Date: September 29 (&30)
Location: 14º 54.771' N 23º 30.234' W, anchored in Porta da Praia, Santiago, Cape Verdes
We made it in to Porta da Praia yesterday morning. The wind didn't exactly adhere to the plan I had laid out for a timely arrival. Squalls passed through, so we had spurts of wind. However, by adjusting the plan and omitting motoring, we arrived in daylight and except for my anxiety about watching lightning strike the water, it was a good sail. We thought we'd look for the other yachts and then anchor near them. Ha. There were two sailboats moored here, but they had that green, slime-covered bottom, unloved look. The kids and I felt let down. We had somehow decided that we would find other yachties and fine beaches and what-not here. We are in a place that does not really do tourism much less yachties. No agents (or marina offices or fellow cruisers) able to answer questions like: where do you take garbage, where can I do laundry or even where is immigration, were there to greet us with open arms and information. It's been a while. We're renewing our self-sufficiency skills. That said, the people we have met ashore have all been very warm and pleasant and happy to help as best they could. Not speaking either Crioulo or Portuguese, we're getting by with an amalgamation of French, Spanish, English and gesture. We located Immigration and the Policia Maritimo and checked in. We found the Brazilian embassy and applied for a tourist visa. We found a shop, run by Chinese, and bought a Cape Verdean flag. And we found the American embassy and found out what reasonable taxi fares should be.
While we were in town two other yachts showed up. Even better, those yachts contained Americans, Canadians and one Aussie. And even better, one boat is going to Brazil and then Uruguay. We had drinks with Bobbi & Noel who are taking a delivery boat to Uruguay. They are going faster than we are, but it was nice to talk with someone doing what we are. The other boat is headed to South Africa. So the harbor might not be overflowing with yachties, and the water might be cloudy, and we might not find ice cream, BUT we have found nice people and we're satisfied. Oh, and our change in latitude has returned us to the tropics and warm weather. We're back in shorts and tank tops, wistfully remembering that time not long ago when we wore sweat shirts and pants. We'll stay here for maybe two/three days and then off we go to Brazil.
The Bermuda Triangle is a myth, that's just where Chuck Norris practices his roundhouse kicks.
Date: September 28, 2008
Location: 16º 19' N 23º 18' W at 1200
Today we were on the foredeck and noticed red dirt on the jib sheets. And that wasn't all. There was red dirt on the lazy jacks, the reefing lines, the dinghy cover, the life lines, the stainless, the deck, you name it, it had red dirt on it. Us too I think. I dipped into the cruising guide today and it seems we have acquired a bit of Africa. When the wind blows just right sand/dirt is carried on the wind and deposited elsewhere. I suspect our earlier winds that helped us have 100+ nm days were the dirt carriers. With the wind we've had today the only way porch wind chimes would make any noise is if someone bumped into them. We are about 80 miles out this afternoon going past Ihla Boavista, and we are strategizing the most effective use of our iron genny. We think we'll gently drift along until midnight and then power ourselves up, but still going slowly to arrive after the sun rises. We'll get in and find out the local time is very different and have to change our internal as well as external clocks, but until that happens it is still dark for us at 0800. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the wind cooperates with this grand scheme
Chuck Norris died 10 years ago, but the Grim Reaper is afraid to tell him
Date: September 27, 2008
Location: 17º 41' N 22º 42' W at 1200
Another slow news day. We are about 150 nm from Porto da Praia on Ihla Santiago in the Cape Verdes. We are having interesting winds, both nice sailor-ly ones and ones more suited for gently shifting porch wind chimes. Alex watches the chart-plotter's time guestimate of our arrival and either smiles or scowls. She's been frowning today. She is ready to arrive. I figure we'll have light wind followed by more light wind until a stiff breeze would cause us to arrive in the middle of the night, then the wind will pick up. Uh oh, I've written the thought down, nooooooooooo...
Chuck Norris can slam a revolving door.
Date: September 26, 2008
Location: 19º 36' N 21º 44' W at 1200
Our wind has improved. We even took down the spinnaker and put the white sails back up. Yee ha. After several eventful days in a row, today was rather non-descript. Consequently, I haven't much to say.
Chuck Norris knows the last two digits of pi.
Chuck Norris can divide by zero.
Date: September 25, 2008
Location: 21º 47' N 20º 36' W at 1200
Last night, three daring flying fish attempted a before-dawn raid on Fafner. They were unsuccessful. Major MadeIt landed in the cockpit on my dark watch. I chased him around the jib sheets. He deposited several piles of scales before I finally ejected him from the boat. I finished the remainder of my watch without incident. Later in the morning, the girls and I needed to do some foredeck work, and that is when we discovered that Major MadeIt had not acted alone. Unfortunately, his partners, Sergeant Fried and Corporal Crispie, did not manage to find a way in to the boat before they ran out of oxygen. We found them stiff and glassy eyed near Claire's closed hatch. Just what were they after? And who were they working for? SPECTRE? Dr. Evil? We will be more vigilant from here on out.
If Superman and Flash had a race around the world, who would win? Chuck Norris.
Date: September 24, 2008
Location: 23º 34' N 19º 34' W at 1200
In the immortal words of Fred Flintstone (borrowing the Lone Ranger's theme song): Happy Anniversary, Happy Anniversary, Happy Anniversary Haaaappy Anniversary... didn't anyone else watch too much TV as a kid? Today we celebrated our Two-Year Sailing anniversary with Alex-baked sugar cookies, chilled cokes and dolphin watching on the bow. We also scared a school of about 500 flying fish into scattering wildly in a big blob of water-deflecting fishies. Oh, and we spied our first tanker in two days. Everyone wanted to come to our party. They heard we were gearing up to watch Captain Ron in the cockpit tonight with breaks for more cookies and star-gazing.
Let me share a work in progress;
Four intrepid Arnolds went to sea
in a beautiful dragon boat.
They took some honey
and plenty of money
and used e-mail to send home notes.
Geoff looked up to the stars above
and got Claire to play her guitar,
"Oh lovely ocean, oh ocean my love,
You'll carry my family far, afar,
You'll carry my family far."
They sailed away for two years and some days
to lands where the palm trees grow
and there on the beach
ice cream was in reach
and cokes lined up in rows, long rows
and cokes lined up in rows.
Date: September 23, 2008
Location: 24º 58' N 19º 05' W at 1200
Winds are light, NOT THAT I"M COMPLAINING!!!, and we have been running the spinnaker since yesterday. This morning in a family bonding event we gybed the spinnaker downwind. Overall it was uneventful because we utilized the spinnaker sock. The restful pace has given us plenty of time to contemplate how best to celebrate our 2 year sailing anniversary tomorrow. I think it is time to defrost the shrimp and the special block of Gomeran sesame cheese. Maybe I'll even chill a few cokes in honor of the occasion. Alex has volunteered to make cookies. I could go wild and write a haiku too.
Superman wears Chuck Norris pajamas to bed
Date: September 22, 2008
Location: 26º 22' N 18º 06' W at 1200
The big excitement of the day was passing Sonia's bucket. We know it was hers because as it floated past we noticed it did not have a handle. This is especially amazing because Sonia lost her bucket on the original Arnold circumnavigation. Are you doubting us?
Once while eavesdropping on other yachties' conversations on the VHF we heard a new species of joke, Chuck Norris jokes. We have been amusing ourselves with them ever since. Here's a good one: Chuck Norris doesn't mow his lawn, he just stands in his yard and dares the grass to grow. Hee hee, anyone got any more?
Date: September 21, 2008
Location : 28º 03' N 17º 07' W at 1200
We left San Sebastian, La Gomera this morning. I liked San Sebastian. The rest of the family did too. From mid- September until mid-December La Gomera (the island) celebrates something called Lustrales which is a festival in honor of Mary, mother of God. I think technically the festival is about the Lady of Guadalupe, but I'm not entirely sure, my Spanish is not that good and I associate Our Lady of Guadalupe with Mexico, so I could have confused myself. Anyway, I bring this up because there were Things going on while we were there. We got to listen to some evening concerts from our cockpit. There was also a caravan/road rally. A multitude of cars with balloons tied to them got off the Fred Olsen ferry and honked their way in to town and parked. The people whooped it up on a stage and we passed as they were swaying and singing a song in Spanish. They were all waving rainbow flags, so it could have been some sort of Pride event, as I said, my Spanish is not that good. Ah, but the torre was closed because they were constructing some sort of pavilion on its grounds, so the festival deprived me of viewing an historical building. The kids were crushed.
We rented a car and drove around the island. The interior was very different from the coast. We got in to the Garanjay Nat'l Park and we encountered fog so thick we couldn't see over the cliffs. The fog signalled moisture and the park did indeed have green trees and shrubs. The volcanic nature of the island is apparent in its ravines. Two interesting local customs have developed to overcome the difficulties presented by the steep hillsides. One is a whistling language. The Gomerans whistle to each other in different pitches and patterns and the sound carries far across the valleys. The guide book talks about it, and we heard the locals doing it, even in town. The other adaptation is like like a short pole vault pole. The rural guys use it to launch across rocks and small ravines instead of walking around. On our driving excursion we saw an old guy walking along the road with his sturdy metal-tipped stick. So the customs aren't just for tourists, they still do those things. Cool.
I did manage to get the entire family to visit the church where Columbus and crew attended mass before leaving on their historic voyage. While we didn't attend mass, I still think the visit makes us especially fortified for our passage to the Cape Verdes.
Date: September 16, 2008
Location: 28º 05.344' N 17º 06.462' W, tied up in La Gomera Marina, San Sebastian, Isla Gomera, Canary Islands
We thought we were going to arrive too early again, so last night Geoff reduced sail. Ha. Things were going slowly as planned until my watch and I found myself in one of the acceleration zones around an island headland. We had been using those zones with their enhanced winds to our advantage, but this one was blowing from a not-so-favorable direction. Oh well. Going even slower than planned only meant we arrived with full morning light and no ferries could sneak up on us in the weak early-morning light. We were settled in a berth by 0915 and were in the showers by 1030. The town looks charming and the island boasts a World Heritage designated National Park. Claire has already found 5 and 7 hour hikes she wants to explore. I found the town hall which my cruising guide says was once the home of Colombus' friend (and possible mistress) Beatriz de Bobadilla. We think we'll go into town to look for dinner tonight and then we'll begin some serious trolling for new friends. What are the odds we'll find another family with teens who are crossing the Atlantic to go to Brazil and parts south?
Date: September 15, 2008
Location: 28º 28' N 15º 28' W at 1200
Dolphins in the strait between Gran Canaria and Tenerife are grey with spots. We know this because some came over to play with us this afternoon. And other than that it's been a quiet day, just how I like them. Claire is doing a multi-media elective this year and that means she's going to be messing with website stuff. Geoff is her professor. Alex and I enjoyed listening to them talk today. They were communicating in sentences comprised of acronyms instead of words, AND understanding each other.
Date: September 14, 2008
Location: 29º 10' N 13º 24' W (cruising along the coast of Lanzarote Is.) at 1200
On the move again - The wind has become nice so we left Graciosa this morning. We decided to head straight to Gomera and spend some time there instead of hopping and stopping on the way. We're aiming for San Sebastian which is the port Christopher Columbus left from when he was off to discover the route to Not-India. We had fun on Graciosa. We met some nice yachties from Guernsey. They were amusing even before we stayed up way too late drinking suspicious-looking wine from a 5 gallon water jug with them. The group consisted of two boats. Pete was single-handing on his cat, and Dick & 3 young university just-graduates were on his mono-hull. We talked Vanessa (crew) into going on the hike up the volcano crater with us. We scrabbled our way to the top on what we decided was a trail. We walked around the rim appreciating the view. Then we looked down into the crater and saw man-made rock formations. Are there druids on the Canary Islands?
We had to go investigate. Someone had arranged fist-sized rocks into a large spiral. Next to the spiral was a set of 10 small triangles within a large triangle. The triangles were dark and light because their creator had used rocks and snail shells to 'color them in.' Next to the spiral and the triangles was a 15x5 ft. rectangular space brushed free of scrub and stones and bordered by a low rock wall. There was also a large rock (as tall as me) that had two small rocks placed on top of it and many small rocks placed around its base in what appeared to be a deliberate manner. I swear there was a vibe about the place. We were there in the late afternoon and we had that growing shadow light. The wind was blocked by the crater walls, so it was still. There were no animals or even bugs around. We even found some bleached animal bones. There was definite atmosphere. Claire and Geoff are born trouble-makers. First Claire picked up and moved one of the rocks out of its place by the large rock. Then Geoff walked right through the middle of the rectangle cleared of scrub and stones. They got Vanessa to climb on top of another, even larger rock, and pose for a picture. I asked them if they were trying to annoy the spirits. Geoff said that he was only walking through the rectangle in order to absorb some of the spiritual energy. Claire said that when she looked at the arrangement of the rocks, she felt that the Feng Shui was off balance and that she had to fix it. I think we confused Vanessa. Anyway, I'm hoping that those explanations were good enough to placate the spirits. As insurance I'm considering making signs for the spirits that will direct them to Claire and Geoff and away from innocent little me.
Date: September 12, 2008
Location: 29º 13.696' N 13º 30.173' W, tied up in Caleta del Sebo (La Sociedad), Isla Graciosa, Canary Islands
At 0600 this morning we were 5 miles from our off shore-waypoint. The sun rises at 0830. Drat. Our slowing down techniques were not successful enough. In the end we only had a handkerchief-size jib up and we were still going 5.5 knots. As we approached harbor (before we turned on the engine) we were doing 4.5 knots under dodger-power alone. It's a tad windy. Geoff and I spent a couple of hours going back and forth in the dark, but only a couple, so reducing sail did help some. We came into La Sociedad Harbor and it reminds us of our marina back home - the wind howls in here. Claire and Geoff went to check in with the port captain and he had weather guru up on his desk computer. It was blowing 23 knots. The town looks small but nice. G & C report that it reminded them of Mexico, but tidier. We'll take naps and showers today and then brave the breezes to go and see what we can see.
Date: September 11, 2008
Location: 30º 39' N 12º 03' W at 1200
The wind has been freshening since 0-dark-thirty, so we have been reducing sail accordingly. We are now down to a partially-curled up jib and reefed main and we are still doing 6+ knots making for an 0200 arrival off Isla de la Graciosa, the first of the Canary Islands we could reach from our Gibraltar approach. We're trying to slow down now because we have had enough of killing time outside harbors in fresh winds. On the plus side, Fafner seems to have become a whale attractor. Geoff and the kids are watching some outside as I type. Claire and Alex are practicing whale speak in order to ask directions to good snorkeling spots. Everyone, channel Dory from Finding Nemo and say, "Hellllllooooooo, caaaaaan yooooooooou tellllll meeeeeeeee wheeeeere the preeeeettttty fiiiiiiish liiiiiiive?"
Date: September 10, 2008
Location: 32º 28' N 10º 08' W at 1200
A tribute to Robert Burns: From trawlers and tankers and long-line-ed netties and all things that go FLASH in the night - may the good Lord deliver us. Last night Geoff and I had the big fun avoiding miles-long lines of nets with flashies. I'd forgotten what they were like, bleah. This morning we saw some small whales resting on the surface of the water. We're guessing they were pilot whales. We saw two on one side of the boat, just floating and leisurely spouting. Can they do that in their sleep? I wouldn't sleep in fishing boat territory if I were any kind of sea creature. We were so busy concentrating on the two to starboard that it was a surprise to glance to port and find one right next to the boat. It got up enough energy to point away from us and swim a little way off before resuming the leisurely float and spout routine. In a Zen sort of way watching the gentle whales made me feel at peace with the circle of life and fishermen and everything. That is until tonight if the flashies return.
Date: September 9, 2008
Location: 34º 01' N 08º 28' W at 1200
We are sailing along the Moroccan coast. Last night we passed Casablanca. I dearly wanted to pull into port and tell the Port Captain to round up the usual suspects, but I restrained myself. I also thought about getting on the VHF and serenading the keepers of night watch with my rendition of "As Time Goes By", but once again, I restrained myself. All this restraint might not be a good thing. Who knows what I'm likely to do once we make it to the Canaries.
Date: September 8, 2008
Location: 35º 16' N 06º 45' W at 1200
Our connection is slow so I'll be brief. There is some justice in this world. Last night at dusk Geoff and the girls got to dodge surface nets as a fishing fleet set themselves up in the separation zone of the shipping lane in the Strait of Gibraltar. Not long after the boats had arranged themselves the calls on the VHF started. "White passenger carrier, white passenger carrier, captain captain, please alter course to starboard, there are many nets ahead of you!" We watched the white passenger carrier run over several nets before he altered course. After that drama resolved itself the next call come out, "Black tanker, black tanker, captain captain, please alter course to starboard, there are many fishing nets ahead of you! I am signalling you with the red flashing light." We thought the fishermen were going to have a nervous breakdown. They can't do this every night, can they? But it was sweet to listen to them worry for a change.
Date: September 7, 2008
Location: 36º 03' N 05º 24' W at 1200
We left La Linea/Gibraltar this morning and are creeping our way out through the strait. We have a diagram of the current strength and direction as it relates to the tide. It would appear that our diagram is not entirely correct. We have spent quantity time going past a single section of the Spanish coastline. I can describe the windmill far