For Berrimilla's first circumnavigation, the International Space Station
and the North West Passage, go to www.berrimilla.com
and www.berrimilla.com/tng

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Maybe a light in a few hours.

Position 0740 UTC 28th 4342 14527.
About 35 miles west of Maatsuuyker Island, huge following sea, still breaking with attitude but signs that it's easing a bit - but only due to go down to 25 kts so not much respite. Just had a big one break over us. We are trying to lay Maatsuuyker - I think just ok - else we'll have to claw our way out to sea in extreme discomfort.
ETA Maatsuuyker about 1530 UTC, 0230 local. Should see the light about 2 hours earlier and there should be moonlight too. There's a nasty great rock called the Mewstone 5 miles south and we hope to pass between them and then head for SE Cape.
Tense and interesting - the sea in all its power and indifference.

Predictions! Pshaww!

Last night at sea out of sight of land, I said. Nope. This little doozy is nasty - 35 - 45 knot SW gusts over 10+ metre swells and they are breaking with attitude. We have slowed right down, tiny bit of furler on the pole and we are just trying to ride it out. A couple of near knockdowns and I had to eat my lunch (last 2 slices of bacon fried in olive oil with a can of baby corn cobs - ok if that's all you've got, though the can was a bit chewy!) standing strapped into the galley. Way too hairy anywhere else.

The system is taking us ENE and as we really don't want to be driven into Taswegia's lee shore, missing the barn door completely we will just wait it out where we have sea room. It's supposed to ease any time now but there's no sign of it yet. Tedious in the extreme. Once it does ease we'll be reasonably set to prod the door open once we can reach it.

Macca this morning left me feeling dull and slow witted - what do you think about out there? Duh! Shoulda' said life, the universe, everything, what's the question? why 42?. Anyway...
Watch this space!

The Cooper's coming down...

Well known Australian bush ballad, played this morning by Macca, no doubt because the Cooper really is coming down after the rains in central Australia. One of the lines is 'I'll go dancing with the Brolgas when the Cooper's coming down'.
Not inappropriate under the circumstances - this old Brolga is dancing and wouldn't it be loverly if we were to find an abandoned dinghy somewhere near Recherche with some come-down Dr. Cooper's abandoned with it. There was one down here last time - some medical person must have lost his kitbag. Noice.
Rainsqualls, 30 - 40 kts here in the almost not any more boonies, big following sea, bleeah! Only moderate hoonery - seas too big for the serious stuff.
We heard about the tsunami - won't notice it in this - just a half metre blip in amongst all the rest.
120 to go - ETA SE Cape around 0400 local tomorrow, 1700 UTC Sunday 28th.

An unintended Consultation

What a night! Possibly our last one out of sight of land - three quarter moon, big rolling swells with broken reflections constantly changing, Berri's bow wave surging past making a harder line angling away into the moonshine and flicking reflections off the spray. Wispy clouds, high ice crystals in layers to the south, the Southern Cross piercing the frosty haze above the masthead. Only a few first mag. stars visible. No Milky Way - just glowing haze. Hooooning.

Later - And so enter the Examiner - there I was prodding this thing doing the lyrical wax and suddenly the world goes awry. Berri sideways, water surging past my left ear on the other side of the window. Big wind - roll in headsail, slow everything down. Except that the heady won't roll (and if it won't, never ever try to winch it - find out what's wrong first) - so we've got this huge sail poled out in 30 knots and rooster tails blasting past the cockpit as I go forward to try to work out what's wrong - but I think I already know - and so it is - the top of the furler has fouled the outer forestay and sorting that will be tricky. Wake Pete and with a bit of give and take, twiddle and muddle we get it free and gybe and - hooooning again, barn door in the frame.
Quick inventory and there's enough of the good Dublin Doctor's Compound for a quick Con to celebrate less that 150 miles to go. Yeeehaaa!.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

It's all gone green.

Position 0630 27th 4346 14238, trip 116, DMG 112, SE Cape 183 miles then about 60 into Hobart. Given the forecast, we won't hang about around Recherche or Adventure but will head up the D'Entrecasteaux Channel.
The sea has turned green - we are getting close to the continental shelf. Huge swells, but not breaking. Yet! Looking a bit pearshaped for tomorrow with 35 knots over them, but we shall overcome. If all goes well, we should be at SE Cape around midnight on Monday, UTC, 1100 ish local. A couple of long nights to go. I've got a little notebook that I use as a log. I rule it up four days to an opening and I prepared it in Capetown out to March 3rd. Today's entry was the last on the previous page and I have now turned to the final - I hope - ruled opening for this bit of the voyage. Not a bad prediction.
MJC, thanks.
Margy, thanks. Nice thoughts. I doubt we've got that many readers - we're just a couple of old geezers in a tired old workhorse of a boat, no sex appeal, no high tech gear, no publicity machine and no sponsors so it's all word of mouth and the interest that we can generate in the blog. Very few people will notice what we have done because it isn't pushed in their faces and they've got kids to feed and jobs to go to and the full catastrophe. We're a bit like the Vogons - lousy poets, body odour and a big negative in the glamour stakes. We like it that way!

strange boat approaching Australia from the SW

sneaking on the back door
An interesting perspective, Cape Town to Kerguelen to Tassie

And all this shall pass away

Even the Examiner's almost last little roll of the die for this bit of the journey anyway. The nearest point of Tassie is 170 miles away and I'm beginning to feel that we just might make it. Wow! And then the quiet satisfaction of knowing we've done something a bit unusual and unique. That satisfaction, that gentle pleasure will last, but the exhilaration, the euphoria that perhaps you who are reading this might expect will be flattened by the knowledge that it's almost over and the buzz will not last. And then the tidy up - the papers, the photos, articles and the rest that will keep it alive for a bit longer. And back to work, if anyone will have me on the premises.

So what's unique?
The Sydney-Hobart - Fastnet - Sydney-Hobart circumnavigation via Cape Horn and the Great Capes was a first and I doubt whether anyone will be silly enough to do it again.
For the second circumnavigation:
First ever Australia to England voyage via the North West Passage with Corrie McQueen and Kimbra Lindus.
First ever circumnavigation under sail via the NWP - we think, and if we're right then:
First boat to circumnavigate via both Cape Horn and the North West Passage - opposite ends of the Americas.
And some trivia -
First Australian boat through the NWP unassisted and in a single season (Fine Tolerance was the first through, but over two seasons and with icebreaker assistance)
Only boat ever to sail from Australia to England for a Fastnet race and sail back again. Twice. That's true headbanging.
And I know of only Syd Fischer from Australia who has done better than 11th overall (out of 300) in a Fastnet but there are probably a couple more Admiral's Cuppers. They didn't do it double handed though, nor did they sail from Oz to the start line.
On the way, we were awarded the Royal Ocean Racing Club Seamanship Trophy, the Royal Cruising Club Seamanship Medal and I understand also the Ocean Cruising Club Barton Cup. Kind of humbling to read the list of other recipients.
And we were Sailing Anarchy's sailors of the year after the first circ. Blimey! That's peer recognition in cyberspace!

End of self indulgent boast for the day. We're not there yet and it hasn't happened but once we're in, this won't get written.

Atrophy

It must have been early, near the start of this last leg from Cape Town to Hobart. I remember I was sitting on the leeward cockpit seat with my feet on the edge of the opposite seat to brace myself against the roll of the boat. I was probably reading one of the numerous "whodunits" we have on board, the sun was out, I had my shorts on. At the end of a reading pause, for that read, "vacant nap", I returned to the real world. With chin resting on chest, the first thing I noticed was this wrinkled skin hanging beneath what used to be a calf muscle. Lazily gazing at this it reminded me of a deflated party balloon you might notice hanging in a corner of the room a month or so after the function. I leaned down and pinched it, there was no meat there. The muscle had shrunk remarkably, alarmed,I tried the other leg, same thing you could get a 2 inch pinch of loose skin.
Now, was this just part of the fact that the legs havn't been used much for some months or is it a general atrophy of the body as you age, I'm hoping for the former. There has not been as much work to do on this trip. With the new headsail furler we don't even have to go forward to change sails, nor forward to get a new sail, nor forward again to put the old one back in the bin. Lugging heavy wet sails around, bracing the knees against the pulpit in the bow while using two hands to haul a flogging sail down after 20 minutes sleep in your off watch, then somehow managing to get the thing bagged while waves are crashing over the deck and getting safely back to the cockpit must have used up a fair slice of energy.
All of this sweaty nonsense has been removed by the sail furling gear. The procedure now is; "Bugger, the wind's up I'd better get some sail off"; move to the upright position (2 cals); release sheet (1 cal); pull on furler string (3 cals); readjust the headsail sheet (2 cals). Total 8 calories, I would think this would be a total gain of about 250 calories for the average sail change so now multiply this by the number of sail changes on the Falmouth-Hobart leg of the last trip say 400, I think this would equate to a positive gain of about 100,000 calories for this trip. If you don't exercise as much, you eat less and I think we must have a large excess in the food stores now.
About a week ago now, there was a ciick, the latch on the barn door was released. A creak from the rusty hinge, a thin shaft of sunlight splashed on the floor. A sniff of fresh hay and a smell of oats, flushed through the small opening and I could sense that the Berri had a new spring in her step, she knew something. With a steady breeze of10-15 kts on the quarter and her nose pointing directly at South East Cape she could smell her southern home and was romping along at 4-6 kts. Its been a long campaign and the old war horse, hasn't let us down at any stage. I'll quote a saying used by an old Kiwi friend of mine, "any old horse can fart on the way to work, its a good one that can fart on the way home", Berrimilla is one.
I had a lean over the port quarter this morning and with my head touching the odd wave, I could see under the transom, all looked good, no sign of barnacles and just a small amount of weed on the aft end of the rudder. It was a good move hauling the boat out, leaving it in the slings while we scraped the barnacles off. That was in Cape Town just before Christmas, it looks like nothing has jumped on for a ride since then.
So far nothing has broken, a small sheet bag is all that has been lost overboard and that only when a big wave broke over the stern during a storm. On the first trip the liferaft was lost overboard during a very bad storm in the South Atlantic, just off Montivideo(the winds at the time peaked at 86 kts). We also broke our port lower shroud on the mast and the spreader bases were later found to be fractured. Now, Alex has just reminded me, on the North West Passage and Atlantic section of this voyage, he trashed an engine and a couple of gearboxes, that's a good effort for such a young chap.
The beer has been rationed but the G&T supplies are holding up well, not long to go now. Cheers Pete.

Oz and the Examiner has another roll

We snuck through the rabbit proof fence - chain mail, red strobes, KEEP OUT notices in Rabbit, Macca wrappers blowin in the wind against the fence, but we're in - Australian territorial waters. Yeeehhhhwooo! Sort of thing. 260 to go to SE Cape so Monday morning subject to the Examiner's next whipcrack - a 30-40 knot SWesterly on Sunday arve and evening as we get to Maatsuuyker which puts us on a nasty lee shore all along the south coast of Tasmania in what could be an ugly sea. Coo! Here we go again!

Right now, Turner reigns - big moon behind straggly cloud scudding across the sky - wispy cloud, black with silver edges, rolling sparkling reflection off a short spiky sea over the top of the usual big SW swell that just keeps rolling along.
no footer

----------
radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: http://www.sailmail.com

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Wedgie on the barn

Position 0630 26th 4336 14004, trip 119, DMG 115.
In about 35 miles. we'll be in Australian territorial waters. We're already in the East Australian Standard Time zone though, see below, adjustment takes neuronal bandwidth. But I can hear the patter of little cockroach feet and the squeak of the Wedgies. Wonderful birds.
Chris P and anyone else - apologies - my ETA was in UTC so more likely Monday morning but if this wind and grib predictions hold, then we could get lucky.
MJC Tks.
Pete is working on a big one so I'll just send this.
no footer

----------
radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: http://www.sailmail.com

Telescopic catch-ups

When you've only got three neurons to bang together they tend to concatenate stuff - viz. the Baez Juniper fiasco. When I wrote about the flag hoist for Sydney a few blogs ago, Inuvut should have read Nunavut. My apologies - all three synapses in a twist.
Lies. damned lies and statistics - I was idly doing the numbers for a History of the World by Dogbowl,(by coincidence probably at the same time as Malcom who, unlike Disraeli, can make statistics work) and I think I have sailed Berri about 89,000 miles since November 1993. A few more miles in the old barge and I'll have some idea how to sail her. The trip up the coast will be my 16th going north and 31st between the two ends. I remember the first one each way but the rest are a blur of memories - happy, terrifying and all the in-betweens. And lots of great people. Same with marathons, but for terrifying read agonising. At 4 knots in Berri, 2.6 years, before and abaft the mast. Pre dotage marathons were a bit faster - nearly 9 knots for the best ones, (about 3.8 days on the road averaged at 3.5 hours per gig) but, quoth the Raven: Nevermore! Could probably still manage one at Berri pace, once this indolence induced muscular flaccidity is sorted and an application of Dr. Cooper's medicinal compound, efficacious in every case, is performed.

And I'll have to find that poem, Margy.

Andrew - not half as much as I'm going to miss it! But the fat lady isn't on stage quite yet - there are the small matters of the Examiner, 380 miles to SE Cape and then another 650 or so up the coast against the current to Sydney. Bloggery will happen for a bit longer yet.
Carol G - sorry, haven't got around to proper reply - been trying to keep this laptop in order and I get distracted from the important stuff. The thing keeps dropping my iridium modem and I have to system-restore it almost every day now and it takes longer every time. Tedious. But almost weaned from Iridium - sailmail goes through like the best snake oil at this range.

Corey - great to hear from you - I'll send you an inflatable globe with Berri's voyages on it for the kids. I'd forgotten the microwaved potato! Wish you hadn't reminded me actually - right now I'd love a baked spud with cheese and bacon and black pepper and a pinch of salt but it will have to wait at least 4 days. And a Hobart scallop pie would be grouse too.

Sue - ElPinko likes the ferals - keeps muttering about symbiosis but I reckon they just tickle the erogenous bits.

Chris P - we'll be ok for diesel. If you or anyone else is planning to come out to meet us, SE Cape lateish on Sunday looks the go from here - sorry if it's inconvenient.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

(no subject)

Position 0630 25th 4323 13725, trip 108, DMG 106, 416 to SE Cape - about 4 days or Monday March 1st ish. We cracked 14000 miles from Falmouth too - final total will be about 14xxx. Anyone care to guess exactly?
The sun is out, we're twin poled for the mo but about to change, I think. Lots of small birds around and one big albatross earlier - too far off to try to identify. Upwind of Tassie, else we'd be able to smell the farmyard.
Metre by metre...
Love yez all - plese get em crossed again.

Carla, have a great ride, say g'day to Lerizhan from his successor, Elpinkbokkerkergybat and us lot. Keep us posted!

Jarrow...

Baez - thanks to everyone who sent me lyrics and I can see now how the neurons got in a twist. My imaginary version that combined the two songs would have been ideal - hey look at those silly old wrinklies in that daggy old boat, that's what happens to you when you hit the gin bottle - pity. We'll have to revert to Berri's original marching song, Marshall Riley's Army by Lindisfarne - rousing stuff but a different message. Why that one? Riley's grand daughter sailed back from our first Lord Howe race with us about 12 years ago and I have the lyrics in her own handwriting.

470 miles to SE Cape and then about 50 into Hobart. Which way - D'Entrecasteaux Channel or Adventure Bay and the Iron Pot - will depend on the weather and timing. And the trip odometer is at 13990 - coo! But don't anyone forget that we only get a few days off in Hobart and then into what could still be the most difficult leg of the whole voyage up to Sydney. It will be my 15th time, I think.

Blatt - thanks, but I don't need the vinyl. The gig with Dylan, perhaps, if that's out there somewhere.
Chris P - thanks for offer and contacts - I think we're organised but I'll ring you if we do need anything. Possibly 20 litres of diesel if the wind stays like this! No wind generator cos no apparents so we have to charge the batteries with the engine and could be getting low.
Paul D - please ask AW if he would like a set of the pics. We're aiming for Hobart - slowly.
Margy - the phone will ring...!

Later - moving again, twin poled, barn door bound @ 6kt.

we think this is what he is on about ;-)

While the economies of our respective countries crumble further from Berri-induced inactivity, here's a link to the song Alex would like for Flag Hoist - on Youtube. Something to listen to as we wait for them to saunter in to Hobart.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4BYOJ1tc-k

provided by Iz in the UK

Baez

Doziness and old fartery prevalent, I'm afraid. Seems my memory ain't so good and I've mixed two Baez songs - probably why I couldn't find the one I thought I was looking for in NY...The Juniper one is 'Copper Kettle' and it's about making illegal whisky so I was at least partly right. The other starts 'Show me the prison...'

Thanks izz and sorry if I've sent all y'all chasing feathered ferals.

We're under 500 to go, but it's going to be slooooow - trickling along at 2 - 3 kts, almost no breeze. 6 days at this rate.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

can almost smell the roses

South of Wollongong

Position 0630 24th 4311 13502, trip 129, DMG 124 and SE Cape 516 miles. Well inside the last 628 miles, the last Berrimilla Unit. If we were actually sailing the S2H course, we'd be down approaching Bateman's Bay. From here, it's just a matter of time. Metre by metre, and climb over the white lines in the road.

The sun's out and we had the last 2 Cape Town eggs and 4 of the last 8 slices of bacon with our breakfast dose from the good Doctor from Dublin. Wooohooo. Pete's out in the cockpit in his shorts scraping off the scales.

Request

I would love to have a copy of Joan Baez singing a ballad that I think had the word 'Juniper' in the title, with the chorus 'There but for fortune go you or go I' - it's about the results of too much gin, actually and I think appropriate for the flag hoist.

I tried to find one last time I was in New York, in an amazing record shop and no go. The shop had just about everything else although not the last live gig she did with Dylan (yes please if you've got that too!). Does anyone know what album it's on? Better still, does anyone have a copy? Song or album? And are you willing to send it to me?

If so, could you please tell me via berrimilla2 at gmail. If you have a copy, I'll finger you to send it to my personal gmail.

Thanks!

One for breakfast and a special greeting for Corey

I have just received a deputation purporting to represent all the colonies of ferals now prolificating around the place - the original booties and the baggies, pit, crutchies, mouldies, foodies, dry suit sweaties, boggies, bilgebotties and the rest. They wished to make clear that they take a very dim view of the fact that Tasmania is just Over There and they indicated their intention to emigrate en masse at the first opportunity in Hobart. I told them I'd find them a noice Kiwi boat (just their style) or maybe even a CSIRO research vessel so some real science can be done - and point them in the right direction. Mollification seems to have occurred and they departed to their grots apparently happy. I hear the sounds of trunks and suitcases being dragged from the depths.

They asked me to say farewell to all y'all and thank you for all those bits of flaky skin and bogeys and scrofules and stuff that they know you've been teleporting out here for them to feast on - so all y'all Merci et au revoir from les Feraux. I have a feeling they won't all go and we may have company in the future but I haven't let on that I think it would be a better boat if some of them did stay. We'll see.

Corey D - if you're out there - Very Special G'day! We're almost at the opposite end of the earth down here but thinking of you. You were one of those people without whom the NW passage transit would have been so much more difficult. Thanks! I'll try to stay in better touch.

Other ferals: I have just seen what I think was a sunfish, about as big as a small car, one high aspect ratio triangular fin and a blob. Masses of smaller birds - lots of Black Bellied Storm Petrels, a small flock of prions and possibly some Gould's Petrels. The albatross yesterday was a black brow after all - it came close enough to get a better look.

Paul D - the big albatrosses are almost indistinguishable from eachother as you know - the transition from fledgling to mature has so many variations across the species that a guess is as good as it gets. I've got perhaps 500 raw file photos (very high definition)if you or anyone wants to play with them. Each pic's metadata will allow me to locate the pic within a few miles if that's important but I will have to do it by comparison with the boat's nav data - the Nik predates the GPS versions.

Just been sorting a flag hoist for the Derwent - top to bottom: UK, Ireland (with Royal Cork YC and RNLI burgees) Portugal, South Africa and TAAF Kerguelen (Terres Australes et Antarctiques Francaises). Plus Berri's well travelled Q flag.

The big hoist will be for Sydney, covering both voyages. All the flags should be in Hobart ready for us and top to bottom should be NZ, Chile, Argentina, Falklands, UK, RANSA burgee (representing Australia), USA, Alaska, Canada, Inuvut, Greenland, Cornwall (representing UK the second time) and as above from Ireland, minus the Q. 18 all together unless I've forgotten any - and unique. If I can find the 2009 Fastnet battle flag, we'll hoist that one too.

Fan mail

From a friend in the UK - I thought it ought to be shared:

3 Record Breakers potentially......just thought I'd let you know that in
> this current 24 hours I reckon you've been part of a record breaking
> trio...all in exactly the same place on earth within 24 hours...albeit
> differing speeds and altitudes.
>
> 1. Berri....just about to be only boat on earth to circumnavigate twice,
> the normal way and the "abnormal" way.....
>
> 2. Groupama that should be just about passing you as I write......hopefully
> to become circumnavigating record breaker
>
> 3. Space Shuttle.....I watched Endeavour landing live on the web last night
> and shortly after her de-orbit burn on her last orbit to land she passed
> directly overhead you (12.30 midday your time) coming in to land....long
> finals so to speak. It was the last ever night landing and therefore the
> last ever circumavigation of a shuttle to land at night.
>
> O.k. I know I'm being adventurous but seems to me that's a nice record
> breaking trio to be a part of !!!

Yep! Thanks Sue - noice indeed! But the Examiner still lurks, even on long finals.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Barn door quicky.

Position 0630 23rd 4318 13209, trip 132, DMG 128 and 640 to SE Cape - only 1 BU to go and the weather looks kind for the next couple of days at least. New grib when send this.
So with a bit of luck, we will be in the Derwent this time next week.

A funny old life part 2

Groupama3 will overtake us today. I've been in touch with the navigator, Stan Honey, who is a friend - talking to him is a bit like talking to Leroy Chiao in the International Space Station - same concept, we're both circling the earth, only the technology is different. G3 will pass us at about the same distance as Leroy and they are going nearly as fast. A shame we won't see them as they flash by. More circles in the sand - this really all began with Leroy.
We're flying too - nearly 7 knots directly at the flaky green door and we can almost smell the farmyard. Tasmania fills the horizon, but over the hump. Maatsuuyker is one BU ahead and SE Cape another 50 miles or so. This morning's position will be the transition point - from tomorrow I will measure DMG from SE Cape.
Val and Jill - and John and Sherryl, Kimbra, Mark, Kate and the Westies - odd to be looking back at you all. And we are now looking at the true north pole from the east side of the magnetic pole so new rule: Variation East, Compass Least. Val, the Examiner is an imaginary evil being that stalks the oceans and sets difficult exam questions for unfortunate sailors who have the temerity to test her authority. I tend to think of her in hot pink leathers, hob nailed boots and carrying a stockwhip but she could just as easily be a gargoyle on the nearest cloud. She never sleeps and we must pass every exam or we are very deep in the poo.
And here we are, in the middle of the Great Australian Bight and I've been listening to Adam Spencer on Breakfast Radio in Sydney, telling us about the state of the traffic jams, the stock market and the bear pit that is NSW politics. There's a window between about 0400 local until sunrise when I can pull in the broadcast. I bet he doesn't know we're listening.
MJC, tks for shipping news.
Sue, hang in there - we're nearly in the bleachers.
Heggie - set the Examiner on to the cats - we'll send her up to you.
GV - don't you dare drink it. These things take time. And thanks!

Monday, February 22, 2010

A funny old life

Position 0630 22nd 4314 12913, trip 118, DMG 110 - mildly astonishing given the meanderings and wobbly winds but there we are. If we can keep 5 kts on the clock we should make Maatsuuyker by Sunday. Not too hopeful at this stage. Groupama will be a green flash beyond our southern horizon in the next 24 hours or so.

Young, black on top and white faced albatross still around and a smaller one - looks like a black brow but isn't - and prions all over the place.

I've just been asked to do a short article for the Friends of the Pitt Rivers Museum newsletter - a bunch of readers whose towering erudition leaves me quaking and awestruck - long story but to do with the alcohol token, a coin substitute, that has been accepted from my sister by the PRM. Odd though because I once shared a house with someone who later became quite respectable and went off to Oxford to become the Director (don't know his proper title) of the PRM, which up till I learned about his appointment I had never heard of. Circles in the sand.

----------
radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: http://www.sailmail.com

A zig and a zag, a this and a that

Been a bit overwhelmed for a day or so. Wind great in the progress sense but keeping Berri together and hooning in these seas is a touch unrelenting and the grackling and clenchening keeps the decrepit metabolism working in high gear. Not quite 'not having fun' cos we are moving towards towards the flaky paint and rusty hinges but wearying.

Anyone seen the moon recently? Or the sun? I think we're on the wrong planet - will extract old faithful Merlin to get some times.

Bashing through the og we were earlier, black squally night, occasional glimpses of brilliantly sparkling stars. Vaguely aware of new banging thump, intermittent, sporadic - seemed to be coming from stbd q-berth so put it down to movement of bags of food cans and empty fuel drums squashed in there. A bigger roll than usual (meaning a very big one indeed) bigger crash and all the lights, instruments, electrics generally karked. Dark dark but for faint glow of some LEDs and the USB gadget powered by the computer. Dooon't Paaanic! Reach for blue towel, wake Pete and start closing everything down and begin diagnosis.

No radio (connected directly to the battery, bypassing the isolation switch), no engine start from either battery, no wind generator, lights, instruments. Oddly, some LED indicators on switch panel still working along with 12v dc outlets. Unpack q-berth to get at main battery box, nothing obvious, big shunt connections ok - 12.7 v from each battery so - phew! - we haven't cooked them - then a big lurch and the two big batteries and all their rats nest of wiring moved a couple of centimetres inside the battery box. That's it! The new crashing noise. Feel and prod all the terminals and massive wires and Eureka! the main negative lead runs from the terminal through a slot cut into the top of the rear side of the battery box and off to the shunt and it has parted inside the insulation over the crimp to the spade terminal. A classic stress fracture - the end of the 8mm copper wire looked just like a bit of brown cheese. While still held together inside the insulation there must have been just enough current to keep those LED's glowing.
From there, what to do? We don't carry spade terminals that big, or a crimper either. But we do have cable clamps to bypass shroud failures - big ones! We clamped the broken end of the wire to another big negative wire crimp on the battery terminal and bobsyer! Back in business. Sounds easy but imagine doing it with your armchair rising and falling 15 feet or so, rolling through 60 degrees and pitching so your nose hits the table in front of you. I'm gobsmacked that the electrics kept working so well for so long - hanging by a thread it must have been for quite a long time.
So - the cause - it seems that the negative lead going through the slot must have been holding 30 kilos or so of battery more or less in place for the two years since they were installed, but with a bit of movement happening in the heavy weather stuff causing the wire to flex at the crimp, weaken, the movement to increase, the wire to strand and eventually part.
And the fix - all y'all make absolutely sure that your batteries are wedged as tightly as possible into their boxes as well as being strapped down. We banged a couple of softwood plugs into the space for Berri and it will all get us home.

Here endeth the lesson for the day.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Quickie

Psitiion 0630 21st 4345 12337, trip 124, DMG 117. Chequered progress - sunshine, rain, gale, big rolling swells, short, vicious lumpy seas - roll up, roll up, come for a trip in the old Bucket in the Bight - thrills, nailbiting, chunder gaslore.

Pete's daughter, Sarah is 30 today! Happy Birthday Sarah! All y'all Consult and send happy vibes.

MJC - tks for whalers.

next stop....

Adventure Bay next stop for the old barge (and bargees).
(Click on map to enlarge.)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Not having fun part 27 or whatever

Position 0630 20th 4349 12353, trip 129, DMG 124. Progress - 999 to SE Cape.

The Examiner is back from the broom cupboard, dishevelled and feeling guilty that she's neglected her duty for so long. The 'mild' low to the south of us is giving us a steady 30 - 40 knots with huge breaking seas - vast vertical walls of translucent power and beauty - breaking along the tops and each one threatening to swamp the old barge. Tiny spot of headsail, Kevvo in charge. We take off down the faces at 9+ knots - Scary but seems better to be moving reasonably fast with the waves - you can only sit all grackly and watch and wait for the next one to come rolling through - and the next. And then there are the cross waves that come in occasionally and amplify the dominant swells and they really arrive with attitude. Bright sunlight between clumpy Cu and the sea a brilliant deep blue on one side of the boat and lighter, greenish blue on the other. No sign of it blowing out - I think we have got to sit through at least another six hours or so before it abates and the seas start to go down. Poo! It's going to be a long trip from here. Now gone thick overcast - rolling Cu and rain squalls. Sea almost black with glowing white breakers. Lovely if it wasn't so threatening.

Albatrosses yesterday - at least three big Snowy or NZ, not fully mature with lovely bright black and white plumage, and a really young one, black with a white face and white underside. I have their photos.

Greetings noble Blatt. The S2H doco is not bad - I've seen it a couple of times. Hard to believe that we were out there.
Caroline - longer answer due but not at the mo - thanks for chasing the met people.
Alan H - thanks for the kind words - and your chart - it's good to know that we've helped to light a few candles on a hill or two
Sue - thanks - enjoy Switzerland. Elpinkbokkerkergybat has face to wall again.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tenterhooky and the squeaky gate

Position 0630 19th 4338 12104, Trip 125, DMG 120. 1075 to Maatsuuyker, 1122 to SEcCape.
Iff we can keep all this together and the Examiner stays out at the movies with Huey, we will have less that 1000 miles to go by this time tomorrow. From there, it all looks manageable. Keep em crossed please!
WP, preferred route will be Adventure Bay - perhaps overnight - then the Iron Pot and up the Derwent. But at least a week to go for that decision.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Western Australia!

Position 0630 18th 4351 11815, trip 149, DMG 137. Too good to be true. Anxiously scanning the horizon for the Examiner but the grib predicts more of the same for three days or so. Hmm! Less than 2 Berrimilla Units to go - 1194 miles to the waypoint, 1241 to SE Cape.

For an instant or two in a couple of days time, at about 4406 S 12636 E the magnetic variation will be Zero as we cross the transit from the true north pole to the north magnetic pole. Up in the North West passage near Devon Island, it was nearly 90 degrees.
Chris P, we might decide to go to Adventure Bay if the weather is ok and then into the Derwent via the Iron Pot - a rather more significant sounding end to a circumnavigation than 'somewhere' in the Derwent. We will keep you posted via the blog. would be good to have an escort - last time was pretty cool.
Maureen T - If we haven't already bored you silly and you are still out there, thought you might like to know that the plastic box you sent us the cake in has been our biscuit box ever since and has done splendid service. Would you like it back with provenance?

Middle watch soliloquy

Berrimilla's first circumnavigation was the Sydney-Hobart - Fastnet - Sydney-Hobart sandwich via Cape Horn in 2005. That circumnavigation actually began and ended in Hobart. It was a first and I doubt whether anyone will be silly enough to do it again.

As I said in an earlier blog, iff we make it into Hobart this time, we will complete our second circumnavigation in the Derwent, also, I think, a first but this one via the North West Passage. Hobart again is really where it can be said to have started and quite by accident. We were in Hobart after the 2006 Sydney Hobart race and we left to sail back to Sydney on about January 2nd 2007. Since leaving Hobart that day, we have sailed rather jerkily around the world. So, the second circumnavigation includes our near disastrous upending off Gabo Island (I think there's a link somewhere in the blog to this story) and loss of the mast, a tow from the Water Police launch into Eden and the long trip motoring back up the coast to Sydney. When we left Hobart, Pete, myself, Tom Crozier (no relation) and Dozy Old Fart Fenwick were on board as far as Eden, then Bermagui. The others left me there and went home and Brian Maher came down to Bermagui a few days later to help me motor the old barge back to Sydney after John Witchard had stripped the engine and got it running again.

Then later that year there was Baton Rouge and Pascal Lee drew his map in my notebook on the bar of the Varsity pub at Louisiana State University and the North West Passage idea morphed into misty life. Pascal's map is now on T shirts all over the place with Berri's Kingfisher. If anyone wants one, let me know and I'll organise a link to the Demented Ferret who produces them.

Rather a lot of intensive planning later, Pete couldn't come and Corrie McQueen flew out from England for the real start of the NW Passage attempt and the very long non-stop trip up the Pacific to Adak in the Aleutians and then Dutch Harbour. Kimbra Lindus joined us in Dutch Harbour for the actual transit. Then Nome, waiting for the ice at Point Barrow to break. The Bering Strait - two continents, two oceans, two superpowers. The transit, Arctic Circle to Arctic Circle - 31 days of astonishing experiences - ice, whales, foggy pinkouts, swimming bears, belugas, the old and the new DEW lines, the ghosts of Francis Crozier and the Franklin crews, freezing rain, Beechey Island so near yet so far, Eleanor on Devon Island for the eclipse. And the people we met. Amodino, Arctic Wanderer and the other boats. Afterwards, in Nuuk, the most expensive beer I've ever bought. The smell of fish from Paamiut, still with me. A thoroughly unpleasant Atlantic crossing and Gordy and Dave Carne rounding that bit off in Falmouth. Changing the engine in the car park in Falmouth and then the gearbox in Hamble. And the gearbox again in Lisbon. The application to the Russians for the NE passage. Berri's second Fastnet. And then it's been just Pete and me from Falmouth to here. About 26000 miles so far this time and about 2000 to go to Sydney, roughly the same distance as the first one. Only when we get back to Sydney this time can we tidy it up and say we've done the circumnavigation the more elegant way, starting from Sydney in April 2008.
But easily the best thing has been the people we have met - generous, amazing, involved, helpful, wonderful people all along the way from Adak to the Kerguelens and in Australia, the UK, Crosshaven, Lisbon, Cape Town and everywhere. And not just those we met face to face but all y'all out there - even Anarchists! - who read this nonsense and write to us and keep us going with your interest.
Thanks everyone!
We're not home yet though. The Examiner lurks and never sleeps. We think she might have taken a fancy to Huey and we might even send her on a blind date with Iridium Bill if she lets us through the barn door. And there's a hippo I know who should meet her too.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Of grackles and rocket science

Position 0630 17th 4357 11505, trip 133, DMG 112. Consistent!
Earlier:
We just cracked 13000 miles from Falmouth on the GPS odometer - that's miles sailed, not distance made good, unfortunately. Takes in all the zigs and zags. Talisker moment, I think, when Pete wakes up. We are past Dirk Hartog, past Leeuwin and almost south of Freo - so Hi Val and Jill and Kimbra and Mark and J & S - look south and the wildly waving arms you can see above the horizon is us, in the mirage.
Clearly, I haven't had enough experience in high pressure systems. This one is rock solid stable and behaving exactly as the grib says it will - no erratic wind gusts, no direction changes, steady barometer, relatively calm sea. Beyond belief wonderful! Not used to this armchair ride and it's such a nice surprise after my grackly doom and gloom.
Cyril, thanks! I sort of knew grackles are birds but I like the onomatopoeia - it's what knuckles under stress ought to do...Glad you are keeping your twilight handicap under control - takes lots of cunning. Don't tell anyone though! When do the twilights finish? Will we make it for the last one?
Margy - do you have a favourite horizon? I've got lots but they depend on time of day, mood, all that stuff.
Carla, our real rocket scientist friend has advised that coffee making without filters isn't rocket science at all. Boil it all up, add a tablespoon of cold water to settle the grounds and pour the coffee off the top. Carefully. That, of course being the problem out here in the corkscrewing boonies. But we shall overcome. I could, of course, use the plunger but the coffee isn't as good. Carla also gave me the correct version of my quotation from the post a couple of days ago - it's Sir Walter Scott and, as she so rightly states, he's saying that a desk job really sucks. So that's the poetry - but what was the occasion? Nothing to do with Scott.
Run out of books to read - working on getting the 2000 odd photos into some recognisable form - there are backups and copies everywhere so I'm aiming for one complete set. Then I'll make several backups and delete some of the duplicates. (Is there a program out there, preferably freeware, that searches hard drives for duplicates?)Then I'll try to edit it and get rid of the dross - at least half of them. Massive job and should help to grind out the miles from half way. Most of the bird ones also need cropping for maximum effect. Does anyone know of a quick and easy way to get them on line so all y'all can see them. Picasa is (was?) way too slow for that many even for tiny jpgs. My ASUS EEE netbook offers free on-line storage which might work but out here I haven't been able to check it out.
Today would have been my father's 98th birthday - we'll Consult with his favourite spirit this evening.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Oz getting bigger...

A load of middle watch nonsense

Position 0630 16th 4349 11204, trip 119, DMG 111.
This one's a composite: middle watch from here
SFSG! We may have finessed this one - just far enough north to avoid the blast - still in about 20 kt but the sea is relatively easy so far. Twin poled, furler and storm jib, double lines from the tiller to Kevvo (originals just a bit frayed), holding our collective breath. The tail end of this one, just ahead of the front and the low behind it, has 30+ knots forecast and it's on our latitude so we'll see. Meantime, hooning towards the barn door at around 6kts. In 68 miles, we will be south of Dirk Hartog Island and the Australian mainland and we are now only 577 miles from the closest point of Oz, down near Albany.

So - doom and gloom suspended for the time being, knuckles still in moderate grackle mode and appendages firmly crossed. Sweaty when you have to keep them like that for so long!

Somewhere out there, there's a hippo buying high heels over the internet. Don't know whether s/he's a cross dresser or just thinks it's cool to be hippo in blahniks. Definitely a cut above the mud wallows around Devon. No - I haven't gone completely loony - just the hippo.

We have a deadline. I have 7 coffee filters left from the pack of 250 that came with the jug I bought what seems years ago in Nome but was really only 18 months or so. I am recycling them - I can always get 2 cups but they tend to disintegrate after the second, so we must be in Hobart in 14 days or I go cold turkey. A variation on Prufrock, may his memory live on.

0630 from here:
Still hooning and looking good - sitting in 20 kt Nwesterly and the barn door beckons. Grackled knuckles less grackly - sea not too bad, Berri loving it - twin poles, rolling with the seas and surging along.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Echoes

Position 0630 15th 4405 10926, trip 110, DMG 81 - spent a lot of the period heading NE.

Back pointing at the barn door, wind 20-25kt, sunshine through 4/8ths cu, luminous blue green sea. The biggest albatross of the voyage earlier but could not retrieve camera in time. Snowy or NZ, I think. Curious, gently condescending, total superiority. Lifetime event stuff.

Talking of which, your puzzle for the day:
Said Sam to Denis, in italics:

One wild, sweet hour of glorious life is worth a world without a name.

Why, and what was the occasion? Is the quotation apocryphal?

An echo of the reported last words of Elizabeth 1st - 'My kingdom for one more minute' which, from memory, may be misquoted.

And we wait - 1800 UTC is the grib's prediction for the leading edge - about 11 hours.

'midst the grackles

Murphy and the elements have just combined to deliver one of Those Moments. We have been climbing the latitudes to the NE to make a bit of space for the forthcoming blast but the wind backed to the point where I thought it necessary to gybe. Black, overcast night, faint glow from the horizon to the west. Haven't seen the stars or the moon for days - unremitting nightly gloom. Out into the cockpit, set it all up, remembered the checkstay just in time, tweaked Kevvo across and a nice gentle gybe later, start tidying it all up. All a bit delicate - main way out to port, boat rolling, preventer not yet sorted and tight so uncontrolled gybe back very much on the cards. Keep head down, get preventer on the cleat, then headlight in red, go forward to release and re-run starboard preventer. Bang headlight against the boom and, enter stage left Professor Murphy, it goes out. Dead. Corpsed. An ex-parrot headlight. A moment of absolute blackness - brace, keep everything in place by feel and then the eyes adjust and still have reasonable night vision and yeeehaaa! phosphorescence all around, swirling coils in the wake aft but - a big slashing gap in the overcast and there in glorious glowing diamond cascades across the sky was the milky way. Almost as wondrous as my first aurora off Baffin Island.

Just had a message from Groupama 3 - they will probably pass south of us on Feb 28th, as we close on Tasmania. Go guys!

And so we wait for the blast. A lot will depend on the actual wind direction when it arrives but I suspect there will be 24+ hours or so of bare poling, trying not to go too fast and get sideways on a big wave.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Tg, tb, & t' ugly

Looks as if it is going to get rather ordinary out here for a few days. We are right in front of a two day blast along the SW corner of the high that is forming north of us and we are due for a reasonably gentle day tomorrow with the westerly gradually increasing, then about 2 days of 25 - 30 with much higher gusts as the thing gets itself into gear. This means big, breaking seas and discomfort. Lots.

The good news is that it is pretty much in the right direction, so as long as we can keep things together we should make progress. Trying to follow good compromise course right now and get NE as fast as we can so that if we have to run down with it, we don't end up way south again.

But not a pleasant prospect. The gut clenchens and the knuckles grackle.

The emptiness of the long distance voyager

Position 0630 14th 4450 10720, trip 117, DMG 90. Not bad - a soft and variable 24 hours mostly and more to come.

This is sort of nowhere land - not yet close but the barn door is just below the horizon and I can almost feel its rough, rusty nails and peelng green paint. Time and distance pass very slowly - we go about the business, we grind out the metres, try to keep everything together, Berri pointing north of east to get some northing and give us a bit of flexibility when the next low arrives, probably tomorrow. I'm hoping we are getting close to the influence of the high that usually lives in the Bight and tends to block the passage of the lows and send them south east. No real signs yet that it is there waiting for us.

Pale sunlight, cold, cheerless but we're trying to get things dry.

Last year, just north of here, Pete Goss was knocked down in Mystery and his brother in law broke his leg. Did some damage to Mystery too - I visited her later in Williamstown. Pete gave a presentation and that was when we auctioned the ensign Berri Flew for the NW Passage and Mystery then carried for the rest of the circumnavigation as her Oz courtesy flag. It made a thousand dollars for the Bushfire Appeal.

Just a few birds around - Prions and Storm Petrels - but mostly, the place is empty empty.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Quickie

Position 0630 13th. 4537 10501, trip 141, DMG 147 - probably GPS glitch here but DMG is accurate. Still thoroughly unpleasant but improving slightly. Just trying to get back north again before the next one hits us. This has been the nastiest bit of sea I have experienced for a very long time - at least three big superimposed patterns and 30+ knots to boil it all up. Seems to be abating now but will take time for the sea to drop. GPS has recovered, at least for the mo.

Bill - tks for ice & fire
Margy, thanks for sleeping bag ref
KC for I know not what but good to hear from you
PP for forecast and AC

Time for a cup of nice hot soup fortified with dried mashed spud for body and periperi for flavour. Hardly matters what flavbour the soup is supposed to be.

Bleeeaaah!

Well - middle watch again - oughta be daylight but it's the usual greyout with lashing spray, 35+ knots, violence, bashing, crashing waves the works. Seems we get an hour or so of the good times while the Examiner excuses herself and then it's back on the rack. But it does get us across the ocean pretty quickly so this isn't a complaint, just a bleat. And to keep it all in proportion, this is exactly what Francis Joyon, Groupama and all the other elite headbangers go hunting for and try to stay in for the whole two and a bit months they are out here. Sitting here,though, in this little old barge, the next 15 days or so do look pretty endless.

Erk - that WAS a big one - massive roaring crash and Iguacu falls cascading off the coachroof, poor old Berri shuddering and shaking herself and off again. We have the main up with the 3rd reef and it's really way too much but this is supposed to blow out - like 6 hours ago...And we are continually pushed south - got to get as far north as possible in the next break.

A bit of reality TV for anyone else who might be thinking of following:
first - the Grib files always underestimate the maximum wind in any low pressure system - if you double the grib forecast you are in the ballpark
second - if you have one, a trisail is the way to go but to be any use, it has to be the easiest sail in the boat to hoist. Invariably, it is the hardest because nobody ever uses it. Get a separate track fitted for it on the mast with its own halyard, exiting just above the top of the track, and take the track down to deck level - then you can leave the trisail in the track, in a bag but ready for instant deployment. For various reasons, I could not get the track down to the deck in Berri so we can't do that and the tri doesn't get used as often as it should. The third reef is way too big for most of these weather systems.
third - get a good quality aneroid barometer, calibrate it, fit it where it is both highly visible and safe from accidental bashing and use it. It can place you on the grib file more or less and it is the best indicator you have apart from looking out of the window as to what is about to happen to you. A digital barometer in your wrist watch or on the bulkhead is ok as backup but it needs batteries or some sort of power supply and is subject to other damage like salt water ingress.

Apologies if that's all a bit condescending - but I think it needs to be said occasionally.

Seems the last big wave wrote off the GPS aerial - filled it with water. Damn! Have backup, can travel but a bummer.

Friday, February 12, 2010

What Alex is looking at....

click on image to enlarge

A prediction that isn't

Position 0630 12th 4509 10143, trip 122, DMG 107. 1878 to Maatsuuyker waypoint. ETA SE Cape perhaps March 1st - so there's a non prediction wot I never ever make. Metre by metre we're closing in.

I think we may have sown the seeds of a bit of international collaboration between Australia and Kerguelen - more later, if it develops. But gratifying and thanks mostly to Doug Morrison and his papers.

In a little northerly burst - around 20kts so far, not supposed to go more that 25 but who knows. Seas rising again. Sunshine for a couple of hours this morning, now gone - what a difference it makes to one's mood. Eternal grey is grim.

in the middle somewhere

Middle watch, now, of course in full daylight. High stratus and strato-cu and lots of blue sky. Yeehaaa. Noice to see the sun for once although it is frosted behind the cloud layer at the mo. Trying to squeeze every last centimetre out of this breeze - it's coming from roughly north, about 12 kts, reasonably calm sea and we're making about 5 kt towards Hobart. Due to increase to 20+ as the day progresses and we'll shorten sail and keep going. Now have Cape Leeuwin to Maatsuuyker across the top of the computer screen with Berri bottom left - progress becomes almost visible at this scale.

Norm, (& MJC) thanks for Queen Victoria - I guess it's obvious really when you look at Tenniel's drawings in Alice - Her Imperial Maj. to a T! Glad you're still out there - was getting worried!

Val and Jill - looks as if we will miss Freo, barring catastrophe, but we will wave as we go past, probably around next Wednesday.

Ferret the Noige - an Eeyore moment - that's just what WOULD happen! But will be good to have them and may order some more when we get home if ok with you.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Daylight come...

Position 0630 11th 4538 09902, trip 119, DMG 92. Not bad, considering the nastiness last night. Huge SW swell at first light, wit the NE wind waves over it and the rising waves from the current westerly so very confused, big seas. We are running NE with about half the headsail - still a bit iffy to go for twin poles and anyway, if the grib is to be believed (probably not!) the wind is supposed to go north later today.

Following yesterday's jizz, interesting fact no. 2 - Mercury was used as a 'carrot' or stiffener in the felt hat industry. Lewis Carroll's Mad Hatter was based on workers in the industry who suffered from mercury poisoning causing 'Hatters' Shakes' and mental aberration. Not a kindly portrait after all. From Harold Klawan's book 'Newton's Madness' Bodley Head, uk 1990. Also from the Cape Town flea market. I wonder where the Queen of Hearts came from.

And we soldier on - 1980 miles to my Maatsuuyker waypoint which is about 20 miles short of the island.

----------
radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: http://www.sailmail.com

Still dank and claggy but

And the long night drags on. Things have improved - the barometer bottomed out at about 993 and now infinitesimally climbing again, the wind started to back, hesitated, threw us some savage gusts, pouring rain and blasting spray, dropped to nothing and backed very quickly NW then W at 25 kts. I think the top of the eye of the low passed over us - anyway, we are now running NE with the wind on the quarter and about half the headsail. Confused sea but it's getting better - we no longer get the massive crashes and subsequent cascades as big waves come in from the side and break against the boat or over it. We are still rolling all over the place, but it's not constant - just happens in bursts as cross-wave trains trundle through and agitate a lot.

The barn door once more somewhere over the horizon ahead of us where it ought to be.

Wet, clank and daggy

Just come back inside from sorting pearshapedness. Dripping wetties hung and hands dried as best as I can. When you've had it good for a few days you tend to forget how bloody awful these things are. We are now almost bare poled - tiny patch of headsail, gusty NE wind around 40-45 kts just aft of the port beam so we are running with it to minimise the effect, heading away from Hobart to the south west. Big breaking waves, Berri rolling all over the place, horizontal, cold rain, howling blast from the rig and this is only a toy one. Pete asleep through it all - I don't know how he does it. Barometer still falling - down from about 1010 to 995 at about 3hp/hr. I think we must be close to the centre of the low - which the grib puts about 50 miles further south at 1002, so it came as a nasty surprise to disturb the complacency. All we can do is sit it out and try to regain ground to the north when it abates.

I can feel the pressure of the wind gusts in my ears. Now to watch the wind direction to see whether it veers or backs as the low moves away so we know where we are in the system and have an idea what to expect next.

Have a nice day! As I said, it's looking like a long night.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Early Birders

It was really all too easy for too long! Now in the wrong sector of a nasty tight little low, 35+ knots NE, barometer plummeting, short lumpy horrible sea, driving rain, waves breaking over the boat again. Bloody Examiner can't keep her nose out of it for long. We're more or less going sideways on about 170T and it's not fun. Looks as if there's another one behind it too. Getting dark and it's going to be a long night.

Well, Earlier Birders, I suppose - I've been reading a who-dunnit that has a fake birder as central character. Says that jizz is derived from RAF slang for General Identification Size and Shape being the term describing how to identify aircraft. Often first and only impression from tiny glimpse and experience will match it to at least a broad category. Been there - both with aircraft and birds. Tricky!

Sue, tks for predictions. Pinko not having fun with the rest of us! Nethers recovering. Enjoy the Olympics!

Christophe - thanks for photos - I will write to you when this weather passes.

Which it will.




From: centrale
Date: Wed, Feb 10, 2010 at 8:36 PM
Subject: News from Kerguelen island.
To:
berrimilla2@gmail.com


Hello Alex & Peter,
I hope you have a good trip with fine wind and not such a bad sea. Yesterday, the australian customer's ship, Oceanic Viking, was here. I think you are near to reach your destination, Hobart. I'll be glad to have somme news when you'll arrive. So I wish you a very good home coming.
All the seamen from Kerguelen islandsend you theit best wishes as well.
Amitiés Australes (in french in the text :-))
Christophe Froehlinger - Kerguelen 60ème mission



latest

Half way?

Position 0630 10th 4535 09654, trip 132, DMG 135. A good day - we seem to have hooked into something good - keep 'em crossed please. Maatsuuyker now just over 3 Hobart races away - 3 Berrimilla Units. No predictions yet but we are glad to be moving properly again. Australia now takes up lots of chart space on the computer and the GPS. I can pull in ABC local radio - 702 - sometimes at night, presumably the Perth regional station, now about 1100 miles away. Will try for Radio National tonight (Thanks Hilary!)

Not a lot to report. Wet and windy and lumpy - grey, damp, soggy conditions, wind NE 15-20 and forecast to back to the west for a couple of days. Both a bit weary and looking forward to some sort of arrival. We are thinking that a short stop in Adventure Bay to pay our respects to all those who went before would round things off nicely but will depend on conditions - ours, Berri's and the weather.

It's beginning to feel like about half way from Falmouth - 36k in the marathon - just have to grind it out from here. Yet - yet there is also the feeling of incipient nostalgia - what to do with ourselves afterwards...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Trivia

Position 0630 9th 4454 09359, trip 107, DMG 106 - still a bit in the bag. We also cracked 12000 sailing miles from Falmouth.

Iridium Bill - another old fart, like the non existent Mr Posters. I now have the first installment and, barring catastrophe, I think we have enough in the tin to cover the voyage. Thanks everyone - if there's any left over, I will apply it to the coming home party medications and I will write to you all when we get back and Isabella sends me a list.

From some incoming mails:
JJ: A trip to the masthead is about the farthest point of the boat one can get
> to, but it does put you closer to the ISS making Pete the most removed
> person on the earth's surface while you are up there. AW comment: But I'm going faster - both forwards and sideways...

SJ:
> RE: your last blog: "Muddling through towards perfection." So, from
> that I take it the moral of the story is that it takes only 2
> circumnavigations, a dozen Hobarts, and a couple of Fastnets to get
> Berri sorted....AW comment: It's all about intelligent improvisation - muddling through is the best most people can do in the face of uncertainty and with limited resources. Berri will never reach that wonderful state of being 'sorted'- we just keep muddling!

Fenwick, DOF that you are - remember to delete the previous email string before you press 'send' else I'll empty the drag bucket over your new paintwork when we get home. What sort of boat are we planning for?

Woc - congratulations to Cam - we'll Consult.

SJ/SW - please post Doug's latest on Dawes - clearly a man with an interesting character - I think I'd have liked him.

----------
radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: http://www.sailmail.com

Monday, February 8, 2010

Wallow and flop

Position 0630 8th. 4451 09135, trip 117, DMG 109 - dragging the chain a bit! 'This is the time when is tempting to keep looking sat the GPS to get an ETA - a temptation that should be resisted always, because the ETA changes every few seconds and may vary by a week from one minute to the next, depending where we are on a wave.

Astronomically, we are now closer to Australian Summer time than to UTC - signs of progress everywhere. Still not fully in range of Firefly sailmail and the connections are often too flaky, so still using Iridium for most posts.

After all that bother last night, the red sail was only up for about 4 hours and the wind changed. But worth perhaps 4 miles in that time. I've run the old fat halyard back up the mast instead of its skinny mate, so with a bit of luck we've muddled through. I will replace the other one when we get a nice warm day. Now in flop and wallow mode - tedious - but moving in the right direction. My guess for Hobart March 1 if we get lucky.

One thing I noticed from the masthead was that you can see the markings on the upper wings of the birds much better. Yesterday's at masthead time were Prions. We have what might be a Sooty albatross with us now and another, probably juvenile and for me unidentifiable, but an albatross.

Doug, thanks for Adventure Bay note - as I was reading it, we were within about 50 miles of K1's run down position. Hard to believe that Arthur Phillip really couldn't get to it to wind it - sounds like a cover up to me! Dawes' correction is astonishing - presumably he had to work back from DR, the estimated time the timekeeper stopped, his sights - I wouldn't know where to begin but then I'm mathematically challenged. We are seeing the sun for the first time for about a week as I write. Glimpses through the fogbanks and overcast. I wonder whether our northern horizon would have the First Fleet spread along it if we could see all the ships that had ever passed this way. What a sight!

There was a pamphlet published when all the Ks were in Sdney in 1988 for the BiCentenary. called The Travels of the Timekeepers with the details of their journeys - it was the 4th visit to Sydney for one of them, probably K1. I think the pamphlet was published by the NSW Historical Society or some such body and I have a copy if you have not seen it.

Barry, thanks for definition of anlage - I was at least in the ballpark!

The science of muddling through

With deference and great respect to my friend the late Leon Peres, who invented it.

First, the story - the science follows:
Here we are, hoofing along with just the headsail, poled out in 20+ knots true, so about 15 apparent. Rolling a lot, quartering sea, yearning for home. Time for the red sail twin poled. Muggins gets dressed, straight from a toasty bunk and starts to set it all up - cold and wet, longish process and needs methodical approach and careful sorting of halyards, topping lifts, inner forestay, downhaul, the works.

Pole attached to mast, topper and downhaul attached, boat rolling through perhaps 30 deg so pole end into pulpit and lean on it while hanking on the sail. Attach halyard - and the tricky bit, back to the mast and get the pole hoisted way high, sheet on so it stops pole from banging on the forestay foil and damaging it - and back to the cockpit to hoist the sail. Needs 4 sets of hands but possible in well set up boat.

The sail goes three quarters of the way up and jams. AAArrrghhh! Won't go up or down, so we have a biggish sail doing a Grand old Duke of York, neither up nor down and flogging but basically under control for the time being. Pole leaping around a bit. Looks as if the halyard has jumped the sheave at the masthead and is caught between the sheave and the cheeks of the block. For the nautically challenged, all you need to understand is that this looks like the beginning of some very bad karma indeed. Essential to get it sorted and now before things get really bad.

No option but to go up to the masthead and see whether it can be freed, or just cut or perhaps unshackle the sail and leave the halyard flapping in the breeze. Only the first is really a goer - the other options are potentially big problems later if things get otherwise pearshaped.

Muggins again - because I set up the arrangement at the masthead and know what's up there. Get into harness, struggle into our much too complicated bosun's chair with pliers, two knives, gloves and boots on and tether attached. Mast wet and slippery, no spare halyards to hold on to, Pete in the cockpit on the winch and off we go, muggins climbing with legs around swaying mast, holding shrouds, taking it slowly and resting the old carcase at each set of spreaders - tricky at the spreaders because you have to go out and around things but Pete winches away when necessary and we get me up there. Grip with legs around the mast which is swaying through a biggish arc, (for the record, it's about 55 feet above the water and probably rolling through 30+ degrees - not a lot, but interesting)let go with both hands and use the full, creaky power of the decrepit shoulders to work the halyard out of the jam. With a bit of effort, it happens and Pete hoists the sail the rest of the way while I hang on and try not to think of what might be happening to the nethers as the mast sways and the delicate parts, squeezed by the straps of the chair are alternately squashed against the mast and stretched away as I hang underneath it. Erk!

And back down again, slowly. Pete had just teleported Dr Gordon before all this started, so we had Long Consultation and thought about the science. When Roland at Tempo built the mast, he put, at my direction, agricultural kite halyards on it. I looked at them when the mast had been stepped and thought - Too agricultural - 12 mm spectra - so I put some much skinnier ones on instead, but did not change the masthead blocks, which have widely grooved sheaves to take the agricultural string. Mistake - too easy for the skinny string to jump as we discovered. But I kept the original halyards and we'll replace the skinny ones when we drop the sail. Muddling through towards perfection.

Now happily twin poled and hooning.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

This and that again.

Position 0630 7th 4501 08857, trip 127, DMG 122 - still ok!

Birds again. Still don't know what the earlier ones were but we just had a short visit from a few Soft Plumaged petrels. Lovely birds, they come haring in towards the boat, rocking slightly in the wind, see me in the cockpit and with a couple of flips are banked instantly away while they look around and assess the situation and come back and do it all again. Fast, acrobatic, jerky flight.

Dropped the main, just half the heady on the pole - sea rising in the consistent westerly, but this due to abate slowly. Apparently some nasties due in a week or so, but things change so fast here that anything is possible. Beginning to yearn for home.

The plan - DV and WP - will be to get ourselves past Maatsuuyker and in range of SE Cape and then decide on Adventure Bay or Recherche for a small diversionary celebration. Should anyone want to join us, watch this space but we are definitely not there yet and a long way to go. About 20 days minimum.

Carol, thanks. No need for any more. And I think you should definitely have a go at Steinbeck.

MJC - Gotcha thanks. I think Baudin might have met Flinders in Recherche - they dined together somewhere and that may have been it.

Poste restante

I have been reminded of the makeshift custom of the days of long voyages where the ships left letters for home in some sheltered spot at a point where outward and return tracks crossed and ships stopped for water. There were stones at Cape Town before the Dutch built a permanent settlement there under which letters were 'posted' by outgoing ships to be picked up and taken back to Europe by those going home. Likewise on Juan Fernandez, temporary home of Alexander Selkirk, Robinson Crusoe to his fans. No doubt there were many others possibly even in Tasmania. Haphazard - I wonder whether there are still letters out there in some isolated spot, waiting to be collected. Perhaps there's a small research article there somewhere for a history project. Anyway, seems to me we are repeating history. The good ship Berrimilla has left letters under a figurative stone - Renaud's mailbox on Kerguelen - waiting for a passing ship to deliver them to all y'all around the world. I'd have loved to have landed at Baie de L'Oiseau and left a message in a bottle there too but, alas, it was not possible. We had one ready.

On which thought, if we were to release one here, it would probably end up in Chile if it didn't get snagged by MacQuarie or the Campbells. Might be fun to do.

2 birds in the emptiness. Very hard to identify - under grey overcast, upper wing markings merge into uniform grey. Jizz combined with location does not match anything I can find in the book - nearest might be Barau's petrel.

The weather systems seem to have turned right side up at last - we are now happily chugging along in the top of a low, poled out in a nice 20 kt westerly which looks good for a day or so. Yeeebloodyhaaaa! Less than a quarter of the globe to go to complete the second circ. Technically, this would happen at the Iron Pot at the mouth of the Derwent or a bit further north in the Derwent if we take the D'Entrecasteaux Channel and would include our roll off Gabo Island in 2007, but the more elegant version would end at South Head if we get to enter Sydney Harbour.

If we do manage either of these, there is an interesting list of achievements to go with them - none of any consequence but each with its own integrity and all by accident really. None were intended anyway. I'll post the list if we look like getting there.

The Consultation not Taken


Please excuse a small diversion from the voyage story: Alex has said it's OK to upload this.
Last year he gave me a plastic token he kept after visiting Cambridge Bay (Ikaluktutiak) while sailing the North West Passage in 2008. It's a token allowing the limited purchase of alcohol at a Club, or Lodge called ELKS. Let's leave aside the almost unimaginable concept that this "One Drink" was not claimed.
I am a long-time Friend of the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, and felt that this unusual - if humble - object might be of interest to the Museum, and so I wrote to them about it. The Joint Head of Collections replied that they would be delighted to accept the token as an addition to their collection of "coinage substitutes." The PRM, I should explain, is a world-class Museum and part of the University of Oxford. Objects are displayed by type rather than culture. It has long been an inspiration to writers and artists as well as to historians, explorers, anthropologists and archaeologists, both for the objects it displays as well as their often intriguing provenances.

Relevant links to this update:
Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford
Relevant pages on the old NWP blog
NB: this is the Berrisite that has been heavily spammed in its most recent pages. When you get to the page in my link you need to scroll down to the dates around 8th August. You'll see a title: Cambridge Bay, wherever google earth thinks it is. The update below that title is the nearest I can find to link the token to the NWP story.
Why alcohol abuse is a problem in Cambridge Bay:

Posted by Isabella, Alex's sister in the UK

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Steinbeck

Hard grey sea, gently spiky, Berri tramping along - uniform, slightly ribbed overcast, cloudbase about 1000ft, emptiness all the way to the horizon - no birds, no sea monsters, no swimming polar bears or silly old farts with tridents. Unusual and starkly lonely - a reminder of just how isolated we really are. ISS crew definitely closest humans out here at about 340km.

Half way through Steinbeck's 'Grapes of Wrath' which we picked up in the flea market in Cape Town. What a book! I was given 'Cannery Row' as a kid and found it heavy going and never came back to Steinbeck. Wonderful to find something so vivid, so densely packed with immediate images, lyrically beautiful descriptions and passages that are mesmerisingly similar to things I have tried to write about here with presumptuous ineptitude. Al 'feeling' the old car, the way he describes Ma, the Preacher's uncertainty - searing clarity, impossible to avoid being there with them. I'm hooked and cross eyed with the power of it.

He uses a word - at least twice - that I don't think I have ever seen before: anlage. The context might give it a meaning such as equipment, infrastructure, the toolkit? Or possibly more like competence or ability.

Bill W - thanks! - address in original request.
MJC - is Adventure Bay the same place as Recherche Bay? I have a feeling Baudin might have named it.

----------
radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: http://www.sailmail.com

Thank yous

Position 0630 6th 4448 08612, trip 124, DMG 127. Noice! And about time! The odometer from Falmouth now reads 11699 miles sailed.

Some serious thank yous due. First, my Iridium banker, (my sister Isabella in the UK) says that she has banked about 500 pounds in the Iridium tin so far - Massive thanks to all of you who contributed - I don't have any idea what the eventual bill will be but that will certainly make a dent in it. For the curious, I have to pay the account in sterling with a direct debit to a sterling credit card because I set it up with Cable and Wireless in Port Stanley in 2005 and that was one of the conditions under which they were prepared to let me out of their sight clutching new phone and SIM card.

Second - to Kiwi Feather Props in NZ. The new prop has arrived in Hobart, specified for the new engine. I mentioned that Kiwi had 'subsidised' the new one in an earlier blog but in fact they have donated it in return for the old, much travelled one which is to be examined and then become a museum piece in the factory. Great people, responsive, competent and know their product. And it's an elegant, relatively simple and inexpensive bit of gear that has performed faultlessly over almost 2 circumnavigations and a whole lot more. Thanks guys.

----------
radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: http://www.sailmail.com

Fous de la Mer

I have just found an interesting blog / website having conducted a regular Berrimilla internet trawl.
There are some images, and some text - in French. It must belong to the Kerguelen Renaud that Alex refers to. If you go to Renaud's 2009 archive there are many images which add to some of Alex's updates from the islands.
Renaud, if you are reading this - bonjour et merci. I very much like the description "fous de la mer." I think the English equivalent translates to something like "sea-lunatics" but I think the French has more style.

Posted by Iz in the UK

Friday, February 5, 2010

doesn't seem that far....

5,000k to go... 2,700 nm ...

Glooping along

rather slowly! Position 0630 5th 4416 08331, trip 92, DMG 60.

Nowt else to report - pale excuse for the sun a slightly brighter patch in the overcast - soft breeze, no apparent relationship with our current grib but we are for the first time for ages, pointing at Hobart. I think Kaharoa is due in today if anyone there is interested.

No birds, internal ferals in a frenzy - I've started eliminating some of their ecosystems and they are all migrating from boat to boot, so to speak.

And we soldier on.

Contact!

Or the end of the beginning. My last blog was sent by radio via the Australian sailmail station at Firefly, NSW. Eureka! There's a small but growing propagation window on the lower frequencies around 1400 UTC. Maybe this one too...SJ, top right hand corner, Sent via HF-VZX is Firefly, Telnet is Iridium.

The photo I would have loved to have been able to take - Berrimilla at anchor in Baie de L'Oiseau. I wonder whether our visit coincided with a google earth satellite overpass - or anybody else's - it was a cloudless day. Anyone know how to find out?

Glooopout! It's grey dark - the moon is a pale ghost almost over the masthead, nav lights reflecting like plasma - but the milky gloop is so dense that the visibility is only a few metres. Berri's rolled headsail is a dim, damp silhouette disappearing ahead of us. Windless, cold, oily calm like some foggy days in the English Channel. We are burning a bit of diesel to trickle along and charge the battery. Take yer breath away lovely, there is phosphorescence again, a subdued radiance. We are moving forward inside a gently glowing spearhead with sharp greenish edges, a coiling shaft astern and no other frame of reference beyond the boat. Weirdly eerily beautiful here, absolutely terrifying in the English Channel!

Desperately slow progress - I left all Doug's Kerguelen papers with Renaud in Port aux Francais and I don't remember how long it took Cook to reach Tasmania in similar fog. He, of course, had no option but to sail. For me, 31k perhaps in a marathon - the end of a Sunday run but still way short of mental half way in the real thing. You can just sense that there may be a finish line out there somewhere but you daren't think about it and the body is starting to get stroppy and ask rude questions of the mind. I wonder if I will ever be able to finish another one - the atrophy has really set in these last five relatively inactive years. Something to rebuild.

Glooopy calligraphy

There we were, in our crystal glass of gloopy fog - complete milkout, vis about 100 metres, swells emerging as new horizons, close enough when they became visible to look sinister and menacing and solid. Tiny shadows - fleeting impressions - fast, fluid, sometimes jerky and gone in an instant. Prions! Their beautifully marked grey topsides appearing as soft Chinese brush strokes trailing through the gloop as they banked towards us, their brilliantly white undersides dissolving instantly into the gloop as they banked away. Wonderful. The occasional black shape, probably a white chin - a firmer brush stroke, cursive as it banked and soared.

And then the fog cleared this morning - bright sunshine for a while and not a bird in sight. Long flat swell, the emptiest horizon since we left Falmouth. A short visit later from a Black Browed albatross. Now back in the gloop and not even a Prion.
But we are pointing at Hobart.

The boot ferals - excited voices all over the place - procreation, hybridisation, cross dressing everywhere - mixing it in errant socks from way back, soggy boots, wonderful new environment inside the neoprene dry suit and they've been getting together with the mouldies in little colonies all over the uninsulated surfaces and the green cheesies in the icebox. Having seen the science they are doing in Kerguelen on isolated populations, I think we missed a chance here! No control groups, no baseline.

We are looking at a slowish trip from here - 28 days minimum. If all goes well and we feel up to it, we will pay our respects to Cook, Baudin, Flinders and all the others with a visit and small Con in Recherche Bay. We seem to have followed them everywhere else - except Cook's 71 South. I think it was Midshipman Vancouver who ran out to the end of Resolution's bowsprit at they turned north and became the man who started the Guinness Book of Records.

On the beach at Recherche Bay - now that WOULD be an interesting OB for Macca!

Bill W - thanks mate. Looking fwd to Con!

There's a Black Brow out there...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Longer one later

Position 0630 4th 4451 08150, trip 77, DMG 55 - very soft westerly, twin poled all night - snailing it.

Pink Predictor - thanks - if you could hazard a guess at a waypoint to jump on the back of the distant low...my guess around 43S 095E ?

Dave J - likewise thanks - confirms our data.

Heggie, G'day!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

(no subject)

Position 0630 3rd 4509 08009, trip 97, DMG 46, which includes making up the 37 we lost yesterday so an ok result.

What a difference a day makes, to coin a cliche. Whoever did the upended colander Incantation for us got it right. We have the assymetric kite up, hooning, heading a bit too far north but we'll drop it when we get up to 45N and pole out the heady and point at Hobart. From aaaarrrggghhhh to Aaaaaahhhh! It's just like sailing across the bottom of a glass of milk - one of those crystal glasses with a pattern cut into the base - grey crinkled fluid glass, liquid fog, no horizon and the diffused glow of a silver sun just hanging up there in the milky firmament. Noice, except for the runny drips off everything. This must be the fog Cook wrote about, that he sailed 900 leagues through. Convergence zone classic.

Ferals later - I think we need a new grib so I'll try to send this. Firefly starting to go green at 70+% on the propagation screen for sailmail (green means there's a chance to connect for that hour of the day and the % gives a rough guide as to how lucky you might be) so things are beginning to close in. About 30k in the marathon - way back from half way - the turning point for confidence. Or the hook for Damocles.

ABC radio

Last Sunday morning, 31st Jan, the boys had a chat via satphone to ABC Radio's Macca on his show Australia All Over. The call went for about 14 minutes, and the mp3 version is here:


It is big - about 8mb, and Berri is from 1:00 to 14:30. A very good chat about Kerguelen, both sounding as chipper as ever.

Peanuts

It's been a Charlie Brown day. The sort of day when Lucy took the ball away just as he finished his mighty run up to kick it and he whirled over flat on his back. Stood up, threw his head back and yelled AAAAaarrrrrghh!

One of those days. when little things conspire to make life even more difficult, when we are wrapped first in too much wind from the wrong direction, going backwards, now in too little, in almost liquid fog that runs off everything. And the pasta was all starch - a gooey glutinous awful gluggy mess - almost uncookable in the boat - never seen it like that before. And...and...the list goes on. AAAArrrrrggghhh!

Half an hour later - I tried to connect to Iridium to send this and see whether we have any mail and there's no dial tone. The computer has, once again, removed the iridium modem and substituted it's own internal version so another dreary system restore. Why does it do this??

aaarrrrggghhhh!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Goonery

Position 0620 2nd 4556 07840, trip 60, DMG -37. Discouraging but could be worse. We're walking backwards to Christmas. Bleeah! It's a bummer out there.

Still no sign of a let up except that the wind has dropped marginally. No real conjunction between what we have here and the grib, but I've just been outside in the snake oil suit to put up the trisail and at least now we are going just a teensy bit to windward - north west instead of WSW.

Otherwise, just the tedium of sitting it out. Just like a square rigger! But does anyone know whether this is an unusual series of systems - they seem to be upside down (the highs to the south) and the lows way further north than we expected? Looks as if we will have to work our way north in the gaps up to 40S at least.

Anyway, I think I've got to visit the Surgeon Consultant - I feel the need for some basic medication. Somebody please make the appropriate incantation - go howl at the moon with an upturned colander on your head or whatever is necessary - and get us the westerlies we need.

MJC, thanks for info and I'm in email contact with Kaharoa. They due into Hobart for a day this w/e.
SJ - Foretrex

Iridium still intermittent - often takes several tries to connect. A bit nailbiting.

We'll see whether this one goes

Bleah! We are hove to, drifting SW at 2 kts and sitting it out - can't headbang into it and the old heave sends us downwind (away from Australia) rather slower than bare poling. Uncomfortable as we're beam on to the rising sea and rolling a lot and the occasional big one comes in from left field and crashes against the boat. Wind also rising and it's raining so we're all closed down and hoping to stay that way. At least another 12 hours before the thing dissipates if we can believe the grib. And there's another one behind this one. Looks like a headbang up to about 40S to get us out of here - tedious!

My Iridium fix hasn't worked, unfortunately. The connection fails intermittently at the first attempt to open the port, which, I think, means that the computer is not reaching the phone. The problem is probably still somewhere in the data kit, which was never designed for these conditions. I think the phone itself will work so if the iridium connection to sailmail fails completely, I'll phone in a daily report until we are in HF radio range of Firefly in NSW.

Monday, February 1, 2010

where in the world is...


The penultimate leg... Kurguelen through to Hobart. They are a long way south!

... but perhaps not that far south. This one shows the Rhumb Line, or Great Circle route, from Cape Town to Hobart. As you can see, the shortest way is not always the best. They are staying well north, both to catch the more favourable weather, and to stay a trifle warmer. Cape Town middle left, Hobart lower right, Antarctica that big white bit at the bottom.

too early to say but...

I may have found the Iridium problem. To use the phone to talk to sailmail, you need to buy what is called the data kit - a fitting that clips on to the end of the phone and has a PCB inside it and an RS232 to USB cable to connect it to the computer. Intermittent problems are often just loose connections so - sure enough - the RS232 connector on the cable was loose and I applied some gentle screwdriver and held my breath for a test connection and it connected...If this one goes too I think I'm winning.

Grib shows low to NW tossing 35 knots from the NW at us tonight and dissipating and moving south tomoz. With a bit of luck we'll be far enough up its ugly face to pass through it before the sea has time to rise to the vicious. Cross 'em please

And talking of ugly faces - the massive igneous extrusion on the south side of Baie de L'Oiseau had the Mt Rushmore face in it - I described it as lizardlike, I seem to remember. Nah! It's Slarty, leaving us his self portrait for posterity and poncing it up like he's the Greatest. Which, of course, he is! On second thoughts, it may be one of his pupils with a sense of humour.

Hey Carla! G'day!

Ok - let's see whether this works...

Iridium

V. quickie - might not go through - I'm losing Iridium - intermittent com port problem - port disconnects during initial handshake - getting worse, don't know why. So if no comms for a week, don't stress - Firefly should be in range soon. Will try with backup computer and phone if this one really karks.

SPBF