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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last one for 2009

Position 0630 31st 3716 02535 trip 93 DMG 92! Yay! But now in wallow and drift mode again.
Last position report for 2009 and tonight is the blue moon...

The word I wanted a few days ago was troposphere. Thanks Sue.

Have just started reading Doug's extracts from the early explorers' logs and diaries about Kerguelen - the islands and the man. I had no idea there had been so many French aristocrats down here looking for the great south land. Dagelet's paper to the French academy is in French and there are some term that I don't know but he was an interesting man - and thoroughly disillusioned with Kerguelen, his Commander in Chief. Amongst many other observations, Dagelet climbed Table Mountain with a mercury barometer to try to measure its height, noting the difference between the sea level and summit readings - not an easy day's outing! And he noted the phosphorescence around Ile Kerguelen and observed that it was not as brilliant as in the tropics. Captain Clerke of the Discovery, with Cook also in Cape Town, noted the fierce south east winds, so full of sand as to render their observatory instruments useless within minutes. Plus ca change! We still have the stuff everywhere.

Huge flocks of smallish birds - I think they are Prions which are very difficult to identify accurately but my best guess is Antarctic Prions. They fly around us for a bit in big swirls and disappear - just ignoring us completely.

Gordy - tks for msg - recalcitrant of me should have said Hi earlier.

Bottom to top

It really does seem that we may have escaped the clutches of the Agulhas Tongue. And its gullet. Tracking more or less south @ 5 knots having crossed the edge of the main shelf and just north of a big trench - spectacular (ocean!)bottom features on the chart - the bottom of the trench is at about 6700 metres below the surface and 60 miles or so north is a peak or seamount rising to 1800 metres, so a 5000 metre drop. And more of the same all around. Not sure but I think the highest peak base to apex in the world is the island of Hawaii which, taken from the ocean floor is much higher than Chomolungma - but then if you measure from the floor of the Mariana Trench to the top of Chomolungma you get a really big number - roughly 12+ 9 = 21000 metres. A vertical half marathon. All ballpark and idle nonsense because I'm conscious of the fact that I'm beginning to repeat myself in these bursts of baloney.
The plan: keep going south and east till we reach 3730 - 3800S and then turn left and follow the latitude across to within range of the 900 mile dive to Kerguelen, by which time we should have a feel for the conditions and Berri's state of mind to say nothing of the geriatrics in charge. This is really easy, pleasant sailing at the mo - almost makes up for the last week. I seem to remember that once clear of Africa, the lows tend to move south and if I'm right, we can move with them.

Things that work - our Airbreeze wind generator. Nice gear but with a design fault (in my opinion) for the marine version that makes it almost impossible to adjust. There's a tiny screw on the side that adjusts voltage cut in and cut out settings via a potentiometer but it's so tiny and the adjustments so fine and the device so high above the deck that it's pot luck what you get. It ought not be necessary to adjust of course, but in our case and I'm sure lots of others', murphy strikes. A big knob or better still having the adjustment screw set up in the on/off switch box inside the boat - far less dangerous (no need to cling to the tripod on tiptoes on the pushpit bars unable to focus on the screw at arms length in reading glasses and can't even see it without) and more effective. I shall write to them when we get home.

Doug - just about to get into your envelope of Kerguelen goodies - had lots of prelim looks but no serious reads yet.
Malcom, I still have a MMSI for Dufresne in the VHF. Any chance you could try to get us a phone number for someone in charge of the anchorage - even M.le Maire soi-meme? CT was so busy I never got near a French official. Tks.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Morning quickie, rather late.

0745 position Dec 30th 3609 02430 trip 74 DMG 38 - very slow but we do seem to be moving.

I think yesterday's position should have read 3533 02406, not 3633...sorry.

Thought we'd never get clear of Agulhas and we're not out yet but looking just a bit promising.

Sue - Pinkaraj has always been a bit experimental and enjoyed the experience. A favour please as you seem to be doing it anyway - over the next couple of weeks, could you please monitor the pattern of lows passing Kerguelen and give me a rough interval and the trend in windspeed at 49 south? Not too much detail needed. Tks.

Richard P at Fastnet - separate note follows but if you are reading this, thanks and could you please just send the annual premium from the quote - use the direct sailmail address if you still have it, else berrimilla2 - many thanks.

Latest Position

This Latest Position incorporates Alex's correction for 29.12.09 and
is posted by I & G in the UK.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Close encounter

We are south of the main shipping channel around southern Africa but in the direct path of ships sailing between Asia and South America. Last night we received AIS data from a Santos bound cargo ship that shall remain nameless but who appeared to be heading straight for us at a range of about 15 miles. No luck calling on channel 16 - perhaps out of range in those seas. So I sent him a direct call on the DSC system (it's a bit like a mobile phone system between ships) and received an automatic acknowledgement but no VHF call on the designated channel as protocol requires. I tried calling him, no response so made a couple more DSC attempts but this time with no acknowledgement - instant thought bugger, he's switched it off because the noise was annoying him.

Tried again at about 8 miles on ch 16 and - phew! - he answered. Gave him our position, told him restricted in ability to manoeuvre and he said he could see our port nav light. I told him to pass whichever side was easiest for him. The AIS was giving closest point of approach of about 20 metres and he did not appear to alter course, 10 minutes to go. Pete went into the cockpit in party gear with our powerful lantern and I got the engine ready to start. Still no alteration, called him again and said he appeared to be heading straight for us. OK, he said, I can see you...We started the engine at about a mile and got out of there. I looked at the plot later and I think he would have missed us by about 300 metres - fine in calm waters and good visibility and ok for him last night with radar and other gizmology, but very scary for us in the conditions - it's really difficult to get the perspective right at night and when you can only see eachother when you are on top of a wave and have anyway very little steerage way, almost impossible to judge with that degree of accuracy. And a 250 metre long ship is a non-trivial object.

The wind has abated to a mere 25 knots and the seas have subsided a bit. We are right over the edge of the shelf and heading SE under reefed main and full headsail being set norh still by the current. I would really really like to be clear of this bit of ocean - easy to see why the early Portuguese sailors hated it too.

Latest Position

Posted by I & G in the UK.

This morning's mid con quickie

Position 0630 29th 3633 02406 trip 66 DMG 42
Depressing night. I think the most ornery bit of ocean I've ever been in - sea utterly confused, big, maybe 4 metre wind waves over big SW swells breaking from all sides, current setting north - north!- it even confused the instruments to the extent that the only way to set the boat up was the old primitive wind on the cheek. It still works!

Scary tho ultimately safe near meeting with big cargo ship during the night. More later.

'orrible and hindifferent...

Steves x 2, thanks for msgs. Last time we saw Leopard was off Lands End on her way to Plymouth and line honours in the Fastnet. At that stage she was about 240 miles ahead of us and we had about 280 to go. Sigh!

Two weary old geezers out here. Blowing 35+ and big waves but nowhere near as savage as the last one. We are in deeper water for a start and the wind has been steady rather that blasting through in 50 knot squalls. Having said which, massive wave just hit and broke over starboard side. I think we both wish we did not still have nearly 6000 miles to go. It's been pretty relentless. Even the Cape Town stop was full on and no real break. Time for the old fart's dither - why is the floor moving? Sailing? Are we really sailing? - how interesting! - now where did I put my glasses and my cup of tea...

Almost as soon as I had written that paragraph - imaginary glasses and cup of tea dashed from my quivering old hand by - yep - a 50 knot rain squall. Had to leg it outside and roll in all but last couple of feet of headsail - I wish I could find the words to write about the power and the sheer bloody indifference of these conditions - predominant SW swell - big but not huge, great planes of grey breaking water, dull reflection of cloud covered moonlight, Berri, all seven tons or so of her, just tossed around as if she were weightless, water often knee deep across the decks and filling the cockpit. And the noise - wind roaring and howling in the rig, water crashing and thumping against the hull and with a sustained deep rasp like a truck tipping gravel, boring across the decks. And this is just a little one - hardly even a severe gale and no way a storm. The severity of it all is the Agulhas effect - cold wind against warm current shortening, steepening and hollowing the wind waves superimposed on the swell over a steeply shelving sea bottom. I really think I'd rather be somewhere else - anyone for Scylla? Can I tempt you to a little whirl with Charybdis perhaps? Roll up! Roll up!

I think I have written about this before - the anticipation, the waiting, the curdling knowledge that it really can happen to us after our 2 rolls, the rather corrosive anxiety that goes with it all gets worse the more you do, the more experience you have. Well, it does for me anyway.

We are thinking hard about Kerguelen. The decision will evolve, but it's still a bit too early to write it off - after all, we nearly got there last time.

Just had a near miss with a cargo ship. AIS saved the day - more tomoz.

Thanks for all your messages and imagingesIz. Keep em coming please.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Latest Position

Posted by I & G in the UK.

Remember you can enlarge these images by double-clicking on them

Cape Town departure photos

Photos of Berri leaving Cape Town, with thanks to Jeanne of "Nereida" RCYC. Their website is .

Once more...

Position 0645 28th 3547 02256, trip 50, DMG 29 - lots of crashing around for not a lot of gain but way better than nothing. Now back in the beginning of the next system and tooling along eastwards with just the jib unrolled at about 3.5 knots (would be more without the Agulhas current setting us back). Looks like a line of frontal cloud to the west. TGS (The GRIB Says...) that this one will be milder, at least this far north, than the last one. Here's hoping! Cross 'em please.

Almost permanent company of albatrosses and petrels and I forgot to mention the most exquisite tiny storm petrel in the gale a couple of days ago - 20 second glimpse but possibly European or Wilsons. I think the smallest I have ever seen. Wonderful example of adaptation to apparently overwhelmingly adverse conditions and these birds only seem to appear when it is seriously pearshaped. Where do they go?

I assume the drag race to Hobart is now over and the press have gone home but my brief look at a grib indicated the possibility of a little boats' race. Hope so!

There's a problem with one of the servers in the Africa sailmail station which sometimes delays these posts - don't fuss if you don't get one as regularly as usual. If it gets really bad, I will revert to Iridium.

Things near yet distant...

Middle watch - brilliant sky with black silhouetted fluffies. Yesterday a day of torpid indolence in a butter churn. For most of the day there was just enough wind to fill the twin poled headsails, the stretched and much repaired Love and War staysail and the shiny new red one now hanked to the replaced outer forestay. Now there isn't and we are bare poled again but for the opposite reason.

In most bits of ocean, when the wind dies, the sea subsides. I have to report that that ain't the case here - almost 36 hours after the wind dropped from the stratospheric to the merely (and here the three neurones went on strike in an alzheimeric reminder - I can't remember the single word for the lower atmosphere...) we've been in a violent steep wind wave over SW swell that seems to have only marginally subsided. The butter churn that is our little fibreglass home is still in busy, though no longer vicious corkscrew mode.

And the water temperature is 31 degrees and feels like a tepid bath. And we are on the eastern edge of the Agulhas bank where the sea bottom dives from 200 to 5000 metres. Abandoned oil drilling well heads everywhere, but submerged way down. The Agulhas current has real attitude and, like the East Australian current, cannot be ignored. Here's the warning from the chart:

Information: ORIENTATION: 237 DEG

We are parked at 3550 02245 with the engine idling to give us the pooptillionth of a knot necessary to provide steerage way and keep Berri from going round in gut knotting circles. From the gorblimey to the sublime and back again - 'The GRIB says' there should be another 25 knot + blow starting soon. We are now far enough north, I hope, to miss the worst of its effect. It will be noice to get clear of Africa!

Small Update from UK

I've just spoken to Alex on the satphone. There appear to have been
some odd delays in the way Berri e mails have been sending out, hence
the double entry for today. All is OK and although Berri is rolling
about all over the place, it is now very much calmer out there. So
much so that a Consultation was in progress involving Dr Gordon and
his helpful sidekick Herr Schweppes. From Iz in UK.

Quick position report

Position 0700 27th 3608 02159 trip 100, DMG 43 - lots of effort for not much gain. Wind now down to 12 kts, twin poled with red sail on hanks and small furler. Trickling along in the right direction. Still very lumpy - Berri dry inside. When we get clear of Africa, we'll have a better idea of what we can achieve.

More later

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Quick position report

Position 0700 27th 3608 02159 trip 100, DMG 43 - lots of effort for not much gain. Wind now down to 12 kts, twin poled with red sail on hanks and small furler. Trickling along in the right direction. Still very lumpy - Berri dry inside. When we get clear of Africa, we'll have a better idea of what we can achieve.

More later

NHF part 2

Sitting at a pleasant dinner table in Cape Town, you tend to forget or at least suppress just how bloody awful it can get out here. We have a steady 35 - 40 kt wind howling in the rig, gusting over 50 in the squalls, violent breaking seas, acres of white and milky blue broken water and glimpses of swimming pool blue as solid water goes past the windows, Berri rolling and crashing all over the place, closed right down with just Kevvo and the wind generator operating. I'm once again wedged under the nav table with my knees, everything sliding around, trying not to get thrown out with every breaking wave and not to look at the wind speed. And this is a relatively mild one - just a little gale - but with every effect magnified by the southern ocean swell and the Agulhas current. The grib said (and doesn't that become a mantra of hope against reality?) 30 knots but as we learned last time, you really have to double it here. So we creep north east and sit it out, hoping that any ships around have AIS and good radar because for us a proper lookout is really a sea level squizz out of the windows around the boat. Not very effective.

Udo, thanks for your message - all the bits seem to be working still, touch wood.

All that was many hours ago - I don't remember when I started this one, decrepit old git that I am. We've been creeping NNE bare poled and wildly uncomfortable and it's now 1800 utc and the wind has abated, now 25 - 30, waves still big and breaking over the boat and nothing really to do except sit it out until we can head east again safely. We are about 60 miles south of the main shipping lane so should be ok during the night but we'll have to be careful. We will turn east again as soon as the seas get a bit easier but right now we have to keep the boat relatively slow so that we don't take off from a breaking wave and broach and get clobbered. Poo.

Later still - I've just got into party gear and gybed us, still bare poled and now we are tracking closer to east. Still very big waves but they are only breaking occasionally and it will soon be time to unroll a bit of headsail. We have been caught before by the wave train that arrives out of nowhere after the gale has abated and fills the cockpit or, as near Dunedin, almost rolled us in 2005. Just before I went up, sure enough - huge breaker crashed over the boat - seemed from the inside to have come from astern and thumped against the stormboards and sent little spears of water through the breaks in the seals and onto me and my book.

Good fun.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Not having fun

Or enter the Examiner, stage left. We got ourselves down into the top of the low at about 35 south - nice easy 30 knots from the west and tracked south east - but down here at 3650 02047 it's a bit different. 40 - 45 knots, big breaking waves and we have decided that Berri's furler arrangement can't cope with these conditions. The poles are a bit too long and the small jib is too badly stretched to set properly as a de facto storm jib so we are bare poled and easing our way north east again. We've just had a 50 knot whiteout rainsquall with a front and a couple of cockpit fillers. We have a backup outer forestay on to which we can hank a storm jib or a small staysail but we'll try that in more benign conditions first.

I think it all means that we will have to stay up around 35 S all the way across and just work the systems. Which rather puts paid to Kerguelen at 49 S. We will have a better idea when we get clear of the Agulhas effect with wind against current and shelving ocean bottom but it doesn't look hopeful. Gloooom.

Wind now down to 35 again but there's more to come. Poor Berri in rather violent motion still. All has a deja vu feel to it - last time we were here, but further south we got savagely bashed too.

TPS suits work well.

Latest Position

Posted by I & G in the UK.


0630 position 26th December 3646 02026 trip 105 DMG 84 and at almost exactly 0200 this morning, just as the Hobart race was starting, we crossed from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean.

We are tooling along at the southern end of the Agulhas tongue in a 30 kt westerly with wind waves over the predominant SW swell of the southern ocean so rolling uncomfortably but all seems ok so far, says he grabbing the nearest bit of wood. Single small headsail poled out to port and about half furled and doing 5-6 knots.

I have broken out my TPS dry suit and hope tyo dispense with all the other clobber necessary to keep warm and dry, but will try living in it for the next couple of days before I put the other stuff away. Reminds me of the immersion suits we used to wear flying over the sea - pee tube and all.

Lots of albatrosses and dark petrels - albatrosses I think grey headed or salvins again but really difficult to identify - there are hundreds of small variations in colour, shape, plumage etc - jizz - and each species has different variations as they mature.

I think - and hope - we are south of the ships.

Hope youse all had the best christmas - we had a fairly gentle one - and thanks to everyone who sent us messages. Too many to list.

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Christmas Albatross : Thalassarche salvini

We'll be a bit short of images here for a while. So here's a Salvin's
Albatross or Mollymawk, possibly what Alex has just seen. The photo is
in the public domain courtesy of photographer Mark Jobling - to whom
thanks. More on the bird here:'s_Albatross
Posted by Iz in the UK


Now there are about 20 albatrosses and a bunch of assorted dark petrels. The albatrosses are - I think - Grey headed and/or Salvins in various stages of maturity with perhaps a young yellow nosed or two. The petrels are very difficult to identify except for at least one Cape aka Pintado petrel, unmistakable because of the white flashes on top of its wings. Got heaps of photos but there's always a better one just after the camera gets put away. Easy to spend all day out there. I wonder whether one of them is Bartholomeu Dias, or even Speedy, making sure we behave. And Tommy Melville is out here somewhere too.

Back in warm waters of the Agulhas current. Temperature leaving CT was 17, now 24. Portuguese men of war everywhere.

Jeanne, thanks for photos! I'll tell the albatrosses to wait for you.

Time to ring K & E - I wonder what Cook and Dias and Anson and Magellan and Pinzon and Flinders and Drake and Henry Knight senior and all the others would have done with an Iridium phone. I guess the talking clock would have been somewhere in the phone book for those that lived before Harrison. Would Nelson have phoned Merton? It might have meant that many of the wonderful letters and diaries would not have been written - Nelson's last letters especially, perhaps.

Now midnight in Nome - con occurring to coincide with their day and we'll call Pat later. I think Berri's christmas will wrap around midnight tonight in Nome or Cape Prince of Wales so we have a few hours left if medicinal support is required after cleaning the Augean deck left by departing reindeer.

Carol - plastic bottle primed and ready for action later.

Fair winds and safe passage to everyone heading to Hobart in about 15 hours.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas albatrosses

There was one in the gloom during the night and now two soaring around the stern. Identification to follow but lovely and way better than scrofulous reindeer that were faffing around during the night. Hoof marks and crud all over the deck. Santa couldn't find the chimney so consternation all round.

Chrissy 0630 position 3540 01923, trip 89 and we also cracked 8000 miles from Falmouth, DMG 58.

We had to change consultants in CT - Dr Murphy's supply ship was overdue and the man from Dublin had his in port so we've just had small Con with the Doc from Dublin along with bacon and tabasco sando. CT bacon is like bacon used to be before someone worked out how to sell water with it. Toasted all y'all and planning a few more toasts as the sun moves around.

Not much wind but at least it's now taking us south. Westerly at the top of low due tomorrow and we should be far enough down to jump into it.

Stockings and presents to follow.

Happys from 30 miles WSW of Cape Agulhas

Sparkling day - wind has come and gone and returned, lots of ships turning the corner, including an amazing contraption called Shen Hua 27. Never thought we'd be becalmed just here but we were for a bit. Big fire on the coast just west of the Cape.

Berri is decorated, stockings are hung and Lily the Pinkbok is pretending to be a fairy. Carol, your card just caught up with us and is part of the display, Hilary and Steve (and anyone else who might have sent us goodies) your parcels did not, unfortunately - really is snail mail into Cape Town - so will be waiting for us in Sydney as Felix has promised to forward them.

Wedecided that Christmas in New Zealand was the signal for a small Con - are you there, Brian and Jen? - and we will probably call it a day when the sun sets in Dutch Harbour and Nome. That way we can remember all our mates out there.

Happys to you all and all the very best for 2010.

And thanks for being there.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Latest Position

Posted by I & G in the UK.

Fixed and away again

0630 position 24thDec 3442 01848 trip 79nm Will start some DMG's tomorrow.

Yesterday, around 1500
So Far So Good. First blue screen of death. SPBF. We set off again 9 hours after our first try, autopilot re-engineered with new motor and operational and toy spare set up to work as emergency backup. Thanks Udo, for the fix and the sponsorship!

'orrible joggly sea, big SW swell, wind waves from everywhere and not enough wind to sail through it so engine idling to give us a bit of forward speed down as far as Duiker Point where Lion's Head finally tucked itself behind the softly reddish bulk of Duiker as the sun set. On past the Cape of Good Hope - the Cape of Storms - 'Can you tell me where the toilets are?' Car or walk sir? walk. Well, there's a path behind the Cape of Good Hope that will take you right there...And I know why the Portuguese sailors tried to avoid this bit of ocean and called it the graveyard of ships.

Lots of ships and a joy to have AIS working. As I write, Adriatica Graeca, cargo ship, and Rainbow, tanker, are crossing astern of us heading east, the former to Xinsha and the latter to Durban.

Alan, thanks for the chart and advice - doubly useful as it turned out!
Huge thanks to Manuel, Dicky and Laurens for putting up with us and for all the fixes and to Felix for his offer all that time ago in Hamble.

Now for some Christmas decorations...

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Murph - the other one - and the Examiner

Serves me right on 2 counts - one, for feeding the old bearded bastard with the trident a drink through the cockpit drain - no doubt he was miffed and two, for not following my own rule and testing everything before going to sea on one of these gigs.

Udo fixed the very nearly dead electric autopilot and gave it new innards but as he had already tested it, I assumed it would work when we plugged it into the boat. Murphy and the Examiner contrived to jam it and as we were still so close to CT it would have been very silly old fart behaviour to keep going without it. Kevvo does not work when we are motoring unless there is a significant apparent wind not created solely by our movement through the water so having no electric thingy would mean hours - maybe days of hand steering, especially if other things had already assumed pearshapedness.

Udo has now taken it away for surgery - I hope not autopsy - and he will do his best to get us away again tomorrow. We will also set up the toy version of the autopilot that I have as backup so that it will work rather more easily than it is set up to do now (now needs alligator clips on to the battery - instead of the much easier cigarette lighter plug).

All I can say is watch this space. I will try to get copies of pics of 0500 departure for later blog if we are still here tonight.

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Seals and dolphins

Quickie to say that we left the Royal Cape YC at 0510 this morning and we're heading down towards the Cape of Good Hope. So far so good and if this goes too, then all systems including AIS seem to be working. Keep em crossed!

Seals and dolphins in cavort mode as we left the harbour. Noice. And I spilt half my first Consultative medicament on to the cockpit floor - unintentionally - so I'm living with the consequences of that woolly sock moment and I hope the Bearded One with trident is feeling libated even though it was processed via the cockpit drain.

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Quick, mini update -

Massive couple of days packing the boat and absolutely knackered! Silly old fart. We are planning to leave tomorrow at 0500ish UTC. Wish us luck and happy christmas to all y'all out there. We will hang out the decorations and Consult briefly - of course - with the reindeer and the other old fart.

I hope the next one will be from the boat.

Love yez all!

Monday, December 21, 2009

View from the top

Macca late last night - I had difficulty saying anything interesting. Hope we weren't too boring. Then we climbed Table Mountain this morning, early before the crowds, on the first really sparkling day since we arrived here. It's a steep, rocky climb from about 300 metres at the start up to about 1100 at the top. I was reminded forcefully of how the old corpse has atrophied since I last tried any serious running - a climb that would once have been a breeze was not easy. Pete carried the backpack most of the way. Wonderful view all the way to the Cape of Good Hope from the top, and around to Cape Town and Table Bay.  At the top there's a very swish restaurant and fast food and trinket establishment - odd really - just like being in any airport terminal rather than the top of such a spectacular mountain. We required rehydration - of course - and worked our way through a couple of doses of Grolsch - third best eer in the world after Coopers and Carlsberg Elephant. Then down by the cable car - fast and disconcerting as the interior rotates and if you are leaning aginst the side trying to take photos, your feet go one way and the camera the other.

The photos are here - 100 downloads or 7 days, as usual. I used two cameras but try as I might I could not get the folder to zip them in the correct order - all the ones beginning with PC21...should be first. K, the view when your call came through was PC210001 - noice, and even noicer to talk to you. Photos 2362 & 3 have the COGH almost dead centre though it is really hard to see.

Then we refuelled the boat and started to try to get the insides in order to start packing it's time for Dr Gordon in stiffish mood for two thoroughly knackered old farts.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

AIS rocks!

AIS - Automatic Identification of Ships - gizmology with attitude and relevance. Big ships (>300 DWT for the techies) are required to transmit AIS data on VHF radio (Ship's GPS position, likelihood of collision, name, MMSI, course, speed, destination.....lots more) and carry expensive equipment that reads, integrates and plots the data from other ships using GPS so everyone has a position for everyone else, plus a lot of other information. Us little boats can clock in with the right gizmological goodies and use the data and it's brilliant. If it's working! Berri's AIS black box died somewhere between Lisbon and here but we now have a better and, I hope, more durable one courtesy of Udo. Pics are of Udo installing the box and two screen dumps of the data - first one shows the list of ships whose data we were receiving plus the specific data from one ship, in the right hand column. Second one has the plot of the Cape Town harbour with the ships we were receiving in their correct positions.

And Pete, fixing the leak over my feet at the same time.

Happening part 2

A day of things happening - rain early calling for classic Eeyore, but cleared just as we were called in to the crane. Berri strapped, hoisted, dangled and turned while the old farts and Manuel did the paperhanger trick with pressure spray, scrapers and allen key - all the while being urged to get a move on because there was a queue for the crane. All done in about 40 minutes. Ferals galore - goose barnacles? - all happily living on the antifouling. Not any more. And I made a truly agricultural adjustment of the pitch on all three prop blades, made harder because I forgot to leave the engine in gear but a good approximation of fully available pitch tweaked into the old Kiwi and did it ever make a difference!  First thing I noticed when we were backing out of the crane berth was the prop walk in forward gear, then the speed with the engine idling. Noice!

Back on the berth and into the other stuff - Pete making a folding seat to go in front of the galley, me setting up the gizmology for Udo, packing the forepeak and trying to get my head around where we will put everything for the southern ocean. I had intended to ship all the arctic gear back to Oz but turned out to be too difficult so it's coming with us.

Then Udo arrived and we have AIS! - see next post. And more wind and grit. And the sailmaker arrived with re-inforced mainsail and little red sail with hanks - I fitted the old outer forestay a couple of days ago and we'll go with the hybrid Berri - hanks on the outer, furler on the main forestay set for twin poling all the way home...

Time for a cold Con in the bar with Pete and I'll do the AIS post later.

A day of things happening

More pics to follow

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Romance behind the bog

Imagine!  you spend a good chunk of your life conscious of the history and the romance and the sheer emotional grip of the Great Capes and one day you drive to the Cape of Good Hope - second only to the Horn as a place of fear and pilgrimage and you see it out there off the road and you ask where the path is to get to it - 'Walk or car, sir? Walk. OK sir -there's a path over there behind the toilets...
So you set off from behind the toilets to walk to one of the great corners of the world...

The COGH is almost at  the southern end of the peninsula but but quite - Cape Point, .much bigger. higher and more impressive. is the real southernmost point  before Caper Agulhas, the real corner and the divide between the two oceans, 100 miles or so further east.

There's a zipped folder of photos from the day here
It will last for seven days and/or 100 downloads - I don't have time to do the picasa thing. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

True grit

What a place - of confronting contrasts, of fierce winds, of the Mountain dominating everything, of friendly people, of security everywhere.

We've been full time busy fixing Berri in the gaps between the easterlies - the top gust a couple of days ago here in the marina was 79 knots and mostly over 60 - worse in Hout Bay further south where 3 boats sank. The wind carries with it tons of 200 grit sand - black dusty sharp sand that blasts away gel coat, anodising, paintwork - everything. It gets into mast tracks, bearings, lines and sheets. Don't none of you Sydneysiders ever complain about the wind and weather - you ain't seen nothing!

Progress - the HF radio is back and working - was a faulty relay in the on/off switch but the relay is on a PCB inside the transceiver...Oh for the days of simple lever switches! Thanks to Udo - contact details available if anyone is coming this way.
The laptop also had problems, as I knew, and Raashid is coming down this morning to re-install it and test everything - Raashid details also available  for anyone needing a nerd in CT. A couple of great guys who really know their stuff.

Apart from that, we have had a mini glimpse of the place but hope to get the boat sorted and spend a couple of days driving around before we leave. Complicated by Christmas and the usual pressures on tradies to get stuff done. Berri gets lifted and hung in the straps on Friday fr barnacle scrape, prop pitch adjust, anode check and quick inspection of rudder bearing and general bottomy things.

Raashid arriving - must go. Will post more photos later. I understand there may be another Macca session this sunday, if they can reach us.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A bit further from the bar

Manuel Mendes - the bearded one - boatbuilder, fixer, sailor extraordinaire - is looking after us in royal fashion. He was up at 0330 this morning sending Groupama off into the 25 's knot SEasterly that is blowing now and funnelling down the mountain past Manuel's house at 50 - 60 knots. The cloud rolls down the side of the mountain in huge swathes and as it cools here, it will start to drizzle.
Fixes all under way but nothing resolved yet.
We had a supporting breakfast Con on Friday as the sun went down at RANSA and Bill W did his thing for us. Thanks everyone!
And thanks too for all your messages - rather too long a list for this note.

Doug - fascinating stuff - and there's a book, now out of print by Raymond Rallier du Baty called Aventure aux Kerguelens which you might enjoy. He has the SWestern peninsula named after him. Malcom, thanks for red circles around the mines. I'll bear them in mind!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

More birds

I've been playing inexpertly with the images - might not work but don't know how to check until I see them on the blog. El PinkbokkerZeb having a ride in the sun.

Radio has gone off to Icom looking very much the worse for wear - rusty, corroded case, even though it lives in the driest part of the boat. Udo has condemned the AIS gizmo - a dead parrot - so have to decide whether to buy a new one - slightly better but seems much more expensive that the original. Pete off saying goodbye to old friend who is off to UK tomorrow and I'm contemplating the prospect of a cold beer after I have been out to Berri to bring in the washing.

When the south easter blows here it has attitude - nearly 50 knots around the mountain yesterday. We visited Groupama - amazing machine! 30 metres by about 23, weighs 18 tons fully crewed, one winch of the many worth more than Berri - pete has photos and I'll post some when he gets back. The crew anxious to get away - Manuel, our host here responsible for getting the new generator shipped out to them and it arrived as we were there and the crew were all over it in an instant, unpacking, adjusting - they plan to leave tomorrow if all goes well. Nice, laid back guys, despite their awesome toy and happy to talk to the dinosaurs.

Packages received from Malcom, IGgle, Sue and Doug M - thanks everyone - will try to write separately soonish.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

More photos

Basically - going down the Tagus leavint Lisbon - Prince Henry monument on the right, then close up of monument and Himself with two seagulls providing appropriate comment, then Spectacled Petrel and Atlantic Yellow Nosed Albatross but they are all ou of order  sorry!

Some photos

Trying to get organised - being looked after ratehr well but it takes time to get it all working in a strange city...The photos never seem to load in the same order I want them so I'll put headers with the next send

Safe Arrival

At 13.30 UK time we received a call from Alex who was in the bar with
Pete at the Royal Cape Town Yacht Club, medical refreshment firmly in
hand. He won't be able to get to a computer until tomorrow and asked
that we confirm their safe arrival.
Posted by I & G in the UK, together with the images below. We don't
really know where Berri is moored at the Royal Cape Town Yacht Club:
we've just guessed that they'll be as near the bar as possible.

Cape Town At Last!