Headline news is that we are safe and sound in Mindelo, Cape Verde after a 7 day crossing from Santa Cruz, Tenerife. My brother provided with me with two facts about the Cape Verde islands that I know you will expand your useful knowledge bank.

  1. There is one goat for every two people.
  2. There are no mosquitos.

He may of course have made this up for amusement sake so do check!

The last seven days have been full of contrasts.

• Force seven winds, big seas, scraps of sail and the occasional wave into the cockpit v flat calm and engine on
• Unexpected and an unwanted saltwater shower as a load of water came through one of the hatches v planned delightful freshwater shower after 7 days at sea
• Struggling to keep cereal in a bowl as the boat lurches v mango, pineapple and orange fruit salad for breakfast sat in the cockpit
• Sleeping for 3 hours maximum v a delicious 12 sleep hours undisturbed on arrival
• Cold beers with friends on arrival on a floating beach bar v tea in a mug on passage at 3.56am

What was our longest crossing so far like? The first three days were pretty uncomfortable and not at all what I’d signed up for. It was ‘darned’ unpleasant at times. Not your gin and tonics with nibbles on the poop deck at 6pm in your little black dress kind of sailing.

Being the pragmatist that I am, its all a bit more experience in the locker. Grace got us here safely with not many breakages. It’s certainly the most sustained period of hardship that she’s been put through in our ownership. However, the passage is all ancient history now. I still find it remarkable how quickly moods and situations can change.

We’ve been to the immigration office this morning and then to the police, so we are officially allowed to be here now. Also collected the first passport stamp of the trip. The town feels distinctly African, we are no longer in Europe. There’s an outdoor market which sells everything from sugar cane to second hand engines to phone chargers.
Re -provisioning with fresh fruit and veg looks eminently straightforward. The supermarket is not so super. Somewhat more frugal than the ginormous CarreFour in Santa Cruz.

Christmas kind of passed us by. My Christmas present to Dave was to let him sleep in and have an extra hour of kip before swapping watches. When he reciprocated the gift, it was the best present ever. We have Cape Verde radio on and I’ve just listen to my first Christmas track this festive season. Can’t say I’ve missed the ‘in your face’ aspect of Christmas.



In the next few hours we leave for the Cape Verde Islands. It’s over 800 miles so we think it’ll take us 6 or 7 days. It’s taken two and a half full days to get ready to depart. We have a plan to meet friends in Mindelo for New Year.

Other news is we have a tracking device which we’ve tried to upload a specific page on the website here which puts a dot onto a map as to where we are. But IT gremlins have been naughty and we haven’t managed to sort it yet. However, here is a link that you can click on.

Have a great Christmas all you lovely people out there. Thanks for looking at and reading our various rambling thoughts. Looking forward to writing more from the tropics.


Mount Tiede


Today we are both suffering from particularly achy legs. Yesterday we went up Mount Tiede, the highest point in the Canaries and also the whole of Spain at 3,718m or 12,198ft if you prefer your mountains in old money.

Numbers aside, it was ‘flipping’ hard work walking up and down. We had booked to stay in the refuge and arrived about 6.30pm, the walk up taking 2 hours and 40 minutes. Unlike those poor souls tucking into their pot noodles and black tea, we had carried in chicken and leek casserole, cheese and biscuits, fresh fruit and Green and Blacks Hot Chocolate mix. Just because you’re staying in a mountain hut and have to carry your food in, is no excuse for eating badly in our world.

I think I counted 7 bunk beds in our room so space for 14 folk. I slept pretty dreadfully as I was waiting for someone to snore really badly which is what normally happens in huts. Surprisingly this didn’t happen but I foolishly spent most of the night waiting for it. Weird logic.

So up at 5, depart at 5.30am. The temperature at the hut was -2 degrees. The moon was full so no torches needed on the ascent which was exhausting and steep. Having spent the last 6 months pretty much at sea level, the altitude was probably a factor in our slow deliberate plod or maybe we’re not as fit as we thought. Or maybe a bit of both. And we’re not 25 anymore!

We arrived at the top about 7am and the sun came up above the horizon over Gran Canaria about 7.30. Those 30 minutes were particularly s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d out.The moon was still up so it was remarkably light and also remarkably chilly, I’m guessing around -6 plus the wind chill. Bit of a shock when most of your days the temperature is in the mid 20’s.

We hid behind rocks out of the wind and waited for the feeling to come back into our fingers. Definitely out of practice at this mountain lark. The sun did its thing, we grabbed some quick snaps with the camera and swiftly headed down, arriving back at the hut about 8.30am for hot drinks and some late breakfast.

Then we stomped down the hill getting back to the car for 10.50am. The landscape is quite remarkable. I don’t recall walking anywhere like this before. The drive up is spectacular from sea level through laurel, eucalyptus and pine forests out above the tree line. You’re then into desert like conditions followed by lava flow and a variety of rocks in the crater and on the volcano itself. At the very top of Tiede, there is some sulphurous smoke coming out of the ground and what appear to be various bits of kit monitoring the activity.

Just because we could, on our return to sea level, we went straight to the beach where it was 24 degrees, for a burger and a beer.

The danger of forming quick opinions

You have a problem. A big problem. You research the problem….internet, phone calls, chat to experts, gathering information before deciding on a way forward. The advice received varies from ‘its completely unresolvable, don’t waste your time’ (from an expert engineer who comes recommended through a contact of a contact as knowing everything there is to know about engines) to ‘yes, you have a chance to make it work again’ (from a contact of a couple of sailing friends in the UK).

Then you literally bump into a Frenchman whilst shopping in Spar who we’ve met previously in a marina back in Portugal. This is where I hold my hands. I’d already formed an opinion and made a judgement about this chap as whenever I saw him, he was always smoking. I am a pretty ardent anti smoker so my view of him was coloured unfavourably. A judgment based solely on fags!

Bizarrely, madly, fortuitously, this man had first hand knowledge of our problem. He graciously came to our boat the following day and spent 3 hours with Dave resolving and fixing our problem, getting doused in an oil and water shower as part of the exercise. This man is our hero. Thank you so much.

I subsequently discovered he is a biologist by profession, his specialism being dragon flies which he studied extensively in French Polynesia. He plans to sail back there to continue his studies. He’s also worked on 200 tonne ships and knows about mechanics and engineering. I learnt to hold fire on my judgements, although I am still an ardent anti smoker.

The upshot of this rambling tale is that we are still on Tenerife. But our mood is very different to last week when we identified the problem and doom and gloom filled the boat. Happiness abounds again. Grace is a happy ship once more.

We’re taking our time. A day at the beach yesterday, more swimming at the beach later today. We have booked to stay in the Refugio before heading to the top of Mount Tiede next week. Looking forward to this trip,

There are still some prevention measures to be installed to ensure said problem cannot arise again but that’s in progress so the mood on the good ship Grace is positive once more.

Not many photos here. Been a bit shoddy in that department recently. Will try harder.


Most of the chat around the marina is focussed on ‘when’ do you plan to leave?’ When…..It’s a simple little word that basically asks for a time. Western society runs by the clock. Tenerife, particularly the postal service and the courier companies work on their own particular brand of time.

It stretches out like knicker elastic, interrupted and skewed by customs and a supposedly helpful email tracking system.

We await the delivery of four packages. One, which contains a new starter motor from the UK, we know has been on the island only a few kilometres from the marina for several days. Our ‘when’ is dictated by the arrival of these packages.

Several days later……Hurrah. Christmas has come early. 3 packages turned up yesterday teatime. Tomorrow will involve lots of scrabbling around the engine in uncomfortable position in preparation for an engineer coming onto the boat on Tuesday. I have knee pads. Dave is hard core being a caver in the past.

To celebrate our packages we went to a beach bar north of Santa Cruz for early evening drinks. It was Friday after all. The sun was pretty much down but we walked and paddled then sat chatting with a drink. The throng disappeared until there were only 3 or 4 punters left plus a local band of 4 musicians. They came over; two guitarists, one violinist and a guy playing percussion. They said they wanted to play so we were treated to 4 talented guys putting on a Friday night show for just us. Completely random, lots of fun, an array of pointing, smiling and gesturing to get over the language barrier and all in all a great way to end the week.

We have done a bit of exploring too. Our friend Pete has been to Tenerife before and recommended an area to go climbing so we had a fun afternoon near Arico. Julian came to stay for a few nights and helped with on going programme to remove squeaks from the cabin floor. We ate well, laughed lots and shared many stories.

So we hope middle to late next week will be our ‘when’. We need to do the Big Shop but have sussed out a supermarket that delivers to boats. Very handy. There’ll be more boat checks before we feel ready to depart. 20 ish days is what we expect for a crossing to Barbados. So we’re likely to have Christmas at sea. Can you get turkey in a can?