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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Latest Position

Posted by I & G in the UK

A Crux be upon us!

0700/31st position 0234 02202 trip 95/24 154 miles north of the Equator but about 162 to sail on this heading. We should cross at about 02251W if this holds.

Middle watch and the torpids again. Almost clear out there - fluffy Cu and some wispy high cloud -altostratus perhaps. And a blazing moon so only first mag stars dotted around the firmament.

I'm mortified and gobsmacked. Umpteen times I can remember thinking '12v fan!' in Falmouth and saying to myself that it had to go on the list. But it didn't and wow do I regret that one as we swelter inside a closed down Berri in the tropics. 'T'ain't no fun not nohow not never!

Carol - I found the BBC World Service for West Africa on 15400 - reception pretty awful but nice to know they are still out there. And if you google quickscat you should find that it has nothing to do with tiger hunting and lots to do with wind.

Brief word of explanation - in the 0700 position reports I sometimes put a distance to Falmouth. This is always the straight line or rhumb line distance, derived by plonking the cursor more or less on Falmouth and reading off the distance to ship on the scale on S0B. However, there's a lot of more and less in that rather arbitrary and slack process. On the smallest scale on the chart, the tip of the cursor would cover a lot of water - Falmouth to Portland, perhaps - so the measurement is very much more or less. When I take the time to zoom in on St Anthony's Head, the cursor covers a table at the back of the Chain Locker or Gordy's fish box. Rather more accurately, I find that Falmouth is 2995 miles away. We have sailed 3514 miles according to the GPS so about 519 miles further including into Lisbon and then around the curve of West Africa.

For the first time inwhat seems like weeks there's a clearish horizon to the south and YAY! Crux, Gacrux and all the mates are up there serene and beautiful. Berri's first sight of the Southern Cross since mid Pacific last year.

Quickie 1530/30th

Position 0319 02142

Last night was a bit of an achievement in its own way. Imagine Berri as the ball in a pinball machine and all the pins and blockers and springy things as the rather solid squalls with rain and usually about 20 knots at the front. Wind all over the place in between - no gradient and the system apparently almost static. Berri's track over the chart rather like an alcoholic and demented caterpillar chasing the ball around the pinball obstacles. If we ever get back to Sydney and I can download all this data, the track from about 5N to the equator will be more than interesting. Each kink and dodge and curve and wiggle has it own story and it was bloody hard work but we managed to stay going more or less south.

We've just been overtaken by another much more violent squall - now dissipated, some light rain and no wind - we are still in the system that produced that squall but there's only grey all around - the grey that at night becomes the obsidian lustrous velvety black that has no form but is all depth and menace. No idea what else is in store but I can hear thunder rolling his eyes and walking the talk. No sign of the gradient.

Changed from the big furling headsail to the little one - Kurtsy's staysail from his single handing Love And War around the Pacific.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Non sequiturs in limbo

0700/30 position 0348 02128 trip 91/24
What a bloody awful night! Total living but physically demanding, utterly frustrating and on balance, bloody awful. I'll try to write a bit more later.
Imagine if you can the almost unimaginable - we're more or less becalmed here in our tired old workhorse but we do have an engine and we can, if there is any, go to windward. We have food and a watermaker. Less that 200 years ago in this same bit of ocean there would have been slave ships similarly becalmed with their lower decks crammed with people chained to the decks and hosed out when the stench got to be too much for the crew. Not enough water, starvation rations, salt water ulcers, chafe, no sanitary arrangements of any kind, sheer uncomprehending fear and misery, confined and condemned. The dead thrown overboard and floating beside the ships, unrecorded and ignored. Just loss of profit. Looking at the weather system we are under, it doesn't seem to be moving very fast, if at all - there was a pale moon for a short time and the clouds were not moving past it - the slavers could have been stuck here for days or weeks with cargoes of the slowly dying. Voltaire wrote that the one armed, one legged slave said to Candide and Pangloss 'This is the price we pay so you can have sugar on your tables...'

And staying with the sombre, Torquemada and the Spanish Inquisitors had it both ways. If you were called to testify, there must have been a reason so you were guilty by implication and a candidate for the disemboweller and if you refused to testify, there must have been something you were hiding so equally guilty. Oversimplified of course, but our particular Examiner is in the same logical frame. We are fair game - the sea is serenely, imperiously, unforgivingly indifferent to anyone who is out on it so we must be silly enough to be expecting that She the Examiner will do her worst. Reminded of all this when reading the story of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake and fire (Paice, Edward, Wrath of God, Quercus, London 2008). A fascinating story, with the Inquisition prominent. And don't miss the grisly tale of the public executions of the Tavora family (not by the Inquisition as it happened, but at the orders of the King, through the Marquess de Pombal). We were given by a friend an even more ghastly version than the one in the book.

The Examiner has cosseted and coddled us so far on this trip and we can't really complain that we are stuck here in some rather unpleasant conditions. But it ain't much fun. This middle watch again.

Time slices through our 'now'

1100/29th - but it meanders backwards and forwards through time

At last we've got the wind the GRIB says we've had for the last few days and we're rompin' south. Equator in 2 and a bit days if it holds. Martin Vaz more or less in the gunsight but at least 2 weeks away. Heading for huge grey cu-nim with rain and roll cloud. Glad it's daylight It would have Night on Bare (Bald?) Mountain creepies all over it and foreboding and angst at night. Can hear the beginning of the blast in the rig and sails a dull whiney roar with associated flutter - sails and heart!- may need to go roll in the heady for the squall...Hmm! Didn't happen - it's a mini front and it is receding in front of us and heading us at the same time. Heading almost west at the mo. We must get through it before we are back on course to the south. Not yet even raining, though it looked like a dogs off chains gig an hour or so ago.

Nearest humans - we were approached by a long-liner an hour or so ago, at 0442 02108 - we sailed close to some of his buoys but he wasn't talking to us on VHF. He had L.S.N. on the side and name on the bow was in western alphabetic script - longish word followed possibly by '...Sea'

The Storm Petrel that's been around for several days isn't. I thought its wings were a bit to long and thin and I now think it is a Macaronesque Petrel Puffinus Baroli. Lovely to watch with long swooping glides and then the Storm Petrel fluttery gig. Never close enough for long enough to confirm ID but I think a good approximation.

We're stuck behind this system - if you've got access to satellite photos, you cant miss it and we're under the northern edge. It wont let us go south Poo! About to get very wet (1830/29)

We passed half way to Cape Town at about 9 N but inexplicably forgot to note it so there might be a little celebration later. If we can keep going out of here towards the equator, my best estimate for Cape Town would be around November 27th. To be revised as we go.

1830/29th position 0418 02127 trip 3381.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bit of follow up.

Daylight and what a difference - towering monsters black as the gate to Hell silhouetted against the tiny glimmer of starlight through the overcast become just big and grey and fluffy - still threatening because you know what's in there but without the looming menace they have at night. Still going just south of east though - but ok in the overall scheme. Should give us a better SW angle if the wind really does do as predicted. The equator is still 294 miles south and - like Alison Chadwick's graphic metaphor, this flea on the elephants rump can't see over its horizon from down amongst the crevasses.

Waves - we have a SE swell, about a metre, but lumpy with wind waves, then every hundred or so there's a train of three or four much bigger ones - amplified, perhaps from some other pattern? - but we think it happens with much bigger southern ocean swells as well

Gerry & Donna - g'day - if you promise to use a 'clean' email system (Donna's perhaps?) - without all the logos and caveats and other attached c--p I'll talk to you direct on sailmail - try it out first on berrimilla2@gmail.

Ron - you and your friend should do more cryptic crosswords! Grindy and all its versions are anagrams - the clue would look something like 'Clear liquid tautology from Dr. Grindy?' 3,3. Or perhaps 'Dr Ringyd's medical compound from Cork?' 3,3

Carol - glad our wind appeared somewhere! Izz n'G yo and pleased you survived the Uprisings.

1900/28th -0700/29th

1900 position 0520 02142

The GRIB wind is about 45 degrees out - has been for days and prediction the same. No matter, simple change of plan - We can barely hold 125M at the mo but although the other tack would be marginally better, the drum from the old salts is get as far east as you can. So we'll plod on - metre by metre etc. I wonder who else has been just here doing just the same. We have been somewhere here twice now. Imagine how frustrating in a square rigger, like the old Java, but in those days the wind was king and it dictated the rhythm of sailors' lives - rather than catching the morning press. About 4/10 cloud, various levels, with embedded rain squalls. Great for a shower every now and again.

The Airbreeze whizzeth and is so far keeping the battery at around 13v. Needs another pooptillionth of a tweak to get it up to 14v but will wait till it's a bit less lumpy out here.

Either Steve - if you notice that I've forgotten the no-footer footer, could you please edit out the address on the blog? Rather too easy to forget to stick it on the end sometimes. Tks.

Brain like hard boiled egg in the heat - these are boring and uninspired. Sorry.

0700 position 0456 02111 trip 3329 = 107/24

Another dramatic midnight watch - huge shapeless black monster cloudbank descending on tiny B from the north - Old fart in the cockpit starts closing down the ship - hatches, stormboard in, roll in the headsail to large postage stamp, wet weather gear and lifejacket on and wait for it. It's the waiting that gets you! Closer, darker, more than ever sombre - slowly into the surprisingly soft leading squall line and whammo! Nothing really! A little burst of 12 knots or so and drizzle with lots of lightning to the north in the guts of the thing. Wind dies - wallow me wallow me farties and time to burn some diesel. We are now trickling SE holding about 140M waiting to see whether the wind does as the GRIB predicts and comes around to the SE. You know you're alive out here in the boonies in the periodic table of the meteorological elements.

And we have an imaginary ship out here with us - held in spacetime by the combined realities of the Polly Ranch mob and the hard boiled egg of this OF. More later.

Pete's little fridge - and other matters

'Tis just past the witching hour out here in the steamy humids of the mid Atlantic boonies. We have consulted with the very gifted and dry doctor from Cork - hey Alan, do you think he and his mate Murf might sponsor us for all this coverage? - and little Berrimilla headbutts onward. Pete has a specialised tonic bottle fridge rigged in the leeward life rails - wet towel, string, shade, breeze, what more could you want? - so we have cool G & T from Cork. In every sense. The limes ran out a week or so age and we're into squeezy lemon juice but it drinks, as they say in France or wherever.

And I'm sweltering behind the Cone of Silence - big plastic curtain across the nav and electronics area for the uninitiated- as I put this together. Brain congealed and torpid - have I missed something? I've never known the GRIB to be so wrong for so long. The wind is from about 200M - has been for two days or so with minor fluctuations - so we can just make about 150M. The GRIB predicts about 150M and for the next three days as well as those past. Anyway, this points us directly at Cape Town but we'll probably have to get way west behind the high sometime. Can't afford a big file to look at th whole S Atlantic wx pattern - we'll just go along with what we've got on the racecourse. It's a headbang, but relatively gentle so far - about 15 knots, short lumpy sea, a reef and three rolls in the heady.

Another solitary Storm Petrel gliding almost for ever inches over the roiling mass and then dropping, fluttering, scooping running a bit, more flutter and back into glide - and so gracefully done. I love watching them. They are the smallest bird in the albatross family, some species weighing as little as a sparrow, while the snowy albatross weighs in at up to 13kg and wingspan of about 4 metres.

Sue - Z sends vibes and hugs.
Ron - the go lever and the stop lever are in dynamic balance here - both need frequent lubrication
Steve - tks re Marc. Iridium supplier is Cable & wireless Falklands - Telstra one didn't work on first voyage so we jumped ship! C&W has been brilliant - keep 'em crossed

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Latest Position - different views

The nearest humans

Position 0700/28th 0602 02227 trip 3222 =128/24 and about 44 degrees south of Falmouth = 2640 miles

Midnight to 3 watch again - big Turneresque moon in and out of the clouds with Jupiter in tow - gentle fluctuations in the wind but mostly heading south in a SW gradient - not at all in tune with the GRIB prediction. Kevvo driving, taking us all over the ocean to keep the wind in the sails. We're in almost the narrowest part of the Atlantic where we were visited by that lovely cattle egret 4 years ago. I've always hoped that it made it to Africa, where it seemed to be heading.

Two aircraft on reciprocal courses, one way high heading SW towards S America the other much lower heading NE for W Africa. They passed each other and us at the same time. Different lives! I wonder who they were, those 600 or so people and what they would make of this little barge below them. Then there was a ship, lit up like Nan Jing Dong Lu that we passed about a mile south of - seemed big, but probably fishing - we're over the Sierra Leone Bank here which might be significant.

Otherwise, nowt to report. Just idle thoughts wafting in and out of the wheelie bin. We are well inside the last BU to the Equator and then almost another one until we catch up with the sun. Will be good to be back in some consistent weather.

And at 0620, still dark, still in SW wind making about 150M. Odd - ought to be way into SE by now. GRIB in half an hour. I don't remember this bit from last time - which side of Martin Vaz did we go, I wonder - theoretically at the southern edge of the trades at 20 S and our first southern hemisphere waypoint. We were heading for 45 south that time, rather than Cape Town.

Carol, your cake almost got us to the Equator - thanks! Pauline, we've just unwrapped yours.

Them old CZ blues...

I think - firmly grabbing the nearest wood - that we've cleared the dreaded convergence zone. All the nasties seem to be to the north and we've tacked onto about 200 towards St Peter & Paul rocks just north of the equator at 29W. If the GRIB is right, (and it's been a bit off for the CZ), the wind should free us tomorrow to head nearly south. Us'll see. I'll send for another with this and collect it in the morning - more economical that way - Iridium charges by the call and by the minute.

Not much to add - hot and humid again and we're plodding along. A couple of solitary birds in the last two days, both, I think, larger versions of Storm Petrel but not close enough for more detail. No sign of recovery form the HF. Can't get the SatC to talk to the computer - I think a com port problem - will try with different computer when I can summon the energy to drag out all the stuff from the quarter berth to find it.

Love yez all. Keep talking to us!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


position 0732 02333 trip 116/24 Falmouth 2729 CT 3418 (Both straight line distances)

During my 1800-2100 watch yesterday evening the moon was up close to Berri's masthead with Jupiter close by - spectacular enough on its own, but they had a fluffy halo of reflection off the very high cloud out to about 1 moon diameter and then further out - diameter about 25 degrees - the most perfect and complete halo I've ever seen - breathtaking! hard, sharp inner edge, fluffy around the outside and glowing - from where I was sitting it almost seemed as if it included Berri's masthead. Halo for a stout little boat. Orion is up there now, Mintaka still 7 degrees south but getting closer. Crux soon!

The usual series of rain squalls through the night but all very soft compared to the first lot and quickly dissipating. In a windless patch now and burning some diesel to get across.

Just heard from a friend who sails on Groupama 3 - 103 ft Tri - they had 10 minute average speed of about 45 knots during a recent attempt on the Transatlantic record. Now waiting in Brest for right weather to set off on an attempt for the round the world non-stop sailing record - the Jules Verne trophy - they may come storming past us somewhere in the S Atlantic. As we plod on with our Steptoe and Son shoestring bag of bits and pieces. Go guys! All the best!

In the interests of science and the consumer, we feel we should report an interesting observation. McVities brought out what they call a new, 50% fat free Digestive - yay! - except they seemed smaller (not quite by 50%!) and much less interesting for the inveterate dunker. So we found - with difficulty - a supply of the 'original' McVitie's Digestive and bought 20 packs or so. But Pete noticed yesterday that you can dunk them whole into Berri's original blue mugs whereas we think we remember that on the first voyage you had to break a bit off. Shame! They've gone the way of the narrower 490 sheet bog roll and top qualty bacon where you get a lot of water with your bit of pig. And oatcakes in a carton half filled with air. A shrinking world.

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The last 12 hours rank high amongst the most unpleasant I have ever spent out on the Og. Not scary, except for the first blast, not difficult - just plain unpleasant - line after line of rain squalls - not too fierce but with sheeting flying rain, visibility about 100 yards for hours at a time - so bad that we both put on our TPS dry suits for the first time in anger. Nice gear, though I wouldn't want to live in it for too long. Cloudbase now rising - I hope permanently - rain just drizzle and we're heading south. Just spoke MV Leander, looked like a big tanker, bound for Galveston - skipper reported that we were clearly visible on his radar which was good news and, I hope, confirms that we bought the right radar reflector.

The odd thing about all this is that we've been in a westerly wind since it all began yesterday - not on any GRIB and still blowing - almost monsoonal but we're too fao out and too far north, I think.

Sue - thanks for messages & sorry to hear of your troubles - hang in there - Z commiserates too.
Gordy, an M&M chase would be fun - you'd catch us easily, I think if you had a load aboard. Pete's best mates in the pink...
Scott, g'day and glad you're back, likewise JC. Malcom, think I've found the spot but my chart RS so will investigate in CT if French are co-operative.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Drama - sort of

0700/26th position 0911 02420 trip 120/24

There we were, me in my running shorts having been limpid with sweat all day trying to trace the HF problem, Pete in his grotty green salty Stubbies, having a small relaxing mug of random Aussie red with rehydrated curry and rice and celebrating for Hilary - idly watching the cloud building up to the south, still stinking hot and humid, water 37 deg. And then there it was - deep grey horizon, rolling black squall line coming in like the vulture stooping - two decrepit old farts jerked into action - just time to put things below, drop in the second reef, roll in the headsail to a quarter of its size and it was on - only about 25 knots, 90 degree wind change, follow the blast around, lightning, deeep sonorous thunder rolling all about - not at all like Mr Krupa's riff over there in the Pacific last year but still musical - torrents of rain - Pete gets naked with the soap, I go down and connect the mast base to the earth and come up and let the rain wash off the day's grot. And now we're in 2 knots, just as the GRIB predicted and due for another couple of days of it. I'd been soaking my other grommy clothes in a bucket of salt water and green stuff so was able to hang it out in the rain and get a free rinse Yay! And it's (relatively) cool and the sea feels really it would. Lightning away to the north, overcast and spotty rain here.

And then it got interesting. Pete woke me @ midnight - 'There's some black cloud ahead, might be a bit of wind...good night' - not just dark but glutinous inside-of-cow black and lightning all around so I packed the satphone and some gps' into the icebox and got out there - like going under a table and the first blast had us around onto 290 with horizontally slanting rain so thick that I couldn't look into it and had to adjust everything then tack by feel - and a ship! dead in line and we were the give way vessel so had to get behind him except that he stopped right in front of us ... and so it went, non stop for 3 hours with lightning all around, the wind actually hot on my face, my thin pants and T shirt and me wringable - warm water crashing over the bow and back to the cockpit on sheets - black black night, occasional phosphorescence to the side -up to the foredeck twice to sort the furler gradually stumbled through it, the rain eased, the wind backed again and we were back on course and time to wake Pete, who slept through it all. Fun. How I love the tropics.


Ok. It seems we have a terminally dead HF radio. Just won't switch on. We've tried all the obvious things and it seems to be in one of the black boxes. Happened once before and it came back but I don't think so this time. This means all these posts will have to go via Iridium and will therefore be much less expansive and rather more expensive. Last resort might be the SatC but I think that's dead too. Will try later but have to find the software and load onto this pc.

In case Iridium goes pearshaped, here's the plan: we will head for Cape Town come what may and try to get the HF fixed there. We are at least a month away from CT and I will try to make arrangements for a fix from out here. If Iridium dies too and no SatC we will be out of communication for as long as it takes but don't stress - we'll turn up down there roughly early December. We'll just head around the back of the high as best we can without GRIB data - it's been done before!

I will do one blog post and message collect at around 0700 UTC and a second one at around 1800 each day,as long as I have an Iridium signal. If no post, don't stress - can't always manage to get it together but will always try

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Sunday, October 25, 2009


One for Alan in Crosshaven - G'day to you and the RNLI mob - be so good, if you would, as to get on to the manufacturers of Dr Murphy's magnificent medicinal compound and tell them that Dr Murphy's dispensations of said compound are just fantastic organically but technologically there's room for a bit of inventive genius. The coldest we can manage out here is a couple of degrees below ambient in our wet towel fridge and what we would love to have is a widget with a 1 second built-in delay - a bit like a grenade really - so that there is just time to upend the container into the tankard before the explosion. So to speak. At the temperatures here, we're losing a bit twixt widget and cup. Room for improvement. Your beanie has been earning its keep but now in hibernation.

Checked in with AMSA on the satphone this morning just to make sure the system works. We're not likely to be able to speak to anyone on the HF radio from here and it's reassuring backup to be able to reach them if things do go pearshaped.

A bit of real live meteorology. At sunrise this morning, we were under two developing anti clockwise swirls of mid and high level cloud along a roughly defined east-west line. The grib shows us between 2 developing lows - with NE surface winds here to the north of the line and SSE winds further south. The line of convergence? I tried to film it all. Tomoz is due to be soft and variable, same next day. I hope that doesn't mean monster cu-nims and sturm und drang.

We've been in murky haze for some time now - perhaps a couple of weeks. I've just shimmied up the whizzer's pole to give the potentiometer a minipooptillonth of a tweak and the leading edges of the blades have a thick layer of reddish brown dust along tier lengths. Dust blowing off the Western Sahara directly upwind of us, I think, and almost certainly contributes to the haze.

Here's the Examiner - the HF radio has died - plenty of power, not the circuit breaker, no apparent reason. Will dig out the manual when it gets a bit cooler in here. This by Iridium.

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Footrot flats no more

0700/25th position 2858 02437 trip 131/24 Falmouth 2550

In an effort to save weight and make room for a flexible fuel tank, I left Berri's cockpit floorboards in the garage when McQ and I left Sydney in April last year. Did not matter on the Sydney - NWP - UK trip because of the stuff in the cockpit and anyway we had boots on most of the time. Now, though, it does matter - the geometry of Berri's cockpit drains means that in these extreme rolloing conditions there's always a couple of inches of warm (32.5 deg - feels warmer than my skin but it ain't) water sloshing around on the cockpit sole. Bad karma - I can't stand having wet feet in my bunk and they were never dry. But this game is all about intelligent improvisation - in Falmouth I liberated a bit of ply from a chuck out to work as a floor for our inflatable and it just fitted up in the forepeak so I brought it with us and yep! it fits the cockpit floor as if it was specially cut - YAY!
In yesterday's post my congealed brain cell said that a BU was 5 days - it's really 6 as anyone would have known. We are at 11 deg N or 660 miles from the equator so a bit over one BU. Between here and there is the convergence zone and - if they are operating - the doldrums. The grib shows a doldrummy patch just ahead of us and I saw the loom of lightning over the horizon last night so things may change dramatically in the next couple of days. And the SE trades are blowing directly from the South so we'll be going to windward once we're through. Poo! But it is a mark of progress.Enter the Examiner, stage left, with sibilant hiss.

My sailmail propagation app indicates that we may be out of range for some of the time out here -we'd be one of the very few boats ever to have used it in this bit of oggin - so these posts may have to go via Iridium so will be very much shorter as Iridium isn't cheap for this old fart.

1900/24th and still scarily easy

At about 0745, we were overflown by a twin engine jetliner, silver, red markings on the tail, jizz impression said possible red winglets as well, but glimpses only thro binocs as boat rolled around. It was coming from the SW and was surprisingly low, perhaps 15000ft max but contrailing. Descending into Praia, perhaps? Odd.

Back to the BU. Both an astronomical unit AU and a Berrimilla unit BU can be a rough measure of time - the AU being about 7.5 minutes, the time it takes light to cover the distance between the sun and Earth, while a BU is about 5 days at Berri's nominal and much more placid speed of 4 knots - a fast walk. This whole voyage would be about 21 BU - sounds much easier to handle than 13000 miles - and we've covered about 4 of them so 17 to go! In marathon terms, just into some sort of rhythm - perhaps a couple of k only but on the way. The original surge of adrenaline dissipating and resolve and determination taking over. The first notions about how the race will go - did I get the preparation and the taper right? Is the old body in the groove or just a bit raspy at the edges? Experience providing comparative data - and the unconscious always doing its thing to prevent the excesses of enthusiasm. Metre by metre, boat length by boat length - I'm not sure that I personally actually set out on these things with any real expectation of arriving - it's more to do with if you don't, you won't - and might regret it. Dunno. Right now we're about 1.2 BU north of the equator.

Snippets of memory from nearly 60 years ago - moral turpitude had something to do with finding out that girls were interesting. Misty memory of a rather older boy being expelled amid swirling and naively ignorant rumours but we were never told. I can still remember his name and see his face so it must have meant something.

Carol - haven't been able to pull in the Beeb - short wave doesn't work very well when the sun is up and my night watches don't really match the schedule. I'll have a real try tonight.

Thanks to Brian, Ann, David, Ron for messages.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

AU and S2H

0700/24th position 1310 02454 trip 2727=122/24 Only about 1.3 S2H to the Equator.

In astronomy there's a unit of distance called an astronomical unit or AU. 1 AU is about 93 million miles, the distance from Earth to the Sun. In Berri, we have the Berri Unit or S2H which is about 630 miles or just over 10 deg of latitude.

Malcom, thanks - I was wondering exactly where that crash site is. We will be about 1 S2H to the east if things go as planned. And yep - I think I still have the satphone number or mmsi for the m du Fresne.

Still a few Orionid meteors but a very hazy but mostly cloudless night and they are not very bright.

A Touch of the Turgids

0200/24th position 1335 02501

Did anybody else notice that there seemed to be a world shortage of M&Ms from about July - not the peanut ones in yellow packs, there were lots of those, but the real thing in brown packs? More on this later.

It's the midnight to three watch again - Pete woke me and I emerged into the world dripping with sweat and torpor - not just lassitude but that viscous torpor that curdles action and congeals the mind. Lethargy, inertia, all that too, rolled in. Reminded me of when I was a very little kid just starting at boarding school where my pastors and masters used expressions like moral turpitude to describe the attitude of any kid with a gram of original thought or the gumption to use some initiative. Never used about me, unfortunately. I was bumped up a class, so I was too clever by half, or too clever for my own good. Quaint, that moral turpitude! But what I have now is a sort if visceral torpitude where my mind sends sluggish commands to my extremities and they jack up and say go away and don't disturb me can't you see I'm torpid stupid?

So, a cup-a-soup later and not a lot of improvement, I raided the goodies cupboard to find one of the only two packs of M&Ms that we were able to buy in Falmouth (ASDA yet!)and later in Lisbon. And now, about thirty of the little blobs later appropriately sugar fixed, I can at least prod the keyboard. Did someone at the back of the class say 'More's the pity?'

The GRIB shows things getting interesting between here and the Equator. The ITCZ seems to be up and down between 5 and 10 N with a nasty little patch of activity to the south later today. We are trying to get a bit further east to get behind the active bit though that's really too far ahead yet, but also to get a better angle to cross the SE trades later, which at the moment appear to be blowing directly from the south. Fickle breeze here - comes and goes but we're moving.

Thanks everyone for your message - apologies for my turpid recalcitrance in not acknowledging them all but don't stop.

Latest Position

Parked for Zarks sake

39 miles S w of Baha @ 1427S 02517W Why anyone in their right minds would ever choose to sail in the tropics is way beyond me - though Pete seems to like them. Hot, humid, sweaty, windless (well, some of the time) and cringing into every tiny bit of shade to gat out of the sun. Sweat in rivers. Yeeeucht! Beam me up, Scotty. Not worth burning diesel to get us 10 miles south or anywhere really. So we fester - but we have had it easy so far so I'm not complaining. And Dr Grindy not due until 1700, two and a quarter hours away.

2.25 hours later and we're moving again and medicinally sound. The park Zark was probably because we were directly downwind of the line of islands.

Later still - the sun sinking behind a confusion of different level cloud - mostly wispy but with strands going in every direction. Seemed for a short time that we were under the centre of a big circular swirl but it just got all confused again. Smoky crescent moon to the south - we're heading a bit further east than ideal but tomorrow will dictate what we do. The next 1000 miles or so to the equator will be critical - and probably difficult.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Another trawl through the wheelie bin

0700/23rd Position 1504 02531 Trip 2605=127/24

The midnight to 0300 watch is always a long one. This morning I spent the first hour up and down between the cockpit and the watermaker supervising a 5 litre squeeze of the North Atlantic. The moon had gone - hazy overcast, occasional gaps with murky stars poking a few photons through - shapeless, grey, woolly night, no meeting of the sky and the horizon, just a faint change in density. Blacker the closer to the boat you look except! Except for the phosphorescence - writhing jade green swirls of smoky water with zillions of sparkles instantly there and gently fading. Lovely - reminded me of the Milky Way, invisible tonight - and then Douglas Adams and his dolphins and my first voyage metaphor of the Milky Way as the phosphorescent streak of the dolphins across the heavens. And then some idle speculation about spacetime as a doughnut - a toroidal whimsy - or perhaps as a series of nesting Russian dolls - could the Universe as we know it, with all its billions and gerzillions of stars and gas clouds and black holes and dark matter - could all this be just the workings of a small part of the brain of a cockroach in the next biggest universe as it nibbles some happy camper's toes?

And idly thinking about Trafalgar - which, along with Waterloo ten years later formed the basis for the next 100 years of peace in Europe, the Pax Britannica. But here on the old slave route it's hard not to see it from the point of view of native peoples everywhere else who were systematically subdued, transported, enslaved and otherwise looted during that century by the British, the Dutch, French, Spanish, Germans, Portugese and Italians who had the time and military resources to do so as they weren't fighting eachother.

Sitting up there in the cockpit you can become mesmerised by scale and its effects. My niece had to make a business trip from Luxembourg to Rio recently - odd to think that she was only 6 miles above some part of Berri's recent track - and how much of the world many of us have actually been within 6 miles of without knowing anything about what is below. I see winking strobes high above, or a growing con trail in the distance pushing so fast across what to us is a vast expanse of planet. That tiny - invisible - speck with 300 people in it and several tons of avtur in the tanks - how much energy is locked up in that stuff and how much is dissipated as heat

And so on for three hours...

Another sailing vessel just sailed across our stern - about the same size, sailing a more southerly course, couldn't see anyone on deck, called on the VHF but no answer. Couldn't see any sail number. Wonder who and where...


You could easily sail past the Cape Verdes at less than 10 miles and not see them despite their very impressive presence. There's a local hazy overcast day and night that hides them completely. There are the usual clues - swell patterns, birds, lenticular clouds when visible - but you don't see the rocky bits.

Yesterday Pete had his first flying fish breakfast - only one small one because he was kind to the first two that arrived and tossed them back. I've heard three more arrive on deck as I have been writing this so a feast for tomorrow. They are such lovely graceful creatures that it's sad to see them dead in the scuppers.

Last time we were here was September 8th 2005, the day before Pete's birthday, in almost exactly the same groove. Later today we should pass Baha at a range of about 10 miles. We were a bit closer last time. And the day after that, Pete went for a swim.

Carol, thanks for monster retype. Today I'll trawl the frequencies and report back.
Doug, thanks for Kerguelen data. Sounds like a big French base - my chart very spiky and sparse - if we go Cape Town, I'll get a better one and maybe talk to the French Consulate.


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I put poor Henry 180 miles north of where he really is - sorry mate - proper position 2835 S 2609 W. We're on our way. Thanks Doug - I don't have a detailed chart of the Kerguelens though could probably get one in Cape Town. My CMap shows Port Douzieme and Port Jeanne Arc on the north sides of the two larger islands to the SE of the big one. No Port Christmas. Looks like a pretty forbidding place and well worth a visit if the Examiner allows. I think the German navy used it as a coaling depot in WW1 as well - is there a French scientific team there somewhere?

Carol - interesting if it was a wayward rocket. I think you may have sent frequencies - thanks if you have.

Saw the NWestern island of the Cape Verdes this morning about 25 miles away - big volcanic peak - oddly, doesn't have a name on my chart. Next one is Sao Vicente. But, just like last time, there's so much haze that mostly you cant see them until you are about 5 miles off.

Current position 1640/22nd 1620 02548 and we have the main up for the first time in about 2 weeks - 2 reefs so as not to overpower the headsail and cause Kevvo to connipsicate and the 15 knots or so just ahead of the beam. Holding course about 190 just a bit west of what we really need but it's due to free us tomorrow. East Canaries current probably taking us west at 1 knot too.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009


Position 1706 02555 Trip 2478 = 135/24 - noice.

We have just passed the Banco Do Noroeste at the NE point of the Cape Verdes. Short lumpy sea and Berri has been a bit lively all night - jerky corkscrewing bouncy motion and very difficult to do anything or even brace. Drinking a cuppa takes some skill. Still dark this far west but lighter sky in the east. Saturn has risen. Orion now to the west.

I'm running the watermaker without the engine for the first time since Lisbon. The Airbreeze at full whizz in the 14 kts or so apparent that we now have carries about half the load. The watermaker needs 6 amps for the hour it takes to squeeze the 4.5 litres we use so we're only down 3 amp hours and no diesel. Whack fol the diddle-o. It means that the whizzer is putting out about 5 amps - 2 for the boats gizmology and 3 for the squeezer. And it keeps the voltage at 12.9 - fantastico!

Carol - lots of Orionid meteors - mostly little ones, appearing to fall directly into the NE horizon, some white, some yellowish. Pete saw another big one - these follow a different line and may not be related. Intermittent cloud so we probably missed a few.

Have to stop this every 12 minutes or so to check the watermnaker bottle - we never squeeze directly into the water tank because if the membrane were to kark, we'd have salty water in the tank - no fantastico - so we have two reserve plastic bottles with 6 litres between them and a further 9 empty tonic bottles that we fill and keep as the ready-use supply. This way, we keep the tank full of Lisbon water and use only squeezed ocean. If we use any from the tank (and no reason to do so unless the squeezer fails) then we can first taste the squeezed bottles and if ok, pour them into the tank. By doing it this way, we also know how much water we have to survive on it both squeezers - or the electrics - fail and we can ration accordingly. We do have a handle that can be fitted to either squeezer if the electrics go so we can still make water manually.

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Latest Position

Posted by I & G in the UK

Just an update - started around 0900/21st

Course altered - dropped the little red number which has earned its keep! - now just the single, full headsail still on its pole and haven't lost any speed. We'll observe for a couple of hours as there's no point in overpowering the boat and making Kevvo sweat as well as getting spray in the cockpit for no real gain. About 12 days to the Equator iff we can keep up this speed. It's getting scary - far too easy - I suspect the Examiner will intervene somewhere along the track.

Carol, thanks for Orionid meteor info. The big one a couple of nights ago was tracking roughly NE > SW from probably a bit north of Orion. Was spectacular - I've seen a few little ones since but no apparent pattern. A request please - somewhere in the boat I have (lost) my short wave frequency handbook. Could you please interrogate the BBC website and see whether there is anything we can receive out here and relevant times and frequencies? We have a digital SW (+MW LW FM) receiver. Tks!

Doug, thanks for Henry's co-ordinates. I now have his resting place as a waypoint so we are reminded of him and of all the thousands of others who have died out here and have no name or record in history. Young Henry died on Feb 6th, 1853 and was buried at 2535 S 02609 W. His sister Susan? died within sight of the lighthouse at Cape Town, so if we go that way we will send her some jelly snakes as well. And I look forward to your Kerguelen discoveries. We've done the equations and reality is looking like Cape Town and not S Georgia - SG just a bridge a bit too far but still possible. Kerguelen might be an acceptable substitute.

The birds are back - Storm Petrels and their bigger relations but I was looking into the sun so too hard to get features. Later perhaps.

Now 1730/21st Trafalgar and all the dead sailors commemorated - position 1816 02533 and a-hooning. Will need to grab lots of easting after the Cape Verdes so as to cross 05N at about 22W - so sayeth The Admiralty in Ocean Passages of the World. Nice to think that this is the turn for home but I doubt it - I think we will have to cross to about 30 W after the Equator - but we might get lucky.

And the Whizzer whizzeth and it keeps up with the battery discharge at about 12 kts apparent. Good one!

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Position 1912 02512 trip 2343 = 129/24

A good day's run. Today We will need to change our course to pass glose to the Cape Verdes heading for St Peter & Paul Rocks just north of the equator at 29 W. We will almost certainly have to revert ti single headsail and main - the main probably with a reef to stop it taking over when coming off the tops of waves. Not yet daylight - we'll do it when we can see stuff - much easier!

A Proper Breakfast day and Trafalgar Day - I think it was Wellington on the battlefield of Waterloo who said that a battle lost is so awful to contemplate that there's nothing near as awful except a battle won. He was looking at the dead and wounded on both sides. Trafalgar Day for me evokes similar emotions.

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5Rs and some thank yous

We've just clocked the 2000 miles from Falmouth. Dr Goss' bottle of Talisker came out for the Reward event and I have it recorded on video. Aaaah! Thanks Pete.

Cakes - we have three, given to us in Falmouth. Carol, your three part version has been sustaining us to here and will probably get us to the equator. I think of you in your kitchen and the long drive to deliver it and it has an integrity all its own. Thanks.

And the way we have the boat stowed, Pauline's will be next and should get us across the South Atlantic by which time we should have the boat sufficiently emptied to be able to get at Maureen's, which was first into the quarterberth stowage. That ought to get us at least towards Kerguelen. Thanks, all of you! Updates will follow as we get to them.

Sarah, your white paint job it holding out well. The cockpit is now a bit worn but the rest sparkles. And the tankard is in regular consultative operation. Thanks on both counts.

Peter C - the RCC pot is likewise in regular use - it now has an authenticating dent, though not anywhere that reduces its capacity. Also thanks to all.

And tomorrow is Trafalgar Day. A Random Event if ever I saw one.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Position 2046 2343 Trip 2214=120/24

around 0100/20th - Something quite large just entered the atmosphere and lit the place up with a very bright burnout. It cake from the NE, passed just south of us and seemed to break up as it passed over us. It was heading roughly 240 and it burned out about half way to our SW horizon. The trail was visible for some time afterwards. The brightest one I can remember ever seeing.

My old mate Betelgeuese is poised almost directly above Berri's gyrating masthead - we're moving south. Mintaka here we come.

Thanks to Carol and Malcom for the galactic centre being in Sagittarius. I found the centre you can't see very close to the bit near the centre you can see - a load of dust and an event horizon rather got in the way. Binocs on a clearer night. How big is a super massive black hole? Golf ball? Moon? Earth? Silly question really. I seem to remember that in galactic futurology, we are due to get mixed up with Andromeda before we fall through our own event horizon. But not next Tuesday.

And I know I've done this before but it's haunting - here we are in an empty patch of sea about 6 miles across that moves along with us. The first ships here were probably Portugese - little caravels and naus, crosses on the sails, pennants, religious statues, superstition, fear and the lurking inquisition. Then anybody's guess - probably the Spanish, Magellan, Drake in the Golden Hind - and in the peak years of shipping, perhaps 10000 ships each year. Nondescript traders mostly but also naval squadrons, slavers, fat sluggish cargo galleons carting gold and other treasures from Brazil and the Spanish colonies - and the clippers. Cutty Sark in this wind, stuns'ls and royals set, surging past at 16 knots And the Java and her like - worn out transports taking immigrants to Brazil and Australia and South Africa. Surveyors (who, for instance, charted the Tropic seamount of a few nights ago so accurately?) and cable layers, whalers, nitrate carriers from Chile. And the occasional submarine. And now racing yachts - high tech like the tea clippers in their time with similar urgency and deadlines. I wish I could play the movie as they all pass through history.

Doug, if you're reading this, send us Henry's co-ordinates and we'll send him some more goodies. Henry Knight was a young boy who died of starvation in the Java on his way to Australia and is buried in the South Atlantic - see the first Berrimilla website.

Good luck with Polishit, Izzo - report on return please.

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Tropic of Cancer

Posted by I & G in the UK.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tropical Rs

0700 position 2215 02221 trip 2094 = 113/24

We crossed the Tropic of Cancer yesterday prompting the resurrection of the 5 R system - Berri's Regular, Rationed and Random Rewards Routine - we decided that this was a suitable Random event that should be Rewarded and we engaged Dr Grindy for a what he billed us for as a Long Consultation at 1700. Regular events are the daily passage through spacetime that brings 1700UTC into our 'Now' momentarily each day (short Con with Dr G, high on the event horizon for both of us through the heat of the day) and the alternate passage of our little world from odd to even to odd numbered days. Because of the need to Conserve in order to be able to Consult under 5R (see above) for the whole voyage back to Oz should we decide to potter on past the obvious stopping places, we have a proper breakfast in the company of Dr Murphy on odd numbered days only. We have some raspy Australian cask red (1 euro/litre in Lisbon so it must be pretty random) which gets trotted out on even days for dinner. Pete likes it - I tend to watch and encourage with loud cries but desist from actually running it past my teeth. We are 1870 or so miles from Falmouth, so in about 130 miles there will occur what I hope will become another regular event. One, I think, that merits Pete Goss' brew.

Polaris is getting satisfactorily closer to the horizon and Mintaka closer to the zenith - still downwind, twin poled, apparents never more that 10 kt and often down to 4 which is when Kevvo takes his bat and ball and slinks off to sulk. But 10 kts is only just enough for the Airbreeze to tick over and put mini amps into the battery so we have not yet seen it at full blast. We run the engine for about 3 hours each day to keep the batteries and all the gizmology (laptop, watermaker, instruments, nav lights, autopilot and camera chargers) working and I've just added 25 litres of diesel to the tank. We've used more but we're rolling around so much that I can't fill the tank without diesel sloshing out of the filler hole and into the bilge. I think we're burning about 1.5 ltr/hr but time will refine this estimate. If the Airbreeze has the grunt, once we get some serious apparents it should give us the 2+ amps we need to break even or get ahead. Hope so anyway - else we'll have to close things down like last time when the towed generator died.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009


Position 2326 02051 Trip 1981 = 106/24 Falmouth is 1774 miles away so the GPS shows we've sailed about 200 miles further to get here, including up the Tagus. This is sailing day 17 of 114 or so.

There's a tight little low forming over the Cape Verdes - at current rate of progress we'll be just behind it. But it seems there are southerlies to the south of it so we may be shaken out of this gentle downwind torpor.

Could someone please tell me where to look for the centre of our galaxy - the nearest constellation would do. Thanks.

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23 41 48.7 N 020 39 58.4 W

Have you ever flown past a mountain? Or into La Guardia at night low over the Hudson past the tall Manhattan buildings with their lights? Or past the washing lines on those buildings on the way into the old Kai Tak airport in Hong Kong? You get a sense of the proximity of it all yet you are an observer and isolated. Here we are, in tiny Berrimilla, on a black night, Cassiopeia and Sirius just visible in gaps, gliding past an invisible mountain under the ocean and seeing it only in the imagination. We are three miles south of its almost vertical 4000 metre southern face. It's there, invisible, a massive presence, 30 km across just beside and below us. Awesome.

But the ocean moves - broadly there's a clockwise flow around the North Atlantic and here we should be in a southerly current. If only that vast movement of water past the mountain below would cause it to light up like Berri's wake last night! A huge glowing green squareish pyramid filling the depths. Wouldn't that be cool and froody? Might even generate lenticular waves of phosphorescence down current from the peak.

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Tracks and traps over jizzery

I'm told that nuclear submarines can be tracked from space. Compared to a nuclear sub, one of the most disguised and surreptitious travellers ever devised, Berri's glowing, flashing green luminous trail across the North Atlantic last night must have looked like Son et Lumiere. It was awesome and enthralling - rather like the auroras we saw in the Baffin Sea and in it's small way just as spectacular.

Today, we are approaching the Tropic Seamount on the edge of the shelf - 4000 metres up to 500 or so in a vertical climb covering only about 5 miles in distance - breathtakingly steep if it were on land and nearly half as high as Everest. It's still 50 odd miles ahead but the sea has gone from deep almost milky blue to grey-green. Possibly unrelated. I've been squeezing it and it tastes just like the blue stuff!

A brief pass by a Storm Petrel - very brief glimpse, like the Madeiran but seemed to have longer thinner wings than in the book and also an all-white rump and tail. There isn't one like it in the book, so I've probably over jizzed. Zark!

Difficult to pick what to talk about - I'm sure that what we have for breakfast can be tedious all round - but perhaps interesting to note that we still have fresh tomatos, potatos, apples, turnips, onions, bacon and eggs. The bacon is packed 4 slices a time into sealed plastic sleeves. Even the very top quality bacon we bought sheds a lot of pus coloured water while awaiting its fate which is good because we don't have to boil it off before the pan will get hot enough to fry. The bacon and eggs and some spuds and apples from Falmouth, the rest from Lisbon. Lisbon tomatos - like no others - wonderful! If there's anything anyone would like us to write about, just holler and we'll see.

Interesting joust gybing the twin pole arrangement - difficult to explain but as a start, we have 24 bits of string coming back to the cockpit many of which are involved in a headsail gybe because we have one big and one small headsail and they must be changed from side to side. Many traps for young players in the process! For a start, if not kept bar taut, the halyard for the red sail gets wound up in the furler for the big one and ain't that a hassle to unwind...etc. We now have the red one on both kite halyards Dave - to try to stabilise the head and stop it unwinding. Time will tell and it could be interesting getting it down.

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Latest Position

Posted by I & G in the UK

Saturday, October 17, 2009


0700/17th position 2438 01931 Trip 1875 = 110/24

Another sailing vessel crossed our bows from east to west at sunrise - seemed bigger, may have had 2 masts, new sails and faster. I think this is the first time we have seen another sail anywhere out of sight of land since 2005. I'm a bit surprised that there aren't any more around here, though it's getting to be the end of the season for crossing the Atlantic by the classic route from the Cape Verdes to the Antilles.

Yesterday's moth - perfect camouflage perhaps for the Western Sahara, only about 200 miles upwind. I wonder if it's still there?

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Sententiously orotund mellifluity?

Borrowed from a description of Dr Johnson's prose. I have asked my sister Isabella to put links and any other explanations and translations directly on the blog if I get above myself. Or up, as they would say in Australia.

Some of this stuff might make more sense to some of you if you can see the weather data we are getting. We get data files over the HF (SSB) radio known as GRIB files - GRaphics In Binary - they are compressed weather maps for small selected regions that we send for via sailmail ( Stone age technology but very effective and simple. We are using the GFS model at half degree resolution - might allow you to see the same thing but I'm sure google would find a free site if not. We're just hanging in the western edge of a northerly band of wind off the coast of Mauretania and hoping to hold it until we get into the Trades proper down near the Cape Verdes. Tricky - the wind is influenced by big systems to the west and it sure ain't constant.

Deborah - thanks for the ISS table - as you say, gloomy prospect. I had not realised until we were actually speaking with Leroy Chiao in the ISS in 2005 that they have periods when bits of the world are in darkness for several days at a time. He tried to take photos of Cape Horn for us and could not. Praia was a good guesstimate - we should be there in a few days. Sorry about the need to relay messages but the technology is desperately simple and wide open to spam which would put us off the air immediately. Fixable but with difficulty, so we always try to stay one iteration away from the real world.

Wake flashes - spectacularly big tonight and everywhere. Just as if a strobe is going off under water. I managed to focus on one and it seemed to have shape, rather like an S and about a foot long and luminous green - the same sort of light as Cyalume sticks if that means anything to anyone. Some are so big that the whole boat is silhouetted instantaneously - fascinating.

And a visit from a bigger moth today - parked for long enough to get a look but not a photo - golden, triangular wings when closed, about 2cm, with tiny red and brown speckles. White/beige body. Malcom, as you say, chaos theory at its most extreme says that when it took off a ripple went through spacetime and maybe a probability wave will collapse with appropriate spectacle somewhere Out There.

Frustrating day trying to get any laptop to play DVD's we have been given or even to get them on to the ipod. No go - laptops need plug in to play/convert AV1 files and the ipod just doesn't see them as movies - there's no movie library in my itunes and it seems to look only for 'rented movies' even in manual sync mode. A pox on the thing.

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Friday, October 16, 2009


This one got stuck in transmission somewhere a couple of days ago.

We're about 600 miles from the Cape Verdes - That's a Sydney-Hobart race. Or a drive from Sydney to Brisbane - at 2.5 knots. ETA at my CV waypoint 9 and a bit days, equalling our slowest ever S2H. Was it Prufrock who counted out his days in coffee spoons? We count ours in S2Hs. Some distances to contemplate: Falmouth to the equator about 3337nm; Eq to mid point behind S Atlantic high about 2220 and mid point to Cape Town 1550 total a bit over 7100 miles. Nearly 12 S2Hs. Accuracy is largely irrelevant as the variables are Big. So about 71 days F to CT if we go that way or roughly December 10. In practice we might get lucky and do it a bit faster - last time we did Port Stanley to Falmouth in 71 days, I think.

I've learned a new word - jizz - it means the overall aspect of a bird, shape, flight, size, beak, rump, plumage - the lot, all together as a single impression. It comes from the twitchers' bag of bits - those slightly obsessive people we met in Nome in planeloads, festooned with cameras, big binoculars, telescopes, water bottles, mostly under an amazing variety of hats and wearing those waistcoats all covered in pockets and zippers. Apparently there's something very rare indeed in the all time twitchers' list of birds-one-must-see that lives out in the back blocks of Nome and almost no-one has it ticked off. A good twitcher with lots of experience will be able to identify a bird by its jizz on the basis of a tiny glimpse - others apparently claim to be able to do so and make fools of themselves amongst the elite. I wonder what is the etymology of jizz?

My small claim to jizzery - I watched a storm petrel for at least 30 seconds up near Madeira - lovely lovely acrobatic bird, flapping and flopping and pattering its feet all over the surface scooping up things to eat and the impression I have in my mind almost exactly fits the Madeiran Storm Petrel except that it seemed smaller than the 42 cm wingspan quoted in the book.

Last time we were here, about 100 miles further west, we sailed through a big dust storm blowing off Mauretania. The whole boat was covered in fine red powder and it cut down the output from the solar panel by about half.

And no, to those who remembered, my mobile didn't ring me from the depths off Madeira. Sad! We were too far for any signal anyway so maybe it was trying - ET where were you? We needed a contraption.

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We're about 600 miles from the Cape Verdes - That's a Sydney-Hobart race. Or a drive from Sydney to Brisbane - at 2.5 knots. ETA at my CV waypoint 9 and a bit days, equalling our slowest ever S2H. Was it Prufrock who counted out his days in coffee spoons? We count ours in S2Hs. Some distances to contemplate: Falmouth to the equator about 3337nm; Eq to mid point behind S Atlantic high about 2220 and mid point to Cape Town 1550 total a bit over 7100 miles. Nearly 12 S2Hs. Accuracy is largely irrelevant as the variables are Big. So about 71 days F to CT if we go that way or roughly December 10. In practice we might get lucky and do it a bit faster - last time we did Port Stanley to Falmouth in 71 days, I think.

I've learned a new word - jizz - it means the overall aspect of a bird, shape, flight, size, beak, rump, plumage - the lot, all together as a single impression. It comes from the twitchers' bag of bits - those slightly obsessive people we met in Nome in planeloads, festooned with cameras, big binoculars, telescopes, water bottles, mostly under an amazing variety of hats and wearing those waistcoats all covered in pockets and zippers. Apparently there's something very rare indeed in the all time twitchers' list of birds-one-must-see that lives out in the back blocks of Nome and almost no-one has it ticked off. A good twitcher with lots of experience will be able to identify a bird by its jizz on the basis of a tiny glimpse - others apparently claim to be able to do so and make fools of themselves amongst the elite. I wonder what is the etymology of jizz?

My small claim to jizzery - I watched a storm petrel for at least 30 seconds up near Madeira - lovely lovely acrobatic bird, flapping and flopping and pattering its feet all over the surface scooping up things to eat and the impression I have in my mind almost exactly fits the Madeiran Storm Petrel except that it seemed smaller than the 42 cm wingspan quoted in the book.

Last time we were here, about 100 miles further west, we sailed through a big dust storm blowing off Mauretania. The whole boat was covered in fine red powder and it cut down the output from the solar panel by about half.

And no, to those who remembered, my mobile didn't ring me from the depths off Madeira. Sad! We were too far for any signal anyway so maybe it was trying - ET where were you? We needed a contraption.

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Position 2616 01849 Trip 1765 = 100/24

This is day 9 out of Lisbon plus another 6 from Falmouth to Lisbon so 15 sailing days at 1600 today. As I write we are about 1537 nm from Falmouth so it's even money. We have to resist the urge to count when we are this far out but we are now at least under 100 to go if we use the first time's numbers of 114 days to Hobart. We are planning our resources as if we are going non stop to Oz, so half a mars bar a week and all that jazz. But Cape Town is a definite possibility and the weather down there will dictate the rest. I'd still fit to bust love to go to South Georgia but I think we really need to get home.

Still sliding down wind in variable soft northerlies. Need to get a bit further west as we go but that should happen with the wind pattern shown in the last GRIB. New one should come in when I send this.

Sue - one very hung over Z - been carousing for 2 days. Hope you had a good burf.

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We must be half way to somewhere

For the first time since we started this nonsense back in 2004, I've got a bird book and time - leisure really - to learn how to use it. The book is Onley, Derek and Scofield, Paul 'Albatrosses, Petrels & Shearwaters of the World' Princeton and Oxford 2007 - Thanks Carla!! - and today I used it for the first time. Two solitary birds, almost no time to study them but the first a soarer and possibly a Black Capped Petrel or a Cahow. Both just within their assigned territory. The other, a flapper, was probably a Sooty Shearwater but could have been one of the many all grey Petrels. I had not realised how many different species there are and sub species and variations, down to new versus worn plumage.

The Plan - we could still see Valverde at sunset but I think we can say we're past the Canaries. Once again, trying to stay just out of the influence of weather shenanigans to the west and hold our line roughly SSW towards the Cape Verdes and then to St Peter and Paul Rocks at about 29 W just north of the Equator. To get there, we have to cross the ITCZ unless we find ourselves still in it. The Trades will die at about 10N and then who knows? The big arc behind the South Atlantic high to get us across to South Africa is most likely but we won't know till we see what's out there. We are now almost half way between Falmouth and the Equator - variable wind but always from the North. Twin poled - about to try an experiment with the red sail but it means taking it down first so needs the right moment. Lovely relaxed sailing - not used to it!

Once again, we're crossing the old slave routes. How much misery here, how many dead just thrown overboard, nameless and forgotten?

Thanks for all your messages. No ISS for a month or so and a 1 iron for lightning - nobody, not even God, can hit a 1 iron...Something to do with golf, I assume! If anyone wants to send a message to all seven or so of our followers, such as, for instance, the one about the ISS, I think you can use the Comments field on the blog. Not sure though.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

A fellow traveller

0730 position 2747 01825 Trip 1665 = 99/24hr

A tiny bobbing shape in the sunrise - a butterfly on the wind, its flight completely dominated by the surface eddies. Perhaps it was trying to land on Berri but it was swept over the boom and away into the wild Atlantic. We are abeam Valverde and it came from the north east so must have come from Santa Cruz De La Palma, Vallhermoso or even Tenerife. In a flash of sunlight on a wing it was brownish red - rather as I remember Red Admirals. Appropriate in its way. Good luck, little one!

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This, that and the Examiner

0200/15th 2810 01821

Cloudless, moonless night sky, light haze, so the universe and all its marvel and mystery shining through lightly frosted glass. Wonderful! Two light trails on the water - Jupiter, setting to the west, and Sirius, just risen to the east. Mintaka, our zenith star for the equator in a couple of weeks at about 20 degrees to the south east. The haze just smothering the glow of the nebulae. The lights of Valverde on the horizon 25 miles to the south east. Wouldn't be in London for quids.

Silence except for Berri's passage, like sitting on the banks of a gentle stream. The occasional grunt from the autopilot. Twin poled, perfectly balanced, slipping along at a bit over 4 knots in 5 apparent - not enough to turn the blades of the whizzer or to give Kevvo the inspiration to do any work - lazy old fart. And the creaking of the kite halyard cranked up tight to support the little red yankee and its roller system. Bliss - it's been a doddle from Lisbon. We dodged the early southerlies by staying east of Madeira and we're just inside the band of wafting northerlies along the African coast.

My 2 day old GRIB shows a low pressure system forming to the west, confirmed by the loom of lightning flashes over the horizon. We need to stay over here for a lot longer. The Examiner reminding us that there is more to come! Last time we were here, a bit further west, we went through the back of what became hurricane Katrina. I hope this little system is benign.

Wildlife, apart from the feral zoo inside the boat. Only two birds since Madeira, clearly a pair but too far away to distinguish features. Big, gliders, grey with long wings. Two tiny moths (or perhaps the same one twice) triangular when perched, about 1 cm each side and beige. Didn't realise what it was till it took off - and it might have found another perch and reappeared a couple of days later or perhaps sent its sister along. And a big buzzy insect about 4 or 5 cm long, could have been a huge bumble bee but it didn't hang around. Some tiny fish being chased by something needing breakfast. No Dino flashes in the wake tonight.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Latest Position

Posted by I & G in the UK

Morsels from the wheelie bin

0700/14th 2923 01810 trip 1566=80/24 30 miles NW of Santa Cruz de la Palma.

Last night:
It's a dark rather hazy night. No horizon although the sky is clear above. Instrument lights turned down till they are only just visible. There's a faint line of luminescence forming in Berri's wake, only just aglow tonight. There are occasional very bright flashes in and beside it. They vary in intensity - some seem to be about soccer ball sized and sort of fuzzy, others more cricket ball and more intense. Some of them appear to flash more than once, but this may be an illusion. They are much bigger than the sparkles of normal phosphorescence. I've seen them often before, sometimes much more frequent and brighter and sometimes lasting longer than tonight's instant version so there's a long trail of bright balloons in the water.

For David C in Falmouth - the red sail and roller arrangement works really well, with some limitations. First, the wind must be abaft the beam or very light for the thing to roll up properly and to roll it takes practice - just enough tension on the sheet and no more. And it's either in or out - no way it will work half rolled although it might have been ok with the much stiffer luff line you showed me. It's cut very high and might have been more manageable a couple of feet lower on the leech because the clew is out of reach when it is rolled. But a great addition to the bag of fruit and it's small enough to carry twin poled up to perhaps 20 apparent. We'll have to try! After that, and for the southern ocean we'll rig the wire outer forestay and hank on the storm jib.

Time earlier this evening for some serious reflection on the nature of dependence on technology - the ipod died and I wondered how I would survive the next three months without the hundreds of hours of talking books and music. I'm a bear of very little brain indeed and my memory doesn't hold all that stuff. I am always amazed at the capacity of others - Wavell wrote Other Men's Flowers - big book of his favourite poetry - from memory in a couple of weeks between campaigns in WW2. Barenboim can play all the Beethoven sonatas and lots more from memory. And to carry the point, just before I left for the UK, I read a fascinating book called something like 'Books I did not write' by an amazing man whose name I can't remember. In it he talks about a woman imprisoned in solitary and tortured who kept herself sane by translating in her head something massive - again, don't remember what it was - from the Hebrew perhaps into Polish perhaps. And then published it after she was released and it's now the standard translation. The author's point was that with the capacity for such things there's no way that one can ever be defeated by any kind of adversity. Such as the trivial loss of an ipod.

I have to invent things and then I forget them, but the invention bit helps with the adversity. Sort of. Anyway, I recovered the ipod so I can temper invention with a bit of data input. Panic over for the mo.

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For some people it's spiders

For me, it's lightning that sends me cringing into the cupboard under the stairs sucking my thumb. We're due to go through the ITCZ and the doldrums in a couple of weeks and that almost certainly means monster cu-nims and savage squalls with purple lightning zapping into the sea all around. Quiver.

So, as part of my odd job routine, I've made a list of things we can't afford to have zapped if we do get struck - satphone, a couple of hand held GPS', a VHF, mobile, all the SIM cards, at least 2 laptops and so on. I looked at before the first voyage where the suggestion is first to put a proper harness with multiple earth points into the boat and failing that, to put all that important stuff into the microwave. Microwave?? So we will use our stainless steel iceboxes as the best available substitute, with the gadgetry deep inside and surrounded by Murphy cans. The really really important stuff - satphone, SIMs and a gps perhaps inside the big stainless cooking pot as well.

And we will use the spare shroud to create an underwater loop under the boat clamped to and linking the shrouds on either side as well as connecting the foot of the mast to the earth plate outside the hull put there for the purpose.

Any of you physicists got any better ideas? And is this going to work anyway? Or just feel good fantasy?

All rather slow at the mo. 2.5 knots in about 5 and hot. Water temp 29 deg. Falmouth is 1327 miles away, so we've knocked off 10% of the journey in about 11.5 sailing days - very close to the last time where the Falmouth - Hobart leg took 114 days. Loong way to go yet though.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Position 3034 01730. Trip 1485 = 99/24hr

Twin poling at about 4 knots - little red sail and about half the furling genoa. So much better than using the main, which was banging and slatting and shaking the whole rig and the boat. I don't like doing that to any boat, let alone this one.

If anyone out there (Carla, perhaps, as you might already be on the site occasionally?) has the time and patience to look up the ISS overpasses for us and send us the most likely ones we'd be grateful. Twilights are often nicely clear. If you do, just the UTC rise, az. and angle and for a day far enough ahead for us to get the message, so after the next Monday or Friday. We are averaging about 5 knots and should be able to hold a more or less straight line to the Cape Verdes. Thanks and medicinal compound shall flow when next we meet...

Small (read despairing!) moment of doubt yesterday when I thought I heard the damper plate self destruct noise from the engine. Common sense says that it cannot be so if we got the problem right and fixed it properly. There's certainly a noise that I don't recall hearing before but then engines are strange beasts. I ran it for an hour last night without the death rattle noise that is the real signal when the engine is stopped. But I'm not finally convinced and won't be for a few more days. We could still use the engine to charge the batteries if we take the gearbox and damper plate off but that ain't the smell of roses.

Happy double four tomorrow to Sue up in the Lake District from Z and the mob. We'll consult at 1700 in your honour.

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A disproportionate sense of elation

1500/12th 3124 01549

I've felt almost all the time since arriving in Falmouth back in May that we've been coming from behind - first with the Russian applicaion,then the gearbox, the damper plate (my fault entirely, that one), the spammed website (me again) the AirX, the damper plate again and all the other trivia that have made things difficult. But the gate seems to have opened a crack. And I've just managed something essentially trivial but with serious potential to go wrong - I have set up the satphone to work with sailmail and tested it - sent the last message then pulled in a GRIB - and it WORKS. To those of you geeks who can't see why this is the high country of elation - lucky you! Nothing with this stuff ever seems to work without a struggle for me so I'm a happy little veggie. High praise too for Jim's instructions on the sailmail website.

More on routine: we've been sailing dead downwind since leaving Lisbon, mostly in less that 15 knots and often about 10. This means that the Airbreeze doesn't have enough apparent wind to keep the batteries charged - we're doing 5 over the ground so the apparents are 10 max. So we must run the engine for an hour every morning and evening and have to monitor fuel use. I'm just about to check its vitals before cranking it up again. While it's running, we also run the water maker which, in this warm water, easily makes 4.5 litres/hr.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

What did I say?

Never tempt the Examiner. Major crash of SoB or the laptop - there's some sort of incompatibility between these Toughbooks and the version of XP that they use and something in SoB or the USB driver that is triggered occasionally by - I know not what.

Anyway, eventual close down by using the 'off' switch and it rebooted correctly and all seems cool and froody again. Until next time!

Thanks to Bill W (no probs mate - thanks) and Ron Cuskelly whose message took me back 40+ years to Alice Springs (although I thought it was in Darwin, Ron - we were the Giles crew and I think we flew up there, not to the Alice)and to Steve for forwarding. Steve will forward B2 Gmails to us every Monday and Friday unless there's something urgent so if anything needs a quick answer, say so in your text or contact Steve on B2@gmail.

Routine: we have limited supplies of medicinal compounds, most notably Dr Murphy's throat salve and loosening elixir. We left Crosshaven with 150 doses, preserved carefully through the weeks till we left Falmouth and in Lisbon. On the last voyage's timing, we have about 114 days sailing whether or not we stop anywhere else. Einstein says that's too many days for one does per person per day. Accordingly, we now have a proper Consultative Berri breakfast on odd numbered days (why odd numbered, you may ask?) and make do with lesser quality lubricant on even days. Thanks to Carol, we are ahead on our other essential compound so there will continue to be a daily 1700 Con with our specialist Dr Ridyng from Cork.

No decision yet on stopping anywhere else. So much has already gone wrong since I arrived in Falmouth in May that we are reluctant to plan more than a few days ahead - the next GRIB, in fact. I do think that South Georgia is looking very unlikely given the delays so far. Maybe Cape Town, maybe we'll just keep going and perhaps try to swoop down to the Kerguelens on the way past. Almost got there last time.

I'm going to try to send this via Iridium to test the system and our backup.

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Latest Position

Posted by I & G in the UK

0700 Oct 12

Position 3154 01625, trip 1387 so 120/24hr

We passed the Madeira Islands during the night - only saw the loom of Funchal about 40 miles away. Now heading towards the Canaries trying to stay in the little band of northerly wind that extends about 200 miles off the African coast. The books say this is a cold current and it flows south - the water temp is 28 deg and we seem to have a knot against us. Hmmm.

Dare I say it? Wood firmly grasped - we seem to be out of the door - perhaps 4 k in a marathon and just finding a rhythm. This is day 5 out of Lisbon and the stress of the last few weeks is beginning to wash away - long may it last. About 2100 miles to the Equator and the ITCZ. And I think it's time to thank all those people who have helped us get this far - no lists cos they would be way too long - you know who you are. Come join us for a meal at the Restaurant in the middle of the Universe - beautiful waterside location, supported by probability waves and decorated with super strings, all colour coded. Like all restaurants, it has a 6 cat rating on Fatboy Gruntgurgler's Schrodinger scale in the Guide. To discover its real rating you'll have to open some boxes. Or just try the food..

Mars up there with the Moon, Venus and Saturn just above the coming sunrise. Loverly.

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I have received a few messages asking about the previous post so this
is a brief explanation. Andrew Short and Sally Gordon were highly
experienced Australian sailors who died tragically in a yacht race
over the weekend. There are many articles about them online. Here is

Isabella in the UK

Sunday, October 11, 2009


What awful news. Sally and Andrew were good friends. Our thoughts and feelings are with their families and loved ones.

When the dolphins break the bow wave, when an albatross glides past the stern, we will remember them.

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1850/10th 3411 01405

Berri is rolling and flopping around and I'm wedged in with everything except the fingertips helping to keep me there. Not a comfy way to go sailing. In any but the softest conditions Berri is not a comfortable boat when she's so packed full of stuff - there's nowhere to sit relaxed, even in the cockpit.

Later - 0100/11th
Jumbled thoughts - I've got several books going - Obama reading himself on the gadget, Brian Greene and the Cosmos, Wrath of God by Edward Paice, about the 1755 Lisbon earthquake and fire (Thanks John - and for your article. What a grim tale - I think the irony works but that's perhaps because I grew up in England. There are people who would see it much more literally and be offended) and The Barefoot Navigator by Jack Lagan. Bit of a luxury really.

Art forms of our ancestors - sailing to windward and tacking a square rigger, using a sextant, finding ones way home across an ocean for the first time. First, perhaps, the Polynesians, then the Vikings then the Portugese...easy to see how the C15 Portugese found Madeira - just leave the Tagus at this time of year in a square rigger and six days later, bobsyer! But the question is why would the first man to do it actually want to do it? In those days they hugged the coast down to Africa. And Bartholomeu Dias setting off for the Cape of Good Hope via (almost) the coast of Brazil? Mistake, force of circumstance or deliberate? And by 1755 they had lost all that fire and vision. Dissolute, profligate and obsessively religious on the profits of slavery and the overseas territories

Back in this blog, there's a photo of the replica caravel on the Tagus. It is lateen rigged - 2 masts, triangular sails on huge yards - effective to windward but very difficult to tack because it's not easy to get the yard around to the other side of the mast. I couldn't get close enough to see whether there was some arrangement. The alternative, much less efficient, is to wear or gybe - a 300 degree turn instead of 100. The Portugese probably developed this rig by copying the Arabs whose dhows would have used it for at least hundreds of years.

The moon is up, black patchy cloud, glimpses of Kochab, Polaris, Mizer, what I think is Deneb - moonlight on steel black water...glorious night. We've just sailed across the Seine seamount - 4000 metres up to a hundred or so - almost another island in the Madeira Archipelago.

Now it's 0700 - at 15 W we are an hour earlier in local time than Greenwich.
Position 3321 01456 Trip 1269 (134/24) and we should pass Madeira this evening AGW

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Goss's Thousand?

Posted by I&G in the UK

Pete Goss' bottle

0700 position Oct 10 3452 01305 GPS trip 1135 so 120 miles/24 hrs. Actual distance to Falmouth 974 miles.

Gloomy overcast night - two other boats, probably sailing, in the distance and the mystery of the disappearing ship. Biggish ship about 3 miles away going north. I went below for 2 minutes - no ship in sight when I came up again. Big southerly swell, but it wasn't hiding the ship before I went below. Odd. AIS isn't coming through to Sob - to do with early crash and I don't know hoe to get it back, so no help there.

Almost at Sydney's latitude but a hemisphere away. Sigh! Roughly a year ago, Pete Goss gave me a bottle of Talisker when I went to see him and wish him luck on Spirit of Mystery in Falmouth. It's with us, unopened, carefully wrapped and stowed and I think cracking the real first thousand miles might be an excuse for a taste. I doubt whether Pete is reading this but somebody out there might thank him for us.

Now for a GRIB to see how we're doing versus the front.

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Friday, October 9, 2009

For those of us who travel the world at walking pace

Francis Joyon and the Volvo boats go so fast that they can chase weather patterns and use the tops and bottoms of circular systems to slingshot themselves further and faster. Ain't necessarily so for us Farty Old Plodders in what many real sailors see as stone age dinosaurs of boats. We have to look ahead and try to use the advance knowledge to improve our positions relative to nasty pearshaped stuff and the good stuff by heading - slowly - towards the good sides of these systems. As now. I've just pulled in the GRIB for the next three days and it shows nice northerlies like we have until a 25 - 35 knot southerly front arrives from the west at the leading edge of a low pressure system (for the meteorologically challenged, these things may be 500 miles across and they always rotate anti-clockwise in the northern hemisphere so the leading edge will always blow from the south). So - The Plan - head east of the Madeira archipelago and try to get as far south as possible in the hope that the low will ride north on what remains of the current high. That should get us south of the worst of the front and we can tack out into the Atlantic if we do cop the blow. But I hope we can dodge it!

Should have said 'listening to Barack Obama reading his book'

For those in the know, Pete has progressed from Aubergine through Peach to Apricot and now something more like Kiwi or even Lychee or Longon. And the tooth socket is behaving - I can now chew on both sides again.

Proper Berri breakfast just accomplished and fabulous day out here. Charging the battery with the engine - not enough apparent wind for the whizzer to do its stuff. First 1000 of 13000 behind us. Wooohooo.

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Further still

Last night we could see the light at Cabo Espichel all night. And ships - cruise ships like blocks of flats, bulk carriers, container ships - the works. Busy all night - rain squalls making things uncomfortable early on - then they cleared and the moon and our bit of the universe was there just for us.

Tonight - fluffy clouds that look black and sinister but aren't, not a ship to be seen, bits of the constellations between the clouds and the occasional aircraft winking its way high above. Dark horizon, moon still to rise. Lumpy rolly seas with the wind just aft of the beam so very messy.

So the second night of about 110 if we use the last one as a guide - some of these watches seem very long, some go in a whiff - tonight very hard on the bum and the back in the cockpit as Berri moving so violently.

Big feed of mussels - yum! Approaching two huge seamounts, Ormonde and Gorringe, rather like the two on the race from Sydney to Lord Howe - volcanic peaks that rise steeply from 3000+ metres to about 30 metres below the surface if my chart is correct. Spectacular profiles if only one could see them underwater. I wonder what they will do to the seastate- a lot of water moving out here and has to get around them

0700/09 position 3629 01151 trip 1015 24 hr run 119nm

A shoal of fish - perhaps 30, each about a foot long - dazzling silver in the low sunlight of the early morning - lovely piercing curves as they leap from wave to wave - luminously there and then gone in seconds. And I'm reading Barack Obama - piercing commentary on being black in America. And Brian Greene, The Fabric of the Cosmos - piercing intellect that can tell the stories of General Relativity and Entanglement as the astonishing insights that they were, but within even my less that piercing grasp.

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Happy 50th Gordie

We're having a talk with Dr Murphy the better to celebrate in good health. Onya mate - go talk to your gargoyle about looking your age! Our little Coolgardie fridge has worked its magic overnight and Dr Murphy is satisfactorily cool.

And we've knocked over our first 100 miles since Lisbon. I wonder how the early Portugese sailors felt around about here - I'm playing with images of little, heavily loaded caravels and naus wallowing around in the sun and trying to catch enough breeze to send them south. Pennants, decorated sails, at least one priest per ship and religious statues and probably black hulls. And the three Trafalgar fleets must all have been close to here in the months before the battle.

Poor Berri is so heavy that she was doing her wave piercing act in the big rollers - no graceful climb over the top. They have subsided now - brilliant blue sky, a ship just passing astern pointing towards New York - about 10 knots of breeze and we're flopping along.

We're aiming for Madeira - more or less as the wind allows.

Position at noon 3721 01015 920 miles from Falmmouth but that includes up and down the Tagus.

Now 1630 - 24 hour run 128 miles.

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A bit further out

0700 position today 3738N 00953W - we're now about 10 miles SW of that. All systems seem to be working - except this laptop which is still crashing regularly - refusing to talk properly to the USB device. Very frustrating.

We get about half an amp from the Airbreeze at about 9 knots apparent. Better than nowt but we need nearly 2 to break even.

Ships everywhere - will do a better blog later AGW

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Hopefully, not Counting Chickens

Update position images are meticulously prepared by a handpicked team
of round-the-clock observers in the UK, in this case with the sincere
hope that the addition of the "leaving Lisbon" image won't ensure
another round of snaggles and a return to the Doca. I&G

3823N 00930W

Tentatively - we're on our way. Dipped our lids to Henry with an ample dose of medical compound from Carol's magic bottle and on down the Tagus into a dark and rainy sunset and a horrible boat stopping sea - big Atlantic rollers with wind waves all over the place on top. Rain and a dying wind, lightning behind us.

And the wind dropped right out so we're pottering along - read rolling all over the place - at about 2.5 knots with the engine. Not much fun but at least we're out.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Maybe today?

0645 Wednesday and it's still packing in from the SW  but I think the front went through last night with heavy rain and lightning. Passage says it's going to soften and shift to the north before the next one, which is building over Newfoundland and looks like a doozy. Due here in a week but I hope we'll be down near Madeira by then and south of the worst of it.


I now have a schoolkid's portugese dictionary, complete with little pictures of piglets (leitao but I don't know how to put the ^ on the a) and the like. Things make a lot more sense – especially the spelling – Dues cervejas should be Dois cervejas, for instance, which provides a bit of a handle on pronunciation and the local slur. Anyway, I've got a couple of magazines to translate on the way home. Some of it may stick.


So – the plan is still to leave on the tide this arve. And again, we'll dip the lids to Henry on his pedestal as we go past. Third Time Lucky, Carol! And Z is getting twitchy – too much fishe smelle.


I've done some notes on Lisbon for visiting yachties – here is a link that will last for 7 days or 100 downloads.

 I don't have the internet grunt here but perhaps some kind person out there could put it somewhere more permanent with a link sent to so that Steve can add it to the blog. Thanks