Cape Verde to St Lucia, Atlantic Crossing

We made Capri ready for sea and late morning we sailed out to the starting line. The start was terribly confusing, we could’t see the starting flags and the radio was distorted by a lot of static – it was only when everyone took off that we followed.

Yep, that was the start.  Again it was a lousy start for Capri, coming out of the gate nearly last. We had rigged for wing on wing, poling out our genua.  This turned out to be a bad decision.  We should have rigged our gennaker. Oh well, we managed to catch up to quite a few of the other boats anyway, so – no big problem. At least no for me – Vinni competition gene was fully excited and going haywire as we battled little to no wind here at the start.


The little to no wind would dog us for weeks as we fought to get over the Atlantic. We got weather reports sent daily via e-mail by ARC. Aside from their e-mail, I pulled down GRIB files (weather files) myself each day. We quickly found out that the ARC weather reports were worthless, despite their paying a german comany a fortune for forecasting for the ARC.  Our GRIB files were much more accurate.

The ARC files said “no squalls” for the first night, but as evening came along we could see them lining up to give us a pasting. 6 squalls in a row, lasting most of the night. The second day the rain started-………………………….

Now this was not just any rain – this was the second deluge.  It poured down. So much rain that the VHF radio couldn’t penetrate the rain – I’ve never heard of rain being able to stope radio waves, but this rain did.


Aside from virtually drowning (the rain dumped 6 inches of rain on us i less than 12 hours), we also found out that Vinni’s foulies were no longer waterproof, so she started using mine (a real hoot to see her putting them on)


My foulies are a bit big on Vinni

It rained some more – and then it rained some more. Just to be sure we understodd the message – by god it rained some more.

By the time we got to the fifth day, with no wind, only rain, we were beginning to despair of ever getting across.

We corresponded almost daily with a british couple, Hattie and Phil who are double-handing over on their boat, Pepper. They took secnd place on the first leg and are hungry for a first place on this leg.  I’ll copy a bit of our letters to them so you can get an idea of what our thoughts were as we crossed:

Hi Hattie and Phil

right now winds are from the ssw??????

rain rain and more rain – forecast looking even worse – do you think any of us will make it to st lucia before the rally ends?

with no sun – we can’t charge with solar so we are using the engine – good thing we ahve extra diesel – hope it enough

Hi Hattie and Phil

we’re lying ahull  no wind and since we’ve had to use the engine for charging because of no sun we now have to conserve our diesel supply



Hi Hattie and Phil

you may be right – we’re heading south over also there will be no wind here for the next 3 days – hope for better there

have gone south like you but still no wind – grib files say wind tomorrow but only for a day or so un less we can get in front of it

by the way – rules state that if you motor more than 1/3 the total distance then you are disqualified from the  sailing race and classified asa a motorboat, so some of the ones way in front are no longer in the rally


Hi Hattie and phil

We’ve motored south and are now just below the 15 degree lat.  Grib files show we should get wind here and our aerometer is now showing 7-8 knots which is enough to fly our gennaker.  We’ll set that as soon as vinnni wakes.

We’re low on diesel.  we  have about 70-80 liters left.  we’ll need to keep 20 liters as a final reserve meaning we have 50 liters to use (for us running at 1200 rpm that is about 200 nm)

The gribs show a huge area of no wind approaching in 48 hours or so and they will last a couple of days – so we need to get at least several hundred nm further west over the next 48 hours if we are to have a chance to stay in front of them.

how’s your diesel looking and can you stay ahead of the no wind?


As you can see from the above, we had to use our diesel for charging because of the overcast skies every day.  We also burned a lot of diesel searching for wind. Capri was carrying 240 liters of diesel all told, including the jerry cans on our deck. We were rapidly approaching the point where we could no longer use our engine for propulsion, because we had to conserve our diesel for charging the batteries if the overcasts continued.

Not everything was gloom and doom – we had some starry nights that can’t be described and some sunsets that were magnificent


We did have some pretty sunsets though

Everyone else that crosses seem to have to pick lots of flying fish off their decks in thor.  We only had a few that we had to pick up


dead flying fish

Vinni managed to get hit by flying fish 3 times – I escaped without being hit at all.

We had more windless days and nights – we were averaging less than 100 nm per day.

More letters to Hattie and Phil:


not sure which is worse – warm g&ts or no gennaker  🙂

we managed to snake a new halyard yesterday so we’re flying the gennaker today.  we’re making about 5.5 knots and have been since yesterday afternoon – assuming this keeps up we shuld make it by monday afternoon.

Crap hearing your refrigerator is on the blink

bitch having to eat everything inthe refrigerator though before it spoils.  Canned food or MRE rations herafter

vinni and carsten

Hi Hattie and Phil

Not sure if you have to worry too much about Arcanum.  She is a Arcona 40 which according to the handicap tables from ARC is equal to Capri.  Capri is a fast boat but there is no way we could have reached the position Arcanum is at.  She must have used a huge amount of motor – so you may not have to do all that much catching up.

How many hours have you used your motor – we have 76 hours for propulsion and we can’t do any more because of our diesel situation. 

We flew the gennaker yesterday and when we pulled it down for night I carefully checked the halyard for chafe – none on the halyard, but the knot was chafed halfway through – good thing we took it down for the night – we’re not much for having to snake yet another line.

looks like it was chafing on the upper spindle of the genua furler – so today we are flying it a bit more loosely.

we’re making 5.5-6 knots on 7-7.5 knots apparent.

We need to average 120 nm per day to make the finish line before the rally ends – we’d be very happy with a bit more wind

we seem to be in 10th place in pure time out of 15 boats in class “C” – with some wind, we can catch a couple of them since they aren’t that far ahead.

go get ’em – we need to have a double-hander win leg two also

Hi Hattie and Phil

ust checked my grib files – 2 1/2 days and we’ll have the trade winds – 17-22 knotss from NE and these will blow us right into St. Lucia.

Damn! about time – I certainly hope that forecast holds – it means we can make it to the finish line before they close – with 17-22 knots we can make 7.5-8 knots poled out and that means 170+ nm days

let’s hope it all comes true – you’ll also get a chance to catch Arneum


Our diesel situation was now so serious that we could only lie ahull when the wind stopped. As you could se/hear in the video above – this is no fun at all. The flapping was driving us nuts.

Finally after almost 20 days at sea, we closed in on St Lucia. It had been a tough sail, little to no wind, deluge, wind on the nose (in the trades!) chafed halyards – but by god we made it!!!!!

We crossed the finish line at about 21:30 – after close to 20 days at sea. Tired.




We got here and despite some rain (after all, vinni and carsten are here), life is easygoing.  Out here your dinghy is your car. As you can see from below, Vinni has already figured this out – and by god you can sail right up to the bar…………………………

life as a cruising sailor is very tough indeed……………….



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