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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.

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.

Day 60-62: The chase from Porto to Aveiro

Day 60-62: The chase from Porto to Aveiro

It looked like it was going to be a windy sail on leaving the safe harbour of Porto so we went with one reef in the main sail and the genoa had a little furl in, and the mizzen up in full.. the perfect set up really as we shot along at 8.5knots with a following swell that got us up to 9 or even 10 knots on occasion.

The race was on to catch up with SV Blue Note! Who we could see on AIS, we were catching up with speed.

A couple of hours or so in, the wind had dropped off just a little so all of the sail went up to try to maintain our speed, and we managed a very modest 6 or so knots for a few more hours

Half way through our sail we were on track to catch Blue Note just as we entered Aveiro.

The excitement however, started to diminish as our speed got slower and slower, the wind was really tailing off as the day drew on and we realised we were not going to catch up 🙁

Instead we finally got to the anchorage at about 11pm and we passed Blue Note on our lap of the anchorage trying to find a space, looked like they had packed up and gone to bed! The race will have to continue another day

The anchorage was packed out with sailing boats and we actually had difficulty finding a good spot so we ended up very close to a car ferry channel

In the morning after a few boats had left we were able to move to a better spot and not feel like we were in the path of all the little fishing boats coming and going

SV Blue Note went on their way and we said goodbye to them as the customs police came along side to check our documents, they were nice and chatty and liked our new paint job and told us about a good bakery, we also asked the story behind the giant wrecked trimaran that we were anchored next to.

Apparently some years ago it was being sailed by its French owners not far offshore from the harbour we were in when it was dismasted, it came in but the insurance didn’t pay out so it lay there dormant slowly being picked at by thieves till all that was left was a hull (or three really!) and it’s engine which the police said only hasn’t been stolen due to it being too heavy to get out of the boat!

The small town was interesting, it used to be purely made up of a naval base and ship building yard, and everyone who lived there worked in one or the other, over time the ship building yard became derelict, we walked around the dilapidated buildings trying to figure out what it used to be, for some time, eventually after translating some signs and finding some paperwork from the 1970s we realized it was a ship building yard

Nowadays it looks like some people use the spaces to hang out and there were some cool looking graffiti sprays on the walls.

We moved on to find some fresh veg and then headed back to the boat for an early night ready for our sail to Figueira da Foz the following day.