Spirits rise aboard Aviva. Dee Caffari with her latest log from the Atlantic

Date15 December 2005


Speed over ground6.8kts

Apparent wind speed9kts

True wind speed11.8kts

PositionS 20° 55’/W 36° 38′

Given that we are approaching a weekend I am in particularly good spirits. I think all your messages have really helped this week. I was quite emotional last weekend and the beginning of the week was very hard. But yet again I have tremendous support from you all and it has really bought me through the other side. I feel we may be going through this several times on this voyage so keep up the good work. I bet by the end of this you guys will be as exhausted as I will be, as you will have been keeping me going for some time!

Thursday was another productive day. We sailed, albeit slowly at times, in a much better direction all day. The weather although hot showed only small patches of blue sky. Again we were faced with a good covering of cloud. The cloud blanket makes it very difficult to see the edges and any potential increases of wind.

I had managed to get a couple of hours of sleep during the early hours and even felt cool enough to pull a blanket over my shoulders whilst in my bunk. That is the first time I have used a cover since leaving Portsmouth. In honesty, it probably took me the first 10 days before I took my foulies and boots off and slept anywhere else other than the chart table seat. So not only to be in my bunk, but also needing to find the blanket was a real treat.

I was up to see the dawn. Remember I am travelling back against the clock so an interview with the radio this morning at 0730hrs UTC was pretty early here. I had some breakfast and capitalised on it still being cool on deck and set to servicing some more winches. I achieved another five winches, with only 1 broken spring in that group.

The Technical Team were hard at work today sending me lists of checks as we try and tackle the autopilot issue. Armed with my multi meter I took no prisoners. I was at the aft of Aviva with my head in a cupboard, and then I was investigating the hydraulics box on deck behind the wheel. I have measured voltages and ohms for nearly every wire there is, and I am none the wiser but we did make progress and I collected my electrician’s badge. Rather than keep sending results of test back to the office, I had the e-mail through to actually change an autopilot brain for the spare I am carrying. Even if this wasn’t the answer, it made me feel more productive and as if I was finally helping the situation. The result wasn’t quite as we planned, but hey, I like to keep the boys on their toes. I guess the saga will continue tomorrow.

I have finally passed the Isle da Trinidade, which is situated 600 miles east from the coast of Brazil. From the island to the shoreline there are a number of seamounts in a line east to west that vary in height causing the depth to change from 4,000 metres to only 54 metres. It is quite amazing to think of the seabed being so varied but sailing along you wouldn’t have even known without looking at the chart. The bird life has continued to increase, I guess, as a direct result of being close to the Brazilian coastline, however the marine life has remained very limited. I am keeping my fingers crossed for that to increase soon.

Dee and Aviva