Day 1 – Wednesday 9 November
Passage to Cape Verde: Day 1
After 18 months of working towards the Atlantic Ocean crossing, we finished all of the major items on our “to-do” list about 2 hours before the Farewell Party at Marina Mindelo in Cape Verde.
We are not sure if that is just luck or attentive project management, but we are sure that it was the result of many, many hours of diligent and determined efforts by all members of the Siegel family!
Departure day dawned early with frantic internet scans to see who won the US Presidential election. Upon hearing of the results, Dorian asked if we were going to arrive back in Canada “before the wall was finished being built.” We weren’t sure which border he was referring to, but we assured him that everything would be okay.
The last few moments of time onshore were spent at the bakery picking up a few extra loaves of fresh bread (are 10 loaves enough?) and at the marina cafe spending the last bits of our local currency, escudos, while enjoying heaps of their amazing banana and Nutella crepes.
The docks were abuzz with excitement as 33 boats in the Barbados 50 rally were preparing for departure. We said our final goodbyes and gave the many see-you-in-Barbados hugs to friends before jumping on Laridae and slipping the dock lines around 10 am.
Our exit from the harbour was swift as we were able to turn off the engine immediately and enjoy sailing downwind in the São Vicente Canal (the channel between São Vicente and Santo Antão). The channel funnelled the typical 15-20 knot trade winds into a brisk 25-30 knot hoot that allowed us to quickly clear the islands.
Other than the active sail handling exercises, we had a mellow Day 1 as we all attempted to work into our passage routines. The kids took a nap during the day, Angela cooked a delicious vegetable and ginger fried rice, and the evening concluded with a snuggled-up family reading from Harry Potter (book 3).
Fortunately for all, everyone’s sea legs came quickly and we were all feeling well enough to enjoy “Cocktail Hour” (consisting of mocktails!) and a great dinner.
However, there was no way to escape the wind shadow and disruptions that the two large (and tall!) islands have on the steady trade winds. After blasting out of the São Vicente Canal with NE winds, we were met with calm winds and very confused seas. A short while later, we picked up about 15 knots of winds from the north for about 30 minutes, then the winds went calm again before picking up from the south at 15 knots. This lasted, again, for about 30 minutes before another period of calm and then another wind shift to NE winds, and then SE, and then NE again! We did a lot of gybes during this period.
Eventually, about 60 miles away from the island (3 diameters for the physical oceanographers), the NE trade winds finally kicked in with a steady 20 knots. At dawn on Day 2, we set the downwind sails (genoa poled out to windward, staysail poled out to leeward) and started the downwind run to Barbados.
The total straight-line distance from Mindelo to Barbados is 2020 miles. This is a strategic departure location because it means that, just a few hours after departure, we were able to celebrate the important milestone of “only 1999 miles left!” The 24-hour total run was 130 miles.
The morning after the rally’s farewell party, the somewhat seedy skipper and his still faithful crew set off on a 2000nm liver cleansing exercise across the Atlantic. The wind was fairly roaring down the channel as we clocked up 9s and 10s.
Several boats got into difficulties in these few initial miles and we heard that Bill and Jade had to turn back with some rigging issues. They joined a few other boats in Mindelo who had a delayed start waiting for crew and/or parts.
We pressed on past the bottom of San Antão and immediately ran out of wind. On came the motors as we tried to clear the wind shadow that the tall volcanic mountains of San Antão created. It ended up taking 3-4 hours, during which we had a few false starts, at one stage putting up Hotlips, our parasailor only to find the wind dropping and completely changing direction. We had to get it down hurriedly before we took out Oysterbar who were still travelling in the more correct direction of Barbados.
We finally made it out of the wind shadow and got on a nice broad reach of 140 degrees on main and jib doing 6-7knots. We stayed like this all night throwing in the occasional gybe to keep on our course.
We had set our course to a waypoint half way across on the same latitude as Barbados according to Jimmy’s advice. He likes us to get down there half to two thirds of the way across so we can duck down further if any tropical depressions rear their ugly head.
Day 2 – Thursday 10 November
1859NM to go. 144NM closer than yesterday.
Our broad reach was working well as the wind steadily increased towards the magic 20kts
apparent, where we would have to reef. The swell was building past 2m and the sailing was
exhilarating as we often cracked 12kts surfing down the waves.
This made fishing difficult and the one Dorado we hooked jumped off as we were going too fast.
Mid morning, we decided to put in the first reef and try and slow down the boat a bit. The apparent wind built to mid-twenties as we screamed down waves at 12kts sometimes.
By mid-afternoon we put in the second reef as the true wind was topping 30kts and the swell was over 3m with a couple of monsters over 4m thrown in to make it interesting.
That night Phil managed to surf down a set of three monsters and hit 15kts of boat speed. This was not what we signed up for but at least on a cat we were comfortable to the point we were able to BBQ on the back of La Mischief, albeit hanging on with one hand whilst flipping the meat with the other.
Well at least we thought we were comfortable until Phil went into his room and found a flood of salt water coming in. We thought it was the stanchion initially but we evidentially worked out that the seam between the deck and the hulls was leaking. And quite badly.
Maybe it was from the pounding we had at Fogo, although we had three large fenders protecting that part of the boat – who knows. Whatever it was Lagoon will be getting a warranty call. Hulls aren’t supposed to leak.
Luckily we had a plumber on board. We had Sten hanging over the side in a big swell with a tube of sikaflex filling in the holes under the rub rail where the water was coming in. He did a great job keeping most of the water out and the next morning we got a mirror down there and filled in the remaining gaps.
Passage to Cape Verde: Day 2
Our first full day at sea, after reaching the trade winds, was a fierce initiation to a long ocean passage. The trade winds blew briskly from the NE at 25 knots, gusting frequently to 30. The seas were a little confused with 2 m wind-waves from the ENE on top of a 2 m swell from the NNE.
When the wave patterns were separate, the ride was pretty nice. But when they intermingled (which was frequently), we saw nearly 4 m waves that would kick the boat around a bit. Neither the wind, nor the waves, were overpowering for Laridae… it just meant that the crew needed to hold on tightly to get around the boat.
The combination of the wind and waves provided for very good sailing conditions. We were sailing under poled out staysail to leeward and poled out (reefed) genoa to windward. We were typically seeing 8 knots speed over ground, and up to 12.8 knots while surfing the swell.
Sadly, our friends William and Jade on the boat White Ibis suffered some minor gear failures on the first day and decided to turn around to Mindelo to get things repaired before continuing across the Atlantic.
However, we were treated to a special visitor – a White Ibis (or some type of small, white Heron-type-bird) decided to take a rest on the boat. Possibly blown too far downwind from shore, and not able to make headway against the 25 knot headwinds, the bird took several attempts at a landing on Laridae.
After a few near-misses at landing on a perch near the rapidly spinning wind generator (phew, for us and the bird!), the bird found a flat landing pad on one of the solar panels. However, the bird’s feet were not able to get a grip on the smooth, glass surface of the solar panel, so it started a very funny ‘running man’ dance impression while it tried to stay put on the panel despite the rolling motion and the persistent winds.
Eventually, the bird found a calmer refuge downwind of the dodger on the coachroof of the deck. This was a great place for the bird, and a great viewing angle for us!
The kids named the bird Jade after our friend on White Ibis. However, they threatened to change the name to William (also on White Ibis), if the bird started to poop on the deck. The Ibis stayed with us all day and throughout the night.
In a continous attempt to win the ‘Bread War’ (us consuming the 10 loaves before the mould consumed the loaves), we made bread-crust-pizza for lunch. These were a big hit for everyone, and allowed us to bring the count to 2 loaves us, 0 loaves mould.
Read the full post on www.laridae.ca
Day 3 – Friday 11 November
1694NM to go. 165NM closer than yesterday.
Friday saw the swell dropping a little bit but we were still barrelling along at 8kts under 2 reefs. We set about drying out Phil’s room and washing all the salt out of his bedding.
We talked to Stormbreaker on the VHF as they were close by and found out that they had a much worse night than us having gybed twice as a giant wave spun the back of their boat, breaking their gooseneck and two preventers. Ouch. So now they get to sail across the Atlantic without a mainsail, relying instead on their Pacific Booster. Hopefully they will be okay.
We were also a little concerned about Lady Rebel who had broken a traveller and had a rumbling noise coming from their welded in dagger board. It was good to hear later that all was good
Passage to Cape Verde: Day 3
Our third full day at sea began with continued brisk trade winds of 25-30 knots and a slightly more organized sea. The swell was running at times higher than 3 m, and this contributed to continued good surfing conditions.
The kids, unfazed by the powerful wind and waves, invented a new game called “Surf’s Up!”. When they would see a particularly large wave coming from astern, they would yell “Surf’s Up” if they thought that the boat would start surfing at over 11 knots.
The White Ibis that landed on deck yesterday stayed with us throughout the night. We treated it to a breakfast of partially-dried flying fish – fresh off the decks.
We first fed it the very small (10 cm) fish and it immediately gulped it down. We thought that the larger fish (25 cm) might be too big for a one-bite-meal, so we graciously cut it up into little bite-sized portions and tossed it on the deck near the bird.
After about 10 minutes of staring at the fish-bits suspiciously (we suppose the bird doesn’t normally receive such excellent service), it approached cautiously. With GoPro in hand, and the kids focused intently, the bird stretched out its long neck towards the new meal and promptly regurgitated the first fish onto the deck. Now, the deck was covered in fish bits, partially digested fish, and of course, plenty of bird poop from the previous night.
Unimpressed by our culinary skills, the White Ibis took off for its next meal and it has not returned.
As part of our continued physical oceanography projects, we deployed the first of our “messages in the bottle drifters”. Anneka and her friends wrote a series of messages and we put them into a glass wine bottle and tied it to a GPS drifter with Iridium tracking telemetry. At mid-day, in position 15N, 30W, we turned the drifter on and tossed it into the sea.
The position of the messages in the bottle will be reported every hour for the next several years. We look forward to tracking the position of the bottle, and hopefully, one day, receiving a reply from the lucky beachcomber who finds the bottle.
Read the full post on www.laridae.ca
Peu après notre départ jeudi à 13 heures, on a pris une bonne raclée en doublant l’île au NW du Cap Vert, São Antão.
C’était annoncé mais la réalité a dépassé la prévision, et de beaucoup. On a rentré les voiles et on s’est mis à la fuite, à sec de toile, pendant quelques heures. Les vagues étaient impressionnantes. La situation n’était pas dangereuse mais c’était assez spectaculaire.
On navigue maintenant sur une route directe vers la Barbade avec une mer toujours formée mais moins hachée. Ce n’est pas le grand confort, mais c’est très correct.
Des dauphins, très nombreux, nous ont accompagnés pendant un moment. L’un d’eux a fait un saut d’environ trois à quatre mètres de haut ! Je n’avais jamais vu ça.
Day 4 – Saturday 12 November
Had flying fish on board that not even a magnifying glass would help.
Weather more acceptable now.
We are eating homemade still e.g. spag bowl, mince curry and okra etc.
Everyone in good spirits.
We are moving slowly to the Barbados latitude but there is no easterly winds as yet. Still NW.
Saw dolphins yesterday and loads of flying fish.
Regards, Trevor, Margs and Peter
1548NM to go. 146NM closer than yesterday.
Saturday began with the wind and swell dropping off enough to pull the two reefs out and run with a full main until everyone got up and had breakfast, before we put up Hotlips.
You can tell we are not racing as sleep, breakfast and coffee came first. With the parasailor up, the boat sat a lot better and the autopilots workload decreased significantly. What a great sail Hotlips is. We were doing 8-9-10s in 10-15 apparent and loving it. With Hotlips up and flying we went on chaffing patrol and covered up anything that could chaff a line. It did make fishing a bit more difficult at that speed.
Luckily we managed to snare a small-medium trevally type fish of the genus “got no idea”. Nothing like it seen in Australian waters but it tasted good and we are all still alive after it fed all five of us.
Another day, another boat problem. This time with the Raymarine chart plotters. Suddenly the chart plotter at the helm couldn’t talk to the chart plotter at the nav station. To get around this problem we made both chart plotters their own master. This seemed to work for a while until the Radar got confused and refused to power up. Bummer, the radar is sort of very handy when we have the parasailor up at night and there are squalls about.
Late in the day we passed by Xada and suspect we might not see another B50 boat on AIS for quite a while. Its a big ocean out here.
Besides the radar problem, the night sail was quite magical. We left the parasailor up under the moon light and cruised along at 6s and 7s. The radar made a couple of brief appearances but generally it was in the naughty corner.
Day 5 – Sunday 13 November
We are presently 16 deg 21N 30 deg 39W with a BTW 268 deg. @ 6knots. The winds & sea’s have eased, we currently have 16-19 knots that is flickering between 60 and 115 deg.
We are in VHF contact with Tourterelle. We have settled into the groove and our highlight thus far is landing a good sized tuna. Lunch was sushimi and tuna steaks with ratatouille.
Got better winds and are now hoping for this favourable current!
The highlight since the last mail was seeing birds taking flying fish in the waves…great. Only 2 flying fish on board today.
The twin headsails are doing well. We are intending to get on the Barbados latitude in due course.
Food is good having been made before we left. Salt water showers ok.
1384NM to go. 164NM closer than yesterday.
The wind continued to drop out and we were doing 6s and 7s in 6-10kts of apparent.
We were passing our days reading, fixing things and organising the boat. Sten’s cooking prowess was on display making all sorts of culinary creations. Dee spent the day going through all the various manuals filing them away in order.
We looked forward to downloading the boat positions to see where everyone was. We also downloaded weather a couple of times a day and the forecasts are starting to look good – touch wood.