Route du Rhum sailor Lia Ditton stuck in no wind. Here's her latest log 20/11/06

British Route du Rhum sailor Lia Ditton is currently stuck in a no wind area nearly 600 miles from the finish line in Guadeloupe while the leader Michel Kleinjans on Roaring Forty is tracking ahead in a decent breeze now nearly 200 miles ahead.

Expressing her frustration Ditton sent her latest log earlier today.

?At 1.1 knots of progress, I could swim faster. I have had to tie the boom to the deck with bungee cord as a shock absorber; it was threatening to rip off the mainsheet track.

A whisper of something roams across the water, fluttering the surface; enough to fill the main for 20 seconds before the boom drops down again fighting the gooseneck with a hard wrench on the sheet. The effect shudders down the deck. Thanks to the engineering wizardry of James Walker, the gooseneck is articulating steel or there might not be a gooseneck still to speak of. The one patch of shelter in the lee of the main is perpetually in motion, as the boat creeps forward in a drunken stupor, bullied by the little eddies of breeze.

There is no reprieve. Down below is a furnace of humidity. Having to boil water to re-saturate my freeze-dried meals and run the engine to top up the batteries doesn’t help. Replacing the two 12 volt fans at the nav station was an act of genius, but they drag me into a circular dilemma. They keep me cooler. They need power. Power is generated by the engine. The engine outputs heat. The prickles of heat or the result of living in a salty environment, I have minor rashes under my arms, around my elbows and between my fingers. By the end of the OSTAR I had the same problem. This time I am armed with a wonderfully titled American product called ‘ITCH-X.’ A cold shower in fresh water would probably work better.

‘Turn on your VHF, channel 72.’ David Lefebvre on ‘Knauf Industries,’ a Class 40, called me on the Sat phone. Six miles north and three miles west, there was a tiny black stick on the horizon. On asking him how his race was going, he said he had lost a gennaker over the side and was having keel problems. Whether he lost it or the gennaker went over but was retrieved I didn’t establish. He went through a 40kt squall the night before, which had to be the one the size of a small island which traversed my radar screen and sent me scrambling on deck in a mad reefing session, which turned out to be unnecessary as it passed me by.

We both grumbled about the conditions. At 0300 UTC, the masthead light of ‘Knauf Industries’ was still on my horizon, but heading south-east. The clouds seemed to be coming from that direction, but then the same clouds have now migrated over me; little white fluffy cumulus against a baby blue sky like in the cartoon The Simpsons. They bear not the gift of wind. ‘Knauf Industries’ may have been lucky to get away, but maybe he is also battling to move, just a little further away.