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Nov 2014

25 Nov. 2014; At Sea.

Today is our first day of that long haul all the way along the West side of Africa. The area that we are now in, close to the equator, is known to sailors as the Doldrums.  The area of very little wind.  It is caught between two area’s of trade winds and as a result there is basically “no wind left” to blow here. And indeed outside there is hardly more than about 3 knots of wind blowing. We call that a light Air.  It is almost always the same here and in the old days sailing ships could float here in becalmed weather for weeks, causing food and water to run out and scurvy to set in. Not nice at all. That was also one of the reasons for steamship companies to be very quickly established to Africa as well.  The North Atlantic was the first as the steamships reduced the crossing time (here mostly due to too much wind = bad weather) from six weeks down to 14 days, but this was quickly followed by routes to West Africa. Especially the British were very active here. There was a Dutch company as well but it was never very prominent. The Belgians had a much larger presence in this area as they owned the Belgian Congo.  A good second were the Portuguese who had the colonies Angola and Mozambique. The name Doldrum is 19th. Century and means dullard which in those days was a sluggish fellow. Another piece of interest that surfaced today and had the guests focusing on was the volcano eruption in Cape Verdes. Everybody was at once concerned about having to cancel yet another port but there was no reason for alarm. The Cape Verdes are full of volcanos and this one has its own island. Basically the island of Fugo is the Volcano. There are houses scattered all over the mountain slope and there is a little town but it is all up and against the cone of the Volcano. Thus there is no point of refuge on the island and hence the call has gone […]

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