JESSICA Watson is battling freezing winds and equipment malfunctions as she draws closer to South America's notorious Cape Horn.

The 16-year-old Buderim schoolgirl, who aims to become the youngest person in history to sail solo and unassisted around the world, spoke of the trying conditions on her blog yesterday.

"The cabin temp has been sitting on 4C and the wind chill outside is really quite something," Jess said.

"Handling wet lines on deck is just downright painful, but mostly I'm staying toasty warm in all my layers.

"But without any help from the heater, which seems to have picked this as a good time to blast cold air rather than hot."

Jess said she believed the problem with the heater was fixable "but that's going to have to wait 'til things are a little quieter".

A block on her yacht's main sheet - the line that controls the mainsail - has also been giving Jess some grief.

Despite the mainsail not being used, Jess's yacht, Ella's Pink Lady, has been setting a good pace, pushed along by strong winds.

"So as I'm writing this, the wind is sitting at about 30 knots and it's just become daylight again to reveal an angry, grey ocean," Jess said.

"Nothing too serious, but I'm still a bit on edge as there's more wind expected ... and the odd big wave is knocking us around a bit."

Jess's mum Julie said the conditions were the worst her daughter had faced so far, with seas of up to five metres keeping Jess on deck around the clock.

With about 800 nautical miles to sail until Jess reaches Cape Horn, Julie said despite the inclement conditions, Jess remained in high spirits.

"She's very busy concentrating on making sure everything on board is right. Because of the weather, she hasn't been getting too much sleep," Mrs Watson said.

"We're expecting conditions to ease as Jess gets closer to the Cape and expect her to be there in about a week, give or take a few days."

Read more about Jessica Watson.

Read Jessica Watson's blog.

Jessica Watson's planned route



 



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