As we write, twelve boats are now in Marina Mindelo enjoying life with less rock n roll than the past five days. 27 more are expected to arrive today, Friday, with another 44 or so expected on Saturday. All boats should be safely in Cape Verde by Wednesday if the wind holds.
While those ashore enjoy a well-deserved shower, a meal on a table that stays still and contemplate their ‘to-do’ lists, the crews at sea are still rolling down the tradewinds. The seas have abated slightly to 2-3m and the winds are a bit lighter and more stable. Sailing in the deep ocean isn’t the same as local cruising, as Claire on Aqualuna explains: ‘Wow - what a ride the last few days have been! Naively I had not expected this, with everyone telling me that the most difficult part of the journey was getting to Las Palmas itself (including my husband and crew-mate, Malcolm, who will, believe me be paying for this for some time). Not true as it turns out! I think this fallacy is propagated by the same people who gaily cry ‘you’ll have the wind right up the chuff’, clearly without having the least idea of how horrible the reality of that actually is.’
Sailing downwind (wind 'right up the chuff' in English slang) sounds easy, but the boat can roll from side to side, especially with a cross-sea, as the ARC+ fleet have experienced. It is hard to balance to do simple tasks, like making a cup of tea or getting washed and dressed. It is tiring and hard to sleep – the boats sailing with only two people will not be feeling very rested.
Claire’s log continues to explain how she copes with the strong conditions: ‘I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that the last few days have been extremely challenging. Although the winds have been strong - up to force seven for quite a lot of the time - it has been the waves that have made everything on board extremely difficult to manage. For much of the journey, they have been 4-5m high and coming from two directions at once. During the darkness of the night watches when I am alone and solely responsible, while Malcolm snatches a few hours of sleep, this seems very much worse. I find that the only way to cope is to jam my AirPods in and try to shut it all out with back-to-back episodes of The Archers [a British radio show]. The comfort of immersing myself in this ‘simple tale of country folk’ whilst the wind howls and rages, and the boat is careering down the waves like some kind of out-of-control rollercoaster cannot be overestimated.’
Winds and seas subside
As forecast, the wind and seas started to subside from Thursday afternoon, and conditions are now more liveable onboard. Flying fish sightings (and strandings on deck) are becoming more common, and some boats are having a go at catching their supper. Blue Wonder landed a beautiful wahoo: ‘Lots of cheers on board and contemplating fish tacos for hopefully what will be our last dinner at sea before arriving in Mindelo.’
Northern Light II also- reporting catching two fish – flying fish that landed on deck. The crew enjoy one of their pre-prepared meals of spaghetti Bolognese which was pronounced ‘delicious’.
They’re looking forward to the better weather on Cat’s Pyjamas: ‘The worst conditions have hopefully now been conquered and the 4m swell is slowly subsiding. I think all we did was sail safely with little focus on much else. No damage or injuries so that’s a success. I think the next few days should really start to look up for a pleasant trip ending.’
The fleet are now averaging between 5 and 7knots VMG towards Mindelo in a north easterly Force 5.