Canary islands to Cape Verde crossing

Day 1 – December 4, 2020

We left our anchorage outside Puerto de Mogan after we’ve eaten breakfast to start our Canary islands to Cape Verde crossing. It was sunny and calm so the first day we went by engine most of the way.

After we had lunch, a pasta dish we had prepared before our departure, we took a swim from the boat. Pretty nervous to take a swim when the depth is more than 3000 metres, never know what creatures that lure beneath you…

canary island cape verde crossing
Taking a swim at 3000 meter deep water

After the swim we heard our fishing reel spin; we had caught a fish! We hauled it in and saw that it was a skipjack tuna, same as we caught on the way to the Canary Islands, but a bit smaller. We made fillets out of it and put it into the fridge for later use.

A skipjack tuna we caught!

During the day it was a lot of talk on the radio about immigrant boats and we actually saw one boat drifting around (not any people in it) and we called on VHF to inform Canary Islands authorities about it. We spent the rest of the afternoon in the cockpit, chilling in the sun and reading a book. We had pre-prepared risotto for dinner and a pretty sunset before we started our night shifts, Thomas started on watch and Petra started with sleeping.

Day 2- December 5, 2020

When morning came we were both pretty tired after the first night. It is hard to get good sleep the first night before you learn the drill. This night we tried with 6 hour shifts instead of 3 hours as we’ve done before. During the morning before the sun came up we saw a pretty big tanker “close” to us (2 nm away).

The wind had picked up and we could start sailing, but it was still not so much and the sails were “flapping” a bit in the bigger waves. It was rolly waves and we both avoided being inside the boat for too long (due to seasickness), but it was worst for Petra. It was also a bit cloudy and not very warm actually. We managed to keep a speed of over 4 knots anyway, so we made some progress anyway. For lunch we made sushi out of the tuna we caught on Day 1. It was really good, but not the prettiest sushi (which is no surprise when you have to do it in all those rolly waves). For dinner we ate more of the pasta sauce we had prepared.

Preparing sushi out of the tuna we caught. The end result was not the prettiest, try make sushi for the first time and on a rolly boat. Not so easy! But was delicious and that’s whats matter.
canary island cape verde crossing
A rainbow.
Day 3 – December 6, 2020

We still hadn’t gotten used to the night shifts so we were still a bit tired, plus Petra had gotten seasick (and threw up) during her night watch. The wind had really started to pick up and we were making very good speed. It was 2nd Advent this day and we opened a 2nd Advent gift we got from our friends, listened to Christmas music and had some gingerbread cookies as afternoon fika.

canary island cape verde crossing
Tired after a night of seasickness.

We made a poke bowl out of the rest of the tuna we caught, which was very delicious! We spent most of the day in the cockpit, talking or just looking at the ocean. It was a bit too rolly for reading and we were a bit low on energy. For dinner we had noodles.

Poke bowl.
Day 4 – December 7, 2020

This night was a throw-up-seasickness night for Petra again, unfortunately. We tried putting one of our matrasses on the floor of the boat to get more comfortable sleep, and that helped a lot.

Started sleeping on the floor instead of the sofa, which was way more comfortable.

As it was a bit windy we switched from the genoa to our second largest staysail instead. It was enough wind to make good speed with this setup, and we didn’t have to worry about having too much sail up should the wind pick up even more. For lunch we had pasta with pesto. The day went on pretty much the same as before, except we listened to one podcast during the afternoon.

Later in the afternoon we started making tacos (takes a while when everything is constantly moving) to celebrate that we sailed half way! The tacos were delicious and we also saw another boat on the AIS in the evening (a catamaran that sailed past us). We never saw it in real life.

Halfway tacos!
Day 5 – December 8, 2020

No seasickness this night! As it was pretty strong winds we sailed with our middle staysail during the night and made an average of around 4,5-5 knots. We kept the staysail during the day, as it was still a lot of wind. Before this day we had mostly sailed on our autopilot, but today we decided we should try our windvane instead. We had to work a bit to get it properly setup, but after that it worked well. Except some small adjustments we had to do every once in a while. We had pasta with pesto for lunch today as well and listened to one more podcast in the afternoon. Most of the afternoon was sunny, which was really nice. Ate risotto for dinner and saw a passenger ferry, heading for Mindelo, during the evening. This night we went back to 4 x 3 hour night shifts again after trying with 2 x 6 hours.

Sunny most of the day, but with the occasional rainstorm showing up.
Trying to get a good picture of the big waves, but they just look so small on picture. Promise they were bigger irl.
Day 6 – December 9, 2020

During the night the wind picked up even more and the waves got pretty big. Some of the waves splashed into the cockpit. It was a cloudy day, but we made really good speed even if we still only sailed on a smaller staysail. We ate noodles for lunch, and listened to a podcast in the afternoon and ate some potato chips and drank a Coca-Cola. After the first day we hadn’t tried fishing (we didn’t have energy to take care of the fish), but today we tried again. We caught a very small skipjack tuna, so small that we let it go. For dinner we had what was left of the tacos we made a couple of days ago.

canary island cape verde crossing
A pretty sunrise!
Day 7 – December 10, 2020

We made very good speed during the night, which was not what we wanted. We wanted to approach Mindelo in daytime and after this night it looked like we would arrive in Mindelo in the middle of the night. But we kept our staysail up, in hopes that the wind would decrease so that we would go a bit slower.

We tried fishing today as well and first caught a small Dorado (Mahi-Mahi) that we let go. Not long after we caught another Dorado (80cm long). We filleted it and saved for when we arrived to Mindelo. We ate pasta with pesto for lunch today as well. So good and simple thing to eat!

canary island cape verde crossing
First Dorado/Mahi-mahi we caught.

And after lunch we had the most amazing visit! A Blue Marlin (or maybe another of the marlin group)! Thomas first noticed a fin in the surface, and thought it was some kind of shark. Realized very quickly that this was not a dolphin. And then it swam close to the boat, next to the boat and under the boat, and we saw the “spear” on the nose. So we thought it could be some kind of swordfish. We grabbed our fish book and realized it probably wasn’t a swordfish but instead a marlin. As it swam very close to the boat we got a good feeling of its size, and we have estimated that it was around 2,5-3 meters long.

We dropped our gopro into the water to get some videos/pictures of it. Unfortunately a lot of bubbles around the pictures, but we are glad we managed to get some kind of pictures of it.

blue marlin canary island cape verde crossing
The blue marlin that swam around our boat for 3-4 hours! Amazing encounter!

The Blue Marlin stayed with us for about 3-4 hours, and only left when we decided to start drifting for a while. We still sailed very fast and our arrival in Mindelo was hours away from sunrise. So we took down the sail, but still sailed around 3-3,5 knots on just the rig. We guess the Blue Marlin swam with us for the same reason as dolphins do, and when we didn’t sail as fast anymore it was no use for it to follow us anymore.

As we were getting close to Cape Verde it was time to hoist the yellow Q flag together with the courtesy flag of Cape Verde (the courtesy flag should always be hoisted above any other flag) on the flag line under the spreader on starboard side. The Q flag is flown when you enter a countries territorial waters (usually 12nm from shore) and says that you haven’t checked in the boat and its crew yet. As we’ve understood it is not always law to hoist this flag, but if you do you can never be accused of trying to enter a country illegally. And in some countries the use of this flag is more serious than others. And this year the use of this flag is more serious because of Covid-19 (and it should be hoisted to show that the boat is in quarantine and the crew not allowed on land yet).

canary island cape verde crossing

It was not very comfortable drifting so we set up the sail again, with hopes that the wind would decrease during the night.

Day 8 – December 11, 2020

The wind did increase during the night and we went a lot slower the last miles. We timed the entrance to Mindelo quite perfectly. When we entered the channel between Sao Vicente and Santo Antao the sun was just about to rise. And when we entered Mindelo Bay the sun was up and we had no problem navigating ourselves into the marina. Before our departure to Cape Verde we had contacted Marina Mindelo and booked a place in the marina and also sent our Covid-19 test results to them.

Sun is rising just as we approached Mindelo.
Sunrise over the neighbouring island Santo Antao.
Big cargo ship entered the bay together with us.

When we approached the dock two personnel from the marina met us and showed which spot that was ours and told us to stay in the boat until the marina office opened. We had contacted the marina before we started our Canary islands to Cape Verde crossing so we knew we had a spot. You could also anchor in the bay but we didn’t were a bit lazy and didn’t want to unpack our dingy as we should only be there a couple of days anyway.

We reorganized the lines (the marina in Mindelo is very rolly and having some kind of snubber on the lines is necessary) and ate breakfast.

When the office opened we went there, checked in to the marina. After the marina it was time to visit Immigration and Customs. Both located next to each other a 5-10 minute walk from the marina. We visited Immigration first and got our passports stamped, and then Policia Maritima afterwards that looked at our boatpapers. They also kept our boatpapers until departure. The whole process went very smooth and the officials were really friendly. We paid 5€ at the Immigration office and think it took us one-hour maximum to get everything done. We went back to the boat, took down the yellow Q flag and now we were officially in Cape Verde.

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