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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fingernails - in at least 2 episodes

0700/15th position 2255 02129 trip 5247=87/24 Cape Town 2190 This post started yesterday afternoon.

Seems we might just have hooked our fingernails into the top of the low hoofing east below us and we're hanging on as best we can - wind dropping and fickle, twin poled and rolling in the swell. If we can hold on to it - lucky - and we look good for tomorrow as well, then a bloody great hole for a day and then the next low. They are further north than I expected which seems to be a bit of a helping hand. We'll see - we still have to get ourselves 600 miles south across their paths and the second one has attitude.

Hot and tedious out here. Another 45 miles south and we're out of the tropics - hoooley doooley. Then the difficult bit starts. But those 45 miles are not going to be easy either.

We've been playing with the sextant - or Pete has and I've done the Merlin bit - but at civil twilight I'm going out to see whether I can grab Jupiter to add to Pete's earlier sun sight. Lots of fluffy cu so may be difficult.

Later - Jupiter was difficult - but got something else yet to identify. Possibly Achernar but the sight may not be good enough to decide. And then remembered that we need a current almanac to reduce planet sights so no Jupiter anyway. Cape Town perhaps.

Later still - middle watch again - I can't remember ever seeing stars in the night sky from horizon to horizon - there's always a layer of haze low down and cloud somewhere. Tonight is almost Khayyam's Bowl of Night - a little thickening of the density to the north and the stars don't quite make it through but a soft transition from the reflected starlight and phosphorescent twinkles on the water to the real thing above everywhere else - Jupiter in the west with a brilliant trail over the water like one of those christmas cards of the three kings following their star. I sit in the cockpit, chin resting on a winch, Berri in gentle shooshle with the gap between the big dark triangles of the poled out headsails rolling its arc from Rigel through Sirius past Canopus. The gas cloud is a bright fuzz almost to Achernar. The Cross just above the horizon. I will remember these nights as long as my three neurons continue to converse through their torpid synapse. Clear, awesome, overpowering wonder at the beauty of it all and my own insignificance. I'm just a few gerzillion organic molecules soon to be dispersed again along with their momentary cohesion of consciousness, my track through spacetime infinitesimally tiny and irrelevant.

We're not really in the complicated system to the south - the fingernails scraped along the turbulence and lost it so we're just trickling along in the swirls of soft breeze stirred up by its passage. Tomorrow will be a hole but there's a chance that the next low - the serious one - will give us a boost as it rolls past us. It has at least 50 knots close to its centre about 900 miles to the south. I hope Groupama hooked into it and are riding their slingshot eastwards.

I'll send this with the 0700 position to save on iridium. Steve W has gone bush for the w/e probably with no mobile signal so we won't get any mail until at least then anyway.

Henry's Place; Berri's position

Posted by I and G in the UK

Henry Knight

For those new to Berrimilla's voyages, here is an explanation about Henry Knight. In the 2005 round-the-world trip, Alex and Pete passed close to where a young boy called Henry Knight died in 1853 and was buried at sea. He was emigrating to Australia from England with his family.

The co-ordinates for the sea burial were given as 2835 S, 02609 W. The story about the Knight family was passed to Alex by a friend who was a descendant of Henry's father.  This friend gave permission to quote online from the diary of the voyage, which is now housed in the Mitchell Library in Sydney. I read a transcript of the diary when Alex was in the UK back in 2005 and it was a harrowing and moving account of a most appalling journey.  Many passengers died on the voyage due to illness, malnutrition or starvation. If I remember correctly this was in part due to the fact that the provisions they had paid for were not made available to them on board. 

The extract copied below was publshed in the 2005 blog on 29th September as entry 392.   You can access it in its proper context here:

5th February 1853

 5Fine day very Hot Calm Henry very/ Ill could not take but very little Susan A little better betwixed 8 and 9 O'Clock/ Henry went down stair's took A Counterpane down with him that he had/ been laying on all day previous to this he had been to the Closet but once all day/ as soon as he got down to our Berth he started to the Closet I followed after him was/ in the Closet with him we talked together a good bit I then went up on the upper/ Deck same time Henry went down I stayed a short time up on Deck because my/  wife was washing the children and she could do better with the little Girl when I was/ out of sight as she used to cry after me, mean time Henry had gone to the Closet/ again and for the last time he was heard to groan but no one it appears Knew what/ it was or who it was he had fasten himself in the Closet with the Hasp as was the / way of most of the  Emigrants and therefore could not be got at under 15 or/ 20 Minutes no one had  suspected a death had taken place untill the Door was opened/ but so it was poor fellow he was quite dead sitting on the seat & perhaps my/ friends can be a better judge what my feelings were than I can express I took/ George to see him after he had been carried into the Hospital which was the place/ where all the Dead were taken poor fellow he wept over him most bitterly nor/ was he the only one that wept for none of us expected/ all this
Posted by Iz in the UK