In November 2010, Chap’s, an Allures 44, leaves Bayonne for an Atlantic crossing. A voyage which starts with a first stopover in Port Mogan, in the south of the island of Gran Canaria, to refuel Chap’s before setting sail for Guadeloupe.
Notice to sailors, a little devil is a wonderful crew member when it comes to provisioning and takes up very little space on board.
Located 55 miles away, we take the direction of Tenerife whose peak is 3,717 m. An appreciable crossing, downwind, marked by a sumptuous sunset. First night at anchor south of Tenerife. Sea 24°C, air 18°C at night and 26° during the day, a mild weather which allows us to take our first bath.
75 miles is the distance we then covered to reach Hierro, a small island, the most south-western of the Canaries. Less known because it is less touristic, and yet Christopher Columbus left this island for his second crossing. At the time, it was the westernmost island in the known world!
We are starting to get a taste of life on board for good: no more planes, no more stress, the sea as an eternal beginning again, the sea that humbles and the sea that gives itself. We enjoy every moment.
Then we make our first big crossing, 750 miles, between the Canary Islands and Cape Verde under different weather conditions: from flat calm to 15 knots of wind, from East, North and West.
The pace of the watches is quite fast to take. We live with the sun, all the more so as just after sunset there is a period of total darkness with an extraordinarily starry sky. Then around midnight, the moon rises, illuminating the sea and making navigation timeless.
This Atlantic crossing convinces us as to the choice of our boat. Chap’s is remarkably reliable. Life on board: we tinker, optimize and tidy up this sailboat which allows us these long navigations.
We make the most of these moments by leading a life on board full of various activities: DIY, reading, swimming and fishing.
After 750 miles, we reach Cape Verde with a first stopover on the island of Sao Nicolau, where we anchor in Porto de Tarrafal. The black sand of the beaches is very famous because it is rich in iodine and titanium and known for its medicinal qualities.
Then we sail to Mindelo, capital of the island of Sao Vicente, one of the nine main islands of Cape Verde. Here we meet a very endearing population and meet some of the sailors who are taking part in the Transat des Iles du Soleil. They make us discover the island’s colourful and musical evenings. Cape Verdians have music in their blood and a taste for partying. The ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) is also on a stopover due to lack of wind. This makes for very cosmopolitan evenings with about twenty different nationalities trying their hand at Cape Verdean dances without success.
2,350 miles, or more than 4,200 km without seeing land, is the distance we covered in 15 days to reach the other side of the Atlantic. We covered a little more than the normal distance because we had to go down further south than expected to get some wind and avoid a bubble with no wind that was on the direct course.
The Atlantic is still a place of freedom and adventure: flying fish, dolphins, whales… an extraordinary crossing.
What we retain from these few days is first of all that the weather regains all its value. The other point that has marked us is the total freedom we felt.
It was a fantastic experience, which nonetheless requires a little preparation, a bit of unconsciousness, resistance, patience, philosophy and above all a boat in which we trust, which we watch and listen to all the time…
And Chap’s journey doesn’t end there! After 25 countries visited during this Atlantic tour, we plan to set off again for a tour of the Mediterranean in 2020. See you soon for more adventures! »
Arnault and Marie-Laure Chaperon