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Friday, November 27, 2009

Past the brass line

073027th position 3113 00111 trip 138 and 878 to go.

We crossed Mr Maskelyne's brass line at 18.36.05 yesterday and we're in the eastern hemisphere. Wooohooo! The last Maureen's cake (Thanks, Maureen ;-)and a Murph to celebrate this morning and there's wind for a day or so in the right direction, then it gets pearshasped but these systems move very fast. Dec 5th still possible.

May not have been Maskelyne but it's a reasonable stab. Too far south, Norm, for Mercatorian status.

No ISS last night - 8/8 cloud. Poo.

From Pete

Pete writes
I've been moved to write due to a distinct lack of something to do. I'm now towards the end of my two night watches, the sun is coming up, Alex has just appeared so I'll make my way to the fridge to extract a couple of Murphy's for breakfast.
Aggahhhh much better.
We put in a good days work last Sunday. By the end of my night watch the wind had dropped to 6-8 kts and boat speed was down to 3-4 kts, this was perilously close to "turn the key time" so a suggestion was made that perhaps a kite might solve the problem of keeping boat speed above the 4.8 kts required to reach Cape Town by Sat. the 5th.
Up it went a nice new flat asymmetrical from the craft of Brian Shilland. True wind was a little aft of the beam so it wasn't long before we were getting 5-6 kts as the apparent wind increased and moved forward to about 15 to 20 degs ahead of the beam. We had a wonderful run all day but by 4 in the arvo wind was above 15 kts boat speed was mostly about 6 7 sometimes 8 and we were still up on course, as they say we were hoooooning along, with a huge grin and a "Whoooo Hooooo".
The problem with Berri and the old style deep keel mid to heavy displacement type of boat is that they have to push a lot of water out of the way to move forward. As a completely bare boat she weighs 5.5 tons, set up for a voyage of 14000 miles she probably weights in at say 7 tons. This means that she has to get 7 cubic metres of water out of her path. Of course pushing water out of the way is easy at low speed but as the speed increases it gets so much harder to displace the water quickly and eventually the boat reaches its maximum hull speed. The boat now moves in a trough created by the bow and stern waves.
If the wind now increases and the boat speed does not and you have a kite up then things start to go decidedly pear shaped very quickly.
The obvious question is how do you get the kite down with one steering and only one other to bring the sail in. How do you control the halyard drop and gather the sail at the same time.
Alex and I have competed the last 3 Fastnet races in the 2 handed division, you learn a lot from the single handers over a beer after the race. One trick we learnt was to throw the halyard in the water, first it avoids tangles as it streams out the back and a few figure 8s on the end puts just the right tension on to control the drop. The kite is then gathered in through the slot between the mainsail foot and the boom.
We had decided earlier on to pull the kite down at about 4.30 which would give enough time to repack the sail and tidy all the bits of string up before the bar opened at 5 for a G&T. The wind never got to the point where the sail was threatened and we doused it easily using the above method. I'll write more now as all the good books have been read and all the little jobs that can be done at sea are crossed off the "To do list".
A footnote to Allan. Fenwick are you OK we havn't had an abusive letter from you yet?
Woc. So you found me. Is Graeme back for Christmas and will the stock market have recovered by then?
Cheers Pete.

Ferals and other animals

An insect - appeared to be a tiny copy of a housefly - landed on the computer yesterday. It walked around a bit, climbed over the screen and disappeared - so we have company. I wonder if it has come all the way from Lisbon or even the Chain Locker or did it arrive on the wind? If so, it probably came from S America which seems like a long way for such a tiny beast.

And at the other end of the scale, we sailed through a swathe of ocean perhaps 3 boat lengths by one covered in a sort of greasy film and bubbles. In the Bering Sea and north of the Arctic Circle in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, breeching whales left these trails but always with stringy bits of mucous and flakes of skin sloughing around. I did not see the stringy bits in this one but certainly the greasy residue, so perhaps we are in even larger company out here. But I did not see a spout, so could have been a giant squid having digestive problems with a wayward nuclear submarine.

No birds today - hot and cloudless so they are probably settled on the water somewhere and will come back this evening.

And half a chance of a visible ISS pass tonight - I've adjusted for our actual position and I think we might crack it. I don't think I know anyone who is up there this time but still just a bit personal to watch (probably) our closest humans go by.

Later - We crossed the Greenwich meridian at 18.36.05 UTC. We have already had one celebration today at 1000 miles to go, so we have saved the last bit of Maureen's cake to sweeten the breakfast Murphys tomorrow. All the numbers in the GPS are now counting in the same direction. Feels good. But not looking good for seeing the ISS. Big cloudbank on the front of the next system barrelling in from the west.

Dusk but I think we have an albatross back with us.

Paul - "I hear there's a video record of that erudite gathering of scholars and philosophers at the Chain Locker. Thanks - can't wait. We re-enacted our simultaneous Consultation for the camera this evening, having not thought to do so on Tuesday.