A rough and windy first week for Dee Caffari's solo westabout voyage, but a rapid one, too

Dee Caffari’s solo westabout circumnavigation has got off to a dramatic start. Less then a week into the Aviva Challenge, she has dealt with winds up to 45 knots, waves crashing over the deck, tricky seas and early minor damage.

As well as setting a “blistering pace towards the equator,” according to her router Mike Broughton.

‘I was settling down quite nicely,’ wrote Dee on Day 1, ‘when I heard a bang on deck. I couldn’t believe I was going to have a drama already.’ She needed her problem-solving skills within hours of starting the record attempt after finding the bottom of her Code 0 ‘in the air.’

Then during a tough first night at sea, she found herself dealing with the unexpected again when a furling line snapped on one of the headsails. Standing up at the bow feeding a new line round the drum in the dark, Dee said she suddenly realised just how long the next 150 days would be.

Tired and dehydrated, the words shell-shocked but happy seemed an appropriate psychological self-assessment after a testing start. But she was not granted a break so soon – on Day 3 the winds picked up to 45 knots (50mph). A ‘massive wave’ smashed into Aviva, sending the lines into the water and throwing everything to the opposite side of the boat down below.

On Day 4, Mike Broughton reported an “average of 30 knots over the last three days, large beam seas have built up and are now around five metres in height in the vicinity of Dee as she heads south, making for exhausting sailing conditions.” He also reported an average speed of 10 knots so far, a good speed for Aviva, and Dee said however drained she may feel she was happy with the progress.

Now five days into the challenge, the increase in temperature will serve as a psychological boost after a cold and wet start, although it is “not quite shorts weather” just yet according to Dee! She expects to pass the Azores and the Canaries in the next couple of days and early next week, Mike has reported a “threat of some tricky and changeable conditions in the area of the north-east trade winds – the one area where you would have hoped to see reliable winds!”

Today Dee admitted starting what will be a long relationship with her yacht by engaging the good ship Aviva in conversation after realising she had not spoken a single word in two days!

See Dee’s current position at www.avivachallenge.com