After sailing for almost half a year I endured my first serious test at sea. Since the start of the trip my crew and I were lucky with the weather. We had many force 6 winds. In Biskaje we experienced force 7 winds and I can clearly remember the crossing from Spain to Lisbon with a full force 8 night and four meter waves. But more than one or two rough nights we did not endure. Coming from Portugal to the Canaries late October we even swum in the Atlantic Ocean!
However, the crossing from the Canaries to the Cape Verdean islands was a harsh test. My brother and I were eager to leave the Canaries because we got totally fed up with Las Palmas. Although we came across some really interesting people there we got tired of people trying to hitch hike (sailing) or free ride in other ways against our will. So after three weeks of repairs and preparation we set sail on the 12th of December to Mindelo on the Cape Verdean Islands.
The test was not a short lived storm but worse in a different way. We endured about 6 days of force 6 – 7 winds with irregular waves thus compromising comfort severely. To make things worse sunset around 1800 local time indicated an increase in wind averaging force 8 with severe gusts, irregular wind direction and irregular waves. Such circumstances in itself are no problem for Hope or its crew. However we endured these circumstances for almost a week straight. This was a nightmare for sleep, comfort and crew moral. The crossing was supposed to be fun but turned into a harsh test.
Heavy weather leaks, trouble finding a suitable sail configuration and trouble to steer a stable course where but a few of our problems. Fortunately experience and the Naval Academy in Enkhuizen helped a lot in overcoming these issues. Although annoying, the trip turned out to be a good learning experience. We thought of ways to higher the centre of gravity of the ship to make it roll more comfortable, to choose better sail configurations and to improve comfort on board in heavy circumstances. Although we expect only force 4 – 5 winds on our Atlantic crossing we will apply these improvements for the next time!
After 6,5 days of sailing we (thank god) finally arrived in Mindelo with a day sailing average of about 135 Miles (250 kilometer). Not bad for a 34 feet sailing ship! On the way we also lost the fight with about five huge fish. But just off the island of Sao Vincente we captured our first one during this trip. The Cape Verdean Islands turned out to be a very cool and interesting place where we lived through many adventures! More on that in my next blog!
And for all of you; happy new year! Hakuna Matata and enjoy life!!!!