Dee Caffari is about to round the final big corner before she heads back up the Atlantic 3/4/06

Date2 April at 2316
PositionS 34° 48’/E 18° 8′

Dee Caffari is expected to round the Cape of Good Hope at approximately 1900 BST today, Monday 3 April, propelling her attempt to become the first woman to sail round the world solo and non-stop against the prevailing winds and currents into a new and exciting chapter. Returning to the Atlantic Ocean with her confidence building, she has set herself the goal of 12 May to cross the finish line off Ushant. If she achieves this it will bring her total number of days alone at sea to 172.

Dee’s latest diary
Today was a windy day, but it remained aft of the beam all day. Around mid morning we gybed and continued to point towards the Cape. The overcast sky continuously had black clouds looming and rolling on by. The sea state had calmed down a little as the wind had backed, it was now travelling in a similar direction to the flow of current so the steep short waves being created yesterday afternoon had subsided.

Around lunchtime I entered the continental shelf and for the first time since clearing Cape Horn I had the depth register on my instruments rather than the dashes that have been present while the ocean seabed has been so far away. I almost felt under pressure as I read we only had 124 metres below us. Everything is relative and after three months not seeing people or land except for the day off New Zealand, I am now heading towards a landmass, the depth is registering again and if all goes to plan I will see human contact again from a helicopter for a short while tomorrow. I almost feel claustrophobic.

Aviva and I have a rendezvous with a helicopter from Cape Town tomorrow and we will again drop some videotape to them and wave wildly at the sight of humans and then we shall be left alone yet again for the remaining 7,000 miles. At least this time after my experience in New Zealand waters, I know what feelings to expect as the helicopter flies away. It will not make it any easier to deal with but at least I can anticipate that mixture of emotion of being so close to people yet so far away. The difference this time is that my next contact will be coming home!

I changed charts again today and this chart now not only has the position of Aviva on but also stretches up to the equator. That just goes to show that the northern hemisphere is not too far away. I will have to get my head around the weather systems rotating the other way round again, that will seem strange after so long in the Southern hemisphere.

Tonight was a perfect illustration of how the sailing will change now I am clear of the solitude of the Southern Ocean. As the night took hold and the blanket of stars covered the sky I saw two looms of light to my starboard side. I checked the chart and found they were the lights from the oil fields just close by the Traffic Separation Scheme that runs along the Agulhas Bank. Then from the same area I had the lights of a large tanker appear. The radar picked him up and I could see that our course was very close to being a converging course. Or maybe I am overly cautious, as I am not used to being so close to other vessels. Or maybe I wanted an excuse to talk to someone, but at four miles distance between us I called him on the VHF and he replied immediately. As I was very deep downwind with the mainsail strapped by a preventer, if he needed me to change course I needed time to do it. I asked if he was happy with my current heading and speed. I thanked me for asking and was confident that he was clear of me. It was quite exciting, but I had forgotten how stressful being in the proximity of other vessels could be.

Whilst I was on deck watching his navigation light pull ahead of me some other lights caught my eye. It was in the water on the leeward side. I looked and saw that we had loads of phosphorescence in the water. Every splash and most waves had these sparks of light glowing; it was magical and made me feel all the closer to that tropical sailing ahead.

Dee and Aviva