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.

Chill/prep days at Gran Canaria

(We are a bit behind with the blog post updates, but will try to get a couple of posts up the upcoming days so that we will be more up to date here. Right now we are in Bequia, Saint Vincent & the Grendadines after a good crossing here. But more of that soon!)

After we got everything we wanted done and bought at Lanzarote we had a window to continue to Gran Canaria. It was pretty unusual weather for this time. Two pretty big low pressures where coming in a couple of days after each other, with both of its centers around Madeira which made the winds coming from southwest/west instead of the usual north/northeast. We had an opportunity to head for Gran Canaria before the winds from the first low pressure reached the Canary Islands. It was a window with no wind unfortunaly so we went by engine all the way.

We stopped at Anfi del Mar at the south coast. Usually you won’t get a spot there as it is a private marina, but a boat was out sailing so we could use its spot for a couple of days. We spent the day resting after the night crossing, falling asleep at the beach, swimming and eating dinner.

Anfi del Mar
Amadores beach, very empty compared to how this beach usually is.
Pizza break!

One day we also took a bus up to the mountains and went on a walk.

We took the bus to San Bartolome de Tirajana and went on a walk from there.

It rained a lot on the last part of our walk, and it was a couple of hours until the bus left to the south coast. We didn’t have very good clothes for rain so we where really cold, but we went to a place for some hot drink and got to borrow some dry and warm clothes! 🙂

After four nights in Anfi del Mar the boat which place we borrowed was going to come back so we moved to Puerto de Mogan. A beautiful place, normally full of tourists but this year pretty empty.

Puerto de Mogan.

Then it was time to get back to work. This time the work consisted of finding out where we could take a covid-19 PCR test (so that we would be able to enter Cape Verde). We found a place in Arguineguin nearby. The other part of planning was deciding when we could start our sail to Cape Verde. We had to wait for the last low pressure system to die out as we didn’t want to sail against the wind.

We booked a time to take the test (have to leave 72 hours after the test is taken) when we knew when we would depart. The process of taking tests as well really adds an extra level to planning. We needed the test to enter Cape Verde, you could either choose to take a test in the Canary Islands before departure or to take a test when you arrive to Mindelo, but then you would need to quarantine until you got the test results.

Waiting to have our covid-19 tests taken.

We had some calm days here before the weather turned to our favour. We bought the last food we needed for the crossing, took our covid-19 tests and got the result (negative), prepared some food for the first days at sea, cleared out from Canary island, secured the boat for sea, checked the weather a lot of times and left the marina.

Lot of food bought for the upcoming crossings.

Before we started our sail we spent one night on anchor outside Puerto de Mogan and after breakfast the morning after we started our sail to Cape Verde.

Refill gas bottles in Canary Islands (Lanzarote)

As it is not always obvious where to fill gas bottles we will in this post share where at the Canary Islands (Lanzarote) we could refill our gas bottles, see a bit lower down in the post to read about that.

We stayed at La Graciosa four nights before we continued to Lanzarote. It was a pretty calm day and we sailed slowly along the coast of Lanzarote. It was nice to not be in a hurry, it wasn’t a long sail and we could chill in the sun.

We arrived to Marina Lanzarote near Arrecife in the afternoon and in the evening we met up with sailboat Sofia and had a nice evening with them.The following day we were invited to a pool and barbecue party with Svala and Freyja. It was a night full drinks, food, singing and dancing. Really fun!

Walking home from the pool party the day after through Arrecife.

The rest of our time in Arrecife we spent working on the boat and preparing for the upcoming sail to Cape Verde and then the Atlantic Crossing. We did a big engine service; oil change, impeller change, water seperators in diesel filters emptied, bottom of fuel tanks emptied, gearbox oil changed, went to IKEA to buy some Swedish Christmas food, bought a lot of other food and found a place where we could refill our gas bottles.

The place we found where located here and was a kind of plant for the fuel station company Disa. When we drove in it didn’t exactly feel like it was a place that individuals would go, but we walked into their office and asked and first they said no, but then asked another person who said it was possible. We waited around 15 minutes and paid about 15€ for two 5kg bottles.

Refill gas bottles in canary islands
The entrance to the Disa plant where we could refill our gas bottles. It was nice to find a place at the Canary Islands that was not Las Palmas where it was possible to refill the gas bottles.

refill gas bottles in canary islands

refill gas bottles in canary islands
The office where we asked if it was possible to refill the gas bottles
refill gas bottes canary islands
Gas bottles finally refilled! 🙂
The other jobs we got done at Lanzarote; engine maintenance.
Changing impeller.

refill gas bottles in canary islands

refill gas bottles in canary islands
A visit to…
…IKEA to buy some homey stuff and Swedish Christmas food!
And when at IKEA one must eat the meatballs 🙂
Some Swedish Christmas food (herring, salmon, ginger bread and glögg) and a bag of licorice!

We also went to the boat store nearby several times to get other small stuff we needed. We constantly have some small projects we want to do to make life aboard the boat easier and also small things breaks, which we need to fix. But we have an old boat so it will always be a lot of work that needs to be done.

The last day we had a car rented (to refill the gas bottles) so we also took a break from all work to see a bit more of Lanzarote. We drove to the volcanic area and to the west coast.

We got one afternoon off boatwork to do some exploring of Lnazarote 🙂 Here at the volvanic national parc Timafalga; a natural barbeque!
refill gas bottles in canary islands
Cool volcanic landscape!
A crater.
Fire started in a pit simply by the heat of the earth.
After Timanfalga we drove to the west coast to see a green lake.

Playa Papagayo was our next visit.
We sat down at the beach bar nearby for a drink and to watch the sunset.

 

First stop at Canary Islands – beautiful La Graciosa

After we where safe inside the marina we went to check in to the marina, showed our passports, ship’s registration papers and insurance policy. The marina at La Graciosa is very cheap, and normal years one most book a spot to be able to visit. But there were a lot of available spots for us.

At the village at La Graciosa, Caleta del Sabo, a very beautiful place.

We took a beer in the sun in company with the boat Svala, they left Lagos about the same time as us and had also just arrived. We ate a simple lunch, took a walk around the beautiful town and went to a beach nearby to take a swim. In the evening we had a nice dinner together with Svala at a fish restaurant in town.

A walk around town, no asphalt anywhere, just sandy roads (and some stone roads near harbour)

The following day we rented bikes and set out to explore the island. We first biked to the other side of the island, to a beautiful beach. It was very big waves so we couldn’t swim, but we sat on the beach and ate lunch and watched the waves.

A bike tour around the islands.
Beautiful conch beach at the north side of the islands, unfortunately the waves were very big so we couldn’t swim.

After lunch we continued biking around the island. It was very cool sandy landscape on the island. We visited the other small village on the island, had some “fika” and took a swim before we returned to Caleta del Sabo.

We continued around the islands, sand everywhere…
Very cool landscape!
The other small village on the islands.

Sunset at the harbour in Caleta del Sabo.

After two nights in the marina we set off to a beautiful anchorage nearby, Playa Franesca. The water had an incredibly turquoise. We hung out with Svala, swam in the incredible water, explored the surroundings. Will let the pictures talk for themselves…

On anchor at Playa Franesca.
Not many people on the beach.

A cool beach next to the caldera.
One evening we took a walk up to the caldera next to the beach,
Anchorage seen from above, with Lanzarote in the background.
The cool little beach seen from above.
On the top.
A beautiful sunrise.
A nice breakfast the day after with homemade bread rolls snd fresh pressed orange juice.

Our sail from Lagos to Canary Islands

Day 1 – November 9, 2020

After a week of some boatwork and exploring in Lagos it was time to depart to the Canary Islands. We left Lagos around lunchtime and started our way south, and on our way out we actually saw orcas again! We saw a lot of dolphins as well and a jumping tuna, but no luck with fishing that day, even though we tried all day.

It was a very calm day so we motored a bit at first, and after a while we set sail. It was not much wind, but we sailed until early morning when we gave up and started the engine since the wind died completely.

It was also the first time we tried the new drive unit for the autopilot, which worked really well!

Off on our five days sail to the Canary Islands!
Day 2 – November 10, 2020

After a calm night we woke up to sunny weather with a few clouds on the sky and amazingly blue water! The colour the water had was so beautiful.

The day was sunny with a bit too much rolling waves, we experimented a lot with different ways of setting the sails to avoid that they were “flapping” every time we rolled in a wave. We actually ended up setting the mizzen stay sail as a very small gennaker in the forestay to be able to get forward a bit without starting the engine. We have a spinnaker that we have never hoisted before and didn’t feel quite ready for it this day (it was still a lot of waves and some wind).

We tried fishing all day as well but with no luck.

Day 3 – November 11, 2020

Another calm night passed and we sailed around 3-3.5 knots. The wind died out even more and we decided it was calm enough to try and hoist the spinnaker. Almost at the same time as we hoisted the spinnaker in its sock, the little wind that was left died out completely and it was hard to fill the spinnaker. It was beautiful to see it up in the air and hopefully we get another opportunity to try it again.

After trying with the spinnaker for a while we decided it was time to start the engine (we sailed about 1-2 knots and wind was almost no existent). Just as we packed the spinnaker we heard of fishing reel spin and we got our first fish!! We pulled it in and saw that it was a 42 cm long skipjack tuna.

Day 4 – November 12, 2020

It was a calm and cloudy day and we went by engine most of the day. This day we tried our tuna we caught, we marinated it and fried the fillets (unfortunately a bit to long, not so used to cooking tuna) and served with a mango salad, rice and chilli mayo. Even though it was fried a bit too long it tasted really good!

Our first dish on our first fish we caught on the boat!

We had a lot of dolphins visiting us this day and they jumped a lot around the boat. One them made a really funny jump.

The rest day was very chill; we spent time in the cockpit, reading, talking and listening to music.

Chilling and reading inside the boat.
Day 5 – November 13, 2020

Our last night was very calm as well, and was pretty much similar to the days before.

A nice sunrise!
Day 6 – November 14, 2020

During the night we started spotting the lights from La Graciosa. We where able to set sail when morning came, which was really nice. The winds came from the southeast and in the air we could see brown/yellow strings, which we guessed was sand from the Sahara desert. Those winds are called Calima we learned from our Canary Islands cruising guide.

From that guide, and from previous reading/youtube videos etc, we have learned about the acceleration zones of the Canary Islands and how they behave when the wind blow as it normally do (from north/northeast). But this time it had a different behaviour and as we approached the channel between Lanzarote and La Graciosa the wind got stronger. As the wind was coming from southeast we thought that the big mountains at Lanzarote would shield us from the wind, but that it did not! Instead the wind kind of accelerated down the hills and was very strong. We got what little sail we had left up down quickly, started the engine and sailed slowly against the wind through the channel.

We reached the town Caleta de Sabo on La Graciosa and entered a marina berth without any big issues even due it were very windy inside the marina as well.