From Canary Islands to Madeira

Gaby arrives on the 13th of June (just the day before departure) and we organize a nice dinner in a small place in Arrecife with Martin and Debby from Locomocean (they will sail to Caraibi).

Arrecife in the departing morning, Locomocean is the sailing boat on the right.

Gaby looks tired and she has difficulties to switch off from the projects she is doing in Naples, also the first day of sailing is uncomfortable but then the atmosphere is so far away from the city chaos and the phone is not covered anymore so she start relaxing.

For us it has been a long stay in Canaries Islands and we loved them very much, it’s Carmine favorite place on Earth!!! I love Gomera, Carmine loves Las Palmas, we both enjoyed a lot Lanzarote, we just need to choose!

At 7:45am we pull up the anchor from Arrecife old port and sail to La Graziosa for a night stop, in the morning we set sail to Madeira, around 260 miles.

It is a three days-two nights nice passage with a beautiful full moon. Gaby does the day shifts and the sailing is very smooth. We pass close to Ilhas Desertas and we can see Madeira in the distance.

Unfortunately we have an old map of the marina Quinta de Lorde and entering we aspect to see the visitor pontoon on our right side, but it is not there, and with strong wind gusts me and Carmine look at each other thinking “… and now?” Eidos is quite large and maneuvering her in this small marina, with strong winds, is not something we like… Likely we see a small empty pontoon (it was under maintenance) and we decide to go upwind and let the wind push us against it… Phewwww!!! That was a quick decision and with the help of a couple of other sailors that took our lines from shore, it was done in very few minutes! The time I needed to slow done my heart bit was longer!!!

The rest of the month we spent in Madeira is quite, the marina is small but very well organized and the sea water (also in the marina) is absolutely transparent!!! There is also a pool by the sea from the hotel Quinta de Lorde that we can use.

We use buses to go to Funchal and rent a car to explore rest of the Island. Madeira is very green with high mountains in the middle, a small village with a lot of natural and manmade sea water pools called Porto Moniz, a fisherman village with so many little restaurant to try called Camara de Lobos.  There are also a lot of track for hiking in the mountains and walks on the edge of the sea cliffs…

While Eidos is safe in the marina, I take my time to fly to Italy to visit my parents and later on Carmine goes few days to Delft to visit Milo. That is when we decided to change our plans and sail to North Europe instead of the warmer Med!!!

Fuerteventura and Lanzarote

“E che questo sia un vero saluto!” said Peppino yesterday evening! We already said goodbye a month ago convinced that we would come back to Las Palmas maybe in two years’ time, but here we came again for another two weeks in this marina where we met many good friends, shop in huge “ferretteria” and enjoyed the “pescado” market.

It was another fun evening at Peppino Sailor’s Bay with Debby and Martin (from Locomocean) and Darren (from a classic old sailing yacht). Debby and Martin are doing our same route to Madeira, while we had to say goodbye to Ad and Anja (from Ocean Breeze) that are heading south and want to visit Patagonia before sailing the Pacific! We may meet them again there in few years.

We spent the last month around Fuerteventura, Lanzarote and then back to Las Palmas. All very different islands, long white beaches in Morro Jable with a dry landscape on the background and then the pretty and uninhabited Isla de Lobos with turquoise shallow lagoon and natural white sandy bay under the volcano. But Lanzarote surprised us again! We rented a car for 2 days and went in villages made of small white houses where you can get lost in the alleys while tasting the local wine and cheese.

Visited the amazing Jameos del Agua designed by César Manrique that transformed a volcanic cave in a natural and colorful space for cultural events with a concert hall, a restaurant and pools: one completely black where live the blind crabs (an endemic specie), and the other one all white with the water that reflects the blue sky. Manrique work is known to create harmony between nature and art and it’s definitely a place where harmony and beauty prevail.

We remained anchored in the old Arrecife arbor for two weeks going with the dinghy at Charco de San Ginés, passing under three small bridges in high tide, it became our routine.

Carmine tasted cappuccino in all the bars facing the bay and with his laptop got lost in the software he is designing. I spent most of the time walking around the city and local shops. There is also a very small museum of Modern Art. The anchorage was quiet and we had dinner onboard with Ad and Anja that sparked an interest to go sailing in the Holland channels of “the mast up route”

Once back in Las Palmas I flew to Delft to visit Milo, while Carmine enjoyed many times the great food and company at Sailor’s bay!

Now we are back on our route to Lanzarote, planning to visit La Graziosa Island before crossing to Madeira.

Untied the lines from Las Palmas marina

This morning Muelle deportivo di Las Palmas was grey and it was raining as we have never seen in Canary Island so far, when we finally untied the lines after almost two months. The second time we arrived to the anchorage our windless broke and could not be repaired. The new one took 4 weeks to be delivered and needed some work to the locker to be installed, it’s now in place and working very nicely.
While waiting for the windlass we decided to work on items waiting in our long todo list, all type of work: service engines and generator, wood & fiberglass work, improve some wiring, reorganize all our stuff with a proper inventory, etc.   Anyway between work and cleaning we also had time to visit this amazing island, meet new friends, have an old friend from Italy for a week and enjoy Las Palmas Carnival parade and the Sardine’s Funeral.
Now back sailing to Fuerteventura looking for some days without boat work!

Las Palmas carnival 2019

Canary Islands – La Gomera

After leaving CapeTown in September we sailed almost 6,000 miles in just three months and it looked like a full time job. We enjoyed learning the new boat, spending time with our new friends onboard and our stops in Namibia, St. Helena and Ascension Island, however most of the time was dedicated to fix something onboard, plan the next passage or on a long passage.

Over the last almost two months in the Canary Islands we finally slowed down, we did not move much, we spent very little time working on the boat, and we have not been always obsessed by the weather forecast. 

We could finally spend our time with other cruisers or travellers or just to swim, kayak, hike, run, read or explore new places without the strict deadline of the next passage. We spent most of our time in the Canary Islands In La Gomera, staying in San Sebastian, Valle Gran Rey and Playa de Santiago.

La Gomera is a beautiful island with an amazing green park in the middle and small villages both in-land and sea side.

It does not have the wild coastal development of the south of Tenerife and it does not attract mass tourism. All people we met are people from north Europe spending the winter away from the cold, hikers or other type of “nomads” that enjoy a relaxed and laid back lifestyle.

After almost a month in La Gomera it is very difficult to decide to leave. If we move north to visit Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote we will not be back for quite some time. 

In all our cruising guides Playa de Santiago is not a special place and we only stopped here to quickly visit the “Art Studio” before going to San Sebastian and instead it became our favourite place so far in the Canary Islands.

We found a very enjoyable routine that included outdoor pilate inspired classes, amazing runs on the coast, relaxing walks, long hours reading on the beach or in the cockpit, and most of all chatting with other travellers. It is incredible how a place can select the type of people that decide to stay there, both locals and visitors we met were worth spending time with either because of their kindness or because of their interesting stories.

Among others we met a young Swedish couple that is doing their university studies in Philosophy and Religion while travelling and spending their free time hiking, meditating and meeting other people; a 72 years old Swiss guy that every day plays his trumpet on a cliff above the cave where he used to live with his last wife;

a couple of german hikers that were just walking with their tend from place to place among the islands; a street singer playing only Fabrizio De Andre songs, etc. and all carried with them amazing stories and somehow shared a view of the world quite uncommon in different environments.

We could decide to stay in Santiago for much longer and still enjoy it, however we just looked at the weather forecast and we found two good days to move to Gran Canaria with a night stop south of Tenerife. If we miss this weather window we have to wait at least a week. The NE wind have been much more stable than few weeks ago and we fear it could take even longer to have favourable conditions again.

… and we still feel some deadlines. Marcella has to fly again to the Netherlands, we are waiting for a parcel arriving in Gran Canaria the 1st of February and we still have a long list of work to do on the boat that needs a week or two in Las Palmas.

It is very difficult and sad but tomorrow to leave this anchorage to sail north, the bay of Playa de Santiago will not look like this for some time, but we want to be back here.



Cape Verde to Canary Islands

Swells breaking on a reef

We leave Mindelo on the 1st of December towards Ilha do Sal in order to have a better wind angle to sail to the Canary Islands. I am not yet convinced about the weather but it appears that we may have a good window leaving either the 3th or the 4th of December. 
We are open to one of the following options:

  • leave on the 3th
  • leave on the 4th
  • clear-in again in Cape Verde in Palmeira and wait for better weather conditions

The prevailing wind going to Canary Islands is from North-East almost exactly from the front. With strong wind waves can also be quite high especially considering the presence of swells from North-west almost always present. We need to wait for a low pressure system in the North Atlantic to push the center of the Azores High down and/or east creating either very light wind or wind from East for few days. I am told that this is not very common and you either get s*t weather when you leave Cape Verde or when you arrive to Canary Islands. We have always expected that this passage would be uncomfortable and we have to go even in conditions normally not ideal as long as they are safe. At now a departure on the 3th or the 4th May will have bad conditions at the arrival.
We stop at Baia Gombeza in Sao Nicolau for the night, we anchor in front of a small village and stay there all the next day to fix two battens that came out of the main sail just after we left Mindelo. Both just installed in Mindelo and clearly cut too short by the local rigger.

Richard (the tallest on board) fixing the batten after we extended it.

We had a fantastic first day sailing at up to 12 knots with little waves followed by a sunny day swimming and getting ready for the crossing.
On the 3rd after looking at the latest forecast, I decide that it was not yet time to leave and we sail more east towards Boa Vista just south of Ilha do Sol. We arrive to Boa Vista and we find a very high swell coming from north-west breaking everywhere. At 5pm I decide that we just tack to north-west leaving directly towards the Canary Islands.
As we were almost always connected with our phones I could download new forecasts every 12 hours and we had 6 days of the passage with good conditions and only the 7th day with stronger wind from NE, but not too strong to be dangerous. Obviously you can only trust a forecast for three or four days, but it was as good as we could hope.
We motor or motor-sail NE for almost 4 days and sail north for less than 3 days towards Hierro as we cannot go more east than that given the wind we have. One of the nights it is quite rough, Eidos sailed very well most of the time at just under 45 degrees and often with up to 30kn of wind with gusts of up to 35.
At Day 6 we fish a big dorado, possibly close to 20kg. Andrea that took it on board was radiant.

We see dolphins few times, have amazing nights with clear sky with plenty of stars, usual sunrises & sunsets and great meals. We had few uncomfortable moments however considering the reputation of this passage it was great. This was our longest passage upwind with Eidos and it was obviously a very good opportunity to learn more about the boat, the new way of reefing works very well as well as the changes made to the lazy bag.

For the first six days we did not break anything, then the Genoa sheet snapped and unfortunately also damaged the Genoa, a small cut but it will need to take the big sail down again.

The last 20 hours of the crossing is motoring again directly against 15 knots of wind to go to an anchorage south of Tenerife. And finally on the 10th other 35 miles motor-sailing to arrive to the marina of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

We will stop here for few weeks waiting for family members to join us for Christmas and New Year’s eve, while waiting we will fix the Genoa and clear some of the items on our still long list of work to do.

A special thank to Andrea and Richard that joined us for this crossing, I hope to meet them soon with their new cats!
For the next months we plan to just cruise the Canary Islands and enjoy nice anchorages, good food and few land excursions.


As for the last passage I also include my daily notes. This are more for my personal memory and are quite repetitive as I write them daily during the crossing. `
December the 1st – Mindelo to Ilha de Sao Nicolau 
Yesterday we moved back to the marina to do the final provisioning, fill the water tanks (we still have not received the spare parts to fix the water maker), clean the boat and clear out Cape Verde.
At 7am I download the weather and we move out. For the last few days I saw a possible weather window departing on the 3rd or the 4rd of December, in both cases a departure from Ilha do Sal (East of Mindelo) would give us a better angle to sail north so we are sailing there for the next two days. I am still not convinced about the weather, especially for the arrival, for now we only plan these two days, if the forecast will not allow to leave we will check-in Cape Verde again in Palmeira.
We hoist the main with two reefs and move towards the south of Ilha de Sao Vincente, as soon as we head east we start sailing at over 10 knots with little wave and steady wind. It is quite amazing.
Andrea and Richard are both planning to buy a catamaran and they look very pleased. We still have phone coverage and I already see a video of Eidos posted on Facebook by Andrea with a picture showing our speed at 12 knots, these pictures always show the highest speed that give cruising catamarans the reputation to be much faster than the reality.
The speed drops as we are covered by Ilha de Sao Nicolau to the point that we need to turn on the engine for about an hour, then back sailing.
While sailing two battens of the main sail come out, they had been cut too short by the rigger in Mindelo and we will need to fix them somehow. I have spare battens on board but it means that tomorrow we cannot leave to Ilha do Sal and work on the battens.
We had a very pleasant sailing day and we arrive around 7pm in the dark at Baia Gombeza.
The anchorage looks nice however we have a very poor phone coverage, we plan to move tomorrow morning to another spot for better reception.
December the 2nd – Ilha de Sao Nicolau 
There are two other catamarans in the bay next to us, a very small one and a large one that leaves very early in the morning, we decide to move to his place just in front of Carrical, a tiny fishermen village. 
I can now download the new forecast without using the satellite phone. The 3rd and the 4th both look still good to leave with the 4th with lower waves but more risks of stronger wind at the arrival. I delay to tomorrow the decision, the two options are:

  • leave on the 3rd from Ilha de Nicolau with more waves at the start and some strong wind at the arrival
  • leave on the 4th from Boa Vista (we cannot go to Ilha de Sal anymore with the wind expected tomorrow) with less waves at the start and risk of stronger wind at the arrival

But we are determined to go.
We spend the morning fixing the battens, we have always 10-15kn of wind with gusts of 20 making difficult to work on the main sail. It is very nice how you always have to think at new ways to fix problems on board. By lunch time we have finished and we are very satisfied of the result. We may leave on the 4th just to have another day sailing to test the Main.
In the afternoon there is time to swim and relax. Marcella cooks a couple of meals to store in the freezer for her cooking shifts during the passage in case of very rough sea.
December the 3th – Ilha de Sao Nicolau to Boa Vista
I download the new forecast and we leave to Boa Vista. When we leave the anchorage the wind is more from the north than expected and for few hours we hope to go to Ilha do Sal, but soon the wind shifts as per forecast and we are heading back south. We sail as close to the wind with the autopilot set on wind-hold at about 43 degrees. I am very pleased to sea how Eidos is sailing upwind, this has always been my concern with catamarans. The battens are also working very well. We have another great day sailing with no engine. The 3mt waves in the forecast are very long and do not make the passage uncomfortable.
We arrive to Sal Rei where we intended to anchor around 4pm take the sail down and turn on the motors, the anchorage is just behind a reef where the swell normally breaks making it very easy to identify. However we expected calm sea behind the reef while the swells are so high that they break all the way to the beach. We can see three boats anchored in the corner of the bay but we do not see a safe passage to get there. Even in our position with 30 mt depth the swell looks massive and feels like being ready to break any time. Marcella and Richard look on the guide while I check on the map and we do not see other safe bays to anchor for the night. I decide to just set sail to  Canary Islands. 
We hoist the sail again and turn north/north-west going as close to the north-east wind as possible and planning to leave Ilha do Sal on our starboard side during the first night of the passage to the Canary Islands.
We look at the shifts for the watches, plan the shifts for the cooking and prepare ourself for the passage routine.
At 7pm I take another large forecast using the phone, nothing has really changed (When I have only satellite connection I only download few days of forecast of wind and waves for a small region around our position, while when I have phone connection I download a very large region, in this case all the North Atlantic, with all the 14 days available and also rain/clouds/CAPE – this gives some better understanding of the general weather condition). 
I plan to sail all night north/north-west, then motor for about 3-4 days against a wind of 10kn going to zero heading north-east (to prepare to the last three days sailing upwind), then sail north for other three days to Hierro or Tenerife depending on the wind direction with wind from east/north-east that according to the current forecasts starts at 10kn and goes up to 20-25 kn in the last day.
December the 4th – Cape Verde to Canary Islands (day 1)
At 3am we turn on the engine and close the Genoa in order to go more north and at 6am we close also the main sail and start our long motoring section of the passage heading north east.
At 7am I download a new forecast using the satellite and it does not present any change. We proceeds with the usual routine of our passages. Being four on board we follow two hours watches with an hourly log. We are very slow as we use a single engine against wind, we go at about 5.5-6 kn depending on the wind, that is also stronger than predicted. Our average vmg for the day is just above 5kn (as we are moving more East than the direct route to Canary Islands).
December the 5th – Cape Verde to Canary Islands (day 2)
We are moving east and we are clearly close to the route of cargo ships, we see many targets on the AIS going both directions but all many miles away (more than 30).

The wind is still around 10kn from north-east (15 apparent) and we continue with the same speed as yesterday. When possible we open the small jib that gives about 0.5kn additional speed.
At 7am I download a new forecast, no changes for the next two-three days but a good improvement for the 8th and the 9th. The wind is less strong and potentially more from east. I decide to aim for Tenerife instead of El Hierro. No change in the strategy for the next two days, we go north-east until we have wind that allows to sail north, this should happen on the 7th.
December the 6th – Cape Verde to Canary Islands (day 3)
The main event of the day is a massive dorado, probably close to 20Kg. Andrea takes it on board and he is very happy. As usual we immediately have some raw, keep some for cooking in the next day or two and freeze the remaining. We have at least four more meals for four to freeze.
December the 7th – Cape Verde to Canary Islands (day 4)
In the evening we add a second reef to the Genoa as the wind is now almost always close to 30k and the waves are short and confused. The boat does not feel balanced, we sail with the autopilot in wind hold and it does not manage to keep a stable course. We think it is because of the strong waves from the side that moves the front and decide to slow down the boat. We furl the Genoa and open the jib, it is a little better. I am quite disappointed from how the boat is coping with this sea conditions that are uncomfortable but not extreme. 
December the 8th – Cape Verde to Canary Islands (day 5)
The night is quite rough with up to 35k of apparent wind from about 40-45 degrees with short waves sometimes over three meters. 
In the morning Marcella suggests that the reason for the instability of course could be the setting of the autopilot on “wind hold” and the changing information coming from the wind sensor due to the waves. We change the autopilot to “heading hold” and open the Genoa again and it is a completely different sailing, we are back to 8-9kn speed and finally Eidos keeps a stable course. I am now only disappointed by the autopilot/wind sensors.
I download another forecast and the only change is in the wind direction that differently from yesterday is now expected more from north-east than east. For us it is a big difference that will force to turn on the engine again and motor-sail for our last day towards the south of Tenerife. We plan to sail north for as long as we can and as soon as the wind shifts forcing us more west turn on the engine and motor-sail north-east. By then we hope that the waves will be smaller and longer (as per forecast) making smoother the motoring against wind and waves.
Late in the afternoon in one of the many “jumps” on the waves and almost 30k of apparent wind the Genoa sheet breaks (it literally snaps). It sounds like an explosion followed by the flapping of the sail. We quickly furl the sail, but it looks like there is a small cut in the sail, probably due to the sheet bouncing back on the sail after breaking. The Genoa sheets were not new but they did not look bad, I will change the few lines still old on board even if in good conditions.
December the 9th – Cape Verde to Canary Islands (day 6)
During the night the wind gradually goes to 15k from north-east and the wave also goes down. At 7am we turn on the engines and change course to about 60 degrees exactly against the wind. We are using two engines @2000 rpm for a speed just above 5 knots.
I download another forecast that confirms that wind and wave should continue to go down during the day, this should help our speed.
At 23:50 we are anchored at Ensenada de Christianos South of Tenerife.
December the 10th – Cape Verde to Canary Islands (day 7)
We leave very early as we want to arrive to Santa Cruz early enough to clear in Canary Islands.
At 4pm we are moored in the Marina.

Mindelo (Ilha de Sao Vicente in Cape Verde)

We arrive in Mindelo on the 11th of November, Marcella, Laura and Adam help me to move to the anchor and leave the next day. The marina is fully booked by the ARC+ rally.

Two guides recommend not to leave the boat at the anchor unattended, the marina office confirms it and I decide to hire a local guy to come in the afternoon and during the night to watch the boat that free me for half day and evenings.

I am not sure about the real safety situation in Mindelo I had conflicting signs:

  • Noonsite is very alarming, and few post recommend to completely avoid Cape Verde
  • Locally everybody also suggest to not leave the boat unattended 
  • There are security people everywhere, including in all supermarkets
  • In the evening there is police wearing bulletproof jackets

At the same time I never felt any danger or heard of any issue while I was there, I met a lot of nice people, the check-in process was smooth and the officials were very professional.

I had few things to fix or improve from the last passage and Mindelo was the only place in Cape Verde with some facilities otherwise I believe there are better place to visit, I am planning to visit Cape Verde properly before we will cross the Atlantic. See notes in “cruising info” about the Marina and the facilities.

I spent in Mindelo about two weeks mostly waiting for Marcella to be back from Europe and to be ready to leave to the Canary Islands. I managed to complete all the work I wanted to do, have some good meals ashore, a few runs around the town, a swim and find new friends to join us for the next passage: Andrea from Italy and Richard from the UK.

Overall there was good food, friendly people, live music everywhere and very pleasant weather. 

On the 30th of November we finally check out and on the 1st of December we leave Mindelo, the idea is to have one or two nights at the anchor moving east before sailing to the Canary Islands.

Ascension Island to Mindelo

We finally are at the Marina in Mindelo, it is Sunday 2pm and we need to wait for tomorrow to clear in Cape Verde, as we have not gone through immigration yet, we stay in the marina for today.

(Mindelo Marina from our mast before the arrive of the ARC rally)

For this passage I decide to keep daily notes as I used to do when we were cruising in 2002-2004. This is a way for me to remember details of the passage that may become useful for future planning and it gives others an idea of my routine during passages.

In summary we sailed 1,720 miles in about 11 days, including the time we were anchored last night in Ilha Santa Luzia.

The crossing was essentially made of four parts:

  • About 650 miles sailing downwind with very light winds (12-15 knots most of the time) for a little more then four days. We sailed all days with the spinnaker and all nights with just the main and the Genoa. Sometime with just 8 knots of wind to save diesel for the next part.
  • About 700 miles motoring or motor-sailing in almost no wind for other four days. Hot and long days.
  • About 350 miles sailing upwind for about two days, this was certainly the less comfortable part of the passage but not too bad.
  • 20 miles the last day to cross a channel to arrive to Ilha de Sao Vicente. See notes below if interested.

We left Ascension Island at 2pm of the 31st of October after quite stressful 36 hours considering to go to Brazil instead of Cape Verde.

On board we still have Laura and Adam that will unfortunately leave us in Mindelo to fly back to Boston. We really enjoyed sailing and traveling with them since they joined us in Namibia. It was the first sailing experience for Laura, she really coped with it brilliantly and she is now an experienced crew. Adam has now more than 15,000 miles sailing experience on many more boats than mean and it was great to debate with him solutions to improve Eidos. I really hope to see them again somewhere soon.

We are not very lucky with fishing in this passage having only caught a small tuna and a large dorado, the tuna was just enough for a sushi appetiser, the dorado was a good size and made Adam very happy.

We see dolphins and whales, every morning we find on the deck squids and flying fishes, and we receive the visit of a locust, a butterfly and few birds – we found one in the guest cabin.
The passage overall has been very comfortable and Eidos sailed well in all conditions. It has been our third longest passage ever, after our Pacific Ocean crossing in 2003 (17 days) and the North Atlantic Ocean crossing in 2002 (15 days), and by far the most comfortable one.
I never liked passages longer than few days because I get bored, this time it was not much different. However as soon as I arrive to the new destination the passage becomes immediately worth it. I am happy that after Cape Verde we should be going slower and spend more time discovering new places than churning thousands miles every month.

Cape Town to Cape Verde was more like a delivery trip of Eidos to a warm region before deciding the future of our trip. We also needed to learn and test our new boat. Nevertheless we saw so many amazing places: Namibia with an incredible desert, sands dunes, wild animals, etc., St. Elena and Ascension Island, probably two of the most isolated islands with incredible history and unforgettable people.

We have sailed more than 4700 miles in the last three months and it involved a lot of learning. We did not do anything new compared to our previous cruising experience, however it is a completely different type of sailing compared to our old Amel and clearly more demanding.

It is not possible to avoid comparisons with our previous boat. As expected Eidos is not a fast catamaran but it sailed faster than our old Amel in all conditions with the addition of an unbelievable comfort and much less sea sickness. When sailing downwind we often feel not much more movement than being at the anchor, at the anchor we have almost no rolling even in presence of swells. The best sailing is around 50-70 degrees where we often enjoy 10 knots sustained speed. Adam could do his yoga routine every day, even while sailing at 10 knots with three meters waves from the side.
Motoring is a different matter, when we use one engine (most of the time) we go slower than with our old Amel while burning more fuel, but we are moving a much bigger boat.
We had few issues that need some work in Cape Verde but nothing major, more than we used to have in passages with the Amel, however Eidos is 17 years old while our previous boat was new.

Before next passage I have few things to Fix:

  • Repair a small cut in the main sail, due to our fault and a bad setting of the reefing lines (I asked to check them to the two different riggers in Cape Town and both said they were ok – we really had mostly bad work done in Cape Town)
  • Replace a batten in the main sail
  • Fix the the Genoa furler. Only few screws that need tightening
  • Fix the electric winch. It looks like there is no power going to the winch
  • Improve the lazy bag. What they did in Cape Town is far from being good
  • Change diesel filters
    It is enough to keep me busy for a week or two

Marcella is going to the Netherlands to visit our son and Laura & Adam flying back home on Thursday, I will stay alone preparing the boat and search the new friends for the next passage for about 10 days.
Differently from what we were told by Kai (the owner of the marina) via email the marina will not have any space available from the 15th to the 20th because of the Arc+ rally and I will have to stay at the anchor. We asked everywhere about the security at the anchorage and it sounds like it is fine. For safety I will have a local guy on board while I am not there all the time.

Daily notes (mostly for my memory, very repetitive and detailed)

We leave at 2pm. The boat has been ready to go since yesterday and it takes less than an hour to prepare the spinnaker on the deck, turn on instruments and engines, pull the anchor and lock it for the crossing, hoist the main sail, call Ascension Island radio to communicate we are leaving and stay out of the influence of the 850 meters high Green Mountain. We are finally sailing again.
We initially have more wind than in the forecast and for short time we sail at about 8kn with Main and Genoa, then the wind goes down to the expected 13kn from SE (true wind) and our speed drops to less than 7 in 10kn apparent wind. The waves are only about a meter but from the side and it is less comfortable than in our previous passage. However we all comment that it is much better than the rolling of any monohull.
We follow the same watches’ schedule of our last passage and the night pass without problems and without seeing any other boat. For short time we finally have a completely clear sky full of stars.

Our strategy for this passage is to go more east of the direct route to Cape Verde for the first four days to have a better wind angle while the wind is from behind (SE).
Then we expect to motor or motor-sail for other four days to go through the ITCZ (the area in proximity of the equator with very light winds or no wind).
We will still stay east of the direct route while motoring to also have a better angle in the last three days when the wind is expected from NE, but at the same time we will stay more than 150 miles west of the coast of Africa as we have not researched possible security risks in that area.
We expect to sail about 1700 miles before arriving to Mindelo on the island of Sao Vicente sometime on the 11th of November. It will be our longest passage on Eidos and our third longest passage ever after our Pacific Ocean crossing (3000 miles) in 2003 and the Atlantic Ocean crossing (2700 miles) in 2002 with our previous boat.

The last 36 hours in Ascension have been very stressful. I discovered that because of the Arc stopping in Mindelo we did not have a guaranteed berth in the marina and in consideration of the security issues in Cape Verde I did not feel comfortable to continue our trip as planned.
For 24 hours we are all excited to go to Fernando de Noronha in Brazil as next stop, known for fantastic beaches and diving sites, and only 1200 miles away with better sailing than going north. We even asked a change of itinerary to our insurance and changed our exit documents.

However it would have added 4,600 miles of sailing and two Atlantic crossings to our first year of cruising, from the current plan of about 12,000 to 16,600. Too many!
Thanks to Adam’s recommendation yesterday I joined the Ocean Cruising Club. The application took only few minutes and in less than an hour the club secretary emailed me offering an introduction to their “port officer” in Cape Verde that is connected with the Marina. I email him and he provides us a lot more confidence about the security in Mindelo, he also said that it is very likely that we will have a spot in the marina during the Arc.
I should have investigated the Cape Verde stop better much earlier and not rely only on cruising guides avoiding this stress to my crew! A good lesson for future planning.
Laura and Adam as well as Marcella have been great dealing with the uncertainty of the last two days.

At 7am I download the new forecast using Iridium Go and Predict Wind. No material differences from what expected yesterday, just lighter winds for the next few days, this is not good because we may have to motor-sail earlier, especially during the night, if we want to arrive in 11 days.
Adam and Marcella are also awake and we hoist the asymmetric spinnaker, our average speed immediately goes up to about 7.5kn in 9kn apparent wind from the 6kn or less we had during the night with Main and Genoa.
It takes always few days to get used to the routine of the passage and in the morning we are all very quite resting, thinking, reading, writing or none of the above.
At 2pm we did 154 miles in the first 24hour, however we are only 144 miles closer to Mindelo because we are not taking the direct route to have a better wind angle especially for when the wind will turn from NE. The first day is what planned to arrive in 11 days.
In the afternoon we have more wind then expected and we average 8kn from 2pm to 7pm when we take the spinnaker down for the night.
The second night pass quietly, our average speed is just under 6kn and we do not see any boat around. A small white bird comes to visit us and flies around the boat for most of the night, during my watch it even tries to land on my head while I was seating at the helm in complete darkness.

At 7am I download the forecast, all the same. We continue going more east as planned, hoist the spinnaker and move our average speed to 7kn in about 9kn apparent wind from 120 degrees. The true wind is about 12kn and there are no white caps around us. The waves may be smaller or I am getting more used to the movement. The day starts cloudy, by 2pm it is very sunny and warm.
After 48 hours we did 318 miles, 164 in the last 24 hours. Slightly ahead of what planned considering the forecast before leaving.
Around 5pm the AIS reports a vessel about 7 miles from us but we cannot see it. Then another just on our route, we change direction and for about an hour we sail at 9-10 knots with 13kn of wind from 90 degrees (main and Genoa), it is very nice but soon we had to go back to our 130-140 degrees and 6.5 knots speed.
Few other vessels follow, the closest at about 4 miles. We are concerned about small fishing boats without AIS and not visible on the radar, we keep more attention looking around but we do not see anything.
The night is beautiful with a lot of stars and few shooting stars.

At 7am I download the forecast, no major changes. We now expect:

  • One more day sailing downwind
  • Four days of motoring
  • 470 miles going upwind
  • Two hours to enter in the marina
    I still hope to arrive on the 10th of November before sunset and I start calculating how we can achieve it.
    Based on today’s forecast we should be able to start the 470 miles upwind leg before 9am of the 8th. At that time we should have from 15 to 20 knots of true wind from 90 degrees (that will later become about 20-25 from 60 degrees), this should allow us to sail at the 8.5 knots average speed needed to arrive before night. We did not sail much upwind with Eidos yet and I look forward to see how she performs in speed and comfort with about 2mt waves from the front.
    At about 1:30pm we pass the equator, it is our second equator crossing, the first was in the Pacific Ocean in 2003. Laura, Marcella and Adam celebrate it, unfortunately I am dealing with a family issue over satellite phone.
    At 2pm, after three days, we have sailed 485 miles, 167 miles in the last 24 hours. Still more than planned but it may not be enough to arrive on the 10th.
    Today the wind is lighter and more from the south than expected forcing us more east than we want and sail slower. We cannot motor as we need to save diesel for the next four days and use all the wind we can in the next 20 hours, we also do not like motoring.
    We catch the first fish of this passage, a very small kind of tuna, not as good as the yellow fins.
    We keep sailing slower and slower until 3am when our speed is down to 3 knots, we decide to take the sails down and turn on the engine.

    When I wake up we have about 11 knots true wind just behind us and we are motoring at an average speed of 6.8 knots, it leaves just enough apparent wind to push the smell of the engine in the cockpit. I hate motoring with light wind from behind.
    It is already very hot and we are all in the cockpit looking for spots with some shadow or breeze.
    I download the forecast, it looks like we will have 11-12 knots from behind until sunset and we decide to hoist the symmetric spinnaker without the main and stay on our course. This should allow us to stay on our route and sail at about 6 knots for 10 more hours. We will lose about 2 hours compared to motoring at 6.8 but we are all happy to stop
    the noise and the smell of the engine.
    The symmetric spinnaker with wind from behind on a catamaran is great because it does not need any attention, it just stays fixed on the two bows by itself.
    At 2pm (at the end of day four) we have sailed 634 miles, only 149 miles in the last 24 hours. We only used the engine for 5 hours so far since we left.
    I spend the morning creating and excel model to understand the time of arrival based on the most current forecast and our most likely expected speeds. We have three legs to do:
  • Motoring for about 90 hours from late today
  • Sail upwind for the rest of the trip. Based on last forecast and our strategy this second leg should be 413 miles
  • Five hours to go around Sao Vicente island, drop the sails and enter the marina
    My current estimate says that we may arrive between 12pm and 6pm of the 10th. I am not happy to arrive at 6pm so I will push the engines more for the coming 3 and half days and monitor the forecast for the upwind part. If the estimates in the next three days will move towards the 6pm or later we will need to slow down and aim for the 11th morning as originally planned.
    The wind slows down progressively during the afternoon but we keep the spinnaker until 7pm. Then we turn on the motor.
    I am testing the engines at 2,700 rpm instead of the 2,500 used so far, we have a good increase in speed, but we may have current helping. I will see the average tomorrow morning and we will monitor the consumption.
    We cruise always with one engine per time as it is more efficient in terms of diesel/mile.

    I could not sleep in the cabin last night because of the noise of the engine and the high temperature and I decided to spend night in the cockpit. At 7:30am I wake up under the rain. We all have a shower with buckets of water collected from the bimini. It only last less than one hour, then it is sunny and hot again.
    Today the Iridium network has problems connecting to the forecast and I can only download it around midday, we may have wind a little earlier then expected, I hope it will happen so we turn off the engine.
    The forecast has not changed much since we left and we are still following the original plan, just going a little faster. The reason I am very keen to have daily updates is the possibility of tropical depressions forming west of Africa. Apparently they can form very quickly bringing strong wind.
    Over night we motored at an average of 7.5 kn, but in the morning speed went down, I am not sure if it is because we now have no wind from behind or because of the current helping us earlier. I will check again the average late today. If we proceed at more than 7kn for the next two days we should arrive easily on the 10th early afternoon.
    At 2pm we have sailed 804 miles since we left five days ago, 170 miles in the last 24 hours.
    Today we have a very unusual sea, long swell
    s from both the north and the south Atlantic mixing together. Still very comfortable apart from the engine.
    In the afternoon we take the two spinnakers out of their bags to let them dry as much as possible  before we store them for some time. The rest of this passage and the following to Canary Islands will be all upwind.

At 7pm we turn off the starboard engine and turn on the port engine that will be running for the next 24 hours.
Today it has been a long and somehow boring day for me, we have been cruising for more than five days and I really miss a walk, a swim or a run. I do not really like long passages, but they are a necessary part of this life.

We cruise at about 6.5kn the all night without problems. In the morning we see two fishing boats, both without AIS and one very close forcing us to change route. There is always the risk of nets behind fishing vessels and it is safer to stay well away from them.
I download a new forecast and it is confirmed some wind from late on then 7th, this means the possibility of less motoring. The CAPE index (an index related to the probability of lightning) is a little higher for the next 48 hours and we will have to pay more attention to possible squalls.
For most of the day we have zero wind with the typical oily sea associated to it while the swell is now all from north.
I estimate again the arrival time and at the current speed we risk to arrive late on the 10th. I identify an anchorage on an uninhabited island about four hours before Mindelo, if we are late to arrive day time we will stop there for a night and continue early on the 11th.
I also recalculate our consumption, I am sure we have enough diesel but I am trying to refine my knowledge of diesel consumption at different rpm for future planning.
I read for most of the morning and watch a movie in the afternoon.
At 2pm, end of day 6, we have sailed a total of 964 miles, 160 miles in the last 24 hours.
Around 4pm we have a breeze of 6kn from east and we motor-sail with the Genoa all open winning about half knot, but it only last for one hour.

We sail all night through squalls, often we need to change route to avoid possible lightning. There were clouds glowing because of electrical activity all around us. Not much sleep.

(radar view of rain around us)
In the morning we hoist the main sail and the self-tacking jib slightly improving our speed. Motor sailing for the rest of the day.
We finally catch a large dorado, it is 5 or 6 kg. Adam is finally happy.

At 2pm, end of day 7, we have sailed a total of 1121 miles, 157 miles in the last 24 hours.
Today we see three cargo ships on the AIS, one is very close and we need to slow down to let it pass few miles in front of us. For the night we have two forecasts regarding possible squalls, one suggests we are completely clear, the other that we should have more than yesterday night. We reef the main for safety and continue to motor-sail. We need to keep going on this route for about 70 miles before we can change more towards west having the wind with a better angle. By then the wind should also become stronger and we should turn off the engine.

Last night we did not see any squall. The swell from north is a little higher. It is very hot in the cabin because the waves from starboard do not allow to open our window. I sleep in the cockpit. During the night the wind becomes much lighter, even down to just one knot, and when there is more wind it is more from north then what expected.
I download a new forecast and it now predicts winds more from north, it means more hours motoring to reach the point we can turn west and start sailing.
We take out the reef and for safety we transfer 100 litres of diesel from jerry cans to the main tanks. We expect now to motor the all day. I am almost sure we cannot arrive to Mindelo on the 10th, but we should be still able to arrive to the anchorage before Mindelo for a good sleep before going to the marina. I hope the wind stays more east than the current forecast otherwise it will be slower and less comfortable.
As every day, I check the engine that has been running (sea water strainer, coolant level, oil level, diesel pre-filters, belts, bilge, anything unusual on the engine) and Marcella takes the reading of the diesel tanks’ levels so that I can estimate consumptions and remaining autonomy.
Weather forecast, routing, logging, monitoring and analysing data takes me few hours every day, I know it is much more than other cruisers do, but I still like to play with data. Excel remains my favourite tool even while sailing.
At 2pm, end of day 8, we have sailed a total of 1272 miles, 151 miles in the last 24 hours.
Later in the afternoon we reach the waypoint identified 6 days ago to turn west, I initially think to delay the turn in consideration of the changed forecast but then, after a discussion with the crew, we decide to turn. The risk is that the wind angle does not allow us to go directly to Mindelo and we have to do a tack. We agree it’s the best to do.
We sail with main sail with one reef and full genoa at 8+ knots for some time, then I notice that the fuller of the Genoa is broken half way, I think that the cylinder in aluminium is made of two pieces and they have separated, it should be easy to fix if we do not use it. This creates a stress on the sail that may break. I decide to roll the Genoa to the second reef to protect the sail and continue using it, the speed drops to about 7.5 knots.
We continue with the autopilot on wind hold all night. A locust is somewhere on board stridulating all night.

During the night the AIS registers the presence of many vessels, it indicated up to 155, however all very far away. It is hard to believe that there are 155 vessels at a distance covered by our VHF, I need to investigate if large cargo boats may relay the presence of vessels they know of.
I download as always a new forecast and fortunately the wind should move more east. Adam and Laura hunt the locust and make sure it does not stay on board longer.
In the morning we decide to furl in the Genoa to avoid damages from the broken fuller and we continue with main and jib. We lose at least one knot. Also our main electrical winch stops working today, this is essential to hoist the main sail. It looks like there is no power going to the motor that is a good thing, hopefully it is nothing wrong with the motor.
At 2pm, end of day 9, we have sailed a total of 1432 miles, 160 miles in the last 24 hours. Much less than we expected for this day and mostly due to the problem we have with the Genoa.
In the afternoon we have moved north enough to change the autopilot from wind hold (at 45 degrees) to “route to” pointing directly north of Ilha de Maio where we should arrive around midday tomorrow. From there we will have less then 150 miles to Mindelo.
The swell from north is much bigger now and we often have water flowing on the deck, sometimes even in the cockpit.
I email the marina confirming our current ETA to make sure we will have some assistance on Sunday. They apparently have a crew available 24/.

Early in the morning the wind increases to more than 28 knots apparent and we sail at a speed of over 10 knots. I decide to take a second reef to slow down. We still go over 8 knots until the wind goes down.
After downloading a new forecast we go back to one reef with speed around 8 knots.
Around midday we see Ilha de Maio on our left and we start seeing small local fishing boats invisible to the radar and without AIS. For the next day we must watch much more carefully for boats on our route.
We occasionally have waves of over three meters from the side that makes difficult to move around the boat, but staying seated or laying down is ok. Only Adam remains very active regardless from the sea state.
At 1pm local time (we changed to Cape Verde time), end of day 10, we have sailed a total of 1605 miles, 173 miles in the last 24 hours.
At the current speed we would arrive to Mindelo in the night, we decide to anchor in Ponta da Cruz on Ilha de Santa Luzia, according to the guide a nice beach of an uninhabited island.
For the last few hours before the Ilha Santa Luzia we have constantly more than 30 knots, up to 37 from 40-45 degrees. We have two reefs in the main and we try with the jib or only small part of the Genoa, in both cases the front sail was not very happy. We can sail better with the main (2 reefs) and a small part of the genoa at about 6.5 knots. We arrive in the bay around 1am when we take down the main and motor the last mile against 35+ knots of wind. We drop the anchor and our 55 kg Rocna drags on the “sand with good holding” reported by the guide. We move a little north and drop it again and it finally works.
It is 2am when we are at the anchor with 70 meters of chain in 10 meters of depth and 35+ knots of wind. We eat some cheese and prosciutto and we go to bed for a short but quite night, it is incredible how the 35+ knots are not impacting the comfort. We only see it on the instruments.
We sailed for 1,696 miles and 10 days 13 hours. Tomorrow morning we leave to Mindelo, about 20 more miles sailing through an acceleration zone that according to the guide could have winds twice stronger than today and up to two knots of current.

We have the wind constantly over 30 knots during the night, we see up to 38.8 on our instruments. The anchor holds very well. I call the marina to ask if it was windy there too, they say it was not too windy and that two boats just arrived without problems. I download a new forecast and it says 20knots wind and 2.5 meters wave, we still have always 30 knots and often more than 35.
We turn on the engines and one does not go over 2200 rpm, it must be the diesel filter but I decide to change it in the marina. I decide to go with the main with three reefs, so we are ready to sail away if the engines failed. We have to go through the acceleration zone and the wind and the waves push us towards the island.
When we hoist the main we discover that the third reef lines do not look right (at least this is our view, I did not have reef lines on the old Amel), we try to fix it but we damage the main, just a small cut that makes it unusable and add another job to the list. It will be a big job to take all the battens off and move the 120 sqm sail down to be repaired.
We finally leave with engines and Genoa around 10am and we are soon out of the protection of the island in the channel between Ilha Santa Luzia and Ilha de Sao Vicente with over 30 knots of wind. The channel faces north and the depth goes from few thousands meters to just 20 in few miles. The swells from the North Atlantic Ocean crash on this massive submersed mountain and become bigger and more confused. The plan is to stay on the right of the channel where it is a little deeper going north to a depth of about 500 meters hoping to have normal swells before turning west, at that point the waves would be from the side.
Sailing north in the channel we have about 30 knots of wind directly from the front, we close the Genoa and proceed with only the engines. The waves are not more than 3 meters on average however we often have much higher waves, probably some up to 5 meters. Many break on our deck and few on me sitting at the helm, it feels like large buckets of water thrown to me. One of these buckets must have been few hundred litres, I felt like I was in the wave. We proceed very slowly and even slower when we bounce down after a big wave crashes on us from the nose.

The bad part only lasts two or three hours, then the waves become smoother and after we turn they come from the back.

We arrive to the marina around 3pm and we still have almost 30 knots of wind, going in a marina with more than 20 knots always requires focus, doing it with a new boat makes is even more interesting, but having one of the engines potentially failing is really stressing. We ask for a berth facing the outside of the marina to simplify the landing. I keep the boat as close as possible to the fuel pontoon while we wait to know where we have to go just in case we have a problem with our port engine, it does not take long but it felt like forever. They give us a spot next to an Amel Super Maramu 2000, exactly the same as our last boat, we like it. I turn Eidos around and reverse against the strong wind without problems, Marcella and Adam give two stern lines to the marina crew and we are finally ok. The Amel is so familiar, I really know every inch of that boat (I cannot say the same about Eidos), I notice how the winches, the sails and the lines on the Amel look so small now.
Only an hour later I go with Adam to see the Amel and chat with Nick from Sweden, they are going to Martinique where he wants to sell the boat and relocate to Cambodia. The boat is identical to our Timetama but it really looks small now, from the Amel cockpit I look at Eidos, it reminds me when I first saw a Catana 58 in 2002 at the start of the Arc, it passed us very close before the start of the race, the guy sitting at the helm was 2 meters higher than us. It looked enormous but compact at the same time (as our friend Giorgio described the Catana 582 when he went to see her before us in Cape Town). I immediately liked her.

Ascension Island

Ascension Island is even smaller and more remote than St. Helena and at the same time even more a continuous surprise. There are only 700 people leaving on the island but all working on a contract and no permanent resident. Nobody can live on the island without an employment contract.
In the 19th century it was a relay station for telegraph services with cables connections to all over the world.

Now it is an important base for the GPS service, a relay station for BBC, an American military base, a base of the European space agency, it has a run way that not long ago was the longest in the world to serve as emergency landing place for the space shuttle. There are antennas of any size and shape as I have never seen before, there is a lot of technology installed but internet is even worst and more expensive than in St. Helena.

Ascension is over 1 million years old volcanic island and when Charles Darwin was here, in 1836, he was informed that any rainfall immediately evaporates in this hot and dry environment.

Apparently once back in the UK Darwin spoke to a botanist and they developed a plan to collect water. In 1847 the navy personnel randomly planted 220 different species of plants on what is now called “Green mountain”.
After a million year of almost no vegetation in short time Ascension Island had a forest that retained water from the mist and the rain.
Today there are a lot of tracks to hike Green Mountain and it is incredible to experience the difference in environment and climate compared to the sea level.

At sea level there are great white beaches in generally black and rocky volcanic scenery. We finally went to swim in a warm sea. The island has also a very reach marine life, during the day it is impossible to through anything in the water because of million trigger fishes, small black fishes related to piranha that immediately eat anything. They also cleaned the back of our boat that was getting quite dirty. Until few years ago the island was a paradise for spear fishing but there had also been few shark attacks. They tell us that from the pontoon they could sometimes count 15 sharks up to 20 feet long swimming close to the beach.
About a year ago the weekly flight was discontinued and today there is only one flight a month that stays for 24 hours, so you can visit the island for just one day or for a full month.
The only hotel in the island closed last year and with the hotel the bakery and other services. We read that there were two car rental companies, we discovered that have one car each.
The provisioning for the island comes by ship once a month, but they told us that the last ship forgot to load for Ascension. The locals where not that surprised as apparently it was not the first time, they will just have to wait another month.
Internet here is really bad and expensive, we pay 6 pounds per hour or 20 pounds per day per device and it is slow and inconsistent.

On the 29th of October after only two days on Ascension Island we see a good weather window and decide to leave to Cape Verde on the 30th, we clear out and as we know that there are security issues in Cape Verde I contact the Marina in Mindelo that is known to be very safe. In the afternoon they reply that they are fully booked because of few sailing rallies stopping there, it was a surprise as I thought we were still early for their peak season. Mindelo is the only place in Cape Verde with a safe Marina and reading more on noonsite, and other cruising forums, we discover that anchoring in Cape Verde can be dangerous. I spend the entire day looking at alternatives and by the evening the next closest viable marina appeared to be in French Guyana (north of Brazil) about 2,500 miles away from Ascension instead of 1,700 of Mindelo. We need a marina because we may need to leave the boat for a week in a safe place to travel to Europe.
Going to French Guyana offer us the opportunity of a short stop, just half way, in Fernando da Noronha Archipelago, west of Brazil that is considered to be an amazing marine reserve. Going west also has the advantage of more favourable winds and the possibility to spend the season in the Caribbean before sailing back to Europe. However, our current plan to go back to Europe, requires additional sailing of 4,600 miles, and going to Europe requires much longer and expensive flights.
The rest of the day is spent on the internet to buy online maps of Brazil and Caribbean, research a completely new area, browse the guides we have onboard, call friends that have sailed that part of the world, try to change the itinerary on our insurance.
By the end of the day we are still not convinced about where to go.
I also join the OCC (Ocean Cruising Club), they connect me with their port officer in Mindelo that is also manager of the marina. He says the security is not an issue in Mindelo even if at the Anchor and that they almost always have a berth available even during the Arc presence.
On the 30th we are considering again going to Mindelo (Cape Verde) mitigating the security issues in one of the following ways:

  1. have the berth in the marina during the Arc (according to the marina this is almost always possible)
  2. go to an hotel and hire a security guy for the five days the boat has to be at the anchor (if we do not get the berth)
  3. leave Mindelo before the Arc boats arrive (subject to weather)

By lunch time we decide for Mindelo, visit the customs again and leave for a passage of about 10-11 days…

St. Helena to Ascension

We sadly have to leave St. Helena at 2pm of the 21st of October with about 700 miles to go before arriving to Ascension Island.

The wind is 10-15 knots from SE exactly from the back and we know that there is no easy way to get diesel in Ascension. We decide to not use the engines to save our diesel for the next passage to Cape Verde and we only sail even when we go at 3 knots with 7 knots from the back. Fortunately, there is not much swell and we are on a catamaran so the sails stay relatively stable even with light wind.
We have to gybe frequently to take advantage of small shifts of wind and we sail all day with a symmetric spinnaker and only the main in the nights. It was a good practice hoisting the spinnaker and the main preventer from side to side so often.
We also have very few hours in a couple of days with more than 15kn and we enjoy over 10 knots speed, but in average it has been our slowest passage ever.
It is our slowest passage ever, but probably also the most comfortable, in good company, finally warm weather and great skies.

We arrive in Ascension bay at 8pm of the 26th of October in complete dark, after almost 800 miles at an overall average just above 6 knots and only two hours engine (just to leave the anchorage and landing). We call Ascension Radio at arrival that tells us about the entry procedure, we go ashore the next morning and there is a single office for Port Control, Customs and Immigration. As in St. Helena also here all the formalities are very easy.
We are the only yacht in Ascension bay as most yachts go directly to Brazil from St. Helena. Wairima and Phoenix 11 are now sailing west.

St. Helena

The day after our arrival also Wairima and Phoenix 11 join us in the mooring field, they are going towards Brazil as most of the yachts stopping here.

(yes there is a whale at the anchorage between Eidos and Wairima)

We spend our first day in Jamestown gathering information about the island, it is Saturday and almost everything is closed. In the evening there is a fish fry at the St Helena Yacht Club where we start meeting some local sailors. We talk a lot with James who is the founder of the yacht club, he sailed over 40,000 miles in his five years circumnavigation with wife and three children arriving back to St. Helena in 2016. He also runs “St Helena Yacht Services” providing all sort of services to the yachts visiting the island.

There are no many tourists in town and we feel that every “saint” here knows about us (the St Helena residents are called saints). Saints are extremely friendly, there are just 4,000 people in the all island that has few villages. Apparently there are also about 4,000 cars, we saw plate number “1” and few other single digit plates.

Jamestown is tiny and I soon develop a daily routine that includes:

  • some work on the boat before going to land
  • coffee and internet at the Consulate Hotel chatting with Hazel (owner of the hotel from Botswana) and Peter (former professor of Physics at Oxford university and now helping at the hotel and owner of a farm in St. Helena)
  • hunting for something for the boat at one of the Solomon’s shops (almost all shops are owned by the Solomon Family)
  • some type of excursion
  • swim at a very nice fresh water public swimming poll situated on the seafront
  • stop for a beer at the yacht club before returning to the boat, where we meet the other cruisers or some locals

We spend nine days in St Helena and we could easily stay much longer. We walked up Jacob’s lather (699 steps), visited the “most remote” distillery in the world, had a very informative tour with Robert (the oldest guide on the island – now 82 with a mother over 100), met Jonathan an over 180 years old turtle that they claim is currently the oldest living land animal, visited the Napoleon sites, had some walks (not enough), spent time with locals.

There is so much history and variety in the environment for a such small island in the middle of the Southern Atlantic Ocean that we are continuously surprised.
We were told the island was very expensive, in general we did not find it being the case other than for the internet, the vegetables and the ferry service to go ashore from the boat. Because of the surge it is not always recommended to land with the dinghy – in Cape Town they also told us that the ferry guys do not like cruisers using their own dinghy and that some dinghies disappeared, I do not believe this is true.

The ferry service is managed by Port Control to provide to local fishermen a simple and free service to reach their boats at the buoys and it is also available to visiting yachts for 2 pounds per person (plus extra for after-hours trips), it is a great idea but the guy managing it is very moody and can be rude and aggressive making the experience unpleasant. He also lied about the latest time to return to the boat (it is 7pm and not 6pm as he tells you!). The local yacht club is trying to improve the way dinghies can be left at the landing, but there is a lot of tension about this matter as the ferry guys also get tips and they would lose their extra income from yachts (not immaterial and probably tax-free as we did not have any receipt).

I hope Port Control will do something about it as this was the only unpleasant experience on an island that otherwise was extremely welcoming and worth visiting.