> A hot mid Atlantic day. Air temp is 32*C, Sea temp is 28*C. Wind has dropped below 10kts as forecasted, and we are trying to use the last of the wind before it drops off compleatly. Our days run is now only 125nm from midday to midday. >
> Going further south does not avoid the light winds, so our course is now west towards the Caribbean. We may stop in Barbados for a few days and wait until the wind picks up again. This shortens our crossing by 100nm. >
> Time for some fishing!
> Yesterday afternoon we were experiencing squalls bringing rain and variable wind. The wind changed in direction 90* and strength from 0 – 30kts depending our location in relation to the squall. Squalls differed in their intensity, however most sucked the wind away whenever they were in the vicinity. We approached the evening with caution putting a reef into the mainsail and having all sails ready to furl away quickly if required. The conditions are very common closer to the conditions of the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) or doldrums. >
> Our speed dropped below three knots and it was hard to maintain course and our battery voltage was low so we started the engine and motored into the early evening, stopping the engine when the wind returned. >
> Our watches were busy changing sail configurations and settings from poled out, to a close reach as required. Sailing the boat and trimming Peter the Aeries to ensure we were going the right direction took constant attention. >
> The squalls and variable wind remained until 0400 this morning when the squalls finally disappeared opening the sky up to a beautiful clear night with shining stars and constant wind. I trimmed the sails for a broad reach, with wind from a true wind angle (TWA) of 120* and our course of 245*T then fell asleep exhausted in the cockpit at 0530 towards the end of my watch waking up with a start (not realising id fallen asleep) with the dawn light at 0645. Emilie and the kids were still resting below and Peter was keeping SI on course. >
> Our course of 245* will hopefully take us south of the worst of the low pressure trough, allowing us to sail more and use the motor less. If our weather routing is correct we will only need to motor for two days for the remaining 900nm (7- 8 days to Bequae). We have 70% or 350L of Diesel remaining, this gives us 750nm of motoring left, or 7 days of slow motoring (4.5kts) left if required. >
> The increased intensity of watches means less time for Emilie and I to relax and sleep. In addition to our six hour on six hour off watches we must keep the kids safe and entertained, cook, clean, school, navigate, check weather, maintain the boat and fix any odd items that come up through the day. At the most we will get 5 hours sleep in a row if not disturbed by the children or a sail change. On average we both get about 7 hours of broken sleep per day. It is quite exhausting on the mind and body and Emilie and I work hard at noticing simptoms of tiredness in the other and encourage each other to sleep. It is tempting some times to do extra hours in a watch to let the other sleep, however, from experiance this develops a dangerouse pattern where watches get out of sync, and hence our sleep patterns get out of sync, so we are strict to maintain our watch times, and concentrate on letting our partner sleep when they are off watch. >
> This morning the sun is out, drying this mornings washing hanging in the rigging, and topping up our batteries. Water maker is on to make the most of the solar, I see Albacore Tuna jumping next to the boat chasing flying fish. During the kids “recess” the fishing rod comes out. The kids have selected a rather large blue squid lure for the day. Too big for Albacore tuna, and hopefully a perfect size for Mahi. >
> The wind swung towards the east over the course of the morning and we poled out the Genoa. We enjoyed a lunch of prawns, couscous and falafal in the cockpit.. >
> Check out our position at http://cms.winlink.org:444/maps/positionreports.aspx?callsign=vk7hew >
> Sunday Island is experiencing squally conditions today. Wind ranging from 10kts from 090 to 30 kts from 180. The holiday is over and now we need to work a bit to make the most out of the wind we have. >
> We have been talking about how much Sunday Island needs a wash down after the dust that settled everywhere in Cp Verde, and now we have torrents of fresh water flushing the boat from top to bottom with every squall. >
> Our Freezer has been getting increasingly warmer, and today I found the compressor had stopped working when the batteries dropped below 12.4V. I discovered a voltage drop of 0.5V between the batteries and the switchboard so I disconnected the compressor from the switchboard and re wired the compressor directly to the batteries. Now everything seems to be working well and the freezer is coming back down in temperature. . I have checked all the connections at the battery and switchboard and everything looks ok, I can find no stray currents, so I will need to conduct an investigation in Bequae of the wiring will need to to find out why there was such a big voltage drop between the batteries and the switchboard. >
> Its the 1st of December today so the kids had a day off school and started their advent calendars and made a few decorations for the boat. We also baked ginger bread men and assorted other shapes. >
> Everything on deck is saturated wet, and down below is dry as a bone but steamy in the 31*C heat. I took the opportunity while I was re wiring the freezer to lift the floor boards and I was happy to find bilges all dry. >
> Peter the Aires wind vane is handling the squalls well, even when the apparent wind comes to 90 degrees at 26kts, but there is a lot more action on deck increasing the work load of Emilie and I. I’m sure we are going to be working for our supper for the next few days. Lucky Peter does not require any food or rest. >
> Half way to Bequae!
> Today we reach the half way point in distance between Mindelo and Bequae. We have had a good run over the past week, making 1100nm in seven days, averaging 160nm per day at 6.5kts >
> A few stats for our voyage so far:
> Distance sailed: 1098nm
> Distance motored: 2nm
> Sail changes; 1
> Gybes: 6
> Tacks: 0
> Max wind: 28kts
> Min wind: 8kts (in lee of Cp Verde)
> Max temp: 29*
> Min temp: 25*
> Yachts seen: 3
> Fishing boats seen: 6
> Aeroplanes seen: 10
> Diesel Consumed (battery charging): 42L
> Bags of rubbish: 1 (still not full)
> Looking at the stats we are surprised how little plastic we have consumed on our voyage. Most of our stores were bought in bulk and transferred into smaller reusable Tupperware containers or jars as required. All fruit and veg was purchased from the market without plastic wrapping. Food waste has been tossed into the ocean for fish to eat. Cans unfortunately must remain onboard as many have a plastic lining on the inside (of course!!!) taking up much of the waste. Jars are re used. Bread, muffins and treats etc has been baked. We have not been buying. >
> It would have been nice to not use as much diesel on the voyage, however our solar is not working as well as we hoped. We have managed to bring our engine running for battery charging down to two hours per day by reducing the freezer temperature to -10* instead of -18*. This is a trial and we will need to check the temperature of the food in a few days to ensure the temperature is consistent to the bottom of the freezer. >
> Kids have been busy being kids. Making cubby houses and playing games around the boat. It is fantastic to see how well their imagination works even in the middle of the ocean where some kids would suggest there is nothing left to do. Leggo gets a lot of use too, and some days we find a small village in every part of the boat. Thankfully not much Lego ends up on the floor so our feet are still in tact! We never hear the kids say “I’m bored” as there is always something to do. >
> With the wind and forecasted wind becoming lighter, this morning we changed our headsail from the Yankee to the 110% Genoa. We have started to see a long swell from the NNE identifying a distant low pressure system, but this will be too far away to give us any strong wind. Last night we saw a few squalls pass by us indicating a change in the conditions from what we have been experiencing over the past week. >
> We see a lot of light brown weed running in line with the wind and current. The weed gets caught around the Aires wind vane occasionally and needs to be pulled off with the new gaff. We wonder where the weed comes from, perhaps it is plucked from the bottom by a giant squid or some bottom dwelling fish as its too fresh to have drifted all the way from land. I will research this when we next have Internet and would be interested if anybody has an answer (if so please email Lyn with answer so she can forward it on email@example.com) >
> The weather for the second half of our voyage shows light winds for the final 700nm due to a low pressure trough passing between us and the Caribbean. At first we thought we could sail south of the trough, but over the past few days the forecast trough has been getting bigger. So we will most likely complete the voyage under motor. We can only receive GRIB’s for 7 days through our system, so there is a slim chance the weather forecast will improve with time. On a positive note, we motor at 5kts which is perfect for fishing so we hope to arrive in the Caribbean with a freezer full of Mahi and Tuna. >
> Check out our position at http://cms.winlink.org:444/maps/positionreports.aspx?callsign=vk7hew >
> A good days run of 166nm. We have gybed to the WSW to try to skirt around the low pressure trough that is forecasted to form closer to the Caribbean. Wind is forecasted to increase today to over 20kts so we may expect gusts up to 28kts this evening. >
> No boats seen at all since the fishing boats we saw the night before last. And no fish or dolphins either. >
> Last night I was sitting in the cockpit when a wave traveling at a different angle to the others, or perhaps a big sleeping marine animal hit us on our quarter. Sunday island jolted sideways. It was quite an impact and left me wondering what it could have been. >
> Every day we plot our positoin on a large North Atlantic planning chart on the forward bulkhead. Every day we can see we are getting closer to our destinatinon and soon we will be half way. >
> We are now operating our radio through the Caribbean network 8P6BWS in the Caribbean on 18096.6khz with a good signal coming through in the afternoons. >
> Another good days run of 170nm from Mindelo to Bequae with fantastic sailing conditions. To top off a great days sailing, we enjoyed a beautiful meal of Mahi Mahi for dinner last night. Everybody’s favourite meal! >
> I finally managed a decent link with the HAM radio station EA8URF in the Canaries. The HAM operator Roque had the courtesy to email me and tell me that my signal was coming through well to his station, however he could detect we were not receiving well. I sent Roque EA8URF an email thanking him for his services to the HAM network. >
> Yachts are not designed around a radio station, and the SSB radio was only fitted in Palma, so there is a lot of RF interference with the radio due to Sunday Island being an aluminium yacht and the close proximity of the switchboard to the radio. With fridges, freezers, autopilot etc all running and Solar power topping up the batteries this creates a lot of RF interference that prevents the received radio frequencies from getting back to the radio. To continue using SSB over future years efficiently the wiring of the boat will need to be adressed to rectify the problem. Installing a SSB on an aluminium yacht is more technical than on a wooden or GRP yacht, so to have signal 2000nm from the nearest station is a blessing in itself. >
> The wind has shown a familiar pattern. In the afternoon the wind begins to swing to the north, so we take the pole down and set Sunday Island on a broard reach with a True Wind Angle of 140 degrees. In the late afternoon the wind swings back to the ENE so we pole out the Yankee again. In the early evening the wind begins to increase about 23kts, so I place a reef in the mainsail before getting my head down and Emilie taking the watch. At midnight I take the watch and the wind is normally around 21kts, before easing in the early morning before sunrise and I take out the reef. And so the process repeats itself day after day. >
> Forecasted winds at 50*W become fickle above 14*N due to some interferance with the low pressure above it disturbing the pattern from the North Atlantic High and resultant trade winds. We have altered our course further south to avoid the light winds, so our course is 260*T instead of the rhumbline to Bequae of 268*T. This new course should have us skim the edge of the interferance and give us adequate winds to continue sailing to Bequae. The course alteration is a comprimise as we sail at 6-7kts but motor at only 5kts, however the distance traveled to skirt the interferance is greater so we need to find a balance of the two to decide on our best route. Sailing too close to our rhumbline will result in us motoring for two days, but sailing too far south will put an extra day of sailing onto our voyage. >
> Overnight we passed three more large fishing vessels not on AIS. Because the fishing vessels are so large they are well lit with lights and show up well on the radar, however their smaller dories and nets do not. I am glad Emilie and I agree to keep watches at night. Some cruisers simply go to bed and poke their head up to look about every couple of hours. Colliding wth one of the big fishing vessels or their numerous long nets could end our voyage, so it is important to keep a good lookout. >
> We are having a fantastic run across the Atlantic from Mindelo to Bequae. We are averaging 7kts, making 160-170nm per day. This morning we shook out the reef, and now we have perfect sailing conditions of 18kts from the ENE with the Yankee poled out. Its tempting to set a spinnaker, however even without more sail we are still crusing at 6-7 kts. >
> Last night we passed a large Atlantic fishing vessel accompanied by a number of smaller vessels. None of the vessels showed up on AIS, hinting there was something fishy going on as they did not want to be spotted! >
> This morning our speed dropped down to 5.5kts, perfect fishing speed, and we landed two of our own fish, a Large Mahi Mahi, from Max’s head to his knees. Then a smaller Mahi Mahi that put up a good fight. A third large Mahi we hooked and got close to the boat before he escaped. Our speed then increased to 7 kts so the rod was put away. Still more than enough fish for dinner and a good portion for the freezer. >
> Radio reception on the SSB has not been good the last few days, we will soon be changing over to the American base stations. Do not be concerned if you do not get a position or blog report for a few days, as we may loose signal. The primary issue is I need to download (via radio) updated propogation schedules for winlink base stations. This s quite a large file (for the radio) and the last few attempts to download have failed. Once I manage to download this we should have a better reception for blogs etc. >
> Sailing well towards Caribbean. Wind is 20kts ENE giving us a true wind angle of 150 degrees. Average speed is 6.5kts through the water, assisted by 0.5kts of current, giving us an average speed over ground of 7kts and a 148nm days run. We download a daily GRIB file and MSL weather fax to keep an eye on the weather. It looks like the north atlantic high is getting pushed around again by the constant lows. Normally the North Atlantic High is settled by this time of year, but the extreme weather in the far north atlantic is altering the usual weather systems. We have adjusted our course to sail south of the rhumb line to avoid the unsettled winds closer to the Caribbean. >
> Business as usual onboard with Emilie keeping the 6-12 watch and Me the 12 – 6 watch. Emilie does school with the kids in the morning and we read and play games for the rest of the day. Today the kids are building a city out of leggo that appears to take up the entire interior of Sunday Island! It keeps them entertained and using their imagination. >
> We have blue tacked the North Atlantic Planning Chart to the forward bulkhead of the saloon. I have plotted our track over the past year on this chart and every day at noon I plot our position with the kids and we discuss the different locations of the chart, latitude, longitude and compass. It is a great geography lesson. >
> Peter the Aeries wind vane is back on the helm. The course is not as precise as using the B&G Auto Pilot but it saves a lot of power. Our solar setup with the Renogy flexible panels is not ideal, and we are only getting 120W out of 3 x 175w panels. I selected the Renogy flexible panels because they had reasonable reviews and great price, but I will not use flexible panels again, the amount of power generated is pathetic compared to fixed glass panels. This and our engine alternator will need to be upgrades in the future if we are to be sustainable, because at the moment we are running the engine for four hours per day to keep the boat charged. The price we pay for creature comforts such as a water maker and freezer! We are always very careful with our power and water usage, and it makes you realise how much power is consumed and wasted in the average house where aircon, heating and lights are left on and a huge two door fridge / freezer and flat screen TV and 10 minute hot showers is the norm! >
> The luminescence and stars last night were amazing. Whilst it was a new moon, there was still ample light on deck from the stars alone! Dolphins swam around the boat last night showing their luminescent trails, and there was a light show around every clump of sea weed. Even the toilet lights up when flushed. Truly spectacular. >
> Sunday Island departed Miindelo at 2pm on the afternoon of the 24th November 2022. We have an excellent forecast for our voyage “across the pond” to the island of Bequae in the Caribbean. >
> Prior to leaving we treated ourselves to lunch at the marina bar, which had Wifi to enable us to send a few last messages, down load a weather grib file and download some new books on our kindles. >
> Once the anchor was up we motored past our Lord Howe Island friends Rex and Louise to drop of our spare copy of “ships captain medical guide” which we somehow found ourselves with two on-board after we had prepared the boat in Palma. We then hoisted the mainsail, unfurled the Yankee and we were on our way. >
> We sailed past Santo Antao Island looking at the steep rocky volcanic shores. It was a pity not to have ventured onto the island however the logistics would have meant leaving the boat for two days in Mindelo which we were not keen to do. >
> After passing Ponta do Pesqueiro Fundo we entered the lee of Santo Antao, and put the engine on. This gave us a good opportunity to super charge the batteries and run the watermaker for a few hours to top up our water supplies. Sunday Island exited the lee of the island at 1900 in the evening, with winds from the NE blowing at 23kts, so we put in a reef and reached our way west. >
> At midnight the wind began to swing to the ENE, and reduced to 18kts so I shook out the reef and poled out the yankee. Overnight we passed one other yacht 2nm to the north of us. The were not on AIS and showed up poorly on radar but were well lit with lights. I wondered if it was the Irish flagged Americans who left the anchorage in Mindelo with quite a fuss a few horus before us. >
> We are now in trade wind sailing mode, with 20kts of wind on our quarter from the ENE, and sailing at 6.5 to 7kts towards our destination. Everybody is enjoying being at sea and very comfortable. The kids have bought out their tony boxes and are presently listening to “Learning French for kids”. >
> It is unlikely that a report on Marine Traffic will show up until we get closer to the Caribbean, but you can check out our position at http://cms.winlink.org:444/maps/positionreports.aspx?callsign=vk7hew >
We arrived in Mindelo Cp Verde on Monday 21st November and spent the first day chilling in the boat and cleaning up.
On Tuesday morning we set off in the Walker bay to clear customs and walk about the town.
Our mobile phones did not receive calls or internet in Mindelo so we went to the marina bar to download weather and emails.
We then went for a walk and explored the local markets. Whilst the Cp Verde islands are money poor, we found the locals to be very friendly and the fresh produce to be excellent.
We were thankful that Mindelo Harbour provides excellent anchor holding as we experienced average winds of 26kts during our stay, with gusts up to 36kts. It was so windy we ended up hanging washing down below to dry.
A tour of the adjacent island Santo Antao was reported to be excellent, but anchorages limited on the island. There is a ferry service to Sanyo Antao and 4WD tours of the island, however we did not want to leave the boat in the anchorage with strong winds and so many other boats moving around the Harbour.
Yesterday I took a walk along the Long Beach to look for a deck cushion that had blown overboard. I was sad not to find the cushion, but even more concerned about the amount of plastic and trash washed up on this island beach in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Fishing is the main occupation in Mindelo and there are many small boats working the Harbour and 20m boats catching tuna further out to sea. It was upsetting to see the size of some of the huge 80+m international fishing boats coming into Harbour to fuel up and offload their massive catch.
At midday today we depart Mindelo to sail over 2000 nm across the Atlantic to Bequia island in the Caribbean. The passage should take between two and three weeks. We have good wind forecasted for the voyage, sailing down wind in 15-20 kts of wind.