Dee enjoys last night at sea aboard Aviva 17/5/06

Date 17 May at 2351

Position N 49° 6’/W 6° 18′

All being well this should be my last daily log written alone on Aviva. We should be crossing the finish line tomorrow during the day, however as is always the case every mile feels as if it is taking twice as long as it should. Just knowing that there are some of the shore team sat in Falmouth tonight while I write this ready for my arrival makes me want to get there as quick as possible.

Last night Aviva and I had a bit of a blow on our hands. It was cold wet and windy and as much as I reduced sail, Aviva kept reaching high boat speeds. It was great and then I had a word with myself before I got too excited in so much as we are looking for completion, which means safe and in one piece, rather than trying to get the fastest boat speed and risk breaking things. I thought that was going to be the fast ride into the finish, but today had other ideas. We had some sunny spells during the afternoon and I ended up with a full sail plan again, just keeping the boat speed up. The really touching moment was a glorious evening and I actually took half an hour to try and comprehend what has been happening for the last 177 days. I finally had my special moment with Aviva, the open ocean, although we had just made it onto the continental shelf, and my last sunset alone.

I am confident that tonight will take us back into the windy stuff, so there will be lots of sail changes again and also I am crossing the Western Approaches to make it over to the English side of the channel so the increase in shipping will keep me on my toes. There is a noticeable increase in radio traffic on the VHF, but I am really looking forward to hearing Falmouth Coastguard again after such a long time. Sleep I have come to the conclusion is for after the finish line.

Last night I had a visitor onboard Aviva. While I was putting a reef in the mainsail I watched a tiny bird working really hard against the wind and rain to get to Aviva. Eventually he made it and he was shattered. He kept hopping around trying to get out of the wind. He ended up in one of the rope bins on deck which I wasn’t happy with because in the darkness of night I would forget he was there and drop a rope on him. I also recognised that with a bird this tired and not even with the energy to fly away when I was near he was looking for his last resting place. So I went below and found a Tupperware bowl and put some tissue in it and popped the bird in it and placed him under the cuddy away from the wind and elements. He tweeted at me but didn’t move.

Unfortunately but unsurprisingly, we had a burial at sea for him this morning, but at least Aviva and I had helped him before he died. As if the trauma of one bird wasn’t enough, I had a pigeon catch a ride for the day today. I went on deck and jumped in surprise as we both startled each other. The pigeon then found a spot of shelter from the spinnaker pole. After about an hour there were two pigeons and then this afternoon when I was shaking out another reef, I startled not two but three pigeons. The first one had invited his mates. I am guessing they were homing pigeons as they were identical and pretty smart for catching a lift, but now I do have to go round with some soap and a sponge to remove their mess.

The most difficult thought I have to get my head around is the fact that tomorrow Aviva and I will sail into the history books alongside others that I have read books about and admired from afar. It is a monumental achievement for not just myself and Aviva, but also the shore team that have helped us complete the voyage and for all of you that have kept our spirits up and motivated us to keep going. I am getting pretty excited and probably wouldn’t be able to sleep anyway.

Dee and Aviva