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

Friday, April 30, 2010

Rain or Shine

The Party will happen next Sunday, May 9th . See all y'all there...

Thanks to everyone who has checked in.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

If you have received a Kergy cover or you expect one...

It seemed to me that something like the following 'certificate' might give future provenance to the Kerguelen covers as my signature should correspond with the one on each envelope. If you want one, send me an email and a snailmail address - even if you think I have it already.

Could not get the photo to load as part of the file but there will be a front and reverse pic at the top.

There should be a photo of the front of the envelope at the top


This cover commemorates the visit to the Kerguelen Islands by the Australian registered sailing vessel Berrimilla 2 during her second circumnavigation of the world. The cover is one of only 60 created by M. Renaud Huez, the Postmaster at Port Aux Francais to commemorate the visit. The 60 covers were stamped, addressed and signed by Berrimlla's crew, Alex Whitworth and Peter Crozier on 27th January 2010 and then postmarked by M. Huez.


Berrimilla departed for Hobart on January 28th  The covers were kept in the Post Office by M. Huez until the research vessel Marion DuFresne arrived from Reunon in Mauritius at the end of April 2010 to resupply the islands and collect the mail and return to Reunion via Isle Amsterdam. From there the covers were flown to Noumea whence they were delivered around the world by the French postal service.


Berrimilla's first circumnavigation started with the 2007 Sydney- Hobart yacht race, continued via Cape Horn and the UK and back to Sydney around the Cape of Good Hope in time for the 2008 Sydney-Hobart race. While in the UK she competed in the Fastnet race and finished 11th overall out of 300 and second in the Double Handed division.


Berrimilla's second circumnavigation started on April 10th  2008. She sailed direct to Alaska from Sydney and then via the North West Passage to Falmouth, UK where she was laid up for the winter. She returned to Australia via the Cape of Good Hope in 2010.


During these two circumnavigations Berrimilla became the first vessel ever to:

  • Sandwich a Fastnet race between 2 consecutive Sydney – Hobarts, all under sail
  • Sail to England twice to compete in the Fastnet and then return
  • Sail from Australia to England via the North West Passage
  • Circumnavigate the world under sail via the North West Passage
  • Circumnavigate the world via both Cape Horn and the North West Passage.


Berrimilla was the 77th vessel to transit the North West Passage since Amundsen's Gjoa in 1903 -6 and her transit was the 114th ever. Both figures may be disproved by later research but they are as close as we can get at the time of writing.




Alex Whitworth


A reprint for those who could not find it

Jan 27th 2010

The envelopes:

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

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

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Kerguelen commemoration letters

These have started to arrive all over the place. Carefully stacked for three months by Renaud  at Port Aux Francais, then on RV Marion Dufresne to Reunion.

By air from Reunion to Noumea and into the French snailmail system where, no doubt, they have waited for Eyjafjallajokull to wind down. So to England, Australia, the USA, Dubai and wherever. Rather less scarce than the Penny Black but there are only about 60 of them in the world, so they might one day be worth a bit. I wonder when the first one will appear on Ebay.

Mine hasn't caught up with me yet, so thanks to Isabella for the letter images. The third photo is Renaud with some of the letters and a few of his hundreds of rubber stamps around him. Thanks Renaud, for making the envelopes and for getting them away safely.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Lies, damned lies and statistics

With apologies to Disraeli.

Whitworth, Fenwick, Crozier and Berri - all together for the day. I'd like to be able to report that a combined age of 244 years - if Fenwick is telling the truth -and a combined total of about 50 Hobart races along with all the wisdom and experience that ought to go with it triumphed in the Great Veterans race today. But it didn't.

We came 10th out of about 20. Pics later if anyone took any. The GV race is for boats over 30 years old that have done a Hobart race. Quite a fleet but a gentle flukey day and Berri not fleet at all. Interesting to know how many Hobart races there were represented out there - boats and geriatric crew members combined.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Pat's Pot

One of the seven.


The first pic is the Canadian Ice Service analysis chart for August 14th 2008, the day we got through the critical bit of the North West Passage. Note the thin blue line just left of centre between the white of the Boothia Peninsula and the light green of the 3/10 ice - the open water we squeezed through. (Between the M and the F) There was quite a lot of ice in that little blue bit of open water. The Boothia Peninsula was named after George Booth, the founder of the Booth's Gin Distillery and one of the sponsors of the Franklin expedition. The northernmost point, on Bellot Strait, just above the C to the left and above the centre of the chart, is the northernmost point of mainland America.

The second photo has solid ice right across the middle - hard to see the ice but a breathtakingly beautiful morning - pic taken around 0300.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Never quite works the way you think it will

This is the signed off map.

Of this and that

I'm in at San Francisco airport waiting to fly back to Oz. Evening. The San Mateo bridge lights away over the Bay to the south, the southern end of Silicon Valley stretched out in front of me in high metabolic glow. A free Con with some guy called Tanqueray and his rather dry mate from Canada. An indifferent substitute for Dr. Gordon.

I have been at NASA's Ames Research Centre rounding off the North West Passage gig. You may remember that it all started in a bar in Louisiana when Pscal Lee drew a map in my notebook and invited us to rendezvous at Beechey Island in the North West Passage and then visit the Haughton Mars Project. The original map is the first photo. I vscrupulously preserved a couple of bottles of home brewed Dr Coopers - one from Steve, one from Pete - to present to Pascal when next we met in a bar. Those bottles have now circumnavigated and have lived for a time with Keith in Virginia, then at McMoons (google it - gobsmacking stuff - Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project LOIRP)

Well, it would have beenthe first pic if I had it on this computer.

We didn't quite make it but got very close indeed. Then to England and, a Russian NE Passage beaurocratic tiddley pom having timed out, back to Oz via Cape Town and the Kerguelen Islands. Interesting. Lots of stuff in the interim but too long for this.

In the meantime, I had 7 commemorative tankards variously engraved - one each for the 6 people plus Berri who made it all possible - Speedy, may he rest in peace, Leroy Chiao, Pascal Lee, Berrimilla, Pat Hahn, Corrie McQueen and Kimbra Lindus, in no particular order. Each had the recipient's name on it on one side and Pascal's map on the other.

After all of which, it seemed to me that it was cool to complete the exercise by getting Pascal's map signed off by the man himself.

Scroll past the intervention of serendiity and here I am, at SFO, having been at NASA's Ames Research Centre for the last week.

It's been an awesome week. Leroy and Pascal flew in from the Kennedy Space Centre after the Shuttle launch. Pat Hahn came down fresh from the Iditarod (google it - he's a hard bastard) and , perhaps fittingly, in another bar, I was able to present Pascal with his tankard and the around the world Coopers. Which we felt it necessary to scientifically test.

So - we had four of the tankards together in the same room and science occurred. Astonishingly well preserved and froody considering the discombobulations it had experienced.

And a project to reunite all 7 tankards is in the spread sheet. We'll need Charley to represent Speedy and Devon Island seems to be the easiest venue. Watch this space. Not sure whether it's feasible to work Berri into that equation but we'll see.  A Plan is evolving.

So the photos.

As I never know how these will load, here's what I think you will see:
Post Iditarod ice at Nome
Pat with his pot
Leroy with his
Pascal, at last, getting his
3 of 4 together
Pascal testing Steve's brew.
The map signed off.

I have a photo of Pascal sign ing off the map but the SFO ferals made me check in my trundle bag, so next time perhaps.

And then there's the story of LOIRP...

and YBI.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Nope (ED: yep - fixed, see previous post ;-) )

I can't get google earth to email the placemark file to the blog so that it opens. Sorry. Go to Moffett Field, Ca in google earth and you will be close. Awesome place - more photos to follow in a day or so.

This one might work

If it does, zoom out and have a look at hangar 1 - as big as the Queen Mary. The first airship hangar built on the west coast to fit the US Navy's airship Macon in the 1920s. Worth a google visit too.
google maps link here

... and perhaps google map here if the link works! Moffett Field at the top of the map:

View Moffett Field in a larger map

Thursday, April 8, 2010

For the stamp collectors - and other stuff

The Supply Vessel Marion DuFresne has left Port Aux Francais, Kerguelen carrying, I hope, all your commemorative letters.  (thanks Malcom)
Perhaps three days to Reunion and then they will go into the French snailmail system and may reach you anytime in the next few weeks.

I'm in California, here file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/alex/Desktop/Moffett%20lodge.kmz
and will be meeting Pascal and Leroy and Pat Hahn in the next couple of days for a consultative debrief and to get some interviews on video. We have found a local stash of Dr. Cooper's Excellent Emollient Elixir to assist the work. Photos and video may follow on the blog.

Don't forget the coming home party on May 9th. Also, Berri will be sailing in the Great Veterans Race from CYC on April 18th if I can get a safety check done in time after I get back.

Watch this space.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Notoriety Strikes

Macca again on Sunday @ 0730ish. Oz summer time ends and the clocks go back early that morning. This time we will be in the studio - dozy old ferals fumblng around the airwaves . We are trying to get Macca out for a sail beforehand so that at least he knows what we are talking about. Here's the man

And another thing...