Antigua to St. Thomas

Antigua to Sint Maarten

On 14. April we lifted our anchor in English Harbour on Antigua and sailed over night to Sint Maarten. It was a pleasent sail with a nice wind, meaning from the right direction and strong enough to give us a decent speed but not to strong to make any trouble. A little after sunrise we arrived and dropped our anchor in the Simpson Bay. Because we had learned that the authorities can be very strict regarding crew going on shore without being cleared in, I took the dinghy to clear us in while Marco stayed on board. Luckily it was not difficult and not a too far walk to the customs and port authority so after 1,5 hours I was back on board and we both could go on land.

Simpson Bay

Simpson Bay on Sint Maarten (Dutch part)

On our departure when I cleared out we learned that the fees were 27 US-Dollars, independent from the length of stay on the island. We spent some time in an air conditioned French bakery. It being French in a Dutch/English environment shows the vicinity of France on the other half of the island which belongs to France and therefore to the EU and the currency there is the Euro.
But we did not go to the French side, we only heared about it. On the Dutch side they in theory have their own currency, called Dutch Antilles Guilder, but all prices and all money was in US-Dollars. And people were mostly at least bi-lingual with Dutch and English and some spoke also Spanish. And it all looked rather US-american and the electricity is also US-american meaning it is 110V and the sockets are the two vertical slots and not the round wholes as we have them in Europe.
The next day we met with Maria, who had sailed with me from Lisbon to Gran Canaria in October / November 2014. She showed us around the hills as she knew the island already very well because she had spent already three months here.

Sint Maarten to Virgin Gorda

That evening, we lifted our anchor at about 20:00 to sail to Virgin Gorda, one of the British Virgin Islands and almost the end of the trip to the north of the Caribbean.
Most of the journey was fine, we had started so late in the evening because it was only 90 nm and we wanted to make sure we arrive at day time to find our way through the rocks and reefs into the Francis Drake Channel which forms the water between the British Virgin Islands (BVI).
But in the morning some rain clouds came over us with an increased wind speed while I was on watch. Due to the increased wind speed I wanted to reef the furling genoa but I made mistake. I thought I could just let the sheet go and furl it in but the wind was too strong and the flapping sail was wound around the forestay so it would not furl in nor out. With me being alone on watch I could not really handle the sail and after a while of trying the sail ripped along one of the stitching lines. So I wound it around the forestay as good as I could and we continued under main sail only which was enough in this wind speed.
The lesson learnt was that I should have pointed the boat with the bow into the wind as good seamanship foresees it in such a situation. You see, even experienced sailors make mistakes.
The sail probably would have ripped along this line sooner or later anyway so the cost of repair would have occurred anyway.
However, we happily reached the marina in Spanish town before noon and again I had to go to clear us in. This again was no problem and cost 4 US-Dollars. We treated ourselves to the luxury of a marina, including water it was 43. US-Dollars for one night. Quite expensive but sometimes you need the luxury of a sweet water shower and easy and independent access to the boat without depending on the dinghy. We shopped a little bit in the surprisingly well stocked little supermarket in the marina, spent some time on the internet, got the ripped genoa down and put the smaller but brand new Genoa 3 on and had a very nice meal with rib eye steak, green beans and potatoes.

Bunte Haeuser Spanish Town

Colourful houses in Spanish Town on Virgin Gorda on the British Virgin Islands (BVI)

Eingang Spansih Town Marina

Entrance of the Virgin Gorda Marina

Strasse in Spanish Town

On the main road in Spanish Town on Virgin Gorda

Stromzaehler Spanish Town

The normal way to place the electric meters in the Virgin Islands (US and British)

Sunset from Spanish Town Marina Virgin Gorda

Sunset from the Virgin Gorda Marina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virgin Gorda to Tortola

Via facebook I knew already that my sailing friends Kjell and Kristine of the SY “Emma” were on the BVI and planning to go to the Cane Garden Bay on Tortola. The nice thing about the Virgin Islands, British as well as the US Virgin Islands, is that the distances are really short. So from Spanish Town to Cane Garden Bay it was only 15nm and because we had to leave the marina by 11 am anyway we arrived after a very pleasant down wind sail in the Cane Garden Bay at 3:30 and dropped the anchor there. Soon later Kjell and Kristine arrived as well and we had some drinks on board of SeaBelow.

Cane Garden Bay Beach

Cane Garden Bay Beach

Cane Garden Bay

Cane Garden Bay

Although it being a nice bay, the warning of the guide book became true during that night that there can be a strong swell. It became so strong even though there was no wind that Emma changed from their anchor spot to one of the many moorings were a little bit less swell was.
But as soon as possible everybody left the bay the next morning, so did we and Emma and we went to Sopers Hole on the south-eastern end of Tortola.
It was a very quiet bay but a lot of boats and no space to anchor except in 18 metres deep water. But for that I do not have enough anchor chain and rope. So we picked up one of the moorings which is of course a good thing but the price was high, 30 US-Dollars for the mooring per night.

 

 

Getting a visa for the USA

But we had to stay here anyway because we needed to get our US-visa. Now, that is and interesting thing when you want to enter the US with your own boat. Before you can enter the US with your boat you need to have a visa. One way is to get a so called B1 visa which is valid for 10 years once you got it. But that requires an interview at an US –embassy, the would have been on Barbados or Trinidad. Too far away for us.
The other way is that you apply for a visa waiver on the ESTA-web page of the US Border Control and Protection. This takes some time and concentration to understand the questions correctly. After you filled in everything and payed the 14 US-Dollars fee your application is processed. In my case I got the approval instantly which means there is appearently only a computer check made but no human checks it. The permission of the visa waiver then gives you the right to travel with a commercial carrier by plane or ship to a US-Customs and Border inspection office. And you need the print out of the approval. So the next day we took the ferry from West End / Sopers Hole to Cruz Bay on St. John, the US-Virgin Island we could already see from our mooring. The ferry costs 55 US-Dollars return ticket and the authorities want a “departure tax” of 20 US-Dollars. The trip to Cruz Bay only takes 30 minutes and the ferry stops directly at the customs office. So all passengers got off the little ferry and queued to get their access to the US.
When it was our turn we were quiet excited wether everything would go well. And everything went well. After approx. 10 minutes it was all over and we were free to stroll around the island. We spent the time with walking around Cruz Bay and paying a visit to the St. John National Park Visitors Centre. These US-national park visitor centres are always worth a visit because they are usually well made in the sense that you quickly get a good overview of what the specialties very friendly and happy to answer your questions.
Three hours after our arrival we took the ferrry back to Tortola via Jost van Dyke, another BVI island where we had to leave the ferry shortly to clear in again into the BVI. So in West End / Sopers Hole we could just walk through the customs.
Back in Sopers Hole we met with Kjell and Kristine that evening for first some drinks in the marina bar and then continued on board of Emma.

From Tortola to St. John

The next morning Marco and I left to sail to Cruz Bay once again to clear in the boat. This was as exciting as our first visit. I had already obtained a form that has to be filled for the boat. It was good to know the place so we could prepare the boat for mooring in front of the customs building.
And again everything went well, we just had to complete some fields in the form which I had left blank because I did not have a shipping agent for example.
After that we left immediatly the customs pier because you are not allowed to stay there longer than your customs clearence takes.
The visit in the national park visitors centre had already created the idea to go to the park for two days which we still had before Marco had to be on St. Thomas to catch his flight to Florida. So we went to the Cinnamon Bay where you have to use a mooring buoy. It was a nice calm bay with a beautiful beach and a camp site nicely hidden behind the trees and bushes on the beach so the view was not spoilt by man made infrastructure. Only a historical warehouse which was now serving as an exhibition room about the history of the island was visible.
The moorings are not free but 15 US-Dollars per night was ok for being it in a national park.

Cinnamon Bay Beach 3

Cinnamon Bay Beach

Cinnamon Bay Beach

Exhibition house on Cinnamon Beach

We went snorkelling and saw sea turtles and sting rays (Rochen) and several other fish of which we do not know what they are called.
For a day trip we changed to the Trunk Bay which is the next bay just a mile away and where there is a so called under water trail along the reef. It turned out to be about 6 signs put under water in about 2,5 m depth where some facts about the plants and animals of the reef were written and these signs were stretched over about 100 m. Many people from the near by beach were snorkeling around like us and enjoyed the clean clear shallow and warm water.
Because it was too rolly here we went back to the Cinnamon Bay for the night.

 

Reef Cinnamon Bay

Reef in Cinnamon Bay

 

 

 

 

 

SeaBelow before Sunset in Cinnamon Bay

SeaBelow before Sunset in Cinnamon Bay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From St. John to St. Thomas

The next morning we started sailing to Charlotte Amalie, the main city on St. Thomas. It was a nice pleasant sailing, quite slow actually because there was not much wind, we even got out the spinaker. Once in the St. Thomas harbour we could see the city and headed for the anchorage right in front of the historic town centre, which was Danish until Denmark sold what is now the US Virgin Islands 1917 to the USA. So the street names are often still Danish and one of the oldest historic buildings in the USA is the Fort Christian in Charlotte Amalie.

Ansteuerung Charlotte Amalie

Approach to Charlotte Amalie

 

 

 

 

 

Ankerbucht Charlotte Amalie

Anchorage in front of Charlotte Amalie

Fort Christian

Fort Christian (the red building in the background)

Kreuzfahrtschiffe

Cruise Ships in Charlotte Amalie

Hassel Island Careenign Cove

Hassel Island Careening Cove

Norwegian Getaway

Cruise ship „Norwegian Getaway“

 

We anchored near the Coast Guard Pier and rowed ashore to find some internet and a cool place to sit for the rest of the afternoon. Marco also had to figure out how to get to the airport the next morning at 6 a.m.
We found a nice back yard open air pub where we had a sandwich with some drinks and could sit on the internet and charge our computers.
In the evening we went for dinner to the Greenhouse on the water front and at around 7 pm went back to the boat.
It was quite a rolly night and I decided that I would look for a better place the next day after Marco had gone to the airport and I done my land business.
So early next morning, Friday 24. April, we got up and I rowed Marco ashore. After saying good bye I went back to the boat to sleep a little bit more and have breakfeast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The whole reason we came to St. Thomas is that I want to put SeaBelow on a freight ship to get her back to Europe. Over the internet I found the German company Global Boat Shipping (GBS) in Leer who made me a good offer and the ship on which they were selling a space for me leaves from St. Thomas.
They have an agent here and for such an exciting operation I needed to see somebody in person to get a better feeling about it all. Up to know I only had contact with GBS in Leer by phone and e-mail. So I walked all the 3 km through the tropical heat to the office of the local agent and had a little chat with him, mainly to make sure that I had done all my duties regarding the customs clearance. But there was nothing actually to be done by me. All the agent has to do here is to tell the customs which boats are leaving.

Hassel Island
He also told me where I could find a sail maker to repair the ripped genoa and he recommended me to go to Manfred Dittrich on Hassel Island.
So I did after I had come back to my boat. But the agent had not been 100% sure in which bay on the island it was, so I had to cruise up and down the coast of the island, luckily it is only 1nm long and there were only two options where it could be.
Finally I decided to look into the Careening Bay and when I came into it an elderly couple in their dinghy were also looking for the sail maker, but they had not yet found him. There were two free mooring bouys in the small bay and I picked one up to look by myself. That moment a man in his dinghy came and I waved him over to ask him for the sailmaker. And “Yes” he said, Manfred the sailmaker is right here and he is going there himself. So he gave me tow with my dinghy over to the tiny little harbour. And there very nicely cast away in the bushes were some old warehouses, probably of the Hapag Lloyd coaling station which was here until 1917, where Manfred has his workshop. The surrounding of the old warehouses is full of old ship equipment like anchors, ropes, booms, safety rings, old bottles and there were legouans, peacocks (Pfauen), crabs in shells, it all looks like a pirates nest 250 years ago.

Segelmacherwerkstatt

Manfred´s Workshop

Altes Lagerhaus

Old Warehouse

Taue

Ropes

Rettungsfloesse

Life rafts

Hund

The dog

Flaschen

Bottles

Boot

Small pirate ship

Anker

Anchors

Manfred turned out to be a German in his 70ies or maybe even eighties, but still fit to repair sails and he has some younger men working for him. So I agreed with him to leave the sail in his workshop the next day because it was already the end of his working day. But I used the remaining hours to clean the bilge from diesel that had apparently gotten there. I suspected one of the jerry cans in the cockpit locker to be the source. It was one of them, but not the one I had suspected, it was a completely different one which had a little whole at its bottom feet. I do not now it got it, but it must have happened at one time when the jerry can was dropped too heavily on the ground or into the cockpit locker. It is strange that it did not leak earlier because between the last movement of it and the occurence of the diesel in the bilge there were several days. Anyway, I cleaned everything and luckily got rid of the diesel smell. I could fill some of the diesel into the main diesel tank and some into one of the other jerry cans which had some space left.
This bay is one of the nicest places I have stayed and it is the best in the Charlotte Amalie area when it comes to calmness from the swell in the southerly trade winds we are experiencing at the moment.
So it was a very nice quiet night and the next morning I talked with Manfred what I wanted him to do on the sail and he said it would be ready Wednesday the following week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having done that I walked over the island and explored the historic sites of it, a lime kiln (Zementofen),

Lime Kiln

The old kiln

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the old ware houses of a Danish ship provisioning company

Brondsted and Company Wharf

Brondsted and Company Wharf

 

 

 

 

 

Zisternendach

Roof to collect rain water for the cisterns to provision the ships with fresh water

Verrosteter Prahm

An old barge that was used to transport coal and other provisions to the ships

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and the remains of a British officers quarters from the napoleonic wars.

British Officers Quarter

British Officers Quarters

Grabstaette

Cemetry of the Hazzel Family

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was really hot and after about one hour I went back to the cool breeze on the boat.

SeaBelow durch Loch in Mauer

SeaBelow in the Careening Cove

SeaBelow in Careening Cove

SeaBelow in the Careening Cove. The quay on the other side used to be the coaling station of the Hamburg based Hapag shipping company until 1917 when the Danish sold the islands to the USA. Being it a German owner the USA confiscated the land because it was the First World War.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My next destination was the anchorage on the west side of water island opposite the Crown Bay Marina. Arriving there after shortly motoring there within 30 minutes I tried to anchor close to the beach of the island but the anchor did not hold in the 4,5 m deep water so I tried it in the deeper water at 8 metres and there it held.
I rowed across to the marina and treated me to a sandwich from the delicatessen shop and an cappucino from the little harbour cafe.
When I started rowing back to my boat the security man told me that it is not allowed to row in the marina, only motor dinghies are allowed! I looked at him and he only shrugged his shoulders and said that he is not making the rules. I did not say anything and just continued rowing but I thought this is a very stupid rule and I did not understand it.
So the next day I just stayed on board and had a lazy day with some reading.
Next to the marina is the quay where ships moor which load the yachts. There seem to leave many freight ships with yachts from here and there was one lying right across from my anchorage, so the whole day I could observe how they loaded the yachts. Sometimes it took them quite long to do so.
After two nights on this anchorage I wanted to go somewhere where I could row ashore without being chased away so I went back to the St. Thomas harbour but this time close to the yacht have marina. Here it was no problem to land with a rowed dinghy, there were several people who did not have an engine on their dinghy.
It was now Monday and I decided to check out the Carnval. On the square next to the Fort Christian they had put up a little fun fair for the kids and next to it a stage and around the space booths where you could buy all sorts of Carribbean food. I was there by 6p.m. as I had been told the activities would start. Well, what started was the fun fair for the kids, the music started about 8p.m. and slowly the square filled with people. But nobody was dressed up for Carnival, everybody came in his normal leisure wear. And it was striking how much police officers where around. At times it looked as if 10% of the persons on the square were police officers. I wondered what they are so afraid of. Later I read in the newspaper that almost every year at carnival there is a shooting or stabbing happening. So I knew why they had so much police around.
By 10p.m. I got tired and did not have the feeling that this evening would get any more exciting, especially when I saw that many people had brought folding chairs, indicating that they were expecting a relaxed evening.
As my computer had stopped working the week before I had on that Monday found a little PC repair shop where I brought the laptop on Tuesday and he had promised to have it ready by Thursday. The evening I tried the Karaoke evening in the marina bar “Fat Turtle” which was quite nice because actually everybody who sang a song, and there was always somebody, was a good singer, so it was good fun to listen to it.
The next day, I had nothing to do than to wait for my computer to become ready and it being too hot to walk around on land, I once again just stayed on the boat.
When I came to pick up my computer on Thursday it turned out that the repair guy did not have to erase everything on the hard drive but that he could run a repair programme which fixed the software problem of the operating system. So I did have much less work as I did not have to reinstall everyhting and secondly it was only 60US-Dollars instead of 125 US-Dollars it would have cost if he had to erase and reinstall the operating system..
Having gotten my laptop back I changed back to the Careeing cove where the sail maker is and picked up a mooring. The next morning, Friday 1st May, I went to Manfred to pick up the sail.
On the evening I had been invited by Mel and Jane on their Swan 47 “Cygnus” which they are going to load on the same ship as mine. They live in New York so they will unload it Newport / Rhode Island where the freight ship will call before it crosses the Atlantic to Southampton.
We had a nice chat over some beers and shrimps and they told me that they want to sell the boat in Rhode Island because they are getting too old to sail it. So, if you are interested in a 1984 Swan 47 in very good shape, here is one for you. The special thing about this boat is that it has a center board which extends the draft to 10 feet, if you lift it up has only 6 feet draft which is the maximum for the Intercoastal Waterway along the US-East Coast.

So, now I am sitting here and wait for the freightship “Sampogracht” to arrive next week Thursday to load SeaBelow onto it.

Why I put SeaBelow on a freight ship back to Europe

You probably wonder why I do that rather than sailing her back to Europe as it was my original plan.
Well, there are several things that come together. First of all I have to admit that the Atlantic crossing was actually quite boring and I do not feel like doing it once again.
SeaBelow is a great sailing boat and could handle all the situations we were in absolutely perfect, so there is no reason not sail with her across an ocean. And yet, 31 feet is quite small and with three people it gets very packed. There are always things lying around, it takes a lot of discipline to keep the boat tidy so this adds to the physical effort.
The next thing is that when we arrived on Martinique in February I got a Makula oedem in my right eye as I found out when I went to an eye doctor in Fort de France. I went there because the vision on my right eye had gotten suddenly bad.
He prescripted me some pills to be taken over a period of three months visit consultations at the doctor every 4 weeks.
I thought thanks god it “only” a oedem and not a retina ablation. But an oedem was scary enough for me to decide that I did not want to leave the reach of medical support for several weeks as it would have been necessary to sail back to Europe.
Thirdly crewing is one of the biggest problems on such a trip. To be honest, I would only do another ocean crossing with good friends or relatives with whom I have sailed before and know how they behave on a boat and equally if not more important with whom I have a lot in common and we should not run out of topics to talk about. The most important thing on such an ocean crossing it to have something to entertain you and your crew and topics to talk about are among the most important.
And because none of my friends who I would take along on such a trip had the time to take several weeks of holiday, I skipped that idea and also to sail single handed was never an option for me because I think I would be bored to death.

But I am really looking forward to sail the European waters from the English Channel to the Dutch coast and through the Netherlands with another stop over in Amsterdam and in the cosy small cities on the shores of the Ijsselmeer.

Martinique to Antigua

On the anchorage at St. Anne / Martinique

From the 13. March until 6. April (Easter Monday) I was anchored off St. Anne. I met my sailing friends Asha and Helge from „Gegenwind“, met new friends Matthias and Katja from „Papillon“ and Susanne and Knut with their guest Eva on „Shogun“ who came back after they had been to Dominica for a week.

St. Anne vom Wasser

St. Anne seen from the anchorage

Ankerfeld St. Anne

The anchor field of St. Anne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yole

The traditional Yole sailing boats of Martinique

Ankerlieger Bucht von Le Marin

The anchorage of Le Marin on Martinique seen from the hills

Stier an Kette

This was a very typical way how cows were kept on Martinique, just on a chain or rope on an open field. This was an ox on a field right next to the main road in Le Marin / Martinique

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a nice barbecue on the beach with „Pacific“, „Gegenwind“, „Shogun“, „Papillon“ and me from „SeaBelow“.
Eva and I rented a car one day and drove around the island.
During the whole time I was renovating the fridge. It mostly meant something of like 30 – 60 minutes every day because when you work with epoxy you always have to wait until the glue is dry which you should give time until the next day. To get the plywood for the inner panelling took me two days. On the first day I took the bus from St. Anne to Le Marin (5 km) but could only order the wood at the carpenter. I had to come back the next day which in fact was the Monday after a weekend to pick the wood up. Each trip by bus takes about  1 hour per direction so each trip was almost a whole day acitivty.

Kuehlschrank

The awful looking fridge before renovation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I met with Anna from Hamburg in Fort de France who I had contacted via couchsurfing. I was waiting for the Pactor Modem I had ordered in Germany. With a Pactor Modem you can send and receive e-mails via the SSB (Kurzwellenfunkgerät). According to the tracking number it should have been at the main post office of Fort de France since 17. March but when I went there they said it was not there and told me I should go and ask at the DHL branch at the airport. For that day it was too late to go there so I had to come back the next day. But at DHL they did not have the package either and told me to go to the main post office. I said that I had been there already so all they did was to try to call there but nobody picked up the phone and gave the phone number and that I should try it the next day in the morning. So I did but of course nobody picked up the phone either. So I left it until my next visit to Fort de France. Because I had a doctors appointment after Easter I went to the post office then and now they found the package. It probably had been there already at the first time but they just did not look properly.
Eva and I went often to the beautiful beaches of Martinique.

Le Salines Strand

The beautiful Les Salines beach on Martinique

Mangrovensuempfe

Mangrove swamps behind the beach

Anse Le Meunier Strand

The equally beautiful beach on Anse Le Meunier on Martinique

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some days I spent in the cafe on the internet.

Day trip over Martinique
The trip over the island with Eva was really nice, we saw a lot of interesting places. First the church Sacre Coeur, which really reminds of the original Sacre Coeur in Montmartre in Paris.

Sacre Coeur

Sacre Coeur in Le Marin / Martinique

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we stopped at a botanical garden where we saw all the tropical plants of the island in one place and they had a tree top walk so we could see it all from above.

wassersammelnde Blueten tierartige Blumen Superbambus Seerosen rote Bluete Luftwurzler gecko Botanischer Garten Blume Blueten an Baum Blick ueber das Tal Baumwipfelpfadbruecke Baumwipfelpfad Bambus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Afterwards we went to St. Pierre, the former capital of Martinique until 1902. In 1902 the nearby volcano Mont Pelee broke out and only very few people survived. Mainly because the authorities had no one allowed to leave the town because an election was planned and they wanted people to participate. One of the survivors was a convicted murderer in the jail who was in an especially fortified prison cell which protected him from the ashes and the heat and smoke. The ground walls of the prison and the ruins of the theatre right next to it are the very few remains of the old St. Pierre that can still be seen today.

gefaengniszelle

The prison cell in which the only prisoner of the prison survived the outbreak of the volcano, thanks to the thick walls.

gefaengnisruine

Ruin of the rest o the prison

Erklaerung Gefaengnisueberlebender

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Theaterruine

Ruin of the theatre which is next to the prison.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we tried to drive up to the top of the mountain from the west side. The road we took got narrower and narrower until it was only one lane but it was still paved. But we got only 3,5km close to the top. From that point it would have been a two hours walk to the top.

Wanderkarte Mont Pelee

The sign at the end of the paved road where the foot trail starts to the top of the Mount Pelee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But because it was already 4 pm meaning only 2,5 hours of daylight left, we turned the car around and tried it from the south. We got up to the car park but here the view was blocked by thick fog. This is the case most of the time.

Mont Pelee im Nebel

Mount Pelee in fog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We enjoyed the “view” and because the evening was already approaching we made plans to look for a nice restaurant to have dinner. We found a nice one on the peninsula on the east coast of Martinique.
After the nice dinner we drove back and arrived late at night at our boats.

New crew on board

On Easter Saturday Marco, my swiss crew came on board and on Easter Sunday we spent 1,5 hours diving the hull to clean it from algies, barnacles and mussles. On Easter Monday we sailed the 22 nm from Le Marin to Fort de France and spent the Tuesday there during which I went to the doctor and in the evening we found a really nice bar called “Garage Popular” in the Rue Lamartine 121. It is really only the size of a garage for two cars but it was a nice atmosphere and a nice multi-cultural atmosphere. The place is run by two Germans and they have a second bar across the street in Rue Lamartine 116 where they also have often live music. Unfortunately we found this place only on the very last day.

On Wednesay 8. April we set sail to sail 120 nm to Deshaies on Gouadaloupe.

Marco und ich

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a good wind from the beam (Halbwind) only on the lee side of Dominica and Guadaloupe we some times had absolutely now wind so we fired up the engine and usually after half an hour we nice wind again. So the whole trip took us 25 hours.
In Deshaies it was raining all the time because the clouds climb up the mountain on the east side of the little bay, condensate on the top of the mountain and start to rain.

Deshaies

The rainy anchorage of Deshaies on Guadaloupe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deshaies/Gouadaloupe to Antigua
Because we were tired from the night sailing we went to sleep at 8 pm. This was good because due to that we woke up at 5 am the next morning on Friday 10. April  and shortly after sun set at 6 am we lifted the anchor and sailed 42 nm to English harbour on Antigua.
We wanted to make sure that we arrive early enough to clear in on the same day because you are not allowed to go on land if you are not cleared in. The customs and immigration closes at 15:45 and because we started so early and had a good wind we dropped the anchor already at 13:17 in the Ordinance Bay of English Harbour.
After a little half an hour and the payment of 94 EC Dollars we were cleared in. So no problem at all.

SeaBelow in Ordinance Bay

SeaBelow on the anchorage in Ordinance Bay in English Harbour on Antigua

Ordinance Bay

England in the Carribbean

Nelsons Dockyard von der Ordinance Bay

Nelsons Dockyard seen from the Ordinance Bay in English Harbour on Antigua

We strolled around Falmouth, how the place here is called.
Through Trip Advisor we found the bar Mad Mongoose in Falmouth which is a meeting place of sailors and so we first met the Danish couple Isabella and Adolf again who I had met the first time on the anchorage of Canouan in the Grenadines and later we played pool with some young lads of the professional crew of one of the superyachts in the Marina.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portrait Nelson

Lord Nelson

Nelson

Lord Nelson, in the museum in the old barracks of Nelson Dockyard

Tod und Gesundheit

Life was not easy in the tropics during Nelsons time

Fanny Nisbet

Fanny Nisbet, Lord Nelsons wife who died early.

Kanonen Feldbett Bett

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palme am Strand Falmouth Bay

On the beach at Falmouth Bay

Fuesse am Strand Falmouth Bay

View from onto Falmouth Harbour from the beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With Isabella and Adolf we went to the Shirley Heights Lookout on Sunday evening. Herethey have a BBQ, a steel band and later a reggea band and loads of people, most of them tourist, came there. You have a wonderulf view over the bays of English Harbour and Falmouth and can nicely view the sun set behind the mountains.

Steelband Shirley Heights

Traditional steel band at the barbecue on Shirley Heights

Sunset from Shirley Heights

Sunset over English Harbour seen from Shirley Heights

English Harbour from Shirley Heights

English Harbour in the foreground and Falmouth in the back ground

 

Is this the paradise??

Living in a big bubble

We all know the Bacardi-Rum commercials with people having a drink on a perfect beach under palm trees. That is probbably the picture most people have of the Carribbean. It is not all wrong this picture but there is a lot it does not show.
It does not show the huge economic gap between the black local population and the almost to 100% white tourists. The Carribbean Islands are all (including the French Islands Gouadaloupe and Martinique) struggling hard to make a living. They do not have many natural ressources and the export of fruits and vegetables does not provide much income.
So one of the most important sources of income is the tourism. It is clearly directed to „rich“ people from the industrialised countries. On land every island has one or several hotel resorts with the complementary array of bars, restaurants and leisure service businesses like diving, boat tours with glass bottoms, kitesurfing and the like. The roads and paths are nicely paved and it really looks like paradise (if it was even for at least European standards not so expensive). Then next to it normally you have the local people living with simple restaurants, supermarkets not offering by far the choice of goods as we are used to in Europe (not even in the Carrefour on Martinique). They all try to make a living e.g. by selling fruits and vegetables along the street.
But what is somewhat not understandable are the prices. A loaf of bread in a bakery on St. Vincent cost 3,50 East Carribbean Dollars (EC$) which is about 1,28 Euros. For the locals this is very expensive if you take into account that the minimum wage on these islands is around one Euro per hour. So it is about an hours wage to buy this one loaf of bread. And it was the officially displayed price so I have to assume that everybody pays it not just we whites.
This all feels like living in an unreal bubble. For us sailors this bubble of surreality is even bigger. On the anchorages are often hundreds of yachts, even some mega yachts with helicopters on them with professional crews comprising of white people from Australia, England, Canada or Europe, but only very seldom local blacks.
So on the anchorage it is only „rich“ whites and if you go ashore with your dinghy you find sometimes one restaurant next to the other, with the waiters being black and the guests exclusively white.
It looks all like a huge holiday park that has got nothing to do with reality. Most people probably just do not care about the surreality of this holiday life because it is just a holiday of some weeks during which they make use of the offered opportunities and then fly back home.

I found an interesting scientific article about the economic, social and ecologic situation on Martinique:  Problèmes socio-économiques insolubles de la Martinique – Intractable social-economic problems of Martinique It gives a good overview into the problems these islands have.

What do all the sailors do here?
But what do all the sailors do and want here? I have to investigate more on that. The current feeling is that many of them do not really know what to do next. One issue is that currently there is the season here and one can stay in the Carribbean until mid of May before the hurricane season starts and one should be gone. But even that is not imperatively necessary, many people put their boat in a hurricane whole or just stay on the boat and in case a hurricane comes, they move the boat out of the way of the hurricane. Thanks to the US-American National Hurricane Center the forecasts are very good and you know many days in advance that a hurricane is coming and where it most probably will go along. Not every island here is hit every year by a severe hurricane, so in other words it is actually very likely that you will not experience a hurricane.
So those who want to sail back to Europe have roughly another two months during which they can explore the Carribbean Isalnds and they are just chilling at anchor and pass the time.
Others, who want to go to the Pacific also still have some time before they have to go to Panama to go through the Panama Canal.

 

Sunken boats
But looking around especially here in the Le Marin bight on Martinique there must be many sailors who ran out of money, motivation or both. There are dozens of sunken sailing yachts of which you often only see the mast sticking out of the water but also many where the deck is still visible because they sank in shallow water.
I have never seen that before. Apparently nobody tidys them up, no owner and no authority. I wander how the situation will be in another ten to twenty years. Because the boats are from plastic they do hardly rot away and if every year a few more sunken yachts and catamarans are added the bay will be full of sunken boats. At least not nice to look at.
But what it mostly tells is that apparantly many people change their plan or had to change their plan.

 

Heruntergekommene Yacht Le Marin

A quite rotten boat in the Le Marin Marina but there are also many sunken boats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exploring St. Vincent and the Grenadines

I made a little map which should open when you click on this link:
Karte Karibik

Clean up of boat in St. Lucia

But let me tell a bit more what I did here in the Carribbean up to now. After we had anchored the first night we went into the Rodney Bay Marina the next morning to clear in at the customs, to take a shower, to fill up the water tanks, to get rid of the garbage and to clean the boat and wash clothes. On arrival at our berth we met again the crew of the German catamaran Blue Note we had met in the boat yard in Lisbon. It was very nice to be welcome by some familiar people. They told us a lot about good places in the Carribean and offered us a cold beer, which was the first after 2,5 weeks. It tasted very good.
The next day we went shopping in a St. Lucia supermarket and were shocked by the prices for some products but also generally speaking things were not cheap.

Fort de France on Martinique
Because we wanted to visit the Carnival on Martinique anyway and we were told that there the supermarkets are cheaper we sailed to Fort de France on Martinique the next day. That was just a short day trip of 6 hours. The anchorage was unusually rolly as other yachts told us but after two nights the swell had calmed.

FdF Strand

The fort of Fort de France and the city beach as seen from the anchorage

FdF Turm

Modernisation also takes place in Fort de France

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And to my great joy some other familiar yachts came to Fort de France for Carnival, namely Mike and Asa on Seahawd, Eelko and his family on Pacific and Tinkerbell. On arrival we had already met the Kjell and Christin of the Norwegian yacht Emma we had met in La Coruna in Spain. So we were a nice community and we hang out for the parade of Carnival.

Carnival Leute auf Auto

Carnival in Fort de France

Carinval Taenzerinnen

Carnival in Fort de France

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But Carnival here on Martinique is different from how we know it in Germany in Cologne or Mainz. In the afternoon there was a nice colourful parade with different groups dressed up in phantastic dresses and loud music at times. But after the parade people did not party in the street and even the pubs were closed, people seemed to go home. As I later learned from another German who had lived in Fort de France for some months already, people usually organise private soirées. That is probably where everybody went. But of course we were not invited to any of them. So we went on board of one of the Norwegian yachts and also had our private soirée.

Sailing to the Tobago Cays
The Tuesday after Carinval we lifted the anchor and headed south to the Tobago Cays.

St. Lucia Haeuser an Westkueste

The west coast of St. Lucia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palmenstrand St. Lucia

Palm Beach on St. Lucia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The famous pitons of St. Lucia

The famous pitons of St. Lucia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because it was rather far we started early and just before sunset picked up a mooring bouy in Souffriere on St. Lucia. The next morning again we left early and sailed along the west coast of St. Vincent to Bequia, which is just five miles south of St. Vincent and is part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Again just before sunset we dropped the anchor in the Admiralty bay which was full of boats, it must have been hundred or more, with some mega yachts with helicopters on deck among them.

The anchorage in the Admiralty Bay on Bequia

The anchorage in the Admiralty Bay on Bequia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Admiralty Bay Beach Restaurant

The view onto the beach in the Admiralty Bay from SeaBelow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a very strange place. On the boats only whites, mostly American and British, the whole shore line of the bay was plastered with one restaurant, cafe, bar or pub next to each other, all not very busy but the few guests who were there where only whites and in almost all of them the waiters were black. There was one café which was run by a white couple.

Admiralty Bay restaurant

One of the many beach restaurants where only whites are as guests and the waiters are all local blacks

Admiralty Bay Beach Resort

One of the resorts along the shoreline of the Admiralty Bay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Admiralty Bay street

The central square in the Admiralty Bay Village on Bequia

Customs house Admiralty Bay

The customs house where we had to clear into St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It is in the village at the Admiralty Bay on Bequia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The oddest place was a bar where a trio was playing some life music, the all white guests dressed up like for a cocktail party and being all American. It felt so unreal you can not describe it.

Snorkeling with sea turtles
After clearing in the next day we left the Admiralty Bay and went to the Tobago Cays 20 miles south of Bequia. This is a natural reserve protected by a coral reef. It has nice turquoise water, you anchor on sand and there is good snorkeling in ca. 2m deep water. The main attraction here are the sea turtles you can dive with. It takes some time and patience to find one but than it is a very peaceful sight to observe the turtles how they graze the sea weed and come up to the surface every few minutes to grasp some air.

Ankerplatz Tobago Cays

One of the anchorages of the Tobago Cays

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are many boats, most of them charter catamarans so it is not a lonely bay but the good thing is there are people on the beach in the two make shift (provisorisch) restaurants who offer lobster ( Hummer). Sörens mother had invited us for the Atlantic crossing to a dinner, so we made us of it here. It was the first time that I had lobster but it tasted really good. There were many other crew having lobster, at the neighbouring table a french crew who had also brought some music. You could also bring your own drinks, but because we did not know that, we ordered the drinks from the restaurant. Strangely at 21:30 the restaurant people shut off the generator and gave us candles, they said that they would now go home but we could stay and party on if we wanted. So we did. While we were sitting and talking there a young swedish man showed up and said he was looking for a boat that is going north. I said neither yes nor no to his request at that moment.

We three from SeaBelow had to find somebody to tow us back to SeaBelow because there was a strong wind blowing from the boat towards the beach and it would have been impossible to row back with three people. Suddenly a young french woman showed up out of the dark at our table and speaking good English. She took a seat and we chatted with her the whole evening and it turned out that she was there on her fathers 50th birthday cruise on a catamaran with a skipper. And this skipper acted kind of like her chauffeur with the dinghy. That was our great luck because they gave us a lift and tow for the dinghy when we later all were tired and went back to our boats. The next morning the Swede came along in a dinghy and repeated his request. Now I said yes why not, so he got his stuff and came on board.

Beach Tobago Cays

The beach on one of the islands of the Tobago Cays

Legouan Tobago Cays

A legouan on that island. There were many of them.

Ich unter Palme Tobago Cays

On the beach under a palm tree

Catamaran before beach Tobago Cays

A catamaran anchored off one of the beaches of the Tobago Cays

SeaBelow Tobago Cays

SeaBelow on the anchorage of the Tobago Cays

In this bay again we met a boat I knew from Las Palmas on Gran Canaria, a Joshua and also called Joshua. Actually on Gran Canaria we had not talked to each other but here we did and we later met again in Le Marin on Martinique.

 

 

Muell am Strand

The plastic garbage even in this nature reserve shows that even the dream beaches do not come without the downsides of civilisation and tourism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canouan

After two days in the Tobago Cays we went back north headed for St. Lucia because Marcos had his flight back home from there on 26th February. But we still had some days so we stopped on the only 5 miles north of Tobago Cays lying island Canouan. It is quite small with not may inhabitants but it was a quiet anchorage with finally not so many boats. The day we went ashore was Sunday 22nd February and while we were roaming through the little village we heard some music and singing which we followed. It turned out to be a church service held in a school. There was a gospel choir singing, drums and e-piano playing and the room was packed with people of all ages and all of them dressed up in their best Sunday dresses. Only we three came in our bleached out shorts and threadbare (abgenutzt, schlabbrig) t-shirts. We stayed a while and even listened to the sermon of the bishop who had come this day because it was the first anniversary of this church.
On the east side, which is always the side facing the Atlantic and from where the trade winds (Passatwinde) and the waves come, Canouan has a reef and between the reef and the actual island is a very nice shallow area where we went swimming and snorkeling and the first time we had the beach entirely just to ourselves.

Canouan Reef

The reef on the east coast of Canouan

Strand Canouan

The lonely beach of Canouan

Selfie Strand Canouan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To St. Vincent
The next day we lifted the anchor and had a hard day of sailing because we had to beat up (hoch am Wind) to Calliaqua on the south end of St. Vincent. It was the last possibility to clear out we had been told on the way north to St. Lucia. We treated us to the luxury of a marina and went into the Blue Lagoon Marina where we had water and later even electricity. By bus we went to Kingstown, the capital of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and two of the marina clerks who were using the same bus as us, showed us a nice snack bar. Afterwards we went back to the boat.
We spent another day there during which we cleared out at the customs and immigration office and Sören looked for a place to stay because he had decided to stay a bit longer on St. Vincent. That was fine with me because I had already thought that when Marcos has left the boat I wanted to ask Sören as well to leave the boat because after two months I wanted my boat and thereby independency back.
When you are anchoring you always depend on the dinghy and nobody can just come and go to the boat as it one pleases. So it is not only full of people on the boat, you also can not get away so easily from it.

In this marina I let me hoist up in the mast for the regular rigg check which I had not yet done since we had arrived in the Carribbean from the Cape Verdes. And to my great shock I saw that at the top of the mast the forestay (Vorstag) started to break. One of the little wires was already broken.
So I knew it had to be replaced as soon as possible but the next reasonable place was Martinique.

Back to St. Lucia

The next day, we again started early, we sailed 40 miles beating against the wind up the east coast of St. Vincent to St. Lucia and took it easy on the rigg. We did not put up the full sails and all the time I sent a worrying look into the mast. We secured the mast with two halyards (Fallen) so that in case the wire breaks completely the mast would not fall immediately. But all went well and an hour after sunset we arrived in the bay of Vieux Fort on St. Lucia.

Hafen Vieux Fort

The commercial harbour of Fort Vieux seen from the mast top.

Ankerplatz Vieux Fort

Our Danish neighbours on the anchorage of Vieux Fort.

Ich im Masttop Vieux Fort

On the top of the mast checking the forestay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next morning we went to the commercial harbour where there was a concrete wall with a ladder where we could drop off Marcos and all of his luggage. The Swede, Albin, had also decided to leave here to explore St. Lucia. The problem with this place was that there was a steep bank (Böschung) so at the back where the sensor of the echo sounder is it was still three meters deep but at the front we slightly hit a rock when we moored. We had no speed so now damage was done but we had to tie the boat carefully in the right position to prevent it from moving forward in the light swell. Marcos even dived to look where the rocks are exactly and more important how much space was left under the keel and also forward.
The customs office was just a few steps away and it was no problem to clear in and declaring that two crew members would leave the boat.

After Marcos and Albin had left the boat I went to the nearby anchorage and went shopping into town. I mainly needed drinking water.
On the anchorage I met Reinhard of the Austrian Hanse 545 “Möve” and Ute and Gerd of “Foftein” who are also from Hamburg.

Marigot Bay on St. Lucia

The next day I went to Marigot bay, half the distance I sailed with a strong breeze from behind with two reefs in the main sail and no genoa. But when I came around the south west corner of St. Lucia at the Grand Piton (one of the two famous pointed rocks) the wind at first died away and I turned on the engine and afterwards it was coming back directly from the north onto the nose with Beaufort 6. I was worried about my rigg and did not dare to set up proper sails to sail out this wind so I tried to stay as close to the land as possible to have less waves and did the second half under engine.
I finally reached the cosy Marigot bay and anchored there. Together with the crew of the neighbouring yacht “Tun” I made use of the happy hour of one of the restaurants and we had some drinks together.

Marigot Bay

Marigot Bay on St. Lucia

Ankernde Boote Marigot Bay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day we went by bus to Castries, the capital of St. Lucia to the market and shopped for fruits and vegetables.
And here again I met Foftein but also the Dutch sailing yacht Cadans whose skipper told me which would be the best place on Martinique to get new a forestay.

Back to Martinique
So the next day sailed to Martinique. But I had picked the worst day apparently, the wind was still strong, Beaufort 6-7 and many rain showers. Luckily it was all in the Carribbean where sea water and rain are warm so the spray and rain did not matter very much.

Selfie Ueberfahrt nach Martinique

Rain and near gale winds during the crossing from St. Lucia to Martinique

 

 

But it was still exhausting and I was happy when I had finally dropped anchor in Le Marin on the south end of Martinique. On the way in I saw freight ships loaded with sailing yachts. That confirmed me to think about a this possibility which I had been thinking about earlier.

Yachten auf Frachter

Sailing yachts on a freight ship

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I went straight to the super market and in the evening the French couple Maud and Jérémy of their boat Cirrus came over and we had a nice evening talking about the Atlantic crossing and how difficult it is to find a good crew for such a trip.
Then the next day I went to Fort de France to pick up a letter that was waiting there for me with most important my new credit card but also a new frame for my glasses and a book. Amazingly this packet had arrive very fast and much earlier than expected. My aunt had sent it from Hamburg by Deutsche Post (NOT DHL!!!!) with insurance and tracking number. It had taken it only two days from Hamburg to Martinique. Normally it should have take 10 days.
And the best is, it cost only 5,90 Euros.
I do not know if this was just luck or whether that happens regularly that the packet is delivered so quickly.
I got my glasses put into the new frame and then headed to the main bus station. I quickly found the bus back to Le Marin but I had to wait 1,5 hours in the bus until it started because the busses here do not have a schedule, they start when the driver thinks that the bus is full enough.

A new forestay

The next day I went to see the rigger to make an appointment for the repair. He told me to come to his work shop during the weekend where I could moore and take down the broken forestay. So I did and with the help of the neighbour I got the forestay down. I had to go back to the anchorage because he needed the mooring space for another customer.
On the following Tuesday the forestay was ready and with the help of Reinhard of the sailing yacht Möve II and one of his friends we put it back on. It looks all fine now but I still have to test it.

Gebrochene Litze Vorstag

One wire of the forestay was broken already

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile I started to renovate the fridge because the wood and insulation was rotten and stinking due to mould (Schimmel) which had developed because the plastic foil used for lining (Auskleidung) the inside had got wholes through which water and other liquids found its way.
When I rebuild it I will not use plastic foil but plywood (Sperrholz) glued together in the corners with epoxy so that no water can get out of the fridge and it will get a drain (Abfluß) so that in case some liquid occurs it can easily be drained.

St. Anne

After I had the new forestay I went with my boat to St. Anne, a small village near Le Marin but a little bit further out the bay with much clearer water and nice beaches. Here I met Asha and Helge of Gegenwind who had just arrived after their Atlantic crossing and Susanne and Knut who had been here for some time already.

St. Anne Ankerfeld

St. Anne Anchorage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With Eva, a friend on board the boat of Knut and Susanne, I explored the beaches of Salines and Anse Meunier last weekend.

Strand Salines

Salines Beach

Strand Anse Meunier

Anse Meunier beach

 

The Atlantic Crossing

Under spinaker

Under spinaker on the Atlantic Ocean towards the Carribbean

Marcos was the first 10 days almost completely, at least mentally, occupied with a report about his PhD he had to send in by the 2 February. So he made also Sören and me work on it by either lending him a computer, or the satellite phone to communicate with his professors or friends or the administration of his university or by running the engine to charge his computer or to ask sometimes what we thought about certain aspects.
But let us begin at the start. We left Mindelo on 22. January in the afternoon on a sunny and as usual quite windy day. When we backed off from the pontoon we caught one of the mooring lines behind the skeg and I had to dive to free it. But that was quickly done. At first we had only half the genoa and no main sail. Only from the second day we added the main sail after the wind had gone down. That were for most of the time our sails.
On the fourth day we heard the thunder of a distant thunderstorm but we also saw it coming closer so we prepared for it. We got the main sail down and reefed the genoa to one third of its size, everybody got his foul weather gear on (Segelkleidung) life jacket and life line and I disconnected all radio antenna cables. Luckily the thunder storm just passed by with only a little increase of the wind.
During the next night and day and the night after this day we saw in the very distance and sometimes up in the clouds lightning but never heared the thunder but in the night of the fourth day we had almost all the time a light rain. Unfortunately it was not enough to rinse off the salt from our clothes and the deck but it was enough to make everything wet.
Luckily after that we did not have any rain or thunderstorms any more, it got gradually every day warmer and warmer. At the beginning it was 21°C in the night and we were wearing our sailing jackets and trousers and several pullovers but later it was also at night 25°C warm and the wind was lighter so one pullover without a jacket was enough. Because there were no clouds we had beautiful moon lit nights.
On 30.January, my birthday we also had arrived in the middle of the distance so we had two good reasons to celebrate and opened a bottle of sparkling wine. Despite it was not cooled because we did not run the fridge to save electricity, we enjoyed it.

Geburtstag und Bergfest

Birthday and half way celebration

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our 24-hour distances varied between 150 nm on the best days and 80nm on the worst days when the wind was especially calm but on the average it was somewhere between 110nm and 130 nm.

Soren and Marcos greeting

The SeaBelow crew showing their respect to their captain

Marcos playing guitar

When Marcos was not writing on his text he was practicing on his guitar

Marcos playing guitar with sea weed on ears

and he was making fun of the sea weed that was floating around us everywhere

Marcos after the rain

We used to have our lunch at 16:00 because until 12 always somebody was sleeping and it is not nice to start your day with a lunch. You rather want a breakfeast. So during the afternoon everybody is awake and nobody is disturbed when a meal is cooked. And because the cooking takes time and to leave some time between the last one´s breakfeast 16:00 turned out to be a good time. It was then also possible to wash the dirty dishes before sunset which was usually around 6:30, depending on how we decided to set the clock.

Marcos am Bergfest
From almost the first day one of the highlights during the day was the daily radio round on SSB (Single Side Band) (Kurzwellenfunkgerät) with several other fellow German sailors but namely with the reliable Dietmar on his saling yacht Summer on the Canary Islands. He always provided us with the latest weather forecast. This way of communication had two advantages. The first is it is nice to talk to somebody out in the world so you do not feel so alone on the big wide ocean and secondly it saved me from starting my laptop and setting up the satellite phone to get a weather forecast by e-mail which also costs money for the phone connection. Sometimes other yachts participated and often people sitting in Germany, e.g. in Dresden, telling about the winter weather in Germany and we made them envious with the weather we had. It is incredible to have a conversation with a group of people thousands of kilometres apart. E.g. from Dresden to the Canary Islands it is 3800 km and from the Canary Islands to us was 4700km, so from Dresden to us it was 8500km. And the quality was better than on skype in the respect that the connection was not disconnected as it with skype often happens due to poor internet. Although it has to be admitted that on SSB the conditions were varying and not always a good communication was possible, sometimes impossible. But then often someone in between could make a relais, meaning he or she passes the information on. So all in all I am happy that I made the effort in Las Palmas to get my SSB working and therefore thanks again to Alfred Deubler who told me how to do it and who repaired the actual SSB radio.
In the last third of the journey it go really tropically hot with over 30°C during the day and not less than 25°C at night so we were only wearing shorts and taking a shower with sea water every day. We were soon run out of sun screen (Sonnencreme).
Talking of which, we were a bit short on fresh fruits and vegetables. They were almost all gone after the first ten days but we still had potatoes, yams (Süßkartoffeln) and onions. We also should have bought more eggs. But that are only side aspects and luxury problems.

 

 

 

What do you do all day on the ocean? Good question. First of all you have your watches which make up 7 to 10 hours of the day, depending on which watch you have. We used the so called Swedish watch system where you have watches of different lengths. As on the leg from the Canary Islands to the Cape Verde Islands we had 4 hours during the day and 3 hours at night.
So after sleeping you get up and have breakfast. That takes up to two hours, because such a simple thing as to heat the water for coffee or tea takes time because every hand move has to be planned because nothing stays in its place. Also filling the cup with coffee, milk and sugar needs a lot of thinking and routine. First you put in the sugar because it is not much volume in the cup and does not spill when the cups moves, then you put in the milk, which also is not so much volume and then you add the coffee to fill up the cup to the possible maximum and then you have to keep in your hand until it is empty. The possible maximum is determined by your ability to balance the cup in one hand while climbing up the companion way (Niedergang) with the other hand. If you filled the cup too much, the sea takes its share and you have to clean up the mess afterwards. To eat we often had muesli or porridge which of course had to be prepared before the coffee because with a cup of coffee in your hand you can do nothing else any more. Porridge was more useful because it is thicker than muesli where the milk could still easily spill when the boat was heeling (Krängen) over.

making pancakes

Frying pancakes

Having a salad

Salad (note the pullover, this is a picture from the first half of the trip. Later is was so hot that during the day we were not even wearing a t-shirt)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then there was navigation to be done, either by plotting the position from the GPS into the sea chart or as in my case I enjoyed to determine our position also by sextant which again involves a lot of skilled climbing on the boat with the precious high precision sextant in your hand. You don´t want to drop it nor to hit it somewhere. And if you know how often you hit your own elbows, knees and head somewhere you can imagine what a stressful action it is to climb with a sextant in your hand over deck to a place where you can see the sun and the horizon without an guard rail or the sails obstructing the view.

An Deck

Ready to measure the angle between the sun and the horizon with the sextant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sextant

And the result is: 54°45`

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The the daily rigg check where I checked the conditions of the shrouds (Wanten) to make sure no damages leading to the loss of the mast remain undetected.

Riggkontrolle

During the daily rigg check. Here I am checking the shrouds (Wanten) and the screws (Spannschrauben)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we had to empty the water out of the bilge every day, cooking dinner took two hours for cooking and one hour cleaning up and often something small has to be repaired like the locking mechanism of the front hatch.

Jan and Marcos on repairs

Doing little repairs

Atlantikueberquerung
And yes, then I collected six samples of sea water to be analysed for how much micro plastic it contains. Microplastic are all plastic particles smaller than 5mm which means also the ones that are so small that we can not see them any more but which are still in the oceans. Plastic waste is one of the biggest environmental problems of ocean pollution of which unfortunately most people are unaware. Plastic that has found its way into the ocean is rubbled to microscopic small pieces by the sunlight and the movement of the waves. Sea animals like fish eat the plastic and by this way enters the food chain.
And for us sailors the plastic comes quite directly into our food when we cook our potatoes with sea water or wash our dishes with sea water. Reason enough to be concerned about the problem. I collected the samples for an initiative called “Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation” which resides in Stonington, ME in the USA. The bottles with the sea water will be sent there by mail and they analyse them and by that they get an overview where how much micro plastic is in the water.
I learned about the project from Marjo and Edwin and their organisation “Ocean Conservation” in Las Palmas. They had already supplied 100 sailing yachts of the ARC 2014 with six sample bottles each.

Filling the bucket

Rinsing the bucket to take a sample of micro plastic water. Because the bucket and the bottles are of plastic themselves they have to be rinsed before taking a sample to make sure to micro plastic particles from the bottle or the bucket end up in the sample. So first the bucket is rinsed three times, then the bottle three times and then the actual sample is taken. So the bucket is filled seven times. The bucket is necessary because the deck is too high over the water that you can not reach it with your arm, even me with my extra long arms can not reach it.

The first sample

Every bottle got a label stating the date,, number of the sample and the ships name. In list the position, water temperature, wind strength and direction were added.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, long story short, there is a lot to do and no real boredom. We read our books, look into the waves, sometimes we see flying fish, once we saw one or two whales passing by in the opposite direction. Sometimes sea birds show up and we ask ourselves how they can survive so far away from land. How do they for example drink? Where to they find sweet water? In the sea weed (Seetang) which is floating around everywhere on the last third of the trip?

Seetang

A picture of the patches of sea weed that were floating around all over the ocean during the second half of the journey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We opened a second bottle of sparkling wine after Marcos had sent away his text on 2. February because now we where relieved from the stress he was creating and also he himself felt very relieved because only now he could start to enjoy the trip.

 

Marcos on sat phone

Marcos at a typical task. Phoning via satellite phone to his university colleagues to arrange things for his paper.

One day we had very little wind and there was a lot of sea weed caught behind the skeg and we decided to the boat by taking the sails down and take a swim in the ocean using the occasion to clean off the sea weed from the skeg. But actually it had already fallen off when we had stopped the boat.

Online in the ocean

Online in the middle of the ocean

Marcos with sea weed on head

Marcos with sea weed on his head (no further comment)

Wind vane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is really a big joy to take a swim in the middle of the ocean.
The journey went on with light winds which brought us around 110 to 120 miles per day, the nights usually moon lit and clear. Only the last two days we had an overcast sky and some drizzling rain.

Sun over the horizon

One of the many sunrises and this was the last one at sea.

Rainbow

A rainbow (under the boom) after light rain during the sun rise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the last day of sun I had very successfully got a position using the sextant. Successfully means the position I got was only 4,7 nm differing from the GPS position. But when I tried it a second time three days later when the sun had come back after the rain I got it 100 nm wrong. So I need to practice much more to make it reliable.

Two days before we reached St. Lucia we printed the SeaBelow name and logo onto shirts for Marcos and Sören.

Applying ink to sieve

Applying ink to the sieve to print the SeaBelow logo and name onto t-shirts for Marcos and Sören

the ready shirt

The ready print

Shirts haning on guard rail

Drying the ink on the guard rail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had hoped to make land fall on 8. February before sun set but due to the light winds we were not quick enough. Instead we were rewarded with a nice sunset over St. Lucia.

St. Lucia in the sunset

The last sunset at sea with St. Lucia already visible at the horizon.

 

 

 

 

 

Angekommen

The proud skipper and equally proud crew on the morning after arrival.

Angekommen 2

At anchor in Rodney Bay with St. Lucia in the back ground.

 

So it got night but I was not worried to arrive at night because I knew the place and that there were no navigational obstacles except the other anchoring boats. Normally everyone should set an anchor light but not everybody does so when approaching the anchorage we had to be very careful to detect the unlit boats. Eventually we arrived at 1 a.m. local time on 9th February in the Rodney Bay of St. Lucia where we dropped the anchor and then just slept.
The next morning we were very curious to see how the bay looks like. It is all green, many other boats anchored there and we took a swim.Afterwards we went into the marina to get rid of the rubbish, wash our clothes, stock up with food and water and to register at the immigration office.
On arrival at the pontoon we met two Germans with their catamaran Blue Note who I had met before in Lisbon. That was a very nice coincidence.

Mindelo / Sao Vicente / Cape Verde Islands

On our first day we just roamed through the city of Mindelo. The wind was all the time blowing like hell with very strong gust. According to the sailors who had been here for some longer time already this is not the normal wind speed.
We came to a market where they were selling all sorts of things among others we got a new 12V-Charger to charge our smartphones via USB cable. The one I had broke on the trip here.

 

Market in  Mindelo

Market in Mindelo

The next day we spent with repairing the toilet and the holder of the lee board (Leebrett an der Koje) on port side.
Many of the other sailors we had met between Lisbon and Las Palmas are here as well. It is always a joyful feeling to see an old acquaintance and to hear their story how they got here. One boat for example experienced a knock down (when the boat is heeled over by a wave or wind gust to 90°) and got 250 litres of water into the boat.
We also went to the immigration office and the marine police to fulfill the entry formalities. But that was an easy and straightforward proces, if you had your papers in order. Meaning you need the ships papers, the passports of all crewmembers and two crew lists (one for each authority). I had only one so I had to quickly fill out another one.
Then we explored the local beach. The water is beautifully turquoise green and the sand quite white but it was also very windy. So when you laid flat on your back in the sun, in the wind gusts the sand was blown against your shoulder and it felt like sand blasting (Sandstrahlen). Thanks to the hot tropical sun it was warm enough during the day despite the water is here only 20° C warm.
On Friday evening a swiss sailor and I had set up a Couchsurfing meeting but only one local showed up who was actually Portuguese.

Life music in a Mindelo pub

Life music in a Mindelo pub

But some other sailors were there, for example two you Danish sailors who had just arrived from Las Palmas that afternoon and an Austrian couple who are our neighbours in the marina. The local guy later showed us around to some nice pubs and a discotheque on the beach. Because that evening a popular DJ was playing many people, mostly women were queuing. We took a table in the first row of the bar that was above the discotheque and where everybody had to pass along because that was leading to the entrance. So we got a good impression of who would be in the discotheque. Many beautifully dressed up women.
Being in a place like this with a boat takes all your mental power to get accustomed to the place because one has not only to orientate one self in the new environment but at least in our case we also had to take care of certain things on the boat and we had to plan the next leg of our trip. It is not like with a plane or ferry where your only worry is to be there at the right time. No, every decision you have to take yourself and it is absolutely down to only your responsibility when you leave.
The result is that walking again and again the same streets does not become boring.
But on Sunday Markus, a fellow sailor from another boat, and I checked out two places where people were preparing for the weekly Sunday pre-carneval parade. It was a really poor neighbourhood without any cars, no paved roads and not many streetlamps. But the people seemed to enjoy their Sunday afternoon with some guys practicing the Samba drums.

Street Pre Carneval Drums Dressed up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And on Monday Sören and I went by taxi to the other side of the island and climbed onto a quiet volcano by taxi. A young man of 19 years had recommended us the taxi. It was one of his friends. The young man had talked to us in the street asking whether we could buy him some writing blocks. At first I was astonished about this to my mind a bit peculiar wish but he explained that he has not much money and that he really needs the writing blocks to finish his A-levels (Abitur). He pointed out that he did not want to ask for money to buy the blocks himself. It was important to him that I see that the money was really meant for the blocks. He later explained that he has already a 4 years old son and that he has to support the child, the mother and his own mother who is blind. He was dressed in neat and tidy clothes and spoke an excellent English. He lives in a village 12 km away from Mindelo and walks this distance every day which takes him 2,5 hours each direction. I asked whether he has a bicycle. He said yes but that he has a problem with it. He said he needs a new tyre which costs 7 Euros which he does not have. The house he and his mother are living in consists of two bedrooms and a kitchen and costs 50 Euros rent per month which they get as social welfare from the state. It shows how poor some people here are but he was very determined to finish his A-Levels because he wants to study medicine in Toulouse in France and become a radiologist. He said he would get a grant from the state of Cape Verde for which in return he will have to work as a physician for the State of Cape Verde afterwards.
Whether that is all true or not I do not know but it sounded credible (glaubhaft) so I agreed to buy him two blocks for 2,80 Euros each.
It makes in so far sense if you know that the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is 3810 US-Dollars in Cape Verde http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/capeverde_statistics.html
compared to 44000 US-Dollars in Germany http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/germany_statistics.html
. That is 11,5 of the income in the Cape Verde Islands. And that is only the average, meaning that there are many people who earn even less than that.

The village next to that volcano was also very basic. No paved roads and more surprisingly literally no cars although there were some 30 houses. Only occasionally a Toyota bus showed up, apperantly some kind of bus service. But there was a little restaurant where after our climb we had dinner.

 

in the Taxi dwellings dry landscape street of village view from the volcano the volcano we climbed on the volcano

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Victory

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Tuesday there was a holiday here, the day of the national here Amilcar Cabral, who played a role in the fight for independence, so we could not make our shopping. Instead we just hung out a bit with the other sailors and read in our books.

So Wednesday 21. we did the shopping and went to the immigration office and the maritime police to declare our departure. And I dived the hull to clean it from algies so that we are faster.

And now, Thursday noon as I write this, we are about to leave to Rodney Bay on St. Lucia in the Caribbean where we normally should arrive in 17 to 20 days, i.e. between 8th and 11th February 2015.

Christmas and New Year in Las Palmas

On 15. December my mother arrived for a over christmas visit. The first two days it was awful weather with rain and wind but as usual not cold.

Sonntagsfruehstueck mit Gille

One day we went out sailing with Jonas, who originally wanted to sail with me but later decided to sail on a boat in a paid position back to the Mediterranean, which he thought was the better option for his life than to sail across the Atlantic ocean. Let´s hope he is right for his case.

Gille winkt am Ruder

Gille am Ruder Arbeit mit Jonas

 

 

 

 

 

 

One day we rented a car and went onto a tour through the mountains. It was one of the few days during her stays which was just perfect because we had a spotless blue sky.

Las Palmas aus den Bergen gesehen Gran Canaria Inland Nordseite

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We went to the small village of San Mateo were they were setting up a life chrismas story in front of the church with sheep, goats, a donkey, rabbits and other farm animals and a real shepherd

Schaefer

 

 

 

 

 

and we went to the famous Roque de Nublo on the top of the island.

Rocque Nublo

Rocque Nublo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Christmas Evening we went to a barbecue party for all the sailors in the harbour away from home. The barbecue party was organised by a German woman whe does this every year since 6 years. You bring your own stuff for the barbecue, something for the buffet and some drinks. There were many people something around 50 to 60 people, mostly Europeans.
On Chrismas day we went on a bus tour to the north west corner of the island to the little town called Gaidar. There is a cave with paintings and a museum but of course on Christmas day it was closed. But because it was beautiful weather we sat on the beach and had a coffee in the nearby cafe.
On 27 December she already had to leave back home.
On 28. December my dear friends Lennart and Silke, both now living in Berlin, but I know Lennart from Hamburg, arrived for an over New Year visit. We mostly met in the evenings because I was busy preparing the boat for the big crossing over the Atlantic Ocean which was now scheduled for the 4. January 2014 with its first leg to the Cape Verde Islands. Also I had to solve my crew problem after Jonas had already said good bye.
I thought I was lucky because Romy, a German woman, contacted me writing that she had seen my ad in the harbour that I was looking for crew. She said she had some sailing experience So we met, she brought her friend with her, I showed her the boat and she asked a lot of questions. She said she would contact me. I also had talked to a young swedish lady who was looking for a boat because her boyfriend wanted to sail single handed on his Folkeboat and she needed another boat to get across as well and I was not sure who of the two ladies I would prefer. Anyway, this situation was resolved by Romy who wrote me an message that she liked our conversation and wanted to sail with me. Ok, I thought, that is a clear answer, I take Romy with us (Marcos and me) and tell Elin, the Swedish lady, that I had found someone. So I did.
Romy came along the next day and we started planning the shopping with a shopping list. Lennart, Silke, her, her friend and me went out in the evening for dinner. On 31. December we five went sailing, there was a lot of wind onshore creating quite high waves. Lennart, Romy and me liked it but Silke and Melanie got sea sick after alreay 30 minutes so we went back to port, with a short stop at the Diesel pontoon to fill up with diesel. Lennart, Silke, Romy and Melanie went home to recover and we met again in the evening to celebrate new year with the two starting with a barbecue on the roof top terrace of their hostel on the Las Canteras beach. It had been agreed that Romy would move onto my boat on 1 January.
But while Lennart, Silke and me were on a walk through the dunes of Maspalomas in the south of the island Romy called me telling me that she had thought about it once more and said that she came to the conclusions to stay on a boat and the ocean for 5 weeks is not what she wanted to do with her free time. I was very disappointed but from  the experience with Jonas I had already learned to take the word of sailing hitch hikers not so serious and that nothing is guaranteed until you left the harbour with them on board. I do not know what happened, may be because her friend was so scared by the waves and the sea sickness Romy as well got her doubts whether she wanted to go or not.
Ok I thought, I will have to explain the situation to Marcos when he arrives on 2. January and try to convince him that we could do the trip also with just the two of us like so many couples do it all the time. Why should we two strong and heathy men not be able to do it?
When Marcos arrived he was always. Talking a lot, 100 things at one time to organise but always laughing and in a good mood. Only when I told him that we might have to go only by two he got a little bit silent. But he was so determined to go especially because he had taken every effort to convince his PhD tutors to postpone the delivery of the next version of his PhD by some weeks he got accustomed to the idea.
So the next day we went shopping to the super market and after it was delivered to the boat we stored it away, especially the water. We were still planning for three people because in this harbour you never know who comes along the next day. Especially I had contact to a man who was coming on 4. January in the evening which was still ok, because we had to wait until 5 January because Marcos needed his last shot of vaccination against Tetanus.
On Saturday 3. January we went shopping to the fruit market for fruits and vegetables, took them by taxi to the boat, washed them on the pontoon and stored them in the nets under deck and in the evening went went with Silke and Lennart to have a farewell dinner.

Essen m Lennart, Silke und Marcos

 

 

 

 

 

 

So on Sunday 4. January we were actually set for departure on Monday 5 after Marcos would have returned from the doctor.
But then, shock horror, when I climbed off board on Monday morning to take my last shower before departure I noticed a crack in the welding of the stainless steel mounting (Bugbeschlag) where the fore stay (Vorstag) is connected and which holds the whole mast.

 

Bugbeschlag

I thought, we can not go with such a crack because we would risk the mast. I told it Marcos who was of course disappointed that we would not leave and it was unforseeable how long the repair would take. Plus the next day was a holiday on Gran Canaria and therefore on the afternoon of the 5. January most shops were closed.

 

 

Riss in Bugbeschlag
So I immediately started to see how difficult it would be to get the mounting off. Luckily it turned out to be one of the easiest jobs I had done on this boat. Basically I only had to unsrew 5 thick bolts and fortunately all nuts came off without greater problems. I only needed a second hand to hold the bolts from one side while I was turning the ratched. This second hand was lend to me by Elin, the Swedish lady. So with her help after not more than on hour the damn thing was off.
I had already contacted the sailmaker on my pontoon who was also doing stainless steel weldings whether he could weld it. He had said that if I give it to him that lunch he could do it.
Because I had been ready with the demounting before his lunch break I could give it to him in time and he promised to weld it either the same day or if not than certainly the next day (which was that holiday).
Meanwhile Sören had come along, the man I had been in contact about the Atlantic crossing. He turned out to be a very friendly and sociable young man from Copenhage in Denmark. Marcos was around as well and we three had a nice chat together. And because we found each other so sympathetic we soon agreed that he would come with us. He only had to go to his hotel to pick up his clothes. After his return he washed them in the marina laundry, hung them up on board and afterwards we went to Decathlon to shop a sleeping bag and a towel and I had wanted to look at a Decathlon shop anyway. It took us about one hour by bus to go there and one hour back.
Because it was the evening before an important holiday it was a party evening and I had been asked by some other sailors whether I wanted to join them the evening to go out. I said yes and despite our trip to Decathlon I still managed to take a shower and to be in time to meet our party gang.
We went to the old town of Las Palmas which was packed with people. First we had beer with some pinchos (finger food) in one bar, then another beer with some tapas until we eventually found a dancing club where we stayed until 4 o´clock when they closed.
So when I got up with a slight hang over I went to the welders boat and was very happy to get from his wife the welded mounting.
I had bought new nuts and bolts already the day before so Sören and I could mount it back on. We slowly but determined did our work and after something like two hours we had everything back on including the genoa hoisted and furled around the forestay.

Am Bugbeschlag Der neue Bugbeschlag

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marcos had been out the evening before and had stayed there over night.
Already some days ago we had met the mutual friend Esther of Marcos and a friend of him when Marcos and I had been out one evening with Lennart and Silke. It must have been the 2 January, his first day on the island. Esther is an artist originating from Las Palmas and had just recently come back from London where she had been working. She is doing sculptures, paintings and many other materials. She had been contemplating to come with us to the Cape Verde Islands but eventually had decided that she did not have the money for the trip and the flight back. But she had instead invited Marcos and me for dinner on 4. January and during the dinner had developed to travel with us virtually. So on 6 January she came along to take some pictures of the boat not only from the outside but also the inside in order to write messages to us onto them, messages she would only send to us by e-mail after we had arrived on the Cape Verde Islands.
We will see what that messages are like, they will be in Spanish, so Marcos will have to translate them to me.
So, after all these ups and downs we did our last shopping of bread, a little bit of water and most important gas for the cooker on the morning of 7. January. After a little lunch and the safety instructions for Marcos and Sören we left Las Palmas at 16:00 to Mindelo on the Ilha de Sao Vicente of the Cape Verde Islands.

870 miles from Las Palmas to Mindelo

After we had left Las Palmas we soon had a strong wind from the back and put away the main sail during the first night because a reefed genoa was already enough to give us a decent speed of 5 to 6 knots.
Sören and me became sea sick and threw up from time to time. In the beginning of the trip the weather was very rough with 7 Bft. of wind, although it came form behind we still had rocky movements of the boat. And at least in my case when I am sea sick my blood pressure is low and I also get very cold although the outside temperature was still around 18°C. But together with the high wind speed it was very chilly. However, we all did our watches with three hours during the night (20-23, 23- 02, 02 – 05 and 05-08) and four hours during the day (8-12. 12- 16 and 16 .- 20) and such a three hour watch was bearable time despite the cold.

The usual outfit during the first half of the trip.

The usual outfit during the first half of the trip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Atlantic Ocean as it presented itself most of the time.

The Atlantic Ocean as it presented itself most of the time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The good thing was that there were literally no other ships to be seen so a sharp look around every 10 minutes was good enough and in between one could hide away as far as possible in the cock pit. We got often waves splashing into the cockpit so we were all the time wet and of course under deck it was difficult to maintain things dry as the foul weather gear (Seglerkleidung) was wet. Once we had a big wave coming into the cockpit from the back and it filled the cockpit all the way up to the lids of the storage compartments. But with in 20 seconds the whole was gone through the self draining wholes in the cockpit floor. But Sören was all wet afterwards because he had been directly hit by the wave. Luckily we had the wash boards (Steckschotten im Niedergang) in so no problematic amount of water came in. Only the role of kitchen paper go soaking wet and could only be thrown away.
On the fourth day the weather had calmed down and we could enjoy sunshine in the cockpit. But appetite had not yet really come back.
But on the fifth day everybody had gotten back his healthy appetite so we had a fine tuna salad, we had cofffee, Sören and Marcos interchanged with playing on the guitar and we put out our fishing rod (Angel).

Playing the guitar and harmonica on the high seas between Las Palmas and Mindelo

Playing the guitar and harmonica on the high seas between Las Palmas and Mindelo

 

 

 

 

 

Sören

Sören

 

Marcos at a typical activity: Setting his GoPro camera

Marcos at a typical activity: Setting his GoPro camera

 

Apparently we also caught a fish but the moment we had it on the hook, it was already gone and when we pulled in the line all the bait was gone and some blood on the line. It must have been a big fish, too big for our line and it broke.

On the sixth day which later turned out to be the last day, the conditions again got a bit rollier. Around the middle of our trip I had hoped to arrive at Mindelo just before sun set on the evening of the sixth day but it turned out that we had been not that fast enough. So the arrival time was just before midnight, meaning at darkness. I had been worried to arrive there at midnight because the pilot books were talking about unmarked wrecks in the anchor bight I had been thining about to slow down sothat we would arrive at the next morning with sun rise. But then I thought, damn it, why should we stay out a whole night for nothing. I took a closer look at the sea chart and thought that if we keep close to the commercial harbour we should be safe from possible wrecks. So let´s try it.
Coming from sea we first aimed for the light house on the little island Ilheu dos Passaros at the entrance of the Mindelo Bight. From there we turned almost south to head for the outer breakwater (Hafenmole) of the commercial harbour and from there directly east to the ferry terminal. And from there we could see the mast of the yachts in the marina. I originally wanted to moore at the fishing club but there we were told that everything is full and an friendly man in a dinghy guided us through the anchoring boats into the marina. He and another man from the marina helped us with the mooring lines and so on Tuesday 13. January 2015 at 23:45 UTC or 22:45 local time we had arrived after 870nm in six days and 8 hours.

 

Sea chart of the bight of Mindelo

Sea chart of the bight of Mindelo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That makes an average speed of 5,7 knots! Not bad! And all just under a most of the time reefed genoa. So, as usual, after all everything went well. I wonder sometimes how helpful some pilot books are if they seem to describe things more complicated then they actually are. Why can´t they just describe how the straight forward way is and what the restrictions are, i.e. what dangers are to be observed. Then everybody can take his own decision whether he/she wants to do it or not.
Despite we were tired, after our mooring beer we headed for the town because after all that sitting and lying in the boat we wanted to walk. After some looking around we asked a local lady for a place to eat and she guided us to a bar where we got pizza. It was the worst pizza we had ever eaten but under the given circumstances it was great. After the dinner we went to sleep and all three of us we dreamt wild dreams.

Good bye Las Palmas

After almost two months, many nice people met, many repairs done and a lot of money spent SeaBelow will now leave for Mindelo on the Ilha de Sao Vicente of the Cape Verde Islands. We reckon we will arrive there in 7 to 10 days, depending on the wind.

Decksschuhtest / Deck shoe test

Ganz überraschend bekam ich vor ein paar Wochen eine nette E-Mail vom 12seemeilen.de-Team. Ich wurde gefragt, ob ich eines ihrer Schuhpaare testen wolle. Dazu habe ich sofort ja gesagt und bekam zwei Wochen später ein paar Sebago Docksides zugeschickt.

Am Mast stehend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Die in marineblau gehaltenen Schuhe gefallen mir optisch sehr gut.

Schuhe von vorne Schuhe von der SeiteSie haben den für Decksschuhe seit Jahrzehnten, Segler sind ja sehr konservative Leute, typischen umlaufenden, die Hacke einschließenden, Lederschnürsenkel. Mir gefällt bei diesem Modell besonders gut, dass die Schnürsenkel Weiß sind, weil sie gut das Blau des Leders kontrastieren. Der umlaufende Schnürsenkel ist wirklich umlaufend und dies dient dazu, dass der Schuh gut am Fuß anliegt und guten Halt gibt. Dies ist eine für Decksschuhe sehr wichtige Eigenschaft. Die Schuhe sind formschön und gut verarbeitet. Innen ist der Schuh an den Seiten mit Leder gefüttert, dadurch nimmt er gut die Feuchtigkeit von den Füßen auf. Dadurch wird ein angenehmes Schuhinnenklima geschaffen. Auch das Fußbett ist aus einer leicht herausnehmbaren Lederinnesohle gefertigt. Die ebenfalls weiße Außensohle ist durchgenäht und aus richtigem Gummi. Durch das Durchnähen wird eine optimale Verbindung von Schuh und Sohle erreicht. Es können sich also keine Verklebungen lösen. Gummi in der richtigen Mischung ist der eigentliche Faktor, der für die Rutschfestigkeit sorgt, das Profil ist zweitrangig. Aber auch dies fein grillt, wodurch eine guter Kontakt zum Untergrund hergestellt wird. Und dank der weißen Farbe hinterlassen die Schuhe auch keine schwarzen Streifen auf dem Deck.

Sitzend an DeckLeider mußte ich feststellen, daß die Größe bei diesem Sebago-Modell  offensichtlich kleiner ausfällt, als sonst üblich. Jedenfalls habe ich normalerweise Schuhgröße 42/43 bzw. 8 ½ , aber diese Schuhe sind mir in dieser Größe etwas zu klein, ich bräuchte bei der Marke Sebago offensichtlich ungefähr eine Schuhgröße größer. Das wäre also zu beachten, wenn jemand sich diese Schuhe kaufen will. Aber das ist gerade bei Schuhen im Onlinehandel das größte Problem, dass man nicht mal eben, wie im Schuhladen, viele verschiedene Paare in mehreren Größen probieren kann. Da müßte man sich ja immer ein Paket mit 10 Paar Schuhen bestellen und am Ende 9 wieder zurückschicken. Es wäre gut, wenn man einen Fußabdruck mit der Bestellung einschicken könnte. Z.B. ein auf ein Blatt Papier gemalter Umriss der Füße.
Aber mal abgesehen von der Schuhgröße, würden die Schuhe in der richtigen Größe an meine eher breit geratenen Füße gut passen, das Leder war sehr angenehm auch mit nackten Füßen zu tragen.
Die Rutschfestigkeit auf dem Deck entspricht dem, was man von solchen Decksschuhen erwartet, nämlich daß sie bei trockenem Deck eine hohe Rutschfestigkeit aufweisen und bei nassem Deck immer noch ausreichend gut halten. Wenn es zu feucht wird, sollte man sowieso auf Gummistiefel wechseln.
Was diese Schuhe, wie leider die meisten Decksschuhe dieser Art vermissen lassen, ist eine Sohle mit einer guten Dämpfung vor allem an der Ferse. Das ist an Deck zwar nicht relevant, aber wenn der Segler im Hafen an Land steigt, dann hat er oft viel zu laufen. Als erstes zum Hafenmeister, dann zur Toilette, dann den Ort erkunden, noch einkaufen und Abends ein Zug durch die Gemeinde. Da man auf dem Boot meistens weder Auto noch Fahrrad dabei hat, läuft man in so einem Segelurlaub so einiges mehr an Kilometern, als man das zu Hause im Alltag täte.
Und weil der Platz sowohl in der Reisetasche als auch im Boot begrenzt ist, kann man auch nicht für jeden Einsatzzweck einen Extraschuh mitnehmen. Da wäre es sehr gut, wenn die Segelschuhe eine gute Dämpfung hätten und man auch beim Landausflug angenehm zu Fuß unterwegs sein könnte.

Im Cockpit Fuesse an Cockpitbank

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ich habe die Schuhe kostenlos zur Verfügung gestellt bekommen und kann sie auch behalten. Man könnte das also Sponsoring nennen und natürlich ist mein Blogeintrag Werbung für den Onlineshop und die Schuhe. Aber dennoch kann ich versichern, daß ich meine ehrliche Meinung dargestellt habe und auch kein Blatt vor den Mund genommen hätte, wenn mir die Schuhe nicht gefallen hätten.

 

Link zum 12Seemeilen-Onlineshop: http://www.12seemeilen.de/

Frohe Weihnachten / Merry Christmas

All my dear readers, friends and relatives,

I wish you all a Merry Christmas 2014 and a Happy New Year 2015! For me it has been a very exciting year. First the finalisation of my project Co2olBricks, where I always like to think back to and all the nice people I met during this project all over the Baltic Sea.

During my sailing trip with „SeaBelow“ I had together with my changing crew and the wonderful people I have met on my way from Hamburg via Amsterdam, London, Cherbourg, La Rochelle, Bilbao, La Coruna, Lisbon, Madeira to up to now Las Palmas a continious summer and one of the best times of my life.

So, I wish you to be as happy as I am and that the 2015 becomes as good as 2014!

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2015 from Las Palmas on Gran Canaria!

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2015 from Las Palmas on Gran Canaria!