Atlantic Crossing – Part 2

This is the second part of our Atlantic crossing, first part can be found HERE.

Day 11 – December 28, 2020
  • Distance latest 24hr: 118 nm
  • Total distance: 1181 nm
  • Breakfast: Freshly baked carrot bread with fried egg
  • Lunch: Curry stew with Mahi-Mahi and rice.
  • Dinner: Pasta with pesto and halloumi
  • Sunrise: 09.19 UTC

During the night we got a bit more wind so we made good speed. Around 2pm UTC we reached halfway which we intended to celebrate with some cheap sparkling wine we bought in Mindelo. The wine was disgusting and we ended up sharing a Coca-Cola instead. During the afternoon we read for a while and ate some chips. Looked a bit a movie during dinner before we started our night shifts.

Cool clouds in the evening.
Day 12 – December 29, 2020
  • Distance latest 24hr: 119 nm
  • Total distance: 1300 nm
  • Breakfast: Freshly baked carrot bread with fried egg with some tea
  • Lunch: Fruity foil-baked Mahi-Mahi with sweet potatoes
  • Dinner: Spagetti Carbonara
  • Sunrise: 09.27 UTC

A big shower showed up during the night and cleaned the boat of from all salt. The previous days we haven’t had so much rain and there has been so much salt all over the boat. The wind also picked up a bit during the night, but it was no worries. During most of the crossing we used our largest staysail instead of the genoa. The genoa we have is very big and a light-wind sail and as it is very rolly on the ocean the genoa slapped a lot, and the staysails did not (or at least not as bad). We actually found that sometimes we had less headsail up in light winds just because of the slapping. We read a lot during the day, made food, did the dishes, read some more. Did some afternoon-fika of the last oranges we had left, oranges with almonds. When we prepared the fika a big wave hit us, leaving chopped oranges and almonds all over the table, fortunately no oranges in the sofa! We had a lot of seaweed floating around us, it got stuck in the lure and the wind-vane. During the afternoon several dolphins showed up to escort us for a while. We watched some movie while eating dinner.

atlantic crossing
A lot of sea weed!
Day 13 – December 30, 2020
  • Distance latest 24hr: 106 nm
  • Total distance: 1406 nm
  • Breakfast: Freshly baked buns with marmelade and tea
  • Lunch: Tomato-based fish soap
  • Dinner: Spagetti Carbonara
  • Sunrise: 09.34 UTC

It was very little wind during the night and we ran the engine for a while. In the morning we got hit by a line squall with a lot of rain and some wind so we hoisted the sails again. We watched some movie while eating breakfast until the rain passed. The wind stayed during the day and we sailed almost beam reach with mainsail hoisted as well, the first time we set mainsail during the crossing. It was a very sunny and warm day, but quite windy so not any trouble with the wind. Spend a lot of time in the cockpit, reading as usual. Caught a big mahi-mahi (85 cm), which ended up as several nice filets.

atlantic crossing

Day 14 – December 31, 2020
  • Distance latest 24hr: 89 nm
  • Total distance: 1495 nm
  • Breakfast: Freshly baked buns with marmelade and tea.
  • Lunch: Tomato-based fish soap
  • Dinner: Sweet-and-sour fish stew
  • Sunrise: 09.43 UTC

Barely no wind during the night, and it stayed that way all day. The wind had changed direction and was blowing against us. We hoisted the main in the morning as we had to sail close hauled. We tried to sail for a while, but it was so little wind so we ended up dropping the sails and took a swim in a very calm Atlantic ocean instead. After just drifted for a while we started the engine. Got visited by some dolphins today as well. During the evening the wind picked up and we hoisted the sails again and during the night we took down the main again as the wind turned again so we sailed broad reach/downwind again.

Food in the making.
Day 15 – JAnuary 1, 2021
  • Distance latest 24hr: 137 nm
  • Total distance: 1632 nm
  • Breakfast: Freshly baked buns with marmalade and tea
  • Lunch: Pasta with pesto
  • Dinner: Red curry fish stew
  • Sunrise: 09.49 UTC

It was a pretty windy day, and also quite some rain. We sailed with the biggest staysail and made an average 5-6 knots, sometimes up around 7 knots. The waves are also a bit bigger than what they have been the previous days. We tried to watch some movie inside the boat but it was warm, humid and rolly so nice to go out in the cockpit after a while. Saw a container ship which passed quite close to us (less than 2nm). Saw some dolphins again.

Day 16 – JAnuary 2, 2021
  • Distance latest 24hr: 144 nm (record!)
  • Total distance: 1776 nm
  • Breakfast: Freshly baked buns with marmalade and tea
  • Lunch: Pasta with pesto
  • Dinner: Red curry fish stew
  • Sunrise: 09.59 UTC

Made really good speed all night and continued like that throughout the day, thus the record. We still only sailed with the largest staysail, but we made good speed anyway and it felt safe. When we ate breakfast a big wave washed up into the cockpit and washed away Thomas last sandwich. We both got quite wet and we had some water inside the boat as well. We got a mail from home that the volcano on St Vincent (where we were heading) might have an eruption and that people living close to the volcano should evacuate. Other than that we spent the day as we usually did, reading and listening to music. It was quite cloudy all day but with a semi-cool sunset. During our entire crossing we never had any really beautiful sunset, quiet disappointing actually.

atlantic crossing
One of the best sunsets we had during the crossing, we were quite disappointed at the sunset we had… No superpretty sunset at all.
Day 17 – JAnuary 3, 2021
  • Distance latest 24hr: 133 nm
  • Total distance: 1909 nm
  • Breakfast: Freshly baked buns with marmalade and tea
  • Lunch: Pasta with pesto
  • Dinner: Omelet with corn and bacon
  • Sunrise: 10.08 UTC

The wind was still string during the night and we continued making good speed, and no rain this night which was really nice. In the morning the wind calmed down and we tried the genoa. Compared to the cloudy yesterday, today was very clear skies and sunny. We caught another Mahi-Mahi, which we put in the freezer to eat when we had arrived. As we got closer to land we got more lazy with the food, and made mostly simple meals.

Afternoon-nap.
Day 18 – JAnuary 4, 2021
  • Distance latest 24hr: 125 nm
  • Total distance: 2034 nm
  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with cinnamon and sugar topping for Petra and peanutbutter topping for Thomas
  • Lunch: Pasta with pesto
  • Dinner: Ramen-noodles
  • Sunrise: 10.18 UTC

Now we had gotten really close to the Caribbean and we spent most day watching the horizon after land, checking on the plotter how far we had left and just waiting instead of doing something with our time, like reading a book like we usually do or prepare a good dinner. Finally when the sun was about to set we spotted Barbados.

Sunset when we spotted Barbados.
Day 19 – JAnuary 5, 2021
  • Distance latest 24hr: 140 nm
  • Total distance: 2174 nm
  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with cinnamon and sugar topping for Petra and peanutbutter topping for Thomas
  • Lunch: Pasta with pesto
  • Dinner: —–
  • Sunrise: 10.28 UTC

We sailed pass Barbados during the night, and it was quite unusual to see so many lights in the sky again. One fly-fish got into the cockpit this night. We have had a lot of fly-fish on deck during the crossing but this was the first that flew into the cockpit. It was a sunny day and we were really happy when we spotted the very lush island St Vincent. We arrived around 13.30-14.00, after 18 days at sea, to Young Island Cut where we took a mooring in the quarantine area. We were scheduled to take our tests the day after. We sat down in the cockpit and opened our bottle of champagne we had gotten as a gift from our friends on the crossing.

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Land ohoy! (Or second land, we had spotted Barbados the day before but now we spotted St Vincent)
Approaching the very green and lush island St Vincent.

More about the test procedure and quarantine days in next post.

Atlantic Crossing – Part 1

The time had come for us to start our Atlantic crossing and prior to departure we had to sort our some paperwork. As it is a pretty unusual year with the virus we had to contact authorities in the Caribbean before we left Cape Verde to make sure we were allowed to enter. We had decided to sail to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The reason was because there is a lot of islands there to explore and a place we can stay in for a while and hope that movements between the islands becomes easier.

We checked latest information on noonsite.com and got okay that we were allowed to enter Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Our time at sea would count as part of quarantine and when we arrived we would need to take a test (60 USD/person) and when we got the test result we would be checked in and allowed to enter the country. We didn’t only prepare the paperwork, we also prepared some food for the first days, bought vegetables and fruit and cleared out of the country (first a visit at Customs office and then Immigration office).

We had decided to depart together with Svala and they had a broken hatch which they waited to have repaired. So we waited on anchor until they got their new hatch. Never been more ready for a crossing than this.

Day 1 – December 18, 2020
  • Distance: 0 nm
  • Breakfast: –
  • Lunch: –
  • Dinner: Pasta with pre-prepared lentil bolognese
  • Sunrise: –

When Svala finally got their deck hatch we pulled up our anchor and started our sail to the Caribbean. It was pretty late in the day, about 4-5pm and when we left Mindelo there was a lot of dolphins jumping around the boat. There was some acceleration between Sao Vicente and Santo Antao and for the first part we made really good speed. But when we came behind Santo Antao the wind died out and it was very rolly. As we both started to feel a bit seasick we wanted to get out of this place as fast as possible and find the wind again, so we started the engine and ran it until we got far away from Santo Antao and we got some wind again.

Waiting for Svala.
Svala got their hatch and we were ready to start or Atlantic crossing.
Day 2 – December 19, 2020
  • Distance latest 24hr: 108 nm
  • Total distance: 108 nm
  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with bananas
  • Lunch: Dryfood (but Petra couldn’t keep hers)
  • Dinner: A Mars-bar and chips for Thomas, nothing for Petra
  • Sunrise: 08.07 UTC

Both of us had started to feel the seasickness and Petra threw up a couple of times. Thomas managed without throwing up, but was still not feeling very good. It was a slow day and we were really glad that our windvane worked so well so we didn’t have to worry about the steering. It was a tough night, mostly due to the seasickness, but we managed to get through it.

(From the first days we don’t have so much pictures taken, due to the seasickness. You just have to imagine two tired humans staring at the ocean waiting for it to pass)

Day 3 – December 20, 2020
  • Distance latest 24hr: 127 nm
  • Total distance: 235 nm
  • Breakfast: Müsli with milk
  • Lunch: Dryfood
  • Dinner: Pasta with pre-prepared lentil bolognese
  • Sunrise: 08.16 UTC

Our seasickness was much better this day, still we both felt it but way better than before. Petra rested a lot during the day, a bit tired after not being able to eat or drink properly the first days. This day was also a very calm one and we didn’t do much. Svala caught up with us again after we lost each other the first day when we started the engine.

Day 4 – December 21, 2020
  • Distance latest 24hr: 120 nm
  • Total distance: 355 nm
  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with bananas
  • Lunch: Pasta with pesto
  • Dinner: Pasta with pre-prepared lentil bolognese
  • Sunrise: 08.25 UTC

This day the seasickness had improved even more. We had sun for the most part of the day which was really nice. The winds were stable and we made really good speed. We saw Svala all day. We tried to fish for a while, but with no luck.

Day 5 – December 22, 2020
  • Distance latest 24hr: 139 nm
  • Total distance: 494 nm
  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with bananas
  • Lunch: Freshly caught Mahi-mahi with Canary potatoes and Mojo Verde
  • Dinner: Pasta with pre-prepared lentil bolognese
  • Sunrise: 08.34 UTC

The night was pretty calm, but we started going on a more northely route to stay together with Svala. We ran the engine for a while during the night when it was at its calmest to charge the batteries. When morning came we set the genoa (we sailed with one of the smaller staysails during the night). We tried fishing again and almost immediately caught a small mahi-mahi. But it was so small so we decided to through it back in again. We tried again and caught another mahi-mahi, a bit bigger than the first one so we kept it and made a nice lunch out of it. From the moment we caught we had it on the plate ready to be eaten in less than one hour. Now that is fresh! In the afternoon we sat in the sun for a while and took a well needed shower. We drove close next to Svala and took some pictures.

FIrst fish-dish of the atlantic crossing, served less than an hour after we caught the fish!
Happy that seasickness is over.
Day 6 – December 23, 2020
  • Distance latest 24hr: 125 nm
  • Total distance: 619 nm
  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with bananas
  • Lunch: Fruity baked mahi-mahi
  • Dinner: Fish tacos with papaya-salsa.
  • Sunrise: 08.43 UTC

The night went on without any bigger happenings. As the night before we ran the engine for a while when it was calm to charge the batteries. Svala had come a bit behind us but as we had a pretty small headsail up already we didn’t want to reduce our speed more. After the nightshift had ended (during the crossing our night shifts looked the following: Thomas started shortly after sunset with a 4 hour shift, followed by 2 hours for Petra, Thomas again 2 hour shift and then Petra took the morning shift; 4 hours. We think this worked pretty well and it was nice to not have so long shifts in the middle of the night) Petra took a nap and almost immediately we caught another mahi-mahi, we brought it up and cleaned it and so on. Petra continued napping and Thomas sat with the shortwave radio for a while and made contact with a guy in Sweden. It was a sunny day and we spent the afternoon chilling and reading.

atlantic crossing
Our fruit-net. The fruit lasted quite long and we tried to eat from the things that would go bad first and check the fruits and vegetables regularly.

atlantic crossing

atlantic crossing
Fish cleaning!
Fish tacos!

Fruity-baked Mahi-Mahi.
Day 7 – December 24, 2020
  • Distance latest 24hr: 109 nm
  • Total distance: 728 nm
  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with bananas
  • Lunch: Christmas rice porridge
  • Dinner: Swedish Christmas dinner: Pickled herring, potatoes, egg, salmon, hovmästarsås
  • Sunrise: 08.50 UTC

Christmas Eve! During the night one seam of our biggest staysail broke and we had to take the sail down. We hoisted our middle staysail instead, so we didn’t make very good speed that night. We ate breakfast and listened to Christmas music. After we had a nice Christmas porridge lunch we sailed close to Svala (but not to close, still had to talk via the VHF) and had a Christmas swim at 5000 meter deep water (but still 25 celsius). After the swim we hoisted the sails again (genoa+whisker pole) but it was to little wind and too much waves so the genoa was just flapping. We changed to the middle staysail and started repairing the biggest staysail so we could use that again. After we were finished we had a nice Christmas dinner.

atlantic crossing
Christmas swim!
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Christmas sail repair.
As good as new!
Christmas dinner.

Day 8 – December 25, 2020
  • Distance latest 24hr: 101 nm
  • Total distance: 829 nm
  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with bananas
  • Lunch: Foil-baked mahi-mahi with spices and fruit served with sweet potatoes
  • Dinner: Pasta with pre-prepared lentil bolognese
  • Sunrise: 08.56 UTC

During the night it was not so much wind, but when morning came it picked up and we could make better speed again. We sailed with the staysail we repaired the day before and so far  it has worked really good. We caught another mahi-mahi, a big one so now we had fish for a couple of days. During the day it rained quite a lot, which made it very humid and warm inside the boat. We started to watch a movie but paused when the sun came out again. As our VHF-antenna has pretty bad reach, Thomas tried building a new one and with the homemade one we got better reach so when we arrive to the Caribbean we will probably buy a new one. The afternoon and evening was very rolly and it was a challenge to prepare food. We watched some movie before we started the night shifts.

“Chocolate balls”-fika in the making.
Day 9 – December 26, 2020
  • Distance latest 24hr: 129 nm
  • Total distance: 958 nm
  • Breakfast: Freshly baked carrot bread with fried egg
  • Lunch: Pasta with pesto
  • Dinner: Pasta with pre-prepared lentil bolognese
  • Sunrise: 09.04 UTC

The night was cloudy (which means pretty dark as the moon couldn’t light up the sky) but we made good speed with our biggest staysail on the whisker pole. As we had run out of bananas we baked bread for the first time this passage. We spent a lot of the day in the cockpit, reading cruising guides, listened to reggae and dreamed about when we would arrive. The salinator on our watermaker had some problems, it rejected all water, so that is something we will have to look at when we arrive. We still have a lot of water left so no nothing that we have to fix immediately. We had now lost Svala completely, they were a bit slower than us, but this day we saw another boat on the AIS, a Spanish boat that also had sailed from Cape Verde. We had some “fika” in the afternoon, oranges with almonds.

Day 10 – December 27, 2020
  • Distance latest 24hr: 105 nm
  • Total distance: 1063 nm
  • Breakfast: Freshly baked carrot bread with fried egg
  • Lunch: Fried fish with Canary Island potatoes and Mojo Verde
  • Dinner: Pasta with pre-prepared lentil bolognese
  • Sunrise: 09.11 UTC

Another calm night, except a big shower that cleaned the boat of all salt. As we’ve done before we ran the engine for a while during the night when it was calm to charge the batteries a bit. During the day it wasn’t very much wind either, but very sunny. We didn’t do so much during the day, read and cooked. We had some issues getting reception for the shortwave radio so we couldn’t send or receive e-mails. Before dinner we took a shower.

To be continued…

Part two of our Atlantic Crossing can be found by following the link HERE.

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.

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.

Sailing over Bay of Biscay in October

Finally the day had arrived and on October 15th we started sailing over the bay of Biscay. Normally all books say that you should sail over Biscay as early as possible, as the further into autumn you go the likelihood of bad weather increases.

As we departed late from Sweden (late August) we knew that finding a weather window for Biscay might be hard, but we hoped that we would make it across anyway. Today with the good and detailed weather forecast finding good weather info is easy, but still it might be unreliable. The weather system is complex and no forecast can be fully relied upon.

We checked the winds and waves several times every day for Biscay and for our weather window the forecast stayed the same up until our departure. This is a good sign and shows that the forecast might be correct. If the forecast where to change every day it is a sign that anything can happen and maybe  not a good time to start a crossing. But our weather window was very stable so we felt safe starting our crossing.

We had also prepared a lot of food for our crossing, filled up our freezer with already cooked food so that we only would need to cook pasta or rice. We had made overnight oats with berries and peanut butter that we could only grab from the fridge for an easy breakfast. And finally made some energy bars, chocolate balls (to eat with the coffee) and warm drinks to make for the night. We downloaded podcasts so that we could have something to listen to while on night watch.

day 1

We left Roscoff about 9 in the morning after eating a steady breakfast. We sailed along the French coast all day, and around sunset we passed the strait between mainland France and the islands outside Brittany. It was dark when we headed out into the bay and we saw all the lights from France disappear behind us.

It was a still night with no wind and clear skies. We went by engine all night as we wanted to get over the bay as fast as possible. During the night we where accompanied by a lot of dolphins. Which was really cool. Later in the night we had phosphscenic light in the water making the dolphins look like torpedos around the boat. A very cool experience.

sailing bay biscay october
Excited to have found a good weather window for sailing over Bay of Biscay in October.
First sunset as we where about to enter the night and bay of Biscay.
Day 2

The morning started with a beautiful sunrise accompanied by the dolphins. We ate our first overnight oats with a cup of tea. It was a sunny day and the wind picked up so we could sail. We listened to music, a podcast, read and enjoyed the sun. We saw even more dolphins and sat on our bowsprit looking at them jumping around the boat. You get amazingly close to them when sitting there.

By evening the wind picked up even more (as we knew it would do). It was south-easterly winds so no huge Atlantic swell where gonna hit us, but still the waves got a bit big. We set the main on the third reef and changed from the genoa to a smaller headsail and started our night watch. For Biscay we tried with 2-3 hour shifts. It worked fine as it wasn’t that many days but for a longer sail we might need to take longer shifts. We’ll see how we do it.

The waves made Petra very seasick and she spent her night shifts watching the boat accompanied by a bucket. It was a tough night but still even though all the tiredness and throwing up we got through the night.

Calm day = autopilot check.
day 3

When morning came we made sure to eat, drink and rest. As Petra threw up a lot it was important to eat and drink to get energy back. And equally important for Thomas. Even though it is very tiring preparing food in the waves (even if it is only cooking pasta) it is important to do it. It won’t get easier the hungrier you get!

The wind and waves calmed down during the day. We got our energy back but wondered how exhausting our final night at Biscay would be. To our relief it was better than we thought. It was another calm night, and we motor-sailed through the night. We had our shifts and by this time it was no problems falling asleep (the first night was a bit harder). During the night we started seeing the lights from Spain and the winds where considerably warmer than our first night.

Day 4

We got another beautiful sunrise together with dolphins as we approached Spain. Even though we saw the coastline early we wouldn’t arrive to A Coruna until after lunch. We motor-sailed the last bit as there was almost no wind and found ourselves a spot in the marina. When checking in at the harbor office we showed our passports, ships papers and insurance policy. Earlier when we sailed through northern Europe we have never needed to show any papers (except when we where visited by the coastguards).

Hard to get the dolphins on a photo, but promise we saw a lot of dolphins! (If you look closely you can see a fin)

 

So, to summarize sailing over bay of Biscay in October:

  • We where really lucky to find a good stable weather window so late into the season. Throughout our crossing the forecast turned out to be very accurate and every change happened right on the expected time.
  • Even though we had a tough second night we weren’t super-tired when we arrived to Spain. And now a couple of days after we feel like it was a good crossing and that doing it again for a longer period (with warmer weather) might not be impossible.
  • The cold nights are pretty though. We where lucky we only got a little bit of rain, since cold AND rainy nights are even tougher.
  • Having good food prepared was a necessity, otherwise it would have been really hard.
  • Having an offline playlist with music and podcasts downloaded was also really nice.
  • Having dolphins around the boat is amazing!