One more tune!23rd May 2003 Unlike the poor old schooner in the photo, we sailed safely from Sal to Mindelo on April 25th. Here Mac left us and our CC2CV expedition had its work done.
With Tony still aboard, and George and Mary-Emma, we had to decide our course of action.. But that trade wind whistling round the Cape Verdes, force5/7, and a wee squint at the weather prospects, killed off the idea of heading straight for the Azores. If the fresh to strong northerly failed, though a fine big anticyclone building to the west of them made this doubtful, the prospects were for very light and variable wind to take its place. If the ocean is sloppy, as it usually is, that might be even worse; but last autumn's experience made me even less willing than ever to undertake a long bash to windward.
It's funny how a chance remark made in the presence of a youngster can stay with him for life. I'm thinking of an old fisherman from Swanage in Dorset, whom my father and I happened to encounter on the beach there, as some bright spark headed out round Anvil Point into a fresh south-westerly. A fair tide is scant consolation in those particular circumstances. If I were a gennelman', I'd ne'er turn to win'ard! The intriguing ramifications of the old British class-system apart, the bloke knew enough from thumping round the same corner to reach his lobster pots; don't do it if you can avoid it!
As in most small ships, in the Anna M one has a choice between getting very damp indeed below decks as well as above (as opposed to just damp), or just about suffocating. The crew are liable to get seasick while the skipper winces for the thumps on the old ship's timbers, and the progress horribly slow. No, it is laid down how a sailing ship should get around the Atlantic, and only foolish and arrogant modern man would think of doing it any other way.
Give the lady her way and she will reward you. We had an idyllic sail to Antigua, leaving Mindelo in the evening of April 29th and arriving at English Harbour on the morning of May 13th , 2105 nautical miles in a fortnight. We had a perfect slant on the wind most of the way, the boat was dry and airy, the crew lying at their leisure with no work to do'. Only for the last 150 miles or so did the wind lose its puff, and become fickle and variable or dead astern. That's when the rolling gets tiresome, especially without a good breeze which at least will master it if one can lay off on one tack or another; but besides one doesn't even want to do this when the goal is getting close.
It was great to get a fine dorado or dolphin fish' on the second day out. Nothing to do with real dolphins, I hasten to add. But our fishing in mid ocean was not successful; we didn't catch another till we were this side of the ocean. It was a another kingfish, as was Matthew's catch near Sal that we mistakenly took for a blue marlin. (see skippers Log 24.04.03) We learnt better in the books that Patricia Smith, a Canadian whose transatlantic voyage ended prematurely on the rocks in Mindelo harbour, very kindly let us have, along with charts for these Carribbean parts; a real Godsend when we were in doubt back in Mindelo.
I wouldn't have dared tell the customs officer here in Nelson's Dockyard that we only made up out minds to cross the Atlantic in such an haphazard way at the last moment. He was
scandalised that I hadn't decided exactly how long we were staying and where we were going next. What d'you mean, you come all dis way an' you got no plan, man?
It's a beautiful and charming p