One Day at
People frequently ask me "How do you sail around the world on a small
boat?". My answer is always the same: "We do it one day at a time."
I'm the first
mate, cook, and navigator on Exit Only.
Welcome to my
Journal 1 -
Gibraltar to Canary Islands
Journal 2 - Across the Atlantic
Journal 3 - Barbados to Canouan
Journal 4 - Tobago
Cays to Trinidad
Journal 5 - Trinidad to
31 December 2005/Saturday/Bridgetown, Barbados
Today is called Old Year's Day in Barbados. Normally, the shops are open
only until noon on Saturday. People have told us that will happen today and
as usual, everything will be closed tomorrow because it is Sunday...and New
Year's Day. Because New Year's Day falls on Sunday, the government has
declared Monday a holiday to make up for that.
Dito and I went into town about 1030 in the morning to go to the outdoor
fruit and vegetable market. We chained the dinghy to a ladder in the
Careenage and walked down the street about five minutes toward the cruise
ship terminal. We walked by the Cloister Bookshop and popped in to have a
quick look. They had an amazing variety of books for a small shop. We headed
on down the street another five minutes and discovered that the market
called Cheapside Market is open everyday of the week, but Friday and
Saturday are the "big" days. There were vendors inside the market building
and more vendors outside with portable tables and umbrellas for shade. The
vendors are very polite and if you say, "No, thank you", they don't hassle
you. We bought beautiful imported apples from Chile, broccoli from a Rasta
man with the biggest crocheted hat on his head, locally grown ripe tomatoes,
and small-leaf basil. I am trying to root the basil in water. I carried my
own basil plant (and used the leaves for salad and sandwiches) from Turkey
to Gibraltar, but the pot got salt water in it on the wild ride south of
Gibraltar, so the plants died. Dito and I agreed Sarah would enjoy coming to
the market next Friday. I want to get some pictures of the colorful people
and the colorful fruits and vegetables. We wished everyone a happy new year
and they wished us the same.
Next, we walked into the shopping area of downtown, maybe a ten minute walk.
David wanted to go check out a couple of internet places and see if we could
make a "deal" with any of them to do a few hours at a lower cost. Internet
is so expensive here, we haven't done any yet. Dave and Dito want to upload
some more pages onto the web site, but it will take time. I went into Cave
Shepherd Department Store to have a good look around. We agreed to meet in a
half hour upstairs at the Pages Bookshop. This is the quite an extensive
book ship right in the department store.
Back at the boat, we had a quick lunch, then Dave took Dito in to catch the
airport bus that leaves every hour on the hour from downtown. Dito left at
1400 to meet Sarah's plane at 1515. Several people told Dito there is one
two-lane road going to the airport and it can get very congested with
traffic. Everything went well, so Dito was at the airport in plenty of time
to meet Sarah's plane. Sarah had quite a stressful experience in Atlanta
because her plane from Cinci to Atlanta was late getting in. She had 20
minutes to get from the far end of A terminal to the far end of E terminal.
She will be staying in Barbados for one week.
I spent the afternoon making cookies. Dave loves his cut-out, decorated
sugar cookies at Christmas and as challenging as it is to roll out cookie
dough and cut out cookies in the limited space I have on the boat, somehow
we manage to work them in every year. We seem to enjoy making them...and
eating them...sometime in the week around New Year's. I especially miss
Wendy's help, because she is so patient with rolling out the dough and
cutting out the cookies. I also made some peanut butter cookies and brownies
to serve on Sunday when AQUABI and KITTIWAKE are coming over in the evening.
Dave and I didn't stay up to see Old Year's Day end and New Year's Day
begin, but the hullabaloo on the beach at the Boat Yard and Harbour Lights
(restaurant/bar type places near us on the beach) made sure everybody in
Bridgetown knew when the magic moment happened. Dave stayed up because he
knew there would be a lot of noise. I actually was asleep, but the fireworks
woke me up and everyone we have talked to on other boats all saw and heard
the fireworks that heralded 2006.
30 December 2005/Friday/Bridgetown, Barbados
Another sunny morning in Barbados with clouds gathering over the island to
drop brief showers in the afternoon. The Christmas winds were certainly
blowing again all day today, but the water in the harbor is pretty smooth
until the sport fishing boats come by. We are anchored near the mouth of the
Careenage (I was pronouncing it the French way..."car-ee-naj", then I heard
a local say it "cah-reen-age"). The Careenage is a narrow river that goes
into the town. We take our dinghy in there and chain it to one of the
stainless ladders provided to climb up onto the boardwalk along the side of
Dave dropped me off at one of the ladders and I walked to Trimart
Supermarket by the bridge that crosses the Careenage. Trimart isn't the best
or worst supermarket I have shopped in. It is clean and tidy, so it is easy
to see what is available. There is a small amount of fresh fruit and
vegetables, but I didn't buy much of those, because I will check out the
outdoor market tomorrow. Most of the meats are frozen but there are packets
of chicken and beef in the fresh meat case. I didn't find anything there
that looked like something I wanted to cook. Dave says he thinks being
vegetarian here will be easy...chicken feet, frozen pigs ears, etc. are
available, but not what we had in mind. We don't eat much meat anyway, so we
are going to enjoy
treats like imported apples and iceberg lettuce in our salads. I did buy
Tang, Bisquick, Jif peanut butter, Hellman's mayonnaise, New Zealand cheeses
and butter, and tinned Contadina pizza sauce. These are all brands we are
familiar with and haven't seen for a long time. I bought local jams...guava
seems very popular here and is locally made. Quite a few of the basic
cooking, baking, and household products are imported from Trinidad. They
sell vegetable oil, corn oil, and soya oil for cooking. Olive oil is
available, but cost prohibitive to buy. There is one small shelf area
dedicated to soy products...UHT soy milk and soy granules that are supposed
to taste like meat after you soak them in boiling water (I didn't buy them,
but they didn't look appetizing at all). Coca Cola and Pepsi both have
bottling plants on the island. Almost all of the pop is sold in plastic
bottles, not tins. We prefer Diet Coke, but only Regular Coke was on the
shelves. There was plenty of Regular Pepsi and Diet Pepsi, so we bought
We decided to have some folks over on New Year's Day, Sunday, to have a
little party since we "missed" Christmas because we were on passage and to
celebrate crossing the Atlantic Ocean successfully. Also, Sarah is coming in
tomorrow, so it will be a chance for her to meet some of the other cruisers
anchored here, too. This will give me the motivation to make some holiday
29 December 2005/Thursday/Bridgetown, Barbados
We got up this morning thinking Sarah would be arriving today. Instead, Dito
received an e-mail from Sarah in Kentucky saying her plans had changed and
she would be arriving 31 December.
Dave started the engine in the morning to make power so he and Dito could
run computers, cameras, and the water maker at the same time. The water is
clean enough here in the anchorage to make water, so that is a bonus. Dave
and Dito are working on updates for the maxingout.com website. We have heard
a rumor that wireless internet will be available here in the anchorage on
Friday (tomorrow--because the internet technician will be back from
holiday), so they are trying to have pages ready to upload , if and when
internet becomes available. The source of the wireless internet is the Grand
Bahama Hotel. The manager at the hotel told another yachtie that they do not
mind people using their wireless internet and the connection is open
(meaning no code is needed to access the line). This sounds almost too good
to be true when internet places in Bridgetown are charging $7.00 USD/hour to
use their machines. At the cruise ship terminal, it costs $12.00 USD/hour to
use the machines. Dave said no one was using any of the machines they have
seen at the terminal or in town. Who pays that kind of money for internet? I
am sure the cruise ships must have internet on board. We won't be paying
those prices, even if it means waiting until we move on to another
island/country to upload the new web site pages.
My mission today was to find some groceries. Our cruising guide book and
general guide book both mention a Super Center grocery store at Holetown in
the West Coast Mall. I decided to go to the Barbados Information Center at
the cruise ship terminal and find out more about this mall. Dave took me in
to the town quay and dropped me off with my passport, local money, and a VHF
mobile radio. I walked north from the quay and happened to discover the
Cloisters Book Shop. I had read about this shop, so stopped in to have a
look. The book shops in this town are numerous and the three book shops I
have been in were full of locals perusing and buying books. I bought some
postcards, then continued north to the cruise ship terminal. There were five
cruise ships in port today, so all along the road I passed tourists coming
from the ships walking into town. Most of the tourists get off the ships and
immediately board tour buses that carry them around town and the island. It
took 20 minutes to walk to the terminal and the area I walked through
was not awful, but not really good either. I think a lot of people who
haven't spent time in Third World countries would feel uncomfortable there.
There were plenty of people and shops, but everything was run down.
When I got to the security gate at the terminal, I was given a visitor's
pass and told to wear it at all times. Locals cannot go inside the gate
unless they are a taxi driver or with a tour company. I went immediately to
the information desk. There, I found a lovely brochure about West Coast Mall
and I asked at the desk how to find the right bus to get to this mall. I was
told to go to the bus station 10 minutes south of the terminal and ask
there. I went there and started showing people the brochure for the mall.
When I said, "West Coast Mall", everyone said, "What?" When I showed them
the brochure, they told me to get on one of the yellow coaster-size buses. I
paid $1.50 BD/ 75 cents USD on the bus to ride. There is one two-lane road
going north along the coast. It was full of traffic, so we moved slowly
through Bridgetown and out into the countryside listening to blaring reggae
rap music. The clean, shiny looking buildings in downtown Bridgetown quickly
give way to smaller wooden buildings as we left town. There were security
bars on every window of every building. The wooden houses have solid
shutters on every window.
The people on the bus told me when I should get off the bus as we approached
Holetown. There is Sunset Crest Mall, then West Coast Mall. Both are a
single story made up of many shops hooked together. Nice, but nothing
special. I found Super Center grocery store easily. Most of the foods are
imported. I won't be buying a lot of groceries here because things are very
expensive and I can wait until we get to Trinidad. I will admit it was good
to see Jif Peanut Butter and Bisquick. I bought carrots from Canada and
iceberg lettuce from the USA. All of the cheese was from New Zealand, both
Anchor and Mainland brands. Most of the meat products were frozen. I bought
a few things that I could easily carry and headed out to find the return bus
stop. Catching a bus to Bridgetown was easy. Back at the quay, I called EXIT
ONLY on the VHF mobile and Dave came and picked me up.
I enjoyed my adventure today, but I think I will do the rest of my grocery
shopping at the the medium-size grocery store in downtown Bridgetown while
we are here. After Sarah returns to Kentucky, we will be moving on from this
island to Bequia in the Grenadines.
28 December 2005/Wednesday/Bridgetown, Barbados
Another busy morning of boatwork today...Dave worked on the cockpit,
cleaning it up, washing it with salt water, then rinsing it with fresh
water. Dito was helping Dave, then he cleaned the head, too. I continued to
work on the provisions, this time the ones in the starboard hull. I finally
finished going through the food that is on board, so I know what we have and
what we need once again.
We decided to eat off the boat again today, so we went into town at lunch
time. This time we chose to go to Kentucky Fried Chicken. It is quite
expensive compared to other KFC restaurants we have eaten at in many other
countries, but the quality of the food was good and we enjoyed the meal. The
restaurant was really crowded with well-dressed people eating lunch. We
assumed a lot of these folks were on their lunch hour from work in town.
Town was full of people today! The streets looked very different with open
shops and crowded sidewalks. There are shops selling the usual souvenir odds
and ends next to shops selling Colombian emeralds, cut glass from
Switzerland, expensive perfumes from around the world, etc. We were reminded
of Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas. The biggest department store in town is
called Cave Sheppard's. We went in there to look at the huge bookshop
upstairs and to ask a couple of questions at the tourist information desk.
Unfortunately, the information lady told us there is no coin laundromat in
Bridgetown, so we are going to have to do our own laundry by hand on the
We kept walking around town to check it out and we looked for a supermarket.
We found two or three small supermarkets, but I didn't want to buy anything
in them. We saw packages of "chicken steppers" sold by the gram. These were
chicken feet. We did find a larger supermarket near the walking bridge that
crosses the carenage, the narrow area where small boats can come into the
heart of town. We can take our dinghy to this bridge and it will be easy
carry groceries from the larger supermarket to the dinghy. We will go back
to this supermarket to do some shopping another time. Outside the
supermarket on the sidewalk, several people were selling fruits and
vegetables. I told one man I wanted four bananas. He said that would be $3
BD/$1.50 USD. I said, "No, thank you" and walked away. I think we can do
better than that. I find myself
wanting to wear a sign saying, "I am not traveling on a cruise ship."
On the way back to the dinghy, we stopped in a bakery to buy bread. There
was nothing for sale in the bakery...the cupboard was bare. Obviously, we
are going to have to go in early to buy bread, because it is sold out by
noon. I bought a couple of baguettes at the large grocery store, so we will
get by until tomorrow.
Dave and Dito dropped me off at the boat, then went down the beach to the
petrol station where they bought fuel for the dinghy motor. They made it
back before the afternoon showers passed by with just a sprinkle today. The
people to the north of us got the real downpour today.
Sarah is going to fly in to Barbados from Kentucky tomorrow, so Dito is
really looking forward to her arrival. She will be on the boat for a week or
so and we will be staying in Barbados while she is visiting.
27 December 2005/Tuesday/Bridgetown, Barbados
Things look pretty quiet in town again today because this is another
holiday. Since Christmas fell on Sunday and they got "cheated" out of a
holiday, the government gave everyone Tuesday off as a holiday, too. The
cruise ship dock is certainly busy, because the Queen Mary II, the largest
cruise ship in the world (we were told this fact by the Customs officer)
came in today.
We spent the morning doing more clean-up on the boat. Dave, David, and
Morgan folded up the extra foresail, and cleaned up the foredeck. I worked
more in the galley going through the pantry. Things get a little jumbled up
in there when we bounce along for 16 days. I took everything out, checked
that the tins and bottles were intact, and made a shopping list for new
supplies. We used quite a lot of our provisions traveling from the Canary
Islands to the Cape Verde Islands to Barbados.
Morgan finished packing up his stuff. His plane leaves the airport for
Toronto at 1605 local time today and he is supposed to be at the airport by
1400. Since most of the town was closed today, there wasn't much traffic
except the tour buses and taxis carrying tourists here and there. The
airport is 8 miles from town on the southeastern side of the island.
We all went in to shore around lunch time. Some cruisers had told us there
was a local fast food restaurant called Chefette that was sort of like
Burger King. They said the ice cream there was really good. We thought that
sounded interesting and wanted to check it out. We ran into some cruisers at
the quay who told us about a place they found that serves marlin burgers
(fish sandwiches using blue marlin). We walked to this little local bar and
grill where they asked the lady cooking fish to give us a taste of marlin.
We all tasted the marlin...not bad. We decided we would go for the Chefette
today and went back there. We ordered hamburgers and chicken sandwiches.
Let's just say they are a Burger King "wannabe", but have a long way to go.
We had ice cream for dessert and it was delicious. We will definitely go
back, skip the sandwiches, and order the ice cream.
We walked around town, but few businesses were open. We saw a burst of
activity on one short street where the book makers take bets on the horse
races. Horse racing is really big here. They talk on the radio about flying
special horses in for special races. I haven't seen a newspaper yet, but I
imagine a few pages are about horse racing.
Back at the boat, Dave and Dito took Morgan and his gear into the quay so he
could catch a taxi to take him to the airport. We were amazed that the taxi
drivers wanted $30 Barbados Dollars ($15 USD) to go 8 miles to the airport.
Later, we discovered petrol costs about $4.50 USD per gallon. Driving a car
here is expensive.
We are looking forward to seeing the "real" Barbados when the holiday is
26 December 2005/Monday/Bridgetown, Barbados
It certainly was good to get a full night's sleep last night. There was
quite a lot of loud music on the beach late at night, but all of us were
already asleep before the music started. There are lots of tourists here in
the hotels plus the cruise ships bring 1,000-2,000+ each day during the
Basically, we were all still tired today, so we didn't plan anything too
challenging. First thing this morning, Dave, David, and Morgan took the
dinghy and went over to the cruise ship dock to see Customs and Immigration.
They said the officials were very polite and professional. Dave had to check
all of us in, then check Morgan off the crew list as he will be flying to
Canada tomorrow afternoon. It cost us $25 USD to check the boat in and out
of Barbados. The guys had a look around the shops in the cruise ship
terminal building and found sunglasses for $500 USD and Rolex watches for
$5,000 USD. They didn't buy anything.
I was back on the boat cleaning the galley. I took everything off the
counters and washed the walls, woodwork, stove top, behind the sinks, etc.
We kept the galley tidy and neat on the passage, but the galley didn't get
cleaned properly because it is too hard to stand down there any longer than
I needed to be there to fix meals and wash up afterwards. I took everything
out of the frig and wiped it down, then inspected each item for freshness.
We had a few cracked eggs (from bouncing around day after day) and I
disposed of those. The rest of the food was in good shape. Some of the
containers needed to be refilled, so I did that...catsup, mayo, Dijon, jam,
We didn't go into town today because it is another official holiday (Boxing
Day) and other yachties told us not much was open in town. A cruise ship was
here yesterday and two cruise ships are in town today. It looked like most
of the people got on buses and went on island tours, so the shops being
closed wasn't a problem. If they wanted shopping, I supposed the can shop in
the cruise ship terminal.
Dito and Morgan jumped in the warm, fairly clear water and scrubbed the
bottom of the boat. We had goose wing barnacles all over the hulls. These
are small barnacles, maybe 1/2 to 1 inch long, with white shells that look
like "goose wings". Whatever kind of glue they have in their bodies to cling
to surfaces should be bottled and sold. These little guys road all the way
across the Atlantic just hanging on to our hull. Dito kept saying it would
take "20 minutes" to clean the hull. It did...20 minutes plus 100 more
minutes! All in all, the guys worked for about 2 hours! The hulls are really
looking good now!
I fixed lunch so it was ready when the hull was finished. Dito and Morgan
were so tired, they could hardly eat. The boat sure is looking better and
those barnacles will have to find something else to cling to.
The weather pattern here seems to be no wind in the morning, sunny skies.
Late morning the light winds come up and by afternoon, the clouds gather and
scatter showers here and there. We are still enjoying and appreciating the
showers because the decks and rigging are getting a free rinse off without
us doing any work.
25 December 2005/Sunday/Bridgetown, Barbados
We had a
rollicking ride last night and into Barbados this morning. The
winds were blowing 22-30 knots steadily, so we had only one headsail up and
we were still zooming down the fronts of the swells. We spotted Barbados
from about 4 hours out, maybe 20-22 miles out. As islands go, Barbados is
not a tall mountainous island. That is why it was one of the last islands in
the Caribbean that was "discovered" in the 1500's and 1600's. Many of the
explorers went right by Barbados, either to the north or south. The
Portuguese say one of their explorers passed by in the 1580's and named the
island Los Barbudos, or the "bearded ones" (referring to the banyan trees
that grew near the coast with their air roots up in the air looking like
beards). England claimed Barbados in 1625. Since1966, the island has been
independent, but remains a part of the British Commonwealth. Barbados is 21
miles by 14 miles and is about 100 miles east of the rest of the Eastern
Caribbean islands. It is a coral island...not volcanic.
On our way into Carlisle Bay, off the city of Bridgetown, we were hailed by
two women frantically waving us over to where they were drifting along on a
jet ski that was not running. We went over by them, prepared to tow them in
to the shallow water. It turned out that they had plenty of fuel and
everything was running fine, but they did not know how to run the jet ski.
They are lucky we came along, as they were heading quickly out to sea. With
help from Morgan and David on the stern scoops of our boat, they got the jet
ski started...and almost ran it under our boat between the hulls! They were
glad to be saved and on their way. We were happy they weren't underneath our
Soon after we put down our anchor among the other 13 cruising yachts
anchored here, Bruce and Pam from AQUABI stopped by. We had been talking to
them and hearing them on the radio since the Canary Islands, but had not met
them face-to-face. They were very helpful, answering some immediate
questions about checking in, etc. They left us to settle in and get lunch on
the table. It was so wild out there this morning, we decided to eat our
lunch, Mexican Dinner, when we were anchored. Just as we were about to start
eating, here came Bruce with a map of Barbados and some of Pam's homemade
Christmas cookies. What a treat! We were all very grateful for this
The guys did some clearing up of the downwind rig on the foredeck. They
brought in the whisker poles, took off the blocks and soaked the salt off in
fresh water, folded the extra sail, etc. I cleaned up from lunch. That was
about all the energy any of us had left.
We listened to the local radio stations between 1700 and 1800 local time.
They played lots of Christmas music. Some of it was traditional and some of
it we had never heard before. One DJ had a contest, trying to get folks to
call in the answer. The question was: In the song "Twelve Days of
Christmas", what was the first gift...a partridge in a pear tree or a in a
pigeon in a pine tree? It took awhile, but finally someone called in and put
us all out of our misery having to listen to him go over and over it until
someone called. We had a good laugh over this, so maybe that was his point
in the first place...entertainment.
Everyone on EXIT ONLY was in bed and asleep by 1900. We had a good trip and
we were very grateful for that. Now, it is time to catch up on missed sleep
and relax and enjoy the warm weather and warm water. We are really happy to
be done with the Atlantic! Merry Christmas from Barbados!
23 December 2005/Friday/Sailing, Day #15
We continued to rock and roll all night and all day today. The Trade
Winds have been very steady with 18-25 knots blowing constantly. The sky
cleared last night and the stars filled the sky. There were so many
twinkling stars that it was hard to pick out the basic constellations. The
night was inky black until at least 2300, then the glowing half moon came up
looking like a huge smile. Believe me, I was smiling when the moonlight lit
up the sky and water and pushed the darkness away.
We are getting close enough to Barbados that Dave is able to predict we will
arrive in Bridgetown in the late afternoon of 25 December. We are all
disappointed to be on passage on Christmas Day, but it sure is a good
present to get to anchor and stop moving. We were able to speak to AQUABI
today on the radio. They arrived in Bridgetown yesterday. We wanted to know
if Customs and Immigration would be open on Christmas and Boxing Day (26
Dec.). They told us cruise ships arrive in Bridgetown everyday of the week,
so the officials will be on duty. We will be in too late on Sunday to check
in, but maybe we will be able to check in on Monday. We will have to wait
and see what happens when we actually arrive. Morgan is going to be flying
out, so he has to check into Barbados as part of our crew, then Dave has to
remove him from the crew list officially.
We had a bright sunny day all day today with no signs of rain showers. We
slowed the boat down to eat lunch again today, then picked up the pace after
I finished at washing dishes. I used the last of the fish and made poisson
cru (means "raw fish" in French, but I always cook my fish when I make
this). This recipe is sort of similar to the ceviche I made a few days ago.
The ceviche is from Spanish islands and has lemon juice and hot peppers for
flavor. Poisson cru is from French islands and uses lemon juice and coconut
milk for flavor. Two very different results. We eat both on small crackers.
After we all ate the poisson cru, no one was very hungry for the spaghetti
carbonera I had made, too.
22 December 2005/Thursday/Sailing, Day #14
We are rocking and rolling at a steady 6-8 knots, even 9-10 knots when we
are surfing down the front of a wave. It has been a long time since the boat
moved like this, but obviously, this catamaran was made to go downwind. I
can feel the motion down in the hulls when I am down there working in the
galley, particularly when I am doing dishes. We are using the foot pump to
bring water out of the tank to the sink right now, so I have to lean against
the cabinet, brace myself, then while standing on one foot, I work the pump
with the other foot. If I am using my hands to wash dishes, this stance can
be precarious. If the boat is slewing a lot, I ask Dave to slow it down
until I finish washing dishes.
We had the fourth lunch of mahi mahi today. I cut the fish in cubes, tossed
the cubes in seasoned flour, then sauteed the fish. I made sweet and sour
sauce to put over the fish and rice. We slowed the boat down a little so we
could eat lunch sitting comfortably at the table in the cockpit. This is the
last meal of mahi mahi, so I wonder if anyone will want to go fishing for
more fish tomorrow. I saved enough of the fish back to make some poisson cru
tomorrow. This is the absolute last of the fish.
The lack of sleep caught up with me today and I slept a total of 5 hours
during the day after sleeping from 0130 to 0730 last night. I go to sleep
immediately after going off watch, but the radio net in the morning wakes me
up. I don't mind waking up, because I enjoy hearing where everyone is and
what they have to say.
Most of the boats we know that were in Mindelo, left this morning. The Trade
Winds are good across the Atlantic, so almost everyone is under sail and
moving well. Today we had rain showers off and on almost all afternoon and
evening. The morning was clear and it cleared up again in the late evening
after the sun went down. I think some people on the net are calling these
showers "squalls", but I am not sure. We think of squalls as having wind in
them, so when the rain hits, so does the wind. The rain showers we had today
didn't last long at any time, the clouds were light (not dark), and there
was no increase or decrease in wind when it rained. We got just enough rain
to rinse the salt off the decks.
21 December 2005/Wednesday/Sailing, Day #13
Just when we thought this was another regular day sailing the savage sea,
flying along up and over the swells in front of the Trade Winds, something
special showed up. Around 1100 in the morning, Dave and I were out in the
cockpit and I was standing on the back on the starboard side listening to
music and watching the 3-4 meter-high waves. Suddenly, I spotted a long,
dark object that appeared to be riding the waves. I let out a holler and
everyone came over to the starboard side to see what it was. There was
another one, and another one riding the succession of waves marching across
the ocean. We were surrounded by a pod of whales. We think they were pilot
whales. They were roughly 15-20 feet long...half the size of the boat. Their
heads and "noses" were blunt and rounded like a whale. Their long compact
bodies were shaped like a dolphin, even including a dolphin-like fin on
their backs. Their color was khaki brown. They swam in groups of 2-4, but
their breaking through the surface for air seemed to be uncoordinated.
Dolphins seems to swim together and come up for air together.The whales
obviously saw the boat and heard us talking about them, because many of them
swam right by the starboard side of the boat just under the surface of the
water. Dave got digital photos and David got video footage...up close and
personal. It was so much fun to watch the whales body surfing in the huge
crashing waves. We saw two whales actually jump completely out of the water.
That was amazing!
We continued to run downwind in 15-25 knots of Trade Winds all day and
night. At night when I was on watch, I asked Dave to slow the boat down when
I saw we were surfing down the front of swells at 9 and 10 knots sometimes.
He rolled in a little sail and slowed us down to 7-8 knots! We were rocking
and rolling out here! We are starting to see a few ships here and there as
we get closer to the Caribbean islands. We are north of South America now,
Time stood still on board again today as I turned the clocks back one more
time zone (-3 UTC). We still have one more time zone adjustment to make for
Barbados (-4 UTC). The crew gives me such a hard time when I "turn back the
clock", because they complain about having to readjust to meal times and
radio times. Well, now they really have something to talk about. I didn't
pay much attention to the clock when I went down into the galley to fix
lunch after the whale show. It turned out that we ended up eating lunch at
1330 "new time", which was 1430 "old time" and just as we finished eating,
it was already time "new time" for the afternoon radio net! When we started
out from the Cape Verdes, the afternoon net was in the early evening and I
would make supper immediately after the net. Today, with the time changes,
the afternoon noon is now mid-afternoon. Today, no one wanted supper two
hours after they ate lunch! Dito is making a lot of jokes about "what time
I was able to make lunch and bake a cake today down in the galley, but
afterwards, when I sat down in a chair in the cockpit and could relax, I
realized how tight my muscles were feeling. I had been tensing my muscles
trying to steady myself down in the galley for so long, that the muscles
were complaining. The boat is in constant motion dancing from wave to wave,
but we aren't too uncomfortable because the wind is behind us. We had baked
mahi mahi for lunch. We have enough fish for one more meal tomorrow, then
the guys will start have to fishing again.
20 December 2005/Tuesday/Sailing, Day #12
We are moving west today, rocking and rolling our way to the Caribbean. We
did something over 160 miles on Day #11 and it looks like we will do as well
on Day #12. The swells are 3-4 meters high, but the 15-25 knot winds are
coming from the east and northeast, so we continue to move right along
heading directly for Barbados. The Autohelm is able to handle the seas, even
when the occasional cross-swell from the north sneaks in and thumps us.
The boat was in constant motion, so I found it quite a challenge to make
lunch today. I asked Dave to turn the boat straight downwind so the motion
would ease and I could feel safe sautéing the fish for lunch. Going
downwind, I managed to prepare lunch, but my stomach said, "No, thanks!"
when it was time to eat. The guys ate lunch and I laid down in the bunk and
went to sleep. Woke up feeling fine an hour later.
About half of the boats on the morning radio net were reporting a rough,
squally night last night. Once again, we were happy to report we were riding
the Trades under a sunny blue sky. There are about 25 boats that report into
the net. We are the only boat out here right now that hasn't been
encountering squalls with high winds and showers. We are on a more southerly
latitude than most of the other boats. Some of the boats behind us are
changing their headings to move farther south while heading west so maybe
they will miss some of the squalls. We are keeping our fingers crossed that
our good weather continues for a few more days.
We didn't do any fishing today as I cooked fish for lunch and there is still
two more meals in the frig, so that means fish for the next two days'
lunches. We don't have room for more fish in the frig. Speaking of fish, we
were noticing that the higher the winds and swells, the more the flying fish
seem to fly...farther and faster. I was at the back of the cockpit this
morning on watch and it seemed like every 10-15 minutes several flying fish
would erupt out of a wave and go flying across the surface of the water. It
seems like they need the height and speed of the waves to catapult them up
and over the water. Every so often one flying fish would come out of a wave
and immediately go "plop" right back into the water, instead of gliding
effortlessly across the water before diving into another wave.
19 December 2005/Monday/Sailing, Day #11
This day will be remembered as the day we caught five mahi mahis at the same
time. The guys managed to bring in three of them...26", 27", and 32" long.
The other two got away. The lures were all still there after all the fish
were removed, but one squid lure lost all of its legs. Now, it looks more
like a mouse than a squid. One of the fish they brought into the cockpit
opened its mouth and a whole 10" flying fish came out. No one minded that
two of the fish got away, because we can keep the meat in the frig long
enough to eat the three fish...more meat in the frig would be too much. All
of this activity happened about 0945 our time (UTC -2), just before the
morning radio net came on. Morgan cleaned and filleted two of the fish and
Dito did the third one with supervision. That was the first time David
cleaned a fish by himself. I tossed today's portion of fish in a bag with
seasoned flour and sauteed it in a little olive oil. Yummy!
In the afternoon, Dave and I were out in the cockpit watching the waves roll
by when I spotted some floating debris off our starboard. I had just said,
"Look! What is that?" when two mahi mahi hit the two lures we were trailing
just to see what would happen. We know mahi mahi are known to live under
debris, so I guess we should not have been surprised to see them. They shook
off the lures and got away. Dave had another strike later in the day and
that time the fish took his lure. I told him the message was to take the
lures in until we have room in the frig for more fish.
At least 18 boats reported in to the morning radio net this morning. We were
literally the only boat reporting no squalls and that we could see blue sky
in the distance. It was still overcast early this morning, but we could see
we were going to get out of it soon. The other boats were reporting squalls
with winds gusting up to 30-40 knots. Several of the boats had a long night
with little sleep because of the squalls and rain. Everyone is worried about
getting caught in gusting winds with too much sail up and tearing a sail.
This is such a long passage, everyone seems to be making conservative
choices with reefing down sails, not using fuel, etc.
We continued to sail in the Trade Winds all last night and all day today.
The boat is moving very well at 6-7 knots in 15-22 knots of wind from the
north-north-east. We didn't even have to adjust the sails today. We are
running with two headsails, wing and wing. The grib files and weather
forecasts for the next few days are all saying we are going to have these
same winds, so we are very happy about that. Even the boat seems "happy" as
it moves so easily along in these conditions.
18 December 2005/Sunday/Sailing, Day #10
We passed the mid-way mark for us between the Cape Verde Islnds and Barbados
around midnight tonight. Now, I am going to allow my brain to pay more
attention to the "distance to go to Barbados". When we had 2.000 miles to
go, that was too much to think about...too much ocean with too much weather
to deal with and too many unknowns. From 1.000 miles down to 500 miles, the
miles seem to tick off very slowly, but surely. The last 500 miles of such a
long trip goes pretty quickly if the weather is good.
The whole sky was overcast all day and into the night. Most of the boats on
the radio net, whether in front or behind us, were reporting going through
squalls with winds gusting up to 30-40+ knots. We moved steadily at 5-6+
knots all day and night because the Trade Winds were blowing us downwind at
12-18 knots. Dave says we have finally found the Trade Winds...the real
thing. We did not see the sun today, but we did not have any rain fall on
We almost caught one fish this morning, but it got off the hook before
anyone could pull it in. I waited to start lunch until 1230, waiting to see
if they caught a fish. No fish, so I made up dough to make a stromboli.
Since I had the oven on, I mixed up some oatmeal maple bar cookies, too. We
are sailing so smoothly downwind that everyone is feeling good, and that
means everyone is hungry for meals.
When I was on watch last night, I had ear phones on and I was listening to
music when I heard a big thump. Dave was laying down on the bunk in the
salon and I thought he had knocked something off the shelf and it had fallen
down into the galley. He heard the thump, too. I asked him what he knocked
over and he said he did not knock anything over. Dave got up and we both
went outside. I watched from the cockpit while Dave went forward to check
the foredeck. A flying fish about 13" long had flown out of the water right
onto our deck. I think the fish was actually stunned. It laid very still on
the deck for a minute, then started trying to flip itself back into the
water. The fish made its way to the toe rail, then Dave used the boat hook
to help it up and over the rail back into the water.
The sky was so overcast that the full moon was completely covered by thick
clouds when the moon first came up. It was so dark, you literally could not
see anything around the boat. We haven't seen a ship or other boat for at
least a week. The moon finally broke through a thin piece of cloud about
2130, but the clouds kept moving and covering the face of the moon, shutting
off the moonlight.
17 December 2005/Saturday/Sailing, Day #9
It was overcast all day again today, but we managed to dodge the squalls
and rain. The truth is, we wouldn't mind a quick rinse of fresh rainwater to
wash the salt off the topsides of the boat.
The good news is we seemed to have "found" the Trade Winds...or what is
passing for Trade Winds given the pressure systems in the Atlantic that are
influencing the weather. We got down as far south as latitude 13 degrees
before we started to head back toward 14 degrees. We had to go on a beam
reach because the winds were 12-18 knots today from the northeast. We have
been moving along at 5-6+ knots all day. This tack isn't quite as
comfortable as straight downwind, but we are all grateful to be moving.
Most of the other boats farther west than us that we hear on the radio net
have had some thunderstorms and rain squalls. A couple of the boats have
torn at least one sail because they could not reduce sail quickly enough
when a squall hit them.
We did not catch any fish again today. It certainly isn't because the guys
aren't trying hard. They had 6 or 8 lures out! Someone on the radio
suggested maybe there is too much to choose from and the fish are confused,
so don't go after any lure. I waited until 1300 to start fixing lunch again
today, just in case they caught a fish and we could eat it for lunch.
16 December 2005/Friday/Sailing, Day #8
We continued to move slowly, but surely south of west today. The winds
have been low all day, blowing under ten knots from the northeast. The sun
was shining brightly all morning, but the cloud cover moved in mid-day. We
could see several rain squalls in the distance, but so far we have not had
real rain fall on us.
Still no luck with the fishing. I waited to start fixing lunch until 1300
today, thinking we might catch a fish and have that for lunch. It was not to
be. They have decided we are moving too slow through the water...maybe. Too
fast, too slow, overcast sky, sunny day...who knows what these fish prefer?
We are still able to check in with the morning radio net even though the net
controller is back in the Cape Verde Islands and we are steadily moving away
from them. The last group of 5-6 boats that signs into the radio net from
Mindlo says they are going to leave Monday or Tuesday because the wind is
15 December 2005/Thursday/Sailing, Day #7
We sailed all night last night and all day today. Dave is running the
engine for an hour after dark (after the solar panels don't get sun any
longer) to keep the batteries topped up. We keep at least one computer
running almost all of the time with C-map on it or someone is typing e-mails
and sending requests/receiving weather information.
We ate the last mahi mahi for lunch today and I used the very ripe bananas
we brought from the Cape Verde Islands to bake banana cake. I had the hand
of six bananas laying in one spot, getting riper and riper everyday. I
planned to use three bananas for banana cake, and the other three for
something else. Dave didn't know this and tried to pick the bananas up. All
six of them fell off the stem and the peels opened. That meant I had to use
all of them now.
Most of the yachts that were with us in Mindelo, Cape Verde Islands have
left. All of the yachts are out here motor-sailing and looking for the
elusive Trade Winds. There are two lows showing up on the weather print
outs. These mid-Atlantic lows are taking the wind out of the normal Trade
Winds, so basically, the Trades aren't there right now. There is a huge high
being prevented from coming south by the two lows. PEACE AND ALOHA,
ZEPHYRUS, QUARTERDECK, MAGNUM, ICENE, and INTERLUDE are in Mindelo waiting
for better wind (or, "any" wind). They are hoping that the huge high will
push south and bring them winds. Right now, no one is having much wind until
they get west of 40 degrees W longitude. The boats we hear on the radio net
are between 13 degrees and 19 degrees latitude. The ones that do have wind
seem to be getting it off clouds and squalls (convection), so the wind
speeds are highly variable. We are continuing to sail when we can to
At 2200 tonight, we were located at 14.25 N, 36.37 W. Light winds of 8-10
knots, but fortunately they are pushing us downwind from the northeast. We
didn't catch any fish today, so tomorrow morning, there will be some really
serious fishing going on if the crew wants mahi mahi for lunch tomorrow.
AQUABI reported catching mahi mahi and a wahoo/Spanish mackerel. We would
like one of those, too!
14 December 2005/Wednesday/Sailing, Day #6
The highlight of this day was a visit from a small pod of dolphins.
About 1030 in the morning, someone spotted a dolphin off to the side of our
boat. We were sailing along on gentle seas at about 4-5 knots and making a
small bow wake. When all of us went up to the bow to have a better look, we
could see at least ten dolphins. It was like the three bears...the larger
(male?) dolphins were 8-10 feet long, the medium-size dolphins (females?)
were 7-8 feet long, and there were three smaller (4-5 feet) baby dolphins
swimming next to their mothers. Two of the medium-size dolphins seemed to be
pregnant, because they were exceptionally round. These dolphins obviously
welcomed the distraction of a sailboat in their waters as much as we
welcomed the sighting of dolphins. The pod swam around the bows, in between
the bows, and under the hulls for more than a half hour. The water was very
clear, so Dave got wonderful digital photos and Dito got good video footage
of the dolphins. This species was gray on its back with white on the chest
and throat and the lower mouth was outlined in white. We definitely need to
find a book for identifying dolphins.
I moved the clock one time zone today. I made a big announcement so everyone
would know about it. This is never a welcome announcement. The crew doesn't
want the clock changed because they get used to the local time for the radio
nets and it is hard to remember the changes. We have a reminder note near
the radio with the times and frequencies of the morning and evening net
posted in UTC times. Since the nets are a highlight of our day, we haven't
forgotten to come up and sign in. Since we do our watch when it is our turn
and we sleep when we are sleepy, day and night don't mean so much out here
anyway. The difference between the Canary Islands and Barbados is 4 hours,
because the Canary Islands are on the same time as Greenwich, England. The
Cape Verde Islands are -1 hour UTC. We are now operating on -2 hours UTC
here on the boat, and have to "lose" two more hours before we arrive in
Barbados (-4 UTC). Kentucky and Florida are -5 UTC right now.
We ate mahi mahi for lunch today. There is enough fish left for one more
meal tomorrow. The guys have put out between 6-8 lures. One very small mahi
mahi hit one lure. The guys brought it in, but after having his picture
taken on board, they released the fish back into the water.
At 2200 tonight we were located at 14.42 N, 34.35 W. The winds are light and
variable, but we have managed to keep sailing at least at four knots most of
the time. Dave is being very conservative and trying not to use fuel. He
wants to have fuel for the second half of the passage if we need it. Some of
the boats have used so much fuel on the first part of the passage that they
know they do not have enough fuel to finish the trip and will have to use
the wind, whatever velocity it is blowing. All is going well.
13 December 2005/Tuesday/Sailing, Day #5
We are rocking and rolling today! The winds were steady all day and into
the night today, so we sailed along at 6+ knots most of the day. The swells
and wind pushing us downwind made the boat motion quite comfortable. It was
warm enough in the daytime to wear swim suits and shorts and be barefoot.
The warm weather feels good plus we are not having to wear the many layers
of clothing that result in huge piles of laundry to be done once we arrive
in the Caribbean. For myself, I can easily rinse out swim suits and pareos
on the boat as we go along.
The guys caught another mahi mahi today. Two struck at the same time, but
one got away. Today, I made enchilada casserole for lunch, then baked a pan
of brownies since I had already heated up the oven. I had just handed Dito
the plates and utensils and asked him to set the table when the fish were
caught. Lunch was put "on hold" while they took care of the fish. We will
have the mahi mahi for lunch tomorrow. Sarah is helping with our effort to
get creative when I cook the fish. She sent Dito a recipe for Asian fish
cakes that uses "left-over" cooked fish. I told Dito that we have one
problem about trying that recipe. So far, there has not been any "left over"
fish...whatever I have cooked, has gotten eaten. I will have to plan ahead
and cook extra fish, then put it away immediately.
The amazing Bimbo bread I bought in the Canary Islands is still good. We eat
a hot meal at lunch time every day, then I fix sandwiches and popcorn in the
evening. We still have fresh onions, tomatoes, apples, and a few bananas on
board. I check them everyday and use the ones that look like they won't make
it another day. The folks on AQUABI shared a recipe for cooking fish on the
radio net this morning. They wrapped mahi mahi, onions, dry cilantro, and
sliced banana in foil and grill or bake it. We looked at our small hand of
six bananas and decided we would have a hard time right now choosing between
putting bananas with the fish or mashing the bananas for banana bread. I
think we will wait to try that recipe until we are close to a renewable
source of bananas. These bananas are destined for banana bread.
QUARTERDECK told the radio net that they heard tonight there was going to be
a meteor shower. We watched the sky carefully, but the moon is so bright
right now that it is hard to see any but the brightest stars and planets. We
see some falling stars every night, so we are always looking to see if we
can spot them.
12 December 2005/Monday/Sailing, Day #5
Good news today! We found the Trade Winds...or maybe, they found us! All
day we kept moving west, while angling a little south. On the 14.49 latitude
we met the winds. We motored until 1700 today, then Dave turned the engine
off and put out the two foresails, wing and wing. We were moving slowly
through the water, but moving as the wind started to push us along over
quiet seas. Around 1900 the wind came up and suddenly we were really
scooting over the water. This continued all night. The boat was moving well
as the winds were coming from straight behind us and eventually the boat was
moving steadily at 5.5-6.5 knots. It was a relief to not have to listen to
the engine and it was a relief to be conserving fuel. We still have a long
way to go, so we may need that fuel a little farther along the way.
No luck fishing today. A couple of fish took a look at the lures, maybe a
small nip, but they shook the hook right out. We saw some flying fish flying
and that usually means a bigger fish is chasing them. We ate yesterday's
mahi mahi for lunch today. This time I baked the lightly crumbed fish in the
oven. I am trying different ways to fix the fish. Everyone liked today's
effort, but sauteing fillets with Mrs. Dash, onion, and garlic in olive oil
is still the favorite.
Everyone we traveled from the Canary Islands to the Cape Verde Islands with
is still in the Cape Verdes. They are waiting for the Trade Winds to come
closer to them and to be stronger. It just isn't happening. On the radio
net, most of the boats said they are going to leave Tuesday or Wednesday,
even if the Trades are still farther away. Dave was happy to give them the
news that, indeed, the Trades are alive and well out here.
Our friend, Neil, who has been following our progress from England and
California (he was on a business trip to the States) and advising us on
weather, has also been keeping us updated on the ARC (Atlantic Rally for
Cruisers) boats that left Las Palmas, Canary Islands for St. Lucia in the
Caribbean. You may remember me describing watching their grand departure.
Most of those boats got caught up in weather from both Tropical Storm Delta
and Epsilon. He told us one of the boats has now been out 19 days and still
has 800 miles to go to St. Lucia. I feel so sorry for those people. Quite a
few of the ARC folks we met in Las Palmas had bought their boats in the Med,
so this was their first big ocean crossing. These folks paid a lot of money
to join the ARC for the social life and parties, but they also wanted the
safety and security they thought they would have, as well as the services of
weather routers who work for the ARC. We have suggested to Morgan that he
could probably go to St. Lucia and pick up a well-outfitted cruising
sailboat for a good price right now.
This is one happy boat today. The boat is almost leaping through the water
and Dave is happy sitting there watching the sails fill and pull us along.
The crew is happy because we are moving without running the engine. At 2100
tonight we were located at 14.49 N, 30.44 W. We are going to 14.30 N and
Dave plans to ride that latitude as long as the winds keep us moving. The
grib files showed that the best winds in our area were located there.
11 December 2005/Sunday/Sailing, Day #3
We are still motoring. There is absolutely no wind where we were today.
The seas are absolutely flat and clear almost like a mirror. There are some
swells rolling past us from the north-north-east, but they are not very big.
We have come a little farther south because the grib files show there isn't
much wind out here, but what wind there is, is located farther south of our
We caught a mahi mahi this morning, but the guys decided it was too small to
keep, so threw it back. About 1300, after I had already started making pizza
and apple cake for lunch, they caught another mahi mahi. We came to a long
area of brown algae floating like a length of ribbon on the water's surface.
One side of this area was smooth, while the other side the water was
ruffled. We have seen this before and think it is a surface current moving
through the blue water. David was explaining this situation to Morgan, when
suddenly, a blue flash came from under the brown algae and it headed
straight for our lures. It was a mahi mahi, not big, but bigger than the
first one. They decided to keep this one, so brought it in and cleaned it.
Looks like just enough to one meal...lunch tomorrow.
In the late afternoon just as the sun was setting, the clear blue sky
disappeared, filling with fast-moving puffy clouds. Dave was hoping these
clouds would have some wind in them, but we did not get any wind off them. I
wondered if the clouds carried rain, because they were dark at the bottom.
If there was rain, they carried it on and we didn't get wet. When we saw the
grib files about two hours later, we could see that a cold front had moved
through the area. We were on the very tail end of it, literally, so all we
saw was the tail of the clouds as they scooted by us. A little wind would be
nice, but we are not looking for gusts or squalls. The almost-full moon was
playing peek-a-boo with the clouds until almost midnight, but then the
clouds were gone, the "nightlight" was lighting up the whole area, and we
continued to motor on flat seas like nothing had happened.
We heard the folks on the radio net this morning who are still back in the
Cape Verde Islands. No one else has left behind us because they do not want
to leave without wind. We reckon it is going to be hard to come up with a
forecast of wind that will last for 2,000 miles. Having said that, we, too,
are hoping to find the wind so we can turn the engine off and quit burning
10 December 2005/Saturday/Sailing...Day #2
We sailed for six hours when we left Mindelo, but around 2100 last night
we turned on the engine and we have been motoring ever since. The wind has
dropped to nothing, the seas are smooth like glass, and the motor is pushing
us along. We knew this was going to happen, so no surprises today. The "up"
side is we are moving smoothly through the water, so life aboard is quite
comfortable while we make progress. The down side is using up expensive fuel
so early in the trip. The theory is we will have to motor 1-3 days, but once
we find the Trade Winds, or the Trade Winds "kick in", we will be able to
sail and can turn off the engine (we run one engine at a time to conserve
fuel). We have enough fuel to motor roughly 2/3 of the way across the
Atlantic, but we will have to sail the other 1/3 of the way.
Epsilon has pretty much dissolved and disappeared off the weather map after
causing so much worry. Some of the boats on the radio net are reporting
encountering a high ridge, but that is up at 20 degrees latitude and we have
come south of 16 degrees to miss that ridge...and hopefully find the Trade
The guys put out 4 or 5 fishing lines today. Some lines had commercial lures
on them and some lines had homemade lures. Dave is using Diet Coke cans,
bits of old colorful ropes, etc. to make lures since he lost a couple of his
best store-bought lures. About 1100 a small mahimahi took one of the baits.
They brought him into the scoop on the stern, but decided it was a very
small fish and , would not have much meat on it. Morgan took him off the
hook and put the fish back in the water. Ten seconds after returning to the
sea, that fish was gone, swimming far away from this boat.
We were all awake after lunch and each busy doing their own thing today when
we heard a very clear, "Hello, sailboat" over the VHF. We passed all the
other sailboats in the night last night, and we had not spotted anyone else
out here since then. We went out in the cockpit to look around, and way out
on the horizon we could see a ship. Actually, we could see the bow of a ship
coming toward us, still many miles away. The person on the radio said we
should stay on our course and he was going to alter course so he would pass
behind us. How nice! We thanked him for changing his course to keep his
distance. Usually the ships do not speak to us and they hardly ever change
their course. I think he was surprised to see us out here. Wonder what he
would think if he came across one of the rowing boats!
At 2100 tonight we were located at 15.44 N, 26.59 W. The moon is shining
like a street light, so I am very happy on night watch. The air temperature
was finally warm enough to make us feel "hot" during the day when there was
very little wind. I haven't worn my sweater for 24 hours now.
9 December 2005/Friday/Sailing, Day #1
We just left Mindelo, Ilha Sao Vicente, in the Cape Verde Islands at
1545 in the afternoon. There are four other boats out here that left 30
minutes to one hour before we did. We aren't sure who those boats are, but
we will probably figure it out as we listen to the morning and evening radio
nets and hear the position reports.
This morning David, Morgan, and I caught a ride with Diana and Harold from
ZEPHYRUS into the beach at the town. Dave and I stayed up last night to help
ZEPHYRUS come in to the anchorage at 2330. We could look out into the dark
outside the anchorage and see their navigation lights. On the other hand,
they were looking at the anchorage with the lights of town in the background
and they could not distinguish anything. Many of the small ships and
cruising yachts did not bother to put an anchor light on their boat in the
anchorage, so they were hard to see. It was hard for ZEPHYRUS to spot those
of us who did have anchor lights on, because our lights blended into the
town lights. Dave plugged in our big spotlight and moved it around while I
talked to Diana on the VHF. They used a spotlight on their bow, too.
There was a cruise ship in town today, so the whole atmosphere in Mindelo
was completely different from what we saw yesterday when a few yachties were
the only tourists we saw. We walked on some different streets today and
found a couple of small supermarkets we missed yesterday. We followed a
wonderful smell in the air and discovered the bakery. We bought some fresh
buns for lunch. We found a couple of internet places. We went to one with
six machines and a good connection. I paid in Euros and received odds and
ends of escudos in change. Yesterday, I saw some plastic colanders that I
liked in one of the Chinese shops. I asked how much a colander cost and the
young lady said " That is 80 centimes (Euro cents)." I only had Euros and
they would not let me pay in Euros, so I left. Today, I went back to the
shop and picked up four colanders. I asked the lady "How much?" and she
indicated one Euro each. I am sure she thought I was off the cruise ship. I
reminded her that I was in the shop yesterday and she told me 80 centimes
each. Suddenly, she remembered me and the fact that I only had Euros
yesterday. I told her today I had escudos and paid 80 centimes per
colander...not one Euro each. I use the colanders for draining the fresh
fruits and vegetables we wash off after coming back from the market.
I didn't know that I spoke Portuguese (I don't!), but my basic Spanish has
been understood whenever I was speaking to someone who didn't speak English.
A lot of the basic words seem to be very similar, so when we wanted to know
what hours the store is open or ask if they have something, we have been
using Spanish and getting along fine. Most of the people have been speaking
French to us...or German or Dutch because of my light color hair. Not many
English -speaking tourists must come here, because no one has spoken first
to us in English.
We have around 2,000 miles to go to Barbados. That number of miles and
length of time is too large for me think about right now. I prefer to take
it one day at a time. We reckon we will be out here for 16-18 days. While I
am sounding like I think I have a long way to go, I should mention we heard
some of the rowers talking to their net control the other night. There is a
group of people attempting to row several boats across the Atlantic from the
Canary Islands to the Caribbean right now. When I think I have it tough, I
try to imagine what it must be like out here rowing a boat. My mind can't
even imagine it! Sure puts things in perspective. Here I am on a safe boat,
warm and dry, eating good food everyday, doing my share of the watch,
reading, watching movies, and eating popcorn.
8 December 2005/Thursday/Mindelo, Ilha Sao Vicente, Cabo Verde/16.52 N,
You will never guess what happened this morning about 0830 as we approached
the island of Sao Vicente. We were in the pass between Ilha Sao Vicente and
the next island with four fishing lines trailing behind us. Boats already at
anchor off Mindelo recommended fishing all the way to the island because
several boats caught mahimahi there. Dave put out the fishing lines as soon
as the sun rose. Suddenly, wham! The strongest fishing line with the lure on
it Dave calls the "shark slayer" (because it is so large) was gone! We
looked back about 30 feet behind the boat and a huge blue marlin jumped
clear of the water. We could see the "shark slayer" was hooked outside his
mouth, possibly in the gill area. Technically, I guess you can say we caught
a blue marlin, but it was only caught for a matter of seconds. It all
happened so fast, but all of us saw that magnificent fish jump out of the
water three times before it disappeared from sight. Now, Dave has a real big
fish story to tell.
Over recent days, we have heard all kinds of stories on the radio net about
how bothersome the boat boys in Mindelo could be. When we arrived here, we
were prepared to be accosted by the boat boys and Dave had already decided
exactly what he was going to say to the boat boys that approached our boat.
We came in here with the idea of a quick turn around, and decided we would
ask the boat boys who came up to us to help us purchase water and diesel. We
arrived early this morning. After a brief break once we were anchored, Dave,
David, and Morgan emptied the jerry jugs of water and diesel into the
appropriate tanks, so the empty jerry jugs would be ready to give to the
boat boys that we heard would be coming. No one came.
I fixed the last of the fish today for lunch by quickly sauteing cubes of
fish. These cubes were served with a vegetable curry sauce and rice. After
lunch, Dave tied three of the bright orange jerry jugs up on the wind
generator pole, thinking maybe one of the boat boys would see the jerry jugs
and figure out we wanted them filled. Nothing happened. About 1330, Dave got
on the VHF and mentioned to Blake on RAKILI that we couldn't believe after
all the stories we had heard about boat boys, because none of them had come
out to our boat yet. About 15 minutes later, a boat boy named Joseph showed
up! One of the boats closer to shore who was "reading the mail" (listening
to the radio conversation Dave and Blake had on VHF), told Joseph we were
looking for some help out here when he stopped by their boat. Within
minutes, our diesel jugs were in Joseph's dinghy, Dave gave them money for
the fuel, and they were gone...then, quickly returned with full jerry jugs.
Next, we gave them the empty water jugs, money for water, and they took
those into the shore.
We asked the guys to come back and pick three of us up and take us into
shore around 1500. Dave stayed on the boat. We have also heard it is a good
idea not to leave the boat unattended here. David, Morgan, and I road into
the shore with one of the boat boys. We told him we were going to walk
around town, then would like a ride back to the boat in 1-1/2 hours or so.
We discovered a nice small grocery store and several small shops that
reminded us of shops we saw in Sudan and Eritrea. The bank was closed, so I
only had Euros to spend. The local currency is called Escudos. One Euro
equals 110 Escudos. We also found the central market, but I could not buy
anything there because they would not accept Euros. I was trying to buy
onions. We don't really need much food on the boat, but I wanted to pick up
a little more cereal and UHT milk, plus onions since we stopped here.
The small town of Mindelo is pretty clean and there were people standing
around everywhere. This was a Portuguese territory until July 1975 when the
Cape Verde Islands became independent. We have read that today they receive
a lot of financial support from North America and Europe. The local economy
is based on small gardening and fishing. Quite a few of the kids came up and
asked us for money. They gave up easily when we said, "No". We looked around
a small suq area where red, green, and yellow Rasta-type clothing was for
sale as well as some handmade wooden souvenirs. We talked at one booth with
Valentine and Abu. They both speak Portuguese, plus some English, Spanish,
French, German, Dutch, etc. It is a humbling experience to hear them
speaking so many languages. We went back to the first street we walked down
and went into the supermarket to pick up the items I was looking for.
Back at the beach, the boat boys who brought us in to shore took our bags,
loaded the dinghy, and off we went back to EXIT ONLY. Dave was busy at the
computer trying to pull down another grib file. The weather forecast is not
looking good for leaving tomorrow. We can leave, but the winds are going
down and the forecast shows we would have to motor for four to five days. We
don't want to start off a 2,000 mile trip doing that. We have decided we
will not leave here tomorrow. We are also listening to the news about
Epsilon. As you all know, that storm has been going every direction over the
past few days. The Cape Verde Islands are directly in the Trade Winds 80% of
the year, but right now, Epsilon is playing havoc with the Trade
Winds...they are not where they are supposed to be at this time of year. Day
by day we will check the weather sources, but we won't be leaving until
Epsilon is no longer affecting our weather and the Trades have kicked in.
6 December 2005/Tuesday/Sailing, Day #6
We have big news today...we caught a mahimahi! At 1100 this morning,
Dave had four lines out at different lengths behind the boat. Morgan spotted
a crate floating in the water off our port side. Dave and David said that
mahimahi like to hang out under floating debris. No sooner had they talked
about this, with everyone watching the crate floating in the water, one of
the two mahimahis under the crate struck the big lure Dave
calls the "shark slayer". I really don't know much about the lures, but I
think this is the giant lure with a huge eye and long tentacles trailing
behind it. Dave bought this giant lure at a fishing store in Isla Lanzarote.
The three guys got organized. Morgan pulled the large mahimahi into the
starboard stern and Dave gaffed it. Morgan poured alcohol on its gills to
kill it. David was taking a video of the occasion. Once the fish was no
threat to anyone, they brought it into the cockpit and measured it. It was
106 cm or 42 inches long from nose to tail. They covered the table with
newspaper and Morgan cut up the fish while Dave took photos and David took
video shots. We have caught fish before, but mostly Spanish mackerel or
tuna. We have heard everyone talk about what good eating mahimahi are, but
had never caught one until today.
The meat was divided into three portions for three meals. David challenged
me to fix the fish three completely different ways. Since it was lunch time
soon after catching the fish, today, I fixed the fish with onion and a
sauce. Tomorrow I am going to shallow fry the fish with a seasoned flour
coating, and the third day, I am planning to shallow fry the fish (cut up in
cubes), then put the fish into a curry sauce served on rice. The meat is
white and has a mild taste. We all liked it a lot. There was a little fish
left over at lunch, so I used it to make ceviche for supper. Morgan had not
eaten ceviche before. He got a sample and liked it. The rest of us love it.
We are continuing to head south toward the Cape Verde Islands. We had very
light winds this morning and we even turned on the engine for a couple of
hours. The wind came up in the afternoon and by the time the sun was going
down, the winds and seas were both higher and suddenly, we were almost
flying downwind at 6-7 knots and sometimes 8+ knots as we surfed down the
front of the swells. The weather info on the net this morning still made
"Epsilon" topic #1. Herb, the well-known weather router in Canada, is doing
weather for 4-5 boats that report in to the radio net each morning. They
have been sharing the advice Herb has been giving them. We have heard from
our friend Neil. His recommendations were the same as Herb's advice...keep
going south. A couple of the boats we heard on the net this morning are
"cutting the corner" (not going so far south as the Cape Verde Islands
before turning west), but the rest of us are heeding the weather advice we
have been given and are still going south.
We have been talking regularly to an Australian boat named RIKILI and our
basic plan was to be "buddy boats", going with them across the Atlantic. We
both have temporary crew on board that wants to get across the Atlantic as
soon as possible because of the upcoming holidays. We are trying to make it
happen within the weather parameters we have to deal with. Dave and Blake
talk to each other twice everyday, after the morning and evening nets are
over. We have been sharing grib file weather reports with Blake as he does
not have that capability on his boat. The radio nets do not go over grib
file weather because so many boats have it on board. We are both continuing
to head south and a decision will be made tomorrow evening about whether we
are going to stop in the Cape Verde Islands or not. We are far enough south
that we don't think Epsilon is going to be a problem for us, but there is a
line of squalls and confused winds and seas between the Cape Verde Islands
and the southern Caribbean islands. Also, the grib files are showing the
wind is going to go very light for a couple of days soon and that means
motoring and using fuel if we are out there. We still have 2,100 miles to go
from the Cape Verde Islands, so we have to be careful and use our fuel
judiciously. We are carrying enough fuel to go 1,400 miles, but the weight
of that fuel is already more than we usually carry and is definitely
affecting the boat's performance. We do not have room to carry any more
fuel. Both of our boats would like to keep going and not stop at the Cape
Verde Islands, but that decision will be made tomorrow evening.
5 December 2005/Monday/Sailing, Day #5
We were able to sail almost all day today. Dave ran the engine for a couple
of hours to charge up the batteries. We wanted to watch a movie ("Secondhand
Lions") in the evening and eat popcorn. The movies and listening to music
make the pitch black dark hours go by more quickly. The sliver of a moon is
getting larger every night, so by the time we make the right turn to
actually cross the Atlantic (we are in the Atlantic now, but heading more
south than west to find the Trade Winds), we should be having a large
friendly light shining on us most of the night. I will appreciate that since
I have been doing the watch that ends at midnight.
The air temperature is warm enough now that we are wearing shorts and
t-shirts during the day. I am still wearing a sweater at night on watch, but
don't need the jacket and scarf. One of the boats reported on the net that
that water temperature is 74-76 F degrees. We are still sleeping under
sleeping bag/duvet covers. Every minute of latitude south takes us toward
warmer weather. Right now we are on the same latitude as the southern coast
of Cuba and the north coast of Haiti/Dominican Republic.
We are all watching Tropical Storm/Hurricane Epsilon and it is priority
discussion #1 every morning and afternoon on the radio nets. Weather is the
first topic addressed on the net everyday and right now, Epsilon is the
first topic of weather to be discussed. There also is a band of squalls in
the Atlantic, but the weather routers have given us advice about that, too.
They have told all of us to keep moving south, even though it is very
tempting to "cut the corner" and start heading west across the Atlantic. We
are heeding this advice and moving farther south, but we are far enough now,
that we don't foresee encountering direct problems with either weather
system. There are many boats behind us, closer to the Canary Islands, that
may be more directly affected by the storm.
Dave put out three fishing lines today. Some of the other boats are
reporting catching mahimahi (dorado, dolphin (fish, not mammal)). I held off
starting to fix lunch just in case we caught something and I could cook it
for lunch. No luck. Morgan is ready and willing to clean any fish we catch,
so we need to take advantage of this opportunity.
4 December 2005/Sunday/Sailing, Day #4
The winds are still light, but steady. We were able to sail all night
with the two headsails "wing and wing". The boat was very quiet, rolling
gently, pushed by the small swells and the wind. We all got good sleep last
night. The boat was not rocking and rolling.
The gentle motion of the boat means everyone is feeling well and feeling
hungry. I have been making a hot lunch everyday and sandwiches for supper.
After supper, David has been making a big bowl of popcorn and we watch a
movie. There are a lot of good things to be said for downwind sailing.
Today, I mashed the last three bananas from Las Palmas. They were getting
quite ripe and soft...just right for banana bread. There was no problem.
I had just started making lunch today around 1130 when Dave spotted dolphins
behind the boat. We all went out and couldn't believe our eyes. There were
dolphins behind, along both sides, and in front of the boat. There must have
been over one hundred dolphins frolicking in the small swells all around us.
We all went forward on the bows so we could watch the ones that were
swimming so close to the bows and across the space between the hulls. We
could hear them making a "shrieking" noise, talking to each other. These
dolphins were slim, about four feet long, with gray backs and white tummies.
Some of them were jumping completely out of the water and diving back in the
waves with a huge splash after carving a perfect arc in the air. In our
whole trip, this is the largest group of dolphins we have ever had around
the boat at one time. We told Morgan we were going to charge him extra for
this extra-special dolphin extravaganza. David got video shots of the
dolphins and Dave took digital photos.
Our position at 1730 tonight was 23.09 N, 20.23 W. The big round orange sun
just went down, and we went out to watch for a green flash. Not tonight...
we didn't see a green flash this time. The sliver of a moon was already up,
so it won't be many days before we will have the "night light" on when we
are moving through the dark.
3 December 2005/Saturday/Sailing, Day #3
The good news for the day was I took off my furry-lined slippers at noon
today. It was warm enough to take off the sweaters and long pants, too.
Morgan described it best : "It isn't very warm, but at last it isn't cold".
We have been sailing along under two headsails, spread out on both side of
the forestay. That is called "wing on wing" for obvious reasons. It looks
like we are flying. Downwind is our best point of sail, so we have been
moving along quite well.
Around 1600 we were visited by a few dolphins playing in the wake off our
scoops at the stern. We have often had dolphins come and play in the bow
wake, but we have never seen them playing around the sterns. These were
short, stubby dolphins.
Our position at 2100 tonight was 24.09 N, 18.51 W. There are at least 20
boats checking in to the morning and evening radio nets these days. After we
heard and compared their positions to ours, we found that we were pretty
much right in the middle of the mob. There are still a couple of days to go
before we have to make the decision to either make the right turn to the
Caribbean or continue south to the Cape Verde Islands. About one third of
the boats out here are definitely going to stay over a few days at the Cape
Verde Islands and buy more fuel there for the Atlantic crossing. Two thirds
of the boats are heading south and keeping the option open to make the right
turn and keep right on going to the Caribbean without an intermediate stop.
Dave wants to keep on going if the weather allows us to do that. He is
trying to sail as much as possible, so he can conserve fuel for later in the
2 December 2005/Friday/Sailing, Day #2
We were able to sail almost all day today. The wind was coming from the
NE, the ENE or East. We were either zooming along as we rode the swells
downwind under headsail only, or scooting along under headsail and main when
the wind was on the beam. Either way, Dave was very happy that he didn't
have to use precious diesel. On the other hand, the weight of the diesel is
slowing us down a little because we are carrying much more than we have ever
The weather information has been full of "Epsilon" and how it is a hurricane
now. We have a sailing friend, Neil, in England, who is watching the weather
and sending us e-mails about the present Atlantic weather patterns. Neil and
Fiona just finished their circumnavigation on KEESHOND in the UK earlier
this year. We sailed with them from Darwin, Australia, all the way to the
Maldives. They left and went ahead of us through the Red Sea and Med, then
headed north. We also hear updated weather given out on the radio net every
morning. Dave is pulling down weather information on ham radio frequencies
here on the boat around the clock. We are located quite far from Epsilon and
heading south as it heads north. We won't be anywhere near that storm if it
continues on its present path. The only effect we may see or feel from the
storm could be some swells, as the swells can and do travel hundreds of
The morning radio net lasted for an hour yesterday morning, because there
were so many boats checking in. Over twenty boats checked in to the net, all
but five of them somewhere on passage between the Canary Islands and the
Cape Verde Islands. At least four boats are leaving to head south tomorrow.
They were all in Las Palmas having work done on their boats, so couldn't
leave with the larger group.
I made pizza for lunch today. Way back in Cyprus I bought long-life pizza
crusts to use while we were crossing the Atlantic. Today was the first day.
The resulting product isn't like a pizza from Domino's or Little Caesar's,
but it tasted pretty good out here in the Atlantic Ocean. The long-life
pizza crusts we are using going across the Atlantic are made by Parmalat out
of Italy. We bought this same brand of pizza crusts in the Galapagos Islands
and used them when we did a long passage in the Pacific to the Marquesas
Islands. Small world.
1 December 2005/Thursday/sailing
We left the anchorage at Las Palmas, Isla Gran Canaria, Islas Canarias,
Espana this morning at 0900 local time (which is the same as UTC or
Greenwich Mean Time. We went ahead and put the clocks back one hour because
the Cape Verde Islands are one hour behind. We have to "lose" four hours by
the time we get to Barbados. Since we are up and down at all hours of the
day and night while on passage, we reckon we might as well go ahead and
start dropping hours one by one.
We had to take care of the dinghy before we could leave this morning. Dave,
David, and Morgan dropped the dinghy into the water from the davits so they
could remove the engine and store it under the table in the cockpit Next,
Dave stood on the scoop at the stern and they turned the empty dinghy
upside-down so the bottom and sides could be scrubbed. We had two "attacks"
of oil while we were anchored in Las Palmas. Dave didn't want to bring oil
into the cockpit when we stow the rolled up dinghy there. They scrubbed the
dinghy, then went to flip it back over. The pull of the heavy dinghy on the
painter in Morgan's hands was great and he couldn't hold on to the rope. The
dinghy started floating away from the boat. Dave went down into his cabin to
change into his swim suit, but managed to take just enough time, that when
he returned to the cockpit, David had already jumped in the water and was
swimming after dinghy. Since David was
already in the water, he went under the boat to check the props and found
there was quite a lot of growth on the blades. He cleaned off the blades, so
now we can even go faster! We heated some water to add to the cold water in
the solar shower, so David did get a nice hot shower when he came out of the
Once the dinghy was rolled and stowed, we took up the anchor and headed out.
We know ZEPHYRUS, MAGNUM, PEACE AND ALOHA, HARMONY, and RANGANUI also left
from Las Palmas within an hour of us leaving. We have talked to a couple of
these boats today and we heard most of them on the evening radio net. We
could still see the sails of some of the other boats as the sun was setting
The bad news on the radio net this morning was Eddie, the single-hander on
SALEH, lost his boat on a beach at Isla Tenerife. This boat was anchored
behind us in Las Palmas for several days and it dragged there, but there was
no damage to that boat or any other boat that I know of. Evidently, he tried
to anchor off a beach over there in Tenerife and the boat dragged up onto
some rocks and was destroyed. We had heard there are no good anchorages at
Tenerife, but I haven't studied it because we weren't going there.
At 1800 tonight, we were located at 27.26 N, 15.44 W. The winds are light,
so we have one sail poled out and one motor running pushing us downwind. We
were able to sail without running the motor about half of the day. We are
hoping to conserve our fuel this early in the trip, because we have so far
to go. It is cold and the northest wind is bringing cold temperatures with
it. We are all wearing long pants, long sleeves, sweaters, jackets, etc. I
am wearing my fuzzy lined slippers from New Zealand and a scarf around my
neck when I am outside on watch. We are grateful it is not raining and we
don't have huge swells like we had coming from Gibraltar.