A matter of nerves
Departure of the Rivercafe in Ascension was on 20.8. So – we thought – now the most difficult part of the journey is done. Gary – the captain of our crew assured us that the boat was in very good shape. Only the watermaker is not running, wrongly wired from the shipyard. Stupid but manageable. Kitty harbour manager and “best girl off Ascension”, kept us posted, because contact is a real challenge on a tiny little island in the middle of the Atlantic. “Seriously nothing on this rock” (Gary). So Kitty wrote: the boys have now left, all are healthy and everything is OK. Lost and found in Mindelo
Yes healthy! Because here on the island you don’t want to see a single Corona case. So the crew had to do a test, even though they had already been at sea for 15 days. Alone of course.
Are you OK? Gary’s Iridium Go was still not working and so it was clear: no weather for him and no position report for us. The weather forecasts at sea are usually good for 3 days. But not for 20. No drama either, said Holger, sat down at the laptop every morning at 8:30 and calculated (because he had the current weather and the respective wind forces) where the boys should be. We had got 3 waypoints from Gary and so we knew the route to some extent. Mindelo was not on this route.
The days passed by. Holger calculated, we kept an eye on the weather and had a good time here in Tenerife. We drove to the Teide, looked at the north, east and south coasts and hiked the island. We bought bicycles, got our diving license, bought fishing gear and looked at the sea.
Queen off sorrow
No messages for 20 days is a long time. So I started to pester Holger. “Do you think they’ll get close enough to Cape Verde for us to get a AIS signal? How exactly will we be informed when the epirb sends alarm? How many ships are actually hijacked, stolen or considered lost in this way?” Of course there was not the slightest reason for all these crazy ideas. The crew is extremely solid and it took less than 30 minutes for the insurance company to approve the crew, but that’s the way it is. Quite simply, my fertile imagination did a few somersaults and I usually get into actionism after the “Queen of sorrow” phase. I did some research: Lost yachts, who exactly are Gary, Simon, Franco and Brandon who are on our ship right now and what is the exact protocol for a sea rescue. My wildest idea was that the crew was already lying on the beach in Venezuela, a margarita in hands and had sold the ship to the highest bidder. And just as I was thinking: So now I make a plan B: Where do we get a new ship, if something really happened, where can we stay … then Tilman wrote a message. “Great guys, Rivercafe is in Mindelo.”
I put all my plan B versions in my head box “Only open in case of emergency” and was able to reach Lutz Meyer-Scheel in Mindelo, the boss of the marina. We still knew him from the last big trip. What I already knew: They are either not allowed ashore at all or for at least 3 days until the corona test was evaluated. So the tough crew is already 30 days on the water, has once set foot ashore to send an email and bunker water and is already doing the second test. The administrative mills grind very slowly in Mindelo. We have experienced this before. And then messages like this: “Hi Karin, they can’t go any further because they need the permission of Minister XY and he is on vacation with his family. But Lutz makes it possible, simply calls this guy and the permission to leave the country (which one has not entered) is granted. Permission to leave the country.
This morning. It is the 4th of September. Gary and crew set sail. Now there are still 1050 miles to sail, about one week at sea. The way from Cape Verde to the Canary Islands is longer than the other way round. This is due to the prevailing winds. Today I will buy a fine bottle of wine for Lutz, who we will see again in November in Mindelo on our way to the Caribbean. /Karin Binz