Just when things were starting to look up Dee Caffari spots her first iceberg

According to the shore team Dee has now completed the re-wiring and re-calibration of both autopilots. Since that time the alarms have stopped and no more hydraulic fluid has been lost. They say: “We are cautiously optimistic with progress to date. Today we will continue extensive testing of the two systems and will know more in 24-48 hours as to whether the faults have been rectified or not.

“She is making a good speed of 7.5 knots and will probably pass on the west side of the Falklands.”

Dee’s daily report

Date29 December 2252

PositionS 47° 22′ / W 56° 35′

It was amazing, a day finally that didn’t reduce me to tears. That’s a first in about five days I think.

Last night, I was adjusting the trim of the sails and I saw an increased amount of phosphorescence in the water around Aviva. Then I noticed the torpedoes swimming around the yacht and playing with the waves. Dolphins playing surrounded us. My mum bought me a dolphin pendant that I wear round my neck with a St Christopher from my best friend, that never gets taken off and I have always thought of dolphins as good omens. Maybe this was a sign. They were having great fun and lit up the ocean surrounding us.

The other sign if we are going to go for this theory, is that there is a high pressure forming off the Falkland Islands so despite the dreary and drizzly day I had the wind has in fact settled down and conditions will improve. This will again allow us more precious time for dealing with our autopilot issues.

The tasks for developing the successful outcome of the autopilot drama continued today. I re-calibrated the new brains of the operation that I fitted some time ago now. This did result in no audible alarms although some recurring faults with the displays were still in existence. Heh, I was happy, I’ve been listening to alarms go off nearly every hour for weeks now and suddenly I had a full afternoon of quiet. It kind of made me uncomfortable. The next step was to adapt the top of the hydraulics box to allow for the new breather pipes to remain in place.

I made my measurements and disconnected the box lid and then found my drill and began destruction. It’s funny, with the Challenge Business yachts, you can make them your own and make changes so long as you do not put any new holes in the yacht, so when you leave you cannot be noticed and now here I am drilling holes in boxes. I felt kind of naughty in a fun way!

Unfortunately rain stopped play and I looked around and the visibility had dropped to less than 100 metres. There was a drizzle in the air and the sea was almost spooky. Very grey, dreary and almost claustrophobic. Breather pipe developments shall continue when the weather improves.

I have learnt today that although when I grow up I could be an engineer, I am also very good with a drill! Wonders shall never cease. You see, and all of you thought that sailing around the world was just about sailing. Let me tell you, the sailing is the easy bit!

STOP PRESS!!!!!!!!!!

I couldn’t believe my eyes! I was finally lying down in my bunk, trying to get some rest before I made some dinner when I heard a bang. It sounded like the boom swinging with the rolling motion of the boat, but then I remembered I had a preventer on. So I jumped up on deck to see a huge lump of ice on my port side. We must have hit some ice in the water. Earlier in the day when the visibility closed in, there were some white horses that looked quite permanent, but I decided that the light and conditions were playing with my tired eyes. So when I saw this iceberg I grabbed the camera and kept trying to rub my eyes to make sure. I then spent ten minutes checking all the navigation equipment to check where I was exactly. The sea temperature at midday UTC was 14 degrees and now when I looked it was just 10 degrees. On the Global Challenge, 18 pairs of eyes had sailed to below 60 degrees south and we never saw any ice, now north of the Falkland Islands I just saw an iceberg. I am excited, amazed and quite scared all at the same time. It is quite unbelievable and something I didn’t expect at all.

So I have just turned the heating on to check it still works!

A warm Dee and Aviva