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

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The coming home party - May 9th

May 9th seems to be the best compromise date for all the direct Berri hangers-on - but it's also Mothers' Day so a good excuse for a party. It will be at RANSA, the last building on the left as you go down New Beach Road from New South Head Road - go past CYC and D'Albora and you are there. There is all day and 2 hour parking in local streets but make sure you read the signs - the Rangers are ferocious ferals. Kick off at 1130 and we will wind it all up at 1800 at the latest. Berrimilla will be alongside with flags flying.

All of you silent blog followers, please come along if you are in range.  It would be great to meet you all. There will be medicinal compound, food and other goodies available.  Please bring something to drink if you are Very Very  thirsty.

A generous friend has offered to donate a spit roast so it would help a lot if we have a ballpark idea about numbers.

So: Please let me know via or alex1whit@gmailcom or on my mobile 0418243600 if you are likely to be there. You may not get fed if you don't.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

One for the roadies

Over the last couple of days, I helped deliver part of a training course for people planning to work overseas on super yachts and other commercial vessels. An interesting group. Seemed to me that they needed a line in the sand - a base line - the lowest common denominator - an ' it gets better from here on' experience so I brought Berri around to the pontoon next to the 3rd Mosman Bay Scout Hall where we were holding the course. The photo is a rather foggy camera pic of Jade, one of our students, who actually appreciated Berri for what she is. And understood my jokes - good luck out there Jade! And all the rest of you, of course!

Some more rather profound words

Another of yez all out there, one who, like most of you, I've never met but feel I know, sent us this and, with Chris, put her finger on something that I've been trying to get a handle on more or less since all this nonsense started:
What your friend Chris said...  I was wondering why your blog, with completely unfamiliar people and subject matter, was so meaningful (and emotional! I too went through about every emotion in the book). How well he said it.

Just ran across this passage about telling one's story:

"My friend Stan Brakhage claims that in creating the films for which he became famous, he was always guided by the conviction that "the most personal is the most universal."  This insight, it seems to me, goes beyond the obvious observation that the types of human situations and possible reactions to them are limited, that in telling of ourselves we are bound to strike a common chord with at least SOME persons.  Beyond this, I think that to watch others in their solitude grappling with what comes to them, making it into themselves, and giving back to the world something which was not there before is to see the very image of what each of us is."

(from an autobiography "The Story I Tell Myself" by Hazel E. Barnes,  former Professor at the University of Colorado).

I feel apologetic for not really comprehending what you did in the physical sense, it being so out of my realm (hopefully I will someday).  But the grappling, making it into yourselves and giving back to the world, and helping the rest of us get more in touch with ourselves---sublime.

For which perceptive and complimentary words - Thanks Jane.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I have been asked for the link to the dismasting story. It is here:
with thanks to Yachting World, where it appeared originally.

The North West Passage website and have now been cleaned of dubious spam invitations to mess with parts of ones anatomy. Thanks Stephen. It needs a further tidy up and some links but it's all there.

I parked Berri alongside the local sailing club on Sunday evening where she was overrun by kids and even some adults. Lots of fun and some interesting questions. Plus the inevitable Sharks? Pirates? I don't have any photos but there was someone there with a camera, so I will see if I can scrounge a .jpg or two.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A few more photos

I haven't been able to add captions -never worked how to do it. Dozy and decrepit neurones.  From the beginning: Iron Pot; Tasman Island with Cape Raoul in the distance - you can just see the lighthouse in the cloud; Chain Locker Bay on the Freycinet Peninsula - one for the gang in Falmouth; Naval escort; the hoist and El Pinko; El Pinko; Sydney cliche - ferry, Opera House and Bridge; Berri alongside at CYC.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Personal email address and other stuff

If anyone wants to contact me direct for the time being, my email address is - please feel free to use it.

There is a short term Plan evolving - I am going to California for a week in April to rendezvous with Leroy, Pascal (who drew the little map that started this latest silliness) Keith Cowing ( and Pat Hahn from Nome. No doubt there will be serious Consulting, but I want to cut some video  interviews as well, to splice into the Berri Galactic Guide Video that our friend Matt at NASA Ames has generously offered to put together for us.

If any of you have burnng questions you want answered by any of these legends, flick them to me in the next couple of weeks please. Or just interesting questions related to their involvement with Berri.

Steve Jackson, may his name be in lights for evermore, has finally persuaded Google to give us control of David Speed's website (which we lost when he died) so that we can clear the spam. There are over 1100 spam postings and unless any nerd out there has a better idea, it's one by one, with the obligatory "Are you sure...?" Bleeeah!

ET, please call!

Some rather profound words

I was at Uni with my friend Chris, learning Mandarin, about a century ago and ince then we've shared that sort of friendship over the years that needs no words. So I was surprised to get this letter and I asked him whether I could put it on the blog. I thought it deserved  wider circulation::
Chris' email reply:
Dear Alex
Lovely to chat with you earlier. Here is the (soft copy) letter. The more I think about the Berri write-up, the more I think the central theme is that of the 'horizontal anarchic network as back-up team,' enabled by blog and enthusiastic word-of-mouth. It contrasts so dramatically with what has become the conventional way of putting together expeditions, with massive (vertically organised) sponsorship and a huge caranvanserai of specialst back-up teams... The Berri story is very very different.

The letter


16 March 2010


Dear Alex and Peter


It is now impossible to write to one of you without also acknowledging the other; once again, you have done the remarkable, the extraordinary, something no-one has ever done before, and done it not only with stoic grit and endurance, but also with good humour and many fascinating observations about the world, the environment, the human condition and the taste of stout at different latitudes. Congratulations on another outstanding achievement done in a combination of two great traditions: the taciturn British and the Aussie larrikin. Your physical and mental and emotional endurance – as a dynamic duo – is just awe-inspiring, and it is your achievement of this as a team of two which is most intriguing. It seems to me that well-balanced teams of two are special; there is an essential tension and resolution at the same time; there is a need for trust and consensus in all major decisions; there is an intertwining of psyches, a total interdependence, absolute mutual accountability; there is a complete absence of politicking because neither party can be out-voted. The team of two seems to me to be an interesting phenomenon in itself, and by now, there is probably no-one more qualified that yourselves to share insights on that.


Somewhere along the journey, while reading the Berri-blog, I got really pissed-off, and I expect this is what a wife feels in such cases. It was a combination of things: you two doing some extraordinary feat of ingenuity on the high seas, with masses of online suggestions pouring in from the global Berri fan-club at a time when my simple suburban life was in bad shape and without any sense that there was any support team out there; I can't remember the specifics but I remember writing it up in a very angry way in my journal, saying to myself: "Sure, those guys are out there testing their mettle against the elements in a way that brings them encouragement and admiration, but, bugger me! I'm on my own journey through hell here of another kind and I'm bloody well on my own with it because no-one gives a shit, and it doesn't end with a nice pink ribbon and a pop of champagne corks; it fucking well goes on interminably and there's damn-all recognition at the end of it!" It was a particularly severe case of weltschmerz. And after a while, I realised that I was looking at it upside-down. Instead of getting angry and resentful of what you were doing – achieving something remarkable, something that generated spontaneous admiration from a whole community of observers – I could use your example to validate the odyssey of my own feats of psychological/emotional endurance and say: "Hey, look, those guys are out there on the high seas, but what I'm doing, hanging on here by my toenails in one untenable situation after another, is pretty damned remarkable too!" And once I realised that, I felt a whole lot better. And I think this is why we are drawn to identify with epic feats of endurance: they help us to make sense out of what seems unendurable in our own lives.  


So the next feat – before the high energy of the return dissipates – please – is to document the story so that it can have that impact. And I think that task is almost as important as the journey itself. It's like a piece of academic research; the experiment means more once it's written-up. And let me toss out a challenge to you: I know that this task of documentation is the one you have least patience with. You'd far rather be bashing into a headwind with three reefs than be bashing away on a computer writing slabs of text. And you'd far rather sub-contract or outsource or delegate the write-up task. But it's the documentation now that validates and consolidates what you have done and it's an endurance task in and of itself; and – as your previous ghost-writer experience demonstrated – it's not a task that you can meaningfully delegate to others. So I encourage you to take it on with all the determination you gave to the journey itself. And here are a few suggestions that might help:

(1) Focus the story on Berri and that might help you to get around that awkward sense that each episode seems to begin 'And then I did this and then Peter did that…'

(2) Take as much as possible absolutely raw and verbatim from the Berri blog. It is full of wonderful, unique stuff, about the journey, the mechanics and gadgets, the weather, the environment, wild-life, your analogies to the Hitchhikers' guide and the Space Shuttle… these all make extraordinary reading and do not need any editing at all

(3) Yes, also incorporate the combined wisdom and contributions from the hundreds of external contributors. I think one thing that will make this a unique document is the way you have used blogs to create a global community of Berri-helpers. The number of times people helped with advice, suggestions, engine parts, and so on; the way the journey galvanised people to help, to anticipate, to pitch in, with satellite internet as the vehicle for enabling it all – that is I think a very interesting theme all on its own.

(4) Following from the above, the fact that both circumnavigations have been done without the big-ticket sponsorships and huge media caravan and the multi-million-dollar, Branson-Forbes-Travolta style excess of ego. It's the taciturn Brit and the Aussie larrikin at their absolute best.

(5) And lots of pictorial stuff

(6) Lastly, get onto it right away.



That's it from me. I look forward to catching up with you both for a cuppa and a chat sometime soon.


Meantime, the Masters Exhibition from the Quai d'Orsay is still on at the National Gallery in Canberra for another few weeks, so if can bear getting away from the sea-shore for a bit, come down and look at a painting or two.


Love and good wishes

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Coming Home party

Don't you all go away just yet. There will be the Great Berrimilla Coming Home Party real soon now - will take a bit of organising but probably mid April after Easter. Watch this space for details.

The photos - the famous collapsed arch at Baiede L'Oisaeau and Slarty's face carved by one of his students -clearly not one of his originals.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

On a roll

One for David Carne and the Victory mob. The World Championship
Trophy, suitably mounted.


With thanks to Steve W for the photos. There will be more.

I will catch up with myself and write some coming home stuff in a day
or so and I know I owe lots of you thanks and replies. I'll get there
- this 'civilisation' stuff takes a bit of getting used to. Likewise
this laptop - the spacebar doesn't work...

part 4

part 3

part 2

Coming home part 1 of several