Robin Knox-Johnston becalmed in Roaring Forties during 5 Oceans Race. Here's his latest log 1/12/06

Position Latitude 40 49S Longitude 000 56W
Miles To Fremantle 5,219 nm
Average speed in 24 hours 4.58
Distance in 24 hours 109.9 nm

This has to be, in a very frustrating voyage so far, perhaps the most frustrating night I have had. The day before yesterday the weather programme on the computer produced a barrier that would not allow me to access the weather. It demanded that I had to generate a rescue license, or activate the software. I tried re-booting but to no effect the barrier would not go away. I could not obey the demands, as it wanted a key number, which I don’t have, and maybe does not exist, so that was that, no weather information. Why this sudden barrier? No idea, another programming error? That’s impossible, it is a perfect industry, so I must have hit the wrong key no doubt as it’s always the users fault!

It was not until yesterday lunch that someone came up with a means to get rid of it. Try removing the Dongle and re-boot. That worked but too late. Anyway that Nerdlike intrusion has cost me big-time. I think life was better before we had all these high falutin programmes. We may not have known what weather was coming, but we could rely on the barometer and looking at the wind direction and clouds. These days we have become dependant on these clever programmes, and when they don’t work, which is quite often, we waste hours crying to get them to operate, often, as yesterday, with no success at all.

A small high-pressure system had created itself in my path and by the time I had information about it, it was too late to avoid. Not that I have much manoeuvring space as I have to stay north of this waypoint of 44S 000E/W, which prevents me diving south where the winds are favourable. That wayline must have cost me a good day so far, perhaps more as I could have dived south a couple of days ago if it had not been there.

So last night was spent sitting and listening to slatting sails on Saga Insurance and chasing every wisp of wind to try and create movement. Whilst I was doing that, everyone else was making progress, the leaders averaging 10 knots more than us. I am now quite tired and still awaiting some wind. This is where I miss the windex, the little wind arrow at the masthead which blew off soon after leaving Corunna, as I can see exactly what the wind is really doing. I also miss a nice mainsail shape which we have not had since the battens broke.

It took ages to get across the 40th parallel and officially into the Southern Ocean, but Saga Insurance drifted slowly over it at 1515 GMT. I have a feeling that either those who went before over rewarded Neptune, or he has heard I no longer have any whisky with which to propitiate him and so has turned his back on me. That is not very nice after all these years! So here we are, in the Roaring Forties, and becalmed!

I think I have had headwinds now 80 pr cent of the time since leaving Corunna which is quite ridiculous. I thought I had got passed the South Atlantic High the day before yesterday, but it seems to have divided itself in order to ambush me. Anyway, it all means further delays and there is not a thing I can do about it. At some stage it will get tired of being difficult, but until it does I just have to sit and wait that happy moment. It is time the dice stopped rolling 9s and gave me a few aces.

Anyway I did penance and baled out the compartment ahead of the sail locker. It does not have a lot of water in it, but oil has leaked from the pump for the hydraulic tensioner on the inner forestay so it’s a bit messy. The forestay is lashed as a result with Spectra as it is a vital part of the mast support. Anyway, 20 buckets of water came out, a saving of 200 pounds in weight, each one carefully lifted from the compartment, carried over the sails, and there is only four feet between the ballast tank and the deckhead, tipped out. Not sure it has made any difference but I feel better for having done it.

Spoke with Alex Thomson and Mike Golding yesterday who sounded remarkably cheerful considering their experiences, which would have ground down lesser people. They hope to make Cape Town today, so have a cold one for me chaps.

The only good news today is that I have found another pot of gentleman’s relish. Hopefully the wind will come up soon. It is due to come from the east would you believe, but even that will be better than nothing.