Dee Caffari experiences an emotional time as she spends Christmas alone at sea

Merry Christmas to you all

Report received0007 on 25 December 2005

You will be reading this after presents and the Queen’s speech no doubt. I do hope Santa delivered all he promised and more. I will tell you all about my Christmas day tomorrow when I have actually had it.

Having learnt that the No. 1 Yankee weighs 90Kg and the No. 2 Yankee weighs 65 Kg it is pretty understandable why my forearms were aching on Friday night, especially when we ended with three reefs in the mainsail as well. The toughest part of the whole operation I think was putting all the sails back in the sail locker, having had to move them all to get to the No. 2 in the first place.

So a weary night led into Christmas Eve. A sky littered with fluffy balls of cotton wool and a pale blue background. Admittedly, if you focused on quite a narrow spot, you missed the ominous black clouds looming across the sky. The wind had eased and on the surface of things life was pretty good.

What had really happened is that Aviva and I had left the warm Brazilian Ocean currents sweeping us along the coast and had met the much colder Falklands Current that is trying to take us back from where we came.

The wind freshened and back in went the reefs and we spent most of the morning tacking, trying to be on the best course for the wind direction. As it took its time to make up its mind where it would blow from, we too took patience with tacking to get it right. With the current against you it makes your course over the ground very different from what it was. Whenever we headed south we were tracking east of south and if we headed with any west we made a course north of west, all far from ideal. Unfortunately the wind ranged from every direction between 215 degrees and 280 degrees and also ranged in speed from 15 knots to 30 knots. After putting the third reef in for the third time I was reluctant to shake it out as I knew that in half an hours time we would be needing it back in again. I spent my afternoon in a quandary deciding if I had the power and /or the inclination.

When organising the cupboard for tomorrow, I found, I had a couple of presents that were for Christmas Eve and when I opened them I understood why. I spent a happy hour decorating Aviva and getting my Christmas Corner ready. I had great fun and to help lift the festive spirits we had a Christmas CD playing in the background. The gusts of thirty knots made it all the more entertaining.

I am astounded at the number of presents I had packed away onboard, many of which went on without my knowing, well done Harry. I am very excited, mind you I think it will be a very emotional time opening the presents, so many kind thoughts are coming out to Aviva and I and I can’t help but shed a tear. I was bad enough opening the cards, with all the kind messages in, so I definitely need the tissues at the ready. I have had a very tearful day today. Even reading messages and e-mails have made me cry just by the caring messages that are coming through. I’ll be getting dehydrated with all these tears!

The weather is to be pretty wet and windy Christmas morning so we shall delay festivities onboard until the late afternoon and then the weather should have calmed down a little by then. My special food sounds likely to be an evening meal. I have organised a present for myself. I made some fresh bread. I tested it warm from the oven with some Marmite and I’m amazed, but it turned out all right. So I have my Christmas breakfast ready as a treat. That’s if there is any left by the morning, we shall see what the nighttime brings first.

Dee and Aviva