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Transat Diary - Day 1 - A rough start

Day 1 (2023-01-04)

What a crap day.


The day started slightly windy in the bay of Mindelo.

We had our breakfast, downloaded and recorded 5 days of forecast just in case and went about our final checks before departure, as well as setting up the preventer and the downwind extra Jib sheet.

John had done an engine check the previous day but for some reason I decided to open the engine compartment to have a look, probably had in mind something John had said the day before regarding a small trickle of fresh water coming from behind the engine (could be the water heater unit or the swimming platform shower).

That’s when I noticed some water dropping from the engine impeller casing.

At first thought it was just a hose clamp that had come loose but a closer inspection revealed a leak from the back of the unit, probably one of the seals of the water pump. Big debate on what to do.

Turned the engine on to check how much was leaking with water running and it seemed it was leaking less. More discussion, after all there was no fat chance to get it fixed in the Cape Verdes so we decided to proceed and shut the raw water intake while sailing.

We proceeded with opening the mainsail bag only to get the zipper jammed nearly at the end if it.

I climbed up on the Bimini top to be able to fix it. Took me nearly 15 minutes.

With that out of the way we lifted anchor and made way out of the anchorage. Opened the Jib, initially on a reef to avoid any shenanigans with the acceleration by the Ilha de Pássaros just by the bay of Mindelo entrance. The boat ahead of us left with reefed mainsail and headsail, they scrambled a bit.

As we entered the channel between the islands of S.Vicente and St.Antão (famous for its gusts and confused swell) we opened the remaining of the headsail, and sailed the very confused swell to the deeper waters closer to the middle of the channel. As we got in to deeper water the swell was less confused. The winds blowing around 17-19 knots, we jibed and we were nearly on what should be our heading for the next few days. Our French neighbours kept going towards the south of St.Antão island to get on their route to Martinique. Seems like everyone is going to Martinique except us.

Once past the channel between the two islands we had expected to get the wind on 120 AWA (Apparent Wind Angle) but that was not the case. Under the influence of the island still, the wind was much further downwind and with the crossed swell we decided we could benefit from the help of the new whisker pole.

We furled the Jib turned the engine to avoid being at the mercy of the swell and went to the foredeck to set it up. Ella behaved brilliantly or maybe she was just too worried because instead of getting all excited trying to join us she just put herself to sleep until we returned to the cockpit.

We set the Jib poled, 1 hour later we would have to unpole it, another hour later we had to put a reef on it and 30 minutes later a second reef.

As we gained distance from the island we were getting strong accelerations with wind reaching 30 knots and reasonably big and confused swell.

Oh boy, this was not what we would like for the first day of the passage!

It was quite uncomfortable and made us wonder if this would be it for the remaining 10 days of our passage.

As the afternoon was well to its end and we were feeling more used to the motion, I checked the bilges as usual but this time there’s some water. It’s salty! I quickly checked all seacocks for leaks, nothing to report.

I come on the cockpit to discuss with John the amount of water and what should we do when an alarm goes off! I ran below and find the Multiplus (charger/inverter) is giving a strange error message, I turn it off and go check the BMS (Battery Management System). One of the lights of the BMS is no longer on, as I check the cable all power turns itself off on the boat.  I plug the cable back on, all turns on but the Multiplus is still being shitty. Another big discussion of what to do, turning around back to Mindelo would be nearly impossible with this wind and swell, being more than 6 hours south at that stage, Maybe a stop at Fogo Island further to the south.

We evaluated the situation and came to the conclusion at worse there’s no hot meals or drinks, but the 12v system is fine, the batteries are fine, when all settles maybe we just replace the cable or reset the system to use the Multiplus rogue (not controlled by the BMS).


We downloaded the forecast via the IridiumGO (satellite phone/modem) and felt relief knowing the conditions would improve over night.

By 2.20am we are back on a full poled Jib.

Despite the improvement on the general conditions none of us slept much.

In the middle of the night we passed by one of the Japanese fishing vessels, one of the famous ones from the Sea Shepherds episodes or one with a similar name. It really makes us wonder the state of things when this year we already seen 4 of these Japanese processing vessels that wait in bays for their fleet to come and offload their catch. Japanese fishing vessels in Spain and Cape Verdes, the world has gone mad.

Morning comes the wind picks up a bit again, we adjust the whisker pole position, download another forecast, do further inspections on the leaks (nothing to report except water making it’s way to the central bilge to be dried out - no new water). The impeller pump is no longer leaking?!


24h daily run 135 nautical miles.

Right as planned!


***In the spirit of sharing our dreams and experiences we have shared this blog post in the NOFOREIGNLAND.COM website sailors community.

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