Windy Nights

Tuesday 11 February

Another windy night at anchor but Temptress' crew slept, tired out after

arriving at 1 am on Monday morning. The gusts across the anchorage set the

boat rocking and rolling but not so much as it was during our five days at

sea. Friday and the weekend passed in much the same pattern as the previous

days at sea; crew up during the day reading, chatting sporadically, getting

meals, drinking tea and adjusting sailings. The poled out gennie with an aft

guy as well as the down and up hauls works well with the sheet passing

through a block attached to the top of the outboard end to reduce chaff.

Easy to adjust the quantity of sail out and not too much of an issue to

alter the pole position either.

We tucked the second reef in early on Friday morning as the wind increased

well above the forecast to gust around F7 meaning Temptress was surfing

wildly reaching over 10 knots on more than one occasion. Later we heard Sao

Vicente radio despite the distance still to go. Friday's noon to noon tally

was 165nm and by evening we were over halfway with 399nm still to cover.

On Saturday our westing became greater than our northing a statistic that

brought a smile to the navigators face, firmly in the tropics it should now

get warmer, shouldn't it? Dawn was steely grey and chilly like a summer

sunrise in the English Channel the crew were glad of fleeces, hats and

socks. The seas were confused with several swells all roughly running

southward but at various angles. Joe got pooped seemingly wherever he sat in

the cockpit whilst the rest of us remained smugly dry. Noon to noon was

185nm a personal best for Temptress and a feat repeated on Sunday. By now we

were closing the islands fast but not exactly heading to the waypoint as the

wind was not playing the same game as us. We gybed then gybed again many

hours later, our course over the ground maybe ten maybe thirty degrees off

but gradually we closed in on our goal the second island from the west in

the northerly group of the Cape Verdes. There was a discussion about whether

or not it was wise to arrive at night, our estimated arrival time being

midnight so re-read the pilot guide and decided that even if none of the

lighthouses and lit buoys were working as it cautioned they might, we could

manage. No slowing down then still 7.5 to 8 knots of headlong rush southwest

wards. By noon on Sunday Temptress had 92nm to go we'd made an excellent

fast passage. During our dash south we noted that during the day the

northerly easterly trade wind moderated a bit down to F4 occasionally F5,

but during the night it often blew NE F5 picking up to F6 or sometimes more

when there was a break in the fast moving clouds. Presumably the vast Sahara

Desert caused a huge offshore breeze at night whose effects reached out

several hundred miles to sea.

Sunday night was warmer than previous ones but still required the watch to

be wrapped up warmly. A few fraught moments as all four of us failed to spot

the small island (in reality a tall pointy rock) some three quarters of a

mile off the headland until we were almost upon it when it rose up like a

ghost as it's lighthouse was out. We furled the jib for a final time, gybed

between the rocky shape and the headland before motor sailing on towards the

harbour wall with the wind gusting hard behind us as it accelerated down the

channel between the high hills of Sao Vicente to our left and the mountains

of Santo Antao on our right. Approaching the harbour wall we weren't

expecting a final hazard, unlit “dead ships”, rusting hulks at anchor in the

harbour, but we managed to avoid them all to drop the hook quite well out

but safe in about 4m at 1 am on Monday. After a congratulatory night cap or

two we retired to our bunks for some welcome sleep uninterrupted by four

hourly watches.

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