Las Palmas to Cabo Verde, Day 4

Total trip distance 442nm, or almost exactly halfway to Cabo Verde. Made 179nm in the last 24 hours, helped by sustained boat speeds around 9 knots all night, with extended surfing on some waves bumping our speed over the ground to 12 knots. The ride was comfortable despite the 3-4 metre seas because we were running with the waves and accelerating with every swell in stead of being rolled by it. On the whole it was stable and peaceful down below except for a big roll every so often. Batteries at -200Ah (50%).

The autopilot disengaged around 4:30AM while Gabriele was on watch. He took the helm immediately and Mariona, who happened to be in the cockpit at the time, alerted the rest of the crew.

The #3 genoa was furled, leaving only the staysail on starboard. This slowed the boat to about 6.5 knots, but the ride became much more rolly.

While hand steering in winds gusting to 30 knots and short confused seas of 3 – 4 metres we attempted to restart the autopilot a few times. It would hold the helm but would not turn it. After a few seconds it disengaged with “Motor Stalled” error on the display. We gave up and concentrated on steering the boat. Gerhard remained a the helm after a few cups of coffee and the crew tuned in.

When it got light, around 6AM, Maria came up. We tried the “Auto” button, and suddenly the autopilot was working flawlessly again, only its reputation still in tatters…. Investigations (the Spanish Inquisition) are about to start!

The crew were all asked to spend most of their watches yesterday hand steering, which was either fortuitous or the cause of the autopilot going on strike in protest, who knows? The watch schedule has been amended to always have the next watch on deck as backup, in case of another hissy fit on the part of the autopilot.

Las Palmas to Cabo Verde, Day 3

It was a pitch dark moonless night, with the trades pumping up to 22 knots. We were flying along, gooswing poled-out staysail and No. 3.

We were running all night with staysail and 50% of the #3 genoa, both poled out. Made 5-6 knots with the wind averaging about 16 knots. Rolled the whole #3 out again at first light and now doing 7 to 8 knots boat speed.

We swapped the #3 Genoa and the staysail around 11am, poling out the Genoa on the port/weather side. This has significantly stabilised the boat and also allows us to sail a much wider wind angle either side of dead square. Running downwind to Cabo Verde in 20 to 25 knots and making good miles.

It was pretty much overcast the last two days, so our new solar panels are not giving everything they’ve got. Today we ran the engine a couple of hours to lift the batteries while running the water maker.

Morale on board is good!

Sunrise, Day 2, Canaries – Cabo Verde

We’ve done 118 miles since departure, heading more or less toward Cabo Verde.

It has been an uneventful first night out, with light conditions. We are going a bit slowly, averaging about 5 knots with 8 to 12 knots dead square. It is a little rolly. The wind and current pushed us about 25 miles west of the direct course to Cabo Verde, but we are now managing to the lay the course. We also seem to have a north setting current of about half a knot against us still.

Around 7AM, just as it was getting light a pod of dolphins came to have look and a little play before heading off. In my bunk at the bow last night I could also occasionally hear the high pitched squeals as they played in the bow wave

Las Palmas to Cabo Verde, Day 1

We were helped out of our berth just after 9AM by Bri and Pat, farewell lovely friends, we will miss you!

We motored about 2 hours in zero apparent wind, then the forecast NE breeze picked up. Now we are running dead square, averaging about 7 knots in 8 – 14 knots and half meter seas. Absolutely perfect conditions!

We are heading towards Cabo Verde first to get into more predictable weather and give us some options to respond to forecast changes. So far so good!

We had alcohol-free beers at sunset, and the ideal conditions persist. We are still cruising along at 5-6 knots with 10-12 knots from behind. Sea state still below 1m also from behind, so just a gentle roll.