<18th January – 2nd February
We waited 2 weeks in Mindelo on Sao Vincente, to get the autopilot and navigation equipment working correctly. The lack of materials prevented repair work to the davits, consequently we have hauled the dinghy onboard and lashed it down behind the cockpit.
The marina in Mindelo has massive surge, combined with Med moorings and floating pontoons which won us a broken mooring cleat, I was eager to get underway.
Our Spanish crew member ran out of time with the delays in getting the repairs finished and flew back to Spain. Down to two crew we set out for the Canary Islands.
The satellite connection allows only limited weather downloads which are reliable for 1 to 2 days, unfortunately for us the program we used does not supply severe weather warning information and will definately have to be changed.
3 Days into the trip we found out the hard way and ran into conditions that all but made our previous encounter en-route to Praia seem like a good day for a picnic.
With winds of up to 55 knots and swells of 4-5 meters aggravated by ever changing currents, the following 9 days were a very unnerving and trying time, for both crew and boat.
The incessant plowing into and off the back of swells caused a badly joined connection in the freshwater system to come undone and sent 250 liters of water into the port hull in the middle of the night (another lesson learnt - pumps off when not in use!). Waking up to shin deep water in your cabin doesn’t do much for your bedside manner.
We either had to slow the vessel down to a painful pace to minimize the stresses on the hulls and rigging or turn around and head for Brazil or back to Cape Verde neither of which much appealed to me at the time.
We eventually had a break in the wind direction on day 12 and were able to change course from north – north west, to a more easterly direction and the Canary Islands, though we were required to run the leeward engine most of the way to keep our approach more or less on track. The sea did calm down some in the last couple of days but remained uncomfortable and unpredictable with the added benefit of rain storms.
We rounded the first westward island in the chain 2 days later just as the starboard engine failed, luckily this was due only to a blockage in the diesel lines and we were able to clear it in a couple of hours and continue.
Our old friend the autopilot had yet another surprise in store for us a short while later, while the electronics held up, we had a mechanical failure, the key tethering the shaft and gear came out. We were required to lie A-hull and undertake repairs, again we were lucky and were able to find the lost key, pull the motor and restore it to a functional condition.
The nav system was kind enough to only pack-up again 30 miles from our destination in Lanzarote, by which time we were insight of the island and could navigate by sight. We arrived at the marina at 23:00 and treated ourselves to a good couple of stiff drinks at the bar, and a night on the town afterwards for good measure.
The marina is excellently protected, well run, and has every convenience you could want and then some. Playa Blanca, the closest town is fully geared for the European tourist market, and although it is currently low season, the nightlife scene doesn’t seem to have noticed.
With the last crew member safely on his way home, repairs and alterations are underway, allowing time for some diving, and touristin. This is an ideal place to wait out the European winter and in the process learn some Spanish. Once the critical repairs are completed, the other islands in the chain will make good cruising grounds until spring.
After the worst of the weather.
Red sky at at night = sailor's delight
Red sky at dawn = Sailors take warn
Home sweet home
New back yard