At sea. Aviva Challenge: Dee Caffari heading west to find a route through the Doldrums Print E-mail
Tuesday, 18 April 2006
Aviva Challenge Team:

Dee Caffari sailed back into the western hemisphere on Saturday evening, writing at the time: “Now all I have to do is move from southern latitudes to northern ones again then I will really feel as if I am getting there.” But her passage into the Northern Hemisphere looks set to be dominated by a battle to cross the Doldrums, which are currently “very wide” according to weather forecaster Mike Broughton.

“Dee is currently heading northwest, which seems like the long way round considering the UK is due north of her position … but the Doldrums are looking very uncooperative at the moment so we are trying to find the best place to cross this notorious area of light winds,” added Mike.

North of Dee and Aviva, the treacherous light patch stretches for 400 miles, but further west the band of light winds traditionally gets narrower. “We are hoping that by heading northwest and gybing as we go we can pick the best spot and that by the time we get there the situation will have improved, because it is not looking good for a fast crossing at the moment,” said Mike.

In her usual upbeat and determined manner Dee wrote that while the Doldrums are living up to their reputation as a “no-wind” area, “many things can change in this part of the globe.” When she negotiated this area on her way from the start line to Cape Horn, she made it 95% of the way through the Doldrums before light winds stalled progress, but it was generally judged to be a quick crossing, considering the real potential danger of becoming becalmed for days. This time round the approach and entry point will be key.

On board, Dee has been servicing winches and despite experiencing light winds towards the end of last week delivered good news on Saturday: “I can honestly say that the last 24 hours have been wonderful. I can really feel as if the last 88 days of the Southern Ocean have finally slipped away and the more recent few days of stress over the water maker have faded to a memory.”

Heading north in a corridor of breeze with light airs on either side over the weekend, the Code 0 has also been flying. “It got lighter as the afternoon came,” said Dee on Friday, “so into the sail locker I went. I came out eventually with the Code 0. It is a reaching sail and as we are gybing several times along our light breeze corridor and sailing angles, as the wind gets lighter I decided this was the right sail for the job.”

She has since switched between headsails and the Code 0 several times to maintain the optimum sail plan and keep Aviva moving. The immediate forecast for the next couple of days is for steady progress downwind in the southeast trade winds, but no doubt Dee will be focused on identifying the point at which she turns north to take on the Doldrums.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 18 April 2006 )
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