Two women sailors in very different boats pass by north of the Kerguelen Islands - 15/3/06

What are the odds of two solo women sailors passing each other in the Southern Ocean, let alone on its most feared patch, the Kerguelen Plateau? Yet that is what happened today when Dee Caffari crossed the same longitude as American sailor Donna Lange, approximately 100 miles apart north to south.

Dee Caffari is battening down once again and seeking the best possible angle of attack for another intense depression bearing down on her this evening with winds of up to 50 knots. If it delivers what satellite observations suggest, this will be no less than her fifth encounter with winds of over 50 knots in a little over two weeks.

The two solo sailors are heading in opposite directions and their ventures are very different. Donna Lange is heading towards New Zealand in her Southern Cross double-ender and is by any reckoning a long way south at the tail end of the Southern Ocean season in a yacht of only 28ft, particularly given this year’s unusually ferocious weather. She and her supporters had hoped for a rendezvous, an idea rejected by the Aviva Challenge team on the grounds of safety, though the two exchanged messages of good wishes.