The morning of the starting day we were all a bit anxious I think. Breakfast was done and the check-out at the ARC office done efficiently. After the check out, I was interviewed by the WCC reporter for their website. Little did we know that the Norwegian magazine Seilmagasinet would sample the interview and put in their magazine. Quite cool!

We were ready to start and got out of the marina in due time. The big catamaran Immagina came out behind us and made us feel small. The weather was good but the winds light. It was time for the gennaker! We had the ambition to be the first one over the line did not come true, We came 2nd, just seconds behind another boat, but we did have a great start. We blasted south and was in the lead for a couple of hours. 2 catamarans, Ningyo and Immagina came and took over the lead, but we were still the first monuhull as we went into the first night. Fearing the acceleration zone south of Gran Canaria, we reefed down the main and took down the gennaker.

 

This proved to be a mistake as more boats passed us during the night. Anyway, the next days winds were good and the gennaker did most of the work during the days, and we went wing on wing during the nights. We slowly made our way back into the top 3 of the monohulls!

The crew performed great. We had a watch system with 2 persons on 3 hour watches continuously. This made sure we never had the same watch 2 days in a row. Every 3rd day we rotated the people together on the watch. In addition, we had a designated person for cleaning and one for rig-check every day. I’m quite sure we avoided some problems by doing it like this, as well as it was good learning for all the crew.

We started fishing as well and caught a nice Mahi Mahi at the first try. Actually, we got quite a few but either they were too small or too big and bit off the lure. Different person wheeled the fish in, Jill killed it, I fileted it and Kjetil cooked it. A great set-up! Ingeborg had read herself up on Calamares and hoped for a lot of squids jumping on board. Until we left Las Palmas we did have a lot of them, however as we left for Mindelo, we got almost none! So, we still have the Calamares batter mix here in Caribbean unused.

As we got south we really started to get closer to the two boats ahead of us. The winds were dying down and we all did some motoring, but mostly sailed. The gennaker did a great job during this time and we continued to close in on the two boats, eventually passing one of them, leaving only one ahead of us. The boat in the lead was the Austrian boat Ibex, magnificently sailed by an Austrian couple. Just before the finishing line, the wind died completely, and I mean completely, forcing all of us to turn on the engine. We passed Ibex 3 miles before the line, the wind came back and we started to sail again. We finished just 10minutes or so ahead of Ibex and we were happy to get the line honours of the monohull fleet. After the TCF correction Ibex got the victory, well deserved.

Cape Verde is a beautiful set of Islands. We only saw two of them, Sao Vicente, the place of Mindelo, and Sao Antao, the big and more green Island slightly to the west. Its is a very poor country, heavily depending on tourism. “Thank you for coming, you are the light at the end of the tunnel!” said the very competent tour guide Delisio when he met us for the first tour of the island. Cape Verde is extremely dry.

The climate changes have been, and continue to be brutal. When we were there it was 4 years since the last rainfall. This has been a big strain on the people of course and the agriculture is almost dead in Sao Vicente. However, the food was fantastic and the local vegetarian dishes may be the best. Cachupa is the local dish, mainly made of corn, but sometimes with fish, sometimes with meat. Its surprisingly good and tastes a bit like the Norwegian dishes “lapskaus” or “Erter, kjøtt og flesk”. The islands are volcanic, hence there is steep hills and valleys. The roads are not your everyday european standard. the Captains fear of heights was challenged many a time. However, Delisio took us to his home town in San Anteao and we saw his house, his school and we had a fantastic lunch. Sao Antao is called the “the green island” of the Cape Verde islands and i makes sense for sure.

Tinius and Jill made a visit to a local school with the ARC participants. I believe it was a learning experience for him to see the difference between the schooling systems in Norway and Cape Verde. Marie’s 19th birthday was celebrated in Cafe Mindelo with a fantastic breakfast and birthday cake as well.

The covid testing in Mindelo was a big disaster. It started ok, with the testing almost on time on Monday. The results were going to be communicated Wednesday by e-mail. During Tuesday there was a decision to postpone the start from Mindelo to Friday, hence 24 hours, to allow more time for the analysis of the tests. Not good news, but no disaster. Our biggest challenge was the Kjetil had very limited time if he was to get back to Norway in due time for his job. When Thursday came, there was no news of the tests. I started to ask the local ARC facilitator some questions on where the analysis was to be done, capacity and so on. He didn’t know anything. It became clear that de totally relied on the local marina manager and had done nothing else. When offered help he negatively responded that it was unnecessary. The start was postponed to Saturday, then Sunday, and the test was not even begun to be analyzed. A lot of us decided to start on Sunday regardless. Saint Lucia would accept us, but we may have to do a test on arrival. A chaotic online skippers meeting said the test should be available on Monday or there would be a retesting, meaning a possible further 2-3days delay. For us, this meant that Kjetil had to go home from Mindelo and we decided, together with 6 other bots to start 13.00 on Sunday. By a miracle, the tests were analyzed and all came back negative Monday before the “regular” start, so the rest of the fleet started 140 nm behind us.

In summary, we had a great time in Mindelo and Cape Verde. We are disappointed in the WCC crew on site, and the lack of humbleness of the WCC management. From this time, we felt like the ugly duckling of the ARC fleet in their eyes. More on this and other topics in the next chapter.