Constant pounding is beginning to take its toll aboard Aviva. Dee Caffari reports from the Southern Ocean 31/1/06

Date30 January at 2303

PositionS 50° 50’/W 146° 57′

Day seven of seeing over 30 knots in a row and to be honest I am not really enjoying it anymore. I have been in worse; it is just the relentless pounding that is winning in the battle to wear me down.

I am very tired, both mentally and physically. Although I have worked really hard at trying for some sleep the constant crashing into waves easily keeps you awake as you listen for the right noises to make sure everything is okay on deck. Also the momentary periods of weightlessness as you are suspended awaiting the crash landing on the next wave, do not help you enter into any sleep state.

Early morning saw me having to tack as we passed through a warm front. The wind was just starting to veer and I had just furled the staysail away as again we were in a constant 35 knots of wind. I began the tack having taken extra care of checking all the sheets first. Just as we were going through the wind and I released the sheet a massive wave came and knocked us back again. As the sail was now backed I set about returning it so that we could try again with boat speed. As I changed sheets to the winch the slack in the ropes wound themselves in knots and then started to hook the rigging. Half sheeted, I went forward to unhook the sheets and promptly got smacked round the head by the flailing sheet. I then realised that was probably the most stupid thing I had done regarding my safety during the whole trip. So I had to furl the headsail away before I could work on the tangled sheets. This done, with the mainsail alone we were making 4 knots and the calmness was actually a pleasant change, but the realisation of how far we had to go gets you motivated to get sailing again.

I needed to tack and didn’t fancy setting the headsail first and then tacking. So I tried turning the boat through wind and no matter what I did the sea state was so big that it wouldn’t go. So I waited for a lull and gybed the mainsail. Once on the right course then I re-set the headsail and checked everything only to find that the furling line was resting on the bottom of the drum now and would start to chafe again if left. So I re-furled the sail and tried again. It ended up third time lucky. Finally with the boat sailing I went below, wet, cold and feeling weak, tired and pretty fed up.

I called the Tech Team and told them I had had enough of the pounding and put my request in for some kinder weather. Talking to them cheered me up no end. I even managed to make some food and a hot drink before lying down again under my blanket trying to warm up, listening to the wind and the waves as Aviva crashes onward with my eyes closed.

I will be passing through a cold front later and will tack after that has gone through, so I am praying for a better tack and kinder conditions to do it in.

Dee and Aviva