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

Friday, February 5, 2010


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.