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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Nearest Humans

An Iridium phone is the most insanely difficult gadget to manage in a boat like Berri - have to keep it dry, charged and with its antenna erect and then get it your ear when it rings. Each almost impossible, but all together requires ingenuity beyond anything I can muster. Finally got to talk to Jeanne in Nereida this morning - she's about 900 miles SW of us and going rather better. For us the equator seems to recede into the distance as we get headed and the current bites. Jeanne has a proper Iridium set up rather than Berri's cobbled together version - I'm going to drag out the bin that has the Iridium spares in it to see whether we have earphones and a remote mike for it which would make things a bit easier.

Mintaka tops

0700/01 position 0109 02304 trip 107/24 we've had about a knot of current against us for a couple of days.

Middle watch again - glorious night, Jupiter, Formalhaut, Orion, Sirius, Canopus all just visible in the moonlight. It makes such a difference to life when you know you don't have to come out of your corner fighting! We're out of the nasties and into the trades proper - fluffy cu, 18-20 kts from just east of south with the prospect that the wind will back as we get south and west and the jerky violent lumpy corkscrewing will ease a bit. The sea is just the wrong mix of swell, frequency, wind waves and left overs for a boat Berri's size and it's very uncomfortable - you have to brace, time it and swing with the motion and avoid the hard bits - a bit like a monkey in the canopy.

Having said which, this is what Berri does best - sheets just cracked and going to windward. I'd hate to be in one of today's same sized flat bottomed pounders in these conditions - Berri with small headsail and 2 reefs and about 10 deg of heel, lee gunwale about a foot out of the water just flows. Or would, were it not for the short steep swell and the wavelength. The problem is that the wave length is about 2 boat lengths and so the poor old barge is working hard and having to recover after every wave. She has to blast her way through the swell, so lots of spray but her forward lines are so fine that I've just been up the front and hardly got wet.

Should have said that yesterday's shoal of blue fish were airborne - speed of sound flash between the waves and no doubt trying to avoid becoming dinner for something bigger but a little gem inserted into my day.

Nearest humans - Jeanne Socrates is about 500 miles ahead of us - google her - in her boat Nereida and we might be able to talk to her tomorrow on the satphone. 0645/01 - we spoke - more later.

Uncanny - I'd just written all this goo about moon and stars and being out of the nasties and went up into the cockpit and there's a line of cloud and murk coming in very fast from the SE - the moon will go soon - this might be the change predicted by the GRIB....But it wasn't - no sooner had the murk arrived that it was gone again and back to fluffy cu. And not so cuddly, that fluffy cu. - I've been watching it race past the moon and it's fierce.

Tonight, during Pete's next watch, Mintaka will cross the sky a degree south of Berri's masthead - our zenith star for the Equator. At that moment we will be almost exactly in the middle of the Atlantic and we'll have it to ourselves. Cool!

A Talisker moment

Position 1630/31st 0158 02224

Thanks to Pete Goss whose 18 year old Talisker is our mark for each arbitrary 1000 miles away from Falmouth. We've just had no. 3, after a Proper Berri Breakfast of ancient Bacon and Murphy's Medicinal Compound. And wouldn't that make a basis for a nice cryptic clue?? The bacon is just getting that interesting uber-flavour - still exuding about a tablespoon of pussy water every 4 slices and still very noice!

Another bird - not in the book - slender, ternlike, span about 40 cm white head and underbody, black beak and eyes, dark topsides, chevron across inner tops of wings, white leading edges to outers. Single (?) long tailfeather, longer than the body and stiff. Curved appearance to wings and outers do the flapping. Carla - yo! Your bird book is wonderful, now that I have a bit of time to learn how to use it. Just seen a Madeira Storm Petrel and a Sooty Shearwater (I think) which settled on the water behind us. What happened to Aries? Don't know whether you were with us about 2 weeks ago when I saw a spectacular entry and burn up right over the top of us - speculation that it was an awol US rocket that was not on public view.

A shoal of small silvery blue fish with, I thought, a dark flash - perhaps 20 - like vertical ovals, small tail on the back and almost no cross section. Appeared to be immensely purposeful and in perfect formation. Sad little flying fish on deck tis morning - Pete said one hit him on the ear last night and surprised the cods out of him - left him covered in scales. Perhaps this was the corpse.

Nice offer of contribution to Iridium costs. Thanks mate! I'm going to go on sending this stuff as if it were free like sailmail and hang the expense.

Berri is creaking like she never did - interesting - possibly to do with the post Roll repair but more likely decrepitude, like her crew. I don't think she's in any way about to kark.

Doug - thanks! If you have links to any of that stuff and you can send them to Steve W or berri2@gmail, perhaps Steve could put them on the blog? Truly fascinating. What time of the year were Dagelet and Kerguelen out there? Neil - g'day. Sue, hi from the mob - glad you're sleeping - must be really scary. We're sending you gentle vibes. Z out of hiding. Ron - nothing like a cryptic to pass the time between drinks. Hi to your mate. David - there must be wrecks like that all over the world!

A friend in Cape Town has kindly agreed to let us use his address for snailmail. It's a private address and won't go on the blog but if anyone does want to write to us, Steve W has it. Send him a note via our berrimilla2 gmail address and he will give it to you.