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

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Things you learn and random rewards

Another occasion for a Random Reward - soon, DV & WP, we will cross 5 degrees West, the longitude of Falmouth, so we will have sailed the massive arc of ocean necessary to get around West Africa and we will really be heading for home. Then there's 1.15W, the longitude of Cowes, the furthest East we have been. Then there's the Greenwich Meridian. Each a potential cause for celebration should one be needed. The GPS trip reads 5478nm - roughly the distance we have sailed from Falmouth, but still 13 degrees of longitude to go to complete the arc.

Just surfed off a breaking wave at 10 knots - twin poling in these conditions is such an easy way to go - stable and mostly fail-safe. But we have the lower stormboard in and the cone of silence down. For those who don't know Berri, the cockpit is unusual in that it has no sill or barrier between it and the inside of the boat so if a breaking wave crashes over the top, the cock[it will fill and the water - a couple of cubic metres or two tonnes of water - could all do a Niagara straight into the boat, all over the electronics here at the nav table and potentially into our bunks, the engine, even, in a real disaster, the fuel tank if we happen to be filling it. So, we have stormboards, lower and upper - very substantial shutters that fit exactly into the 'doorway' or companionway and seal the inside of the boat from the possible deluge. The lower one is sufficient for these conditions but we often need both in the southern ocean. As backup, there is the Cone of Silence, a curtain of thick plastic sheet that hangs down across the navigation and electronics space when needed. This has saved our bacon countless times when random and unexpected water sloshes through the companionway. But it's airless and sticky and 'orrible inside it prodding the keyboard.

And - most notably crossing the Atlantic from Greenland last year - in these following seas we have twice flooded the engine with water backflowing up the exhaust hose even though we put a stopper in the outer end and there's a one way silencer box that should prevent this but after some agonising, I concluded that cooling water in the exhaust must pool in the box and in a steep and violent pitch, this water flows back into the engine, so we - Gordy did most of it - fitted a big valve between the box and the exhaust manifold. If we feel it necessary to close this, we take the key out of the ignition first and hang it over the GPS. Then - and only then - we close the valve. The key stays there until after the valve is reopened.

Time for the breakfast ritual.