As Dee Caffari heads further south the conditions worsen, leaving little opportunity to work on deck
Date 27 December 0019
Position S 41° 34’/ W 52° 25′
Fortunately for Aviva and I, Christmas night bought steady winds and we were able to get some rest. The high pressure we are sailing around was very apparent as we had another day of blue skies and fluffy clouds albeit slightly colder than a few days ago and the sea temperature has definitely dropped as a morning shower whilst adjusting the leech line on the staysail illustrated to me. Well it definitely cleared the sleep from my eyes.
The VHF crackled into life today as the shipping arriving and departing the River Plate contacted various river authorities. A mixture this time of Spanish, Portuguese and English was spoken. Other noises that filled the air were the gentle tones of the Christmas CDs being played.
We have been at sea for 37 days and we are in week six now. It has gone quickly when you look at those statistics and not look forward at how much longer we have to go. We have covered over 6,500 nautical miles and have travelled through the stifling heat of the doldrums and tropics and we are most definitely moving back towards the colder polar airflow. The sea temperature is dropping as is the air temperature and I have even found my thermal leggings again. I have been very fortunate for the last couple of days that the weather has stayed dry and only the sea spray has been giving me a wash down. Sailing upwind generates lots of spray and water across the deck and so the hatches are shut but with the temperatures dropping especially at night this is no bad thing at all.
The afternoon was spent crashing through huge waves generated with the steady 25 – 30 knots of wind from the WNW. This was slightly more than I anticipated and had me on the edge of my seat for most of the day as my friends; the autopilots were up to their old tricks again. This wasn’t the best news I could have delivered to the shore crew over Christmas, but at least it is still before I turn the corner. Right now, is probably the most doubtful about the project I have ever been.
The time available to sort everything out and get it all working is running out rapidly. The problem we have is with the conditions. The Southern Ocean doesn’t lend itself to me being on deck and working in the hydraulics box on delicate wiring, or bleeding hydraulic fluid through hoses to clear air. Everything gets just that little bit more difficult.