lørdag 24. juli 2010

The Doldrums

A short report from us here in the Doldrums! We startet out from Cape Verde last Thursday, 9 days ago, after having given the hull a big scrub while at anchor off Santa Antao. We never visited this island, but were actually visited by some islanders who came swimming out! They were obviously curious about the newcomers, and what they might have been after was to make us come ashore the next day to be showed around. As we had cleared out of Cape Verde the day before, with the intention of leaving as soon as we had releaved the boat of some of the barnacles and whatever there was growing under the waterline, we didn’t want to take the chance of any trip ashore. To bad, probably, especially one of them seemed to be an ambitious young man who wanted to be able to make a living as a tourist guide. Anyway, the day after we left after some hard work with snorkel and mask and wooden scrapes. We had a good wind and headed south towards the island Brava, the most south-westernern of the Cape Verde islands. We never anchored there as we had sort of planned for, but decided to just continue towards Brasil.

After some good sailing, slowly, in light winds that is, we finally reached the Doldrums some days ago. But when is it that you have reached the Doldrums? What wind speed can it be and still be counted as the Doldrums? Of course we know there are squalls in the Doldrums that can have a considerable wind speed, but when the stable wnd from east comes well below 10 knot we regarded it as the start of the Doldrums. Then these last 24h we have had a stable wind below 5 knots, and that is really a lot less! The surface of the ocean is like a mirror, like we saw it in the film “Master and Commander”, when they were drifting in the flat seas south of Galapagos.Anyway, it doesn’t really matter what we call it. Until yesterday we chose to be purists, and did not start the engine once. But after some hours spent, drifting backwards at 0,5 knots due to the current (equatorial Counter Current?) we decided to spend some diesel. So now we have motored for the last 18 hours, and still there is not much wind to sail on. Eventually, however, we trust there will be wind again that will take us south-west towards Brasil.

On this passage we have so far seen lots of flying fish, a large group of dolphins and also a whale! The latter was of course the most fascinating, as none of us has seen one before! It even finalised the show with a flip with the tail before diving out of sight. It was really a grat view! We have also experienced the feeling of swimmimg in the see where the bottom is to be found 5000 meters below.. A bit thrilling, but hardly chilling as the temperature was above 30 deg in the water!

As I’m writing this the sun is rising and it looks as we are going to have another sunny day. No more squalls like the one two days ago, which gave us all a nice shower and also the ability to topping up the water tanks a bit. Next time we will improve the remedies for rain collection as it truly was a lot of valuable water hitting the boat!

Thats all for now, from position 9° 37N 26° 57 W.



tirsdag 13. juli 2010

Update from Mindelo

We are very close to leave for the longest stretch towards Brazil now, and will give a short update from our stay in Mindelo before we go. The two weeks we have spend here has been relaxed, walking around the streets, looking in some of the numerous China-shops, watching football from South Africa, visiting the nearby tourist complex Point d'Agua for a dip in the pool or drink in the bar and so on.. We have really had a good time and have not felt the urge to continue towards Brazil too soon.
Before we came here we read mixed reports from other sailors about the conditions in this place. Theft and robbery, bad quality and expensive food, social problems, but also descriptions of a friendly people. We have found the people here to be most friendly and helpful, and we haven't heard about anyone being robbed in this period. We certainly see a lot of poor people, begging for money, but only very few seems to be really hungry. They might have overcharged us in the markets, but only once did we feel really fooled by this guy selling "jewellry".. However, the loss was not more than we can take. Most of the food that we have bought has been of good quality, and not much more expensive than in Spain. It depends a lot on what you're after, but what is produced locally is not expensive. The locally grown fruits we have found are bananas, mango and papaya. We have realised that we are now probably south of the oranges!.. A very strange feeling for someone coming from Norway! However, the diversity is not like in a Spanish supermarket of course, so you'll have to take what they have..
The marina has probably been upgraded since the last reports were written, as now they have employees taking your lines and no boat boy has tried to sell his services to us during our stay. The sanitary facilities are quite OK. And there are guards watching over the marina at all times it seems, some times they are even police officers.
Last Monday on the 5th they celebrated the Independence Day with a big party in the streets on the night before. On the day the military troops marched in the streets and received a big applause from the crowds. We know this country spend very little on their forces, only 0,5% of the BNP, so they are actually not very aggressive! Then two days later the president of Portugal paid a visit to Mindelo, showing us that there are very good relations between the former colony masters and the liberated people. This day was also rounded off with another consert and big party in the night. We didn't have to leave the boat to listen to the music! Anyway, we went up to the concert area for a while also, to have a taste of the real party..
As I am writing this it is actually a little rain in the air. It is the rainy season, but the rain they get here is scarse. The last days have been very hot and humid, and hardly any wind at all. We drink a lot to avoid dehydration, and feel quite OK. We have become better at dealing with it now.
The forecasts predict very little wind in the coming period too, so the leg to Brazil might take some time. Anyway, we are stocked up now and are ready to go. Next report will probably be from Brazil!