Skippers log 3: Santa Cruz – Barbados

Light blue – light grey that’s the question while acquainting myself with the discount paint section of the Jotun dealer at Santa Cruz I discovered a 20 liter drum of premixed topcoat for a quarter of the price. Suddenly light grey was a worthy proposal with wild gesticulation and nodding of heads the young warehouse assistant and myself were willing to give it a go. The result a lovely light-grey blue.

Yukon has taken on a tropical look. The difference below decks was instant about 3-6 degrees cooler, her cover boards or skandecks have also been given a coat of marstal green or maybe it’s closer to a west ommel green.

20 days was a long time to lay in Santa Cruz, a big city has it’s virtues and it’s negative side, with out a vehicle it’s tough getting around to provision and assemble all the essentials. We decided to purchase a new weatherfax and to buy an additional solar panel. All hands were busy. But we also took the time to take some small daytrips. One of them to the small mountain village of Taganana, little changes in the twenty odd years since I last visited. We ate goat meat and enjoyed the local vintage toasting our good fortune and enjoying the spectacular vistas from high up the mountains.

Marina life is not really one of our goals with this voyage, for a start we are so many on board that we don’t have the social need and secondly the sheer size of Yukon shoves us up into the rich mans price list which as far as I know we categorically fail to meet.

We have designed systems on board to suit anchorages, our inflatable effectionally named mr. Johnson, is a valuable addition to our little ships inventory and as we now leave the Europe and her marinas it’s exciting to see how the whole concept will hang together.

We sailed from El Heirro the smallest and most southwesterly of the canary islands after using a few days crusing Gomerra and spending time ashore in both of these less touristy islands it was great to experience a bit of real island life. Light winds and starry nights were the norm on the our seven day run to Cap Verde Islands. Yukon anchoring up in Bahia la Palmeria on Ilo do Sal on Tuesday the 28th of September.

Into another world. Cabo Verde culture reminds one a lot of closeness of the African continent while sitting in the local police station a waiting to get our passports stamped , the constable ask me if I have a pen he can use as his had run dry!

This archipelago republic has a style of it’s own, a tour into this nearby town of Espargos to get some cash and some lunch was a good taste of what was to come. With a minibus packed to the gunwhales with locals and thumping reggae music the general road rule is to drive as quickly as possible, so the driver has the time to stop and chat with friends along the way.

People use meticulous care in their personal grooming, cloths and hair washed to the extreme beautiful African bloodlines result in tall athletic as the norm ,not to many fat people here but I can see big changes are taking place, more tourist orientated businesses and lots of foreigners buying up cheap land for second houses or rental properties. This can be seen with a general upturn, lots of new cars on the road and a generally more affluent society.

We visited 3 of the 10 islands, Sal, Boa Vista and Santiago the capital island, this is lush and green in comparison to the other dry islands . We lay for anchor in a small bay Tarafal on the north east coast, where we were able to do some final provisioning which included 120×5 litre of drinking water. It took a while for us to explain to the shopkeeper that we wanted 600 liter of water and not 6 , but finally he gladly agreed to a good price and transport down to the beach where our dingy carried on with the job. Water is heavy and the further we sail away from the more populated regions the more difficult it becomes to find good drinking water.

The beach at Tarafal Bay is crowded with local fishing boats which comprise of a wooden dinghy about 7 meters long and a beam of about 1 meter. They land them beautiful on the beach. Until recently the local boats where worked under sail alone but sadly the outboard is winning favor, we saw only one example of the good old gunter rigged fisher.

Who’s rich and who’s poor? These guys have got a good life. Putting to sea just before sun up and puttering out to the shoals just north of the bay, they are back ashore again around 10 pm to unload and drag their boats up on the beach. Loads of women wait to buy their catch which they carry in large plastic bowls about a meter round, naturally on their heads, up to the village square to sell. It was great to see what appears to be such an idyllic lifestyle in function and reminds we westerners how unecessarily complicated our leisure full existance has become.

With water tanks full and 120 odd bottles stowed away in amazing places, we weighed anchor and bore away under working sail, towards the south south west, we wanted to show the local boys how a Danish fishing cutter use to look like under sail.

Our hope was to catch a glimpse of the semi active volcanic island of Fogo. I you ask a child to draw a volcano you would swear they had seen Fogo…it’s a typical conic form which rises 2880 meter above sea level, a sight to behold…but it was not to be, light winds and dark night were to blame and with dawns first light Fogo was a little mist shrouded pyramid 30 odd miles astern, oh well.. next time.

We are a little early with regards to the hurricane season so its considered prudent to make south about 350 miles before heading west, this will enable us to be on the southerly side and therefore the safe side of any developing tropical depression, we are extremely observant with regard to metrological prognosis and analyses from our new weatherfax has proved it’s worth and our inmarsat C functions well as a back up. Hurricane Lisa dose a back flip and begins to track direct north, this causes a little consternation we take precautionary action give her a wide berth of about 500 seamiles. Saturday the of October after 4 days running south we wear ship around and shape a course up toward Barbados, a couple of thousand miles to the west it’s with great anticipation we get down to the daily routines onboard, watch keeping, cooking, cleaning, school and of course fishing, we have had some promising catches, a 5 kg tune and 3,5 kg dorados great eating to supplement our diet.

Cleanliness is paramount, 11 people sharing the space of a single bedroom apartment requires a vigorous cleaning ritual, daily.
Also mental space, the art of being together and not driving each other nuts. A trick at the helm or a good book in the shade of our sails, gives welcome respite. It’s often too warm to sleep below decks the average daily temprature is around 30 odd degrees so the sight of the off watches sprawled about in their particular favorite spots including our bowsprit net is the norm.

Daily progress is marked on the chart at noon. How many miles have we sailed today? Under 100 gives a reaction of ‘oh well’, over 120 gives a reaction of ‘woow’. It takes a long time to sail around the world, a 23 days passage on board Yukon can be accomplished in a bowing 767 in about 6 hours, that’s just enough time to eat your meal watch a film, take a nap and fold your tray table up before landing. Then your thrust into another airport with a headache you didn’t earn. When we arrive at a new land all on board get to experience the thrill of landrall followed by the feeling that one has earned the right to be here – right of passage.

Today on the morning watch we picked up local radio from Barbados. Bob Marlely of course filled our little aft deck. The talk has been unmistakably turned to cold beer and vanilla ice cream, yesterday one of the crew washed all his clothes. These signs are surer that any g.p.s. We are almost there, 23 days, Capo Verde to Barbados. We are ready for the west indies and don’t worry our tray tables are folded up!