Dee is running on empty as squalls take their toll

Despite a fast run south towards the Equator, single-handed sailor Dee Caffari was running on empty today as she struggled with sleep deprivation, she admitted in a phone call to us today. Although she has been fortunate to keep in reasonable winds and has a favourable forecast for the Doldrums just ahead, this unstable area has brought many rain squalls and the frequent changes of wind speed and direction have been grinding her down.

“It’s hard when you’re tired. It wears you down a little bit,” admitted the normally upbeat Caffari. “You just want to get your head down for a little bit and last night as soon as I closed my eyes, five minutes later the alarm went off on the radar, and I was, like, I just don’t believe it!”

The problem is compounded by the heat and intensified on the steel yacht, which Dee describes as “an oven.” The water temperature where Aviva is, at about 8°N, is now 27°C and the air temperature down below decks is 30°C, so even at night she says it is “sweaty and quite nasty”.

Nevertheless, Dee Caffari is on target to cross the Equator later this week or possibly this weekend, and her progress so far has been impressive. While her track is about two days behind that of record holder Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, his time in a custom-designed 75-footer, and made on the third attempt, is considered to be in a special category.

And although Caffari is out to become the first woman to complete this westabout non-stop circumnavigation, it is noteworthy that her time so far is on a par with Philippe Monnet’s time in an Open 60 and ahead of Mike Golding’s in a similar boat. Any perception that she may allow herself to cruise around this tough voyage is seriously off beam.