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Mindelo (Cabo Verde), our Leg2 stop.

The weather forecast south of the Canary Islands is quite stable, with trade winds blowing from NNW to NE all year round. Only when the Azores anticyclone moves north do the tropical lows coming from the Gulf of Mexico wedge themselves into the center of the North Atlantic and break the spell of the trade winds.
None of this for us for next week and our next leg2: Lanzarote (Canary Islands)/Mindelo (Sao Vicente - Cabo Verde), 1000 miles with winds between 20 and 30 knots.
Departure Saturday 2 March. Normally the departure time is programmed based on the total distance of the stage at the theoretical average speed of the boat to avoid landing in a port or anchorage in the dark. But in a stage of this length it is not only possible to have a certain estimate of the arrival time (ETA) but also of the day. Therefore we leave easily at 9h00 after a last complete sleep in port.

Route strategies
I have read dozen of books about ocean navigations including those in the Atlantic and I have never noticed a mention of a detail that I find fundamental to being able to navigate fast and sufficiently comfortably; the study of the direction of the wave relative to the stern of the boat.
If you want a boat that is as stable as possible it is necessary to set the course not only in consideration of the direction of the wind but above all that the stern is parallel to the prevailing waves.

Of course, all these considerations are intended above all for cruise boats that have a heavy displacement and less stable shape. Pius displaces almost 29 tons and its hull between the maximum beam and the stern is rather narrow and round.
Modern boats with extra-wide and light sterns suffer much less and plan easily with the same period* as the waves themselves.
The question always remains whether modern boats can withstand long and demanding navigations which do not only involve downwind speeds but all types of wind speed and wave motion which is often highly stressful for the structure of the boat itself.
*minimum time interval after which the wave repeats.

Long navigations are necessarily marked by a daily routine which must be as regular as possible.
- Punctual and precise watches in command; in 3 with 3 hour shifts (9pm/00:00 - 00:00/03:00 - 03:00:06:00) and recovery during the day.
- Lunch and dinner preparations.
- Analysis of forecasts after each update; in the case of  PredictWind forecasts at approx. 08:40 and 19:40.
- Traffic control
- Compilation of the Log-Book with ship position, compass degrees, atmospheric pressure, sea state, strength (real) and direction (apparent) of the wind, boat speed and any notes.
- Sail adjustment
- Boat controls.

The more frequent these checks are, the more relaxed the crew feels. The most important controls are:
1.State of the bilges and operation of the relative pumps Bilge system on board;
2. Noise and helm/rudder linkages (exclusively cardan type in all Hallberg-Rassy models);
3. Status of the 12V (min >13.5V) and 24V (min >25.80) batteries and relative operation of the renewable energy generators (hydrogenerator and solar panels),
4. Deck equipment, blocks, stoppers, sheets, halyards, retaining rings (boom and pole)
5. Rigging, boom, vang, pole, mast, rigging, furlers
6. Sails, signs of any tears or failures.

These checks during this navigation discovered (thanks to Marco) that the upper attachment of the vang on the boom was not integral with the boom itself but was moving due to 3 loose bolts. Later the hydrogenerator which was no longer loading and a small play on the rudder shaft.
The latter was the source of a timely discussion both with the De Cesari shipyard where we did all the work but also with Hallberg-Rassy to understand the cause and whether to deepen the control with possible hauling of Pius.

The hydrogenerator was blocked due to a fishing net while the play of the rudder shaft appears to be the same play of the SKF bearing installed new in January '24 on the shipyard. At the moment we are still waiting for data on this matter from the manufacturer SKF.

The daily rhythm can also be interrupted by external events such as some flying fish jumping on deck

or the visit of 3 fearless and tenacious pigeons who came from nowhere to rest for 12 hours on Pius. From the point where we welcomed them, the nearest land was at least 250km away and considering that they are not seabirds that can perch on water, we can say that they are real "travellers".

With 390 miles to go, We have to decide if and when to jibe.
The wind appears to rotate in 10 hours from NNE to ENE with strengthening up to 30 knots.
Instead of waiting for night, we decide to jibe before sunset to simplify the maneuvers.
Over long distances it is always difficult to decide when to change course. We're not racing but getting the strategy wrong can mean extending the stage by even a day.

The following day we understand that we have got the timing right for the jibe and we sail quickly and directly towards Sao Vicente in a single tack. Estimated arrival Friday 8th late morning. Marco takes the helm and with his broken toe he steers like a 'truck driver', controlling the main waves as if they were overtaking cars!
In reality our speed and route are much better than expected and the landing seems to be in the morning at dawn. At 00:00 it's my watches and I immediately notice that the boat should have slowed down much earlier to avoid a night landing. I close the mainsail and reduce the genoa to the top. The speed drops from 8.2 to 6.8 kts, still too much to avoid premature arrival.

At 06:00 I also have Olivier wake up to prepare for the landing and therefore the maneuver of removing the pole to reduce the genoa in time. Today the sun doesn't seem to want to wake up and Olivier and I find ourselves at the bow for a good quarter of an hour with the pole that seems stuck in the sheet protections more than two meters high above us.
We don't speak to each other but we both think the same thing, never again be forced to maneuver on the bow at night with this wave!

At 7:00 we enter the strait between the island of Sao Vicente on the left and the island of Santo Antao on the starboard. The wind continues to increase and it seems that Santo Antao offers more protection from the wind and waves.
Olivier also advises us not to enter Mindelo bay in the dark due to the presence of numerous wrecks and abandoned ships without lights.
We therefore decide to land in Porto Novo on Anto Antao where a dam that extends towards the SE should protect us from this powerful wave that accelerates here in the strait.

The sun doesn't rise yet and inside the breakwater exactly where we would like to give more we find 2 fishing boats in the darkness. We continue just behind them on 8 meters with 40 meters of chain trusting in a drop in the wind with the sunrise.
At 7.30 we turn off the engine and everyone rests for a few hours before crossing the strait and reaching Mindelo. It's time to fall asleep and I'm woken up by a fishing boat that forces us to move because a fishing boat has to arrive and give us more where we are. Meanwhile the wind reaches 33 knots and I refuse to give up again. The punt returns after a quarter of an hour with a Policeman. We re-drop the anchor again but much further south and not very protected by the breakwater, we thread all 70 meters of chain and finally go back to rest. The wind and wave increase giving us a good jolt all day and night.

At dawn on Saturday the wind seems to have disappeared, it's time to take advantage of it to cross the strait. We start the engine, weigh anchor and enter the strait. Instantly the wind rose at 20 knots and after 15 minutes went to 35 knots. The wave consequently returns powerful, fast and very high. Our Volvo Penta TAMD41 HB gives its best and pushes Pius at 8.2 knots out of the waves that fill the cockpit in bucketfuls despite the windshield and spray-hood.

At 9h30 we enter in Mandelo Bay a real cemetery of sunken ships.

Mindelo Marina is a crossroad of real sailors, from super equipped boats to this 9 meters small sailing boat of a french young guy ready to cross towards Guyane .

to the extreme of a solo rowing man arrived here from Spain with this 'boat'.

And the fauna of sailors in the Marina's floating bar deserves a prolonged stop


  • Lo

    Hi Al, thank you for such compelling stories! For us, who aren’t travelers in the sea, would you tell about a night in the ocean? We can’t imagine it or rather it could be magical, wonderful, starry like in the desert or dark and scary …...

  • meo

    come hai trovato l'oceano rispetto al mediterraneo ? di notte è più difficoltosa la navigazione ?.

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