Dee has a close encounter with a similar kind 16/3/06

Date 15 March at 2240
Position S 42° 7’/E 73° 7′

As I head into yet another depression with winds reaching 45 knots again I too can be inspired by a fellow singlehanded sailor down here in this vast ocean.

At some point over the last 24 hours I have passed ‘Inspired Insanity’ a 28-foot yacht sailed by Donna Lange from America. She set off from the States and is heading for New Zealand. To have the yachts within a visual contact in the present conditions would put an undue risk to both parties and even with the modern technology onboard both yachts finding another yacht in the ocean is a tricky business. see previous news story here.

Unassisted by engines, last year for medical reasons I was involved in two ship to ship transfers and during the second transfer conditions were quite windy and we struggled to find each other at first. I know that my shore team have been passing on the ice information we have collated during my passage through the Indian Ocean and too have been monitoring her position.

I wish Donna a safe and speedy voyage. Every sailor that enters the Southern Ocean has utmost respect for it and is thankful for a safe passage through it. As I eventually get round to leaving it behind Donna will still be sailing towards New Zealand. They will welcome her a heroine I am sure and she will enjoy that first drink and meal ashore whilst being reunited with her team.

My respite before this depression was short lived, just long enough to hoist full sails, pass through a high-pressure cell and then start reducing sails again. A clear night with a bright moon illuminated our journey through the light winds and today was a typical grey day. No sun and no sign of a break in the clouds. The threat of rain loomed all day in the ever-present drizzle. As the wind increased so too did the size of the sea. We entered the depression comfortably as we were sailing off the breeze but as the full effects of the wind hit us, the wind came forward on us and forced us south of track and began the relentless pounding to windward again with Aviva crashing off waves and decks being awash with seawater once more.

Now please don’t consider me ungrateful, but there has been a strange turn of events tonight, just before I send this daily log. As we approached the front the wind has done the exact opposite of what I was prepared for. It is raining and the wind has vanished. Not wanting to be caught out I am still waiting to see if this is going to reappear twice as bad but the fact that the sea state has eased as well makes me even more surprised. So instead of things building, I am now wallowing, waiting to see where the wind resurfaces from and at what strength. It’s funny, I was ready and prepared for the front and the wind associated with it, as it passes I would have known exactly where I was in the system, but when this happens it is easy to get disorientated and not know what to expect next. It is almost more difficult to deal with.

I am currently passing north of the Kerguelen Islands, apart from the area being renowned for a freak wave phenomenon, due to the sudden shelving of the oceanic floor it is also, with a prompt from a message yesterday from a Global Challenge crew member, reminds me of the chat show conversations we had in this area last year on the Global Challenge Race. The fleet of 12 yachts chat daily, mainly to check all is well with the fleet but also banter develops as the race progresses and it was decided that the islands when you look at the chart look like the head of the donkey from the film ‘Shrek’. I can honestly say looking at the Kerguelen Islands a year on they do look like Donkey’s head. Also we learnt that these islands grow salt-water cabbages. I am afraid I have no further information to add this year apart from seeing the islands slip astern of me is another reminder that I am progressing towards The Cape of Good Hope.

Dee and Aviva