by Dee Caffari
'After the excitement of turning the corner at The Cape of Good Hope and we left the strong winds behind, we settled into warmer conditions and some pleasant easy sailing and I was able to actually catch up on some sleep. No more than two hours at a time but some good sessions of rest nonetheless. Now as we approach the equator the temperatures have soared and my steel tank is imitating an oven very well. On deck during the day it is so hot I can't walk on the deck in bare feet and at night the stifling heat of the day doesn't seem to be lost below.
'This makes the environment very difficult to sleep in. It is frustrating as the wind is quite consistent at the moment and there has not been another vessel in sight for five days. Ahead lies the equator and doldrums that will deliver squally weather and keep me busy with sail changes so that I can keep pushing Aviva home. Ideally with a busy time ahead now would be the perfect time to catch some proper rest but I am unable to sleep in the stifling conditions. I am not complaining as I would rather be in the heat than the cold of the Southern Ocean, but I could also do with some sleep. I am finding that I am only lying with my eyes closed for 20 minutes at a time. I am quite happy however, pottering around doing jobs, such as pumping the fuel into the day tank, or mopping my bilges dry.
'A good time for rest is in the early hours of the morning when the temperature seems at its lowest. I am normally up and about at sunrise and try and get another winch serviced before it gets too hot. I am working quite hard at checking everything on Aviva before we get back into the northern hemisphere and really push for home. As we have seen with the water maker last week, something as simple as a seal or gasket can cause a threatening condition for the last remaining miles.
'The sailing has been lovely. The Code 0 has been pulling Aviva along with a gentle swell approaching the port aft quarter. It is getting increasingly frustrating heading west but knowledge that the doldrums, which are sat just north of the equator, are spreading with no wind in them makes me pleased that I am not there already floating, going nowhere. I have everything crossed that the circumstances change by the time I am heading towards them.'
Dee & Aviva
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6:00 PM Wed 19 Apr 2006 GMT
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