But I did check the weather!!

Sailing from Trinidad & Tobago to Aruba

Sailing from Trinidad & Tobago to Aruba

With the promise of fine weather I set sail on the 23rd of December,  destination Aruba, some 550 nautical miles from Tobago.

The first 24 hours were splendid. Night sailing at its best (clear skies with a negligible swell), so by morning I was rounding the southern tip of Grenada having made good time. I set my new course for the northern tip of Curacao and settled in for another Christmas at sea (I’m apparently making a habit of it these days).

There was no mention of storms in my weather forecast!

There was no mention of storms in my weather forecast!

The weather over Christmas did not however feature anything remotely resembling settled…

Three cheers for sea sickness tablets!

By the way.... What was that ripping sound?

By the way…. What was that ripping sound?

Evidently nausea inducing weather did not prevent me from arriving safely in Aruba, but it did cost me my mainsail and tiller-pilot. Who would have thought I could shred my main sail when it was already at its third reef? I should have crawled out of my bunk and set my trysail earlier… Ah, hindsight!

The tiller-pilot destruction was however, almost expected. Even the ST-2000 is not up to dealing with poor weather. While I’ve made a rain cover for mine to solve the “it leaks” issues, there really isn’t anything I could do for a motor that works itself to death after only a few hours in heavy swells… Except as stated earlier, crawl out of my bunk and switch to the Aries wind-vane earlier…. Ah, more hindsight! I’m getting so good at it I might consider sailing backwards in future.

Two ships a day! Just what the doctor ordered.

Two ships a day! Just what the doctor ordered.

So I’m sheltering in the Renaissance Marina in Oranjestad watching ship loads of tourists descend upon the island for new years eve.

My latent agoraphobia is already starting to take effect as I hurriedly conclude this journal entry at the local Starbucks cafe.


Christmas in Mindelo

Something, somewhere went terribly wrong!

I am in Mindelo, Cape Verde, and as a fellow sailor passes by, I am reminded why I ‘m here. “Something, somewhere went terribly wrong” and I have made a brief escape from a life that gave me little joy. I’m all the richer and all the poorer for it, and if surmounting difficulties builds character, I’m absolutely full of it…

Hmmm… funny, my friends used to tell me that quite a bit… 😉

Exploiting the loophole!

Eileen of Avoca is at anchor because the daily marina fee is significantly beyond my means! Would you believe it’s 4 Euro a day just to leave your dingy tied to the pontoon? Fortunately I have friends with deeper pockets than mine (using the marina), and I am able to exploit a convenient loophole by tying my inflatable kayak to their boat.

More 3-day friends!

My companions here are the Bretons: Karen and Gwenael (on a Pogo 8.5) and Michel (on a Benetau First 28, see photograph). Michel is the Frenchman that delivered my tuna to the wrong boat, and I know Karen and Gwenael from when they rescued Eileen from collision with a boat dragging anchor in Sal.

You sure do meet people in bizarre circumstances here. Adding to the posse of francophone’s is Gerard, the owner of the above mentioned infamous yacht (an Ovni 385), that almost rammed Eileen.

Mindelo isn’t a tranquil sleepy town like Porto des Palmeria. It’s the “big city” and it can be dangerous after dark if you don’t keep your whits about you (or happen to be unlucky).

The anchorage and marina are reasonably safe, with paid personnel watching both. But about town things can get ugly, especially late at night. All is not well in Mindelo, as evidenced by quarreling youths openly dealing drugs in the towns main square, but locals tell me there have been encouraging signs of improvement of late.

Making that anode fit!!!

If you are looking to make repairs in Mindelo, don’t get your hopes up. The small chandler is poorly stocked and it’s four weeks wait for any delivery. I discovered that the zinc anode on my propeller was completely consumed and bought the only replacement available in Mindelo. Two sizes too large, but nothing that can’t be fixed with some help from Michel and a hacksaw!

My water in the propeller shaft problem and lubricating oil persists, and I now know Eileen will need to be lifted if it is to be corrected (thanks Gwenael).

I just hope it all holds together until I reach Trinidad. Lifting in Brazil is not an option and it will be several months before I reach the Caribbean. Fingers crossed that the bearings don’t seize!

Christmas at sea

Opening gifts

Opening gifts

At 11:00 am (GMT) Eileen left Porto Rotondo for the last time. While the wind from the East had slackened a confused swell made for a very uncomfortable run.

Within a few hours, despite having taken a dose of Sturgeron, Eva was overcome by motion sickness and reluctantly retired below deck. Sleep appears to be the best remedy for her, something I evidently would not be getting much of during the crossing! I must grudgingly admit that I wasn’t feeling well either, but I seem to function adequately despite occasional spates of nausea.

Before dark a couple of porpoises gave me a great display in the fading light as they playfully leapt from the waves. I tried to encourage Eva to come witness the spectacle but she was in no condition to move and told me as much in no uncertain terms.