From the Canaries, most sailors go across the Atlantic to spend the winter amongst palm trees in the Caribbean. But we had other plans. We wanted to follow the Canary current south to the city of Dakar in Senegal.
We had more than 800 NM to sail from La Gomera to Dakar, which is about 8 days on Chip-Chip. Our longest trip so far was the 4-day trip from Morocco to the Canaries, so this was going to be a step up for us. We had prepared food for the first three days, as we always do when taking a longer trip. This makes everything so much easier once we’re underway, especially if some of us are seasick. Which, you know, is likely.
We waved goodbye to our new friends in La Gomera Marina, and especially Runa was sad to leave her friend Mare. But soon the kids were in bed, and Esben and I took turns to sail south through the night. For the first couple of days, we cruised south just using the genoa. Esben wasn’t feeling well, so we didn’t need to add an extra sail to the mix. But once we had moved away from the lee of the Canaries, we hit the southward current at the same time as the wind picked up, and soon our speed increased. As did the size of the waves. We got a lot more water into the cockpit than we liked, and kept the hatches shut for much of the time. This is not very nice for the air quality below, but Runa wasn’t happy when a rare large wave would crash into her bed.
As we moved south the day temperature got much better, but the night shifts were still cold. We do 6 hours each, which is pretty long, but it means that we both get a good nights sleep in our off time, so we’re both willing to push through the longer shifts. I would wear a hat, gloves, wollen socks, leg warmers, two sweaters and rain clothes in addition to my normal clothes, and I still got cold. Amazing considering that we were at the same latitude as the Sahara dessert.
Slowly everybody got used to the movements of the boat, and when we had to cook on the fourth day, it was okay. Cooking for us is made much easier by us preparing canned dishes which can just be heatet. So nice. Especially if the other option would be to buy canned food to heat. Not very nice. As the days passed by we got better at using the fruit and vegetables we had bought at the market in La Gomera, and it turned out we had done quite well. Nothing went so bad that we couldn’t eat it, and when we reached Dakar, most of the fresh food had been eaten.
On the last night of sailing I could finally take my leg warmers and one of the sweaters off, and slowly the big African Renaissance Monument, which is located at the tip of Cape Vert, where Dakar is located, came into view. Around us small wooden fishing boats showed up, and we were soon busy looking for almost invisible markers of their nets. We were lucky and didn’t get entangled.
We motored in through the big port of Dakar to reach the old French sailing club Cercle de Voile, or CVD, where we could anchor during our time in Dakar. There’s supposed to be three wrecks in the anchorage, so we went in very slowly and managed to anchor without trouble. Soon a little boat, CVD’s ferry, came out, and we were welcomed to the place – in French of course. He welcomed us and told us to just take our time and get settled that night, and that we could take care of formalities the next day. Wonderful to finally be in Africa.
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