This is just a brief update on my solo, nonstop, unassisted circumnavigation attempt – mainly to let you know that our halfway point was passed on Day 131 – Friday 1st March – at 0712 GMT.
Miles sailed since departure on 22nd October from Victoria , B.C. (Canada), were well over the measured total of daily ‘straight’ runs of 13,247 n.ml. Minimum possible miles still to go: 12,700 – but it will be a lot more, in fact! I had a few ‘treats’ over the day, by way of celebration….with a few sips of a nice cognac in the evening .
I passed Cape Horn just before local midnight on 7th January and then, having crossed the Atlantic in 35 days, passed the Cape of Good Hope on 11th February. The next Great Cape I’m looking forward to passing south of is Cape Leeuwin, not far from Perth and its port of Fremantle, in Western Australia … and then I’ll sail on to Tasmania and its SE Cape, across the notorious Great Australian Bight with its predictably stormy seas, as the Southern autumn is beginning….
Rounding South Africa became surprisingly difficult – several times either being becalmed or needing to heave to in very strong conditions slowed progress down, so I’ve taken longer to get to this halfway point than I’d expected. This is my third solo Southern Ocean crossing from S.Africa to Australia and New Zealand – with any luck, it won’t be as stormy as the similar passage made last year and I’ll be able to make good time from here.
Last year’s passage was one week earlier, my log tells me. That formed part of my last solo circumnavigation, which I completed on 1st August 2012, having successfully rounded all Five Great Capes of the Southern Ocean, but with stops at several places on the way (such as Ushuaia, Argentina, after a bad knockdown before Cape Horn) for repairs. This time, I’m hoping to complete my sail around the world without stopping anywhere on the way – my third (and positively final!) attempt at circumnavigating nonstop!
Completion of this attempt to circumnavigate solo, nonstop and unassisted would make me the first woman to succeed in that from a point in N. America and would also give me the dubious honor of being the oldest female, solo, nonstop circumnavigator (which, by default, can only be via Cape Horn and the Southern Ocean). But far more importantly, it will give me a great personal satisfaction and sense of achievement…. and the sailing in itself has given me many moments of sheer joy and exhilaration, regardless of whether this attempt succeeds.
If all goes well, I’ll be back in Victoria, B.C. (Canada) in June sometime – sooner, rather than later, I hope!
Sailing has been going well – the N-NW wind has been a fairly consistently 10-20 knots for the past few days and we’ve mostly been on a nice reach, with the occasional excitement of having to deal with unexpectedly strong winds for a brief time…. but nothing too critical. In fact, the southern Indian Ocean has so far proved to be surprisingly benign, once the threat of Tropical Cyclone ‘Haruna’ heading our way had receded!
I’ve enjoyed the many birds keeping me company – many different albatross, both juvenile and adult, have come close to the boat as well as petrels, prions and shearwaters. I’m keeping a note of birds seen to help with conservation measures by providing some much-needed data. I’ve also enjoyed the many contacts I’ve made by radio with people in different countries – all of whom have been very supportive and encouraging….
Equipment failures and damage will slow me down in lighter conditions since I can no longer safely hoist a full mainsail and need to have it permanently reefed – but being mainly down to third reef in the normally strong conditions of the Southern Ocean is not a problem! I have no working wind instrument either, despite my efforts at repairs – but that is not causing a major problem when sailing, fortunately, although it would make life far simpler if it were working. All the many other repairs and ‘fixes’ seem to be holding… except that my satellite telephone has remained obstinately broken – so the SSB radio has become that much more important to me.
My present position is just over 400ml NNW of the Kerguelen Islands in the southern Indian Ocean, and I hope to round Tasmania near the end of March.