1st Woman to Sail Solo Around Antarctica Below 45 Degrees (with one stop)

Evening All,

Last night was again another trying night with very little wind.  I was awake for most of the night as I was contently adjusting the boats course in the light breeze.  The winds dropped out on as expected at sunset and didn’t decide to come back and play until sunrise this morning.  I was thankful that the swell had dropped right out as it did mean that I was able to move a little bit.  Also, I was mostly sailing close reach so whilst I had 4-6 knots of wind I was still very slowly making my 1-ton boat sail along at 2 knots.  I was sailing between 45.10 S and 45.15 S for most of the night and was petrified that I would fall asleep or sleep through my alarm clock, have the winds shift and I sail outside of the race track on the final night of the circumnavigation.  Had been sailing off the wind angle with the Auto Pilot for most part of the night as it allowed me to make the most of the shifting winds and keep a little momentum going.  The winds were jumping around every 20 min or so from the SE to the S and to the SW and then back to the S before jumping back to the SE. My sail trim was going from close hauled to broad reach and back to close hauled so by sailing off the wind angle I was able to pick an average and just let the boat follow the winds.  The risk however was that the winds would veer to the east or around to the NE causing me to fall off to the north.  If that happened while I was asleep then I could risk sailing across that line.  As such I got very little sleep.

I didn’t even try to sleep until after 2am and by then the winds had settled somewhat to a more SE to S direction at 5 knots.  I had set the wind shift alarm to notify me on any shifts greater than 30 degrees but I ended up needing to increase this to 40 degrees as it would alarm every 5 minutes making sleep impossible.  I decided to just sleep for short bursts and wake up regularly to check my position.  So, 30 minute - 1 hour naps for the remainder of the night meant for a slow morning this morning.  As the winds filled in to 10 knots I was able to start making some decent speeds of 7 knots.  After drifting at 2 knots all night I was stoked to be going so fast, I also had less than 100 nm to run to the turning point.

The winds stayed stable at the SSE to SE direction all day but continued to increase up to 20 knots.  At 4pm this avo I needed to change out the head sails from the genoa to the stay sail as I was getting some gusts at 22 knots which was well outside the range of the sail.  I still kept the full main sail up but I knew I was pushing it and it showed in my speeds.  I was getting 9-10 knots for a time.  In the end when the winds reached 25 knots I thought that I wouldn’t push my luck any further this close to the finish and put in the first reef in the main sail.  As the day progress the miles to my way-point reduced until I was eating dinner with less than 10 nm to run.  Spuds and baked beans, not glamorous but hot and filling.

I then curled up in the nav station and read my book on my kindle to keep me occupied.  When I had 4 miles left to sail before crossing my track I couldn’t focus on the book any longer.  I was so so so so so close to crossing that infamous point on the journey.  I had 3 years of preparations and 6 months at sea and in Cape Town to reach this point.  I have had knock downs, giant waves, winds strong enough to rip the roof of your house, snow storms, hail, I have been dis-masted, had my collision with a container ship and managed through all of it to just keep going.  I just kept sailing east and now I am finally at the point where I will be crossing my original track at 45 South completing a full circumnavigation of Antarctica.  To say I was excited and proud is an understatement but I was those things and much more and none of this would not have been possible without the support of my amazing family, sponsors, the volunteers and all of the generous people who made donations to my campaign.  I wouldn’t have made it without you and while I still have the final leg of the journey to run from here back to Albany, tonight I crossed the official finish line.  Crossing at 2100:21:48 Albany, WA time I have made history, crossed that track, and became the first women to sail solo, unassisted, below 45 South around Antarctica with one stop.  As I said the official record governed by the World Sailing Speed Record Council is Albany to Albany so it will be a few more days until I can secure that one but regardless I have still done it and succeeded.......I Have Made History!

After crossing my track I was now able to bear away and start sailing North.  The winds are coming from the SSE so I was unable to make due north but instead I am sailing a course of 10 True.  The winds are 15-20 knots and I am still sailing with 1st reef in the main sail and the stay sail, I am also at the moment making some good time of 7-8 knots on average.  I now have the final leg back to Australia with 580nm to run, one low pressure system and one major wind hole in-between me and Australia.  At this stage, it is looking like a Tuesday arrival into the Amazing Albany.