Dee Caffari's continuous fight with autopilot, and visit from unidentified creatures 15/5/06

Date14 May at 2311
PositionN 42° 47′ /W 14° 5′

Well if at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again!

The weather abated, the sea state calmed and the rain stopped. It was now or never. I furled the headsails away and centred the mainsail so that it was under control. I then entered my box of tricks at the back of Aviva. I checked the oil levels and then set about steering the rudder from full lock on one side and then the other.

This worked fine and when I put the pilot back on again it was an hour before I heard an alarm. I thought we had cracked it, but from then on things deteriorated. In the end the alarm was almost constant. I couldn’t even use the heads as the alarm was always going off. Eventually, the alarm was driving me to distraction so I got dressed up and went on deck to drive. At least that way I didn’t have to hear that alarm any longer.

Whilst sat on deck feeling pretty miserable I considered what the remaining 600 miles were going to be like. It was looking like I would be stuck at the wheel for most of it. I would have difficulty eating and drinking properly and as for sleeping, well, I guess I could do that after the finish line.

I had been very methodical for the last 24 hours. I hadn’t flapped at all even with Aviva turning circles in 30 knots of wind last night and being buffeted by wind, waves and rain all night long, I had still held it together. But sat on deck considering the last few days and how they might be endured were beginning to make me crack. I had thought about the final miles sailed of the adventure over the last six months and none of my thoughts considered being stuck at the helm, unable to do much else. My ideas were to enjoy every mile sailed with Aviva and reflect on my journey.

Tonight the conditions are much easier but almost to the other extreme. The wind is very light and it is tricky to keep moving. There is a persistent drizzle and the visibility is very poor. Everything being so wet on deck makes the dampness travel through to your core and sat at the wheel makes life pretty cold. I have had to find a couple more layers for tonight.

After my blustery night on deck last night, the daylight revealed I had some visitors. These were small animals of some description that had been washed on deck in the waves. I have no idea what they are and have taken a picture in case anyone can enlighten me. There are thousands of these creatures in the water now I have looked for them and I have never experienced them before.

Dee and Aviva