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

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Life-Raft Sequence and More

In responses to Alex's recent Plizz, here is some information about
the "old" Berri sites and information on how to find the life-raft
sequence. The site you need is here:

This website takes the story from January 2005 to January 2006. From
the homepage there is a list of links to the many sections of the
blogs: these are under the heading (not surprisingly) of "Berrimilla
Logs". This is what the heading looks like for the life-raft sequence:

• 10. South Atlantic - going up (25 Mar - 03 Apr) Ref 124-143

It isn't possible to go straight to a specific day or event via a dedicated link. You need to follow the relevant blog section link (eg, 10) and then scroll to the appropriate number of the blog entry. In this case, it's 133. Brown trousers advised.

This link might take you to the relevant section, but if not, follow directions as above.

The more recent Berri website, which was made on the North West Passage trip, is called "Down Under Mars" and is reached via this link

This site was set up and manned by the late-lamented Speedy and although it is up and still running, we cannot access it to change or maintain it as he departed to the hereafter with the passwords.

Please excuse the fact that a blog upload often messes up my neat formatting and puts unsightly gaps in it. I think it is allergic to Macintosh.


Gyrous Jabber

Sometimes a simple message has the power to inspire.

Congratulations on crossing the line from all at Crosshaven Lifeboat. The
fabulous panorama you sent is now framed and hanging in all its glory in the
Ops room
stay safe
Jon Mathers
RNLI Lifeboat Sea Safety Officer
Crosshaven RNLI Lifeboat Station
Hugh Coveney Pier
Co Cork.

Jon, Thanks! We remember you all with huge respect and affection. And, of course, think of you while we despatch every Proper Breakfast, as we've just done. Examiner permitting, we are looking forward to cracking a Murph or 800 with you one day in front of that panorama.

Idle speculation - I wonder if any of the water we are sailing through has touched Berri's sides ever before. There's an anticlockwise flow in the S. Atlantic so lets assume a circle of diameter 2000 miles, giving a circumference of about 6280 miles. Say an average flow of 1 knot, making the round trip roughly 6280 hours or about 262 days. Doesn't seem long enough intuitively but that means in the 4 years or so since we were here last the gyre has gyrated about 5.6 times so we are about half a revolution out of phase. But that doesn't take into account the voyage up the fishpond from the Falklands to Falmouth through that monster storm off Montevideo where we lost the liferaft. That storm is on the first blog too, (link
Izz Plizz?) and there's an analysis forming the final chapter of the 6th edition of Heavy Weather Sailing by Peter Bruce, published a couple of years ago by Adlard Coles, London. Anyway, seems there's at least a chance the old barge is shaking hands with old molecular friends again. Maybe we'll find bits of the liferaft as well!

Malcom, which way does Jessica plan to go? Don't remember Minerva Reef. And you'd better check my maths for the gyre!

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Boring is Good!

0700/3rd position 0134 02408 trip 92/24

Still tracking westwards - partly because we are still in the westerly setting South Equatorial or the South Sub Tropical Currents - they divide around about here and as we get further south, the South Sub Tropical will start to take us south down the South American coast. Ilhas Martin Vaz is at 20 S 29 W and I think we will probably pass quite close to the east of it. Sydney is at about 154 E so from Martin Vaz we will have 183 degrees of longitude to sail - a smidge over half the world and we will ignore great circles for the sake of a good story.

I gather the pissing-in-the-wind blast of squall, rain and lightning that I described some days ago made it into the Fitz Files in the Sydney Morning Herald. My Everest is scaled! Further down this fishpond we should also pass quite close to Tristan da Cunha and Pete has reminded me that last time we were in the big storm down there it lasted for 9 days, all the time over 40 knots and often gusting 60 with some of the biggest breaking waves we saw on that voyage. An indifferent destroyer of boats and psyches. Check it out in the first Berrimilla blog.

The moon is high above the masthead but dimmed and masked by high cloud. No stars. The world has no colour, only form and density and diffident sparkle under the moon. The sea is relatively gentle - SE swell, perhaps 2 metres, rolling not steep and Berri is flowing - 12 knots of breeze and about 4 over the ground - there's about 1.5 kts against us for a bit yet. We haven't adjusted the sheets or Kevvo for 24 hours - noice!

I think I may have the glimmer of a work around for the recalcitrance of this radio. Marc is checking with Icom and time will tell. I'll post the idea if it keeps it alive for a week or so.

'Hallo Fishy'

Position 1900/2nd 0050 02357

Things you learn out here - tricks of agility and dexterity - in pearshapedness, Berri may rise and fall rather violently as much as 30 feet in seconds, while at the same time rolling, pitching and yawing often in jerks - classic corkscrew motion accompanied by appropriate crashing, sloshing, creaking, howling blasts. Outside, you can see it all happening and you brace instinctively often without even needing to hold on by hand. For instance, it's relatively easy even under those conditions to time it carefully and get from the cockpit to the foredeck perfectly in tune with the boat with quick hand over hand swaps - never, unfortunately, in tune with your tether, but that's another story and something else you learn. Inside, no frame of reference and you learn to feel and listen to the boat and again, instinctively, almost always get it right when moving around. I've got lots of scars to show the exceptions however. One of the things that really works inside is the system of fully weight bearing hand holds and you can find them in the darkest of nights. And dexterity - I can hold almost my full weight against one of those hand-holds with 3 fingers of one hand while the pinky delicately holds a couple of Sao (cream cracker) biscuits against the palm without breaking them on the way to the cockpit. Sometimes though, you wish that evolution had delivered about 46 prehensile toes plus nose and a tail.

And in those conditions you can't eat pasta or anything really even from one of Berri's elegantly appointed dogbowls without getting food down your front. Just been trying to get the results of a recent blow out of a couple of T shirts. Nope! Not nohow.

Last night Mintaka did its thing at almost the right moment too except that there was a cloud in the way. Mintaka, for those that asked, is the leading star in Orion's belt.

Other things that really work - Chefsway Dried Meals from Hobart - Onya and thanks Nathan. We took lots on the first voyage as backup and didn't need them and ate a lot at home. This time we took 30 through the NW Passage again without needing them but Pete and I have decided to alternate them with the usual sludge from cans on this leg as a bit of a treat. All now well past their use-by date but still much better than anything else we have.

I'll try to do a 'what works/doesn't work/what we've learned' bit every few blogs. Sometimes I find myself writing things that I'm sure I've done before - if it becomes a habit, someone tell me please. None of this 'Hallo Fishy' Hallo Fishy' 'Hallo Fishy' old fart stuff if you please.