Dee Caffari enjoys the rare beauty of the Southern Ocean

Date10 January at 0020

PositionS 55° 33 ‘/W 88° 27 ‘

It was dark about 2200hrs local time, which is about 0400hrs UT, and then the first signs of daylight were breaking at 0300hrs local time, which is about 0900hrs UT. A very short spell of darkness but the signs of sunrise were fantastic.

The awakening sun lighted the sky and the colours streamed down the companionway hatch as the sun rose from behind Aviva and I. The furious looking clouds seemed to melt away as the daylight took over and merged into the horizon. The southerly wind had a bracing chill to it and reminded me of fresh, crisp spring mornings at home where you can see your breath as you breathe in the morning air. The rain from the nighttime showers had washed the deck of any salt remains from the sea spray and we surged on heading west.

It is always an honour to sail in these conditions. I am only too aware of how rare they are down here in the Southern Ocean as we approach the furthest point from land. All too soon this will become a memory, as survival will take over in the harsh reality of what the sea can deliver.

Having re trimmed the sails in the morning light, I called into the London Boat Show and chatted to Elaine Bunting. I felt strange to think that there would be a group of people able to hear me. It is one of the hardest things to do, and that is explaining the Southern Ocean experience. It is such a changing climate and full of surprises, which is why it is often referred to as the defining stretch of a Round The World race.

The other exciting moment today was to change over autopilots. Together with the Technical Support Team, we decided that a weekly change over of autopilots would ensure that both remained in working order and therefore give me the confidence that I need, knowing that I had full redundancy if needed. However, when the pilot had been working all week, since Cape Horn, I was reluctant to change it and start all the stress again. So gingerly I engaged the wheel and started driving as I changed to the other pilot. I pressed the button and to my relief the pilot with out a symphony of alarms as accompaniment, was driving Aviva. It is still early days for my trust in this unit, but it is not a bad start to week eight.

Dee and Aviva