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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.


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.
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