Dee Caffari prepares for possible rendezvous with external world off coast of New Zealand 10/2/06

Date9 February at 2326

PositionS 48° 18’/W 176° 35′

We may have been in a fickle breeze that circulated the Windex at the top of the mast on numerous occasions, but we have been creeping towards the date line slowly. Not one to pass up the opportunities that being almost becalmed offers I had a very productive day.

I was done licking my wounds, feeling sorry for myself and generally recovering from the numerous storms I had conquered. I had slept, eaten, showered and reflected. I was at risk of becoming a vegetable and avoiding taking on the underlying issue of the other half of the world to conquer. Aviva would not sail herself and now I had some down time, I needed to get back on the case again.

I think it was a change in the sail plan that prompted this new drive towards activity. Also I wanted excuses to spend time in the sunshine again. Aware of a possible rendezvous with the external world off the coast of New Zealand, I was undecided how I felt having an intrusion into my small world that involved Aviva, the elements and myself. The others involved in my world were along a satellite link via e-mail and phone. I was now soon to meet with flesh and blood. I was kind of excited but also so keen to keep moving once I started again that I was apprehensive about having an external influence on my sailing. However, the excitement overtook and I busied myself with my jobs list. If people were going to see us I wanted Aviva to look her best. I washed any rust stains away and cleaned the area made dirty from the heater exhaust. With this high pressure around I wasn’t going to need it for a few days.

The breeze was but a zephyr across the mountainous, gentle ocean swell. For the majority of the time the large area of the Code 0 was drawing Aviva and I forward but with the rock of the swell we would make the sails involuntarily back every so often. This constant slatting of the sails was frustrating, but it was the ideal time to complete my staysail repair properly. I had received guidance from the sail makers as to how to make the best repair to the area of the staysail that was taking a bit of a battering. It didn’t come as a surprise, I had guessed that I was going to have to patch the area with a layer of sailcloth and sew it into place. I berated myself for not doing the job as I thought last time, but then I remembered that it was pitch black in the middle of the night when I had sewn that most recent hole.

I dropped the staysail, which in these conditions was easy compared to my other experiences. I then spent an hour and a half doing the job properly. As the repair is close to the two-ply leech it made for some difficult sewing and produced some sore fingers but the end result I was very proud of. I had sewn a patch of material on one side and then repeated the process on the other side with a different sized piece of material set slightly differently to the first side. A work of art, I wanted to take a picture, but they just didn’t do it justice. As I hoisted the sail again afterwards, it looked much better as both the other times I have done a quick repair covered with sticky Dacron, which had peeled off before I had even got the sail to a full hoist.

It was lovely sitting sewing in the sunshine, especially as we were sailing with the Code 0 in light airs so the staysail wasn’t needed anyway, so that took a lot of pressure off. I have now done the recovery and the enjoying of the sunshine, flat conditions and rest, I now need some breeze to get going again.

Sunset was a really stunning sight as on one side of Aviva we had a beautiful sunset and on the other side of her we had the moon rising really brightly in the sky. As darkness filled the void left by the departing sun, we were sailing under a spotlight from a not yet full moon. It cast a stream of light patterns across the water towards us as we ghosted along with the only noise coming reassuringly from the autopilots. To add to the magic of the night we had managed to inch our way to the edge of the high pressure and the breeze was filling in from the northern quadrant. This direction again would allow us to point west and cover some good distance towards home.

With the breeze filling near dawn it also came forward on us so that we needed the headsails rather than the Code 0. With an orange streak across our stern, underlying the darkness of the previous night and announcing the arrival of today’s ball of fire into the sky we furled away the Code 0 and replaced it with the headsails. Again the ocean was smooth but for the gentle rise and fall from the swell. Unfortunately the majority of the day didn’t lose its cloud cover but it was still dry and warm. The breeze remained with us and we made a direct route for the date line.

We are heading past Bounty Island, which has the seabed changing from being 5km deep to just 134 metres deep, so in any weather this would produce a cruel sea, a fortunate time for me to be passing. The other interesting observation is that as we have been above 50 degrees south the sea temperature has risen to the early teens. Now as we are approaching this raised seabed the temperature has dropped almost indicating that there is a cold stream running along the edge of the Bounty Platform. As always when there is land around Aviva has a magnetic instinct and keeps heading straight for the islands, every time we alter course the wind will alter and make us have to change back towards the islands again. Still it keeps me busy.

Dee and Aviva