For Berrimilla's first circumnavigation, the International Space Station
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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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