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While I am on watch Jeannie sleeps in the 'coffin'.

Mendelo's Municipal Market

San Anto's mountains challenged our sea legs.

Sleepy Mendelo wakes up for Carnival.

February 4, 2013

At sea, 17°32 N 24°23 W

Only 52 miles to go to Cape Verde on what has been an easy down wind sail. The hard part was getting ready.

After a fall and Christmas in Chicago and a three day museum cram course in Madrid, we arrived back in Puerto Calero, Lanzarote in the northern Canary Islands on January 19th, knowing that a solid week of projects lay ahead of us. The list included the usual checking out of the engine and rigging; servicing the batteries; cleaning the radio antenna contacts; mailing old charts home to make room for the new; examining all safety gear; packing the ditch bag; rigging lifelines; cleaning off sensors; and provisioning for twice the time we expect to be at sea.

Then there are the ‘other’ items : rebuilding a bilge pump; patching the dinghy; waterproofing the bimini; and transferring navigation programs to the new Windows 7 computer-which turned out to be the most time consuming.

There was also the challenge with officialdom, this time in the form of holding our satellite phone card hostage. The shipper had sent it to the wrong US address so it missed our departure and was sent on to us by FedEx. Madrid customs demanded tax and processing charges. My argument that it was of no value, it simply activates the phone, and that it was already mine. Customs countered with a blunt choice- pay €50 or they would sent it back. I capitulated.

Our week dragged into ten days and finally, after renting a car to check out with the police at the commercial port, we got away in the late afternoon on the 29th to motor into a light wind for twelve miles and drop the anchor off Isla de Lobos for the night. The winds swung around overnight and the next morning they were all from behind us. We set the head sails on poles and put the cover on the mainsail. Since then the winds have been north east pushing us to the south west and Cape Verde, sailing the whole way. Here we are five days later and no sail changes; it should always be like this.

We are on our four hour shifts that start with me going into the ‘coffin’, our sea berth, at 20:00 to 24:00 when a groggy Jeannie wakes me to take my place so I can struggle to stay awake for four hours. And so we change at 4:00, and 8:00 and finish when Jeannie gets up at noon for lunch of a sandwich or yogurt and fruit swapping updates on what happened during our watches which on this trip, and all good trips, means discussing our books, mine Cornelius Vanderbilt and Jeannie’s a tiger in a life boat-bad image for a sailing trip- and a detective in Tudor times.>

February 11, 2013

Mindelo, San Vicente Cape Verde Islands 16°53’N 24°59’W

Cape Verde is a land of contrasts. The barren brown rock mountains that rose from the sea six days ago seemed devoid of plants and people. We dropped the anchor among rusted freighters in this port and sank into our bunk for a welcome uninterrupted sleep. We left Onora for two days of hiking on the neighboring island of San Antao, where we found lush green valleys with souring walls and terraced gardens that challenged our sea legs and boggled our minds, feeling we had just stepped out of Africa and into Bali.

The sleepy dusty Mindelo that we returned to was now pounding drums and shrieking whistles-the carnival rhythms were drawing people into pulsating parades. Our plan to leave for a quiet anchorage on a nearby deserted island was dashed when the Port Police told us it was forbidden and so we remained for me to successfully tear apart and clean the heat exchanger on my nemesis, the Wispergen generator, during the day and venture out to witness the spectacle at night.

It is now Monday the 11th. We have good winds and will depart for a hundred and twenty mile overnight trip to Brava, the island closest to Brazil, our next planned landfall. The most remote of the islands, it is the least visited and reported to be the most peaceful. We will rest up for two days and then head south east for the next experience.




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