Last days in Las Palmas I spent in growing excitement about coming soon departure. CIty, which welcomed me and my boat for 20 days, began to overwhelm me already. Every day the noise from the streets, you cannot see the stars and each morning the boatcrane began work from honking just before starting up its loud engine. Also one forklift operated every time since 8 to 10 am, waking me better than any beeper, because it semt to ALWAYS drive only on reverse with irritating beeeep-beeeeep-beeeeep! On the other hand, it is delightful to have a cheap and safe place in marina with electricity, water, showers 24/h. What’s more – I became owner of the bicycle for the last 4 days there. It was found by Benjamin, who gave it tob me since he already had his 2 wheels, which I constantly borrowed from him to go to town or shopping. My bike (mountain-so!) had one single working gear left, unchangable. As well as welded with salt height of seat, too low for me obviously. Also, a rusty hole in the frame but netherless it rolled and even has been able to stop (working brakes!) and in the back there was a tied practical shopping basket. Just before departure I handed it over to french sailors from another yacht.
Some of my yacht friends have already departed. To Maria and Modrison swedish skerry-yacht “Tua-Lisa” we waved warm goodbye with Benjamin, going to the furthest point of breakwater and waving long time. They sailed off to Mindelo too. Next Benji was ready and on his 6,5 meter Muscadet he left Las Palmas to Porto Santo. Both boats reached destintions happily. I was finishing the touch – ups on “King”. I created a long to-do list and I covered every point of it. Finally I was ready.
I also learned a bit how to surf on surfboard and bodyboard, that was on my birthday – for this attraction we were taken by kind waitres from the marina “Chocolate” cafe, Carlota. I also rode longboard, handed over to me by ania and Sara from travelonlongboard.pl crew. But I wouldn’t ultimately buy one although I wanted at the beggining, the riding is too slow for me and asymetrical.After all, my boat was already low in water – I guess waterline was submerged too. I couldn’t tak more kilos. I overexaggerated with shopping a bit, I had so much food that I could open a small restaurant. Besides all those oranges, mandarines, apples and pears in the net weighted even more.
I sailed off on 13th of january, neverless the unlucky date. I was waved goodbye by my fellow french sailor, Laurent. After I left the harbour on sails, in fresh breeze, the wind started to calm down gradually up to the point of total calm and it was to start blowing again in the late evening. So I lightened my gas tank a bit, because I didn’t want to stay in the shadow of Gran Canaria for the day or so. The wind came, at the beggining very calm. I felt wonderful peace and tranquillity sailing to the south west. My good humour was the cause that I finally was sailing rather than because of the winds. On the second night I went out to cockpit just to hear the almost total silence. Even my rigging wasn’t making to much noise, the calm was absolute, which is so rare on the open sea, I was on already. I went back to making a model of my boat which I was glueing from cardboard, had it printed in Las Palmas before. In total, I wouldn’t like to do this for the 4 days out of ten of my passage – that was like a meter of good conditions. Again, I found flaw in my VHF antena cable or the pin. I swiched again to emergency antenna I have mounted on the deck level, tied to the shroud. Despite not being high, it gave acceptable range of AIS and VHF clear calls. The maximum radius on the screen of AIS is 32 Nm anyway. sonn the trade winds kicked in but with the very agreeable force of 4B. As the conditions were good, I coocked normally. I also ate as fast as I could all the oranges which were going bad, cutting off the molded parts. I enjoyed the sailing and small pleasures too. Can you imagine how much joy you can find in smelling deeply your woolen hat? I did the laundry before departure, but instead of washing fluid I used just too much of the aromatic fluid, my bad when I was shopping! I can swear, I also smelled the flag from the aft, sitting in my open cabin, when it blew in my direction!
The following days were more exaggerating. It blew harder, from which for two days the wind didn’t go below steady 5-6 B. I had to slow down ,unable to use the mainsail, it only caused breeching. I strangled some muscle in my neck also when taking reefs and that pain accompanied me for those 2 worse days, I couldn’t turn my head to the right.
Once, I couldn’t cope with genaker in the stiffening wind and I had to pull it downdirectly to water and than retreive it from there. Apart from that, one fierceful wave came into my cabin, just as I lurked out to the cockip, so I could watch the whole spectacle of breeching, heeling and taking water. And also of the end of the boom, which was blocked with sheets and countersheets on the side, went underwater and the inox eye through which the sheet was guided was torn away from it. But that’s my fault cause I used it to tie the countersheet, taht was too much tension on that part. By the way, things usually happened when I was just taking a look out. The other time – SPLASH/Whaam-bam, the small squid just landed before me on the lids of the central trunks. I don’t know if they can jump>?! Rather maybe he was lost by some seabird, which went on hungry this time. I laughed, took photos of him and released with a nice throw overboard. Or at least that was what I thought I’m doing, cause in the morning I found the squid (Same one?? Other??) dried dead on the semideck… I hope that was another! In the mornings I also found twice a set of two flying fishes on the decks, but very small, dead of course. Apart from that the ocean was very lonesome and with no animals. Once – dolphins, OK… only once and in the night. I heard them squiking through the halyard hole in my centerboard case, I swear! It is connected to my cabin close to where I have head when sleeping or lying down by other holes, so I can constantly hear the boat “breathing” – that’s compressed air in the centerboard case. Besides also there were some seagulls, african I guess. The lovers of Monty Python shall know how much in pounds African Seagull can carry! 😉 More african accents – heard some islamic singing on channel 16, just played constantly, without respect for the rule of non-occupying that channel! Also, the sheets on the bow, my flag and sails a bit, were covered in slight but clearly visible brown dust from Sahara.
There were some cooking watches which I must call just terrible. I was having a sense that as much calories I eat later, I use for holding the pot for whole time in uncomfortable position and dying of hot, because every time I opened the back of the sprayhood a bit more, the trade wind was putting out my fire on the stove. Few dishes which were spilled out in half or water boiling for the pasta – I accepted it as a sad but normal situation, not without heavy swearing though.
Soemtimes I was stabilising the boat by a decent area of front sails and a sea anchor from the aft – especialy on the rougher nights. Once I already thought I lost Filip’s cone – that’s his souvenir from Norway 2012 😉 – that was because when I was pulling it after night I dodn’t feel too much resistance, but the truth was that it just tangled around the anchor which was its weight. The other time I towed only the foldable anchor, but the bloody item opened up in water and twisted the 40 meters rope really good. even for that purpose this miserable type of anchor is no good. From the possible usage of it there is only boarding of other vessel (abordage) left, because do not EVER attempt to use foldable anchor as an anchor, even for the dinghy, I repeat it every time. Hardly I pulled it back for 5 minutes and than I tried to stay clear with twisting iron from my freeboard! If not the fact that it is borrewed as well, I would already search for the sucker to give me some normal iron weight for it in barter.
One day brang the weakening of my mood. I didn’t have to do anything with the sails, but because of that I felt like a sack of potatoes. I slept a lot of time and I wasn’t keen on preparing food nor eating. In the evening the mood went up, I sat down in cockpit and hand steered for hour and a half. Later – enthusiasm kicked in even, I was past the half of the way.
Very often I lifted and lowered the centerboard. In fact, most of the way it was up by 25 to 50%! It doesn’t cause more heeling as you could think, but its greatly helping with the breeaching problem. The windvane has less weather on the rudder. I only put it down fully when the waves were crossing or interfering and sea got a bit lumpy, than the rolling of the boat slows down.
4 last days were very lonely. Not even one ship on AIS and on horizon, there was noone to ask for a weather forecast (before I asked other ship and I got the forecast for 20 and 21st of January, by the way after all it was blowing more…). On last days the sail went on more and more smooth, and we slowed down too as the wind weakened. I even got back to making my model. I missed people a lot! I was begging for even to have a cut to cuddle at that moment. I promised myself to give a lot of love to the first cat I will meet in Mindelo. BTW, I still haven’t met ANY! What they are doing to those poor creatures!? Why no cats on streets? Not only I missed friends, but also even contact with strangers. I hoped to see Maria and Modris from Tua-Lisa, but as I got to Mindelo, they were already gone as well as other french yacht “Lou-Fok (my wife)”. Heh, I’m writing this words from the cabin after those 4 days of not seeing any ship and suddenly – a 40meters motor yacht just lurked out from behind my sprayhood, 2 cables away passing me in other direction. We talked on radio, he was going to Las Palmas (m/y Australis). 2 hours later I met the SAR ship “Baltimore”, at least my AIS said so, because all I could see on water was just an old fishing-like vessel, doing merely 6-7 knots. Skipper told me on radio that they are the escort of Australis, but that made little sense since Australis was pushing 10 easily. So he said that they will go more for 2 days or so and than turn back, so we will meet in Mindelo. we wished good journeys, as always. I feel exotic in parts of the world where SAR vessel is pushing 7 knots max… I wonder if thay have anything faster there in Mindelo Last 40 miles was a struggle to make good speed, adding sails constantly as the wind sat down. Typically you can have 12hours left to the destination, but for 24 hours 😉 You take a look at ETA and there is blocked ammount of time for many hours as the speed decreases. Damn, it’s really getting calm – well, at least I can cook and not holding the pot! OK, there is still something in the air. And than night breeze kicked in and actually I flid to the bay with nice speed (and local current helped too) – until last moment I used only sails and the engine I just started to have the boat precisely in good spot on the ancorage and than test the holding. I anchored at 0520 ship time (0420 local). I poured myself a drink of victory and went to sleep. Success, again Nice job, boat.
The top day score was 107,4, the least was 81, 3 days were above 100. It took not full 10 days to cover 875 Nm in straight line.