To the Cape Verde Islands

In the morning we walked with Max to the bus station and watched him start the journey back to “real life” as a ski instructor. Now, once again, there are just the two of us and our Artemis. One last trip to the marina office and then we left the pontoon and set off from one group of islands heading for another far to the south.

The wind was behind us and, once we left the island’s wind shadow, we were sailing happily downwind with the genoa pulling us along. As the sun set and the full moon rose we left the lights of Tenerife behind us and sailed off in to the Atlantic. As always on the first night out, we slept fitfully, not yet in to the watch system. No Max meant less sleep but we managed.

By the second day we were far from land and surrounded by nothing but waves and sky. The wind turned against us so we set the main sail and genoa for the port tack and left them there for three days. As the wind increased or decreased, we were reefing or rolling the genoa as needed but we never stopped. It was during these three days that we received a coating of sahara sand.

On the fifth night the wind dropped to zero and we were left bobbing under a full moon. It was six hours before we felt a breath of wind so we packed the sails away and went to sleep – alone, 400 kilometers from the nearest land.

On Christmas Eve the wind returned and blew until ten at night. We baked bread and added cheese, onions and bacon to the dough. The evening meal was delicious and warm out of the oven. This time the wind was gone for ten hours so once again it was a good night for sleeping and a bad night for progress.

On Christmas Day we finally had the chance to try our new Parasailor. While the sail converted the light wind to lots of miles, we cleaned all the ropes of their sand. Afterwards we rewarded ourselves with a homemade pizza with everything on top.

Boxing Day and the next day we once again had the trade winds behind us and the genoa pulling us south. On the second night we met the second ship of the trip and checked on the radio that he had seen us. “Yes. Got you on radar and see your lights.” We watched as a huge oil tanker ghosted past us.

Finally, after eight days, we saw the islands ahead of us through the clouds. You know they will be there but it is still nice when they are where they should be.

It was past midnight by the time we arrived off Mindelo harbour. We had sailed all the way but now stowed the sails and started the motor so that the autopilot could take over while we took the anchor out of a locker and fixed it back on its chain. Then we motored very very slowly in to the harbour. The pilot book warned of wrecks and abandoned, unlit hulks so Heidi was on the bow with a torch as we crawled in to the bay. In seven meters of water we dropped the anchor and, at two o’clock, fell in to bed.

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