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Monday, November 19, 2007

Café Atlantique

16:00UTC 19/11/07 18'55N 024'46W Wind Zero

Today has been somewhat surreal. We have enjoyed a near mystical night, and then had a delightful lunch with fine wines, great food and interesting conversation. We have been to a party.

We have no wind, only the lightest of breaths disturb the mirror like surface of the Atlantic Ocean. As the sun set, just before darkness fell, we were visited by about 10 dolphins arcing their lazy way across the water to say hello to us. We all took photos. After seeing Ian's photos, I'm not bothering to take any myself. The sky produced a range of colours that are near impossible to describe and could not be captured on our cameras. From dusky yellow through dark pink, violet and the deepest blue black, an infinite progression upwards.

At night, we look down into a fluid second sky of perfect stars, reflected from above. This must be the closest we could come to being in space, surrounded by stars. The boat described slow circles of her own devising as we rocked gently in our floating cradle. We watched stars rise and set, and the planets cross the sky; Jupiter clear and bright at sunset, Mars directly above us glowing a ruddy orange whilst in the morning Venus rises over the horizon like a celestial searchlight.

Dawn breaks and we are forced to split the silence with the engine. We motor south, eating a hearty breakfast and marvelling at the peace of this ocean. On the radar, a small contact appears 10 miles ahead, and we slowly overhaul another yacht, drifting slowly in the same direction. We discuss weather to call them and decide that actually, no, we don't want our solitude and peace disturbed, and never know what you might find on the other end of the radio. How right we were.

As we motor on, our radio springs into life. A french accent asks 'sailing yacht near 19 north 25 west, do you receive?' Having been called, of course we respond and chat a little - they are heading for the west indies too. Do we know the weather forecast? Sure, I say and give them a summary. Would you like to come over for champagne? Erm, yes, great. OK, come alongside midday.

This stimulates a bit of activity on board. New t-shirts are dug out of kit bags. Faces are washed, deodorant is found. We decide to take the remaining fruit cake with us, and in a few minutes time we are alongside the 41 foot catamaran, "Hawa Dev", fenders out and tied together bobbing gently in the swell. We sit in her cockpit making introductions and sharing a glass of cava and my mother's contribution to the entente cordial, the superb fruit cake.

Jerome, the skipper, has had the boat a month and is sailing to the Caribbean with his Dad and two friends. Sound familiar? He has four kids, aged 4 to 11, and is taking 3 months off to sail. He and his crew are doctors, and are getting a little worried as they are due back and scheduled to perform operations on Dec 5th. Their satellite email isn't working and they only have forecasts from the radio which are patently wrong (force 5, ha!) Their autopilot has failed, leaving them tediously hand steering, and one of their two engines isn't working, so they have a top speed of about five knots and only four days worth of diesel anyway.

We swap stories, share our forecast, try and fail to fix their autopilot, and look somewhat enviously at the enormous living space on their boat. They look enviously at the teak and classic lines of ours, and at our working electronics! We are invited to stay for lunch, for they have had more success as fishermen whilst spending more of their daylight hours drifting around. We swim in water 3 miles deep whilst their chef gets to work, then enjoy freshly cooked dorado, rice, sun dried tomatoes. Followed by hot fresh chocolate brownie, and coffee.

We swap email addresses and plan to make contact once in the Caribbean, as I sense the kids might make friends. We will also try to contact them by radio at 10am each day for the next few days and share our forecast. Once the wind arrives, they will scoot off at twice our speed so they should get there in time for their flights.

So here, 100 miles north of the Cape Verde islands, on a mirror smooth sea, we have spent a delightful lunch at Café Atlantique, a somewhat exclusive bistro. Call for reservations. Opening hours may vary.

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Blogger diane said...


Meanwhile, it's cold and rather wet here, there was some snow in Shropshire....

5:56 pm  
Blogger Julia said...

I love to hear how you guys are doing. This days entry really brought a smile to my face...of all places to meet up and make friends. I am really not too surprised by this, as it is you of the most personable people I know.

Weather here (Grass Valley, Ca.), crisp yet sunny.

7:49 am  

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