29 maart 2006
On Tuesday, March 22, we decided to leave the Canary Islands and head for the Cape VerdeIslands. The always-present northeast trade winds seemed to be away for a while and left the Canaries with unstable winds coming mainly from the east. However, we could not wait any longer. We had to go.
We found it necessary to top up our tanks with an additional amount of diesel fuel (200 litres) which brought the total amount of fuel available to 1100 litres). Economically used it must now be possible to run the engine at least for 8 days on end. We set the trip teller of the GPS to zero and started following a southern course. To bring the fuel consumption to a minimum we lowered the engine rpm to 1200. After a few hundred miles, we expected to meet the favourable influence of the northeast trade winds.
The hydraulically powered propeller drive system seemed the work very well. The first day we covered 110 miles at a speed of 4 to 5 knots. The unfavourable eastern winds lasted for three days. The bottle proved to be seaworthy. Notwithstanding the continuous presence of high waves, no water entered the cockpit or hull. However, with wind on the quarter and even dead before the wind the bottle rolled and yawed severely making going on deck difficult. Handling the sails was not an easy thing to do. We decided not to use sails before we could make some changes. At night, we decided to use our survival suits and safety belts because one of us had to take some rest and leave the other alone.
By carefully watching engine rpm and propeller load, we succeeded in keeping fuel consumption to a level of 5 l/hour. The Raymarine automatic steering system did a fine job by keeping the unwilling bottle on a general course of 240°.
At dawn, March 28, the mountains of the island Sao Antao came in sight. Four ours later followed by the island Sao Vincente and our destination: the port of Mindelo.
The bottle proved to be technically sound and seaworthy but the human link suffered from exhaustion due to the continuous movements and rolling of the bottle. However,after a day we were already completely recovered from the hard work and lack of sleep.