As Dee Caffari heads south away from the tropics the temperature of the wind and the sea are rapidly dropping

Date and time 20 December 2005 at 1200

Position S 30° 05’/W 44° 02′

Tuesday felt as if I had entered a different world. It’s amazing how much difference some sleep makes. The chocolate biscuit to Neptune obviously worked last night as the wind remained constant for a few hours and Aviva kept making progress slowly but surely.

I enjoyed some steady breeze to sail in during the course of the morning, although its direction was pretty shifty. I had some clear skies and warm breeze. I delved into some more re wiring for the next stage in the autopilot development. It still didn’t give me the result that we were after but I am getting very good at these practical tasks, maybe I could be an electrician when I grow up, because I am definitely finding my way around a multi meter now. I even took some photographs and made some Christmas messages, but then the afternoon arrived.

With the 4pm log entry came black skies full of rain and strong cold wind from the south. I went from having 5 knots of breeze to having 35 knots of breeze. I was sailing hard on the wind and the rain was beating into my face and stinging as I was trying to see if this cloud was going to last for long. In the space of 35 minutes the mainsail went from being fully hoisted to being fully reefed. I had furled the headsail part way and then when the 40 knots gusts came, I furled the staysail part way. The heavens opened with heavy rain and if it were warmer it would have been great for a shower and washing my hair. As it was I was soaked to the skin, cold, and covered more by seawater tumbling over the deck than by rain falling from the sky. I have never seen a sea rise from nowhere like that before, the waves were large and Aviva was pitching into the wave and I was experiencing the top of the wave crashing down the foredeck over the hatches that I was rushing to close before I had more water in my bilges to mop out again.

This lasted for two hours, and then almost as quickly as it arrived it departed. In the space of 45 minutes I had unfurled the headsails and shaken two reefs out. I still had a reef in the mainsail, there were still clouds around and it was still raining although the breeze was dropping. By this time I was really quite cold despite all my exertions and I made an unusual decision. At the time I felt guilty about it but I also feel so much better now that I made the decision. For once I thought of myself before Aviva, don’t worry, she didn’t mind. I grabbed a hot shower and put some dry clothes on and some foul weather gear and then I shook the final reef out. I felt so good for having taken a shower that I continued the good work and cooked a massive dinner. I was starving by then, as lunch seemed to have been passed by again. The 15 minutes that Aviva waited for before having her final reef shaken out didn’t make a huge difference to her but it made the world of difference to me.

The front that I passed through was curling towards the coast from the depression we have been watching move from the west to the east. Tomorrow we shall be passing across the top of a high-pressure cell and then we should be set up for some strong but warm northerly winds as the high-pressure cell moves across to the east. I am now definitely moving away from the tropics. The temperature of the wind and the sea is a good indicator. I need to start storing up any sunny days left as I will soon be missing them and it will be a while before I am back in the Atlantic again, complaining of stifling heat.

Dee and Aviva