After a couple of days reprovisioning Spellbinder in and around the local markets in Mindelo, we set sail at 1550hrs local on Sunday 25th November into the blustery acceleration zone between Sao Vicente and the island to its north, Santo Anta. Fortunately the rough swell and 36 knot gusts were temporary, and once out of the shadow of the archipelago we picked up the trade winds proper, which have been blowing at anything from 12 to 26 knots from ENE or ESE depending on their mood, with up to 3m swell breaking behind us.
We are making good progress and have now sailed more than 1000 miles in just over 6 days, and are just over halfway to our destination of Martinique, which we expect to reach some time next weekend. Spellbinder and her crew are well. We have had the usual minor breakages, most of which we have managed to fix although the water electricity generator lost its line and looks like it has given up the ghost in a cloud of carbon dust. Most days are sunny, so we can recharge using solar panels, but we usually need to run the engine to up the battery banks every couple of days, and to make water.
We have adapted a goose-winged rig as conditions have been too gusty and with rolling waves for the Parasailor. Generally the set up has been one reef in the main (which has a preventer permanently fitted) set on a starboard tack, with the genoa poled out on the other side with an uphaul and a downhaul to keep her in place. This rig seems to serve our purpose in most conditions. Self steering has been either by Hydrovane or Autohelm, the latter proving more effective downwind in these conditions when the level of responsiveness is correctly adjusted.
Routine-wise, we have adopted 2 hour watches – 2 on, 4 off – which seems to work. We take it in turns being head chef. The weather has generally been kind – sunny most days, and no significant squalls, although the wind has surprised us in its ability to change speed suddenly by 10-12 knots and direction by 10-15 degrees.
We have seen a few other yachts and a bit of shipping. When near a yacht we chat on VHF and speak to some surprisingly varied set-ups, including a lone German who is single-handed in a small yacht and expects to be at sea for another three weeks, and a crew of retired French Navy personnel. We have also seen a bit of wildlife – petrels far from land, and some fins which we think may have been orcas.
So all is well and we are enjoying the journey. A full report with photos will follow after arrival.