Final Prep for Atlantic Crossing (Feb. 1-7, 2019)

After years of dreaming and planning and months of sailing 3,798 miles across five bodies of water and through eight countries, we were finally in our final week of preparation for our Atlantic Crossing. WATCH THE VIDEO!

Friday, 1 February 2019

We spent the day doing serious grocery provisioning. Most of what we purchased in Arrecife had dwindled since we had spent almost a month in Cape Verde. Unfortunately, this is not the best place for provisioning. There is no one-stop shopping and many items were just outrageously expensive. We bought what we thought was reasonable—eggs, canned tuna, cereal, dog food, canned veggies, and 100 liters of water. We would wait to purchase fresh produce and potatoes until our last day before departure. 

I had to accept that we would basically be vegetarians during the crossing because fresh meat was so expensive that we opted out. We had canned meat and canned tuna, but decided not to buy any ham. bacon, or luncheon meat. Plus, we have the added challenge of not much refrigeration. 

Saturday, 2 February 2019

A few days earlier we had discovered a very cool local dive and couldn’t wait to get back there. Pastelaria is tucked away and hidden in a back alley, but lively music plays as the locals are always gathered there. 

A traditional family-owned restaurant, the fisherman father and son bring in the fresh fish directly from the sea each morning. Mama is the cook, and the daughter is the hostess/waitress. They live in an apartment above the restaurant, which is open every day. 

There is no menu. They serve what they catch each morning. 

The entire restaurant is smaller than Seefalke, with four small tables. The service and the food are both fantastic!!  We tied up the Beagles outside and paid a local man one euro to watch them so that there were no conflicts with any of the stray dogs. In this poor nation, you can’t imagine how happy this man was to earn 100 escudos (1 euro or $1.25 USD). 

The local dish, Cachupa was available that day, so Maik ordered that while I ordered the Garupa, a fish commonly found in the local waters. 

This family is important to the extremely poor community. There is always vibrant music playing and locals hanging out there. Some of them come in and buy one cigarette at a time because they can’t afford a whole pack. 

The portions of food are huge and our leftovers were wrapped up and distributed to the hungry locals waiting outside. Our total bill for two home cooked meals and two drinks was around 600 escudos, which is less than $7 USD. 

Sunday, 3 February 2019

I spent all day Sunday working on preparing my taxes, while Maik continued to stay on top of work duties. We met with our new German friends who had arrived on their catamaran a couple days earlier. The crew included the captain, his wife, Claudia, and their two children (ages 4 and 2) and their large dog, Rocky.

Like all the sailors we meet, they had an interesting story to tell. They had decided to take a work sabbatical from their jobs in Hamburg, rented their house, bought a boat, and decided to sail for a few years with a dream of crossing the Atlantic. 

The day after they bought their boat, they learned they were expecting their first child. They delayed the departure but then set sail when their newborn daughter was three months old. A couple years later, baby number two arrived. The children have never known a life that was not at sea. 

This was the first time we talked to sailors who couldn’t wait to return to life on land. They said the renters of their house have 18 months left on their lease at which time they plan to return home and to their jobs in Hamburg as an airline pilot and teacher.

Germany, like most European companies, has amazing accommodations for families who have children. The women are given two years of paid maternity leave per child. If a family has three children, they can get as much as 10 years maternity leave. 

We were curious as to why this family would return to life on land as most sailors we meet are addicted to the lifestyle at sea. They told us that they simply have other things on their bucket list —for example, a walking journey across Antarctica. 

They told us theIr next stop is Cabedelo, Brazil and told us of the beautiful marina there and a remote island along the way—Ihle Fernando de Noranha. 

Ever since we had met another sailor headed for Brazil a couple weeks earlier, I told Maik I would really love to go there. Neither of us has ever been to South America. Maik was extremely interested in sailing across the Equator into the Southern Hemisphere and we both began to get excited about the possibility of sailing on the Amazon River. 

We did a lot of research and talked about changing our route and heading to Brazil rather than to Barbados as originally planned. 

We realized there were many good reasons to make the switch. With so many delays and extended time in various ports, we were way off our original schedule of being in Barbados by early January. Now, to avoid Hurricane season we would need to rush our way through the Caribbean to Alabama, and it would be such a pity to miss out on exploring the many Caribbean islands. 

Now we will delay our arrival in Alabama until after hurricane season and make a detour around the northern South American Coast and wait out hurricane season in Panama. 

I was lukewarm about going to Barbados, but became ecstatic about the prospect of Brazil and felt an amazing sense of freedom as we opted to go where the wind takes us rather than sticking to a schedule. 

As Maik loves to say “Sailors change plans more often than they change their underwear.”

We still had some clean underwear, so Brazil it is!

Monday, 4 February 2019

With our new plan in place, I went to the local marine shop the next morning in search of a Brazil courtesy flag and South American and South Atlantic nautical charts. They had the flag and electronic charts, but not detailed paper charts. It was meant to be. We are going to Brazil! 

We spent the morning working on our final checklist. I went up the main mast to untangle the courtesy flag line and also scrubbed the ladder and dinghy of all the barnacles and muck that had accumulated during our time sitting in port in Cape Verde.  We also arranged for a guy to take a dive underneath Seefalke and scrub the barnacles from her underbelly. 

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

We decided we needed to have one more local experience before leaving Cape Verde. We took a break from our checklist, went back to our favorite local back alley restaurant with Alexa and Alain, our French friends/neighbors  and then we all took a bus to São Pedro. 

We had been to this beach before. It’s the one with all the colorful wooden fishing boats lining the shore and the dozens of stray community dogs welcoming us with their built-in barking alarm system. 

We put on our diving gear and swam in the warm water in search of Tortuga—local loggerhead turtles that swim in the wild in this area. We found these beautiful playful creatures and swam and played with them for hours. It was a remarkable experience. 

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

It was time to get back to our checklist. We still had a long list of minor boat maintenance and provisioning, and I wanted to scrub the cabins and head to be sure we had a fresh clean boat to begin our long journey. We also worked on some videos and other work-related stuff all day. We went into town and hit all the street vendors for fresh produce—apples, oranges, onions, peppers, cucumbers, and potatoes—as we planned to set sail the next morning. 

Thursday, 7 February 2019

We woke up to a dense fog. We still had work and boat preparation to do and just couldn’t get it all done. Even around 16:00 and 17:00 I was still hopeful. But the fuel station would close at 18:00, and so we finally gave up and decided to relax and depart on Friday morning, Maik’s 42nd Birthday.