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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.


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...