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Dakar to Sal
-- 11th to the 15th November 2011 --
From Senegal to the Cape Verdes, a good test run for the crossing… back! After 376 miles against the wind we are in Sal, the most upwind island of this new and intriguing archipelago.
More pictures of a blue and moving horizon on our page "Pictures".

Sailed 376 miles
4648 miles since the start
We stopped in : Sal, Palmeira (anchorage)
11th November: off we sail
As usual we are running to get ready and leave (blog, shopping, formalities…). It’s 11.45 when we set to shore to pay the office (closing at 12). Putputput pffff…no gas left in the engine. Damn. Paddles out, we are rowing firmly against the wind when the pilot boat of the customs start chasing us and demand that we stop and present our papers. We’re really annoyed by now and shout, drifting in the wind, that they already controlled us twice in a week. With a precise description of the date and time and name of the boat they finally let us go ashore. In the chaos the circuit breaker (more or less the key to start) the outboard engine falls in the water. Great, we didn’t know what to fix today!
In the end we set sails at 3.30pm and two hours later the new “homemade” circuit breaker is ready, the trip may begin.

Waving Goree island goodbye
Day 1 : 95 miles
It’s a evening to sail away, the sunset casts a beautiful light on the little Goree island. The wind picks up to 4 bft but from the North West so that we can’t run a direct course to Sal, not even to the Cape Verdes at all.

A nice big mahi-mahi: too bad we never saw it from closer!
In the morning the wind decreases and a big mahi-mahi bites. Now that we’re using big nylon and trusting our cockpit winches more than the rod, we manage to get it closer on the side of the boat. Yet at the first attempt to get it out of the water, the 1.80m long beast jerks and jumps and bends the hook.
2mm wide in steel, completely flat now: it lets the fish go and with it a brand new octopus lure. Damn, that’s the 5th lure gone in a month, we have only 2 left to go! Out of need we start a small lures fabric and make them ourselves now.
Our homemade lure… Another big mahi-mahi already had a bite at it but left bending the hook again without taking it away
A few hours later the wind dies out completely and Nestor comes to rescue us. His vibrations attract some “steno rostres” dolphins rushing to play in the waves along the hull. Can’t get enough of it…
Day 2 : 98 miles
The wind seems to quickly pick up and we can now run with the sails on a direct course to Sal. Yet the slow speed blows any hope away to arrive Monday before dark. It’s going to be Tuesday morning if we go on like this! Big “steno-rostres” come back and play at the stem, much to our delight. At least we enjoy life onboard when it’s so quiet: reading, showering, listening to some Portuguese lessons… out of solidarity with her friends back home Camille caught a cold – in Senegal! She needs a strong Strepsil-Paracetamol – vitamin C – coffee to keep her watch rounds. Good that we have a well-resourced pharmacy onboard.
Today’s menu features fruits as well: “corosol”, that look and taste a bit like our beloved “chirimoyas” (but can’t beat it though).

Steno-rostres playing by the stem.
The night is long but comfortable, at 3-4 knots on the direct course. Then the wind veers a little to the North East and we can even afford aiming more to the North than the islands, so as to find ourselves upwind when stronger winds arrive in the next days.
Day 3 : 127 miles

All ready for the Cape Verdes
We ran well in the night, with one reef and the jib. In the morning we take the second then the third reef. The swell is growing as well and we have to bear off the wind a bit to avoid hitting head-on in the waves, please with our precaution the day before that allow us to alter our course.
Living onboard becomes less confortable suddenly: the deck is constantly swept / sprayed / rinsed by waves and we have to stay inside, reading or sleeping. At least it washes away the layers of dust from Dakar! The sea is just beautiful, as rough as it is, deep blue under the sun, flying fishes taking off all around. More than once we get caught by a salt-water shower when we take a quick peek outside and pause to contemplate. In those conditions we struggle to hoist up the Cape Verdean flag, and the yellow flag which means “I have just arrived in the territorial waters and I ask for free circulation” (we set it down once the clearance is done at the police or customs).
Day 4 : 56 miles and arrival
Neither the wind nor the swell wants to decrease and since yesterday morning we run never slower than 6.5 knots! We still have 3 reefs and a jib and will keep them until arrival.
Despite our speed the night falls when we are still 30 miles away from Sal, whose summit we briefly see, a conic shadow in the pink clouds. We pass the island by the North, so as to sail down to Palmeira with the wind. The night is clear and the moon bright, we see the high swell very well.
Cautious : can provoke seasickness
By night coming from the North the first light you see are two white flashing lights of the 4 buoys marking the end of the sealine. Then coming closer: surprise! The entrance is very well marked inded, red and green beacons perfectly lit show you in. The engine starts immediately (we had studied how to jump start it with a screwdriver just in case the electrics would go on strike again).
The place is crowded! Round and round we run before finding a small spot for us. The anchor is dropped, the boat stops and lays flat… the best of sailing against the wind is when you stop!

Abchorage at Palmeira : where is Saltimbanque ? (a clue : never too far from our friends of Ster Vraz ;-) )
After 6 months at sea exactly, Saltimbanque is in the Cape Verdes! That was a mythical destination for us… thinking back of the songs by Cesaria Evora we played listened over and over again, of the websites we could not stop reading, of the Cape Verdean restaurants we would not go to because “one day we will go there by boat!”. That day has come, it’s just a great feeling…
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Your messages:

Kariine - 19/11/2011 00:27:18
Joyeux six mois de Nav les filles !! Super bravo et bonne découverte de ce Cap vert mythique... Caféééééé Atlaaaanticoooo !!!
Pour moi c'était caramboles, fruits du dragon et décalage horaire cette semaine. Question embruns c'était plutôt les taxis singapouriens passant à toute vitesse dans les flaques du début de saison des pluies (enfin pour un début, ça ne faisait pas semblant!). On se dépayse comme on peu ;o)

Sylvia - 18/11/2011 21:07:00
Leuk dat jullie zijn aangekomen waar jullie al zo lang wilden zijn. En gefeliciteerd met de eerste 6 maanden op zee! De tijd vliegt voorbij... Ben benieuwd wanneer de eerste 2 m fish in jullie boot komt :-) Veel plezier!

SuDad - 18/11/2011 17:18:09
Votre avertissement de la vidéo à carré blanc pour les nauséeux est salutaire. A regarder en se cramponnant au bord de la table, pour bien s'assurer d'où on est. Et dire que vous aimez ça. Du Cesaria Evora sur place, ça doit être encore plus envoûtant. Son pays lui doit beaucoup, pour l'avoir fait connaître. Mais on doit y trouver d'autres charmes. Vous allez nous les révéler. Chirimoyas ou anones ? Pouvez traduire siouplait ? Bonnes "vacances", maintenant, avant de prendre votre élan. Tiens JP Dik est arrivé dans la Jacques Vabre après 15j.et 16h. Grosses bises, les aventurières !!!...

la mamou - 17/11/2011 15:15:57
après deux heures d'embouteillage et de périf' ce bon "petit" vent m'a bien rincé les idées !!! ;-) le petit film n'est pas encore visible :-( parfois ils sont un peu long à se mettre en place ...
super , votre poupy maison :-))

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