"Rosita" Reports - Leg 7

Ship Bar

11 07 00 0058 UTC 1956N 2126W. Generator seems to be back on line after a few ster n conversations. Watermaker now hypotensive - suspect barnacles in intake. Been reading a couple of Cape Verde histories that Hank picked up from Baker Books b efore we left. An awful, amazing story. Slavery, piracy, drought, famine and fa scist dictator with concomitant enforcers. In spite of which a culture emerged t hat demanded, orchestrated and achieved independence in 1975. Major bloodshed wa s in fellow now ex-Portuguese colony of Guinea Bissau. The CV terrain and climat e is as harsh as ever so it will be interesting to see what we find. More so as we have many friends and acquaintances from the CV at work and school. Whale l iterature is sparse. Right whales unlikely. Few humps in early part of year. U sed to be a good sperm ground Sept to March. Hence the interest of Lisa Steiner, who works with sperms in Azores. Expect to arrive Sal Weds am. Lisa arrives e arly Sunday. Michael.

Dolphins Cape Verde Is.
11 12 00 Palmeira, Sal, CV.
Lisa Steiner here at 3 am today. Past few days slowly absorbing the Cape Verde spirit has been awesome. Outwardly dubious, with limited infrastructure, but as you feel the warmth and independence of the folks here it becomes increasingly seductive. Music, genuinely beautiful people, & kids everywhere. Seeing Hank, our kids & locals: legs all dangling over wharf all happily munching Oreos made the world seem small. Actually rained here in the past couple of years, even 3 weeks ago, so there is a gentle carpet of grass over much of the often barren ground. Sal is the driest of the islands. Visited saltworks, caves, swimming hole. Ospreys, sanderlings, warblers but no terns. Plan a series of day sorties in lee of each island to look & listen for whatever is out there. Hopeful for sperm whale encounters. Water too warm 75 F for our old fat friends I fear. Watermaker/ generator in a state of marginal truce, so for now at least showers are back on menu. Mkl

11 14 00 Porto de Sal Rei, Boavista, Cape Verde. Boa vista is an understatement.
As dusk fell we sidled into an anchorage between a small island and Boavista. Blue, pink and gold sky, awesome rolling dunes, palms, clear water, sandy bottom , lots of fish and birds, & no high rises ashore. Air and water temps in high 70 's. Very dry air. Just a few boats here. It sounds kind of corny but this is as close to a winter paradise as I have ever been. Past two days have been produ ctive for whales too. A few miles north west of Sal yesterday we found a number of different sperm whale groups, and today, a pod of pilot whales, and then four fin whales between Sal and Boavista. The sperms were spooky, as if they distrusted boats. Others ignored us. Could well spend a good chunk of time hereabouts. Genset now sports a unique starting circuit that seems to have bypassed funky relays. Watermaker also comes out to play on request. Long may they cooperate. Wish you were all here....Michael

11 22 00 1800UTC 1645N 2446W, Ilha de St Luzia.
Residents: goats, donkeys and ospreys. Need a surf board to land. Unlikely to find a turkey for dinner tomorrow. Continuing through N. Cape Verdean chain. Most whale action so far around Salan d Boavista. Still wondering if them "finwhales" was Brydes. Wenzel thinks latter. Digital photos equivocal. Went back to look again but weather denied. Came today from Sao Nicolau, 25m to the east. Beam reach in 20-25 knots. Didn't take long. Group of about 300 spotted dolphins. In Boavista took a trip to E coast to visit Praia dos Balejas. Found medium size rorqual skull & c. 40 delphinid-size skulls that looked like small pilot whales. Yes Phil, I got bone samples for DNA.
Pilot WhalesThis trip involved a 4x4, on what was at times a disused goat track, to a light house and then a scramble down the scree cliff & along a beach that was an active turtle nesting site, along with the inevitable harvesting evidence. Turtles might well be the only fresh meat on the island other than fish, so one can only hope they exploit the resource conservatively. At least they are still there, with tracks of Ma laying and babies leaving. Ports we have visited so far are really villages, with a few streets, dry goods stores, a bakery, a couple of bars, small hospital. Sidewalk vendors of fresh goods appear on the day that the ferry arrives. Most active establishments seem to be hairdressers. Houses are mainly solid concrete. People seem fit & happy in the main. No excessive consumption.
Trash isn't a big problem. Daily dose of Inmarsat C news is just about enough to keep up with the election palava. We feel sorry for you all having to live through what must be a near terminal case of media indigestion. I hear from my brother that the UK have cancelled independence though US inability to select a president, and all kinds of new imperial edicts will shortly be forth coming to control the anarchic ex-colony. Happy Thanksgiving. Michael

Tue, 28 Nov 2000 12:01:56 -0500
Fin Whale Still based in Mindelo, Sao Vicente. Past few days the trades have really dug in and whale watching conditions have been marginal to say the least. Yesterday they eased up some and we ran a triangle SW of Sao Vicente. Not a squeak, click or grunt. Sounds like the night before Christmas. Shore entertainment included a two day rental of a 4x4. More goat tracks and other sublime valleys with lots of lava fields, some palms, and stunning ridges. Awesome view from the summit of Sao Vicente. Sunday found us body surfing with a group of 20 push bikers on a ride to the beach from Mindelo. Digital camera and printer on boat for photo groupo proving to be an excellent ambassador. Building a good collection of local color on the walls of the min cabin. Including local fishing boats under sail. Rock ballasted, lateen rigged, with monstrous billowing sails haring along landing in surf and generally showing that the Cape Verdean seafaring tradition is alive and very well. Humbling to see them bobbing around in 10 foot waves fishing all night in these little skiffs, and here we are in what is relatively a mega yacht, hanging on for dear life. Michael

12 05 00 0123UTC 1620N 2305W
Late Friday we returned to Boavista from Sao Vicente & Sao Nicolau, to see if our finwhales were still around, & get nearer to Sal in time to get Lisa to her plane on the 8th. Wind unrelenting over weekend. So Sat urday Oliver & I returned to the whale bone beach on the E coast of Boavista to get better data on the rorqual and odontocete bones there. Sunday increasing NE swell started working round in to the Sal Rei anchorage on W of Boavista: we wer e anchored in 6m on sand. A 4m patch 100m S of us started to break: it was time to get some more depth under the keel. The place was becoming awesome - tubes of breakers all around on to the white beaches and dunes: reefs imploding, as the sun went down, but time to admire from memory, rather than spending a hopeful ni ght. Exit was followed by the other 2 yachts in quick succession. So now hove to , NW of the island, waiting to return to finwhale central at dawn before we head for Bahia Mordiera, Sal, tonight. Mkl

12 08 00 - Today sailed back to Boavista to make a day sail tomorrow to Santiago. Then on t o Fogo & Brava before back to Mindelo for Christmas. That way we will complete t he circuit and store up before heading west. Be interesting to see how sperm wha le density is in deep water on SE of archipelago. Last night said au revoir to L isa at the Vulcao o' Fogo, a restaurant in Sta Maria. 3 guitars playing local mu sic. Vibrant and sad all at once. In walks Olivero - pickup truck driver from Bo avista who took us to the whale beach both times - over in Santa Maria for the w eekend. Starts singing with guitars a song that all the locals know well. Again sad and poignant. Somehow felt like we had met a piece of the soul of Cape Verde & it was good. Followed here by Kees et al aboard the Dutch schooner "Sodade" who has been chartering here for the past year+. Used by Beatric Jann as a platf orm for humpbacks last year. Good to catch up with Kees and his largely Cape Ver dean crew. A trip on Sodade would be a great way to see Cape Verdes without taki ng a year & 1/2 to do it. This place has so much raw color and vitality in spit e of the arid climate and at times substantial poverty. Fascinating to watch our kids reflect on lives of people they encounter here & then look at material gul f between what they see & our own situation, both here & at home. But stronger t han the agonizing material difference is the remarkable similarity in family val ues & basic nuts & bolts of family life. Today Hank emerges with a stash of Chri stmas decorations. Nav table now sports a Father Christmas in swim trunks patter ned with holly leaves riding on the back of a humpback whale. So I guess season is on. Elder guys got an early Christmas present in Sta Maria. The first windsur fer sail we bought in the Canaries died a lingering death by duct tape. Found a replacement here & now Oliver is ripping along in grand style. Mkl

12 14 00Vale de Cavaleiros, Fogo: 2000m depth 5 miles offshore.
Anchored stern to behind the small and only breakwater on the island. Swell breaking over wall and pound ing beach. 50 nm sail here today from Tarrafal, Santiago, where we spent past 3 days, having sailed there from Sal via Boavista. Spotted and bottlenosed dolphins but nothing bigger heard or seen. Tarrafal, the 2nd largest town on Santiago, was probably the neediest community we have seen here yet. Signs of progress, wi th sewers being dug, a supermarket under construction etc. Interesting talks wit h a couple of local guys, both seeing us as a resource to lessen the burden. If we come again we should load up with rainjackets, marine paint and outboard spar es. Road trip to Praia to pick up boat bits and Christmas goodies. Watermaker n ow has proper perfusion pressures - for now at least. Replacement inverter -AC s tuff runs sweeter with sine vs the square wave we used to have, but seems to tak e more amps to make a true sine. Mkl

12 19 00

Demand for younger thoughts continues to outstrip that from us codgers the wrong side of 40: here are a couple of pieces recently written by Chris. The first on his view from his bunk and the second a lesson in physics. To keep up the record I also offer a bit more of our sojourn on the Island of Fogo.

My Porthole

By Christopher Moore

I don't have a window on Rosita, but I do have a porthole. A porthole is a little window in a boat where the glass can be lifted on hinges. It 's right above my bunk, in my little brother's and my aft cabin. I'm lucky because my brother is on the lower bunk in the cabin, and therefore can't use the porthole.

The problem with my porthole's location is it's real close to the ceiling, so I always bang my head. I have a screen to keep the flies out, and I always bump my nose on it. I usually have to battle with the latches to get the thing open. The glass is constantly encrusted with salt from the water. If I try to rub it off it only gets smeared around. The nice thing is I can look outside in the glass' reflection when it's open.

With my head against the ceiling, I can see quite a lot. Glancing down, I can occasionally see the sea. Sometimes I see someone's ankles as when I look straight. If we are on anchor, there might be a boat in my sight. Tilting my head, racing clouds and spectacular sunsets are open to my eyes. It's nice having a porthole.

How to Swing from a Halyard

By Christopher Moore

Compass

Swinging from a halyard is completely safe and simple, if you do it right and don't chicken out. To swing from a halyard you will need a large boat, a halyard that will support your weight, and swimming trunks. First, put on your swimming trunks (I presume you know how). Second, remove any metal objects at the end of the halyard, and tie a knot at the end so your so your hands won't slip. For better results, make sure the halyard is on the forward side of the shrouds. Third, take the halyard forward and perch yourself on the very tip of the bow. If you have any complete solid objects or railing, stand on them. Ask someone to adjust the halyard up and down to the length desired. Finally, push out as hard as you can on either side of the boat. As you approach the rail, let go. Remember, after you let go momentum will still carry you. When you've had enough, put everything back how you found it. Happy swinging!

Monday 18th Dec 2000. To celebrate Chris's 11th birthday, we took a trip up in to the Caldera on Fogo. Fogo means Fire in Portugese. Last active eruption was 1995, when a small eruption buried a few houses. Nobody was hurt. In our trusty, if close to dead, rental car we first picked up Roberto in Sao Filipe, the capital of Fogo, who had offered to show us the way. The island has many unlabelled, rough-cobbled at best, single track roads. After climbing up through a number of villages past an old blown out volcano the road cuts in to the caldera, and then across a lava field. To the west the caldera wall rears up as a sheer 5-700m cliff for a stretch of about 4 miles. To the east there are a series of volcanic cones, of various sizes and degrees of completeness. The tallest pico being close to 3000m altitude. We hiked about half way up till gradient and sun beat us back down. The whole area is the largest slag heap I've ever seen. The relative age of each area can be guessed at by the degree to which vegetation is taking hold. A particularly large and barren lava field runs NE to the sea at Mostieros, following a major eruption in 1951. The lava slope is about a mile wide, and it looks like a set of fossilized ridges drawn by a giant's plough. Acre after acre of sterile lava piles. Some tubes and pillows, many fields of fine clinker that gets between your toes and feet and shoe soles. The overwhelming vastness of the events that lead to what can be seen today defies description. Then in the midst of all this is a village with a small school. The people work east of the major pico where apples and vines are cultivated in the clinker. A winery produces Fogo's red wine in the village. To my uneducated palate it tasted good, with a somewhat ashy flavor. Met a bunch of kids on the way out of school carrying paper pads. Eager for pens. The stark contrast between the harshness of these islands physically, with the warmth of the folks here is truly special. I don't think there was a single person we passed today that did not return our wave. Many of the women carrying 5 gallon buckets of water on their heads, with no steadying hand, from a well or tank to their homes. They still wave. Kids move water with truck inner tubes filled with water draped over the back of a donkey. Often also see donkeys headed home piled high with forage. They look like mobile gooseberry bushes. Headed for Brava tomorrow - home of many a New Bedford whaler crew, then a likely beat to Mindelo for Christmas, fuel, stores and clearance west. Michael

 

And here is Oliver's missive for today to his Grandmother. It includes a more detailed pathology on the Fogo rental car....

Dear Annie, the scooters are a blast! Thank you so much. After I wrote from Tarrafal we set off for Fogo and saw some bottlenosed dolphins. There was lots of dusty mist so we couldn't see the island till we were 2 miles off it. The first thing we saw was the breaking waves and then the beach and gradually the rest of the island. Spooky. We also saw a Portuguese man-o-war tacking up wind, its colors were beautiful. We've been hanging out here for the last couple of days. Dad rented 4 wheels, and the rest of the car is in sad shape: no passenger window; the roof is falling off; it keeps back firing; and the muffler fell off. It is a little red sidekick. The other day Dad, Sam and I went exploring and on the way back we managed to fit two 200 pound women street vendors with all their stuff in the back. We managed to make it back to the city where they were going but it was a near thing. The rear suspension started squealing and every time the car back fired one would elbow Sam in the ribs: he doesn't like talking about it. Today while everyone else went for a walk mom and I stayed on anchor watch. We are anchored off a small mole with lines onto rocks and there is one other boat. This afternoon one of the lines fell off its rock so I went to put it back on. The first local kid that showed up to help was wearing a Red Sox hat and the second was wearing a Celtic jersey, but they didn't understand me when I tried to explain that they are our local teams. Then we had Chris's B-day and it was fun. Merry Christmas! Love, Oli.


12 22 00 - Arrived Praia yesterday 21st. Too much swell to beat to Mindelo. Must be getting old. HAPPY CHRISTMAS from all of us on Rosita. Have a fancy page of photos but need to cut to floppy size to transmit. Manyana manyana. Carols with US Embassy folks tomorrow night.- Hope depart for Trinidad 26th, if I can rebuild the watermaker again..and can secure salidas stamps in las passportes .. the bureaucracy is wild.......Fueled up today - a genuine 3rd world experience ..........With Love from THE ROSITAS. PS Had some fabulously acrobatic spotted dolphins on way in last night as the sun set over the peak of Fogo....

12 24 00 - Time to sum up a very special time for Rosita in Cape Verde. No right whales, but sperm & fin whales in interesting places. Got to explore extraordinary islands: desert to actively volcanic: patient, graceful & welcoming people. Many images from back home: ex-Town of Newton fire truck, ex-Mass. school buses, endless New England sports team gear, & a refreshingly pro-American stance. Many have very little, yet they have a great dignity & patience - their life is driven by a lack of water, marginal agriculture, and little domestic infrastructure, yet out of this wells a strong if fluid sense of family, & a vibrant musical culture. Their greatest need is income beyond subsistence fishing/farming & fledging tourism. It is a privilege to spend Christmas here. In being here we have acquired a sense for their national enigmatic sadness (called "Sodade"): a conflict between their great qualities & their oppressive history, wide diaspora & the rigors of the land. Bom Fiesta. Mkl


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