For Berrimilla's first circumnavigation, the International Space Station
and the North West Passage, go to

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Hesdbanger's lament

Another of those heart-in-mouth nights when Berrimilla's passage through the ocean sets off a trail of luminous green strobe like explosions of writhing radiance in her wake and out to the sides as well - it's as if there is a pressure wave from her bow out to about 5 metres each side and while most of the fun occurs directly in her wake, there are sporadic flashes at least that far out every few seconds. At six knots, that sort of pressure wave in water must be in the nanopooptillionth range so whatever it is is extraordinarily sensitive. Whatever, it is mesmerising and lovely, our own special aurora marking our passage.

A couple of weeks with nowt but ourselves and today two ships, one a big empty tanker heading NW, the other just lights passing in the night. Unfortunately, I can't get my AIS gizmo to talk to SoB so there is no identifying data. Another of those electronoc mysteries. Ships are an indication that we are getting close - only one and a bit BUs and in the manageable range. Soon, perhaps, we will see land birds and get the local radio stations on AM and then FM instead of the hassle with short wave to pull in the BBC World Service for Africa. The SW radio is now using the whole rig as an antenna and it works rather well but I need a proper antenna jack and alligator clip to stabilise the connection instead of the split pin and clothes peg I'm using. Your frequency list worked, Carol - thanks! And then I will find out whether my Australian Telstra SIM works in South Africa, as it should - but I'm not taking bets.

It's the journey, stupid! While we look forward to a friendly face, a cold beer and a shower, arriving will be a huge anti-climax. Back to the marathon analogy - standing in the finishing chute, emaciated, knees buckling, leg muscles twitching and cramping, blisters a dull burn, before even getting the finisher's medal, months of preparation pounding the streets then 42km of graduated effort and increasing pain all done and the let down is almost something solid you can touch. Success has its buzz, which may come later, but it is for me always accompanied by atrophy and a sort of mental entropy. Perhaps that's actually the driving force that gets people back out on the streets or in their boats after vowing never again. In our case this time, we are only half way home and we can't really relax and drop the bundle - there's a very big to-do list.

And anyone who has ever been out here on a such night of swirling luminescence as tonight can't fail to yearn for the uncomplicated serenity of it all.

K in Shanghai - I doubt you are reading this but Hi anyway!