Crossing from Canaries islands to Cape Verde will take us 6 days. But the hardest time is not days. We count nights, and there’re seven of them in front of us.
Cinderella’s fairy tale is over. It was left in Mediterranean sea, where dolphins escort yachts, nights are full of shooting stars and water is turquoise and warm. We’re in Atlantic ocean that is far less kind and nice.
There’re just two of us now, Cristiano and me. That means – shifts 4/4 hours. How to explain to the organism that now it is awaken for four long hours, after which it needs to fall asleep fast, not to waste a minute from only four hours of sleep that follow. And then to stay awaken again – no matter if it is day or night.
The first day of crossing prepared an unpleasant surprise for me. There was nothing unusual about weather but I started to feel sea-sick. Not a frequent state of health for me. In precious three months of sailing the only time I felt bad was at ‘afterparty’ day. But at this case I needn’t go to the sea to feel terrible.
Breakfast was abandoned. Luckily that wasn’t my watch so I went to struggle with my own treacherous nature to bed. My shifts are from 10pm to 2am, from 6am to 10am and from 2pm to 6pm. By the way, the system of 4/4/4 was first applied by James Cook. In case you didn’t know : )
During the first six hours we went to the south along Gran Canaria. Island’s massive is not a shelter for us, but opposite – Chris was expecting strong wind near the middle of the eastern coast of Gran Canaria.
Soon we turned. The next 7 nights our course – 220, plus-minus.
Weather is dull and and moderately windy – about 10 knots.
The first night is cold and humid. Chilly wind infused my thin summer clothes (Paris and hitch-hiking trip made me leave at home some wind-proof and warm things). And humidity – it’s everywhere on board, while in sea. In air, carpets, on the table and in socks, and in bed too. You breath it, walk in it, sleep in it. Only in sea I really feel that 90 percent of me is water.
I stuffed a deckbag with things, necessary for average Russian amateur sailor, crossing the Atlantic.
Survival pack “a la Russe”:
500 grams of nuts, bar of milk chocolate;
phrase book on Brazilian Portuguese, textbook on Spanish, collection of travel stories of Paul Therraux;
i-Pod with French and Portuguese study audiocourses;
headlight (for reading and looking forward); blanket, “loaned” from AirBerlin the last year in trip to Southern Africa.
After Crisa’s shift from 2am to 6 am we have tea and cake on a deck. I ask him when, in his opinion, organizm is able to adapt new schedule. He answer that to him it usually happens on the 3d day. All right, it’s coming, can’t wait for this moment.
The second night is surprisingly warm! Despite the fact wind is from the north-east. Its gasps, varying in direction and strength, keep me awaiting for the moment, when the genoa (headsail as we call it among the Brazilian-Russian crew) will ‘turn flip-flop’ (self-made sailing English term).
The sky is covered with thick layer of grey clouds. The sun and the moon are lucky to get from behind just for few hours. Well, Canaries while our stay were not sunny too: we haven’t seen the sun for several days. Autumn has come to the northern Atlantic. I try to imagine what’s now in Saint-Petersburg…
Night shift is a hard time: to stay awaken for 4 hours, but even harder to wake up. This night is not an exception. I almost hadn’t slept between the last two shifts. Despite tireness, mood is still all right.
We go 227, wind is not that strong on my shift from 10pm to 2am. I’m listening to Portuguese audiocourse. “Eu intendo Portiguese, e eu falo Portuguese”. Today I made four lessons, 30 minuted each. And French – I have started French course. I dearly miss Paris and my friends there…
At morning shift 6am-10am I tack and set genoa. Now we go more to the left – 217. I started to count time till arrival: +4 nights are in front of us.
It’s one color overboard. The sky and ocean look one piece – enomous black curtain. No horizon, no “in front” and “behind”. No moon and stars – only sparkles of plankton mysteriously shine for a brief moment in a wave, split by “Vagabond”.
It’s warm, almost pleasantly warm. Particularly, because there’s no wind. We go with a main sail – 207. GPS says it’s 70 hours till Cape Verde…
I feel random drops on my skin. Scarce tears of Atlantic.
I’m tired. Almost didn’t sleep the whole day. I’m weird creature: my body waits till the moment it is exhausted, then – happy two hours of oblivion, that follows refusal to take a nap again. Kind of self-torture.
For day the forecast promised strong wind, so we decided to try only genoa that is easier and faster to operate. We didn’t loose in speed, but the boat started to swing horribly, making my damn sleep impossible. I felt myself inside the Russian doll “nevalyashka”: you push her, and she always wakes up – making a dozen of right-left nods before. In 2 hours I crawled to the deck and asked Cris to set the mainsail back. Quick exercise in underwear – at least one hour of sleep.
This day was hot, even sunny. Finally, it’s possible to stay a shift in minuskirt and top. Warm clothes go under my back. I slept a bit on both sets of my rest hours – from 2am to 6 am and before the lunch. It’s amazing! Only here really understand importance of sleep.
I do not feel perfect still but uncomparebly better if to remember the last night.
Chris cooks delicious lunches – my only normal meal a day. I suppose if he wouldn’t feed me, I would die from starvation. Generally, I don’t have appetite. That’s strange, because usually waving makes me extremely hungry, and food I consume is counted in kilos then. Looks like my tireness is bigger than my appetite.
Diet “Sailing a la russe”:
nuts, oranges, random fresh vegetables and water with lemon juice.
Now there’s no wind at all, and sails are making “flip-flop”. Ocean is calm, and we go with the engine. Stars are dim. very few are able to struggle their light through thick clouds.
I touch the water with a torch. It literally starts to shine – this is plankton gratefully responsing on a beam of light.
While sailing at night, I recall my past. First time in 10 years without fear I’m back to my Golden age – my childhood. I couldn’t accept for many years that it’s over, my little fairy tale. So one day 10 years ago pushed all my remembrances to the dark cellar and screwed the door. Now they are free again. I remember everything so well as if it was yesterday. It’s cut in my memory and stay there forever unchanging. Every house, every tree and hole in fences – unique map of the amazing world, one-of-a kind story.
GPS shows 60 hours before arrival.
Still little wind. GPS supposes we arrive at night from Saturday to Sunday. Damn, that means we need to slow down. We don’t want to enter the unknown harbour before the sunrise.
I dream about marina shower : ) And sleep of course. The last three attempts to fall asleep (3 times for four hours) were rather unsuccessful.
This sleep problem makes me talk to Crisa about searching the third crew member. Who’s in Cape Verde for the next week and ready for Atlantic-Brazilian adventure? Drop me a message : )
At night I rewatched “Truman show”. We’re all in someone’s show. Why not to try to open your eyes and imagination and start writing script by ourselves sometimes? Even if on the first glance someone else’s look more convenient and safe. Big world is worth exploring.
I see a lonely creature – fly fish. I hear splash and point her with a torch. For the last days we haven’t met a soul. This is it, so-called “solitude together”.
This is really thrilling: no wind, no moon. Darkness. Splashes behind. There’re still some waves – its gousts appear randomly from nowhere. From time to time I see a glare of plankton as if there’s thunderstorm under the water – brief sparkle that dissapears in the darkness sooner than I’m able to praise its beauty in my mind.
Lonely light far away on starboard. And quiet, ominously quiet.
I’m waiting. In Russia we have an expression: “Quiet before storm”. Law of contrasts that keeps the life running.
We make 2-3 knots (5 km/h) – speed of a walking man. Sails flop restfully. But I don’t want to ruin this sinister atmosphere with rude sound of engine. I’m waiting…
In 2 hours some wind has come. Skies have been cleared, and stars are seen now. One – extremely bright one – spotlights from the height as if someone examines me with a torch. I send him a wink.
I’m charmed by the beauty of the small canstellation, which stars crowded close together. It’s right above me.
There’s no Big bear seen behind the clouds near the horizon. And Orion is not here yet, it shows up closer to the morning. My father used to tell me about stars, when I was a child.
I see a shooting star – magnificent present from Atlantic ocean. It crosses 1/4 of the sky in its last bright and free flight. Thank you, I have something to wish!
Far -far away I see the glare above the horizon.
This is land. This is Cape Verde.
We go between Ihla de San Antao and Ihla de Sao Vincente. Silhoettes of the mountains wake up tired imagination. Their volcanic nature is apparent: that unique mixture of poor and splendid that charmes me so much. Waves crushes on solid black rocks that are separated by beaches of yellow sand.
We enter the harbor of Mindelo, where the only marina of Cape Verde is situated. We pass the port. Its rusty boats and dirty cranes do not look dull but picturesque, backed by beautiful scenery of mountains.
We have arrived to Cape Verde – Islands of Green Cape.