From hell to heaven in 1 day.

Captain’s log Dec 22th 2021

Location: Cap Verde Islands, Island of Sal, Porto Palmeira

After a 6 day sea voyage from Canary Islands to Cap Verde Islands, we are happy and eager to arrive at the island Sal within the archipelago of Cap Verde.

Taking a day of rest was needed to relax after a 6day ocean trip, taking each 3hour shifts to fulfil 24hour navigation.

Daytime hours of navigation are more easy to cover compared to the nighttime hours as daylight keeps us more occupied and distracted.

After arrival in the bay of Palmeira and throwing anchor, rest was taken for a day. The next day (Dec 23rd) , early morning, 8am, we spotted a sailyacht approaching the bay. Next to the sailyacht, a dinghy was ‘attached’ towing the larger sailyacht?

Getting into the bay and with very limited maneuverability, the sailyacht (later identified as SY Capacabana) would have a hard time getting into the anchorage. Quickly contact via VHF was made and 2 more dinghies from other yachts were dispatched to help out.

After the yacht was safely secured on anchor, both Thierry (SY Ornella) and I set out to go onboard and see what the problem was they encountered.

The main driveshaft of the engine was disconnected from the engine and with this event happening, the driveshaft slid out of the engine and blocked the rudder.

This event incapacitated both engine and sailing capacities of the sailyacht.

It happened 3 days ago and so, their only solution was to use their dinghy with outboard (a 5hp engine) and ’tow’ the combination to the nearest safe place, being the bay of Palmeira.

This towing, being in a 8ft dinghy alongside a 40ft sailyacht is a nightmare that they had to endure for 3days and do not forget, 3 nights aswell!

But, they made it safe and sound to the bay of Palmeira and this is were SY Blowing Bubbles was awaiting them.

A large inspection of their underwatership, showed us that the propellorshaft had been slid out of the hull and jammed the rudder, thus making it impossible to use, impossible to give direction to the sailingyacht.

Next step was to inspect the inside of the engine compartment and find the reason why the propellorshaft had been disconnected.

After disassembling the connection between the shaft and housing towards the engine, we discovered the problem!

As it turned out, the propellorshaft was attached to the engine with a simple system: bolt and nut and guess what: the nut was propelled of the bolt and the propellorshaft had the possibility to slide out towards the ocean.

A quick plan to restore the functions was made, diving under the boat, pushing the propellorshaft back into the hull, sliding it back into the housing, tightening the nut (and preferred to prevent future problems, applying some Locktite glue) and done!

Probably easier said than done and both Thierry and me set off to the underwatership to slide the shaft back into place. With our feet against the rudder, to get us some leverage, we managed to slide it in, inch by inch until after 10minutes of some serious pushing and turning, the shaft was back in its place!

Next was attaching the shaft to the housing and some (4) happy sailors saw that the engine could be used again, the rudder was free and sailing capacities restored.

What a day, what a cheerfull moment!

All 4 young french sailors realised all to quickly, that this problem could not have been solved without scuba diving and couldn’t stop asking about scuba.

How, where, when, what, … for hours we explained what scuba could mean to them!

The next day?

4 young french divers signed up for a Try Scuba onboard SY Blowing Bubbles and we did what we are good at…giving them the best view of the underwater world.

During a 3hour Try Scuba, we explained them all the needed theory and after took them down on a pristine reef outside the bay of Palmeira and showed them in realtime what scuba diving was all about!

Their smiling faces lead to multiple mask clearings (you remember that feeling?), we showed and they repeated the basic scuba skills and during this all, the fishes kept coming our way, wondering what this group of strange bubble makers was doing around their habitat.

During the dives, we met 1000’s of fish, the waters of the Cap Verde islands are very fishfilled and a big variety of Atlantic Ocean fish is found here.

The waters do not have large predators here, so the reef fish are abundant and very colorful.

With the sun high up in the zenith of the sky, the reef gave out the best of colors, showing its corals in the most amazing colors. All this was also put on video, as during the dive, Seppe, crew onboard SY Blowing Bubbles, was taken his NAUI Advanced Scuba Diver Course and wanted to get more experience with underwater videography. As we carry the new Paralenz Vaquita camera onboard the SY Blowing Bubbles, this was the ideal opportunity for him to practise and as a result, get the 4 young french freshly introduced scuba divers a lifelong souvenir of their NAUI Try Scuba in the Cap Verdes. 

After 2 dives along the reef, in 23°C water, the 4500psi/300bar dive tanks we use onboard SY Blowing Bubbles were getting in reserve mode and so, it was time to get back to the surface and face the reality, the day had faded away and it was time to think about some hungry stomachs!

Back onboard SY Blowing Bubbles, we had made arrangments to surprise the 4 Try Scuba Divers with some appetite and stomach pleasing items: freshly made pizzas!

Don’t forget, we are floating at anchor in a bay outside a remote island…there isn’t a Pizza Hut to call or an Uber Eat to deliver you a pizza…

Our kitchen onboard the SY Blowing Bubbles is not small, but to produce 8 pizzas, to feed 8 hungry divers, is not a task up to our kitchen either!

So how did we solve the problem?

During our walk into the small town a day earlier, we came across a bakery that provided us with bread and some buns. When we asked what else they could make (as Christmas was coming up), the owner told us that he was doing some specials and guess what? Pizzas were on the menu!

So, we ordered immediately 8 pizzas (this gave the owner a little scare, like, this is a serious order) and set a time for pick up te next day at 4pm.

Now we only needed another dinghy/boat to get there and bring them to us! We made a deal with another sailing catamaran, SY MIRA and their crew of 4, including Cpt Ruben, his wife Louise and 2 kids Michiel and Anna.

In exchange to participate at the pizza buffet, they were more then eager to play the role of ‘Uber Eat’ and at 4.15pm, they arrived with 8 freshly made, warm pizzas at SY Blowing Bubbles.

8 hungry stomachs awaiting them, the pizzas got sliced up and soon there was no more talking, just enjoyment as the pizzas made their way from box, via mounth to stomach.

The day came slowly to its end, while relaxing in the sun, having a drink and 4 young french sailors making plans to become certified Naui Scuba Divers as soon as possible. Turning the last 24 hours from hell to heaven, all was needed was some scuba diving!