Crossing to the Cape Verdes
11/09/2010 20:57 by Thorsten Böhnke
After approximately two months on the Canary Islands, it was time to continue further south.
Since captain Jan Wolf and crew aboard the Indiana continued to sail to Fuerteventura and plan to stay on the Canary Islands indefinitely, I joined the Polish captain Miroslav Lewinski on the SY Ulysses. Together with the budding marine ecologist Laura Winter, I boarded the 14 m monohull ship in the harbour of Las Palmas.
The trip continues, together with the budding marine ecologist on board the Ulysses.
Approximately 800 nautical miles or 1500 km of open ocean separate the Canaries from the Cape Verdes. In terms of sailing, this stretch, the longest so far, turned out to be the most enjoyable segment of the entire journey. Pleasant weather, a good team and - against all expectations - a great deal to see made the trip very interesting and eventful. One day after we had left Las Palmas, the first Atlantic spotted dolphins visited us. Then we were joined by the normally not so playful large bottlenose dolphins. They impressed us with acrobat jumps and accompanied us for a while. Halfway between the archipelagos, our skipper sighted several dorsal fins. Laura, who grew up on the Canadian west coast, quickly identified the marine mammals as orcas - or killer whales. As these animals normally prefer more shallow waters for living and hunting, I had never expected an encounter here, approximately 200 km off the African coast. With rather mixed feelings, captain Mirek acceded to our request to bring us closer to the pod for a few good shots. He voiced his concern that there had recently been an incident in South Africa where orcas attacked a yacht. In the end, however, we set course for the group. It was not exactly easy to approach the animals. After four attempts, the killer whales surfaced nearby and swam contentedly beside us.
The orca, a rare sight on the high sea. Photo: Laura Winter
An especially curious individual accompanied us a while longer into the setting sun.
The morning of the sixth day turned into an early morning exercise session. We had to change the foresail three times within two hours. With sail surface areas between 80 and 120 m2, this was quite an arduous and sweat-inducing task for three people.
Lots of cloth for few hands - the sails of the Ulysses, shown here under gennaker and mainsail.
On the morning of the seventh day, land was in sight - the island of Sal. We cleared customs in the harbour of Palmeira. We handed our three passports over the counter to the friendly policeman; three stamps and three Euros later, we had officially arrived.