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Month: December 2022

Pre-Atlantic boat jobs, Cape Verde

Pre-Atlantic boat jobs, Cape Verde

On the whole, we were already fairly prepared for the Atlantic crossing and could have set off right away. But we had been saving up boat jobs as ever and made a few impulse purchases to make the crossing a little nicer, so there was work to be done!

Generally, our starting list looked something like this:

  • Standing & running rigging check
  • Re-caulk more of the deck
  • Try to fix wind instruments
  • Fit new driver for UV lamp & 12v regulator
  • Change water filters
  • Clean & patch the mainsail
  • Make our preventer better
  • Clean & service the engine
  • Fit a new filter for the engine seawater inlet
  • Fit bilge alarms on the 2 bilge pumps
  • Fit the “auto” mode of 1 bilge pump
  • Investigate wind turbine charging issues
  • Re provision, water, gas & fuel

Lots of these boat jobs are boring, and there are not pictures, but some of the more interesting jobs are detailed below 🙂

A new solar panel

This wasn’t on our todo list, but during the crossing from the Canaries to Cape verde we realized that we couldn’t sail for extended periods of time while on certain points of sail due to not generating enough power from the sun and wind.

Currently, we have 1 Marlec wind turbine up the mizen mast, 1x ~100W flexible solar panel on the cockpit roof, and 1x ~120W flexible solar panel that we generally attach to the rear side rails.

When running downwind the wind turbine doesn’t do much, and the solar panel on the roof ends up in shadow quite a lot of the time, meaning the only thing charging us would be a single ~120W panel.

This would not be enough for the Atlantic crossing, and would likely lead to us needing to run the engine for 1 hour a day during sunny days, and likely more during cloudy days, which is something we wanted to avoid. We did some very rough maths on fuel consumption and costs, considered how much nicer it would be to just have more power all of the time and decided to buy another solar panel.

We didn’t have much time and didn’t want to spend much money, so ended up buying some pipe to lash together on the aft port side to mount the solar panel on.

As well as somewhere to mount the solar panel, we also had to get cables from the mount to the battery area, and fit a new charge controller.

Before fitting the new panel we had 2 charge controllers, and now we have 3! All different, doing different things in different ways, and probably fighting with each other over when to charge the battery and when not to…

The new charge controller fitted nicely next to our oldest charge controller, the solar panel was mounted after multiple trips to the DIY shop, and we are happy to report charging is easier now!

This gives us an extra ~200W charging capacity, and it’s also easily tiltable currently using some lines attached to the mizen mast. We saw lots of nicer clamp solutions while walking around the marina, but will have to save a fancy solution like this for the future.

Deck caulking

We last did some deck caulking back in Figueira da Foz, but had stocks of caulking to do much more, we had just been putting it off until such a time that we were in one place for multiple days, and that opportunity appeared in Mindelo.

Rather than trying to do a complete line of caulking in one go all the way around the boat, we instead picked a couple of strips that had lots of breaks in them due to other things being fitted to the deck that we were not going to take out.

We dug out the old caulking mainly using screw drivers, sanded down the insides, masked off the teak, and filled them with caulking. Sounds easy in a single sentence but this process took us multiple days.

We now have 2 strips down the starboard side that are freshly caulked. Alongside this, we caulked a large area of the aft deck 🙂

Wind instruments

Ever since Hannah was purchased, there has been an issue with the wind instruments.

Speed works just fine, but half of the direction doesn’t.

We had previously investigated various things that could be wrong, cables in the mast, issues with the screen etc, but hadn’t come to a concrete conclusion on what the issue was.

The guys at BoatCV came aboard and tested some things that we had already tested, we also continued to test other things and think of ideas that could be wrong. At one stage the BoatCV guys took the head unit to the workshop with the idea that there might be something wrong with the magnet inside that detects direction (we had already changed everything else, mast cable, screen, and circuit board). This didn’t make any sense to me, and before they took it off to the workshop I came to the conclusion that the issue must be in the cables in the head unit!

The next day, they came back to confirm that was indeed the issue, so we had to replace only 1 small section of cables in the head unit itself.

We managed to buy a secondhand and newer screen for the wind instruments back in the UK, so we started fitting this which required a bunch of adapters to convert between the old SeaTalk ad SeaTalk NG for the new screen.

Conveniently this was all fairly easy as the wiring is easy to access under the box that holds the various displays, and all connected with easy connectors.

Once all fitted connected and working the new screen worked flawlessly, and also correctly indicated wind direction all the way around.

This would mean while crossing the Atlantic we could finally use wind vane steering, and also use the instrument display to see where the wind was coming from instead of lookup up at the mast!


We had plenty of tinned food to last us all the way across the Atlantic and then some. But we needed to stock up on fresh produce and little treats. During our weeks in Mindelo we scouted out most supermarkets to see what was available where, and in the final 2 days before departing we re visited them all to stock up on the best bits.

Our pre-departure provisioning also included filling up on water, fuel, and gas.

We were over the moon to find out they could fill up both our Camping Gaz bottles and our UK Calor gas bottles at the nearby gas company buildings. So we were to set off on our crossing with 5 full bottles of gas, which should last 4-6 months.

2 weeks of fun in Mindelo

2 weeks of fun in Mindelo

We weren’t planning on spending 2 weeks in the Mindelo marina, but we ended up deciding to do a bunch of boat jobs, including fitting a new solar panel, while also waiting for a weather window that started off with some days of less than 2.5m swell.

We also planned on heading out to the anchorage to wait for this window, but with everything, we were doing aboard, the extra convenience of being able to walk off the boat onto the dock was amazing. And the marina was too expensive.

Mindelo marina, pontoon B, featuring Extres and Danae


A short taxi ride from the marina on the south side of the island was a little bay well known for its turtles.

We are not sure if the turtles naturally like coming to this bay, we heard that the locals of the beach treat them a little bit like pets feeding them etc (not ideal), which probably explains why they are always there and why the spot has touristy “turtle tours” etc.

Nonetheless, we went to check out the beach and turtles without the tour, and we were not disappointed, getting some of our best underwater turtle pics and vids yet.

This beach and experience were slightly ruined by a “crazy lady” that was at the beach swearing at people and even throwing rocks at 1 group of girls… No idea what was happening here, but everyone left the beach safely at the end of the day…

Santo Antão

Santo Antão is the westernmost island of Cape Verde. We didn’t anchor there (not sure if you are actually allowed), so instead got up early in the morning with a group of Dutch friends to get the ferry over to the island.

We were once again following other folks to and around the island, meaning we would have to do less thinking for ourselves! Great!

Arriving at the island we headed for a coffee before then hunting around for a decent price taxi to get us to the top of the island.

And it was a great idea to get this taxi, as the journey took us up rather high and would have taken hours to walk or bus to etc.

The road up to the top of the island was rather beautifully paved but was cobblestone, so riding in the back of a pickup truck was interesting at times.

As we got higher the air began to cool, it was wonderful.

Once at the top of the island we could walk up and out of the canyon, an down the other side of the island, where the same taxi would be waiting for us at the beach.

The walk was absolutely beautiful, the canyon was full of greenery, and as we descended the far side of the island we were surrounded by irrigated fields, trees, plants, and animals.

We stopped for lunch at a little restaurant in a town before the beach where we had spaghetti for 10. Realizing we were slightly behind schedule we had to grab another taxi for the last 45 minutes of walking, down toward the beach we were being collected from.

Spotting our actual taxi (the pickup truck) halfway toward the beach, we got out and switched over.

The journey back around the island was just as beautiful. We would see the rather small swell coming in from the north, ideally, this is what we would be setting off in in the coming days.

General shenanigans

While we were in Mindelo, the world cup was in full swing.

This led to multiple trips to the local Irish sports bar to watch the Netherlands play with our friends (and England of course).

Just up the road, there was a very tasty ice cream shop.

We also had multiple meals out in various groups, and many many many beers at the floating bar in the Marina.

Arriving in Mindelo, as ARC+ set off

Arriving in Mindelo, as ARC+ set off

Arriving in Mindelo was quite interesting, as we arrived 30 minutes before the ARC+ set off to cross the Atlantic.

As we approached Mindelo, our chart was going crazy with the 100-200 boats that were setting off all appearing.

Thankfully we took our sails down with plenty of time to avoid needing to do this around all of the other boats.

We tried to avoid crossing the start line which was between the NE breakwater and a bouy in the middle of the bay, so we snuck around the north side and then motored around all of the boats that were either putting their sails up or already had them up.

Extress who arrived 20 minutes before us had already navigated all of the boats radioed us on VHF to let us know where they were, as they had found a nice spot to watch the start from with Danae.

It was quite an interesting little route, and we nearly strayed into a dredging area once, but we made it before the start, and we were right next to the SW start bouy.

It’s quite crazy seeing hundreds of boats, many of which are sailed by amateurs, holding back from a start line waiting to cross.

The race started! And it was already clear who might have a chance of winning! (See if you can spot them in the video below)

And indeed, they did cross the ARC+ finish line first after just 9 and a bit days.

So many boats disappearing over the horizon

Once the start line was clear, we headed into the marina with Danae and Extress. It was amazingly empty after the race started, but throughout the day it would progressively fill with the next wave of boats looking to make the crossing.

This was our first time mooring Mediterranean style, but all went smoothly. We decided to come in bow first next to a lovely German boat called Beagle, got our lines attached on the bow, pulled back, and sorted out the rest.

We ended up with quite a few lines on the front, all with anti-chafe and anti-chafe for the anti-chafe in various places as we found this marina to move around quite a lot.

And when we wondered around the marina, we saw that Maiden was also in the marina!

Maiden is a 58 foot aluminium ocean racing yacht built in 1979, designed by Bruce Farr and raced by Pierre Fehlmann, Bertie Reed and Tracy Edwards and John Bankart. Edwards bought the yacht in 1987 to compete in the 1989–90 Whitbread Round the World Race with an all-female crew.

Journey to Mindelo, Cape Verde

Journey to Mindelo, Cape Verde

On the way to Mindelo we stopped off at a few other places.

Firstly Ilhéu Branco, which is an uninhabited 278-hectare islet. And secondly an anchorage on the south of Santa Luzia

We then headed to Mindelo on the day that they ARC+ would start, but our arrival and the chaos at the anchorage and start line will follow in another blog post!

We didn’t need to think much about our anchorages or how we were getting there, as at this point we were mostly just following Extress and their route on the way to Mindelo.

We stopped in at Ilhéu Branco for lunch, which fortunately we caught just as we approached the anchorage.

We didn’t hang around for long after lunch. When pulling up our anchor though, it wouldn’t come, and was stuck on something on the bottom. We quickly dived in to have a look at what was going on, and it turned out to be slightly caught under a lip of rock. We dragged it out and it came up with ease.

On the way to the next anchorage, we hit a fairly big acceleration zone between the islands leading to some fun heeled-over sailing.

Here you can see Extress ahead of us.

At the second anchorage, we ended up eating aboard Extress once again with some BBQed pizzas 🙂

These little BBQs are pretty awesome. They some with pizza stones, and you can easily pick them up and move them while they are BBQing as the outside doesn’t get hot!

We set off early the next day to head to Mindelo which would be our final stop before our Atlantic crossing.

São Nicolau, Cape Verde

São Nicolau, Cape Verde

Leaving Sal Rei, we set off just behind Danae on the way to São Nicolau. Our friends on Extress at this point were still on the last island but were also going to meet us in São Nicolau.

We stopped at 2 anchorages on the island.

South East

The first anchorage was at the foot of 2 hills that seemed to channel the wind down from 2 alternating directions in large gusts.

A review that we had seen on the Navily anchorage app spoke of a small community-run restaurant ashore, so we went to investigate!

Happily, we found it, and found Anna as the sign instructed. They opened the restaurant for us and we had some lively rice, veg, fish and beers.

The menu did include many other dishes, but perhaps they don’t stock for these very often.

Once again the snorkeling in the anchorage was fantastic!

Such clear water, and such great wildlife.

Here, I (Adam) had an opportunity to borrow the windsurfing kit aboard Extress, which I jumped at!

Second windsurf of the week, brilliant!!! And this time with some pictures and videos!!!

Extress also caught 2 large Mahi-mahi on the way to the anchorage which we of course had to help them eat! (but, no pics…)

Tarrafell (South West)

Our second anchorage on the island was Tarrafell, which was near a much larger town in comparison to anchorage 1.

Here we played some games of Kubb with our friends from Extress

Sal Rei, Boa Vista, Cape Verde

Sal Rei, Boa Vista, Cape Verde

We left Baia Da Mordeir a day or so before Extress, but the day after Danae, so decided to just head to the same anchorage as Danae!

This brought us down south to the next of the Cape Verde islands.

The approach was quite interesting, as there was a heavy swell coming into Cape Verde at the time, and it was managing to curve around most of the headlands and island features. The approach also had some shallows to the south also causing breaking swell. As a result, there were breaking wave all over the place, but also a nice clear path into the anchorage.

In the picture to the right, you can see the general swell direction (red arrows), as well as swell lines curving around the land (red lines), which lead to swell from all directions (green arrows). Our approach was roughly the white dotted line.

This also led to lots of opportunities to catch little waves surfing later, from all kinds of directions 😉

In fact, in the middle of the protected area, there is a sand bank that gets hit by a swell from both directions. Here, if you are lucky, you can catch small waves both to the south and then ride a wave back north again!

The swell continued in this anchorage the whole time we were there. The swell would push us forward a few meters and then the wind would blow us back on the anchor. Again, not super uncomfortable, but annoying to be moving all of the time.

In Sal Rei, Kathryn went Kitesurfing and Adam went Windsurfing, but we are pictureless!

The plan was to try wing foiling again, but unfortunately, the wind didn’t really behave.

We stayed in Sal Rei for a number of days before heading off to the next anchorage with both Danae and Extress, coming in the next post.

Baia da Mordeira, Sal, Cape Verde

Baia da Mordeira, Sal, Cape Verde

This was our final stop on the island of Sal after leaving Palmeria.

As you can see, we didn’t make our way directly to the anchorage, instead sailing around the bay a little.

What were we doing you might ask?

Playing around on the SUP behind the boat we would answer!

This anchorage ended up being a lot of fun. The exception was the seemingly hundreds of flies that would fly through the boat every single day…

The snorkeling was pretty good, the water was clear, and warm enough to comfortably stay in for hours if you wanted.

We kept seeing turtle heads pop up above the water, but no matter how often we tried to see them under the water, we always failed.

While at anchor we did a little fishing off the back of the boat after seeing the tasty-looking fish swimming around the boat, and we were actually quite successful.

We caught a couple of little tiny fish which we used for bait, as well as a set of small fly lures which landed us a tasty little sea bream

The live bait did get a bite, but unfortunately, the line broke and we never found out what it was.

This prompted a little BBQ aboard Extress with Danae too where we all got chatting more.

We discovered that Danae had a wing foil setup, and the next day we were invited to have a go! On the whole, we were pleased at how well it went! Maybe this is the next toy we should buy? 😉

As the swell picked up, it curved around the headland corner that was protecting us and started to bring swell directly into the beach.

This led once again to another little SUP surfing opportunity, this time within paddling distance of the boat (though it was straight onto rocks)

As the swell continued to build, it also started reaching the beach which made for some better surfing (but we didn’t get any pictures). The following day multiple surf schools showed up to surf this break.

This also lead to some quite interesting swell rolling straight through the anchorage.

By this point, Danae had left to head on to the next island, but alongside Extress we stayed for another night. Extress threw out a stern anchor and we moved further off shore into some deeper water to lessen the effecter of the swell.

Although this swell rolled right through the anchorage, it didn’t end up being an uncomfortable nights sleep for us.

Palmeria, Sal, Cape Verde

Palmeria, Sal, Cape Verde

We made it to Cape Verde! You can read more about our journey here in the previous post where we had a little race with 2 other boats..

Our first and only anchorage in Sal was a little town called Palmeria, where we could clear customs and get our passport stamps.

Blue Note, our racing buddies, wouldn’t arrive until the following evening, and before they did we set off on a little island exploration walking for over an hour from Palmeria to “Buracona – Blue Eye Cave” that apparently had a bar and restaurant. Unfortunately, when we arrived they said they were closing in an hour and wouldn’t let us in? So we ended up wandering into the desert of the island for an hour also before looping back to Palmeria completing our 3-4 hour walk to nowhere. But it was nice to get some walking done after being on a crossing for the past 6 days.

We also finally found out what the little tourist submarines look like under the water as one was out on the dry in the town.

In the evening we met up again with our new Dutch friends on from Extress and Danae to eat at one of the local restaurants and wait for Blue Note to arrive.

The anchorage ended up being very useful, we managed to top of with water in our jerry cans. There were a reasonably priced laundry service where they would pick up laundry from your boat and deliver it back, and it was very well protected.

After a few days we were ready to set off to the next anchorage, following Extress and Danae (This will b a running theme through most of Cape Verde)

Canaries to Cape Verde (a race)

Canaries to Cape Verde (a race)

Time for the longest crossing yet, the Canaries down to Cape Verde.

In theory, an easy crossing, as you should be able to follow the trade winds that run down the coast of Africa before they head across the Atlantic ocean. These are the same winds followed by Christopher Columbus and are well known.

And it was indeed fairly straightforward.

In terms of the sailing, we set off just before noon and an hour or so just motoring to get out of the lull to the south of the Island.

Blue Note left first, with us closely following behind. Extress needed to go to the harbor to fill up with water and they left roughly 1 hour after.

Blue Note, motoring in the lull

After that, we spent most of the first day on a broad reach while trying to stay in the shelter of La Gomera to avoid swell that was still hanging around in the Atlantic.

On the first evening, we switched to a run using our twin-head sail setup (1 Genoa & 1 Ghoster). We poled the ghoster out on our large spinnaker pole, while poling out the geno using the main boom.

We remained that way until the final day (day 6), when we switched back to a broad reach.

This was the first trip that we were sailing with other boats and tried to stay in VHF contact where possible. We all radioed each other on the first evening to compare positions, but at this stage we could all still see each other on AIS.

Both Blue Note and Extress had headed a little further west than us to start.

On the second day we could no longer see Blue note on AIS or reach them over the VHF. We managed to keep up daily communication with Extress reporting positions. The race was on!

Due to the position reports, we managed to roughly track where everyone was, and although we couldn’t talk to Blue Note or see them on AIS constantly, they seemed to pop up once a day so toward the start so we could also track their course.

In the map below, we are in green, Extress in orange and blue note in Blue.

(Yes we took this race very seriously)

During the last night, Extress crossed over our track and started to overtake us. We saw this coming, but didn’t want to change our sail plan in the middle of the night, so let it happen. This lead to Extress arriving 1 hour before us even though we were gaining on them at some points of the last day.

We arrived just after dark, but anchoring was made easy by a local guy called Jay who came over to us and directed us to a nice little spot on the far side of the anchorage.

Extress, who we had only spoken to over VHF, called us up to invite us over for drinks, so after a quick dinner, we headed over and met the 4 Extress crew as well as 2 from Danae, another dutch boat we had not yet met.

We had a few nice wildlife interactions on this crossing, with a bird coming and landing on deck for a little rest overnight. It found one of the only sheltered places on the foredeck, under the anchor windlass.

We also saw a group of whales chilling at the surface, possibly sleeping. They were only 10-20 meters away from us as we passed.

Once again, cool wildlife brings out the best squeaks from all of us.