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

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.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

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.