Thursday, 16 October 2008

T shirts and other stuff

Berri Northwest Passage 2008 T shirts are now available under 'New Releases' here

http://www.dementedferret.com

They have the Berrimilla kingfisher on the front and Pascal's map on the back.

Thanks Nigel.

I'm in New York for a few days more or less on the way home, to go to the Explorers Club annual dinner with Leroy. I have to pretend I'm Karen - interesting and I wonder what people will think. Then a few more days in Falmouth to try to get the new engine into the boat and back to Sydney. Will be good to be home.

Lots of thank you letters to write and there will be an article in Yachting Monthly (UK) in the January or February issue.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

In the car park

Berri is out of the water and in the park and ride carpark in Falmouth. Big relief to have it all finally sorted. Now I have to disconnect the engine once again so that we can lift it out in the next few days and start tranferring the marinising parts from the old engine to what is now a basic tractor engine sitting on a pallet outside Dave Carne's workshop in Penrhyn. Then, with a bit of luck, off to New York to meet Leroy and clap while he gets a big award from the Explorer's Club and then, if I can pin him down, Pascal to get the chart properly signed off with a DCO and an HMP stamp.

There will be T shirts - Nigel, if youre still on air, could you please put a link on the website or email it to me?

And to all of you who came looking for us over the last few days, I'm really sorry I missed you - I'm here for perhaps another week and my mobile number is (0)7186004379.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

The Plan mark 27

I think I have an arrangement for Berrimilla for the winter in Falmouth. There are some generous people around! I will spend the next couple of days disconnecting the engine and unbolting what I can to transfer to the new one and then leave the boat and Dave and Gordo will work on it as a time filler when things are a bit slack over the next few months. Thanks guys.

I am at my sister's for the weekend and my old friend Don Burfitt, who gave me my first (and one of my most difficult!) Sydney-Hobart ride  is here too. Don is the convener of the Global Warming Alliance www.globalwarmingalliance.com and he gave us a superb award 'for services to the planet' - the crystal ball sits in a depression in the base and is so finely made that it floats on the trapped air and can be tilted and rotated. Lovely, but very difficult to photograph! Thanks Don.

Friday, 26 September 2008

For those in withdrawal

If any of you want something to keep the addiction going, perhaps I could recommend this
http://www.petegoss.com/mystery/

Pete will be carrying Berrimilla's rather battered Australian ensign to use as a courtesy flag when they get to Oz - and he's collecting for a charity. Not sure how to donate but I'm sure it's not too hard. Over to all y'all.

There will be more form me in the next few days as well, as things get sorted.

What now?

A rather dark sequence that just missed an iceerg calving in Pond Inlet - magic morning, all by myself in the cockpit with Berri hove to. If you look carefully, you can see Slarty's signature on the rock in the distance.

As the anti-climax takes hold, I'm wondering what might be next. The immediate plan is to get Berri sorted for the winter in Falmouth and then go back to Oz for a few months, via the USA where there are some interesting invitations on the table including a formal sign-off of Pascal's chart with an HMP rubber stamp, appropriately in a bar somewhere in California. What should we do with the original? I'll put a jpg of the final version on the website in case anyone would like one - seems to me that it would make a reasonable souvenir. I will also put it on a T shirt and post a link for people to order one. That's about a month away and I think that by the time the link is available, the immediacy of all this will have passed for all y'all. If anyone would like to buy one, perhaps you should let us know now and we can advise when the link is up. Nigel - if I send you a jpg of the signed off Pascal chart and of Berri's kingfisher (if I can find it), could you do the T shirting and put a link to your website on the Berri site?

I have about a thousand photos to sort and a presentation to put together around them. I will put a selection of photos on the website as soon as I can. McQ, Kimbra and I will need to pool all our photos eventually and make a proper record.

There will be an article in - I think - Yachting Monthly sometime soon, and I will try to get my act together to write a book. And perhaps a Sydney - Hobart in a different boa this year. That will be strange! Don Burfitt, the owner of Miko, my very first Hobart ride in 1977, is coming to Isabella's for a beer this weekend - should be fun, as we haven't seen eachother for aout 20 years.

Next year, Berri and I will do our last Fastnet together and then I will take her back to Oz - not sure how yet, but for an elegant finale, it ought to be via the Med and the Red Sea to complete a different circumnavigation. I'm told that pirates might make this too dangerous these days, so it will probably be via the Panama if we can dodge the hurricanes.

Meantime, I have to write thank you letters to rather a lot of people. Was it Newton who said that he was able to achieve only by standing on the shoulders of others? A statement that falls clearly into the list of things that I wish I'd said first!


Thursday, 25 September 2008

Falmouth - can't be! We just left...

Just been interviewed by Deborah Cameron from the ABC in Oz - dreadful interview - I think she was in a hurry to get to someone else and I was too slow to make my points. Difficult when you're woken at midnight!

Still haven't quite assimilated the fact that Berri is back in Falmouth. Last time we were both here was Aug 20 2005 and we were leaving for Australia. That whole stay for me was shadowed by the fact that we had first a Fastnet to get ready for then the Atlantic and the Southern Ocean again, so there was a niggling tension all the time. This time is different - just have to get the old barge bedded down for the winter and then fly out. We've decided that the engine is past repair so I've ordered a new base engine from the Kubota agent and we'll unbolt all John Witchard's marinising goodies from the old one and bolt them on the new one and bobsyer. I had not realised until we got here that Speedy was collecting donations - thanks everyone! and they will go towards the new donk - I think they will cover about half of it, which is a nice relief.

One of my heroes, Pete Goss, is in town and I finally got to shake his hand yesterday on his lovely new boat Spirit of the Mystery - his website is www.petegoss.com   I'm slightly jealous - his new gig looks like a great blast. I have tangible (and noicely drinkable) proof that he's sponsored by Talisker. Thanks Pete!

The power is off in my hotel room - no coffee and, more to the point, this laptop will die soon so I'll post this and do some more later.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

More pics and a news link

Autopsy 'surprise' pudding

Passer by wants to enter the Tombola

Corrie & Kimbra

Passer by wins the Tombola

Kimbra finds the lost the tin opener

Alex - Kimbra - Corrie

Should have gone to SpecSavers (note can of crew beater)

Dead reckoning

Safety briefing - use of the fire extinguisher

Put out more flags

The Nav Station

The Cone of Silence


News link
News Link 2

Some pics

I will try to do a sort of wrap up blog in the next couple of days - McQ and K leave for other parts today and I've got a boat to fix and apply TLC to - then we'll lift her out and put her away for the winter.  Almost caught up with sleep - and the relief of actually being here is beginning to take hold. Yay!

Thanks everyone for your messages - wonderful that you're all out there.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Celebration at the Chainlocker -Isabella W

"Consultation? any chance of a second opinion?"

Falmouth - more pics




Alongside in Falmouth - Isabella Whitworth

Falmouth + Fizz


Just arrived from David W.

Oops


Sorry - forgot to note position. Wonderful (ugly) Dave Carne and his mates came out and towed us in the last couple of windless miles. Love ya dave! So we're here. I'm knackered - more tomoz - love yez all.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

4951 00511 The Examiner strikes again.

We seem to be stuck here off the Lizard. The tide is expected to start flowing from the west any time now but there's no sign yet and we're still being pushed back towards Canada. Not having fun and the wind is going to build from the east tomorrow. Poo. But it doesn't look like tonight for Falmouth right now. Sorry and we'll try to keep you posted.

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McQ: (Not) the Barn door...

.. still trying to get round the Lizard...
tacked out cause of land now have vmg of -4.0 knots.
No tide with us yet- surely thats been days with tide against us now, certainloy more than 6 hours
Not funny.
Want a glass of red wine today, not tomorrow.
my revised eta... tomorrow, would be nice.

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4952 00514 Barn door part 2

We've just tacked towards the Manacles from west of the Lizard. AGW, about 4 hours to them, then perhaps another 2 to the harbour. Approximate ETA on that basis around 2130 UTC - so 2230 .local, I think.

Barn door is 5 miles ahead. Can't even begin to tell you what that means.

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4955 00536 The Barn Door

That same imaginary line from The Lizard to Ushant - We can almost see it. About 2 hours, if the wind holds, and we'll be able to tack for The Lizard and Falmouth. Guesstimate still afround 1800 or later. We have to sail all the way and then into the harbour and alongside.

I'm just in mobile range - probably not for long and then back again in a couple of hours.

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Saturday, 20 September 2008

McQ: Tuna Pasta

As EVERYONE knows, any self respecting voyage is not complete until the LAST evening meal of the journey- tuna pasta- is finished. DARN tuna pasta. I cooked tuna pasta TWO nights ago. It was SUPPOSED to be the last meal on board!!! But here we are two nights later... it turned out I was a bit pre-emptive with the tuna pasta and those VICIOUS Atlantic wind gods had a good chuckle to themselves as they brought us to a standstill and dashed my optimistic hopes for a late Friday Falmouth arrival!! So here we are still fighting our way home, and I am now going for a late Sunday afternoon arrival and fish and chips in Falmouth for dinner tomorrow night now instead. Tonight WILL be the last meal I cook on board this voyage!!! It WILL!!! The only thing is there is no tuna left, so pasta pesto it is!!! Though maybe a contingency dinner would be more wise given how heeled over we are!!! Beans, with, er, beans, anyone???

I can't wait for a small, celebratory, glass of something tomorrow night!!! (It had better be tomorrow night!!!!)

I'm really hoping someone has/could communicate to my dad that we will be in Falmouth soon and I think tomorrow evening now but also sorry if he got my eta of yesterday and is dithering around Falmouth waiting for us!!! I will try and call when in phone range assuming my phone still works.

My Dave, you are THE BEST EVER. I love you!!! Believe me, going as fast as we can!! xxx

Ali, no worries, I'll be up to see you very very soon, I can't imagine you'll want to go even to South West London after my welcome home party tonight, let alone traipse all the way to South West England tomorrow, and, we WON'T still be out here monday!!!! Lots of love and CAN"T WAIT to see you, have fun tonight, sorry I'm not in attendance and please apologise but thank my other party organisers (Sally and TP) on my behalf too ;)!!! xxx

Lots of love
McQ
xxx

ps: Simon and Gail, as you know today is a very, very, very, important day- it is only 6 months exactly until my birthday!!! Oh and yes, I think someone's wedding too- ALL my congratulations to you both- sorry I missed it- believe me I would currently far rather be there than tacking round the Scillies, against current!!! Am even close enough to know you picked a nice day for it (would, of course, expect nothing less since G organised!!!) See you for celebratory champers very soon though. Lots of love to the whole family (N & M too!!!) Bol xxx

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And another thing

We sailed Pascal's dotted line and it works. Good one, Pascal and thanks for the inspiration! Still have your beer, but it's under threat. Gotta cross that line sooon!

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4950 00703 A line in the imagination

There's a line between The Lizard and Ushant, familiar to sailors down the ages. Nelson used it - can't remember the exact words, but to the effect that, once past Ushant, every sailor considers himself single, Nelson himself included, it seems. Poor Cloudesley Shovell and several hundreds of his sailors didn't quite get back there, which itself is an interesting story about notions of discipline and knowledge. World records start and end there, famous circumnavigations and Atlantic crossings too. And it marks the entrance to the English Channel. I've crossed it a few times - less that 10 times each way - but it still has enormous significance as a symbolic marker.

For us, when we cross it, as we definitely will, sometime real soon now, it marks the end of a biggish undertaking. Berri and I will have completed perhaps only the second ever circumnavigation of the world via the North West Passage, after David Cowper. We have also completed a circumnavigation via Cape Horn and Berri may be the very first boat ever to get close to claiming the two, although the claim is dubious because the two circs stared from opposite ends and share the Falmouth - Sydney leg. However, each is complete in itself. Sydney, Cape Horn, Falmouth, Sydney in 2005 and Falmouth, Sydney, NWP, Falmouth Aug 20 2005 to tomorrow? And Kimbra and McQ have a nice new line of a different sort for their CVs.

I think that I can safely say the following: Berri is, we think, the 77th boat to have completed a transit of the North West Passage, the third smallest and one of only about 25 sailing yachts. Only about half of these yachts have done it in one season. All the other vessels have been icebreakers or ice-strengthened ships. Some of these have made multiple trips - 14 is the record so far, I think - so our transit was the 114th since Amundsen in 1903-5. We are probably the only vessel ever to have sailed from Sydney to the UK via the NWP (Fine Tolerance may have beaten us to it) and we are the first Australian boat to have done it in one season and without icebreaker assistance. Again, Fine Tolerance beat us through but they took a couple of years and I think were assisted by an icebreaker after they had abandoned the boat. I've said before how astoundingly lucky we have been - could'a easily been us.

But we still have to cross that line!

Sending this today because tomoz might get busy and a bit vortexy. Izz, there will definitely be an orange sail, but not sure which, or whether the angle will allow you to see it at the Manacles from Pendennis. And all y'all, come join us at the Harbourmaster's jetty for a bit of a celebration. My guess - very dodgy still - would be tomorrow evening, 1800 UTCish.

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4946 00718 The sitch as it seems from here

We're heading more or less for the Scillies from 34 miles west of Bishop Rock. Might just make it past them to the South on this tack or by putting in a short one when we get close in, which would get us reasonably close to the Lizard by middayish tomoz. IFF the wind holds, that is. If we can do that then we should have a flood tide from 1500 to take us the last 20 miles to Falmouth into a 20 knot ENE erly. Won't be pleasant, but wow! will it feel good to be doing it. But it all depends on the next 24 hours. If the wind knocks us about too much, then we're in the poo as far as the tide tomorrow is concerned. Cross 'em please and hold that pose!

H - and anyone else who needs it, my UK mobile will be +447816004379. We should be in range from the Lizard.

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K: Schooshling

KP - what do you mean you couldn't find any other references for "schooshling"?? The Concise Oxford told me they'd accepted my recommendation to include it. You sure you spelt it right??...Oh well...

Anyway, we're at it again - schooshling that is. My earlier optimistic view that we'd manage to stay ahead of the high pressure system was obviously overly optimistic and we had a nice park-up after all. Very frustrating when the end is almost within cooee. Now beating into a short choppy Celtic Sea, and looks like we're going to be head-bashing the rest of the way from here too. Huey's definitely making us work for it, right to the end!

We've now started to feel the effects of the tides around the south coast of the UK. This is also quite frustrating. Whenever I think we're making progress from the boatspeed and course shown on the compass/instruments on deck, half the time the GPS down below shows that we've been barely moving at all. Or worse - going backwards. But we are now definitely closer to England than Ireland.

The smog has been very thick on the horizon at sunrise the last few mornings, with the sun a sinister orangey-brown colour when it rises. And we've started to see ships again too - not as many as I would have expected given how close we are to the traffic separation schemes off the SW corner of the UK. Anyway, all signs of progress of a sort. I'm hopeful we might see some lights from some off the lighthouses tonight too.

Keep that bubbly cold, and don't drink it all before we get there. On our way - honest!!

K.

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4950 0731 For Katherine

Happys - wish I was there to administer birthday hug! Will try to call if we ever get to Falmouth. Lots of love.xx

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4957 00739 Moving again

15 knots on the nose but much much better than nowt! Heading as close to Falmouth as the wind allows, vmg currently 3+kts, 120 miles to go in a straight line.

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Friday, 19 September 2008

4937 00826 Oh the frustration!

140 to Falmouth - closing with a vmg of a nanominipooptillionth of a smidgin of a knot. No guesstimates, but sometime next century.

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Satphone relay 4932 00837 (09.30z) 19/09/08

There is very little or no wind at all. Wind is expected this afternoon. E/SE most unhelpful direction. They have a small petrol generator on board, with enough gas to give the batteries one last charge. Alex thinks that would give them 3 days power. Mind you, even wind from the wrong direction might get Lizzie spinning. He is going to contact the engineers on St Mary's to see if they have any ideas. Mcq on the other hand is predicting an eta of Saturday night/Sunday morning.
More as it arrives. Best Speedy.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Update via satphone / Isabella in Devon

Just took satphone call from Alex / Berri. Frustration palpable. Alex
asked me to post this info direct to website:

Currently parked 93 miles West Bishop Rock. No change expected 12 - 24
hours. Then expecting some easterly wind which will hit them on the
nose.
No concrete news re putting in to Scilly, or eventual ETA Falmouth.

Gonzales

Please top up both. 07816004379 is Orange, 07770776274 Vfone. Tks.

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4932 00909

Still moving but only just. All bets off! Back to satphone for updates unless things change.

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Wednesday, 17 September 2008

K: Pesky dolphins

I'm sitting here in the nav station listening to the water swish past the hull and the dolphins swim along side us. I can hear them squeaking and whistling to each other. Wonder what it is that they're saying? I was standing up on the bow earlier, doing the Titanic-pose thing, and there were 5 dolphins swimming under the bow of the boat. Every time Berri dipped her nose into a wave I could just about reach out and touch them, if they'd let me. So close in fact that I was getting splashed not by the waves but by the dolphins breathing when they surfaced. Very special. Very special indeed.

I'm going to be an optimist: I'm hoping that we can keep outrunning this high pressure system chasing us down from behind and keep Berri moving all the way to Falmouth. No park-ups allowed!! We're definitely back to pootling (ie sub-hooning and way slower than schooshling), but we're still making 5-6 kts in the right direction. So far so good, and the sailing is lovely! Sitting in the cockpit in the sun watching the world and its many dolphins go by. Maybe they could give us a tow if we need it?

K.

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McQ: Global Roast

Yesterday there were lots of rainy squalls and I thought, 'There are lots of rainy squalls, we must be getting close to England' But today the sky is a clear bright, bright blue, there are a couple of puffy clouds far off in the distance, low on the horizon, but totally benign, reflected in the sunlight to look as if someone with greasy fingerprints has been smudging the bottom of my pristine sky-blue canvas!! The wind is easing, easing all the time but we are still moving, and not too far off the right direction (a little south of Bishop Rock) We are somewhere between hooning and pootling at the moment, the sea is pretty flat, a wee bit of a chop- enough to stall us should we try and take any more height, and a few sploshes over the side decks- but not enough to warrant full musto smock today!!! Just hoping we can keep carrying the wind over the next day or so and keep going towards Falmouth... as I kinda knew, as the wind eases, my pub for Friday night guessimate looks less optimistic, still hopeful though and realistic me is updating eta to saturday morning now!!!! All to play for though, still, in the Bollinger G-F race!!!

We have this big plastic tub of real coffee which we top up every so often, actually, quite frequently really, with whatever make/design/type of coffee that comes to hand, and we have all different types from American Bistro style (weak adn largely unsatisfactory on its own!!) to proper full on 100% Colombian's finest (much better!!!) Depending on the various concentrations you either need two or three spoons of coffee in the pot- and when you top up the 'global roast' its always best to start with three and always exciting to taste the latest surprise combination!!!

The best thing though is when you pour the coffee out and it looks thick and black and strong,(the pot is a one cup thermos filter mug so you can't see the coffee till you pour it out!!) but you never quite know till you taste it whether the creamy froth on top is a sign of a good cup of coffee or just the remnants of fairy liquid scum attached to the mug!!!

Lots (5 whole sugar cubes, infact) of love this morning
McQ
xxx
ps there are lots of birds about, small, unidentifiable (to me) but distinctly land based looking, I shall go wake K now so she can classify and, well, look at them I suppose!!

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4952 01133 gribbery pokery

The Plan - as far as it goes and until we change it again: there seems to be a biggish windless hole about to be sitting over the Scillies which is likely to make things quite difficult for engineless Bears to get into town. When I spoke to Officialdom about the possibility of a tow into St Mary's, there was a certain reluctance to commit but the option is definitely there, on a commercial basis. So that's the backup. The grib shows that there is a chance, if we keep some speed up and edge ourselves a few miles to the south that we will be able to keep sailing generally towards Falmouth - so that's The Plan until it changes. It would put us close to Falmouth by Saturday, but beyond that it's really difficult to predict. Could be earlier, but more likely late Saturday, early Sunday. Apologies for lack of precision - navigation is often the art of compromise and playing the uncertainties.

For the doubters - yes, Berri is definitely available if the right proposal comes along. The most interesting so far "How exciting! Sorry we can't bankroll you, but why don't you make it your next project?" Maybe, but I'd certainly like to be part of anything that does happen. Else, I'll just keep the old barge in Cat 1 condition for as long as I can afford to or until one or the other of us falls off the twig.

We're almost in the Celtic Sea again. Can't believe it - Last time Berri was here, we were rounding the Fastnet in 2005. I can feel the voibes and smell the Kilkenny - where are you Conor? Sadly, we're just a bit too far south for any of that malarkey.

Izz, I think it's time for Sublime Thoughts. If you have time amongst other more pressing matters, cd you pse get on to the Energy, Mines, Resources Canada website and try to download the North Circumpolar Chart MCR 4141 from their National Atlas of Canada, 5th Ed. I tried in Nuuk but didn't have the bandwidth. (atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/ 5th Ed reference Maps MCR 4141 perhaps - my notes are a bit cryptic.) I'd like to get it printed full size if I can find someone to do it, or else order one from Canada.

Victor - Taupo Radio broadcast pretty much all the time - See ALRS - and I hear them on 6224 mcs. Callsign Taupo radio.

For the ABC - we might be in mobile range by Friday evening UTC but iffy. You'll have to call me - I don't know whether either of my sims has credit on it and anyway I don't have a number to call you. +4407770776274 or +447816004379.

Hoonster - gather methane while ye may! Hope the project proceeds sheeplessly iaw plan. Glad you got to speak to H. I agree absolutely!

Love yez all!

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Google Earth updates

Just at present I'm unable to update G.earth. Back on air hopefully friday.
Speedy.

4956 01158

I'm a weary old fart. This sort of sailing, where we have to sail in very difficult weather conditions against seasonal deadlines and in complicated terrain with extra hazards like ice and fog is pretty stressful and Berri and I have been in a sort of survival sync probably since leaving Dutch and certainly since Nome. When the whole shebang depends on the planning and preparation that was done months ago, the focus sharpens a bit. As I have said before. we've been astonishingly astoundingly lucky, with the weather, the ice and the advice we have been given. We seem to have got it mostly right, and, as Pat said in one of his blogs, it makes for a boring story apart from the wonderful people we have met along the way, and all y'all out there cheering us on. Thanks everyone. The weight only really started to come off for me yesterday morning when I pulled in a grib file that showed no signs of another beasting between here and Falmouth. By far the worst bit of all for me, and I suspect for the others, has been since we left Greenland - more or less what I had been afraid of since we started to plan this gig. September is pushing our luck in the North Atlantic and - again - we were lucky.

We'll be even luckier if we make Falmouth by Friday - the decision whether to go for it or pull into the Scillies for an engine fix will be made probably within sight of Bishop Rock, if the wind lets us get that close.

MJC - pse tell Melanie journo that my local mobile will be either +447816004379 or +447770776274 depending which still has some credit on it. Failing either, Oz mobile number might work or message via website.

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McQ: tactical decision time for the competitiors in the Bollinger Greenland Falmouth Race

Ladbrokes/William Hill/ Paddy's/ Your local betting shop would be having a field day with this one- its 221 miles to Bishoop Rock, plus 49 to the Lizard plus 20 to Falmouth which is less than 300 till champagne!!! We are zooming along in the right direction at about 6 knots at the moment, so that would get us to Falmouth in the not too distant future!! HOWEVER, we are being chased (aaargh!!) by a big phat high... which will slow us down, if not stop us, then we have the tides to contend with, no wind and no engine and 3knots tide againt us at the Lizard if we time it wrong (if we are indeed in a position to time it at all!!) we go backwards (and we know how much I hate going backwards!!!)
So... if we can ghost on through the high with the big A-sail up like the past few days, and then not get stuffed by tide (I think we need to be at hte Lizard 2pm ish or 12 hours later) then Friday evening a vague possibility, otherwise, and more likely saturday morning or afternoon, especially with minimal wind and no Ernie to help or sometime loong after that if we find ourseloves drifting aimlessly near the scillies in a few days time with no wind, we may still go in to pause/reflect/and fix there...... either way, this Bollinger Greenland Falmouth race (which I entered us into last week, but fortunately exists only in my head!!!) looks an exciting tactical one... and it must be nearly time for me to start getting excited too!!!
.. and enjoy the last few days of Atlantic Ocean!!
Lots of nearly there love
McQ
xxx
ps I'd very much like it if one (or more, but one would be fine)of my friends could make it to Falmouth to welcome me in!! Thanks!!

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K: The Brolga spreads her wings and flys!

Since yesterday's dawn kite-drop we have been fairly schooshling along on a tight reach towards the UK. Truly exhilarating sailing & fast enough to keep our escort of pesky dolphins interested. Yea ha! And yes, schooshling is a real word - it's the sound the sea makes as it slides past the boat hull when you're going really fast. Let's hope we can keep schooshling fast enough so that the high pressure system behind us doesn't catch-up too quickly and we can keep this wind for a bit longer.

A couple of milestones. Firstly, Happy Birthday Mare-Bare!! As expected, we haven't quite made landfall in time, but I hope the pressie from Cambridge Bay arrived. Will see you real soon now with bottle of red in hand, so keep that Aussie pub rock karaoke CD handy! (Ray may want to arrange a game of golf that day.)

Secondly, Lizzie's been whizzing frantically all day and both batteries are now back to 100% charge. Yay.

And finally, we're now starting to "climb" up the edge of the continental shelf out of the Atlantic Ocean and into the Celtic Sea. A week ago when we were getting hammered by those big low pressure systems, it felt like this day would never come! Depth under the keel is currently around 2.3 km. By this time tomorrow it should be 100-150 as we pass south of Ireland. I can smell the Guinness brewing from here...or is that just the collective fermenting of damp thermals & used socks?

Cheers!

K.

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Tuesday, 16 September 2008

5006N 01351 W

5006N 01351 W289 Bishop RockAbout 300 west of ScilliesCurrently stonking along, but all could change. Might go on to Falmouth if current stonk continues, which could just possibly mean a Friday evening Falmouth arrival.

5012 01512

Just dropped the kite in the middle of what is becoming the longest week of my life at the end of the longest and loneliest and most intense six months since I first went to boarding school in England nearly 60 years ago. Wow! And there's a whale around - wonder if it's the same one Pete and I saw in Biscay in 2005.

Trying to pull in a grib - Lizzie now has enough apparent wind to charge the battery again - one less problem - and we can use the computer. 345 to bishop rock so a bit under 3 days AGW. We'll decide what we're going to do as we close in - might still press on th Falmouth if the wx window seems open. Else, a day or so in St Mary's.

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Monday, 15 September 2008

Satphone relay 5108 01751 (08.10z) 15/09/08

433 miles to run to the Scillies. Around 4 days. Still not enough wind for Lizzie, so everything down to glow-worm level. More as it arrives.
Best, Speedy.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Satphone relay 09.00z 14/09/08

They've got the kite up. Though not enough wind to run Lizzie. So satphone until there is.
Best Speedy.

For Pat Hahn

Yo Pat! - I know it's fanciful, but if you could hop on a plane to Falmouth and help us celebrate an achievement that you had a huge part in creating it would be more than kinda nice. Bring some of that new brew - and just think, you could go bother Megan in Germany on the way!

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5148 02132 Stages of the moon

Some of you may remember my Bering Sea sunset, between the superpowers and behind the Diomedes - dramatic and beautiful and there was the moon setting it all off on the opposite end of the northern horizon.

Just like tonight, but without the drama and at the almost opposite side of the Earth. Gentle sunset behind a bank of wispy cloud low in the west - pale pale pinkish sky - and the moon hanging above the eastern horizon as a tissue paper disc almost invisible in the ambient light. An hour or so later, the eastern sky was a deep bluish grey and the moon had turned golden - blue and gold in the night sky - brilliant light and only one visible star directly above. Golden reflection on the still steepish rolling waves - unusual and striking.

And now it's all gone normal silver again, with misty glow - not a halo - and some first mag stars just visible. Wow! Crumpled tinsel reflections and birds in silhouette.

Hoonster man - any chance you could join us for an ale in St Mary's?? Else, if you don't make Falmouth, I'll come a looking once I've sorted Berri's winter arrangements there. Won't fly out for at least a couple of weeks, maybe a month, depending. Then, maybe, I will deliver some carefully preserved beer to Pascal to celebrate inspiration and initiative. Impossible that this entire idea has come together and almost gone in less than a year - this time last year I was working on the LSU Symposium presentation and funking standing on my back legs with Pete in front of all those super achievers.

Ain't life odd?

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McQ: Marvellous!!...onward to the North West Passage (!!!)

Well, if I had a runcible spoon I'd definitely be able to eat with it tonight!! The ocean under the moon is a really bright sparkly silver. Infact there is so much light that despite the stars too it feels more day than some of the days we have over the recent days!!! It is very, very lovely!!! And its 20 past 11 in the evening and I was expecting the wind to have eased of to around fifteen knots around now, from the last grib we had, so its also a bonus that we are still storming along in 18-20knots of breeze... even more lovely!!!

And so it seems we are off to the Scillies- a wise move I think, since we are passing close by anyway and we can get the engine fixed and time things into Falmouth for fans/paparazzi/tides at Lizard/daylight/winning ETA comps etc, and if we mis- time then we will hopefully have a working engine to help us re-time...

So, with 595 miles to the Scillies (funnily enough we have to go through the 'North West Passage' if we attempt to go in from this side!!! Ironic or what??) thats less than a Fastnet or a Hobart!!!!

Marvellous!!!

SO ETA for Scillies this week sometime (Wed? Thurs?) and ETA for Falmouth, probably Sunday afternoon, or maybe Saturday afternoon... or maybe another day totally, we shall see!!!

Lots of love
McQ
xxx
PS I am very much looking forward to my welcome home dinner in the Three Chimneys, hint hint mum!!!
pps mum again, I will wave at all the planes overhead tomorrow and hopefully you will wave back!! xxx

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Saturday, 13 September 2008

5202 02229 St Mary's here we come.

Been looking at the options and as we will be passing so close to the Scillies, it would be silly to pass up the opportunity to call into St Mary's, get the donk fixed, have a beer and leave so as to get to Falmouth in daylight. So that's the plan, but as you all know, most plans don't survive the first contact with the enemy - in this case the Examiner - so we'll wait and see. We're about 6 days out from the Scillies.

Paul and Ellen - yep, the first S2H that Berri will not be in in 14 years - could get her back in time but way beyond my budget. Might be back to do it myself if anyone will take on an old fart with no sense whatever. And if my family don't have other ideas.

I have always thought that Orion is upside down down under, Susie. His belt and no doubt other goodies aren't supposed to hang upwards. At least, the Greeks didn't think so!

Steve and Kelly - thanks for being there. Steve, I'd like to return your silver dollar with another notch in its belt, so to speak - you can then put it to better use yourself perhaps. It has done us proud, Please send me your address.

Carla - likewise with Lerizhan - but I have your address. He should be on the handlebars in Nome when you claim that drink. But you'll have to barge the bike in from somewhere...

Love yez all.

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5207 02249 Does anyone have any suggestions?

As a decrepit Old Fart, it is likely that I will not have enough income to maintain Berrimilla properly for very much longer. I would hate to see her falling apart on a mooring and would really like her to be used in the manner to which she has become accustomed. I could just sell her at whatever the market will allow for an ageing historical artifact, but I would much rather try to arrange for some sort of future introducing people to ocean sailing. This would require capital and organisation. She does not have the cachet of a Gypsy Moth V, but something along those lines perhaps, and preferably in Australia but I'd go for anywhere that had the right approach. Is there anyone out there with a brilliant idea? Or a tax problem or just feeling generous? Berri has a lot of my life's savings tucked into her tumblehome and although I would like to be able to, I just can't afford to give her away. Old Farts need Medicinal Compound to keep going and it has to be funded somehow!

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5213 02410

Still moving tho wind softening. All ok, more later. Going for early grib.

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Friday, 12 September 2008

5230 02558 Engine part 2

When we get to fixing the little beast, I'm going to try to find a suitable non-return valve to put in the exhaust line between the engine and the muffler - or just a simple shut-off valve, but that would require a special stating procedure - no key until valve open...

Blog - silly word - je blog, tu blogs, il blog, nous bloggons, vous bloggez, ils bloggent? Bloggo, bloggere, bloggi, blogitum??

Realistically, Saturday 20th or later....

All y'all have no idea how I'm looking forward to that day.

Izz - have met but not yet tasted Betty's fat finger. Poor Betty! Japanese thoughts to await more sublime time.

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McQ: Goodbye Lucille, hello whale fish

I did spell Casseopoeia for K but I did have an inkling that she might have stopped listening to me when I pointed out some 'well known' other Northern Hemisphere constellations... (the orangutang, the sizzling frying pan, the pineapple)

I spent way too much time faffing about at the mast with the trisail last night and am officially wet. the insides of my oiies are now wet, which means the outside of my midlayers are wet, which means the insides of the cats meow are wet too... all a bit unsatisfactory really, but yes, I take full responsibility for it all since attempting the extremely brazen act of changing my socks yesterday. (they are sort of dry-ish- praise be to the hefty ziplocs!!)

Talking of extrememly brazen things... I was climbing into my bunk earlier just as Big A was climbing out of his, and he said, 'You know McQ, this might just be our last full Friday on board,' Of course I immediately berated Big A for voicing such a statement, but I have to admit that I had just been looking at tides for the Lizard and Falmouth next week and I did start with Friday... unfortunately to catch the tide at the Lizard though (and without Ernie, we need the tide with us) we need to be there by about 2pm, so I think its pretty unlikely, maybe maybe 12 hours later though...

But weather wise, things look alright, the southerlies blew themselves through pretty quick last night- there we are storming over waves, upwind, trisail, pitch black and then off to starboard, at about 3.30am, the horizon became clear and you could see the definite black line of the end of the stuff we were in, I watched and waited and hoped and hoped that was it, and it was!!! The wind veered, the stars came out and we kept storming along, only downwind and much, much less howly!!

Its been pretty consistent since, as expected, top 20's to mid 30's, sometimes a touch more, about half the headsail out. Sea is fine really, bit of a swell, occasional biggie and a slightly awkward angle but working WITH Kevvo and not fighting him, we can cruise over most of them!! This looks set till the middle of the night then should start to ease overnight and i reckon we'll be close to wallowing by tomorrow afternoon... Might be able to eek out the wind by coming up on the light SW's and creating some apparent, probably not enough for Lizzie though so have made water into all containers I can find, so thats one less thing to wear her down over the next couple of days if she doesn't have enough wind to go. (And Big A's been charging EVERYTHING too, so we should be ok) And then theres a bit of a low to keep an eye on for a few days time, that we might get some northerlies from... and then, fingers crossed, some NW's or W's again and we'll be storming on to Falmouth again in no time!!!

Oh, and I finally got 'Lucille' out of my head only to be replaced with the perhaps less tuneful 'Whale Fish' song!!

Lots of love and a very elastic Friday 19th ETA...
McQ
xxx

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K: Socks

It's Corrie's fault this time. She changed her socks yesterday and guess what? Yep, got blasted last night by a southerly front. C & I got the trisail up at our 2300 watch change over, then we got pounded until just before dawn. Very wet and lumpy On the bright side, the water is now a tropical 13.8 deg C, I'd hate to think what that front would have been like in teh 5 deg C Davis Strait. Ungh. Thank you Gulf Stream!

The wind's swung around more to the west now, and we're stonking along in 25-30 kts with a sloppy side-on swell, but going in the right direction and going there fast. Things should continue in more or less this fashion for the best part of a day, then we're due for some really light stuff. That's probably a good thing - at this stage we're all pretty fatigued and sleep-deprived. A day going nowhere fast on a flat sea and catching up on some sleep and R&R is much needed all round.

Anyway, sun is shining, Lizzie is whizzing and we're sailing. Must be time for lunch.

K.

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5239 02720 Berri's engine problem

For anyone who might be interested - and people who design boats! Berri has a sealed fresh water cooling system that is cooled by raw water in a heat exchange on top of the engine. Raw water is pumped through a filter and anti-syphon device through the heat exchange and is mixed with exhaust gas just behind the exhaust manifold so it also cools the exhaust pipe. From the manifold, gas and water flow downhill (normally - see below!) through a muffler box, then uphill through a gooseneck and out through the transom. Some water will inevitably pool in the muffler. In heavy weather, we always put a stopper on the transom outlet to stop water being forced in by following waves.

In the recent bit of nastiness, the stopper was in and Berri was pitching through about 80 degrees and rolling through about the same with waves breaking over the stern. The pitching meant that the normal downhill slope to the muffler was reversed or at least mostly neutralised and combined with the roll, I think that water flowed back from the muffler towards the engine and in through the manifold and into any cylinder with an open valve.

When I tried to start it, the engine was seized. Conditions still awful. Modern diesels are not usually fitted with a crank and ours isn't, so - take off starter motor (really tricky, and could only get one of the two bolts back in later) and use 2 ft screwdriver to lever ring gear around, tooth by tooth. Eventually got it moving - a bit. Then try to electric start - no go, so all over again. Then, no go, take out the pre heat plugs to give direct access to each cylinder and try to turn donk to force any water out. Pour in oil through hole and wash in with WD40, replace plugs (also not easy - needs special socket, but managed to improvise) and try again. No go but at least the engine was turning over. Take off air cleaner, squirt oil into intakes to try to get it into the cylinder to seal the rings and valves. Still no start and still a sticky bit on each turn so maybe stuck valve - last heave, take off rocker cover, check all valves moving, tap with hammer, but carefully so as not to knock off rocker arm, liberal squirts of WD40. Almost almost fired but not quite. Put it all back together and do not receive banana. Consult.

Finally, pumped as much sump oil out as conditions allowed - seemed to be no water in it so hopefully, head job will fix, wherever we can get to that has facilities. Will certainly try to push on to Falmouth, but if we get stuck within range of S. Ireland, might see if we can get towed in somewhere. Unlikely because we need to get further south to stay out of the nasty wx. Conor, if you're reading this - take note! I have your mobile number.

Hoonster, will try to call you later. xx

PS - for the Kiwis and Gerry - I'm getting Taupo radio loud and clear on 6224 every day. Their transmitter must fry all the sheep within range!

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5248 02896

Trisail time in the boonies - 35 + from the SW - jagged sea, not much fun again. Wind in the rig goes from gentle swish to buzz to drone to swooshy hum to howl to shriek to... we're at swooshy hum stage. Everything wet.

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Thursday, 11 September 2008

McQ: Darn ETA's

We are sailing, we are sailing... woo hoo!!! For how long though????

It's never easy is it??? I think, from my interpreting of the most recent Grib we are likely to be battling 30 knots southerly wind by this evening (ahead of a front) and it may well build to 40 during the night- great!!! Hopefully it will build quick enough and blow through quick enough that the seas don't have a chance to go bonkers again!!! And maybe, even if we are bare poling, or close to, by the end of the night we can but hope that we are able to drive across the seas and stay reasonably close to course... if the seas do build to anything similar that we've had, we just can't afford to have them breaking on our beam and so will just have to run with it... hopefully not for long though!! And i can see myself, tonight, once again wishing for less wind, less sea, less relentlessness!!!

And, just to remind us how bad it is not to content ourselves with our lot, it looks like we're going to be in for some light stuff behind it, as the system behind stonks norh, taking the big westerlies with it!! Of course, light winds aren't so bad, we could always motor in the right direction and keep our average speed up- oh, but thats right, darn sea soaked poor Ernie and he just won't splutter back to life, despite our best efforts!!... And so it is, that in a couple of days, I expect we might be bobbing and i might be reminiscing about 40 knots of westerlies, shunting us Falmouth-ward, despite the relentlessness of bare-poling and big seas!!!!

Darn ETA's!!!!

I guess it could be worse- could be Lucille's ex and could be left with 4 hungry kids and a crop in the field...

Lots of love
McQ
xxx

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5256 02941

Had a last despairing joust with the engine. I'm afraid it's a head job and I just don't have the tools out here - valve compressors and the like - so we'll live without it for the time being. Pity.

Dave C, if you are reading this in Falmouth (Izz - cd you ring him pse?) it would be good to be able to get the engine out to fix it because I also want to change the stern gland, which leaks like a sydney shower. If he could find us somewhere to do lift it, I'd be grateful.

One more beasting - at least - to go, over night and tomoz, then maybe time to get out the kites. Keep em crossed. Red and angry hands now just pinkish so something's working.

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K: Stars

Hey Suze - this one's for you!

I've been watching the stars in between clouds over the last few nights and thought of you with the star chart out on calm nights in the Clipper race. Your favourite big lazy W has been hanging up there. I couldn't remember it's name, but knew it started with a C. All I could think of was Canopus from my celestial nav course. Luckily Corrie came to the rescue - Caseopea! Of course! (perhaps not spelt quite like that). And then there was the big cursive curve of Scorpio nearby and the dense cluster of Plaedies (again probably not spelt like that either), the Big Dipper over our left shoulders, and Orion just off our starboard bow before sunrise. Orion just doesn't look quite the same from up here as he does from home. He's not standing on his head for starters, and his belt (aka the saucepan or Tom's shopping trolley) is upside down, so everything is going to fall out!

Hope all's going well back there in Moolloolabah - lots of lovely "slips, heels & frills" sailing out here today.

K.

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5307 03034 and the bare is no longer poled

and Neptune's triple toothed snaggly denture is in its glass of dentine beside his bed - for the moment. Yay! Good to be sailing again. Reaching towards the barn door with 2 reefs and small heady. This is really just a quick update as the sun rises magnificently golden beyond the window near my head.

Speeds - we'll definitely go for Falmouth - Ireland is a nice backup option if things go pearshaped but we're almost past it anyway now and the tactic from here is still to get as far south as we can before the next system gets out its beasting stick. Please thank the CG and the lifeboatman. But for the lack of engine, I'd still be betting on getting there for the wedding but we could easily get caught by the tide at the Lizard...

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Wednesday, 10 September 2008

5340 03207 1002 miles to go

I remember the first thousand miles - off the Queensland coast somewhere. Quite a lot in between!

My take on the relentless Atlantic - constantly, uncompromisingly indifferent. 'You're here - deal with it!' Apologies if I have been frightening mums and dads of ocean sailors everywhere, but if I don't tell it as I see it, the benefit of the experience is lost. Anyway, Pete and I have been rolled in Berri twice - once south of NZ and once last year, and knocked down umpteen times. Both rolls were after constant 50 - 60 knot storms, both towards the end. Ain't nothin like that here yet. Or forecast, I hope! I remember the NZ wave pattern vividly and it has been repeated here several times on a smaller scale - there are triple waves - one very big one followed immediately and really closely by another with the face sucked out of it by the first, so it stands vertical, concave and breaking, followed again really closely by the third which is just Big and breaking. It's the second one that gets you and the NZ one was perfectly formed and mesmerisingly beautiful as it reared above us - sunlight shining through it, diamond flecks along the breaking crest, brilliant translucent blue-green. And, in retrospect, how relatively small it was and how easily it rolled us. And then I remember holding on to the shrouds as the boat came down the wave on top of me. Fun, but the point is that there is often a pattern to the really dangerous stuff and if you recognise it and manage to catch the first one, it's possible sometimes to take the next two as well.

Still a bit grim here - 35 knot gusts, biggish breaking waves and the occasional mini triple toothed nasty. But only about 10 days to go, AGW and as my extra good mate Gerry FitzGerald always tells the SSSC classes we teach together, every weather system blows itself out sometime... This one will too, I hope in time to give us a nice gentle pootle through the barn door. Meantime,I have wounded hands from fighting the engine yesterday and they are going red and nasty. Betadine followed by lashings of industrial lanoline to try to keep them as dry as possible - which, of course, isn't!

Speeds - please try to email the co-ordinates and also the phone number for the Valencia CG - I think we will be ok for power for a bit anyway.

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K: Messages in bottles & hazard tape dinners...

Well, we're at it again - bare poling across the Atlantic. Bounce, roll, bounce, slosh, slide, roll, lurch, sper-lash! Corrie may need a thesaurus to find another word for relentless but couple come to mind for me: persistent and never ending for starters! I wonder if we should make a record attempt at being the first boat to cross the Atlantic entirely under bare poles?? Reckon we might be in with a chance!

Which brings me to the message in a bottle. I now fully sympathise with all those messages that have ever been tossed into the ocean in bottles - this must be exactly what it feels like for them! OK, so Berri's slightly bigger than your average bottle, but when you're down in the cabin and the outside world is blocked out with the storm-boards, the analogy seems pretty apt.

Apart from minor disasters like the End of Ernie the Engine, yesterday was a pretty good day. The wind and seas died down and we actually got a chance to sail for a few hours in the afternoon. Real, proper sailing where you steer the boat and trim the sails and can leave the stormboards out for the bit and don't have to worry about going A over T down a wave if your boatspeed is more than 5 kts. The sort of sailing where the objective is actually to see if you can go fast! It was fun. So much fun in fact that I remembered why I like sailing. I celebrated this grand occurrence with a change of socks and undies. But, as anyone who has ever put-on dry socks on a boat will know, that's the best way to ensure that you're going to get really wet again really soon. So here we are bare poled. My fault. Sorry.

The latest food fad on board with this weather is a "hazard-tape dinner", which could otherwise be called an "advanced contingency dinner". Basically, it means leftovers. But as we don't have anywhere nice and stable to leave leftover beans or curry or whatever until the next day, we've been leaving it in the pot and taping the lid on with hazard tape to make sure we get to eat the food, not wear it. The next night, the chef of the day simply un-tapes and heats. Works well, but after 10 years in engineering where hazard tape is used a warning that there's something, well, hazardous, it's a bit disconcerting to keep seeing a pot sitting on the stove all taped up with stripy warning tape! Makes me think something radioactive is stewing away in there...

Anyway, I'm going to bounce and roll and lurch my way towards my bunk. Cheers for now.

K.

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McQ: Stop press- Bollinger Viciousness Scale Updates

Latest Amendments to the BVS
(Apologies if there is some repetition from the last lot!!!)

Baffin Bay: vicious vicious
Davis Strait: vicious
Labrador Sea: vicious vicious
North Atlantic: vicious vicious vicious
Faraday Seamounts: vicious
North Atlantic Low Pressure System: vicious vicious vicious vicious
Mediterranean Sea: Ooooh, one imagines, warm and un-vicious
Bowhead Whale chasing us down a wave: vicious
Bowhead Whale chasing us down a wave with his mouth open: I porobably wouldn't be here to tell you how vicious such an occurance would be
Icebergs: vicious, doubly vicious at night, triply vicious at night with no visibility, where upon they take on titanic viciousness proportions
Swimming Polar Bears: Not nearly as vicious as you might imagine, despite being only about 5 metres away
Kelly: Less vicious than hot hand warmers, in fact, she'd be top of the Bollinger Delightful Scale, should such a thing exist!
Salt Water: vicious in socks, even more vicious in Ernie the Engine
Cold hands and toes: vicious
Crate of Bollinger Champers on the dock in Falmouth: Oh how un-vicious that would be...

Lots of love
McQ
xxx
ps FF: Darn you, darn you, darn you, if you hadn't asked for an ETA, my brain wouldn't have started thinking about it and I wouldn't have calculated an optimistic 18th Sept and then the engine wouldn't have seized this morning (water, NOT the starter motor!!) in the light winds!!!
I am reverting to my original, 22nd September ETA now!!!

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Update 10/09/08 10:00 Z

Satphone from Alex: 1000 miles to run to Bishop's rock. 30 - 35 Kts big lumpy sea, very wet but all's well. Engine still in past tense. So much conservation of power.
Suggested going into port in SW Ireland. Will liaise with Valentia CG for best place to head for and send co-ordinates. More as it arrives.
Best, Speedy.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Update

Okay, just had a satphone from Alex. They are conserving electrical power and allowing 24 hours for the battery to re-charge from the the wind generator. Valentia Coastguard, is aware of their situation and position and I've passed on all the details they requested. Alex will contact me every 24 hours by satphone and I'll update as messages arrive. Everyone back on the ceiling.
That's all, best Speedy.

More BerriTelli!

Captain's Bay - Dutch Harbour.
Commentary by Alex. Copyright Berrimilla 2008.

Engine problems 5443 03515

Just spoken to Alex on satphone. The engine has packed up (ingress of water) it may or may not start again. There is no need to panic. The most important thing is battery power. Lizzie (the wind generator) is still going strong. But there will have to be some conservation of power. As we know they've plenty of wind. Updates to the blog may be sporadic and satphone messages will be relayed via the radio room (here). A bit of forward planning. Should the engine not start again, Berri is going to need a tow into Falmouth (UK). Present position leaves around 1150 NM to run. So let's say 8 - 10 days to go based on average of 5kts sog (dependent on weather of course). Any volunteers to get a tow on standby? There will be no salvage rights! Look forward to hearing from you, please use the 'contact' link on the website. And remember; Alex is heading for familiar waters. The last leg is half of the Fastnet Race and he's done that a lot. I will alert Falmouth & Valentia Coastguards as things progress.
That all. Best Speedy.

Monday, 8 September 2008

McQ: If I had a thesaurus...

.. then I would learn a new word for 'relentless', apart from I don't so you'll have to wait till I get home to my library!!
Did I mention its pretty relentless out here?? hmmm, yes, thought so!!!
Just been on watch and watching the waves: K said the other day (or perhaps yesterday, the way time spins out here!!) that it was pretty spectacular from the top of the waves: well its also pretty spectacular, in a slightly more deranged way, from the bottom of the waves too!!! Its kinda mesmerising having a lot of wave bearing down behind you or rising up ahead of you, with the bits in the middle at either side all churned up lumpy sea!!! Then, looking back from the top of the wave the ocean is streaked, as far as the eye can see, with white frothy breaking crests in seemingly random lines. And then the wind builds and the froth gets blown down the wave in little trickles- I was thinking I have never seen anything like it before, but then I thought, its just our perspective cause Wee B is so little, everything else is magnified. Little we may be, but I can't think of a more secure little boat that I'd rather be in out here. Sure, I'm glad its not blowing 50 knots but I do think Wee Berri would still cope admirably: its definitely Big A, K and I that would break first!!! And we are still bare poled, and storming along at over 5 knots in the windy bits and down the big waves- whilst it would be immensely fun to have some sail up and be surfing down these monsters, I think its wise to leave that to when we are on board the Volvo's of this world!!! Without a doubt this is the right 'sailplan' for us in this ocean as it is at the moment!!!
Bring on Falmouth- eta, v (irrationally??) optimistic, late 18th (!!!)reasonable optimistic, 19th, realistic- 20th, bit pessimistic, 21st onwards: current dtg 1157 to Bishop Rock + 60 to Falmouth, and according to GPS, vmg 0.6(!!!) to 9.3(!!!) knots!!!! (Say average 4-5)
Lots of love
Bol
xxx
ps FF: Superb effort!!! Congratulations!!! knew you could beat those dastardly Pen Azen-ers, WELL DONE!!! I can't wait to hear all about it and swap tales in LF- we might be there a while!! ;)
pps: don't panic, mum (and K's mum), its not life-threatening out here & cockpit draining fine, all just a bit... well... relentless!!!

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Alex's article: "Dismasted! The lessons Learnt"

To the right of this message in the links column is a link to this piece.
Yachting World, were the publishers and have pulled out all the stops to allow us to reproduce it here. For which many thanks. Please go out and buy a copy.
Best Speedy.

5533 03723 Iagtu

With apologies to Francis Chichester. I have just been sitting on the floor listening - again, Michael! - to the diesel sloshing around in the tank and the symphony of the wind in the rig and Berri's quirky grammar. While there, I was able to Consult intensively with my (currently) favourite shrink, Dr. Carl S. Berg, known to his mates as Pachy. I have invested in another six consultations with him and I am confidently expecting him to cure me of the silly notion that sailing is fun.

Meantime, I agree with McQ - while relentless, it looks generally favourable for the next week. Simon, I understand that you read this drivel. I'm offering the staggering odds of 11/8 on that I will be able to deliver an alcohol and nicotine deprived and generally slightly feral McQueen to a spot close to you by the Appointed Time. She may arrive with matted hair and rotting toes in their plastic bags but arrive I think she will. I would like you to try to shorten the odds by negotiating with the Examiner to ensure that the weather stays as the grib says it will - more or less behind us - or, of course, improves - and we can blast through the barn door with nothing on the nose. And when she gets there, I have no doubt that you will attend to the deprivations and the toes.

The Falmouth to-do list is huge, just like last time, but this time it doesn't have the same urgency - no Fastnet and no second half of the world - yet! Dave, are you still in business? Need some stuff.

Pat H - how's the brew? Haven't forgotten you, just been a bit busy.

Pascal, thanks for message and kind words. You started this, you fink - and I still have your beer - sitting on it as I write - so may be able to deliver soonish. Pity it won't be to HMP. Has Dr Grunsfeld been up to carve another notch on the Hubble yet.

Bare poling again and I have to go on deck.

2 hours later - 5528 03706 - I've seen big waves before and some of these are very big - and breaking. 30 - 35 knots in the harbour is trivial but out here, blowing for days on end and from different directions, it can be life threatening. Pete and I saw a lot worse going into Cape Horn and south of Africa but this is still pretty nasty. Cockpit full of water once and we've only got one of the big drains working because the other has lost its venturi so it takes for ever to drain.

Lost the feed from the gps to the computer about a month ago (probably a connection) - backup is a USB version taped to the underside of the coachroof direct into the laptop - and now we've lost the main gps - I suspect because water has got into the aerial, which is on the pushpit about 2 metres above the water.

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McQ: Better a bad day on the water than a good day in the office...

.. I think thats what they say on a monday morning in the real world, isn't it?? Only I think it refers to a weekend of racing badly round the cans and not the relentless weekend we've had in the middle of the North Atlantic!!!! I do keep reminding myself that this is still miles better than photocopying!!!! (Or red dots)

Things are all good out here though, bobbing/hooning over a gigantic atlantic thoroughly confused sea, with not enough headsail out for 20knots, perfect amount for 30 knots and a touch too much for 38 knots... and the wind is going through this cycle continuously so thats why sometimes we hoon, other times we bob!!! (that and Kevvo's DUI driving are giving us a vmg anywhere between 1 and 7 knots!!!) We are going the right way though and the gribs for the next few days should help shunt us in the right direction too!!! (looks like we might even get a bit of a breather from the 30+ knots tonight/tomorrow- which is good cause we are almost in to the 'contingency, contingency dinners'!!!)

Last time I crossed the North Atlantic, it was Halifax to Jersey at the same time of year and it is as relentless this time as I remember from last time!!! I remember being so overwhelming elated to get to Jersey and ever since Jersey has held a very special fond place in my heart!! Well, Falmouth is looking set to become a similarly loved port!!

Anyway, and most importantantly, K made pocket warmers for breakfast!!! And its getting a bit lurchy here in the nav station so I think its time to start eating my pocket warmers before they get squished in my pockets!!!

Hope you are all having a good monday morning too!!!
Lots of love
Warm Pocketed McQ
xxx

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Alex's article

Hi Folks, I'm trying to gain access to the article Alex referred to. I'll let you know how it goes.
Best, Speedy.

5539 03058 Update

Looks as if it will be pretty relentless out here for the next week or so. Enjoy your armchairs!

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To avoid any more confusion........

Berrimilla; is heading for Falmouth in the UK.

Best Speedy.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

5614 03944 Jabberwonky

So much to say and so little time - memories of bare poling were not happy ones - anyone who has read the Yachting Monthly article I wrote about our rather messy roll off Gabo Island 18 months ago will perhaps understand why - anyone who hasn't and wants to, apply to His Honour the Speedy and I'll tell him how to access a copy from my Picasa web page. And once you know for certain that you are highly vulnerable in certain conditions, when those conditions re-occur, you get a bit edgy! Last night - inteeeerminable night - saw me rather edgy! I even prepared a grab bag. And once again, Kevvo saved the day - or the night.

Bare poling, for the nautically challenged,is an extreme form of sailing in high winds, where you take down all sail, lash everything that can be lashed, sort your halyards and deck, stow everything that can become a lethal weapon down below and hoon off downwind as fast or as slowly as you think is safe, either hand steering or in the control of a wind vane autopilot. The problem is to keep the boat going slowly enough so that it doesn't take off from the tops of huge breaking waves and surf down them with a bow wave that's still rising as it passes the cockpit. Stomach churning stuff, because it's what happens at the bottom of the wave that governs your comfort level for the rest of your life.

Carla - glad you're safe - Carolyn and Andrew - yep!, everyone else - g'day and thanks for your messages - lovely to have His Onner back on the job.

Toes - mine are not complaining, cos they've got their cosy Sitka Slippers (brown Bering Sea fisho's wellies) to keep them dry. Not always warm, but so far dry. But then there haven't been 800 submarine foredeck sail changes this time. While I really don't like furlers, they do have some advantages!

Lots more but I must get into party gear and go on watch.

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K: May we live in interesting times...

Interesting times indeed! Also very bouncy, lurchy, damp and uncomfortable. As I write this, Kevo and his accompaniment of big bad waves have just launched Alex's pot noodles over the side and into the Atlantic. That's the last time I make him noodles to eat in the cockpit! Corrie is wrestling with the stove and tins of food to cook a "contingency dinner", but the chances of success seem so improbable that she's doing more giggling than cooking.

Well, it ain't got no flatter out here. Winds aren't too bad - only 30-40 kts, which in a bigger boat would be no probs. However the sea state is making things challenging with a boat Berri's size. The view from the top of the waves is spectacular, but also a bit unnerving when you know that there's another wave equally as big behind that has yet to be successfully negotiated, and then another, and another, and another to more than I have the patience to count to.

After Corrie and I both ended up swimming in the cockpit after getting knocked sideways by breaking waves we've gone into "night mode". Bare poles, heading SSE at about 4 kts, with Kevo driving. Seems to be going well so far, but Kevo does like to throw the odd bucket of ocean in your face when you least expect it. Anyway, on we plod.

Think "south" thoughts for us y'all!

Love to all,

K.

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McQ: There are no words fitting for a title today

So after a night of storming down enormous waves at 5-6 knots bare poled in 35-44 knots of wind, it is now morning, the sun is out but it makes no difference: the wind is still howling, lizzie is still howling, (I feel like howling!!) the sea is still howling and phenomenal, a huge great swell coming from astern with another set coming in on our port quarter, these separate wave sets inevitably meet with a great crash just over the top of us. there is a really confused sea too on top of the swell too- it is definitely starting to ease all round though- no longer are the breaking crests (and there are lots of them) being blown away skywards in great clouds of salty spray. but I think this nasty sea will be with us for a bit yet... and I just looked at a new grib that has another low pressure system coming through underneath us and unless it blows through a little bit quicker we may well get stuck in NEasters on top of that too!!! Brilliant!!! SO- fingers crossed everyone, that it blows ahead of us and we can duck round behind it!!!
Did I mention that everything is soggy and damp and my toes have gone into full sulk mode and are now refusing to communicate with me, totally. Since I now have my fluffy (soggy) insole poking out the front of my left waterlogged boot, I guess its understandable.
Bring on Falmouth!!
Lots of love
McQ
xxx

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Saturday, 6 September 2008

5713 04230 Not having fun part 3

While we're certainly south of the worst of this little doozy, what we've gor it 35 - 40 and reaqlly big waves, now coming around to the beam as the wind changes. Poo!

For Peter Semotiuk, if you're out there Peter - a sign off for the time being - massively grateful for all your help and I'll be in touch if the Examiner lets us ever get to Falmouth. Please pass on regards to Gary and the others and our besgt wishes for safe passages. Tried to ring you on the satphone - can hear Gary pretty well but not you on the early sked, missed the later one - sorry.

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BerriTelli is now on the air!


Yes folks BerriTelli is here. More clips will be added as soon as I can edit them.
Best Speedy.

5739 04333 Things to report

What a dull header! First, I think we are clear of the worst of this particular Examination Question. The troops and I seem to disagree pretty fundamentally about the interpretation of grib files, but that's my view and I stand to be chastised by 40 knots if I'm wrong. Worse has happened! Meantime, I'll touch wood! Simon, thanks for all that good info. And if we're really lucky we might just hook into the top of a high behind this low. A bit like the southern ocean where you try to get into the bottom of the highs and the tops of the lows - here it's the reverse but the principle holds. And at last we have passed the longitude of Kap Farvel so I think we're in the Atlantic proper. The Doctor from Copenhagen shall be Consulted later.

Second - grim nights they may have been but there have been some wonderful moments that stand in the memory - twice in the most awful woolly foggy windy cold horizonless gloom as we snailed past Farvel with frozen toes, the clouds have opened and there were the Great Bear and Polaris bright and shining up there - first time, up off Qaqortoq, Polaris was dead astern, and last night he was on the port quarter, just where I want him. Beautiful bright moments, both. Then there were the birds - in the murky grot, Berri's masthead lights cast coloured segments of reflection and we had light green seabirds floating in the soft flossy mist to starboard one night - eerie, ghostly, lovely. Probably Arctic Terns from their calls but might have been Fulmars. Then, there's a dotty Fulmar that's been following us for - it seems - days. Flies along beside us, lands in the water roughly abeam and looks expectantly at us as we sail on into the boonies and he takes off again and does it all over. Some birds never learn. And the Guillemot that landed beside us one day - came in with wings fluttering, full flap and undercarriage down for the perfect deadstick landing - and then folded it all in 6 inches from the water and nosedived - fun.

And signs of humans again - lots of aircraft during the n9ght and a warship on the horizon this morning. Right now we are hooning along with poled out headsail, no main, in about, 25 - 30 knots, more or less steady, sea rising but manageable, heading roughly for Falmouth. Low, fluffy clouds in banks and blobs scurry past and there's sunshine and blue sky - yesss! - in between.

We need to be in Falmouth by 1500 on the 20th so McQ can get to Simon's wedding. Even money at this stage with just a shade towards the positive. Keep em crossed please.

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Friday, 5 September 2008

5836 04550 Roughly the top of Scotland

And the Examiner has switched on the fan and she's standing beside her reeking pile with shovel at the ready. Late this evening for the front, I think and then we see what we get behind it. I can remember being profoundly grateful to see only 50 knots on the anemometer down in the southern ocean - remember those nights Pete? Would Montevideo never pass? - but now I confess to cringing a bit. We've had it too easy so far and I've lost that edge. We have 2 slightly conflicting forecasts at the mo - one nasty, the other a bit softer, so I'm hoping.

Awful watch for me too last night - really grim night and McQ has used all the words already so I won't try. But, AGW, only about 15 more like it...

H & K tks for msg - H, all the best for the UK and Malta and my love to your Dad.

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McQ:The demon waltzer...

Last night's night watch was awful, maybe the worst ever!!! no visibility, dark, raining, lightning, building wind on the nose and being headed too, current against us... and the sea was terrible, I could only think of it like going to the fair and going on the waltzers, except THAT is fun, getting spinny head and giggling!!! This was evil demon twin of the waltzers, Heath, you would have HATED it: the one that doesn't spin but is slightly wonky on its bearings and just lurches round in all dimensions, leaving your brain behind. And the lightning every so often strobe lighting the sky for not-quite-long-enough to scan the whole horizon for ice before being plunged back into darkness was just evil!!! Not fun at all, unless I guess you were a professor in Naval Architecture Dynamics in which case trying to analyse the forces on wee Berri from that bonkers sea would have kept you busy for a bit.!!!
Its pretty textbook stuff out here now- wind veering, SE, now S, rubbish visibility, drizzle. Expecting it to keep going and build 30+ from the west tomorrow and then we have a grib for sunday with spikes on it- yes spikes- after 4 and a half feathers on the arrows (indicating 45 knots) you get a spike for 50!!!! I'm just glad its from the west, and we are trying to stonk east as fast as we can. Wind wise, it'll get a bit breezy but its the sea state that always makes things worse!! And its pretty lumpy out here already!! Anyway, we are battening down the hatches: making water, filling the diesel tank with diesel, the stove with metho, looking out some 'contingency dinners' baked beans all round for the next few days, everyone?? - all those little things that you think nothing of doing in everyday life, until you have to do it in a washing machine on full spin cycle!! And I just cleared all the shelves of condiments in the galley so we won't end up with marmalade in our hair!!!
Right Mr Low Pressure System, we're ready for you!!!
Lots of love
McQ
xxx
Ps Simon, thank you so much, AMAZING to speak to you, I forgot to ask when the sun will come out, which is, of course, all I really wanted to know!!!!

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Thursday, 4 September 2008

K: Southern Greenland

This seems to be one of those places that doesn't want to let you go! I know it's only been a few days, but it feels like it's taking forever get past Kap Farval and out into the Atlantic Ocean proper.

Amazing fairy tale coastline on our left with spires and twisted jaggedy bits that keep appearing and disappearing in the misty murk. Still a few good sized icebergs dotting the seascape. Big ones down here, but not quite so many as further north, which is lucky as they're not much fun in the dark nights we've been having!

Yesterday I saw a group (family?) of seals swimming past us to the north. Must have been about 12-15 animals in the group, swimming in semi-unison with all the grace and style of a bunch of 10-year old's learning butterfly. The seals on the outside were looking towards the centre of the pack every time they surfaced, as if to check that their mates were still there and still going in the right direction. Nowhere near as graceful as dolphins - a lot more splashing going on.

The Aurora was out last night too! I've got the 1100-0100 night watch, just after sunset, and the 0500-0700 watch, which is just pre-dawn. Both are usually hazy and the aurora hasn't started up yet or has already disappeared. So I've been asking the other two to wake me up if they see a good aurora, and last night I was called out of my comfy bunk at 0215 to see the beautiful soft white swirls of light dancing lazily across the sky. Wow. Not like I remember the southern lights being at all (but that was many years and many beers ago now, so brain-cells possibly partially faulty).

Anyway, the GRIB files say we're in for a real downwind doozy in a day or so's time. 40 odd kts expected. Hopefully we'll be south enough to be out of the worst of the bergs and there won't be any whales for Corrie to hit this time! Currently motor sailing into light headwinds, so trying to get as much rest as possible and get everything sorted out and battened down before Huey gives us a walloping. Here goes again...

K.

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5952 04604 What a change a GRIB makes...

Today's grib shows a developing low NW of us that will move east and give us 35 - 40 knots south of Kap Farvel in a couple of days. Nasty! So we are hooking off to the south as fast as Berri's little wings and engine can carry us - looks as if it will build from the south all tomorrow and go to the west later in the day at about 25 knots and will then build further. I'll try for another grib tonight,after the next update. If we can get a couple of hundred miles to the south in that time we might avoid the worst of it. We will spent the day making sure everything is properly stowed, find the trisail and generally prepare for the worst - a grib 40 kts means we will probably see gusts of 60 so we need to get out of the way if we can and be prepared if we can't.

Have had no news of Gustav - hope you guys are ok.

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