction has sent us towards our initial goal of 200-300 miles NW of Cape Verdes. Mia stubbed her toe and wants to stop for medical evacuation.
Dinner was Mexican themed, thanks to having avocados which needed to be used and the night watches were pleasant and uneventful. Jon and Mia feel completely rested, which has never happened on a passage before, thanks to our excellent crew.
Quote from Teo, while sitting on the foredeck relaxing in the sun with Tina “This is life, isn’t it.”
140 miles down, 2450 to go.
Comfortable sail today … very enjoyable. Used all sail options today
to familiarise crew. Quietly goosewinging as we enter the evening.
Day 2 – Sunday 20 November
Light winds, heavy fish
We don’t have lots of extra space on board so we have to make the most of what we have. We spent some time sorting out solutions for storing things that were lying around and noticed the fridge needed attention because it was defrosting itself. Ideally it should have been done before we filled it up with provisions but the to do list was long and it didn’t make the cut.
Water is another important issue for this passage and Jon put together a water budget so we are sure we have enough to make it to Barbados. Kevin is offering up his shampoo water allowance and the girls are eager to trade. Plus, We are making attempts to wash dishes in salt water.
On the whiteboard is a schedule for who is on watch when, who is charge of lunch and dinner and who is Mum for the day (the one who cleans, makes sure people pick up after each other and reminds everyone to drink water).
Kevin is making progress learning to use the sextant to figure our location (Jon teases him that we have GPS), so far it has mostly been settings, but he has promised to teach us how to use it. However first on the teaching list, is chess, but only if Mia can locate the missing pieces that ended up in the clear IKEA bag of LEGO…
It was a quiet morning and Tina made banana bread, yum the boat smelled amazing! And not only was the coffee made but also porridge with pumpkin seeds and goji berries!
Kevin and Jon pulled in a giant tuna, we think it was a “Skipjack Tuna”. There was a lot of action for a while and in the end, we have eight one-inch tuna steaks for dinner and that is after our sushi for lunch.
Read more on www.sailingitchyfoot.com
Day 3 – Monday 21 November
Thought we’d give you a bit of an update on our progress.
All is well onboard. Up until yesterday we had been sailing from the start and
headed more westerly than originally planned so that we could sail, albeit slowly, with the cruising chute up.
Eventually though we had to give up as the winds virtually died. So on went the engine, the course was set for the 20/30 position and we have been motor-sailing with low revs ever since.
Progress is relatively slow – we’re currently making around 4kts – a) to conserve fuel, b) in kindness to our ears and c) it’s much less stressful, it’s enjoyable even.
Ian has run the 15.00 utc SSB net with few takers. On Saturday we heard from Bonaire and Sta Vast, and yesterday it was just us and Bonaire. We have though spoken with Jojo and Zoe via the VHF. It’s a shame but maybe and hopefully as time goes on more people may be interested in chatting to each other on the SSB as it can be such an enjoyable part of any ocean crossing. We will just keep trying.
It’s really overcast all around us right now. We thought we were in for some rain. We still might be but have had nothing yet.
The only thing of note happened yesterday. Somehow the continuous line on the cruising chute wedged itself into the tiniest gap at the end of the lower starboard spreaders. Oops! Don’t ask – we have no idea how or why.
Ian thought he may have to go up the mast and reach over to free it but our trusty telescopic boat hook eventually came to the rescue. I was all for taking a photo of Ian balancing said boat hook up to the spreaders in a pretty rolly sea. It was a bit like watching clowns at the circus. If we are ever short of a few Euros or E. Caribbean $, I can always pop a sponge on the end and send him out window cleaning. He wasn’t too keen on the alternative of running away to the circus.
See – Luc’s assurance that everyone can do something has remained in my mind!
I found the whole thing rather amusing. Ian did not!
French toast and yoga
We are finding a good rhythm here aboard a Itchy Foot with mostly 2 hour watches and sharing cooking and cleaning duties. It is amazing and satisfying how the day is consumed with the simple stuff.
Kevin won some serious chef points with Teo as he gobbled up the tuna steak dinner last night and French toast with real maple syrup for lunch today, all without any prompting. Usually meals require some reminders. Tuna salad is on the menu for dinner tonight, that fish was BIG!
We had a bit of a wind lull yesterday and it was a mostly quiet night, too. We have unfortunately lost our buddy boats who motored through the night. The wind picked up at about 5am just after a squall. We scrambled around a bit to put the Bimini up in the dark. Right after that we had a dolphin visit, but we could only hear them as it was a very dark night. In the morning they came back to show off their jumping skills at dawn. It is breathtaking to watch them and it never grows old!
Other daily stuff includes Teo doing a little school and Tina and Mia trying out their yoga on the foredeck. We couldn’t have a better view for it, 360 degree blue sea! No need to visualize the boat or the waves here.
Day 4 – Tuesday 22 November
Next country, please
We did 150 miles and that is our best yet. We got some practice changing the configuration of our sails as the wind kept shifting. We even got the pole on the other side yesterday and this morning we stowed the pole away. We have changed course.
Even though we had three checks before leaving, we think there might be a small crack in one of the spreaders and so our new plan is to stop in the Cape Verde islands to check it out and fix it if necessary.
We will most likely have a long walk and a beer ashore too. We should be there in three days, and then we can add a new country to our lists. The stop will probably cost us two days plus the time we spend there. Since the weather forecasts show very little wind further along, a couple of days pause might be a really good thing!
We will make the most of the stop, so aside from the spreader and potentially the generator (it would be really nice to have that working again!) our list includes having showers, filling water, cleaning the boat and buying a few extra fresh things.
You might notice the water luxuries theme to our wish list. We really should have bought that water maker!
Day 5 – Wednesday 23 November
2100 miles to Barbados!
Since yesterday we have constantly been running at 6+ knots, with peaks of 9. Our slow start is rapidly turning destiny.
Yesterday afternoon we finally got in sight contact with Lucy Alice, the boat of Ian and Glenda, a very nice British couple with whom we familiarized when in Tenerife. Since the start of the rally we made very similar choices in setting our courses, so we have been able to talk to each other on VHF at least a couple of times a day. Seeing Lucy Alice from a distance was a true emotion after days of open landscape.
Soon after we had to agree with a fisherman boat on our reciprocal courses as our routes were quickly leading to collision. It is actually always a pleasure to talk to working boats as they are extremely understanding of our limitations under sails, and willing to adjust their course to help us out.
During the night we made two important new encounters:
1. a thundersquall (that we were supposed to experience much later) that was announced by a sudden raise of wind speed,
and 2. Her Majesty the “true” Atlantic ocean wave. Actually, we recognized her only this morning with the light of the sunrise; there were no doubts; she is exactly as described by friends, books and movies.
Yesterday we also caught our first “Dorado”, a wonderful golden greenish fish. We are looking for recommendations on how to cook it!
We are sad to report that we have changed course towards Cape Verde
This night we discovered a minor water leak in our rudder bearing.
Things are under control but we want this repaired before we continue
Gorm den Gamle has decided to follow us to Mindelo.
We will get back to you on our safe arrival in Mindelo.
We have completely lost our autopilot yesterday evening and since then
all attempts to repair it have failed. We have therefore decided to go
to the Mindelo Marina on Sao Vincente. We will report back once we have
arrived in the Mindelo Marina.
All well on JoJo. Crew well fed and watching Black Adder episodes as I
write. 2 fish yesterday. lunch … dinner … breakfast and lunch again
Good sail yesterday PM, overnight and today. Kite up in daylight hours …
at lunch time today top speed 11.7knts … 30 kts true wind… dropped
kite at that point and
broad reaching with 2/3 main and 1/2 genoa ave 6/7/8… very
comfortable.Top speed 10.5.
1989 Autohelm 4000 (Nicknamed “Barry”) winning best crewman award!
No major incidents to date … touch wood
Ripped Spinnaker Day 1 – repaired and better than ever
Main Furler rope attachment on boom – popped rivets … jury rigged …
job for Barbados
Port bow chair lifted by spinnaker brace … removed chair (where will I
sit to have my morning coffee!!!) . re-fit in Barbados.
Noon Position 23.45.94 N 24.15.81 W.
Current bearing 248 but wind turning to east gradually ..
Engine hrs 61.
Gorm den Gamle
We are on our way to Cap Verde to support Freja, who discovered a
waterleak from their rudderpost.
We, of course do not know how long time we have to stay in Mindelo but
our intentions are to stay with Freja until they are ready to continue.
We clocked another 150 nautical miles and that is the good news! The bad news is that we were sailing a lot closer to the wind and we got thrown around quite a lot. This disturbs sleep, costs everyone energy and gives lots of bruises. The best place to be is bed and there have been lots more naps. The weather in general was grey which included wet spells, so the calmer seas and sunshine this morning are much appreciated.
Night watches are extra dark with the moon and stars behind cloud cover. But we are seeing our first ARC boats on the plotter and that perks up the interest. Tina had a dream with beautiful blue water, sunny conditions and dolphins, we decided it’s a premonition, so we’re looking forward to that.
Day 6 – Thursday 24 November
Another 140 nautical miles clocked and we are happy with the sailing, the wind is better than expected and the sea has calmed down. We can eat meals without holding on to everything on the table… ahhhh it’s the little things! The sun was lovely in the afternoon and everyone was smiling. We are trying to ration electricity so the sunshine was very welcome to the solar panels.
We contacted a fishing boat that came into view (the first one we have seen since we lost sight of our friends) and he was doing circles around us, but he told us “I see you. Everything fine. Have a nice voyage. Ciao” Teo heard it and said “what a strange fellow”.
The night watches were fine, even if we had some squalls with rain, there was also quite a lot of time to see the stars! And this morning we had banana pancakes thanks to Tina, yum yum! Everyone was hungry for lunch, too, because Jon baked bread for us – this boat smells FABULOUS. Thanks to Julia for the tips of measuring the ingredients into bags so you can just add the water and oil.
Tina and Mia did some strength exercises on the aft deck, working on those Barbados bods. This should become a daily routine. The balance exercises of yoga are extra challenging!
Read more on www.sailingitchyfoot.com
Day 7 – Friday 25 November
The sunshine faded, the wind died and we are motoring to Cape Verde. It is sticky and feels like it was trying to rain. We are missing the sailing, but happy the sea is relatively flat.
It’s been a quiet afternoon with some naps, some reading and some boat jobs. We finished reading the Little Prince and Jon started in on recaulking the decks. Teo did another good school session, I think it helps that he know the other kids, like Simon and Elisa on Sta Vast are doing some school, too. Slowly we are trying to get him to remember his Norwegian, too. Today his prize was a little Police vehicle he assembled himself from Stewart and Anne. These things are magic, we haven’t heard one “are we nearly there yet” yet.
More tuna steaks for dinner with incredible mash potatoes so Teo gobbled them up -you guessed it, Kevin did the cooking! It was wonderful! The night watches were uneventful, especially since we were motoring the whole way. We had pretty much constant drizzle the whole way and we turned on radar to check for squalls.
We spent the morning making a courtesy flag for Cape Verde. We arrived safely.
Day 8 – Saturday 26 November
We have now safely arrived in Mindelo together with Gorm den Gamle.
Last night we motored south. Since the late morning we were able to sail
on a reach with 6 knots of wind that would become even 16 when we were
getting the squalls (that rather than avoiding we were going after! 🙂
) we made some little progress toward SSW. Now we are trying to spend
the night on a NNE, blowing at 6 knots, still heading south. Just to