Posted on 20/11/2017 to World Cruising
Bang! The second leg of ARC+ had begun. Aftet a lackluster start from Las Palmas, we turned things around and with a nice breeze behind us had Haji in the thick of it leaving Mindelo. It didn’t take long for the quicker boats to seperate themselves, and slowly more and more boats began to pull away from our old gal. The bosun and I hoisted our staysail as Haji turned cutter rigged and an extra half a knot was added to our speed. The island of Sao Vicente behind us, we kept a few miles off the southern coast of Santo Antão. Some headed south, some opted to keep the island closer to their starboard side, but as we all approached the tip of the island the wind died. Everywhere mainsails were flapping and boats were rolling around in the wind shadow. Crews began to furl their genoas and quickly switched to engine. Neverland, who we had been close behind, shot away in the distance. Only a handful of us remained.
Our first four hours at sea netted us 14 miles. After seven hours and 24 miles run, we started the engine. An hour and a half later the wind picked up and the engine was quiet once again. It was still slow going, but at least we were sailing. I came off my first night watch at midnight, but the wind immediately changed and I went on deck to help Amy gybe the mainsail. As we did so a swivel shackle broke on our main block, sending it flying. It was under control quickly and a larger, sturdier shackle brought to replace the broken one. The wind was finally picking up though and shortly Haji was doing 5 knots.
At the 24 hour mark, we’d done 94 miles, well below what we reasonably expect to average. The rest of the day we stayed at a respectable 5 knots and things were looking up. I had caught three mahi-mahi by the end of day two. All small, and all returned to Neptune, but it was a bright spot during our slow start.
Day three brought better winds and we traded our three sails for Bertha, our parasail. 104m2, she’s infinitely quieter than our other set ups and more flexible than having twin headsails. Ultimately, she had us moving along quicker in the steady, but relatively light winds. Again, I found myself hauling fish in throughout the day. My lines found another four mahi-mahi, including two on one line! One medium sized beauty ended up on my plate as a pre dinner snack. It was the first fish we’d decided to eat on our trip, but with limited fresh meat onboard, preparing it was good practice for more desperate times ahead.
With little else to do, I countined fishing the following day. My lines went out in the morning (a handline with a single lure on starboard, and a reeled line wih two lures in tandem on port) and soon my luck continued. First, a small mahi-mahi. Then, a second, but bigger one found its way onto my handline. It fought hard. Reeling it in by hand was no easy task and unlike many of the fish I had caught, this one kept fighting me every inch of the way. By the time I got it on board, my arms were exhausted. It was a 90cm male, dark blue on top fading to green and yellow. He would have made a great meal, but some of our fresh meat needed eating and dinner was already being prepared. Once more I released my catch to the gods of the ocean. My final fish of the day again came on the handline. This one was a fighter as well, but as I brought it on board I was delighted to see I’d caught something other than a Mahi-mahi for once! Steel blue on top, with a striped, elongated silver body and the mouth of a predator, I consulted a fish book onboard and identified the creature as a Wahoo. That makes 10!
It’s been a bit of a mixed bag so far, but it’s a marathon not a sprint. Haji and crew will keep plodding along, taking things one day at a time. The skipper will keep us on track. Amy will keep us civilized. The bosun will keep on sleeping. I’ll keep catching fish.
Side Note: There is a fishing competition between us, Miltonia, Osprey, and Lily on this leg for biggest fish and most fish caught on the crossing. So far I like my chances in both those categories. Although, I’m still waiting for my beer for winning leg one! That being said, I wish you all luck. Anyone else who wants to join the competition is more than welcome! Except for Twenty-Twenty who I’m assuming made some sort of deal with the gods to catch as many fish as they do!