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

Monday, October 26, 2009

Drama - sort of

0700/26th position 0911 02420 trip 120/24

There we were, me in my running shorts having been limpid with sweat all day trying to trace the HF problem, Pete in his grotty green salty Stubbies, having a small relaxing mug of random Aussie red with rehydrated curry and rice and celebrating for Hilary - idly watching the cloud building up to the south, still stinking hot and humid, water 37 deg. And then there it was - deep grey horizon, rolling black squall line coming in like the vulture stooping - two decrepit old farts jerked into action - just time to put things below, drop in the second reef, roll in the headsail to a quarter of its size and it was on - only about 25 knots, 90 degree wind change, follow the blast around, lightning, deeep sonorous thunder rolling all about - not at all like Mr Krupa's riff over there in the Pacific last year but still musical - torrents of rain - Pete gets naked with the soap, I go down and connect the mast base to the earth and come up and let the rain wash off the day's grot. And now we're in 2 knots, just as the GRIB predicted and due for another couple of days of it. I'd been soaking my other grommy clothes in a bucket of salt water and green stuff so was able to hang it out in the rain and get a free rinse Yay! And it's (relatively) cool and the sea feels really it would. Lightning away to the north, overcast and spotty rain here.

And then it got interesting. Pete woke me @ midnight - 'There's some black cloud ahead, might be a bit of wind...good night' - not just dark but glutinous inside-of-cow black and lightning all around so I packed the satphone and some gps' into the icebox and got out there - like going under a table and the first blast had us around onto 290 with horizontally slanting rain so thick that I couldn't look into it and had to adjust everything then tack by feel - and a ship! dead in line and we were the give way vessel so had to get behind him except that he stopped right in front of us ... and so it went, non stop for 3 hours with lightning all around, the wind actually hot on my face, my thin pants and T shirt and me wringable - warm water crashing over the bow and back to the cockpit on sheets - black black night, occasional phosphorescence to the side -up to the foredeck twice to sort the furler gradually stumbled through it, the rain eased, the wind backed again and we were back on course and time to wake Pete, who slept through it all. Fun. How I love the tropics.


Ok. It seems we have a terminally dead HF radio. Just won't switch on. We've tried all the obvious things and it seems to be in one of the black boxes. Happened once before and it came back but I don't think so this time. This means all these posts will have to go via Iridium and will therefore be much less expansive and rather more expensive. Last resort might be the SatC but I think that's dead too. Will try later but have to find the software and load onto this pc.

In case Iridium goes pearshaped, here's the plan: we will head for Cape Town come what may and try to get the HF fixed there. We are at least a month away from CT and I will try to make arrangements for a fix from out here. If Iridium dies too and no SatC we will be out of communication for as long as it takes but don't stress - we'll turn up down there roughly early December. We'll just head around the back of the high as best we can without GRIB data - it's been done before!

I will do one blog post and message collect at around 0700 UTC and a second one at around 1800 each day,as long as I have an Iridium signal. If no post, don't stress - can't always manage to get it together but will always try

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: