Leg 2 – Cape Verde to Grenada

2180nm in two weeks. By the time we got to Grenada we were ready for a break.

Preparing Dinner
Preparing Dinner

The first two or three days were the worst – the genoa furler packed up so we had to drop it into the forecabin. The furler needs to work in case you need to furl the sail in a hurry, for example if a squall hits unexpectedly or man overboard. The genoa is the “power sail” so our speed reduced from 7.5 to 6.5 knots – a shame since we’d had a good start and were sitting around 20th out of 88 at that stage.

The next day we flew the Super Zero, but after an hour or so the tack line cut through the bowsprit so we had to try to take it down. It got horribly caught around the forestay and – long story short – Karen went up the mast and cut the sail away. It was dark by the time she was back on the deck, and her arms and legs were black and blue with bruises. Very brave.

The rest of the trip we sailed using only the mainsail and the jib (staysail), so the passage took two days longer than planned. Laura and Karen prepared some wonderful meals – we ate very well – and under Martin’s guidance, landed a wahoo which we cooked and ate the following evening.

We are now resting and repairing the boat ready for the next part of the journey. We will make our way to St Lucia for Christmas and the start of the World ARC on 7 January.

Much more on this passage on Karen’s blog.

ARC+ Leg 1

Poled out Genoa
Poled out Genoa

We completed the ARC+ Leg 1 in five days and eleven hours. With all the handicaps applied our final position was 22nd out of the 92 boats, and fifth in our division of nineteen – a great result!

After very calm winds at the start, the weather was perfect for the passage – 15-20 knots of wind generally from behind. We poled out the genoa, put a preventer on the main, and let her fly. Even the swell wasn’t too bad.

We’ve now had a few days in Cape Verde. There were surprisingly few snags on the boat so we’ve done some tourism, driving around the island of St Vicente and yesterday visiting the neighbouring island of Santo Antào. Spectacular scenery!

Cape Verde
Cape Verde

On Friday we start leg 2 – 2000nm to Grenada – wish us luck!

Tomorrow is the Big Day

The first leg of the ARC+ 2022 starts tomorrow from Las Palmas. The start is 1300Z but we won’t be competing on the start line – a few minutes over 5-6 days won’t make any difference and there’s no point in taking any unnecessary risks.

The new Super Zero sail

There’s been loads of prep this week. The engine now has a new salt-water pump and exhaust elbow, both of which contribute to engine cooling. The engine is now running at 80C as opposed to 95C before, so we think it’s fixed. We’ve got tons of meat, veg and drinks and it’s all stored away safely. All the databases are up-to-date and I’ve practised my skills with the sextant – just in case…

When we tested the engine we also practised setting the pole and flying the new Super Zero sail. Lots of good learning – I expect we’ll only fly white sails with the genoa poled out, but we’re ready either way.

I’ve tried to embed a link to the tracking website so you can see the position of all the boats So far, I’ve failed, but I’ll try again when I get a chance.

Meanwhile, you can follow our position at: my.yb.tl/mistral and see all of the boats at the World Cruising Club website. And if you download the YB Races app, you can follow ARC Plus 2022 race and see the positions of all the boats. There’s also a WCC blog which many boats contribute to.

More when we arrive in Cape Verde!

Our First Long Passage: Gibraltar to Las Palmas

The Plan
The Plan

Finally, our first long passage!

We need to sail to Las Palmas, Canary Islands, for the start of the ARC+ 2022. The ARC require the skipper to have sailed a passage of at least 500 nm in the last 12 months, but I’m also attempting to complete RYA Yachtmaster Ocean which requires a passage of 600 nm with at least 200 nm more than 50 nm from the coast.

The plan (Weather 4D & Routing) tells me that it’s 703 nautical miles (nm) from Gibraltar to Las Palmas, Canaries, and the Great Circle routing gives us 212 nm more than 50 nm from the coast. The weather forecast shows light winds off the coast of northern Morocco so we have to go further out to sea anyway

Goodbye Gibraltar
Goodbye Gibraltar

We slipped out mooring in Queensway Quay Marina in Gibraltar at 5:30 pm on Sunday evening in order to avoid a massive current against us in the Strait of Gibraltar. A few hours later we were dodging cargo ships before clearing the Traffic Separation Scheme and setting off to the south-west looking for stronger winds. We didn’t find them for another 24 hours.

Sailing!

It all went pretty much to plan except the engine is still burning through coolant despite the heat exchanger and turbo being overhauled in Gibraltar last week. The coolant level is reducing even when we’re sailing so it’s probably a loose jubilee clip or something simple like that.

One night we spent quite a while dodging thunderstorms. We dodged them all – but one. It’s great having a radar but thunderstorms move faster than Mistral!

An Achievement!

It was great to complete our first proper ocean passage. 706 nm against our previous longest of 260 nm, five nights at sea against two. We all learned a lot and I’m sure Laura and Martin are more confident about managing the boat on an overnight watch. For the record, the stats are:

  • Distance: 706 nm
  • Time: 4 days and 21 hours
  • Time motoring: 37.3 hours
  • Time sailing: 79.7 hours
  • Fuel used (generator): 16 litres
  • Fuel used (engine): 171 litres
  • Fuel consumption: 4.6 litres per hour (that’s low because we reduced power when we noticed the coolant was leaking)
  • Water remaining: 817 litres (topped up every day by the watermaker)
  • Average electrical drain when sailing: 3% per hour
  • Average electrical recharge rate on engine or generator: 25% per hour

Up The Rock

Barbary Ape
Barbary Ape

A must-do tourist trip in Gibraltar is the cable-car ride to the top of the Rock. Once there, you can get bitten by angry apes, visit the caves and 24 miles of tunnels in the Rock, then walk down the hill back to town.

Well worth it!

Gibraltar Oysters

Amphora - Oyster 675
Amphora – Oyster 675

Oysters seen recently in Queensway Quay marina. Some undoubtedly en route to Gran Canaria for the ARC or ARC+.

Sextant Work

I’m brushing up on my sextant skills with the aim of taking (and passing) the Yachtmaster Ocean exam in Las Palmas when we get there. My 500 nm qualifying passage will be Gibraltar to Gran Canaria in October.

The plot today went well, all things considered. There was a clear view of the sun in the morning so I did a standard Sun Sight which plots as a Line of Position. In this case, 112 degrees from my chosen position and 10 seconds (nautical miles) away from it.

Sun Sight
Sun Sight

The second shot today is known as Sun Meridian Passage. The idea is to take six or eight shots before and after noon and work out the time and angle of the highest point of the sun. At local noon you are on the same meridian as the sun (the sun is directly north or south of you) so the result is a line of latitude, in this case 36 deg 51.1 seconds North. The was a lot of high cloud at 1400 local so I wasn’t very confident of accurate readings.

Sun Meridian Passage
Sun Meridian Passage

Finally, in order to fix your position at the time of the second sight, you move (advance) the first Line of Position by the course and distance sailed between the first and second sights, in this case 290 deg and 12 nm. Where the Advanced Line of Position and the noon latitude cross is your position! Magic really.

The final plot looks like this:

The Plot
The Plot

The noon sight was taken after we had dropped anchor, so I took a screenshot of my iPad which shows the boat location (red arrowhead) and my calculated position (white circle) about 8 nm apart. Good enough for sailing the oceans!

Final Result
Final Result

Alicante to Aguadulce

Cape Palos
Cape Palos

Sunday finds us in Alicante Marina meeting Tim & Jane from their flight from London. The first night we spent on the anchor off the island of Tabarca, about 10 miles south of Alicante.

Next we headed south to Cape Palos, and took a couple of sun shots with the sextant en route (5 miles out, not bad!). Once there, out came the paddleboard.

Next stop was Carboneras Beach, with a great view as long as you’re not looking west (cement factory). On the way we intercepted Brizo, a Discovery 55 owned by some of Tim’s friends. They were on their way to get a new engine start battery so we left them to it.

At Carboneras we took the tender ashore for some urgent provisions, a cocktail or two and a rather disappointing meal. Win some, lose some.

Then finally we took the opportunity to practice with the cruising chute in light winds. Too light, really, but a good learning experience all the same. Back in Aguadulce Marina we had a meal ashore (half a metre of pizza) before saying good-bye, for the time being, to Tim & Jane.

Leaving Palma

At anchor near Andratx

After three weeks in Palma, with lots of guests and lots of boat work, we finally left two days ago and are now at anchor off Formentera, south of Ibiza.

Proper sailing at last

Improvements to the boat include: new water heater, new capacitors for the generator (one failed), new main halyard swivel (came from Ipswich) and new solar panels. Everything seems to be working well except the solar panels which appear to be producing only 3.5A out of a theoretical maximum of 18A. The boat draws 11-12A when sailing so we’d be happy with anything above 9A.

Tomorrow we’ve got a long day to the mainland (probably Calpe) then we gently sail down the coast to Gibraltar – more soon!