Perhaps all they will see later today when they round the island are the tens of thousands of sea lions that make their home on the small rocky outpost unless a local fisherman stops by for a look at the large catamaran racing around the world. Even if they do not see a human face it is always nice to know that you are near the hustle and bustle of life on land.
In the southern Indian Ocean Doha 2006 is becalmed in a transition zone between the westerly winds and the region of high pressure to their east. In a satellite phone call Brian THOMPSON (GBR) described the situation on board. 'We had to stay above the iceberg zone and we are now at 46 south sailing in light winds,' he said. 'But later this afternoon the wind is predicated to come back. We've got about five knots of wind now, but earlier today we were down to three knots. In fact, we dropped the mainsail to check it out because we weren't moving anywhere. We had it down for ten minutes to check it over and now we are on course for the western edge of the high.'
THOMPSON and his navigator, Will OXLEY (AUS), are still looking longingly at the option of passing the high pressure to the east but seem to have ruled the idea out. 'We could probably sail around the eastern side of the high in the next 24-hours,' he said. 'But we feel sure that the system will get bigger and cut us off before we get by so we are not going to take the chance. Instead we have roughly a thousand miles of close reaching to the center of the high, and then another thousand miles of steady upwind sailing after that.' On a boat like Doha 2006 that's around five days sailing by which time they will be almost past the island of Madagascar.
One good thing about being set so far south by the persistent high pressure in the Atlantic, is that they are sailing south of the Agulhas Plateau. This area of relatively shallow water is know for it's treacherous seas as the large Southern Ocean waves suddenly trip up on themselves in the shallow water and cause mayhem with shipping or sailboats that happen to be in the area. Instead THOMPSON and his team on Doha 2006 are a safe 300 miles south of the plateau. The quite sailing is allowing the crew some time to dream of home but there is still a long way to go for Doha 2006 as THOMPSON discusses in his daily log.
'It's best not to think about the distance and time involved in a trip like this,' he wrote. 'Some of the team are constantly asking how far to go. What is the estimate of time to go, etc. Whilst others just get on with life and sailing one watch at a time. Damian [FOXALL (IRL) - Ed], who has a huge amount of experience, was happily surprised to find there was just over 5,000 miles to go. He thought it was over 6,000 as he was not watching the number obsessively. As they say a watched kettle never boils. We may as well enjoy this experience and get as much out of it as possible, because however far you might think we are from the finish, soon it will be over and all the complications of normal life will return. And, of course the pleasures too.'