Sir Robin Knox-Johnston resigns himself to the fact that he'll be spending Christmas at sea 14/12/06

Yacht Saga Insurance Velux 5 Oceans Race log

Log DateThursday 14 December 2006
PositionLatitude 46 14 South Longitude 059 29 East
Miles To Fremantle 2,671 nm
Distance in 24 Hours 181.9 nm
Average Speed 7.58

It was a nice day yesterday. It was not wet and was not blowing a gale and the wind was light and so quickly brought forward your motion so we were just freed off and speed was between 6 and 8 knots. It wasn’t that cold either. But it was a useless and frustrating day as far as making much progress to Fremantle was concerned, and I think we can now say that I shall definitely be spending Christmas at sea and Boxing Day as well.

I am four hours ahead of GMT now, I keep Local Time, the time of the meridian of Longitude I am closest to, which is 60 degrees east now, and so have just passed noon where I am. Our Day’s Run, that’s noon to noon, is just 180 miles.

But the wind is increasing. We are back to those awkward squalls, so I will have to reduce sail for the high winds soon and in any case there is more wind forecast. Mentally I have gone into neutral. There is no point in raising ones hopes for a certain arrival time when events keep putting it back, it just depresses. So it is better not to think too much about it, just take each day as it comes, keep the routines going, as they pass the time and not get excited as the longitude grows.

I am in my little capsule and could be in space, I have not seen another human for more than six weeks and miss the human inter-reactions, like discussion and argument that provide stimulation in our normal lives. I am lined up to pass north of the Kerguelen Islands, which are a mark of the course and must be left to the south of all the competing yachts. The reason for this is to prevent the boats going too far south and even further from possible assistance should it become necessary. It is a good rule and we all understand why it is there and it can be easily enforced by satellite tracking devices with which we are all fitted.

It is a big contrast with 38 years ago when, before the era of satellites, there was no means of anyone knowing where you were and no means of telling people you were in trouble if that happened. Then we really were on our own.

It is quite amazing the quantity of bird life. At any one time there must be at least 50 birds soaring round the boat, from the giant wandering Albatross to the tiny little storm petrels. I still cannot see what they find to eat and I have never seen one actually eating anything. The Albatross do settle on the water, but I have not seen the Petrels do that. On Suhaili a Petrel ran into my face one night, I was standing close to the mizzen sail and it came sliding along the sail. For a moment we were tangled and I got my hands round it to free it. It was tiny and fluffy. It seemed so unsuited for its harsh environment.