As we are coming closer to Cape Verde I’m coming more aware of chance that we will be refused cause of the corona virus. Daily we get updated about the situation in the world and it only gets more worrying. First Italy was hit hard ; now the title is taken over by Spain. At a certain moment hitting 800 casualties a day escalating a couple of days later to 6000 !!!
We row into the channel between the Cap Verde islands. The wind is picking up while it’s getting tunnelled between the two land masses and on top of that the falling winds that drop from the mountains. When I’m rowing with only visually impaired rower Shane behind me we just cannot get enough power in the boat to stay away from the rough rocky coastline so when the other three take over after our shift I’ll let them row on as long as it takes to get in while I steer the boat. Finally, we round the cape into the bay and then it’s just another hour rowing to the marina.
Anxious I look around for the police and half an hour before the marina, I see a police RIB coming towards us. Damn that’s not looking good and a bit later they are in front of us waving with their arms and shaking with their heads that we are refused to enter land. Meanwhile the wind picked up and we are struggling to keep position and more important not to hit any other moored or sunken vessels while communicating with the not all to smart maritime police.
After some up and down shouting ‘it doesn’t matter how long we are at sea and that it’s impossible that we have corona virus’, we will absolutely not be granted to enter land and we have to go on anchor. Easier said than done with this wind. We try it twice but both times fail as the anchor starts dragging what results it the first smart action of the police that we can anchor on a buoy. As we found out the police, government and the rest of the islands just don’t know what to do with the situation and nobody simply just don’t dare to make any decision and as for us they just simply start to ignore us over the VHF like we are not existing. And when they come back to us on the water they just say ‘yes and we come back to you on our questions’ but they’d never do.
Meanwhile we get in contact with sailing boats in the marina and it seems that almost half of them is Dutch and that they opened a 24/7 channel on VHF 76 where we soon part of to discuss things. A week ago, they closed the borders. One of the Dutch boats was the last to be allowed on land and for the rest it looks just very bad.
Our main thing that we are here is just water! Our watermaker has broken down. Very simple to repair but we just need a soldering machine. Our handheld watermaker is leaking so we can’t rely on that and our water supply is almost down to zero. “Just get us water supplies and we are out off here. You get rid of us”. It’s no rocket science but they just keep on with ignoring us making us only more aggressive bombing emergency channel 16 with our questions but without success so far.
Meanwhile illegally we arranged a soldering machine through Dutch Akko of the last sailing boat that is allowed to enter shore. On the way out they will throw a bag with equipment to us because they are forbidden to make any contact with other boats. Understandable that they don’t want to be put in quarantine again with a baby on board.
We are desperate to leave. When you are on the middle of the ocean with no islands on your route you have to take the change with a leaking handheld watermaker but if you got the chance to get water supplies it is just irresponsible to leave without it. Getting your crew unnecessary in danger or a rescue and the same for the vessel that has to rescue you. I kept on pushing it harder on channel 16: “This is ocean rowing boat Rose for the maritime police. We are in urgent need of water and you are not responding. We are with five persons on board and down to 3 litres of water. If you keep on not responding we are going on land round 18:00 and we will get our own water supplies. You can not let people die 40 meters from shore in your waters”. Finally, after sending this message out 10 times and when we were getting ready to row a shore, they came down for our shopping list including 400 litre of water.
In the mean time I am regularly in contact with the Dutch group and found out that the government of Cape Verde came together today and chose for a more strict regime. Total lock down. Nobody can go in or out anymore also tourists and immigrants in quarantine status including ships. No way!
We have accepted that we can’t come in but the last thing we want is get stuck in this bay for maybe months.
Some hours later our water supplies came in. We collected the soldering machine including some freshly made cookies from the Dutch and we disappeared quietly in the early morning onto the ocean again.
And we’re off again to Cayenne. Like the days before Cape Verde our speed is low but that is my experience in this area.
For the world record from Cayenne to break our 2017 record wasn’t looking that well for a while. Three days out of Cape Verde we reached the halfway point of the crossing in 26 days what makes our ETA 52 days. Compared to our world record schedule of 2017 with an ETA of 45 days we need a miracle so we now aim for our oceanrower.eu world record from Africa to South-America of last year of 26 days. Sometimes the average speed went as low as 1.5 knots but finally in the third night speeds of 3.5 knots picked up again although the wind almost completely dropped down and for the first time it became very hot on board !!!
On to Cayenne and what for an adventures the corona virus plans for us over there! But what are our options. At least we can row for the coming weeks!
Like last solo crossing of the Atlantic it’s the same on this crossing again. Spotify and I don’t cope together. Normally you can use your downloaded list 30 days offline. Last crossing it stopped at 11 days. This trip it is different. All the time my playlist stopped automatically. Finally, about 4 days before Cape Verde every ten seconds. That’s not working but soon at Cape Verde I can update it I thought. Well that became a NO and I have to go on without music.
On the other hand, Livar just forgot to download his playlist but he downloaded pretty some audio books about expeditions and ocean adventures and meanwhile he got pretty far through his library. Cause of my lack of music he was willing to share his phone with me so that I could listen to his audio books. As skipper and co-skipper we rowed all the time at stroke position in different groups so we could exchange his phone.
So three days after Cape Verde I started with the first audiobook in my life and that day Livar didn’t used his phone cause he didn’t had many audiobooks left. I liked listening to the stories of other adventurers like “rowing the Pacific” and “into thin air” by Jon Krakauer. Last one is a true classic that I read twenty years ago but inspiring to listen to it now while rowing. I went surprisingly quick through some books and told Livar that it feels like you finish an audiobook much faster then reading the same book in printed form. Somehow during the night it felt a bit tiring cause you had to stay focused on the fast speaking but it was a good way to let your mind go a bit to another world while rowing in the pitch dark night.
At night Livar took over the phone and started to listen to his audiobook “the boy behind the gate”. When he put in his earplugs he started to laugh, looks at me and said: “Wtf did you do to my phone? My audiobook sounds like it’s read by a smurf ! Ralph you have pushed the button to maximum reading speed!” Ah I didn’t know that speed was a feature on audiobook but it explained my rush through Livar’s library!
So as I said before Livar was almost through his library and got stuck in the audiobook “the boy behind the gate” a book about a gay couple sailing across the oceans. Didn’t look like the first choice of a Faroer viking being a fisherman the most time of his life and could have walked straight out of the set of “Game of thrones “. It was in the last night shift. For every oceanrower the most tiring after a long dark night. The fighting not to fall asleep shift was probably extra hard for Livar while the romantic conversations of his audiobook wanted to send him to dreamland.
Meanwhile Darragh was fighting his sleep on the middle rowing position behind Livar but he lost the battle. He felt asleep while rowing and dreamed that somebody in front of him reached out a pillow so that he could go to sleep. Darragh reached out to the pillow and thought he got it. Nicely squeezing the pillow smoothly with his fingers.
Then the silence of the night was broken when Livar shouted: “WTF, Darragh. Let go of my shoulders!”
Soon everybody was fully awake again!
It’s quiet on the water. We were past by one huge tall ship with three masts from Brazil. It had made his way to Europe to attend in one of this summer events on the water like Sail Amsterdam 2020 but halfway the Atlantic it turned around and was on its way back to Brazil because of the corona virus.
Today is the last day of March. Another hot day without wind. At the end of the day a big loud bang did tremors run through the hull of the boat. A shark just wanted to scare us.
To follow our current Atlantic crossing go to oceanrower.eu @ follow next expedition.
Interested to take part in our next Atlantic crossings in 2021 go to oceanrower.eu or send me a PM (on Facebook). While currently on the Atlantic messages will be answered asap after arrival in South-America.