890 NM – 8 days and 7 night at sea
The time had come for our next voyage, from Las Palmas in the Canary Islands to Mindelo, Cape Verde. We estimated the journey to take between 7 and 10 days. As we pulled out of Las Palmas we had nice wind, before hitting the infamous acceleration zone that Sam had been going on about. This is where the wind is funnelled between and over the volcanic islands, increasing the wind speeds by at least 10 knots and creating some nasty gusts. This meant we had 25 + knots of wind, which should have only lasted a few hours, however it seemed to go on for the first few days. We all joked that it was the biggest acceleration zone ever. There was also a 3m swell to add to the fun we were having.
During the rough weather our electric bilge pump kept going off which was concerning as this meant we were taking on water. After extensive checks we found that it was due to 4 tiny holes in the stern cockpit locker that was allowing some water in when we were getting hit by waves. This was relieving to know that it was above the water line and we were not going to sink.
After 24 hours at sea, our newly installed oven was hanging off the wall on one side. The boys dismantled it and tied it down on the floor of the saloon so it wouldn’t get damaged. The majority of the day was then spent working out how to fix it. The decision was made to screw it in with longer screws and a new block in the hope that it would hold until we got to the Cape Verde’s. Fortunately this fix held for the rest of the journey without any further incidences.
The passage was a very good stress test for North Star, allowing us to see where we needed to make changes prior to our Atlantic crossing. We checked the lines regularly for chaffing, Marvin’s lines and the Genoa furling line were particularly affected. We replaced Marvin’s line whilst at sea and just patched up the Genoa furling line. On board we have plenty of spare rope so we can replace anything that chafes during our future voyages.
Whilst Olivier was out on watch one night, the whole bell housing that holds Marvin to the helm snapped off. Olivier grabbed the helm whilst Sam and I hurried to get up on deck, only for him to shout down to us that we had also lost steering. Thankfully however this wasn’t the case and we were still safely on course. We cleaned up the debris and left any repairs until the morning, using the electric auto helm for the rest of the night. After assessing the damage, we decided it wasn’t worth trying to fix it whilst we were being thrown about at sea and that instead we would use the electric auto-helm for the rest of the voyage.
Once we had left the seemingly never ending acceleration zone, we had a fairly pleasant sail. There was still between 15-20 knots of wind so we made quick progress, averaging 130 miles in each 24 hour period. On the final night we even had to slow the boat down so as not to arrive in the middle of the night. We crossed into the tropics on day 4 which made a marked difference in the temperature. The wind was warmer and the days were sun-soaked. As the wind dropped we hoisted the cruising shute to continue our progress, however a 2 meter long rip appeared so that was quickly abandoned. We wouldn’t be able to get it fixed until we got to the Cape Verde’s.
We spent the days reading books, chatting, sunbathing and playing games. We played multiple games of Scrabble, which Sam would always win much to everyones amazement and frustration. Our new favourite however was Boggle, where both Olivier and I dominated. It is incredible how Olivier has such rich vocabulary of his second language, smashing us brits who only speak english.
Sadly we did not catch a single fish the whole journey despite having the rod out most of the time. We had one bite on the rod which felt big, however it quickly wriggled free of the line before we sighted it. Throughout the journey we only saw a handful of dolphins which was a shame after the amazing sightings we had on the previous sail. On the penultimate day a pod stayed with us for a while, surfing the waves. Nothing about seeing dolphins ever gets old.
We arrived in Mindelo, Cape Verde, 7 days after we had left. Showers and alcohol was very much on the agenda once we were moored up and had the boat cleaned. Another good passage under out belt ahead of the Atlantic crossing.