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

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Gelid and viscous.

0645/8th position 1109 02544 trip 121/24
Sailing day 38 from Falmouth.
Things you learn - Macca really doesn't know who is on the other end when he says 'G'day, this is Macca!' Wonderfully typical ABC low budget production that succeeds through the appeal of the guy at the mike and the power of the tradition that the program has generated. Very Australian and no bullshit. SJ - thanks for setting it up. Hope we didn't fluff the lines!

The middle watch again, but on a night for the little box of special memories one tends to take along somewhere in the gelid vault between the ears. Almost cloudless, no moon yet. Haze, so the tiny stars that fill the gaps are there by suspicion only in the background glow. The constellations - Orion, Cassiopeia, Sagittarius, then Sirius, Canopus, Jupiter, Formalhaut - all intense and piercing and lovely. The Southern Cross yet to rise. Sadly there must be generations of people in the industrialised areas of the world who have never seen the night sky - have no idea of the beauty of a star or the luminous depth of the Universe. Perhaps not just recent generations either - there is early Roman lead in the icecaps of the world.

Some of you may remember the VoA, my whimsical indicator of first voyage latitude. 0.1 at the equator, 0.9 and you're frozen in the Arctic ice with 3 months to wait. Here it's about 0.3 and the water temp is down to 32 degrees. Manageable but the fact that it is back in the list of daily observations is an indicator in itself of the potential discomfort of Berri's passage through the moguls. I was astonished last time when I invented it at how many people jumped in and said 'wow! I'm so glad I'm not alone (would that you were!)- how bad are yours?' And so on. The freedom of knowing you can at last talk about something that is socially off limits. For the newbies, VoA stands for the Viscosity of Anusol. Not available to Da Gama, but he seems to have worked out his latitude by other means. I wonder what he used for his piles - oil of newt? Roquefort? Bacon fat? Necromancers' unguents? Doesn't bear thinking about. Hope you enjoy your breakfasts!

Pauline, your cake has fulfilled its noble purpose - thanks! The Cake is dead! Long live The Cake! Maureen, we will unpack the quarter berth to find yours in the next day or so.

0236/8th and we've passed Cape York, half a world away.

International Radio Stars

10 minutes of great audio with Alex and Pete, and Macca from Australia's national broadcaster, the ABC. The interview is the podcast from 8th Nov, about 4:55 into it for about 10 minutes. Go here to download and hear it:

The best bit? Macca talked to Pete, proof that he is really aboard!

Blues - in perspective

1800/7th position 1006 02540, trip 4330 by GPS

This laptop has now crashed twice, inexplicably, in the last 2 days, both times destroying the iridium settings, losing com ports and who knows what else. It has recovered itself each time but not to its previous status. Restoring it to Nov 4th has so far done the trick but I now write these wondering whether I will be able to send them. Profoundly frustrating - If I were Marvin I'd even be depressed. And the HF radio died again a couple of hours ago too. Massive glooom. It would be wondrous to have a stable system or at least to know what the problem might be.

The ocean is that deep azure so intense that it is almost purple. Turns steel grey when the sun goes behind a cloud. Continuous series of little squalls - 25 knots max - some with splash of rain. Big swell, whitecaps 20 feet long. Grinding it out, metre by metre. About 15 k in the marathon to Cape Town. Drink stop with Dr Ingyrd at 1700, Macca if he gets around to us at 2030. I reckon about another 28 days to CT so around Dec 5th.

First day we could do any washing for at least a week - put 1 litre of freshly squeezed Atlantic into bucket with a bit of green liquid soap. Drop T shirt into liquid, wring the soapy water through it, repeat with next shirt and lastly shorts. Water becomes instantly salty and a dirty yellow colour - all the little scrofules having a party - discard water and by now breeding scrofules. Refill bucket with 1 litre freshly squeezed ocean but no soap and repeat. Hang clothes on lifelines or wherever they are out of the salt spray. Basic process, minimal use of water, gets the sweat and most of the salt out but doesn't clean - my Ts are not pretty! But you get used to it.

We have just passed 10 deg south and will overtake the sun probably tomorrow. This means that Berri's cockpit will become uninhabitable without some sort of shade. A beach umbrella would work - but we've got various bits of canvas and we'll rig something as we go.

Not a cloud in the sky is usually a rather loose statement - but here, apart from some tiny flecks low on the horizon, it's true. Amazing how open it looks - not used to the feeling of space - light silvery blue on the eastern horizon, deepening to hazy smokey lapis above and then down to blazing gold in the west as the sun drops out of the sky.

Macca - ABC Broadcast

For Brits, Macca is usually Paul McCartney and I must admit I have
been puzzled as to why a former Beatle might want to speak to Alex and
Pete. Clarification came direct from the high seas this afternoon. I
now understand that for Australians, Macca is Ian Macnamara. You need
Windows Media or Real Player and the link for Ian's programme
"Australia All Over" is here:

You can listen live, or to previous programmes. I will add a link if
and when it happens.

Iz in the UK