Sailing back to Tarrafal!
Updated: Apr 25
It is always exciting to cast off again. You can prepare the navigation as much as you can but you never know how it will really go. This time again…
I cast off smoothly at 8:00 am from Marina Mindelo. Sophie, a lovely friend, comes to say goodbye and helps me. I hoist the mainsail with two reefs and the jib in front of the marina. And go on with the engine, as there is no wind. It slowly fills in as I come out of the protection of the mountains to the North. I switch the engine off and sail to the North past the Ilhéu dos Pássaros in the direction of Santo Antão. In the early morning the light is soft and the colors on the mountains beautiful. I tack when I think I will be able to sail past the Punta do Recanto da Prainha.
Sailing towards Ilhéu dos Pássaros
Relaxing after the nerves of the departure
The little triangle at the far left is Giulia as seen by Sophie at the beach. Photo Sophie
But then I sail to SSE not really the direction I want. So I tack again and the wind dies. My jib is too small and I decide to unfurl the genua. It is a bit of a work to arrange the deck again. I just go on slowly and all goes well.
As I am done I gaze at the water, and see sort of a round cloud of droplets being pushed to the South. I wonder what it is. It looks like the blow of a whale. The answer comes seconds later as I see the huge tale of this beautiful animal disappearing in the water.
This always brings me peace, and a big smile. I go on, now at better speed, but still to the SSE. I accept that I will have to tack again. To my great surprise, the closer I come to the shore of São Vicente, the easter I can sail, until I set course past the Punta do Recanto da Prainha with more wind. Probably I caught the current setting to the NE I was expecting when I left, and in the middle of the channel the current seems to always set to the SW.
It took me 4 hours to tack up the channel of São Vicente.. so sailing sometimes - often- requires to let go the control, accept to go back, to then enjoy to succeed. This time even though I really was going back - I am proud I did it sailing and not with the engine !
Glad I set course to São Nicolau. The ocean is quite smooth compared to the last time I sailed there, even at the mouth of the channel of Santa Luzia. Giulia moves swiftly in the good direction, and her captain is happy she doesn’t feel seasick.
A haze blurs the horizon. I can barely see the islands. Suddenly it seems they appear. At first I wonder if I am not imagining something, but soon the faint shadow darkens to become an island. When the late afternoon sun colours the water in silver, the scenery becomes magical.
My smile says it all!
Santa Luzia is behind
Things get more complicated at the NW point of São Nicolau. I tried to sail as close as I could to the Ilhéu Raso to avoid the acceleration zone there, but she caught me anyway. At once, the windmeter indicates 42 knots, and the seas become rough.
The white on the waves is a sign of harder wind
Arriving at São Nicolau
Worried I furl the genua in, and keep a good watch to the waves. Even though all goes properly, I am worried that there still will be strong winds and seas to let the sails down. Luckily the wind dies when I see the lighthouse of Punta do Barril. I can let easily the mainsail down and furl the genua in. I also have plenty of time the prepare the deck for anchorage.
After the anticipated 12 hours trip I let the anchor down in a becalmed Tarrafal bay, feeling proud I did it again, and Giulia behaved as a countess that she is.
Despite the slow beginning Giulia averaged 4,80 knots which is good since we sometimes were sailing at 2 knots...and others at 8,1 knots.
I wake up early to celebrate this little victory, and clean Giulia to thank her for bringing me here.
Tarrafal waking up
I can go onshore for the next adventure a project with Projeto Educarte.