More jobs for Dee Caffari aboard Aviva on her westabout circumnavigation

Date 08/12/05: 07h58

Latitude N 1° 59′

Longtitude W 30° 34′

DTF 26,642

CMG 182.9

SMG 7.5

24hr Run 148

24hr Speed 6.2

Miles covered 3,500

How things can change. There I am sailing between 8 and 10 knots and then suddenly it was as if someone put the brakes on. After all the events of Tuesday, the evening came and the wind died.

Frustrated doesn’t even come close. The wind peaked at about 5 knots and was coming from all different directions. Now the plan when sailing a 42 tonne steel yacht is to keep her moving at all costs because once she stops she will take forever to get going again. So that was the plan, never mind the direction, just keep moving. I compromised slightly and decided that we can go in any direction that has a southerly component to it.

All night long we trimmed and sat and watched then we adjusted and watched, I was doing everything in my power to keep Aviva moving. I couldn’t sleep because I was scared I might miss a zephyr of breeze that could get us going again. We were at times going so slow that even the autopilot wasn’t interested anymore so I turned him off and just lashed the wheel in between adjustments. To keep awake I took to Su Doku by torch light on my beanbag on deck, whilst watching the instruments as the anemometer circled endlessly.

During the night I heard some strange noises. You get used to the creaks and groans from Aviva while we are sailing, but this noise was new. There wasn’t much ambient light but the noise was definitely from the water. I got a high-powered torch and shone it around the boat. In the water were these fish jumping all around. They were dark backed and silver bellied under torchlight and they were playing and jumping around. I am no fish expert but they looked like a tuna type of fish. They were complete acrobats and kept me entertained for ages.

Yesterday as the sun rose, so did the breeze. It was only to 8 knots but it made progress consistent and in the right direction, also the autopilot could play again too. This was still painfully slow progress but leading to my meeting with Neptune.

We overcame a huge job on the maintenance list yesterday. The autopilot has two of everything, the plan being that if one stops working we have a back up while I fix the first one. Sounds like a good plan but in our first weekly change over we found that the second set of a number of items didn’t want to work. This has had the technical team in Plymouth working at schemes that I can do alone to fix the various parts and bring it back on line.

Yesterday, as the conditions were light, was the perfect day to initiate ‘Pilot Day’! I had a page of instructions sent to me, made a quick phone call to check a few details and then I jumped to it. Bleeding the hydraulics system in itself is fine in principle, but when I needed to be in two places at once doing things it got a little interesting. In the space of an hour and a half I managed to spread hydraulic fluid everywhere, all over me and everything I touched, but the result was that the pump was operating. No errors came up, no fluid being squirted anywhere and I had a huge grin on my face. Apart from the mess, it had been easier than I first anticipated.

Full marks to the technical team and their patience with me. I have now earned my computer badge, water maker badge, mast climbing badge and now my autopilot badge. I definitely believe I am going to need extra long arms at the end of this voyage.

Dee and a better working Aviva