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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Senility strikes

I have just re-sent a block of five blogs which I had mistakenly sent to the old blog address and I think they may have arrived in reverse order - they should make more sense if read as follows
1.Comfort in adversity
2.Examinatorial Uglies
3.Delayed Con
4.This 'n that
5.Trying to outguess the examiner

I will try to keep my mind on the job in future. Now where did I put my woolly hat with the pompom? And my coffee? On my head you say? The coffee?

Phil W - AIS box is ICOM MXA 5000 receiver only, feeding into Software on Board ( in the laptop. We are changing the much travelled Kiwiprop for a new and slightly bigger one to go with new engine (Kiwi want the old one for analysis and display and they have generously subsidised the new one).

Lorraine - good to hear from you - glad you are enjoying this bit of fluffery.

Fenwick, not sure whether it's alcoholic stupor or senility in your case. 12 bottles of scotch?

Sue, sorry no pic of Pinkakerg in Kerg - all too busy avoiding kelp and P had face to the wall anyway - doesn't like the killer whales the troops saw in the bay as we were leaving.

MJC - don't know about the rats but I expect they all jumped off various ships - I can find out if you really want to know.

Tryig to outguess the Examiner

Sent the last 4 to wrong blog address - tks steve - resending with this one

Position 0630 31s,t 4811 07741, trip 116, DMG 97. I seem to remember that we had it much easier last time. Poo!

Still a bit busy out here - both into full TPS dry suit party gear to gybe the pole and optimise our course along the leading edge of the next front to try to ride it as far north as possible before the wind goes east. Just hoping the low doesn't intensify until we get into the front of it rather than the bottom.

more later

This 'n that

The lull between the uglies. I've just got into full party gear - after sponging the grot from the bilges - and poled out the headsail (no main in this drop of the turbs). There's a 30 kt easterly - at 48 south, an easterly! what's the world coming to? - due tomorrow but it looks like a fairly narrow band on the grib so we are trying to use the remains of the last nasty to get us as far north as possible, way into the easterly band and if possible through it. We will have to see what happens but that's the plan. Will be very interesting to compare the gribs with our track iff we get to Hoibart. bHeadbanging into 30 kts in these seas is not good karma, so we might just heave to and let it blow through. 24 hours lost, in that case.

Macca seemed to go better this time. Now that we have sorted how the programme works, it's easier to prepare. Hope it was worth the early rise.

There seems to be a bit of anxiety as to who is getting a Kergy envelope. If you asked for one, you will get one - but it's not instant gratification as I've said before, they will leave Kerguelen on RV Marion Dufresne at the end of March and reach Reunion in April. After that, it's regular snailmail. To all of you who have contributed to the iridium tin, many thanks.

On Iridium, we are in the only bit of the world that I know of that is out of range of a Sailmail station. We are roughly mid way between Maputo in Africa and Firefly in New South Wales and I haven't been able to connect to either since before Kerguelen. Firefly is just showing on the propagation screen and will slowly come into range but it's been exclusively iridium for quite a long time.

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Delayed Con

Position 0630 30th Day 2 from Kerguelen. 4847 07504 trip 103 DMG 70 - slowed us down a bit, that little nasty. Temperature inside 9 deg, outside a lot colder.

Less that 48 hours out - great start followed by inquisatorial bashing with what looks like another to follow. I hope the seas have timer to subside a bit - it's still blowing ephelaunts off chains but the barometer is rising fast. Big waves - it's always when things seem to be dying down that it's dangerous. Heading NE or where the wind takes us but basically north seems the go for an easy life.

Consultative process seriously discombobulated by excess business with the Examiner. I have just managed lunch - imagine, old fart in red and blue neoprene dry suit, strapped into wildly gyrating galley, wild waves cderashinjg against the windoew (as you can see, also with gloves on)inches from face, marrying a tin of smoked oysters, a slice3 of french loaF AND some mayo and getting the lot into the interior tubing - ever4y6t5hing moves with the boat, but in opposite directions tricky.

Now I'll see whether I can get iridium connected to send this. Then I shall Consult.

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Examinatorial uglies

This one's a real doozy. Not especially severe, 40-50 kts, but very nasty sea and sleet driving horizontally across the boat. The wind lifting the breaking crests and mixing them with the sleet. Wonderful colours if you can find the chutzpah to appreciate them - glassy green sea, glorious translucent iridescent green under the breaking crests where the light from the sky gets through (yep, we're looking up at most of them!), the crests themselves densely frothy with a greenish tint surging towards us and leaving acres of white feathery water behind them. Crashing blast of white beating thudding water as one occasionally breaks over the boat. Trickling flushing gurgle as it drains down every little gully above us. The usual wind streaks on the surface whenever it is smooth enough to see them. No fun out in the cockpit, where I've just been with the video cam. Small signs that it's dissipating - a bit of light through the soggy grey felt overcast, occasional lulls in the howl. The Examiner is clearly punishing us for our temerity in coming this far south and visiting Kerguelen - she's got another one of these lined up behind this one, again to the north of us so we get the adverse and nasty bit at the bottom. Le bum of ze cochon - we are supposed to be in westerlies here.

It's been so busy and beastly that I haven't yet written personal thank yous to the Kergulen mob. It will happen.

Possible Macca session this evening our time - we'll do out best to describe it all but it's hard sustaining that sort of rather one sided conversation. Love yez all - enjoy your lattes in Sydney and your bacon and eggs in Blighty. Margaritas in Texas and scotch in Lake Placid. Coopers in Nome. We might just have a taste of the Talisker if this little troll ever rolls away. Could be soon - the barometer just clicked up two hectothingys and there's a hint of blue in the overcast. But still blowing 44 knots.

Yickapooo! Sunlight - through a glass starkly but it's there! Big wave just broke over us but it's still there, even reflecting off the stanchion I can see through the window.

SJ, do you still you have the software to download tracks from the old Foretrex 201? Little green dinosaur.

Nereida Jeanne - great news! Good to hear.

Comfort in adversity

You awake Alex?...Yep! Bloody don't want to be but I am. I'm warm - to the ends of my toes warm in my toasty minus 20 arctic bag which I keep unzipped from the knees up so that I don't get stuck in it if we roll. I can hear the howl of the wind, the slat of the rain on the coachroof, feel the motion, a nasty corkscrew and I know beyond any denial, any rationalisation that I really really don't want to get up. So I fumble for my clogs to keep my socks dry and contort myself to reach up for the handrail at fingertip height above my head and swing my legs over the bar holding the leecloth. Lurch and stagger as Berri cops a wave. Pete tells me the story of his watch as I hang on with one hand and put all the warm stuff away and shiver into the cold damp fleecy overall and thermal tops that go with wet weather gear and into the pants and then the jacket. For convenience and warmth, I'm using my Canadian flote coat - the jacket is almost runny wet inside - it leaks and, I suspect, was never meant for this stuff. Yeeark - my hands shrivel as they slide down the slimy tubes of the sleeves but it all warms up quite quickly - just damply uncomfortable. And balaclava, headlamp and out into the howling roar that is the cockpit. Cold, driving rain, wind chill savage, quick assessment and ease the sheet till the heady just starts to flog and haul in with all my strength on the furling line to get the thing to about half its already small size. Make it all fast again, the rain by now running down my face and into my collar. Back inside, jacket off, kettle on, hot sweet cuppa with Kerguelen bread and honey and go through it all again to tack (actually wear) the boat to get the wind on the other side as it goes from east to south to south west. Grey, not black out there, the moonlight just getting through. It's only 35 knots but it's an awful sea and you have to be here to appreciate the beauty of it all.

We are just sitting it out, as comfortably as possible. No need to try to go anywhere, just keep the boat as unstressed as we can and wait. Remember Abe Lincoln - "And all this shall pass away..." I hope in about six hours.

3 hours later and definitely not yet - barometer 985 wind steady 35 gusting 40, almost freezing rain, sea building. Bleah!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Happys for H

Position 0630 29th 4911 07310 trip 130 (22.5 hrs) DMG 103 Odd feeling having only open ocean between us and Tasmania. So beginneth act the umpteenth.

Into the last of the baguettes, now about 24 hours old, with marmelade and a dose from Herself from Windhoek to wash it all down. Luxury unbounded - we were eking out the bikkies a bit before Kergs. Desolation Island - that's what it would have been called if Cook had got there before Kerguelen. The early explorers tended to compare the lands they visited with the gardens and fields they were used to at home and missed the delicate diversity and the bleak beauty of places like Baie de L'Oiseau. The early settlers in Australia yearned for their rose gardens and lush grass and tried to plant them in the desert, completely ignoring the wonderful natural flowers and the astonishing adaptation of the vegetation and the animals. But desolate Kerguelen ain't - after all, it does have its own cabbage.

Time for a coffee - filtered courtesy of the chef - and to attack the block of choc with a pickaxe. Yeehaaa! I'm wearing my Kerguelen hat - I went for a walk around the little bay at Port aux Francais amongst the seals, penguins and rotting kelp screaming gulls and cormorants and took hundreds of photos. On the way I found two un-matched sneakers which i left there and a tea cosy fleece hat with ear flaps. Grotty, sandy smelling of aforesaid rot and bird poo. Took it home, rinsed it multi times till the water ran more or less clear and dried it on the radiator, to find it impregnated with the tiny sharp seeds that come from one of the (I think introduced) plants that grows everywhere. A bit prickly. The french call the seeds pics or perhaps piques as in piquant. So to work with the tweezers and I'm truly the old fart about the boonies now.

Hey Dale - good to hear from you! The Bunger Hills sound interesting but I suspect it's a good deal colder at 75+ south than it was at 75 north - we'd need a heater. Glad we gave you an excuse for a scotch - our ears are burning - we have a drop of the Talisker and we're due for a small dose so keep your ear flaps tight and we'll cuss at you too. All the best for Axel Heiberg.

Ships that pass...

Pete had a ship on AIS during the night - he says it stayed with us, about 12 miles south, for a while and then disappeared. Odd. Sea Shepherd and its Japanese shadow are down here somewhere so perhaps one of them.

Cape Petrels, prions, dark petrels that look bigger that the white chins, the occasional Storm Petrel and several albatrosses - a few black browed and at least 2 very big ones. The water is 10 deg and definitely green. I've been sitting in the cockpit in my dry suit in the sunshine - it's cold out there! I hope, pace the Examiner, that we are now heading gradually north directly towards Maatsuuyker. Our furthest south, just off the Baie, was 4934 - we are now at 4915. Time will tell.

A bit more on Kerguelen - we were able to contribute a tiny speck to the place - one of the young researchers had spent quite a lot of money on a camera to record his stay on the island. On his first field trip, he found himself unexpectedly up to his armpits in water and his camera was drowned. I offered him my spare one that I seldom use and he's a happier boy. And my albatross photos found a home there too.

Not sure whether my French was up to the detail but there are a lot of rabbits - I think I heard 18 million - fewer cats and a lot of rats and there's a queasy balance between them all to the detriment of the original inhabitants and the natural vegetation. One species of introduced brown trout is gradually taking over all the rivers from all the other introduced fish. There are invasive insects (aphids?) which are also vectors for viruses. There are sheep and a species of what I think are caribou. We have some good contacts who, I suspect, would like a chance to visit Australia and collaborate, so if there's anyone out there working on similar ecological or biological projects (SW - UoW?) or perhaps schools who would like to be put in touch, let me know.


Massive thank you to all our friends in Port aux Francais - for tolerating our awful French, for your much better English, for telling us about all the fascinating science that's going on there, for the trip of a lifetime around the Baie in L'Aventure in wonderful company and for generally enriching the lives of a couple of dozy old farts who blew in for a shower and a glass of milk to drop their false teeth into. Special thanks to Nathalie Deschamps for being such a cool Chef du District and to Renaud Huez who took us in hand and looked after us so well, and to Frank for the trip around the Baie. And to the cuisiniers, for all the goodies - we have bread, cheese, fruit, cold chook, coffee, sugar and an industrial chunk of chocolate It's about a foot square and three inches deep with nuts - yay! - and we only got half the bar. When I was a kid at boarding school, we used to get chocolate in lumps that had been hacked off a huge block too - takes yer back a bit!

I discovered why the scientists at least have better English than our French. One of our friends was studying for an exam next week and he had Feynman's lectures open on his desk - in English. It seems most academic textbooks that are written in English are too expensive to translate.

Could not have dreamed of a better start. Apart from a little contretemps with a big patch of kelp which took a fancy to Kevvo, no problem getting out. I borrowed an idea from Cook, who climbed Endeavour Hill in Cooktown to try to see a way through the Barrier Reef after they had careened and repaired Endeavour. I climbed the hill at Port aux Francais and found a gap in the kelp that gave us a shorter sail out of the bay and lined up a transit and off we went. And it worked.

Lovely night, poled out, 2 reefs, hooning under a three quarter moon, 20 kts from the west - rolling a bit - some signs of Examinatorial perturbation to the north west but the grib says - well, it does - that all should be reasonably cool and froody for the next couple of days. I shall only believe that in hindsight...and there is a nasty low forming in the NW in that couple of days. We'll see.

Poitrel Jack, if you are reading this, you need at least a 2 inch drain in each corner of the cockpit. Heavy duty flex hose to through-hull valves with venturis on the the outside to stop water flowing into the cockpit. Much more efficient than bungs. Happy to talk when we get back. Good luck!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Kerguelen glimpses part 3 or whatever...

First, you need to know that in Kerguelen, and probably all over France, they drink their breakfast coffee out of pudding bowls - half litre size. Second, conventional table manners are for the conventional. It's fair go to mix whatever you like in your coffee - cornflakes, cream, honey, sugar, the works. Scene at breakfast this morning - my lean, hook nosed hollow cheeked scrubby bearded friend who, with a bandanna would be perfectly cast in "Pirates 4" or whichever mixes a devils mix of black coffee, honey, milk, sugar and cream in his bowl - looks like baby poo by the time he has finished. Then he cuts a foot long length of bread from a french stick, slices it in two lengthwise, smears in in butter until every last square millimetre is covered. Then he spreads Nutella (for the uninitiated, a sort of soft chocolatey spread based on hazel nuts) all over it with the same concentrated care. Then, with enormous relish, he dips one end of a slice into his poo coloured coffee bowl just long enough to soak it but before it goes completely mushy and loses its structural integrity - and bites off the end, wipes the dribbles off his chin with great delicacy and repeats until all gone. Wonderful - I must try it when we get home.

And the eerie. I went for a walk this morning while we were waiting to be ferried out to Berri and visited the chapel. It's rigged inside just like a catholic one, but it is accepted simply as a place where people can go to commune in their own private way. Poignant memorials inside, some very personal. Outside, about 50 yards away, there is a lovely statue of Our Lady of the Winds. Under the pillars that form the arch of the porch there's an old blackened bronze bell with a short braided rope attached to the clapper. The bell swings in the wind and the clapper grates on the ring it hangs from inside the bell. I was looking from the arch to the statue and the bell started to grate and resonate - perfect movie SFX for the spirits of the dead - the ghost of the Ancient Mariner at my elbow.

Seals - they are everywhere, lying around in gross floppy heaps, some moulting, which makes then really ugly - they bark and the elephant seals snort. And they get around by undulating their bodies from front to back and pushing with their tails. But only 10 metres or so at a time and then they expire with a massive exhalation into a flaccid heap and rest for a couple of minutes. The King penguins are just finishing their moult - some are still scraggly but the rest are sleek and beautiful.

Prions, Cape Petrels, a couple of Skuas and a big albatross, Kerguelen a hard crenellated edge 10 miles away in the haze and advancing cloud around the setting sun.

And we're pointing at Australia.

More later.

On the way

Departed Port aux Francais 0800 UTC january 28th 3123 miles to Maatsuuyker. I will use this for DMG until we get there...

Hooning in 25 kt westerly - just leaving the Baie du Morbihan.

More later

from Gerant postal Kerguelen

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


The admiralty chart has notations all over it for magnetic anomalies. I'm not surprised - even the grit here is magnetic. I go outside with laptop and satphone to send these posts, shivering in the cold breeze and I have the satphone aerial extension fitted to the thing. The antenna on the end of the cable has a magnet underneath it (for attaching to the roof of yer ruggedized 4WD as you barge down the highway from Chatswood to do the weekend shopping...) and I sit on a rock outside the demountable and put the antenna on the black, gritty ground and when I have finished, there is a little crown of tiny black pebbles attached to the circular magnet. Good fun. Apparently there are places where even the GPS gets the habdabs although I don't see how it can happen.

We hope leave tomorrow, restocked with assorted goodies and, with luck, 25 - 30 days to Hobart. The plan is to stop in Hobart for a few days, slip Berri, change the prop and fix any glitches and put on some antifoul and a bit of polish and varnish - should be back in Sydney, DV etc, end Feb, early March. For the initiated, I hope to reinstate the Bash this year, date TBF, and if we make it in one piece, there will be a homecoming party in the park. However, predictions are dangerous and serve only to provoke the Examiner, so this is just the first wash on the canvas.

Today, I will spend the morning repacking the disaster that is Berri's interior and then we will start putting all the gear we have ashore back on board.

More later. Berri seems in good nick. Forecast for tomorrow is ok but for Friday, distinctly pearshaped. We'll leave and head north to give ourselves some room and to get as close to the top of the low as possible. Big high to the east if we can get across to it.

Envelopes part 2

Doing envelopes most of today.
For those who asked for one on the blog and for my family, this is what they will look like - suggest you print this because they won't arrive until the end of April. I hope we beat them back to Oz!
FRONT: Photo of Berrimilla with bow of L'Aventure in the background. Photo and envelopes courtesy M. Renaud Huez, interesting man of many parts, now the Postmaster here for a year, who set all this up for us.
Personal rubber stamp of Renaud Huez,
Two postage stamps - one of de Rochegude (as an Admiral) who first landed, with great difficulty, at Baie de L'Oiseau. The other of Charles Rouillon - much later but very eminent explorer - google him - just to keep a historical perspective. Stamps cancelled with special postmark.
Pete's and my signatures.
BACK: Official (rubber) stamps for L'Aventure, CNES - the Centre National des Explorations Spatiales and Meteo France, the French Bureau of Meteorology. CNES and MF provide most of the funding for this District. The CNES stamp was badly worn and the image is a bit indistinct.

Pete's envelopes are for his family and friends. They may be different. The choice of postage and rubber stamps is bewildering!

Sue, you got in by special dispensation. Too difficult to take pic of El Pinkathingykerg - huge wind and just too busy surviving to set it up. Will try tomoz when wind abates.

64 knots last night - elephant seals crashing earthwards all over the place, rather like the HGTTG whale, poor thing.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010


0300 UTC and I've finished addressing my quota of envelopes - sorry if you did not get in in time! For those who did, they should arrive some time in April, DV & WP.

Berri still attached to her mooring, with elephant seals flashing by in the wind. On my way out in the RIB to inspect and tidy her up a it.

More later.

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Correction to my last

Muggins aka Dozy Old Fart got it wrong - my French is way far from perfect. The next ship arrives here in March, (mars, not mardi...) so the envelopes will not leave until then and you won't get them until April. Also, I do not want to impose on the generosity of Son Eminence le Maitre de Poste so no more addresses after today please. I have two more envelopes above the list already received so first come...

Wonderful day today shuttling researchers in and out of the remote outpost stations around the hundred or so islands in the Baie du Morbihan. We called at Haute, St.Malo, Mayes, Guillou and Verte and on the way back to Port aux Francais, passed the wreck of a previous ship, which is actually marked on my chart. At Guillou, we were about 15 miles from Mt Ross, the highest point on the island. Lots of photos. Stark volcanic landscape, eroded by water freezing in the cracks and breaking off the outer layers, exposing the strata and blurring the crystalline rock forms down the millions of years. Also huge runoffs after the rain and occasional snow. Penguins, seals and dolphins (type to follow - I will ask later, but blunt nosed with white sides). My Gold Collared albatross was probably an immature Snowy and I am extremely doubtful that my 'Amsterdam' was indeed such - more likely a juvenile Snowy, NZ or Tristan. There are people here who really know about these things. Projects today - the effect of introduced species, rabbits, cats, rats and sheep; Blue Petrels and their environment and reproductive cycles; invasive species - aphids and other insects, which are all vectors for viruses; the effects of atmospheric pollution - several others but that's the sort of thing. They stay out in the field for three to ten days in insulated cabins, but they are all rigged and equipped to walk and to survive for longer if the weather changes. L'Adventure is an 80 ton barge about the size of one a half tennis courts with two big diesels and hydraulic propellors on stocks that can be turned so no need for rudders, and they can be raised out of the water. The barge just drives up to a beach or a rocky headland. parks its square flat nose against the solid earth and Frank, the skipper, holds it there with his engines as the teams transfer their equipment and themselves. No fuss, all done with cool competence and flair. The people - carefully selected volunteers - all with personality, verve, knowledge and dedication. Some students doing field projects - what an opportunity!

Wind gradually rising all day - averaging 45 kt on the way back. Now seems to be abating. The wind and the defined static lenticular clouds and the flying cascades of spray added to the stark landscape but I will never be able to see these islands as the desolate spot the early explorers and pioneers described - it has life, bleak beauty, rapid change from glorious to menacing in minutes. A character of its very own. A real privilege to be here and to see it all and to take part.

When we arrived back in Port aux Francais, we were greeted by Mme Deschamps, the Chef du District. She came down to the quay in the wind and rain specially to meet us and then took us to her house for coffee. Tomorrow she will stamp our passports.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Last chance

Amazing day today. Now blowing elephant seals off the rocks - poor Berri straining at her mooring, everything slatting.

Will do full blog later but if you want a commemorative envelope, this is your last chance. I think I can guarantee one for everyone who has replied so far - just a bit overwhelmed by the response - but from early AM tuesday UTC (so 1100 ish in Sydney, no guarantee but I'll do my best. Many of you have asked how you might contribute - a small donation to the iridium fund via my sister Isabella would be appreciated - if you email her at isabella.msw at (remove the spaces and substitute the @ where necessary...)she will tell you how to send it and she has access to my iridium account. If no can do, no problem!

H,K & E, have you on the list, also Fiona (massive thanks!)

SW, thanks also for forwarding.

Apologies Izz - hope it's ok! Tks for addresses yesterday.

Super quickie

Have we ever been lucky - so far - we got in at just the right time - glorious weather for three days including Baie de L'Oiseau and tomorrow it blows - 60 knots forecast. Poor Berri tied by long, heavy plaited lint to mooring buoy with the line looped round both foredeck cleats and on to itself, bridle strops back to main winches, eerything tied down, 2 lashings on the furled headsail and we cross the fingere it will be ok. Not a lot we can do if not, so we're going off around the Baie for the trip of a lifetime from 0600, returning about 11 hours later when the wind is forecast to come in.

A seal wobbled past my window today - 300 metres up the hill from the water. I have video to prove it. Smashing day all round.

Amazing place - I wish I could spend a year here with a laptop and a couple of cameras.

Doug, I've given all your papers and the Dagelet article to Renaud Huez - long story - who will understand them and make them available here. He will contact you but please send me your email address asap if you read this.

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Glimpse part 2

There's an easy discipline to this place which I recognise and love - I grew up with it in a different world. It's based on acceptance of a set of basic and common assumptions, a shared and universal trust in the competence and professionalism of others and an (always somewhat tentative) confidence in one's own ability to take part. It is easy to see these people as the same people who sailed with Diaz, with Kerguelen, DuFresne, de Rosnevet, Cook, Ross, Crozier and all the others. Kings Regulations and Admiralty Instructions or the Inquisition were always menacingly in the background - surfacing occasionally to create fear and consternation (Voltaire's acid remark that the English found it necessary on occasion to shoot an Admiral 'pour encourager les autres')- but mostly intrepid and courageous men, usually but not always volunteers, who were out here because it gave them a living. No more than that. There were, of course, the others, the leaders like Kerguelen perhaps, whose ambition drove them to excess. And the obsessives - Amundsen perhaps.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Port aux Francais part 2 - a glimpse

What an interesting place - physically, environmentally, culturally, historically. Thanks to Doug's papers, I know about as much of the history as the locals. They spend one year here - two month handover overlap between 'missions' a bit like the ISS crews - research projects continue but personnel change. There is a tracking facility for satellites with a telemetry download process and a meteorological station with the usual internet access and an atmospheric balloon launch every day to monitor the upper atmosphere.

A tomb outside the non denominational church with the tombstone written in arabic. Also a plain wooden cross, weathered and grey - in memory of someone who died at sea - memorial plaques to people from many countries inside - poignant indicators of the international and cosmopolitan tide of the place.

Perhaps it's typically French and a spin off from the extreme professionalism and respect between the people here but you handshake when you meet someone anywhere for the first time during the day if he's male, double cheek kiss for female - it's expected and a sort of formal ritual. There's a lot of it going on at breakfast! And there's a genuine Boulanger - yay! Fresh bread, chocolate cake par excellence, croissants, palmiers, the lot. French wine if required.

Tomorrow, we hope to be allowed to sail on MV Aventure around the islands of the Baie du Morbihan doing the weekly delivery run to the many outposts and research sites. Requires permission from the Chef du Mission, who is in the field till tomorrow.

1800 or so sheep on the island left over from one of the farming projects - we had one for lunch yesterday! And there are rainbow trout in the rivers - wild after an aborted attempt to farm them in the 1920's - Anne-Claire, one of the Doctors, leaves on Wednesday for Reunion at the end of her year here and she has gone trout fishing up there in the hills with the scientist who runs the toothfish project - and who was at Macquarie University in Australia studying Lungfish. But he should know how to catch a trout!

There's a wonderful documentary lurking out here - the place, the history, the wildlife, the people, the projects - I'd love to do it! There is a lovely uncluttered thread from the past that lives and breathes and evolves here - just like the settlements in the North West Passage, particularly Cambridge Bay which is strikingly similar.

More if I can - these posts depend on my sitting outside with the laptop and the satphone - local internet is way too clunky and we don't get much chance to use it anyway.

Must have all snailmail addresses in by Monday evening local so that I have time to catch the outgoing ship on Wednesday with the letters. Again, no promises but I'll do my best.

Ivan, lots of photos of Baie de L-Oiseau. We did not land - decided to leave in the weather window. There's still a scattered pile of stones on the little headland where the bottle was left - the remains of Cook' cairn perhaps? And I bet de Rochegude's buried bottle is still there somewhere. I know how it might be possible to find it too.

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Port Aux Francais (population 60 + 2)

Somewhere south of the middle of nowhere! Cool. Click to enlarge, not that there is much more to see!

Port aux Francais

Arrived around 0800 UTC - Berri on a mooring 50 metres from the jetty and we are up in the settlement being rather well lokked after. Settlement just like an Austalian mining camp - demountable buildings for acommodation, communal eating, movies - the works. The Postmaster - selected for his knowledge of philately as well as general soundness of mind - is going to do a special edition envelope commemorating our visit - if you want one posted to you with Kerguelen TAAF stamp, I need snail mail addresses urgently. No promises but I'll do my best.
Norml internet access almost impossible so will go outside into the cold cold wind with the laptop and the satphone and try to send this.
After whch, totally knackered and gong to bed. Saha! Seals and penguins not far from window.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Tentative yeeehaaa and wooohooo.

More or less parked off the NE corner of the island - to get into Baie du Morbihan and Port aux Francais, we have to sail a big circle - radius about 25 miles - from the NW to the SE and then NW into the Baie. Another series of waypoints transferred from paper to digital. We have almost no wind after copping 30 kts for a lot of the day and making huge progress. The Examiner is back from her holiday. We left L'Oiseau to try to get to P a F in the short window between fronts. The one behind us has speeded up and will arrive around 0900 utc so we have about 12 hours to sail about 40 miles - too risky to use the engine at night with all the kelp around but should be ok after first light when we have some chance of seeing the stuff. The next one after that, in about 48 hours, has 50 knots in it.

The silence of another lovely, hazy starry night cut by Berri's thumping and banging in the gentle swell and the sounds of the birds around us. There's one that makes a noise like a road rage car horn, then the usual grrooaaks and phnaaarks (albatrosses, I think) and squeaks. I see them occasionally in the dim reflected light from Berri's masthead light - fleeting wraiths in the gloom.

Several hours later - I think we cracked it. Ain't we been lucky?? We have just entered Baie du Morbihan with about 12 miles to P a F. Misty sunshine, Kelp! You think you've seen seaweed? We snuck in through a narrow channel on the chart, saving about an hour, between huge forests of the stuff covering perhaps 500 metres square - and then there's all the loose mats that must be spotted and avoided. Berri's well travelled Q flag flying but haven't got a French Southern Territories courtesy flag. That would be one for the collection! If, of course, they let us land. Watch this space.

Friday, January 22, 2010

old style navigation

click on graphic to enlarge....

Passe de la Resolution

Position 0630 22nd. 4848 06923 trip 18. In the Passe de la Resolution with plotter and pencil. I'm at the nav table, Pete on deck and it's watch on, stop on. Nice breeze, 18 - 20 up the chuff so lovely sailing - just have to keep serious loookout for kelp - at least twice the boat length, several times as wide and densely tangled. We are trying to follow the deepest part of the Passe but the chart is very vague - not a lot of survey work along here so interesting. Hoping to be off Cape Digby by nightfall then depending on wx, perhaps another heave to in preparation for the last 40 miles or so into Baie du Morbihan. Hope they let us stop alongside and land. Cross em please.

Very quick update

Departed Baie de L'Oiseau 0215 utc heading for Port aux Francais. Alternative was to wait for the next big blow with 40 kts in it and perhaps stuck there indefinitely.

Major problem with kelp everywhere - trying to stay in deep water. Half an hour of furious work with chart, plotter and pencil transferring a string of waypoints to the computer - Cook had the same problem but he did not have a chart and sent Discovery ahead to find a way through.

Bright sunlight again - snow on Presqu'ile de la Societe de Geographie and Cook Glacier just visible behind it. We could not have picked a better day - so far!

Could be a long day - we both have to stay awake but opportunities between waypoints for one or other to grab half an hour if we get lucky.

Something very special.

What a day. Pure, gold plated magic. It's about midnight local time and I've been sitting out in the cockpit on anchor watch wearing my Dutch Harbour Mustang Flote Coat - padded for buoyancy and warm - lined industrial gloves, also from Dutch, fleecy salopettes and brown fisherman's boots - Dutch again and Dutch fleece balaclava. A still, cold, brilliant starry night in this huge rather menacing amphitheatre dominated by the great black lava face to the south and what looks like a classic volcanic plug to the north. Orion to the north west, the Cross to the south and the cascading slash of the Milky Way a luminous bridge between them across my bit of sky. The smell - penguin rookery and seals upwind, earthy and pungent - the snorting roars of elephant seals echoing around the auditorium, sharper barks of something much smaller and the arky squeaky of the King Penguins in cacophony in the background. The calls of other birds - cormorants, petrels and big brown seabirds that I could not identify. A watch with a difference - one I will remember when things get pearshaped.

Earlier, I saw a mother seal up on the mossy slope above the promontory where de Rochegude left his bottle. She had two biggish pups and was chasing them around. Penguins swimming around the boat and what sounded like fish sucking the growth from Berri's bottom. A seal somewhere close.

I guess it can't last - we have been so lucky to arrive on one of what must be very few cloudless days - weirdly unbelievable that we are here at all. The reports I have read talk of the bleak, desolate dreariness of the place but I don't think I will ever be able to think of it that way. Soft northerly at the moment, due to turn westerly and the usual blast later tonight or tomorrow morning with another bigger one to follow. But we cracked today. Yeeehaaa!

Next morning - while I was writing all that, the cloud rolled in, the stars disappeared and the wind came up. Three hours in a loverly warm sleeping bag later and I'm up again and shivering. But it's still bleakly beautiful! The sun has risen directly behind the two huge pillars of the collapsed arch at the entrance to the harbour putting them in silhouette - filtered light through the low overcast. We are hoping our single anchor will hold in the 35 knots forecast for the next 24-36 hours - will have to lay the second one if it looks iffy. The NW winds blow directly over the saddle at the western end of the harbour and funnel down between the high sides.

Eerie echoes

Other uncanny reflections of the past - Doug Morrison sent me a sheaf of papers from his research into the French and other explorers, amongst which were James Clark Ross' chart and soundings for the Baie, possibly compiled by Francis Crozier. I used this to find the spot to anchor. There were also detailed drawings from out to sea of the entrance and the arch, now collapsed, by R Benard (I think - can't read Doug's writing) published in 1784. Benard was with Cook. I used them to identify the entrance from 5 miles out. I could not read the photocopy of his soundings chart so I used Ross'.

There was also an engraving of the harbour in Ross' account, showing Erebus and Terror at anchor, one of them almost in the same position as we are now. They too went to the NW passage with Franklin ten years or so later and they are still there, somewhere off King William Island with the bones of their crews. We felt the presence of their ghosts up there, particularly in Simpson Strait. I never imagined we'd meet them again, let alone here, almost at the opposite end of the planet.

Wonderful to have it all with us, Doug. Thanks!

When we set off from Cape Town, I thought that Kerguelen might be a bridge too far. Boneheadedness sometimes wins out. So, a Talisker this evening, courtesy of Pete Goss.

More tomorrow.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Baie de L'Oiseau

Impossible to convey the thrill, the absolute delight, the quiet satisfaction - here we are, anchored in Baie de L'Oiseau, 236 years after Ensign de Rochegude landed here from L'Oiseau and claimed the place for the French and left his message sealed in a quart bottle which Cook's men found 3 years later and Cook replaced with his own added message. We are anchored opposite the little headland where that bottle was found and replaced. Brilliant sunshine, powder blue water, kelp patches, king penguins and seals on the beach about 500 metres away and the sounds of the penguins at least just like the Falklands. Seabirds - cormorants and other divers, Lovely Cape Petrels escorting us in. Last 15 miles on the wind in 25 knots and rising sea - interesting! Cape Petrels all the way! Worth every little thump of the headbang getting here from Cape Town. We have been lucky, once again but the plan worked perfectly and, for once, the Examiner was looking the other way. Spellbinding! Once in a lifetime exhilaration - more immediate than sailing out of the NW passage but comparable to Cape Horn.

I wonder how many other vessels have anchored here since de Rochegude. Far more than made the NW Passage although up there, the whaling ships in the Bering Strait, Chukchi and Beaufort seas must have numbered in the thousands on the western approach to Amundsen Gulf. And on the subject of Amundsen: From Malcom again:

AW, You are in good company. On 28 Nov 1910 Roald Amundsen in the Fram hove
to in sight of what he took to be Bligh's Cap while he waited until he
good get a clear fix on his position before sailing to Baie Morbihan. This
was while en route to his 1910 -1912 Antarctic expedition. Malcom

Roald Amundsen - someone else we have been following around. He was the first to sail the NW Passage, (we were the 77th vessel, the 114th transit) and here he is again. He completed the NW Passage at Nome in 1906 and was down here in Fram 4 years later. We visited Teller from Nome, where many years later he and Nobile ended their airship crossing of the north pole.

We intend to wait here until the next big front has blown through - perhaps 48 hours - then sail for Port aux Francais. Unimaginably bleakly beautiful here - classic igneous landscape, thick moss, no other obvious vegetation except the Kerguelen Cabbage which I think we can see in little clumps. Binoculars only - we might try to land tomorrow if the wind dies but on the assumption that it is a national park, we will leave nothing but footsteps and take nothing away except photos. A massive igneous extrusion just to the south of us which looks for all the world like one of the President's faces on Mt. Rushmore - but transmogrified as a lizard.

Malcom, tks for advice - will try on departure.

Christmas Harbour

Sadly, I think the man is just about to thump penguins. I don't think the ones to his right are simply asleep.
Some other links:

On the Wikipedia page there is a map. Christmas Harbour is also known as Baie de l'Oiseau and is on the north eastern tip.
Posed by I in the UK

Penguins Ahoy

I just received an iridium call from Alex and Pete who are parked in
Christmas Harbour, Kerguelens. Alex was exultant, describing brilliant
sunshine, penguins, seals, amazing rocks, kelp. He said "Couldn't
have asked for anything better." They are not planning to land now as
it is a bit dangerous (I think wind / weather wise) but will be there
overnight and may land tomorrow. A lot depends on the next GRIB. They
may stay put until the next nasty has been and gone.
Alex says he hopes to upload a report in the next hour or so but it
depends on reception etc. He tried to call several times and it rang
here but with no sound from the other end. We're not sure if this is a
reception problem or penguin poo in the satphone.
I apologise if this upload appears twice. The previous one did not
appear on the blog at once as it usually does; as I have experienced
a similar problem before I have now transferred the message to upload
from the other computer.
I in the UK


position 0630 21st 4832 06907 trip 57 DMG 35 after heave to and bare poling. Cap D'E visible 9 miles ahead - too busy for description - North Head with muscle for the Sydneysiders. 3rd reerf, tiny heady, trying to work to windward in 25 kts. Bumpy, wet orrible. Fogbanks all around hope it stays clear for us - 2 hours or so to go. Likely to be a bit tricky getting in but if Cook and the rest could do it in square riggers even tiny Berri should manage. Will try to report later from inside DV & WP.

0315 21st sighted Blighs Cap - rolling fog, 25 knots and it was there - a solid wraith if such can be rearing vertically out of the ocean.


0045 UTC 21st
The front is through - softly - and we are 9 miles from Bligh's Cap. Vis about a mile in typical clag so we're aiming to miss it by about 2 miles to the north. Tiny patch of headsail, making about 4 knots in about 18kts breeze. Once safely past, we will gybe towards Cap D'Estaing and creep forwards until we can see it or the fog becomes too thick for safety. With a bit of luck, it will clear later as the sun comes up. I have checked our rudimentary digital chart against the paper one and it seems ok so we will ust it to get in close then transfer - the digital one doesn't have small detail like rocks. Pencil and plotter again - first time for years.

During the night - claggy, clammy black - but almost free of boat noises as we were hove to or bare poling - I could hear the birds - Grooarrrk from just beside the boat, answered Grooaarrk from a bit further away - deep, expressively modulated raspy squawks, easily audible from here at the nav table and clear and crisp outside. They were probably the White Chins which are black all over except for a tiny white patch so I couldn't see them even with a fairly powerful light. From the many conversations, I reckon there must have been 20 - 30 of them. So, Jill, that may be where they go at night! Nowhere.

Bligh's Cap is 83 metres high, now at 7.4 miles so just teasing our non-horizon. Too early to start peering for it out there in the clag. As long, that is, as it is where the paper chart says it is! There's a warning on the chart that says quite clearly that positions on the paper chart may not agree with WGS84, the GPS datum - so we can't relax too much.

The plan - we have set this up so that if all goes well we will be close to Baie de l'Oiseau at about 1300 local time, giving us the afternoon and evening in daylight to get in, have a look, pull in another grib and decide whether to shelter till the next one goes through or keep going to Port aux Francais. Cross 'em please and watch this space - don't stress if no update for a day or so - we will be busy! If we have iridium contact, I will try to ring someone somewhere who is in an appropriate timezone with a report.

location location location

Click on piccie to enlarge....

From the good ship Juniper

It's the waiting! We are now 32 miles WNW of Bligh's Cap, cold clammy fog, 15 kts breeze, bare poled waiting for midnight. 11 hours to go - if the grib is accurate we should then have been in the 20 kt NW front for a few hours and have a few hours to go, but we will have daylight for 18 hours or so and we'll go and have a look at the Baie. We may have to shelter there for a day or two if we can get in, if, once again,the grib is accurate - there's a very nasty looking front due at 50E on the 23rd.
From Malcom:
AW, Baie de L'Oiseau, a place where James Cook anchored in 1776 is at 48 40'
S, 60 02' E. In 1759 James Cook was at 48 40' N, 60 02' W, part of the St
Lawrence River, which he charted, ahead of the capture of Quebec, at the
time French territory. Malcom's Believe it or Not irrelevant facts.

Alex's Believe it or not irrelevant facts - Baie de L'O. is actually at 69 02 E - and it was partly because of the cartographic skill Cook showed in the St Laurence that Their Lordships fingered him for the first voyage. And the rest is history...

Later: 1830 20th now hove to, 24 miles from Bligh's Cap, 15 kts breeze, 1.8 over the ground. Still cold and clammy, black dark, no visible moonlight. About 5 hours till we can see where we are going, if the fog allows.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Birds and all that jazz

Time for a bit of description. 2 magnificent albatrosses - Snowy, NZ or Tristan - huge, and as they scythe towards you all you see is the razor slash of the dihedral curve of their wings, speckled leading edges, yellow dot of a beak, two tiny eyes all set in a circle of white in the middle of that huge curve. They rock slightly when it it really windy, then bank away - white underparts, fine black edges. Sometimes they bank the other way - black wings, white splashes on the inners, white, mottled shoulders and back, black tail - exhilarating.

Plus a couple of much smaller black browed and another slightly bigger, very similar but with a grey head. White chins and prions in crowds.

And diving petrels - lovely - little heads bobbing around ahead of the boat, they peer at us and there's a blur, instant glimpse of upended rump, widening circle of ripples and they surface 20 metres away and look at us again. Fun.

The sun a pale glow through the fogbanks - occasional patches of blue, rolling fog all around, filtered light. Deep greenish blue icy sea. Berri placid, gentle rolling, whizzer moaning at the back as it harnesses the gentle breeze and fires wiggly amps at the batteries.

Wouldn't be in the big smoke for quids...

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Waiting for the blast.

Position 0645 20th 4824 06742 trip 111, DMG 116 so some current, perhaps. We are 43 miles from Bligh's Cap, bare poled, basically parked at 2.5 kts waiting for the front to go through. We are actually going too fast, but there's not much we can do about that.

If the grib is accurate and we get lucky, it will be mostly through by midnight UTC tonight - 17 hours time - which is also first light here so if we can manage to miss the rocky bits we should be close enough to see where we are going and we can decide what to do. I've just finished a repack of the forepeak to give us access to anchors, fenders, inflatable etc. Now we just wait.

I'll keep you posted as often as possible - lots will depend on how busy we are and also Iridium access if we get close in and perhaps out of the satellite's footprint.


It will be close. We are about 14 - 18 hours from Baie de LOiseau on present progress but the wind is dying. That would put us there in the dark - tricky in a gale. There certainly won't be any moonlight. There's a nasty front coming in from the west with 30+ knots in it - not clear (never is!) exactly what path it will take. Options, therefore are first, slow down and let it go through (the dying wind might enforce this one anyway). I don't have a good enough digital chart to get in close at night and doing it on a paper chart in the black dark is not feasible. Option 2, if the wind holds, get in as close as we can in daylight and have a look. Then, if it seems ok, get behind the peninsula and either shelter or try for the Baie. If not ok, stand off to the north, cop the blast and either try again for the Baie tomoz when/if it's gone through or, if our stand off has taken us too far down wind, head for Port aux Francais.

Malcom, no need to copy to B2 if you send direct.

As I write, the 'slow down' option firms by the moment but things change so fast that - well, who knows? We'll play it back to the bowler. Watch this space.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

More money

Before you all descend on us with rulers at the ready - Pete has seen the error of his ways and there really does seem to be only one solution. Thanks David, as the first of the horde! Prizes as stated except that Steve J has declined as he is part of the Berri ground crew, so David Rule gets the reallocated bottle of home brewed Coopers. Remind me, David - I'll get it to you somehow.

From Pete
David thanks for sorting that out, mea maxima culpa (as it was a Latin lesson we were involved in yesterday). Sloppy work from me but I'll blame the late night and the crashing conveyance for part of the mistake. For some reason I missed Y values of 0 and 1, it was the last one to be checked; still at least one of them was the right answer. As the old rooster said never crow till you see the dawn. It's late arvo so I think we'll have a G&T that'll make everything right again. Cheers Pete.

Alex again
Sue - my Dad was Wings in the previous Illustrious in 1953 - I was on board for the Coronation Review.
Steve W, 1942.
Gordy and the Chain Locker mob - Onya and thanks! Did Oz get away?
Doug - we'll do our best. Might just crack Christmas Hbr but timing is everything. Berri is not Resolution! We'll try to point directly at Hobart afterwards but the Examiner lurks everywhere.
Norm - no probs - have the cube sorted!
Malcom, Gotcha, thanks!

Money problems

"Now listen lads, its come to my notice that one of those louts in the upper forms has been selling the answer to the money problem for a rather large proportion of your lunch money, this wont work, we have ways of knowing if your answers are the result of your own independent thought or perhaps there has been a little help along the way. (thinks...I also heard in the staff room that this enterprising chap has been using the money to buy fags and is selling them at a huge profit round the back of the toilet block. I must find out who he is... he could be useful.)
That said lets get back to the Latin... The verb scrotata....scrota ..scrotas ..scrotum..socrotamus ..scrotatus...socrant."
I've had a fair go at this problem over the last couple of night watches. When Alex first mentioned it and later said he didn't know if it had an answer I thought the easiest way to solve the problem would be to show through simple maths that at some point there would be some thing which would be illegal and would be wrong for all cases.
I thought I had that and told Alex that there was no solution and went to bed. The next morning he told me that the emails had come in and there was a solution. I went through what I had done and found I hadn't carried one of the 10's across.
Bugger, I thought, I had better see if I sort this one out. I think I have but would like to know if there are more solutions. Here are the results. I have 8 solutions, the first 4 columns are the same for each group with the last column changing for each new solution of that group.

9675 4 9567 5 6 9456 7 9347
1086 6 1085 5 5 1084 4 1083
10761 0 10652 0 1 10540 1 10430 Good luck with it Cheers Pete

More Pallid,s with attitude

Position 0630 19th 4751 06510 trip 94 DMG 93 and Kerguelen 150. A day and a bit AGW.

Much earlier:
Fogg! Thick, wet and dank. This isn't just convergence zone mist, it has clammy coils and glutinous texture. It's dark, woolly dark and out in the cockpit, in the red beam of my head torch, I can see the droplets streaming past like paint going on brick. We are directly south of the centre of the tight little low I thought the Examiner had put here to bash us and 189 miles from the nearest rock. I hope! If it persists, we will have to stay a safe distance out to sea. Different tactics, perhaps, from the desk of the Examiner. There's just enough wind to fill the sails, except for the lumpy sea, as per my last, so we have the engine idling to give us steerage way and we are trickling forwards, still rolling horribly.

This post will sit here and expand as the night goes on. Time now for a dig into the can of lychees followed by toothpaste - yuk! - and the sack for 3 hours and then the middle watch. Oh joy! Maybe more then.

On the subject of head torches and toothpaste - I use specially fluoridated bright blue goo for my straggly gnashers but in the red light of the torch, it looks inky black. I'll know I'm back in civilisation, or just as different time zone when it turns blue again. Perhaps there's a measure of longitude in there somewhere - the chromatic variation of toothpaste, CVT, maybe? Would go nicely with the VoA.

Dozy old git. That WAS the middle watch. Head seriously out of phase. Now daylight and still in thick fog, vis about 500 metres. If it hangs around as it did for Cook, we've got a problem as we get in really close. The warning on the chart says don't assume that GPS positions and the chart agree. As for the weather, on our current grib, I think we just might crack it lucky - the fog should have gone and we should be in a 20+ NWerly which would be perfect for a look at Baie de L'Oiseau and its collapsed arch. In three days, though, things can change radically down here!

Half an hour after I wrote that, the fog lifted - one minute it was thick around us, next it was 100 ft above and I had a horizon. Then the wind came back and we're away again. The next grib will be interesting.

On that money puzzle, if there really are the 8 solutions that Pete thinks he's found but got bored checking, we have an interesting statistic. Everyone except Malcom came in with the same solution, which must be somewhere out on the extreme end of the probabilities. Malcom gets away with his because I was a bit sloppy with my original statement of the problem.

The Swirl of the Pallids

Pallid silvery sky, delicately textured in darker fluffs. Occasional loom of the sun in halo of luminous cloud - Turner would have exaggerated it to get the effect. Sea deep almost milky blue - odd when it seems it ought to be grey too. Prions, slightly darker but their shaded greys in between the blue of the sea and the angels' wings in the cloud. Lumpy, vicious sea - big swells from the north with spiky dragon skin surface from the local wind. Brilliant breaking crests with flying cascades of pearls and diamonds. Violent rolling passage, moving around inside a continual blind trapeze act. Easier on deck because there's a horizon and so a frame of reference.

Excitement and some apprehension at the approach of an unfamiliar, alien coastline with beartraps everywhere for the unwary. The same shiver as we approached Amchitka in the Aleutians and Cape Horn and the Falklands and the Greenland fiords - and especially Point Barrow and our first ice and then at the other end, the M'Clintock Channel. Trying to think of all the possibilities - lee shore, rocks, kelp, surge, how to anchor with Berri's various bits of gear, bolt holes, magnetic anomalies, instant all churns around and won't rest till we get there and can have a look. I remember a conversation in Falmouth with a venerable and hugely respected sailor about age, experience and the increments in apprehension each time you prepare do something out of the ordinary - extending even to things that are normally easy. Maybe it's a characteristic of the cautious. Or the geriatric! Helps me to wonder how Cook would have dealt with it - with extreme caution and minimal risk, I think. He stood off rather than risk going between the islands in poor visibility.

About 200 miles till we can expect to see the islands to the NW of Cap d'Estaing. I see from the Admiralty chart that Bligh's Cap is actually called Ilot du Rendez-Vous not Reunion as I wrote yesterday. All of you will be able to see more - and almost certainly more detail - on google earth than we will on the spot. You may be able to see the huge kelp patches all along the north and east coasts.

Malcom, can you see a jetty at P o F? I seem to remember something like a concrete quay. And a big SW swell running into the little bay by the church.


Did I ever start something with that puzzle. Prizes go to Steve Jackson foe the very first, Bill Watkins for the first on Berrimilla2, Malcom for bending the rules creatively and Norm for the longest explanation. Remind me when we get home! Huge thanks to everyone else. Now who can come up with the most solutions?

Andrew, got La Reponse, in both senses. Love it! Sent you direct mail via Deb.

Norm, lovely having you out there but please go a bit easy on the bandwidth! Working on the cube - not too difficult, I think. We used a different technique for iceland - double the number of letters and add 4 seems to work and gives same answer as germany, hence my cryptic reply.

Kimbra, if you still have the charts, there is a potential buyer. Am arranging to put him in touch - have sent him your mobile and your parent's numbers

Back to reality. AGW, we will be off Bligh's Cap in a couple of days. Cross em again please and squeeze a lot.

Love yez all.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Just words

SEND + MORE etc: I meant to ask in the last one whether there are any more solutions. Seems there are - Pete reckons there are at least 8 - any advance?

As the most diaphanously tentative perhaps, it seems the Examiner has slipped, at least as far as the little stink bomb to the north is concerned. The latest grib shows us south of the nasties and with a reasonably clear run to Bligh's Cap in about 2 days. Keep em firmly crossed please. The seas are breaking around us with the most vivid powdery blue translucent crests. Worth all the bother just to watch them. I'll try to get photos but never quite the same. Big, gold collared Albatross back briefly this morning, now lots of prions and the usual white chins.

Huge sign of progress - I was able to connect to the NSW sailmail station to try to send this - very long range and rather slow, so I'll revert to Iridium but - Hi Derek! Yay! We are at 4729 6333, range 3968 miles.

getting there...

Click on map to enlarge.

The green tendrils of envy

Position 0630 18th 4720 06301 trip 136, DMG 105. For the next report I will use as the DMG waypoint a lump of rock named Ilot de la Reunion by Kerguelen (Rendezvous Islet, where he arranged to meet Rosnevet in L'Oiseau after they had landed) and which Cook named Bligh's Cap without knowing of the original name. It's about 20 miles north of Baie de L'Oiseau.
Quick as a flash from Steve Jackson:
9567 + 1085 = 10652
no computer needed!
I'm envious - wish I could do those things and I bet it only took him a few minutes. Pooo! So a bottle of Pete's home brew if the kids haven't found it all or whatever works shall be despatched in due course. Onya Steve! Steve has an advantage in the timing as he can email us direct so if there's a correct answer in the next Berrimilla2 download from the other Steve, there will be a second despatch. Pete is checking his workings! I wonder what Father McCormack would be thinking if he knew that more than half a century after he chalked it on the board at least one of his pupils actually remembered and inveigled a solution. Cunning succeeds in the end!
When I send this, I will also pull in a grib which should give us a feel for how the Examiner will test us. Violent rolling, 20 knots, but not too bad at the mo. Breakfast Consultation appropriately conducted - Liffey Water - and thinking about lunch.

The Examiner lurks

For the first time in ages, we are albatrossless. Lots of petrels and a prion or two and the occasional storm petrel. It's grey, soft overcast, grey green sea with glassy tips to the waves and crystal filigree frills. The wind has been more or less constant N for 24 hours or so and we are making good progress in a rising sea. The rather nasty tight little low is, I think, forming to the north of us though it's possible that it is the little depression the grib shows to our south and it will deepen very fast and roll over us. Anyway, a bit of stink looms and the Examiner will be abroad in the Boonies tomorrow.

It is eerie to be once again so close to Cook and some of his predecessors. We passed Cooks northernmost point, near Point Wainwright north of the Bering Strait in the Chukchi Sea in 2008 and he was down here in 1776. I hope we can actually visit his Christmas Harbour - now properly named Baie de L'Oiseau - on the northern tip of Kerguelen island. The engravings and logs of his stay are very detailed and it should be possible to stand where he stood and where the artist stood - but with Berrimilla in the bay where Resolution and Discovery and later Erebus and Terror once anchored. And there's another shiver for the spine - in 2008 we also passed the last known positions of Erebus and Terror and the final resting places of their crews near King William Island in the North West Passage. It is thought that Francis Crozier, Captain of the Terror, was one of the few straggling survivors that reached Starvation Cove where they died. I have seen his last note, left on King William Island and discovered later by (I think) M'Lintock and now in the museum at Greenwich with some other sad relics. There is so much history, pain, courage and fortitude in such a small scrap of paper and it's a privilege to have been able to follow them all.

Pete thinks he has proved that there is no solution to the SEND MORE MONEY problem. Anyone got a better idea?

We've been talking on the radio to the skipper of MV Kaharoa, laying argos buoys out here for the New Zealand Institute of
Water and Atmos Res. They are going to try making Berrimilla bread - fame at last! They expect to be in Hobart around Feb 7th - if any of y'all are reading this over there under Mt Welly, go along and say G'day.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

closing on Kerguelen

That is South Africa in the top left corner, Antarctica is the white bit at the bottom, and Australia just peaking in on the right edge. Kerguelen is dead centre of the bottom map.
Click on the maps to enlarge.

Idle patter from the middle watch

Position 0630 17th 4542 06053, trip 127, DMG 122. A good day! About 350 to Kerguelen. Nasty low forming to the north.

Back on Iridium full time until we get closer to Oz so these will be fewer and more frugal. This one will develop until it's time to send the 0630 report.

I made Berrimilla bread yesterday - bread with attitude. Chop an onion and a big clove of garlic very fine. Mix the dough from a pack of breadmix with warm water and when it is fully mixed, work the onion and garlic through it. Heat some olive oil - really hot but not smoking - make lots of small very thin pancakes out of the dough and fry them for half a minute or so each side till brown and crusty. If you prefer, as I do, cook them a bit less so they are still slightly doughy in the middle. Remove, replace with another, eat the first one - and that's the problem, of course. The whole process takes about half an hour - far less than conventional breadmaking and uses much less metho. The pancakes keep for a couple of days if they don't get eaten first.

10200 miles out, about 3800 to go in cold, unstretchy numbers but most marathon runners will understand the stats, where every mile is longer than the last. I reckon we're at about 6 miles into the Falmouth to Hobart marathon - just settled into a nice rhythm, contemplating with apprehension and the usual touch of dread the next 20 miles and hoping it all holds together.

Norm, looks further than Germany but there ya go! One for you and anyone else who cares to try. When I was about 10, if such a time ever existed, my maths teacher was a learned gent in a cassock who believed in the 'I told you and wrote it on the blackboard so why don't you understand?' teaching method. He tried to introduce me to algebra. If a=3 and b= -3 then a+b=0 - obvious isn't it? Well, not actually, for this kid. I kept asking why. If he'd taught it as if it was a language I might now be better at it. Anyway, I remember his writing a puzzle on the board - he wrote SEND and then wrote MORE under it so that the M was under the S and said 'Assume that each letter has a numerical value and is the same whenever it appears, if you substitute the correct values the answer will be MONEY' and he wrote that under MORE so the Y was under the E which was under the D. Isn't it odd what sticks in the memory? For all I know, there might not be a solution. I've never got beyond first base and Pete is having a go now but isn't much further. Would be relatively easy to write a computer program to solve it today but by elimination with a pencil it's tricky. A small Berrimilla artefact for the first solution that arrives.

Mostly catch ups

Kelp! Big floating patch - impenetrable. About 400 miles out but a sure sign we are getting closer

First recognisable Sooty Albatross - glimpse only - big dark bird, very similar to the bigger petrels but acts like an albatross and has the longer wings. Also black beak.

A pair of the big gold collared birds still with us - trying to get really good sharp photos but the damn things won't stay still.

More on Golgafrincham. That was the name of the original planet so Arthur called them Golgafrinchans. I have a feeling all the lawyers were with them too and they spent a lot of time arguing, forming committees and getting nowhere. My golgafrinchan day was filled doing useless odd jobs. Just a silly joke for the HGTTG tragics.

John S in Hobart - thanks re Kiwiprop and Albatross man. I would be really interested to go through the photos with him if he has time. I think I'll make a calendar of the best photos and see whether we can make a quid for CanTeen or some other charity.

Norm - the real challenge is finding all the extra words. I'll let you know if I find any!

Carol, tks for ISS.

Chris N and the mob in Canberra - g'day and HNY. If you are interested enough, there's a good computer program called Stellarium - comes as an add on to our Winastro celestial nav program but probably accessible separately.

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Golden birds

Position 0630 16th 4443 05818 trip 102 DMG 101 - on target, just! A very rough calculation says it has taken us about 2 weeks longer to get to here that last time, corrected for stops in Lisbon and CT - result of bad guess up near the equator and getting stuck in the Agulhas. One lives and learns. AGW, about 40 sailing days from here to Hobart.

Middle watch:This one will just expand until the position report at 0700. There's been no berrimilla2 mail for a couple of days so if anyone is waiting breathless for a reply, I'm afraid it will have to wait until Steve gets back to his computer.

Ferals: the booties got an airing, if that's the right word, a couple of days ago and I can still hear the excited chatter from inside the foetids. Colonies of them cling to my socks and interbreed when I take the socks off and park them in the halyard bag next to my bunk. I have to speak to them severely when they try to get into my sleeping bag. It's coldish now down here, so we are just scaly rather that sweaty (hope you're not having breakfast) but it does mean that one doesn't have to recycle clothing quite so often.

Albatrosses - a couple of the really big ones, too hard to identify exactly but Snowy, Tristan or NZ (faint possibility may be large Southern Royal). Waited for ages this morning, Nik and trigger finger poised and finally got the shot of the bird with reflected sunlight - big, glowing, golden, gorgeous. I'm lost for metaphor or adjective. Much harder to get the same effect in pink at sunset because the bird has to be ahead of the boat to reflect and way more difficult to photograph. Another photo, mostly luck yesterday, of one of them transformed from tight, streamlined, aerodynamic curves and angles - rather as if it had been disassembled - coming in to land, feet hanging down, head up and awkward, wings semi folded, angle of attack nearly 90 degrees,, feathers awry in the airstream. Slight loss of dignity - white chinned petrels already parked in a gaggle scattering as this flapping discombobulation splotted into their midst.

And since writing that, the big one with the pinky orange collar is back - nothing like that collar anywhere in the book, though the bird could be any of the three big ones.

Under the red planet

We are now south of Tasmania. I've gone on enough about the night sky - tonight Mars actually looks red - much redder than Betelgueuse, which is just dull orange. Luminous ocean again. Wearing my arctic balaclava in the cockpit to keep the uninsulated shiny bits warm.

Yesterday - or was it today? Neurons in decline - an aircraft contrail crossed above us - heading west, perhaps on the great circle from Sydney or Perth to S. Africa. A bit of a surprise. Must be a wonderful view of Kerguelen and the other islands from 6 miles up but unusual to have a really clear day to see them.

No contact with Kerguelen yet. We are assuming that if we do arrive, they won't tell us to go away. We've exchanged SMS messages by satphone with Alessandro, now nearly 500 miles SE of us and we have spoken on the radio to the skipper of the NZ research vessel Kaharoa, about 400 miles NW, engaged in laying Argos buoys out here in the extreme boonies. A real Kiwi voice and we've established a schedule to talk each day. Nice.

And so far, suspiciously easy. Softish day, brilliant sunshine, a couple of new albatrosses. One was a Black Browed, medium sized, breeds in the Falklands where we saw lots in 2005. The other, I can't identify. A big one, grey head, white collar and seemed to have grey underparts, pinkish white bill which might have had a dark spot towards the end. Dark on top with the usual white patch between the wings and mottled shoulders. White flecks on or close to the primaries. While it was with us there was also a tiny storm petrel frolicking around us, so we had both extremes of the albatross family (the big one weighing in at 10 kilos or so, the Stormy at a few hundred grammes - sparrow sized). The usual graceful Prions and big gaggle of white chinned petrels.

Now windless and wallowing, expecting a NW change later and a bit of a blast tomorrow sometime.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Latest Position

Posted by I & G in the UK.

Just a position

Position 0630 15th 4355 05614 Trip (corrected for reset)109 DMG 107. Sparkling, glorious day, Prions in full flit, delicate grey patterns against the icy blue water.

No contact yet with Port aux Francais so I'll keep this short.

Norm, Pete would like numbers please.

Prodding for the sake of it

Middle watch again - now nearly 4 hours ahead of Greenwich and the sun is nearly up - tends to ameliorate the horrors! - it's been one of those crystal nights, no haze, stars so bright and close it felt as if you could touch them. Just a bit cold and damp out there to sit in the cockpit and enjoy the experience. During the night, we cracked 10,000 miles from Falmouth on the GPS and I missed it. I now know that the GPS trip counter does not count above 10k nor does it automatically reset to zero so I have lost some miles, perhaps about 30. Now manually reset and counting again from zero. It seems colder here than it did up in the arctic ice - odd. The air is very dense and carries a lot of water which condenses everywhere.

We are tooling along under a big high, just the headsail and as usual, rolling about a bit, making about 4.5 knots towards Kerguelen. Alessandro, south east of us, is making 6 knots and will pass south of Kerguelen on Sunday night. We intend to go northabout and into Port aux Francais if the weather allows. We are about 5 days out if the grib is accurate - due for a blow from the NW in the next 24 hours.

Malcom, Biggles was probably driving a Catalina, ex Cape Town or Reunion. Doesn't all that Boys Own stuff seem quaint - yet I read it ferociously and no doubt assumed its values. The way we were.

Norm - I can't do numbers. No probs digging a hole with ergro but!

As a safety and sea survival instructor, struggling to undo the zip of my sleeping bag at midnight when Pete woke me this morning, it occurred to me that sleeping bags are really bad news in any situation where a roll or even a bad knockdown is a possibility. Doesn't take much imagination to see why.

No takers yet for bird photos - not as many birds out there today and mostly white chinned petrels.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Piccadilly circus in the southern ocean

Position 0630 14th 4313 05359, trip 125, DMG 115. The usual - lumpy, changeable, damp, sunny it's all happening. Now brilliant sunshine, still blowing white crests off deep iridescent blue sea. Cold enough to notice. I have resurrected my arctic sleeping bag, bought in Cambridge Bay in the NW Passage. Pete has his old down bag and bivvy bag from the original gig. Have to keep them really dry - neither designed for boats but lovely and toasty and difficult to get out of.

We have learned that most of Kerguelen is closed to visitors because of various research projects, so we are now heading for Port au Francais. We are trying to establish some sort of contact, to get permission to enter the harbour and I'll keep you posted on that one.

There's someone else out here - apparently Alessandro di Benedetto is just south of the Crozets, about 250 miles away, trying to break the round the world record solo unassisted in a 6.5 metre boat. That's all I know so far - sounds like a mini-transat. If so, I dips me lid! We are trying to contact him as well. Apparently he has a website.

I've been asked to explain Golgafrincham. It's a joke from HGTTG - Arthur found himself on a planet populated by telephone sanitisers, management consultants, motivators, colonic irrigators, bog roll pointers - all the people that Douglas Adams seemed to think the world could quite happily do without. They had been part of the population of a doomed galaxy, embarked in special space ships to find another home in the universe. What they did not know was that they had been deliberately separated from the rest of the (Useful!) population of their original galaxy in their own space ship and diverted to a small blue planet on the outer edge of an insignificant galaxy - and so became the early citizens of Earth. You really have to read the book...

Latest Position

Posted by I & G in the UK.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Life, the universe and everything

Position 0630 13th 4239 05130 - about level with Bicheno in Tasmania and about 200 north of the Crozets. Trip 99, DMG 92 and Kerguelen 774 (in case anyone is actually following us on a chart, I'm using a waypoint about 90 miles north of Baie de l'Oiseau as my DMG marker so your numbers may not equate exactly to mine. I'll change it as we get closer).

Tomorrow - the grib says - will be pearshaped with 35 knot (read 50+) northerlies blasting down a big front behind the current high and 40 kts forecast for the Kerguelens. We should be about mid way down and we'll do our best to deal with whatever we get. Iff we get really lucky, it will then soften gradually and we might get a reasonably clear window for landfall. Pace the Examiner, of course, and the Great Statistician, Mr Murphy.

I forgot to announce that we have a new Medical Person aboard - she comes from Windhoek and her advice and her medications so far have been excellent. Something other than an Irish accent at the Consultation for a change. I have a drop of her elixir to hand as I write and I've just demolished a bacon buttie. Life is good.

More unoriginal silliness inspired by Brian Greene - as we seem to be (to the universe and our surroundings) relatively low entropy clumpy collections of hydrogen atoms with interstellar distances between them on a quantum scale - what is a thought? What's it made of? What is the nature of consciousness? How is it that the clumpy collection that prods this keyboard can create and process and transmit to you lot the concept of a superciliously superior albatross laughing at out dopey inadequacies as it soars and glides around us? And why and how would I ascribe supercilious superiority to an albatross anyway? There must be a lot of people out there working on the answers.

What an interesting bit of spacetime this is. And in a few billion years, physicists think it will be gone, not a wrack left behind, just hydrogen atoms. Eventually - perhaps - just a cold and dark void with about 5 hydrogen atoms to the cubic metre. Rather fewer than the magic 42 in HGTTG. Enjoy it while you can and help others to do the same!

Antarctic Prions in full flit - small,lovely, graceful birds, grey/blue feathers on top, white undersides, wonderfully aerobatic - I have a photo of one half way through an Immelmann. White chinned Petrels in and out of the mizzle - wet, clank and dammy but good breeze taking us SE. Another brief glimpse of the big black bird that looks and acts like an albatross. I think parts of the belly are white. It doesn't hang around - one fly past and it's gone for the day.


Cook's fog, I think. Mid latitude convergence zone conditions with cold and warmer air mixing over cold (?) water as the pressure systems swirl and merge and coriolis exerts its magic.

We're in it now - today it seems thin and the sun almost gets through occasionally. There are thicker patches with quite large raindrops and mistier areas with tiny droplets that soak everything. As I look out of the window next to my head, I can actually see the glow of the sun and the top of the mist like low level cumulus reflecting the sunlight. Nice breeze - a bit like doing hull speed with the kite in fog in the English Channel in the Fastnet. Quite eerie.

But the point of this is that it gives one a different perspective. Looking down sun, to the SW, the mist is bright and reflective - hint of a rainbow - but under it you can see successive grey horizons looming out of the murk - the real SW swell that is sometimes very hard to pick amongst all the confused wind waves caused by the rapid changes in direction in each successive system. These horizons are impressive - high and grey and travelling and as one passes beneath the boat it sometimes happens that the next one is just looming out of the gunk 300 metres or so away. Suddenly, you're in the real world and you get a feel for the size of these things - there's this deep rounded trough falling - lurching? - away below your eye and up into the summit in the distance and although they are significantly smaller than we experienced west of Cape Horn, they are still Big. West of the Horn, you could lose a cathedral in the trough, here, perhaps just a small town hall and adjacent public lavatory. Plus all the little birds.

The sun is poking through - my hands on the keyboard have warm sunlight on them. Local time is about 1300.

The Black Dog prowls the Boonies

Seems my Pilgrim in Despond post stirred a pot or two. I was trying to put into words the sorts of weirdness and insidious despair that one sometimes has to overcome to pursue silly gigs like this. The final line was supposed to soften it but obviously didn't! I can remember when it was not acceptable to admit to emotion, when to tell it like it sometimes is was seen to be a sign of weakness - C.S.Forester's Hornblower books weave it beautifully. A reflected example, though I have a sneaking feeling that I've used the story somewhere else in these blogs but it bears repeating and does the stiff upper lip rather well - Imagine the Duke of Wellington on his horse surveying the battlefield at Waterloo during the most desperate moments of the battle, surrounded by his staff, Generals in full uniform, aides, runners, the full retinue. Shouting, screams, cannons, smoke, stinging eyes, choking breath, death and blood everywhere. One of Wellington's senior commanders had his leg taken off by a cannon ball as he sat on his horse next to Wellington - 'By Gad, my lord' he said 'I've lost me leg!' By Gad, Sir' said Wellington 'so you have!' Just about sums it up really.

Back on Iridium. Propagation and range to Africa station now makes daytime HF impractical.

The French, Cook and the later navigators wrote extensively about fog down here - lots of it, arrives suddenly. Cook in Resolution sailed 300 leagues (how long was a league - my hazy memory says about 3 miles?)in it in company with Discovery without losing contact - amazing! We were in thick misty drizzle this morning, visibility half a mile max - I think it's the mid latitude convergence zone standard murk, at least out here. We were in it for days out of NZ last time. If we get to Kerguelen, it may be different.

Alan B in Xhaven - your beanie performing mighty service cosseting the noggin. Other toys work with TPS dry suits. Noice - tks.

Norm, the best we can do is observe that each of your words is symmetrical after the first letter so can be 'wrapped' and read backwards by end for ending that letter. Is there something deeper and more mysterious?

A couple of notes from Malcom to round it off:
Last October, Japanese scientists reported that they had put small
forward-looking video cameras on albatrosses to monitor the birds'
behaviour. The results showed that the albatrosses followed pods of killer
whales and that they fed or scavenged on the detritus of whatever the whales
were killing and feeding on. Whether this behaviour evolved from the birds,
over the ages, following boats, or whether boat - following evolved from
following whales one may never know.

malcom again

AW, BTW Biggle's flew into the Kerguelens after the war in search of German
treasure in "Biggle's Second Case". As you will recall he also beat you to
Tierra del Fuego.

Blimey! Is there no end to this white anting? What was he flying? Were Algy and Ginger with him? And where did he land??

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The other old fart..

Hi there its Pete
Yesterday I woke for the early morning watch at at 0300 UTC which is just after 6am local time. Scratched the sleep from the eyes then noticed something unusual out the back door, the sun was up. The sky was blue a few clouds about and the seas were calm. During his watch Alex had taken taken two reefs out of the main and had poled the full headsail out to port. The boat was ticking along beautifully at 4-5kts. with about 10-12kts. of breeze on the port quarter.
These rare conditions deserved some early refreshment, grabbed a couple of Guinnesses from the medicine chest, got the dogbowels out and half filled them with chips and then, see if Alex was interested. He was well into sleep, decided to leave him there and get out and enjoy the sunshine. Suitably satiated then dropped below to check the blog and came across "The Slough of Despond". The first paragraph ended "the magnitude of the task ahead seems too unending, too frighteningly loaded against our weary decrepitude". Well I thought you can count me out of the weary decrepit lineup this morning. I went back to the cockpit took the shirt off, fresh aired the armpits and felt the warm sun soak into my back.
I can fully understand Alex's mood that night I've been through it many times before but to distract myself through these gut wrenching times I reflect on the good times, mostly things that happened when our children were young. I can remember on the last trip when we were in a storm off the bottom of Africa, we had been under bare poles for a couple of days, I was sitting on the floor legs braced against the opposite side to hold position as a procession of huge waves continually knocked the boat over and sideways down the wave. To distract my mind from the obvious I would recall time spent with the kids on a small farm up the mountain not far from Kiama south of Sydney. It all came back in full technicolour and at the end of it all I'd ask myself "what am I doing here". That question has never been fully and honestly answered.
So lets get back to the children. Jeanne and I have four of these treasures, the eldest had a birthday just a week ago, he turned 32 and I was 32 when he was born. We arrived back at the CYC in Rushcutters Bay just 3 weeks before he was born having spent the past year sailing home from Greece via the Atlantic and Pacific Trade Wind highway, though it wasn't a highway 32 years ago, that was well before satellite navigation. His birthday is in the first week of January which unfortunately clashes with the Sydney Hobart Race, there goes 13 of of his birthdays for which I was not around. I do remember I missed his 21st, 25th and 30th. This year at the towards the end of February, our eldest daughter turns 30 and at the end of March the youngest turns 25. I'll make the last one but the the other looks in doubt.
Now that I've put this on paper it all looks decidedly slack, birthdays have become movable feasts and we have the alternative one when I'm around, but its not the same. I just thought of another thing, we were married on the 27th of October, I think (I used to remember this because it was the day the junta took control in Greece and we couldn't marry on the 26th because of a public holiday, there used to be huge billboards everywhere celebrating this day when we were there). Unfortunately this always seemed to clash with with the Lord Howe Island Race, so as you can see none of this was my fault.
All of this reflection was probably prompted by a book given to read by Manuel whose house and family we stayed with in Cape Town. The book was "Patagonia and Tierra Del Fuego Nautical Guide" an impressive and weighty tome of a couple who have spent 7 years putting together this book which contains information and hand drawn charts of the hundreds of magic anchorages in the fiords of this area, a must for anyone wanting to spend time there. One part of the book I was interested in was about the culture of the local people, one thing that struck me was their belief that when you are young your time or life is a gift from your parent, life progresses your time is yours and then you reach a stage where your time is borrowed from your children. Its fairly profound when you think about it, I think I'm there now. I'll leave you with that to reflect on. Cheers Pete.


Another quickie from OF1 as OF2 has burst into print
Position 0630 12th, 4152 04942, trip 107, DMG 118 !! We must be down in the south circumpolar current at last. VoA rising and the water really starting to feel cold when applied to the nethers.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Latest Position

Posted in the UK by I & G.

Golgafrincham - and a question

Position 0630 11th 4104 04720, trip 106, dmg 106 - efficiency at last! 984 to Kerguelen, 4365 by rhumb line to Maatsuyker, less if we go further south towards the great circle - ugly front due tonight then soft high pressure systems for a few days. Won't be comfortable.

Day 19 from Cape Town. A Golgafrinchan day today - we'll sanitise the telephones, dispense fragrance throughout the office, facilitate meetings, fold a pointy end into the bog roll, ask everyone how their day is going. And I will shave.

The 2 Amsterdams are still with us, as well as the orange necked 'southern'. Indian Ocean Yellow Noses abundant, Various Prions in flocks mingled with White Chinned and other petrels. Swirling masses of birds, thousands, sometimes albatrosses slow and serene - scornfully imperial - in their midst. Wish I could send you photos. Breathtaking is an overused word - there's laziness in Golgafrincham today - like people always 'crashing' out of the tennis, there always being 'gobbets' of fat in the soup, sloppy stuff. But sometimes it really does take the breath - elemental, transfixing and seared into the polished surfaces of all 3 neurons never to be erased. Paradise but for the weather!

All y'all - is there anyone out there who would like to acquire a folder (unedited) of hundreds of bird photos? Some pretty good, though mostly telephoto so some distortion and loss of sharpness. Images in both raw and .jpg basic. Freebie, but perhaps donation to Albatross Conservation Fund or Berri iridium tin? Will have to wait until we get home, if that ever happens. We may have been diverted like the Golgafrinchans. Let me know and I'll make as many copies as needed.

SJ - with glitch in Africa station, did you get my reply to Speedy query? Separate note to follow re other stuff but losing propagation with Africa as range increases so may do via iridium in next day or so.