Category Archives: Cape Verde to Caribbean

The NARC’s of New Dawn arrive in town!


We start the 1st watch of the day under engine. Adam was forced to put it on shortly after we went to bed as the wind died completely off. It’s now back slightly (6 knots) but from NE. What a shift in a couple of hours. This would mean sailing on a goose-wing config but on the other tack (sails on the other side), however a) the wind ideally wants to be a consistent 10 knots or more b) it’s now the night time and moving the pole in the dark we’ve avoided so far. That said there’s a big moon and the sea is pretty calm. So it maybe on the cards ….

0245, the wind has slightly picked up in last 15 min and Paul has just got up. It’s nearly Will’s shift so we talk about moving the pole across. It takes us about 20-30 min of faffing about. We make very little headway as wind is being flaky. We then decide to alter course slightly and go on a beam reach. This only generates an extra 1/2 knot. So all in we’re lucky if we’re making 4.5 :0/

Off to bed, we leave Will to it and Paul on the PC. Waking up again at 0730 to the noise and smell of bacon and eggs – Will’s watch finished, he’s making brekkie. It’s not Sunday we know but it is a celebration of 2 weeks at sea and we have extra bacon and eggs that need using up… Happy days.

Our watch starts at 9am and it’s nice to see there has been enough wind the last 6 hours to keep sailing. Less than an hour into our watch the reel goes, another fish!! It’s a whopping metre long dorado again. Looks like we’ll have a lot of fish to offload or BBQ when we get in!!

The rest of our watch is pretty uneventful, other than spying a possible other yacht far in the distance off our port quarter.

An afternoon siesta to bank those shut eyes for later! Then good news on awakening – land ahoy!!! It’s raining there but it’s there alright. The wind picks up as Adam looks fore longingly at the destination (he spent lots of childhood holidays here in a family holiday home) bringing us ever closer to our goal. Our watch is 6-9pm, we might get to our “way point” (an imaginary point we mark on the chart that we aim for) at the very end of that. Then we still have an hour to turn back our clocks so maybe even get in by 10pm local time :0)

We have a visitor already, a welcoming party you could say. A little bird resting on the aft deck rail, clinging on for dear life more like! :0)

Will is desperately trying to finish “The Count” before we get in so he’s quite quiet during our watch and Adam is making dinner. Our last meal at sea.

So we arrive and are moored up drinking bubbles by 2030 :0) :0)

After which we go ashore to catch up with ARC friends who are wrapped up un a beach party. Nice.

Are we nearly there yet??

Well it’s 0845 and we have just over 200 Nm to go. Which, considering our speeds dropped a bit from yesterday, realistically means tomorrow night sometime….. Assuming it doesn’t drop further.

The boys are keen to get in and join the ARC’s final revelries. It would be good to see a few people again before the all split and go their separate ways for Xmas. Many seem to be heading south to the Grenadines others north to Antigua. All in all the change would be nice.

Looks like the boys have secured a Xmas fortnight back on Skyelark as their charter wasn’t full. Paul will be leaving the boat and heading back to Luxembourg for Xmas. Us, well we’ve done some reading on St Lucia and it seems there’s enough to explore there for a couple of weeks. So once we’ve sorted out with the next leg when and where we’re meeting them and look into the logistics of that we may well relax in St Lucia. All plans are flexible and all up for debate. I think, until we arrive and have some admin time sorting the basics out, who knows where we’ll be!!

0920 and we have a fish on the line. The line has not been out for a few days as we’ve been travelling so fast. Another dorado, a biggie about 1m, but not our biggest.

It’s our 12th catch and according to the ARC scoring we now have 975 points. There’s already a thirst to get another and break the 1000 barrier.

Lunch of hotdogs and then a dolphin visit set us up nicely for the afternoon. Our watch is 3-6 pm coming off mother watch. And having talked through photos for the blog, we decide to change the sail setting as the wind has gone round to the south (i.e. It’s coming from the south). A beam reach is better for us than goose-winged. It also doubles our speed. Which is a relief as it had died to 3.5 knots, not good for us wanting to arrive tomorrow night…. so we’ve all breathed a sigh, for now …

Spaghetti Bol on the menu tonight. Courtesy of Chris again :0) yummy. Sadly we (well Adam to be precise) raided the grab bag tonight for choccies – pudding!!

Grab bag – this is a bag of stuff that if worst came to the worst, you’d grab it as you left the boat for the liferaft. In New Dawn’s we put:
First aid kit
Hand held GPS
Sat phone (add as leave)
Passports (add as leave)
Spare glasses for Paul

We have our own little one too:
Wedding rings (we remove these at sea, otherwise we get blisters with the rope handling)
Spare lenses
Memory cards

A final canter through our photos to check what we’ve allocated for the blog and for the flickr gallery tonight. Then when we get ashore to a decent internet cafe we can get them uploaded for you all. Hopefully this side of Xmas.

Full speed ahead!

We both managed an hours nap before our 9pm shift. When we arrived on deck we had great wind and were flying along around 9 knots. This continued all of our shift, with wind speeds averaging around 24 knots, sometimes breaking the 10 knot barrier. It felt great. The moon up and no clouds in the sky to speak of. Nice…

We go off to sleep again at 12am and sleep well. So much so that when 6am comes round Bernice struggles to wake up and sneaks a further wee nap in while Huw goes up on deck to do his Muscle Beach exercises.

Muscle Beach, New Dawn stylie, has been in operation with varying degrees of commitment since leaving Las Palmas (in fact there were even some tentative initial sessions on Skyelark). Adam, Will and Huw have experimented with using 5 litre water bottles as weights on the aft deck: bicep curls and shoulder lifts ~ Huw holds the record for longest time in Magnus Magnusson crucifix pose, 70 secs 😉 The back stay (rigging that secures mast to the back of the boat) chin-ups. But the real work is done in the cockpit as a means of keeping fit and staying awake during night watches. The routine is likely to be: press ups across the cockpit well, sit-ups/crunchies on the seat, tricep dips into the well, squats at the wheel, cockpit surfing (one and two legged) – like urban surfing but using the motion of the boat for added effect, whole body bridges across the well. However, we never stop looking for new innovations … Adam & Huw are experimenting with the companion way (the hatch and step to go down into the boat) on tricep dips. Early signs are that it a) hurts your hands b) v.hard c) terrifying on account of the long drop down into the saloon if you slip…!!!

By 8am everyone is up and ecstatic that we’ve kept the wind and speed all night. We start the day off with French toast (eggy bread, pan perdue). Got to get through all the eggs we’ve got somehow! Mmm mmm :0)

Just before the brekkie marathon we spot another yacht. It has a spinnaker flying and appears to be travelling north to south across our bow. We tried to make contact but no reply – in this strength wind they’re probably giving their full concentration to their spinnie. Or maybe just French. Oh, did we say that out loud??

As we write this Bernice, again, spots another yacht in the distance. Roughly the same place we initially saw the other one but further away. No spinnaker this time. It turns out to be another catamaran and over the course of the day we catch up and leave it for dust!

Another nap, lunch, sunbathing, gybe after dinner and that about sums up the day. The wind dies off a little but we still go into the evening averaging 6.5 knots. Over the 24 hr period till noon we notched up a wapping 192 Nm so all is good.

500nm to go today! 500nm to go!

Up around 9am. Showers, brekkie and then some admin – photo sorting for the blog. Then hhmmm well I guess sunbathe or play cards or bake flapjacks or hhmmm maybe all of the above ;0)

Some numbers for you:
SOG (speed over ground)
5.9, 6.3, 7.8, 8.2, 8.1, 7.6, 7.4, 8.3, 7.2
TTG (Time to go)
66.54, 67.15, 58.2, 78.51, 69.34, 67.3
TWS (true wind speed)
11.4, 15.9, 12.5, 13.9, 16.1, 17.9, 18.4
(*not in corresponding order)

So where we stand is – with less than 500nm to go – it can take us as little as 2.5 days or as much as 4 days. And even that’s only if the SOG doesn’t go below 5.5 knots!!

If we arrive on the 16th that means it’s taken us 14 days from Cape Verde, 25 from Gran Canaria. Just as well we provisioned for 35 days!!! :0)

Lunch is a splendid Spanish Omelette a’la Will and dinner, on it’s way as we write, is our very own Dorado we caught the other day. We’ve had a starter of cheesy nachos already so bring it on :0)

We haven’t napped today between our shifts but will surely need one after dinner to keep us going till midnight…

Minke whales, toe nibbling waves and a flying fish

We’re on watch from 9am and not long after we gybe, probably only done this half a dozen times the whole trip, so while in the general scheme of things it’s no big deal, for us it was to be an important feature in our day.

Even better we had a visit for over an hour from three huge minke whales!! They were about 6-8m long and were swimming right along side us so they could have a good look at us we reckon – awesome!! Try as we might we couldn’t get a clear picture, so one for us to enjoy and you guys just to wonder!!!

As a result of the gybe we were properly back on course and the motion over the waves a lot more pleasant. Everyones favourite outcome. Bernice was feeling tired and decided to snooze through lunch, while Adam baked bread, Will was on watch and Huw did some reading.

Our book list thus far:
Huw: The Count of Monte Christo, Dumas – great once you get past the first hundred pages or so; Absolute Friends, John le Carre – not his best!; Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck; The Brass Verdict, Michael Connelly – OK Grisham esque lawyer drama; John Simpson, Not Quite the Worlds End – interesting, if only he’d shut up about his son.

Dirk Gently, Long Dark Teatime of the Soul, Douglas Adams – classic; The Motorcycle Diaries, Che Guevara – started long time ago, thought it was about time read it all; Fragile Things Short Fictions and Wonders, Neil Gaiman – short stories and poems, some sound, some tedious; The Book Thief, Markus Zusak – great read if a very disturbing and sad subject matter. Would give Schindler’s list a run for it’s money were it to hit the box office! (and I haven’t even read the end yet!!)

There’s quite a good book swap community out here, plus we are lucky enough to have access to Chris’s library onboard New Dawn. Thanks :0)

While dinner was being prepped we sat on the foredeck (front pointy bit of boat) reading for a bit then dangled our feet over the side with the waves catching and nibbling at our toes. The water temperature is still 28 deg.

Dinner of chicken frajita’s set us up nicely for our evening and night watches. The waves have calmed considerably and on our present sail config and course we’re now averaging 8knots. Which if we can keep this up will mean arrival in St Lucia sometime Thursday. Light winds are forecast later in the week but fingers crossed we stay in front of them.

On our evening watch Bernice was attacked by a flying fish! When we say attacked it’s a slight exaggeration obviously, but it flew on the boat, hit the genoa line bounced off at a jaunty angle and slapped Bernice across the arm before landing on a heap in amongst the fenders on the opposite side of the boat! We did the kind thing and threw it back in the water. We’ve found quite a few dead ones on deck though, it’s pretty common. They are the daftest things. Fish with wings about 20cm long but they fly upright through the air. Funnier still has been watching them with the big waves, they come flying out of the water, seem to crap themselves when they see the big waves and crash headlong into them. Doh!

The 3-6am shift, what a great stargazing watch! Hardly anything in the way of clouds at all, so no danger of squalls, and stars everywhere. Just amazing. Pure amazing. There’s nowhere we can think of with less light pollution where you’d get a better view on a cloudless night. Think we’ve seen more shooting stars tonight than we have in a lifetime, feels like it anyhow! :0)

The mainsail jams

It was another very bumpy tedious nights’ sail. The only saving grace was being mum you didn’t need to get up for watch. That said sleep was difficult to come by too so we found ourselves in a weird place.

In the morning we all had toast and talked about putting the pole back out (resuming the goose-winged position) now the waves had subsided a bit and the sky looked a little kinder. As we prepared to do so the mainsail (roller reefing – all rolled inside the mast) jammed. Which meant it didn’t want to come out or go back in. It looked in a real bad way. We were all thinking that a hoist up the mast for someone was the only way forward, not that anyone really thought that could solve the problem. Just get closer to it. Lots of perseverance and positive talk around the matter meant we managed to do the impossible and free it :0)

It transpires that the headsail (genoa) and the mainsail both run off the same motor for rolling and unrolling so if the motor stopped we’d be in all sorts of poo! It did! But to everyones relief when Huw investigated it we found a circuit breaker had just tripped. We reset it and let the motor cool.

We passed over our mum duties to Paul and got ready for our 3pm watch, hoping the sail issue was well and truly fixed.

Adam sneaked in some flapjack making that cheered us all up. And thanks to Chris we again enjoyed chicken curry and mash :0)

Midnight watch was pretty uneventful in many ways. Bernice took charge of the first half trying to improve her confidence with the squally winds.

We woke up around 7am thinking everyone would be chomping at the bit to gybe (swap sails across) but it was Sunday and it seemed the main thing on everyones mind was bacon and eggs :0)


Our shift is due to start at 6am but we get a rude awakening about 530am with lots of crashing, banging and boat heaving all which way. It wasn’t right, it wasn’t right at all!

To make matters worse Huw was contact lens less and couldn’t locate his glasses so by the time we got up Adam and Will were already there. Paul had had a sudden wind shift due to an incoming squall, and the auto pilot had temporarily wrapped. He couldn’t get it under control quick enough and to stop us broaching (being knocked down flat on the sea sideways) and had had to let the sails fly loose.

It was quite a scare and took quite a while to calm the situation down again. A very rude awakening!

Paul stayed up for quite a bit of our watch, I think it gave him a fright, 40knot gusts, enough to ruin anyones quiet! We reefed in both sails till we had but handkerchiefs out. The wind and waves were being extremely naughty and Huw did a great job ensuring we kept the wind and waves at the right angle to the boat as we didn’t want it to happen again. The wind was shifting by 30 degrees and blowing up to 40 knots as the squalls came through Crossing big waves at 45deg is recommended. If you cross them at less you risk a sideways wave knocking you down, if you cross more towards 90deg you risk nosediving into the biggies – neither of these options are good!!

After our watch finished we were mum. A well earned rest, though Bernice felt all she contributed were silent screams!

We intended on making Hawaiian toast for lunch, but this was downgraded to Hawaiian wraps because of the big sea. (ham, cheese, pineapple).

We had passed our halfway point in the night and had to pick ourselves up and celebrate. We had beef stroganoff (easy and quick in big seas) and one tin of beer each. Followed by strawberry and walnut angel D :0)

Crossing the “40W” longitude line

So we have crossed the 40W line and moved our timepieces back an hour accordingly. We are now 2 hours behind GMT.

It was pretty darn hot at 8am this morning as a result! Bernice was still feeling sleepy so went back to bed after brekkie for a while. Huw finished another book – now there’s a surprise not! The book was John Steinbecks ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ so increases the tally of classics for the trip (a very well written if somewhat depressing story of the death of small holder farming in 1930’s America and the resultant mass migration and poverty)

Around lunchtime big fluffy clouds roll in and with it a big swell along will a little more wind. It’s forecast to increase 5-10 knots in the next 6 or so hours. We’ve consistently had F5/6 the last 48 hours so increasing to F6/7 is on the cards.

Adam and Will had a chat with our over night companion – turned out to be a 56ft Oyster, on their way to Antigua. Lots of swaps of fish catching stories. And an invite onto their boat if they bump into each other in the Caribbean. Nice one.

Our 9-midnight watch is very lumpy and noisy. Bernice goes down yet again stuffing kitchen roll in places you wouldn’t think could make a noise yet are. Again Adam’s bed keeps him awake and he’s pretty tired looking when he comes up to relieve us.

Our 7th day at sea

Angry skies greet us this morning big dark clouds surround us but there’s some glimmer of hope that it’ll be short lived as a rainbow pokes its head through. One end not too far from the bow of the boat. Am sure the leprechauns would know how to dig in the sea to get to the treasure, where are they when you need them :0(

There’s been some discussion about whether we’ve been at sea 6 or 7 days so far. We thought it was Thursday today so therefore 7, but its only the 8th and we left on 2nd…. Resolved we realise its just the start of our 7th as it is truly only Wednesday today.

That sorted, we have averaged 141nm over the previous 6 days. If we keep this wind for the next 4/5 days as it’s forecast we should increase that average significantly. Let’s see….

Potential disaster strikes yet again!!! The freezer may have packed up on us! As I write Huw is having a look at it see if he can work his magic. If not we’ll be loading all the still frozen food into the bottom of the fridge and start cooking the thawed meets and fish. Nice prospect! :0( fingers crossed that it is fixable.

False alarm for now. The freezer is working again. None of us realised there was a history of it playing up, doh! The only casualties was some cod, tuna and a pack of sausages. Adam elects to cook the cod tonight and the others go into the fridge.

Further calculations show we’ve done about 171nm in the last 24 hours. This is all good.

Dinner is v good – baked pepper and lemon cod with a parsley sauce. More impressive considering the sea state. Well done.

We finish watch at 9pm and get some shut eye as we’re on the graveyard shift of 3-6am. Easier said than done, the roll of the boat and the crashing waves makes it quite hard. So fitful sleep is all we manage. Watch is slightly more eventful than usual as there’s a vessel (probably yacht as it’s only slightly faster than us) catching us up and crossing our path. It’s not on AIS (GPS positioning) so we need to rely on the radar to keep watch on it. We can see it of course but that gives you little idea of how close it’s getting etc.

Returning to bed after watch rewards us with a much better sleep. Not sure if sea has calmed or more used to it or probably a bit of both!!!

Jackflop disaster!!

Late up, well not really – 0815. The wind is good today and we’re in for some more later if the forecast is right.

Huw makes some flapjacks, this time using dried dates as the bananas are all gone. But disaster strikes as the oven is in a world of it’s own at times and although he thought he had it on it’s lowest heat, it either wasn’t or it turned itself up. Either way they come out right royally burnt! He manages to rescue some by slicing through the middle to remove the burnt parts and we devour it for elevenses.

We gybe the sails over just before lunch. But not long after the wind shifts further and we move to a beam reach. We’re now flying at around 10 knots. Looks like we might have finally found the trade winds. Just need to decide if we need the pole out still or whether we think we’ll be on this point of sail for a while, certainly over night anyway, we don’t want to be out on deck in the dark doing it!!

As we write this a decision is made to bring the pole in and hoist the little tri-sail again. It’s always amazing to hear how quick the weather can change and catch people out. Hoping it never happens to you….

Paul was looking after the helm while the rest of us (life-jacketed and clipped on) go up front and get to work, just a precaution as the waves are building. A precaution that paid off as the waves continued to build and Will got pretty wet. We all got back inside the cockpit just as it got to the point where we all looked and said “glad we’re not going to do that job now”

The next 40-60 mins were pretty bouncy. Big waves, strong winds and gusting. Then it eased off for a bit just as quickly as it set upon us. Which was genius timing really as it was nearing dinner time and the gas ran out, typical!!!! Adam and Paul sorted the gas out and dinner of Chris’s per-prepared chicken curry went down a treat. Cheers Chris (goes without saying Paul is currently “mother”), just what was required with today’s mixed up weather! :0)

After dinner we have a snooze, ready for our 12-3am shift. Not a lot to report. Still squalls coming through, some with rain, some without. Adam saw a couple of ARC boats we’d heard on the radio earlier, off on the horizon on his watch, and a tanker bound for Norway. He also heard another yacht on the radio saying his navigation lights were out! Ouch! He didn’t give a position, which would have been helpful.