Originally our plan from Cape Town was to cross from South Africa and head east to the Caribbean before going back to Europe. This would have been easier as it would have let us sail with the trade winds, having downwind sailing and most often easier sailing. But after the Indian Ocean and feeling how tired we were getting we reanalysed the plan and realised that none of us were keen on more crowded anchorages, we were more looking forward to getting back to Europe earlier. So we revised the plan and decided to take the more unconventional route, sailing the Atlantic from south to north instead.
After more than a month in Cape Town, we were rested, Puffin was pampered, we had restocked the boat and it was time to start to make our way north. The first stop was Namibia and it was nothing but pleasant surprises. The nature was magnificent, people were friendly and they were happy to welcome international yachts. The only downside was that Puffling had a bit of rough time but thanks to a life raft repair shop in Walvis Bay Puffling now has a battle scar and is back in action.
After close to two weeks in Namibia, we said goodbye to the cold water (that even required beanies and gloves – a bit of a surprise for Africa) as we made our way out into the ocean. Our next stop was the remote UK island, St Helena. The visit felt like a trip in a time machine, and it was interesting to visit the island where WiFi was very restricted (and expensive), where the grocery options were very limited and neither taxis or rental cars were available. It was a great visit but most of our time and focus was spent on our furling system where one of the bearings had slipped out. The island didn’t have any boat stores or boat supplies, but with a bit of innovative thinking and taking use of the islands few options aimed toward the offshore fishing industry we could get the furler back in business. All of this – on a rocky mooring field was a bit of a challenge but we were very glad to have managed to sort this out. We were now a few days delayed but the weather to head north looked promising and after a tiny provisioning round (a few eggs and a loaf of bread that unfortunately molded very fast) we slipped the lines from the mooring ball and headed north.
Initially we had planned to stop on Ascension island, but given the weather at hand we had to continue past the island. Meaning that was first going to be a one week passage, became a three week passage all the way to the Cape Verdes. The reason for the longer jump is that the weather at the time was relatively favourable for crossing the equator, the doldrums were not as big in our region and we could be through them in a few days – allowing us to be able to motor through the area of no wind and lots of thunder. So while it would have been great to visit Ascension and a short break would be very welcome, we decided that it was best to keep going. As we continued north we were also getting closer to African continent again. While we made sure to keep many miles off the shore, we still decided to turn off our AIS signal to make sure we would be even less visible for any potential pirates. But we didn’t see anything suspicious and instead we could enjoy the calm motoring with showers, extra energy to cook food and even some baking. It was a nice opportunity to gather some energy before the following exhausting week of upwind beating to Mindelo, Cape Verdes.
In Mindelo we noticed after a rigg check that the mast track needed a lot of attention before we could keep moving. So Max hung in the rigg for many hours and worked some magic to sand, smoothen and get our track back in action. Followed by Charlotte cleaning and refilling each cart with torlon balls (thank god that the local boat store had torlon balls in the correct size – because we needed more than hundred). We were so glad to be in a marina when taking care of this project – being in a rocky anchorage would have made the entire project way more complicated. After a hectic week we had unfortunately not seen much of Cape Verde, except the marina, the boat store and the grocery store. Oh well, we’ll have to be back in the future for some exploration because the weather is giving us a somewhat promising window and we are already delayed.
The next crossing, from the Cape Verdes to the Azores, was a big one for us. Because during this crossing we crossed our outbound track and had thereby officially sailed around the world. This was what we dreamed about doing and our main accomplishment for the entire trip. To be honest we were a bit too tired to celebrate this during the crossing itself but we did compensate with some Champagne when we reached the Azores. The real celebration will have to wait for when we get home and get to celebrate with our friends and family!