Saturday, 31 May 2008

5059.02 17956.53 Sat 31/05/2008 16:03

Tacked 0615. Stick fully forward, right rudder, mosh pit here we come, accompanied by heavy metal from Kakrafoon. Too tight to sail, so heady rolled away and motoring on about 350 @ about 4kts. Should get us abeam waypoint with lots of sea room and can tack again to lay Garelof Island - looks like a volcanic cone on the chart. Tracking back towards the IDL - could be one of those days ...sday esoht fo of...

Tom G - please describe the Right Whale - unfortunately we don't have our cetacean recognition kit. We'll do our best with fishing gear as well - I hope without any actual contact!
And Chris - thanks for advice - confirms our thoughts - which Chris, incidentally? - and there will indeed be a Con if we make it through. Just not exactly sure I've got the tides right, but we'll find out soon!
Ann - thanks!
E & P OC about 450 ltrs, mostly in jerries also flex tanks on cockpit floor and coachroof.

Don't want to mess with the chart but we must be almost as far north as the Fastnet, so another first for Berri sometime soon. Glims of daylight - always better when you can see what you're doing. I need a cuppa and some ritual dunking to while away the next few hours. More as the day unfoldssdslofnu...

5059.21 17946.50 The Plan updated Sat 31/05/2008 15:20

We're still shuffling along on about 110 - intending to keep going until 0400 at least which should put us about on the IDL. Then we'll tack on to about north which should take us straight up the middle. The tide should be negligible by 0600 and we can - I hope - push on up to the tricky bit about half way through where we can use the engine if necessary to opt for the deeper western side or the shallower east. Daylight around 0600 as well, or what passes for daylight here. Flood tide - again, I hope - from 0900ish. I feel cold and a bit seasick - not nice. Can't sleep and I've lost my Olga knitted beanie that I sleep in. Major tragedy.

Terns are back, and another puffin before dark. Phosphorescence subdued - more cream than fire, but with big sparkles. Grey black night again - merging horizon, bleak, cold overcast. McQ has broken out the emergency snickers and given me my half so that I can hide them from her.

0345 - reassessed and we'll go on a bit longer. Been lifted so changes angle for next tack.

McQ: Grumpy and ranty, but we've crossed the date line!!! Yay!!!

Its pretty rubbish at the moment. I am trying to be grumpy too!!! We are doing between one and 3 knots slewing around between 070 and 100 course, pounding over some waves, slopping over others, despite my continual efforts I just can't get Kevvo to go straight. One minute we are reaching along next minute sails all flapping and we are about to tack. grrrr. Sometimes you just switch to Kevvo and there we go stonking along and you think 'Kevvo you amazing'!! but that seems to be in loads of and consistent wind. We don't have quite enough and the short steep chop just confuses him, I think. Poor Kevvo!!! It would be ok if we could just keep an average speed on and if I could get some idea from the course whats going on wind wise, as to whether we are generally being lifted still or starting to be headed, instead of having to change the instrument display to the digital wind readout, which is accurate but you tend to get fixated on it changing in degree increments (irrelevent out here) or watching the picture of the boat swing about on the pooter and not seeing the bigger picture, which would be blindingly obvious if we were just going in a straight line!!!
Conclusion: phew, needed a wee rant and don't think its time to tack quite yet!! And wish it would hurry up and get daylight. The cwampet, blurky nights are rubbish!!
It is 1327UTC and we are at 179 59W so we are officially across the date line- all this time travel, making me dizzy!!! woo-hoo!! another milestone!! (Just ignore the fact that we will be tacking back across it shortly!!) Phosphorescence not as incredible tonight- instead of big, long, white streaks trailing out from the side of the boat for as far as the eye can see, we just have a sprinkling of little swirling blobs every time we pound over a wave. Still kinda cool though.
Lots of love

5059.57 179197.45 Sat 31/05/2008 02:35

A bit tense in the Whitters camp. McQ asleep and oblivious. We're 30 miles from Amchitks Island, about 50 miles west of the ideal spot to push the stick forward and dive the veehicle into the mosh pit (how's that for a three tier mixed metaphor?) and the wind is building - now 15 - 20 apparent as we progress - and we're on the stbd tack, so working the damaged shroud. I've just put the 3rd reef in to minimise the stress, everything softly softly, trying not to pound. Shortish steep sea, not too difficult, water now grey olive greenish but seems crystal clear. Our chart tidal data is set to Sydney time (it would be wouldn't it, when everything else in the software is on UTC!) but if I've got it right, it tells us that the tide turns against us at around midnight tonight until about 0900 tomoz. This more or less correlates with Kimbra's data, (hers set to UTC - 10). and for a different tidal station. Seems to me, therefore, that we can get ourselves as close as we can by midnight, perhaps motor NE to get a better position and start going in around 0600ADT, on the last of the ebb. I think we'll have to motor unless we can get upwind somehow. Then it's all down to Huey and the Examiner.

Wish us luck!

I think I need a calming consultation - it's the Alchemist today.

A couple of hours later - calm prevails, the Alchemist has worked his magic, McQ up and cooking, wind easing, sea still olive grey - like volcanic glass - and I saw Berri's and my very first Puffin - tubby beast, very flappy and with THAT face - if not a puffin, then a guillemot or an auk? 24 miles from Amchitka Island, no spot heights on chart so don't know what to look for but it looks a bit like Lord Howe. Semisopochnoi to the north looks just a bit interesting too. The Plan is to plough on until something tells us to stop. As McQ says, a 50 mile wide pass is just like the Channel, but this one's a lot shallower.

McQ: Corrish-the new english. Hi from the cwampet berri!!

Engine is off, finally- it's such a pleasure to have just sailing noises (and lizzy whining away!!) Lizzy's pretty amazing- absolutely no engine assistance required to charge the batts so long as there is a bit of wind. We are now averaging about 4 knotters to Amchitka Island!!! Wind is due to be about 15 knots N/NE in approx 12 hours time, probably about the same time we get to the Pass, so likely we will need to tack our way through, which could be kinda time consuming I guess. From the info on the chart (I say 'chart' but I didn't need to do any calculations- just put the cursor over the T symbol for tide info and use arrow keys to get to appropriate time and date on computer- not a purple tidal diamond, breton plotter or set of dividers required!!!) if we get there around 2am local it will be just after LW and just under 1m range at Amchitka Island and at most 0.2knots of current flowing North-east through the pass, but I might have got our time zones totally wrong!! so though it is likely to be wind over tide, with only 0.2 knots flow and the whole thing about 60nm wide I wouldn't have thought it'd be too feisty- famous last words- we shall see!! And of course the info I have to hand may not be accurate/ I may have completely missed some Amchitka Pass oooh chat somewhere and everyone else might know that there is lots of current squeezing the pacific through this little gap- It does decrease in depth from about 4000m quite rapidly to 1000m then averages around 500m for a bit with the min depth about 100m so that could contribute to some lumpety breaking waves!!! We will find out soon enough!!!

Allie: mum sent me a message saying you have organised me some midlayers, so just wanted to say thank you so, so, so much- you are truly amazing (but you know I think that!!!) I shall possibly be forever in your grateful debt and won't forget it when notsocold up north!!! I know I didn't give you much choice tho'!! In exchange I shall wash my Sailing Logic T-shirt and jacket so they are nice and fresh and clean for wearing in port and fully advertise and market you as the only people to sail and race with in the Solent!!! You never know- you might get some Alaskans racing with you next year!!! Thanks again and lots of love Bol xxx

Web: Amazing news re SB engine, so it is said that a bad workman blames his tools, so in this case does VP take any credit or entirely due to maintenance team??? Certainly, I'd like to book in for the diesel engine maintenance course in October, if thats ok? also I don't understand fliders and galloons, gliders and falloons but what is a falloon?? c x

Not much else at moment... pretty grey outside and cwampet too (thats THE new word for cold/wet/damp)- maybe its time I invented a whole new language- soon everyone will be carrying round a copy of the OCD, corrish to english version. (Oxford Corrish Dictionary)

Oh yes, the phosphorescence last night was truly out of this world. wouldn't photograph on my wee olympus tho. but incredible... bright bright white against the black sea, not the usual glowing green, but the sort of pearlescent, iridescent ultraviolet dazzling white- the colour/effect rich and famous people pay loadsa money to their dentist for!!! Never seen anything quite like it- properly mesmerising!! big fat white lines streaking out from the boat swirling miles away into the blackness. And a thick frothy white trail behind us as the prop churned up the ocean. Pretty awesome!!!

Enough ramblings- we've slowed down so am off to deck to speed us up.

lots of love

5106.35 17919.38 Sat 31/05/2008 06:06

Just tacked out from about 12 miles south of Amchitka Island - lousy angle, only making 120 but we'll play with it as things progress. We will see what sort of ground we can make from here until the tide turns tomoz and then go for it. Everything crossed please. Still bleak overcast, thick mist towards Amchitka so no actual sighting.

Friday, 30 May 2008

Water now brown...

We're 73 miles from my waypoint. Grib says that the wind goes north tomorrow morning with some attitude (therefore potentially wind over tide so opportunity for renewed pearshapedness), we have flood tide tomorrow morning, we are due there around 0100 ADT - iff I've got the time right - I'm juggling with UTC, Speedy time (UTC + 1) Kimbra time for tides (UTC -10) and ADT (UTC - 8) and my cheesebrain gets confused. But it does look as if we have one good chance of pushing through early tomorrow AGW. Every appendage crossed please, applicable or no! Still no worthwhile wind and I'm playing the tiny bit there is for all its worth to squeeze inches out of it. Motor just above half revs from the feel and sound and I hope being very frugal while keeping 4 knots clicking over. McQ just off watch and asleep so can't ask re BAPTO.

Water sludge brown - must be the edge of the tidal flow from the Bering. Still lots of kelp around. Woolly overcast, patches of light on the water, long rolled almost tubes of fluff SE to NW, rain cloud to the west. Thin dark line of cloud on the horizon to port that wishful thinking tries to make into Amchitka Island but cheesebrain knows that we won't be able to see it from 60 miles.

Have spoken to Lacy Plummer, Harbourmaster at Adak - we have permission to enter from US Customs - yeehaa. Apparently there are 2 sailboats (when in Rome!) in Adak from Australia. Amazing.

MJC - of course! How could I have forgotten!

Speeds - agree absolutely about some aspects of sailing engineering. There's also the ego side that shaves tolerances in order to win...

I'll try to keep these updated but it may get busy, particularly in the pass.

Thar she blows!

Whales, weed, phosphorescence. nukes, krill, trench, terns, acclimatisation..quick, dash below checklist for this blog.

Too hairy to sit down here while on watch - more on this later. Down in the big trough between two wavest I looked up and saw a dark column silhouetted against the sky out on the port bow about 300 metres away - odd - it disappeared, then another - yesss! whale spouts - huge plumes of vapour and spray, perhaps 20 ft high and cylindrical - then they were white against the sea, from the top of a wave - perhaps 4 or 5 animals, going our way, only the briefest glimpse of one - long back, small fin, very Finwhale. And then - and then there was a black shape beside the boat, perhaps 10 metres away - I now think it might have been the tip of a pectoral fin - and a HUGE black shape surfaced - no spout, just massive presence, no apparent velocity - and then dived and turned towards us as it did - enormous swirl of water, longer than the boat. I had a Moby Dick shiver, but it did not reappear. I could not see any detail - just black.

McQ's weed is kelp - enormously long fronds of the stuff with stems like tree trunks all longer then the boat and highly dangerous if it gets into the prop - hence not being down here blogging. We hit one - big bump and I could see a long sinuous line in the phosphorescence astern - took me a few seconds to work it out and reach for the throttle and it was gone. Lucky,

Phosphorescence - astonishing, amazing, I've never seen it like this. Berri's path through the water is a silver green arrow with brilliant surges from the bow and a long undulating shaft stretching astern as far as you can see. It is bright enough to light up the sails and, believe it or not, the terns milling around the masthead as well. It's they who are making the chirrups I mentioned earlier as the try to land on the masthead. I photographed one in daylight. I went and sat in the pulpit looking aft and just bathed in the raw beauty of it all - like the most subtle firework display, but cold and fierce as well. It seemed, too, as if we were going through a shoal of tiny fish or perhaps krill in terabytes. I wonder if it's all a left over from the nuclear tests at Amchitka!

We're now over the Aleutian Trench - up to 7500 metes deep - it would take me half an hour to run that these days. I wonder how long it would take for - say - a coke bottle to reach the bottom. And I'm deliberately trying to sit out there slightly underdressed to get used to the cold - and the damp. I like McQ's blurky. Needs cold and wet somehow as well.

Mad McQ: in new knicks

Its getting dark. We are a bit out time wise, would have been more appropriate to change clocks in a couple of stages- say 3 today and 3 more hours in a few days time, but bit confusing really to do that and apoart from the fact it will be quite dark till about 9am for a bit, and its midnight and jsut getting dark now!! makes no odds to us really in the big scheme of things- on watch is on watch whatever time of day or night!!! (which hopefully answers a question I often get asked: do you anchor at night and go to sleep? (No)) I have clean knickers on, you'll all be relieved to hear- so can sleep easy now- perhaps a rash decision given we may well go to Adak and have the opportunity of a shower- we shall see, but had to be done nevertheless.
AW saw whales on his watch. I haven't seen any on my watch yet. boo! Up until this watch I haven't spoken to myself (never mind the walrus) except to recite the Ancient Mariner out loud, which I think is acceptable in society, and doesn't count as talking to yourself. This watch,however, I have been talking nonsense to the that goes along the lines of 'whalefish whalefish whalefish' Fortunately, i know that there is one person out there that would believe I haven't gone more mad!!! (Its a song, sort of) but I guessed anyone with their satellite trained in on me from space would think i was mad, hopping about the cockpit to keep warm and muttering ramblings about whalefish to myself!!! And still no sign of any real whales come to say hello!!!
Well, all I really wanted to tell you in this blog was that I have new knicks on, but I said that already in the subject.
Am I going barmy, who knows???
McQ and other McQ and other McQ
PS: i've just invented a new word, 'BLURKY' Its not quite black and not just murky- its that smudgy, fuzzy darkness where there's no discernable horizon but just faint wavy boundary lines in the clouds distinguishing between different shades of dark grey. Its a blurky night out there tonight. Now if everyone could incorporate 'blurky' into everyday usage, eventually I might get my own entry in the OED- cool!!!

4939.31 17832.19 @ 2245 ADT (Z - 8) Fri 30/05/2008 07:48

We're about 140 miles south of my waypoint in the shallowest part of Amchitka Pass. AGW, we should get there on Saturday around midday local, on a flooding tide so - again AGW - we might just have a go at it. But in this little gig, that's far too far ahead and extra tempting for Herself in the patents with stockwhip. Just idle speculation! Between here and there lies the Aleutian Trench, 7000+ metres deep and only 40 miles or so across - presumably where the two plates are interacting. The shallowest sounding I can find in the pass is 88 metres over a spike in the middle. We'll see. Would be a fascinating place to cruise in the right boat - insulated, heated, big engine, space for wet gear - a proper Boot Room in fact. We're a bit exposed in Berri.

Not much else to report - I wonder at the fortitude of Cook, his crew and all the other early explorers who sailed so far into this and beyond. Without a satphone or polar fleece or 'technical' yachtie kit. What does technical actually mean?

We should cross the international date line about half way to the waypoint on present progress, but that will change. Unless the wind changes, we will probably have to tack to get there.

Will keep this open...4 hours later...Somehow I've deleted the exciting bit so here goes again - where complacency took over and I sat down here writing this and looked up through the window and saw a huge container ship heading towards us. Grabbed vhf command mike, set it up, raced on deck, decided he was actually coming to investigate dayglo orange trisail, still in track tho not set, below main, thinking it might be a distress signal. Tried calling him - no answer, so rolled out the headsail to indicate business as usual and started to bring in the trisail. He turned away and was gone over the horizon in about 20 minutes. Grateful he bothered, but slightly unnerved that I didn't see him first. He was heading along the line of the outside of the islands, so great circling from China to Vancouver or Seattle perhaps.

We have about 60 litres of diesel in the tank and 60 in jerries - decision time very soon. Not enough wind to sail, doing 5 kts almost all vmg motor sailing so very efficient use if the stuff but...125 nm to go to Amchitka - should bo ok to use 60 getting there and through if necessary, but will need careful judgement.

McQ: See Weed!!!

Just saw seaweed!!! Which is very exciting- means one of two things- either we are in the Sargasso Sea and thus lost or, or we are nearing land!!! How exciting!!! How exciting!!!
Theres a big lolloping swell about too- lake district size perhaps (as opposed to Himalayas), big undulating rollers. Notalota wind but headsail out and making good progress motor-sailing. All good.
Cold outside and its that time of the afternoon where its getting that way inside too, despite the engine. Probably too late in the day for a knicker change- means peeling off lots of layers to get to them, definitely a warmest-point-of-the-day job at this latitude (49 33N- woo hoo!!!) The sea is a general sort of grey colour with a kinda greeny-browny tinge to it all over, shiny though and clear and bright, so not an unpleasant muddy colour, more slightly metallic, dull chrome, in need of polishing, sort of colour, maybe. Sky is pretty much 8/8 cloudy with a twinge of blue occasionally. mostly white with long layers of low grey lines out towards the horizon.
Can't quite believe we've been at sea for 50 days!! That's five-zero!! mental!! That's a long time.
Wondering really whether a knicker change is in order- its a bit like hoping that you'll have your best knickers on if you get run over by a bus- imagine if something happened and we are close enough to civilisation now to be rescued and I got rescued wearing 50 day-old (slight exaggeration!!) knickers?? would be a wee tad embarrassing!!! Right, have decided- knicker change at watch change!!
Lots of love,
(Soon to be wearing clean knickers) McQueen xxx

4923.06 17802.55 @1800 ADT, noon tomoz sydney

Thanks very much to everyone offering help and advice. The plan - as it stands - is to motor into the Examiner's latest little zephyr coming precisely from where we are trying to go - for as long as we can manage given our diesel reserve, keep some in hand for the pass and for the 100 miles or so in the other side to Adak, assuming Customs allow us in for an emergency fuel stop. If they do, we have to stay on the boat and depart once refuelled. Pity, but them's the breaks - I rather expected as much. I took heart in hand and put the main up again with 2 reefs, having braced the other shroud as well, and we're trickling along. I thought, earlier on, that things could be worse, it could be raining and the Examiner head me - cold, sleety rain for a bit. The grib - I relented, couldn't resist it - is not too favourable but AGW' we'll make it as far as the pass in the next 2-3 days.
Huge, southern ocean type swell from the NE - not quite losing a cathedral in the hollow standard, but pretty big, and it's not helping.
Kimbra, I assume the Gary in Seattle is Gary Ramos - I'll call him and maybe take or send the shroud there if no riggers in Anchorage, as seems likely.
And we've raided the goody bag - randomness prevails - and decided that the occasion demanded that we open one of Hilary's rummy cakes. Rather nice - and it will get us to Dutch.xx I wonder whether, if we do go to Andak, we will be the very first boat - or veeehicle - in the history of the world to travel directly from Sydney to Andak - or, for that matter, to Dutch. A little warm fuzzy for the mighty Berri if so. Certainly seems possible.
We've officially changed from Sydney time to Alaska daylight as well - as we are now well and truly here. It's now 1535 yesterday for all you caffeinators Down There. Old time noon position is now out 1800 position.

McQ: and Whitters, time travellers (to yesterday!!)

Crikey, its all very confusing. Today it is four o'clock yesterday (instead of 10 in the morning today, or indeed midnight, tooday) Not a worm hole or Large Hadron Collider to be seen and we have decided it is yesterday!!! We haven't got to the date line yet, just seemed wise to go to Alaska time as it was broad daylight at 3am last night and for local tide info etcit makes sense and when communicating with people on land, it stops the probloem that we might be satphone at antisocial hours!!! Fortunately my rather fab pink (to match my thermals) watch has a button you press and the top left hand corner changes from 'SYD' to 'ANC' (Anchorage I guess, its the right time anyway!!) Our noon position is now 6pm pos though!!
So all is well this arvo- even the sun came up out of the sea and is shining bright... we have more sail up, tacked too- so motorsailing upwind on port making about 060 ish, COG same on the tack- darn typical!! still easting no bad thing. going faster too!!
Boiled eggs for brekkie (lunch)- pretty mushy by now tho'!!! And Hilary, amazing cake thank you, we broke into the first this morning and pretty confident that if all else fails, this cake will keep our spirits up and bellies and brains nourished all the way to Dutch!!!
Also broke out my heavyduty norwegian hat that Marten gave me (well, I borrowed then refused to give back) during the Hobart...thank you Marten!! It is the best hat in the world. Thick and fleecy and perfectly snug and now staying firmly on my head!!! the turquoise o'neill is nice and fluffy but not quite adequate during the chilly nights anymore (has become my bedhat!!) Notalot else to report. still on v11 of AM, but recite aloud on deck regularly so know them pretty well, indeed am getting a touch bored of the first 11verses- looking forward to finding out what happens next!!!
Think Adak (approx 51ishN) is roughly in line with Cork- must be Cork week quite soon???
Now my fingers and nose are nicely warmed up, back to deck i go!!
Lots and lots of love

Thursday, 29 May 2008

McQ: Fog Solvers

I spend lots of time whiling away the hours on watch (between checking we going the right way as quick as poss/ the rig not falling down/the repairs are holding/ we not about to get squished by passing vessels etc) thinking about 'what if's' so yesterday morning- I kid you not- my what if's that I were running through were first reactions if forestay goes, backstay goes, shrouds go, minutes before The Big Bang!! Anyway, this morning I have been thinking about fog (Its a clear morning with a dash of sunshine too so hopefully no fog-dramas about to happen!!) Lots of different solutions really, for eg, if i was in the Channel and I had working radar/AIS/both, probably carry on fairly comfortably. If I was in the Solent and had no radar/AIS etc and my GPS's were all broken/out of batteries I'd probably head north (or south, depending on where I was by my last visual) to say 2m contour (assuming I didn't draw more) and follow it to somewhere (Lyminton, Cowes, Hamble) or anchor till it lifted. I'd probably be quite grumpy too!!! I'm still working on no radar/AIS and broken GPS's and definitely in middle of shipping lane in channel...

Anyway, these are all sensible things to think about and every situation is different. up here, according to all our repoorts it can get pretty foggy and grim round the Aluetians at this time of year, so may well have to put into practise various fog-solvers and then these won't seem such ridiculoous thoughts!! We have no radar. Our AIS box hasn't talked to the poot since Newcastle- of this we are 99% convinced but then again ships since then have been few and far between!!! GPS still working (touch wood) and we have a fully charged 276c too, so should be ok unless big president B presses any buttons. Fishing fleets prob biggest concern but through our great contacts in Dutch they know we are going to be around soon and would do all they could to guide us through, so worst case we could radio them and take it from there. Its all interesting stuff to think about really and good to keep us on our toes...

Big A has surfaced so I am going to go and discuss thoughts on putting a wee bit more sail up, since shroud-solution seems to be happy, and going a bit faster...

Top o the morning anyway,

Lots of love

Dunking 4847.56 17722.59 Thu 29/05/2008 14:36

Does anyone remember reading a scientific paper on the physics of biscuit dunking? May have been one of Karl Kruszelnicki's - certainly his style anyway. Really interesting stuff, but it seems to me that my McVities absorb tea at a greater rate than the very ordinary coffee I'm using. Certainly, my coffees are more treacly than my teas - anyway, an observation for the record - has no scientific value without lots more experimentation and I'm into the last pack of dunkers.

I think our bit of excitement will slow us down by about half a day to Amchitka - could be a crucial half day if the weather closes on us but that is yet to be seen. We are also losing height, which is a nuisance but can't be helped. I'm resisting getting new gribs - we have to cope with whatever we meet anyway and the gribs seem to change radically every update, so better just to get on with it. I'm not too concerned about the pass itself - I can see from the topography why it could be dangerous but we can go in and have a look. Portland and Alderney races with wind against tide are good for the confidence and McQ professes to be on top of those, so we'll just probe gently when we get there - starting, obviously, at low water slack or an hour or so before. Once we're inside, we have to reassess and move on.

The fix - two large cable clamps about half a metre above the swage, clamping a big U shaped through-deck fitting to the shroud. Big turnbuckle hooked on to the U and a spectra strop from the chain plate to the bottom of the turnbuckle, tighten and bobsyer - the swage bypassed. The mast is still in column as far as I can see and I'm tempted to go for the third reef tomoz in daylight. Will do a similar setup on the other shroud as a precaution and put clamps on all the other shrouds so that we can at least buy time if they start to fail. Will take some photos for the website. Speeds, the handycam hasn't been out of its bag this trip - it's just been too busy or too wet - so there won't be any video for this leg.

Getting lots of help and advice from Dan at Westward - thanks Dan - and I think the long term fix is to get the old barge to Dutch as fast as we safely can and I'll take off the dead one and fly to Anchorage with it. Speedy is checking for riggers - there's got to be at least one somewhere - and we have another friend who will know for sure but he's not answering his mobile at the mo.

Water now 6 degrees. Not much warmer than how it comes out of the fridge. Lucky I splashed the nethers yesterday, I suppose.

McQ: Snickers and knickers

I just wrote a blog but it sounded really grumpy and I am not grumpy so I have deleted it and started again. Not grumpy- just tired and my eyes are going funny looking at the horizon and the sails and the instruments and Ray in the blackness outside. Well, maybe a teensy weensy bit grumpy when our COG and heading are 40degrees different- yes four-zero, can you believe it????? grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!! And when it says our boat speed is less than 2 knots, though I am adamant that we something tentacly has attached itself to our log impeller and is slowing the rotation of the paddle wheel- this is not entirely unreasonable as we certainly feel we are going faster through the water that it says we are!!! And our SOG indicates current with us, which, well, could that possibly be true, after all this time???????? Can't even comprehend what it must be like to have current WITH us (even if its with us and a lot left!!!)

Trisail up and wee headsail too. Ray has had it too and keeps whining, extending fully and making us want to tack. Can catch most of them but have had to accept a donut too. hmmm. He's alright if we don't try and make him go too high, but of course, if we don't go high we are heading straight for Amchitka ISlAND (instead of PASS- yes, huge difference!!!!)

We've had a Pretty eventful afternoon really- just as Alex described, but it'll serve me right for spending the previous 2 off watches considering the merits of opening the snickers and changing knickers and not sleeping!! Now it is 9pm and I am very very, very, very tired!!! Temporary rig repair, bypassing the unwinding bit on the lower shroud, seems to be working so far (touch wood) and this is the reason we are taking it gently with trisail etc. Do not want to lose the rig. Not a good look for any boat!!! And masts not the easiest things to just pop down to the shops and pick up a new one whenever you feel like it, obviously!!!!

OK, things looking better now- 4knots SOG and roughly making course- yay!!! s'pose I should get back on deck and go say words of encouragement to Ray...

Snickers were for 6 days to go, which might have been tomorrow, but prob not for a couple more days now!! Knickers, still undecided, too tired to decide now, will reconsider in morning.

Nearly got through a whole blog without mentioning my feet, which are, incidentally, as cold as my nose, which is very cold, so cold, infact, that I have to keep checking it is still there. It is.

Is it time for bed yet???

Lots of love

North to Alaska! Thu 29/05/2008 09:59

[Just before receiving this, got call from Alex, to reassure everyone that they're okay - a little local difficulty. -ed]

We just crossed the 200 mile territorial waters line. USA it is....Kind of special to have actually done it. vTiny remnant of Dr Brian's Med. compound shared between us to celebrate. So far soo good

Interesting how a bit of adversity changes the perspective - before The Event, I was all tenterhooks and anticipation - what will we find at Amchitka? Now I don't care - we'll get there, we'll sort it and maybe call in at Adak - I'd like to do that anyway and we now have an excellent reason if customs are nervous - and then dutch and one more fix than intended.

Much later and a sleep - just re-run various lines across the deck to free up a couple of winches and the trisail is now working as intended. Satphone has just beeped so will go for grib and send this - lots more for later.

Love ysz all. That's a Polish 'yez...'

Pearshapedness in earnest. 4808.41 17658.37 will do as noon as well. Thu 29/05/2008 05:45

There was this metallic bang. AW in bunk instantly rigid, thinking oooh s..t! I know what that is - and so it turned out. The starboard inner shroud - the big heavy one that supports the lower half of the mast - has started to strand, or break, strand by strand. Happened in the Atlantic last time too - and now I wish I had insisted on staloks but that's life. This despite bungees to stop the shrouds moving. We have bypassed the swage using cable clamps and turnbuckles and we're sailing again, but it's softly softly from here. Really serious problem if it develops. Even worse of the port one starts to go as well. Big, big effort getting it sorted - and in the middle of it all, murphy struck again - cannot imagine how this one happened, but all the line in the furler drum ran out long before we could get the sail all rolled up. Sorted that one too, not without some interesting events.

So the state of play - I have spoken to the rigger who made the rig and he's sending the dimensions of the shroud to the website. I will call our contact in Seattle to see whether we can get 2 new ones made there, or anchorage, and shipped to us, else have them made in Sydney and shipped to Dutch.

Not the end of the world, but may slow things down a bit while we faff around. Watch this space!

Meantime I'm going to Consult - Mcq is cooking noodles for afters. Dr Steve, yours was next in the Medicinal Compound Management Plan and very good it was. The whole set of three brews has aged beautifully.

A couple of hours later - i've rung around the world sorting possible options - the most important thing now is to get through Amchitka and to dutch. From there we can fix anything. We've got the small heady and the trisail up, doing 5kt in roughly the right direction - losing a bit of height, unfortunately, but trying to keep the rig unstressed. Quite messy and still semi violent so taking it very easy. Weather for the next three days is critical - but we'll get there. Wouldn't be a proper Berri voyage without one go at least of trisail-in-anger so I hope this is the only one needed! Next watch, after some sleep, I'm going to put a cable clamp on all the other shrouds so that if any of them initiate recalcitrance, we've got 'em covered and can rig a bypass very quickly.

We're 3 miles from the US of A...wooohooo and yeeehaaaa! By the time you read this, AGW, we'll be in the promised land.

Best option from here might be for me to fly to Anchorage from Dutch with the dead one and find a rigger. We'll see what turns up.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Blonk:4723.44 17608.40 @ 0200 Wed 28/05/2008 17:20

Soft, woolly darkness - a bit like reading under the bedclothes with a fading torch as a kid - there's almost no light from above so the sky is only just grey - uniform, dark, dull grey and the horizon merges into it so there is almost no frame of reference either - the boat's movements seem randoom and you can't anticipate and brace. Gyrations subdued in a fairly gentle sea but difficult nonetheless. Thick, dense overcast, base almost at sea level and we're in and out of misty low cloud all the time - vis from perhaps 1/2 mile out to maybe three at best so constant vigilance needed. Berri's masthead is a little platform about 6 inches wide and 9 long. It has the tricolour light at the aft end with the windex behind it, the VHF stub aerial in front to the right and the lightning conductor to the left and the anemometer sticks out ahead of the mast. In the mist, the effect is eerie - the tricolour streams its green, red and white sectors which reflect from the mist, and each bit of equipment casts its own shadow, so we seem to be sailing along under a glowing set of spokes and coloured lights. Very good check too, that the tricolor sectors are properly aligned. Looking up, I saw a ghostly glimpse of a big bird - unexpected and surprising - and there are the very occasional but very bright dino sparkles out to the sides in the surge - we're doing 6 knots and long may it last!

All quite soft and gentle, but Lizzie makes it seem a whole lot more serious - she whizzes and whirrs and howls down at the back and it sounds just like quite strong wind in the rig so I'm always slightly edgy until I've got the different sounds isolated and sorted. Berri would be almost silently slipping along just now but for out tame banshee!

Given all this, I must get the raincatcher radar reflector up into the rig in daylight - I have already checked that all the christmas tree lights on the mast are working in case we get into a close encounter and we need to advertise with attitude.

The grib ain't so rosy - the low is deepening and we need to get through that pass by Friday evening or we may have to sit it out this side. Not really much better the other side either, but the passage through is critical. Then Adak or Dutch depending on conditions and our diesel reserves.

Thanks to everyone who has sent us information on Adak and tides - Chris, H, Mjc, Speeds - and I'll try to contact various authorities tomorrow ADT

Ann - assume you meant N Pacific - Dutch is on N side of island, so must pass through Aleutian chain to get to it. 3 passes close to it are all very dangerous for small boats - google Unimak, Akutan - so approaching through a less dangerous one - originally intended Amukta but current & wind have pushed us way west and Amchitka beckons. Sort of.

Australia operates 2 massively powerful transmitters, VMW @ Wiluna and VMC @ Charleville to coordinate distress, safety snd wx info- they have to put them on the edge of the desert s they doon't fry all the local sheep. I was listening to VMC loud and clear and undistorted on 4149 earlier this evening. Must be nearly 6000 miles away. We're now closer to Belgium sailmail stn than NSW.

lift off and excuses for our course!!! Wed 28/05/2008 13:10

We have lift!!! Its now 2100 Sydney time and the wind has come further round behind us than expected at all for now- thank you wind gods!! Long may it continue and fingers crossed that the weather gods aren't just toying with us and we will get a battering of some sort from them over the next few days- now, if everyone can concentrate on sending them good and happy vibes, so they remain nice to us, that would be great!!

Also neglected to draw attention to the fact, in my last witterings, that we are not actually useless sailors but the reason our angles are so bad relative to the wind is current!!! (is true, is true) So whilst we might reasonably sail 045 in a strong E wind and a bit of a sea, what that actually gives us (currently, (haha)) is around 020 over the ground- not good. On the upside, unlike the entire length of most of the Pacific, this current was expected (think it might even be called the Aluetian Current) and we can be pretty sure we are in it since the water pretty quickly changed from 18C to 8C. brrrrrr!!!

Whatever happens,all appendages, as Whitters would say, crossed for the SSE breeze to last, well forever, round here would be nice!!!!

Much love again

4654.19 17525.17 Change of vegetable Wed 28/05/2008 10:53

The time has come, the Walrus said, to speak of other things: of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of mushy peas and kings...

As I write, there's a can of mushies sitting on top of the cooling engine (yes!)getting its preliminary charge of heat before I stand it in hot water too really get it hot. Then it gets slipped into a polar fleece sock and down to the end of my bunk and - magic really - warm feet.

JG, thanks for camera advice - problem is that when you half press, it locks the focus and when you don't know the distance or if its further than a boat length, it gets tricky. My albatross in the sun was about 50 metres away and there's nothing that far out to focus on...bummer.

And if I'd had my brain in gear for the last few days I'd have realised that we have the phone number for US Customs in Dutch in the digital chart info. I will call them first thing tomorrow ADT and ask about Adak entry and they might even know about credit card facilities. There's no Adak data in the chart.

McQ's lift arrived and we're sailing reasonably above our required track for the barn door. As McQ says though, the Examiner has a real chance to get fancy with us if she plays fast and loose with the big low forming ahead. We'll see, I guess. It's all grind from here.

McQ: Whether the weather be...and, of course, my feet!!

From our the latest grib we have, it seems there is a bit of a low low forming (might already have formed, but outside of area grib shows?)to the SW of us. In the grib for 10pm this evening (Sydney time) we can just see the easterlies on the edge of the page. Over here where we are we should have easterlies, or with a bit of good luck, SE, and thus a bit of a lift, at about 15knots. Grib for the next 24 hours shows low arc'ing northeast- up towards the Aluetians and where we will potentially be, will be in strong (20+knots) E wind- so we try and make as much easting as we can now, as it is likely we will be forced north, (and to the left of Amchitka) tomorrow. Though, its too early to say, and the gribs change all the time, but the outlook for friday 10pm (72 hours grib) show the low moving NE still and even stronger Easterlies, but just below, as you would expect, moderate S/SW around lat 49...which we may or may not be north of, depending!!
So, now listen up wind and weather gods, this is what is going to happen: we'll have a wee lift tonight and tomorrow then the low is going to move a teensy wee bit quicker so in a couple of days we shall barely have a chance to think about where strong E winds are forcing us and soon enough we shall be swept up by S/SW winds straight up to the Aluetians, through Amchitka pass- the low will continue to pass over the top of us and S winds will veer SW then W then NW: all of which will have us stonking East and in to Dutch!!!! My ETA is the 5th now!!!
Now, where's this afternoon's lift, so we can turn the engine off...???
We'll see what the next grib says, but there is also the possibility that the low will go under us and in a few days we will be stonking along east in a northerly wind but unable to make any northing!!
Of course, if things don't go quite according to my plan and we have to deal with full on easterlies then, I guess we make our way north towards the islands and then at some point, either sit out the easterlies or tack back and forth to try and make our way to the east, which will be close to soul-destroying in a strong E wind (we'd be pointing SE or worse on port tack !!!) but then again, that's sailing for you- a certain proportion of the time your destination is inevitably close to where the wind is coming from!!! It's all part of the challenge and thats why we love it!!
Lots of love to everyone,
ps forgot to mention my feet!!!
pps: kimbra, please may I have a ski mask and balaclava too, if you have room- was just thinking such thoughts during the chilly night watches!! Thank you. x

noon 4624.15 17503.44 Wed 28/05/2008 05:00

dtd 852 dmg 96 - still going sideways relative to Dutch. 136 to Alaskan waters.

From this rather uncomfortable, cold and damp little grot behind the Cone, things ain't so good. IFF we can climb high enough to make it through Amchitka without having to park and wait, we're about 9 days from Dutch. If we get lucky, that is!

Real headbang stuff. Engine running, heady now rolled in, boat set up to just slide the swell rather that pound into it and stop with every third wave. So we're still 10 deg. below the direct track required of 028. Small chance from the grib that we will get a lift tonight and then again a couple of days out off the big low but it will be a close run thing. We have about 120 litres of diesel so in deep conservation mode. That is about 70 litres for distance and the rest for contingency - 70 litres is about 150 miles if we get the right conditions and we're 400 from the other side of the pass, so Adak is looking like a definite if they will allow us to enter. And if we can pay by credit card - all our $US is waiting for us in Dutch. Been trying to contact our local friend but no luck - would be a real help if someone could please let us know if Adak has credit card facilities, so that we know whether we can burn diesel to get there.

Pearshapedness looms large! All applicable appendages crossed for the next week or so please.

I've taken the punt and rolled out the headsail, cranked it right on with the autopilot following the windvane to chase every lift and 33 deg off the wind with the engine running. We're getting 015 - 025 with 5+ knots so while it doesn't get us uphill far enough, it's a lot more efficient than before and I hope we'll get the lift tonight and be able to climb far enough under sail to make the pass. Iff all goes well, we'll be in Alaska sometime late tomorrow with 220 odd to go to Amchitka.

4609.28 17453.50 and pearshaped Tue 27/05/2008 23:30

Seems that pearshapedness prevails, at least as far as Amchitka goes. To hit the centre of the barn door, we need to track 030M but current, wind and sea state only allow us about 015 - 020M. This means we will make landfall some 70 - 90 miles west of the pass and have to fight our way into the teeth of the easterlies in front of the low developing to the west. Poo! I have the engine running, full sail just at the point of stall, squeezing every inch of height we can get while the wind is soft. We may well have to do a Cook and park while it all blows through. No word from anyone re Adak entry yet, but we may well need to go in there for fuel.

Kimbra - agree with you, Tom and the other naysayers. We'll go without a rifle - you can carry the oxo cubes and I'll push the wheelbarrow with the pepper spray, McQ can be the advance Party - did I really say that?. And yes, ski masks (3 better than 1) but better still windsurfer helmets with visor - unlikely in Anchorage! May be a fisho equivalent in Dutch - will advise. Cd you please buy 3 metal half litre camping water bottles for hotties, hand warmers etc - they'll need reasonably heatproof tops and the wider the top the better for dekettling into. Thanks re fleece.

Carla - thanks - thought it must be ice! And it certainly looked like bushfire smoke. We must be in some sort of propagation hole unless there's a bug in the calculator - unheard of in Jim Corenman's stuff, so I'll go for the hole. The whole thing went red as we crossed 43 degrees.

Pascal - probably too late but if you do ring our satphone, please keep ringing back until someone answers. The person who hears it first will be in their bunk, the phone is sequestered in driest possible spot and awkward to get at .... but someone will get there eventually. Don't leave a voice message - we'll never get it. I'll try your cell after this. We're not in Dutch yet - I'd say about 10 days from here, all things considered.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Blunky Tue 27/05/2008 19:06

Looks as if we will be at or close to amchitka on saturday. we have tidal data from argos stations either side but not for pass itself - seems low water slack is around noon utc sat 30th = 0400 alaska daylight time so if we're there it will be a dawn entry - locals advise not at night. Can anyone pse confirm low water time sat, sun, mon - Kimbra/Tom perhaps?

water temp 8 deg and now more current from NE so probably in the Aleutian slope flow, though still a long way out. Hands too cold for more - will do another in daylight. Water at Cape Horn was 7 deg.

Anyone for a tour of old nuclear testing sites? Jump aboard! First the Marshalls, now Amchitka. I doubt whether we could get to New Mexico, but there's Mururoa and a few others to go.

For ages now, I've been hearing a strange squeaky chirruping noise at night. Unable to place it but assumed that it was not threatening and probably coming from some part of Kevvo's wheels and pulleys. A couple of night ago, in the yellow cheesy moonlight. I saw a ghostly, tumbling black shape silhouetted against the moon's reflection - yay! got it - it's the Stormy Petrels talking to eachother. They must congregate around the boat at night attracted by the lights.

We're now nearly at 46N - way past Tasmania and approaching Stewart Island in our southern equivalents. Berri's highest latitude was Cape Horn at 57 and a bit south, and the Fastnet at about 51N so we're getting close to one and closer to another. Shame there's no gin.

Through the water log now reads 6343 after starting at 342, so 6000 miles - would be at Dutch if no current -we couldn't have gone much straighter. Must work out our average speed ttw - must be better than 5 kts.

A cold, wet, grey gloomy morning out here beyond the boonies. Manchester as I remember it, every Tuesday. Supposed to be midsummer - but I like it heaps as long as it keeps bringing us wind and keeping the nasties south of us.

Hey, Austin - glad you've found us again - pass the word around! Would be really interesting to know who else is out there - sign the gust book please everyone!

McQ: Ship Ahoy!!!

4452N, 17423E- just had an enormous container ship cross behind us from west to east. He was huge and so fully laden with containers that the bridge was barely visible over the top and he looked as though he had containers hanging over the back too- literally full to bursting!! He was dark blue and he passed close enough behind us for me to read CMA CGM (just, and I think!!!) on his side (but not close enough to stress about) He did come absolutely stonking out of nowhere though- I guess they don't expect to encounter anything out here and it really is full speed ahead... wasn't long before he was gone over the horizon at the other side either. I watched him for a bit after he passed, partly to make sure he didn't do anything crazy like turn around and come and have a look at us (like MV Beryl, once before in the Atlantic!!) and partly cause, in about 45 days, that is really the only tangible evidence I have that there is still a world ticking over out there!! If they'd been able to see me close up they would have wondered what this random michelin man-girl with bunches was doing sipping coffee and staring at them intently but a bit glakit from the cockpit of this tiny boat!!!

Sailing again, all good... should prob get back to deck to watch for more ships, would not be good to get mown down and squished here, so near to a large glass of red juice!!!

lots of love
ps is seymour out there at all??... miss your chat seymour, if you are!! will try call from dutch. xxx

noon 4439.10 17413.12 Tue 27/05/2008 03:57

dtd 948 dmg 91

dmg much better for Amchitka as we are heading more or less straight towards it. Now only 250 nm from US territorial waters - we're only a couple of days from Alaska at least, touch wood and lick me nose...

What to report - good wind, benign sea for the last 2 days - unimaginable. Real progress, although the bloody GPS keeps telling us we're not getting any closer timewise. Blood red sunrise - rather like sydney bushfire effect - obviously particulates in the air but what and where from? Indonesian forests? Chinese industry? I took a photo of the sun with an albatross just about to cross it - perfect timing but out of focus and just a splodge so worthless. Pity.

Found a way to get the fuel filter off the engine to fix the oil leak, which had been getting worse (obvious really - put a hose clip around it and was able to turn it by hand) and cleaned up the contact areas and replaced it with a new one so I hope that's sorted.

We're in a propagation hole - not a patch of green anywhere on the calculator and almost no orange. Checked the co-ordinates and all ok - anyone heard about unusual sunspot activity?

Carla - yay! re Phoenix. What it is looking for? And thanks re Dall's porps. They were dazzling.

Kimbra - thanks for Gary R stuff - really useful contact - and for fleecy inners. Have mine in my Chinese slippers from Beijing that keep my feet off all the damp floor inside.

Duncan - thanks heaps for all that research - basically confirmed my own opinions - I have raincatcher as well and have just assembled it. Will remove the cylinder in dutch. Also have AIS gizmology, but it seems to have gone to sleep so will have it checked.

McQ: Yep you guessed it- more about my feet

Oh Kimbra, how wonderful you are!!! This morning we opened one of Kimbras parcels, on her recommendation, and what were they?? A pair of fluffy insoles for each of us- AMAZING!!! I have never been so excited!! Have just finished watch and am about to cut down to size... then the question remains, will they fit inside the ziplocs or do I risk removing the ziplocs and hopefully it will be a long time before the damp (not wet anymore) insides seep through my new woolly insoles... whatever happens, boy they look like they will toast my tooty toes a treat!!!! Thank you!!!
Its starting to seem as if I am a bit obsessed about my feet.
Was a bit over excited this morning, got up, made coffee, oatcakes and marmalade as a treat for brekkie- a change from museli and undried fruit, back to the museli for a few days tomorrow tho, then crackers for a bit, before any more oatcake rations, I think. Had my vitamins too, went on deck and then realised it was only 0400, usually wait till 0900 watch before doing all of the above!!! Got a bit ahead of myself this morning tho- think it might be cause we've stuck to Sydney time but realistically we must be a few hours ahead by now, so it's pretty light pretty early. We've got a 6 hour time change between Sydney and Alaska (and also it'll be yesterday, if you see what I mean!!) Might be sensible to change the clocks when we cross the dateline, or we might end up very confused as we near Dutch!!
Right, must get on the woolly feet case.
Sailing again- woo hoo!!! Gentle 5.8 knots boat speed, in the right(ish) direction, not loads of wind but all our sail up... all good really!!
Lots o love
ps dave bright: what are your words for fingers and toes? I think i remember but I won't announce just in case I am totally wrong and then people really would think I was mad!!! Oh, am contemplating talking to the walrus, what do you think??
pps: mum, Frozen in Time is by Owen Beattie and John Geiger

Monday, 26 May 2008

4336.46 17351.22 Mon 26/05/2008 14:16

Was right first time - its Andak. Moonless, so far, at 2245 AEST, 2345 local. Hazy, first and second mag stars only, grey sky with myriad pinpricks - Great Bear was directly over masthead, now off to port - undefined horizon - just a heavy merge from grey to black. Doing diesel sums - how far can we motor this time - we have 130 ltrs in jerries and whatever is in the tank, say 60 ltrs so 190 @ 2/hr = 95 hrs or about 3 days = about 300 miles. My Amchitka waypoint is 533 miles ahead, then there's at least another 400 to Dutch along the inside. In round numbers, 300 miles in the tank, 1000 to go and we need a contingency factor so say 200 in the tank + 100 contingency. I think we'll keep the motor running for 24 hrs max and reassess with new grib and actual progress as factors.

I saw an aircraft too - I wonder which route we're under. Perhaps Seattle to Beijing? My aircraft seemed to be going north, and was to the east of us. US West coast over the pole to Moscow perhaps or am I way off?

Follow up from my last about state of mind - I can't know, of course, that I actually do wake up when things change - just a pious hope - but I do know that I have done so at a couple of critical times - once just in time to prevent the forestay from parting company with the boat.

180 degrees - the International Dateline - that arbitrary divider imposed by Imperial Britain - last time Berri crossed it was way down at the other end, just south of the Antipodes Islands, so named because they are almost exactly opposite Greenwich on the earth's surface. That was in January 2005 and about 6 months later I stood at the exact opposite end of the axis, on the Greenwich meridian at the Observatory. I bet there aren't many people alive who have done that. Odd feeling too - think about all that mass and heat in between...Will be fitting to cross it again in Amchitka pass if we do go through that way.

Propagation here non existent - odd - so will try iridium to see whether there's goodies for us out there. Speed awol in Dartmouth, so might be change in routine.

Just stuck my head up to check for sea monsters and there's a soft cheesy moon just above the horizon, yellow through the murk and only the first mag stars visible - but there's a horizon.

McQ: A heater in the Boot Room??

Wet feet = sad me
Cold feet = sad me
Dry feet = happy me
Warm feet = happy me
Warm and dry feet = extra happy me!!!
A simple formula really but Alex's latest innovation, a variation on the hot water bottle theme is just wonderful (empty nutella tub and, of course, ziploc bag, just in case it leaks!) Warm up some water- but not too hot to melt the plastic, into nutella pot, screw lid up tightly, into ziploc and tuck in at the bottom of the Cat's Meow at the start of off watch and two hours later, toasty feet- woo hoo!!!

Which got me thinking:

Is there a heater in the boot room?? Probably, being the Arctic. And which sort of person is worse/better- the one who rushes back, first into the boot room, throws of his layers and takes pride of place by the heater for his boots to warm them up overnight... or, the one who ambles in late after everyone else has gone and moves aforementioned boots and replaces his own in the best, warmest spot. Then theres the type of person who keeps his boots in the corner furthest from the heater, he will have no probs locating his own boots in the morning but has to suffer cold feet continually. A system perhaps, whereby, everyone gets a turn of their boots getting the warmest spot??? A heater in the boot room- adds a whole new dynamic.

5 knotters of wind at the mo, so donk on and pointing to destination: first clear night in ages tho'- I see stars!!! Saw a plane too and I think a satellite aswell... busy up there tonight!!

Lots of love
PS. For Heat(h)er (!!): I seem to recall we used to make excellent lemonade at 67WPS and Viewmount too- we have 6 lemons and 3 limes left on board, some sugar (not loads- need to keep enough for our tea and coffee, v v important!!) Can you tell me what quantities of sugar and water i need for our fruit and do i need to add anything else/ do anything other than pulverise the whole lot together??? lots of love Cor xxx

Noon 4253.46 17341.60 Mon 26/05/2008 04:13

dtd 1039 dmg 115
Kimbra, I've left a message for Gary Ramos Been thinking about state of mind, cold feet, endless finishing straights - all more or less linked. Standing beside the Cutty Sark, before the fire when she was fully rigged, I wondered how anyone could get that huge ship with that enormous sail area and unimaginable power up to maximum speed and keep her there for 90 days through the southern ocean rollers, the doldrums, and all the storms and calms in between. How would you feel as the captain, making daily decisions about sail, course, weather and the rest with the ship creaking and straining around you and water crashing across the decks and the rig vibrating and shuddering and flexing with every huge wave? Disaster lurking every moment and with every breaking wave - some bigger than the ship itself. Were those men so confident in their ships and their own abilities that they would sleep easily at night with all that going on - and, above all, a deadline to meet and a race to win in some cases? Or did they, like me, live their lives in a state of nervous, analytical, catastrophising, anticipation? Was their whole attention focused on the ship and its dialogue with them, the subtle changes in tone and pitch, in vibration, in motion through and over the water, the tiny sounds that signalled changes in condition, in the state of a massive brace or a spar and the state of the crew and their capacity to keep driving the ship? That's me and it's a big big strain. Only at times when the sea is at its most benign and there's nothing in the forecast can I ease up and read or do a crossword or listen to music. Inevitably, when I do, it gets interrupted by a random thought about something that needs fixing or that should go on the list for Dutch. I sleep tuned to the boat and when things change, I'm usually awake immediately and trying to sense what has changed. When things are bad, I doze, but don't sleep, and usually sitting on the floor of the boat at least partly dressed in party gear. I guess that in my world, shit happens and I like to feel that I'm prepared to deal with it and am at least partly on top of each possibility before it happens and have taken action to minimise or prevent it. Lots of examples on this trip - checkstays, furler mods, backstay tackle. And simple things like noticing that the shackle pin holding the tack on the main to the gooseneck had unwound a couple of turns, or that my mousing line for the checkstay was about to fly loose in 30 kts - little things that so often get ignored or missed And as I write this, I wonder what I have actually missed as we enter the never ending finishing straight.

The Melbourne marathon finishes next to the Art Gallery almost in the city centre. The last 8 or so kilometres are almost straight - a long straight stretch along St Kilda rd, about 4 k, the long shallow bend to the left at Toorak rd, and back again past the old barracks and then a final kink to the left and you can see the finish. A whole kilometre away at least. If you've never run one, you won't have any idea how difficult it is to keep pushing a screaming body metre by metre along those stretches and the final k is almost the hardest because that's when you know you have to push even harder and you cant feel your legs any more and your eyes have no focus. The headbangingest thing I've ever done and not just once but about 15 times. This little stretch of 500 miles or so to Amchitka is similar - never seems to get shorter, day to day - GPS always seems to say 5 days 6 hrs to go. Immensely difficult to stay cool and just wait while it all happens - but happen it will.

And cold feet. Dry though they may be, they just don't ever get warm. I've just remembered that Pete and I used plastic beer bottles as hotties and I'm experimenting as I write. But we'll buy those little metal camping drink bottles in Dutch and use them for the next leg.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

McQ: fairly random selection of thoughts

After extensive clinical trials I can officially sanction large ziploc bags as the best boot liners I have come across to date- they are so good that I have discarded my first pair of warm but soggy socks in favour of anew clean dry pair- normally I owuld eek out the soggy pair a little longer but I am so confident in the ability of the ziplocs that I have gone for a new pair. Bear in mind dry socks oft become a precious and rare commodity on board and the utmost should be done to preserve, at all times.

Also, Just below Clam Lagoon lies Yippee Shoal which is just to the North and West of Lucky Point!!! I wonder what happened round there??Do you think they really meant 'yippee' when they found the shoal??!!

Fair bit of easterly breeze at the mo, so screeching reaching North- past 41N so not long till only 10 degrees latitude to cover (as Alex points out tho' we do need to sail the hypotenuse!!)

Mum, please could you get dad a copy of 'Frozen in Time' about the ill fated Franklin Expedition to discover the NWP. Alex gave me a copy before we left and I have just started reading it- gripping stuff and I think dad will enjoy too, if he ahsn't already read it. Tinned food- who knew??!!!

Irish Stew and creamed corn for dinner, am quite partial to those two tins together, they actually taste of something, I think must be what it is!! Fingers crossed we don't get lead poisoning!! And used the penultimate meals worth of pots- finally!!!

Wee snooze now before what I have named Black Watch (8-10pm no moon just black gunky sea and sky mixed together and you can barely see the mast from the cockpit)

lots of love

Congrats on wedding last week N&A, heard it was lovely from Carie. Sorry I didn't get my best wishes in in time- knew it round about nowish but as you know the days disappear out here and become meaningless, so I missed it!! Wish i could have been there... maybe see you Sydney at Christmas?? Bol xxx

4113.07 17328.33 evening update Sun 25/05/2008 08:57

Still stonking along - wind E about 15 - big jib rolled in a few turns and one reef. Grib says more of this, all day tomorrow - hope so and hope it doesn't increase too much. Iff we get lucky, we might just slip between two systems, but that's serious wishful thinking and I must wash my mouth out with soap - or at least my finger tips. We had six albatrosses wheeling and circling and gawping at us for most of today - all the same sort, black browed, as described earlier. I think at least two of them have been with us for about a week. Lovely to watch them formation flying - sometimes two, sometimes four, lazily soaring and dipping back to the surface, airy grace and symmetry.

Our local advisor says that up here, May through July, the Bering Sea and probably as far down as here tends to be permanently overcast, low cloudbase some mist and fog. That's what we've got. Getting through Amchitka will be a bit of a challenge - to be met when we see what we've got but not to be attempted against the tide and only in daylight. It'd 50 miles wide, but quite shallow in the middle, and the bottom rises from gerzillions to tens of metres in a very short distance, very strong tides, often against the wind, so very like the SE corner of OZ, of what we know!

McQ cooking, then I'm on deck for a couple of clank and dammy hours. The nights seem very long in two hour stints - three is almost better, but that last hour really drags, so we're sticking to the 2 hour routine.

Had in mind to write about some of Berri's systems for anyone else who is thinking about long distance sailing. Perhaps if tomorrow is reasonably benign, that'll be the go.

4010.33 17315.01 North coast of Tasmania in the S2H!

Grey, translucent overcast - tinges of pink and orange as the sun does its best - even, ethereally, glimpses of milky blue jade universe, evanescent, distant but near. As my Dad used to say during those endless English winters in similar conditions, just enough blue to patch a Dutchman's trousers. That was back then, when we all thought that the Dutch went around in clogs and blue baggy pants like in the fairy stories. Banks of mist all around - glossy, polished calm surface with complex swell pattern, long and rolling and all over the place but seems to be a biggie from the ESE in there somewhere. Motor running, everything waterfall wet, moisture rilling and dripping everywhere but great because it washes the caked salt out of the lines and the blocks and all the bearings, so the lines are soft and pliable again and the blocks run properly. If salt weren't hygroscopic, my shorts would have crackled last time I took them off - instead, they just sort of creaked and remained in the shape they were - they would have stood up on their own. Had to flatten and subdue them with our mega adjustable spanner and stomp them into a plastic bag where, I hope, they will fester until Dutch. Revolting instant coffee and sweetened condensed milk on the go to remind me that offices ain't where I want to be.

Which was a long and wordy scene setting for - dolphins! - about 50 of them, leaping and snorting and racing around Berri under the mirror surface - absolute delight to watch and hear and participate. Smallish, dark grey backs with a vivid white curved patch from roughly below the dorsal fin all the way back to the tail and the tail has a white stripe around the outline of the top surface. Impossible to photograph with the camera I have with me - it's very clever but desperately slow between shutter push and actual photo so have to judge timing and focus way early and I've only cracked one passable pic and even then the dolphin is out of focus. Oh for the Nikon at times like these but way too salty and humid out here.

On which note, (clank and dammy and cold...) time for another BAPTO for things that really work. This one should have got up on the last website as well but can't remember. We've got a Sea Rug each - Australian design, (I think - Speeds, could you check please) and it does exactly what is claimed for it - works when wet, either way up, depending on circumstances and it's all I need in these conditions to keep me warm and dry at night. McQ buries herself under searug, arctic sleeping bag, various sheetlike thingies and a polar fleece blanket but she's a sensitive soul. On the last gig, my rug worked as a sort of tent on the way home because we did not have time to re-install the insulation and condensation flooded the old bus shelter. It soaked up the drips and streams and at least kept the water off my polar blanket and ultimately my skin. Great gear. Still have that rug as well - now rather tatty - using it as a pillow. When it gets cold - which it won't, unless we get stuck for the winter somewhere, (average temp across the top during the time we expect to be up there is about 0 - 10 degrees C - an English summer's day) I have three thermal survival bags that we can stuff searugs or whatever anyone fancies into and stay toasty. Maybe!

Noon 4034.23 17322.16 Sun 25/05/2008 03:14

Looking a bit more reasonable out there today. Fitful sunlight through the mist, beck to the big jib and doing 6.5 towards Amchitka. Our day of painful stitching on the little sail has survived with attitude - will probably get us all the way to wherever so if no big sewing machine in Dutch, we'll not fret. Berri slipping through the water almost silently - what a change it is to be in benign conditions! The only - and more or less continuous noise - is Lizzie whizzing away at the back - has kept the batteries fully charged all the way - Fantastic. If OK with US Immigration, we might call in at Adak for fuel and freshies if we do go through Amchitka. Was once a cold war US Naval Air Station - now handed over to local Aleut community.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

A rant against snake oil

This is a rant, but it's well intentioned. Out there at the far end of it, it just might save someone's life.
It's not intended for people who just sail around the cans, but for those of us who go offshore.

I've just made a minor mod to my Henri smock - simple and easy with the trusty sailmaker's needle and I thought about McQ's boots and how the Fashionistas and the marketers and the brand managers - the manipulators and the snake oil merchants - have taken over the sport and the minds of the gullible. Very expensive boots - to take one example - look cool at the briefing (how often do you see the rockstars sitting there for the cameras?) - but they have to work out here on the ocean as well. In my experience, they are no more effective than my $40 wellies and I've seen and sailed with a lot of people who were wearing them and have tried them myself(borrowed a pair and they were already wet inside and leaked like the proverbial). My wellies do two seasons before the rubber begins to perish and I chuck them and buy another pair - and I have dry feet all the time unless I get water over the top. It is utterly ludicrous that poor McQ has to wear plastic bags inside hers, but maybe she will not get conned so easily next time. This is her second pair - for that money Our Appointed Sailmaker could make me a new storm jib and many of you out there are in the same situation? The fishos, who spend their lives out here, wear wellies like mine. Dry feet reduce fatigue and contribute to safety. And, having said all that, perhaps there are some boots out there that are worth the money but I doubt it.

Then there's wet weather gear. I always used to buy Gill because it is excellent gear, quality control superb and they used to listen to people like me and fix things that didn't work. Before the last Fastnet, I looked for a Gill smock only to find that they only had silver or black ones. So the fashion statement has taken over from the safety factor there too - the primary function of this stuff is to keep us warm and dry, and the secondary one is to provide maximum visibility to the helicopter pilot who might be looking for us in a 1998 storm. It is not - not - to sell product for a sponsor. Or to look good in the bar afterwards. They come way down the list. If you are in the water in a crashing storm at night and you can hear the chopper, would you rather be in a black or silver top or dayglo orange or red or yellow? And the sponsors are now insisting that crews be dressed in company livery - there's a well known outfit that puts people in light blue and white kit - if I were an owner at that level, I'd refuse, point blank, just as I did in my own small way to the Gill HQ salesman who tried to tell me that colour didn't matter - after all, they had a yellow hood. Bollocks. Paint a soccer ball yellow and put it 500 feet away and see how small it looks. Then arrange for waves to break over it. That's what the chopper pilot sees from 500 feet - then try it at night. So now I have a dayglo red Henri smock, lots of retro tape, plus yellow hood and there's a pair of pants on the way to Dutch to match it. Sorry, Gill, but I tried. McQ, incidentally, has a black smock, light blue jacket and blue pants. Dame Ellen, from hazy memory, wore grey.

If us sailors don't insist on these things, it serves us right if there's nothing but froth on the market. Tell them, loud and clear and don't buy it! You will be glad you insisted if it's you in the water. I'd like to see race authorities taking a stand as well - while it might interfere with individual liberty, the safety issue is so important that it's worth it. Just a recommendation would be a start. 1998 changed a lot of things for the better - let's not lose sight of the basic principles just to keep sponsors and the fashion industry happy.

noon at 1300 3855.13 17246.33

dtd 1371, dmg 121. DT Amchitka 785 - about 6 days? My June 3 prediction for Dutch still has legs.

Closer to Petropavlovsk than to Dutch at the mo - love to go have a look...

I think I can say we are now past my mental half way point. Finish not yet in sight but we'll get there, pain yet to come and body weary, complaining, but still able to put one foot ahead of the other. Every painted white line on the road a small hurdle that must be negotiated on the way. This is about 36 k in my mental marathon. It gets harder from here in so many subtle and not so subtle ways.

Too much waiting in the queue. Will stop waffling. Motor sailing more or less straight towards Amchitka. Almost no wind. I expect you all are looking at satellite pics of a big white mass of cloud in the top left corner of the Pacific. Yep! We're under it. Sea mist this morning, water temp 14 degrees.

McQ: More from the Boot Room...

I've been thinking: At some point the plastic bag in my left boot disintegrated- though,possibly my fault for using one of those bags that you might get at a fruit and veg market but would think twice before using even for just your salad leaves!! Anyway, on looking around for a substitute I started thinking... so now I have invented the McQ (patent pending) Gore-Tex Boot Liner... I would like to patent my invention- Speedy I bet you know about stuff like that? Now, this is not a sock, sealskin/waterproof or otherwise, it is quite simply a thin goretex boot liner, a foot shaped liner with the waterproofing capacity of a plastic bag. I have drawn some pics of wet but happy people who have dry tooty-toes using the McQGTBL and wet and sad people who aren't and have soggy feet. I will donate these drawings to be used for the advertising campaign and though we can't really market this to the likes of Dubarry (that would be like admitting your product doesn't work, I guess) there must be lots of waterproof gear people who would make them for us. AND...If this already exists, er, why don't I have a pair??? In the meantime, i am improvising and have discovered that a large ziploc bag, whilst almost too thick is proving quite sturdy!!

I have to defend my baby blue jacket... It was bought for warmth pre Hobart as I had nothing else with me!! I tried to get the lady in the shop to sell me a normal midlayer jacket in red, shall we say (shh, but probably I actually wanted grey or black!!) I specifically told her I didn't want to look girlie before getting on a boat to Hobart with lots of handsome Dutch men!! She only had huge great big man sizes tho'. Anyway, go figure but I came out the shop with a fitted girlie baby blue jacket- and whilst it looks v nice in the YC I am the first to admit that I don't think its designed to cross oceans (it is first on my mental list of stuff to go home from Dutch!!)

And, I shall definitely be reverting to red when my blue bottoms and black smock (which does have some reflective bits on it) wear out and need replacing (and to be fair to Musto, as far as I know, they only make their full on Ocean kit in red and yellow and they've never stopped making the Offshore in red and yellow too, despite the other colours). Until then, I shall use the fact that no one is going to see me to fish me out the water as a deterrent from going for a dip in the first place...

Can you believe it, but the sun is out????
Sunnies on and off to deck we go!!
Speak soon,
ps I am starting to look forward to a glass of red wine, i think thats fair enough after 45 days!!
pps I can see that well known town of Pertropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy on the chart now (!!)

McQ: Alert... Alert... Snickers detected...woo hoo!!!

Its not so miserable outside now!! Just a bit feisty still but its not black and gunky and murky anymore- theres a wee bit moon fuzzing through the cloud. lumpety sea and charging along still in 20 knotters. All good!! To be fair, at the start of the last watch I did stick my heid on deck and after one look around into the gloom decide that the getting through the next 2 hours would require going under my bunk and breaking out the last remaining Tim Tams!!! Whilst hunting for the tim tams I also found more ryvita!! and Steves emergency chocolate... wooo hooo thank you steve!!! Which Alex was as excited about as I when I told him what I had found and brought out!! AND, there is another packet of SNICKERS!!! So, ha, all you who mocked me by sending those mean adn teasing messages about tucking into more snickers at your desks and stuff. We have rations!!! woo hoo!!! I left them under the bunk for the mo- clearly out of sight out of mind works wonders and I think we'll need them next week!!!

T'other news, oh yes very exciting- our Gribs (weather files) that come in are all in pretty colours- no wind- blue, little wind green, then yeller, then orange then lots of wind red and then pink!! and land is little grey blobs... well at moment there is blue and green for the next 24 hours then lots of red, but the most exciting thing is we now have little grey blobs that represent the Aleutians, at the top of the picture!! Wicked!!!

Its hard to write anything articulate and cohesive when you keep popping up on deck to check whats happening- Merc-you Watch is rubbish, I want to be on Whit Watch- they get all the exciting things- first fishing buoys and afishing boat, next watch big shipo, next watch another boat, then last watch he came down woke me up said it was black and grim but the phosphorescence was amazing, I go up on deck- black and grim yes and not even a flicker of luminous green to be seen anywhere to amuse me!!!Had to entertain myself with singing along to power ballads on the Ipod and one or two recitals to the wind of the first 11 verses of AM.

Hope everyone well and happy.
Lots of lvoe
Cor (AKA: McQueen)
ps mum, am shorter than big A- he quite tall. No JC's (obviously, doh!!), why you ask???
message for hannah (via email-thea maybe? are you even there my thea??) if anyone going to jamaica- 'brilliant, darling, brilliant, just the Atlantic to go, you can do it. go Glasgow, much love and vibes to the whole crew from Bol in the North Pacific'!!! FF, thank you for hannah updates- much appreciated!! Is Ricky 4th now and still hot on heels and were NY and H&H 1st/2nd into jamaica or has she closed any gap there, overall??

Friday, 23 May 2008

Answers on a postcard Fri 23/05/2008 15:07

Keith - thanks - please pass on my commiserations. I have at least some idea how he must be feeling. Hope he's ok otherwise.

David W tks. Intend dumping some excess baggage on you for your trip home if ok.

PMcQ I'm 5ft 10ish old scale.

Carla - brewing it is easy - we've got a stainless plunger (and a plastic backup!)so as long as you can brace for loong enough to fill the thing, then pluuunge, easypeasy. Then you have to get it and mug out the door into the tempest - not so eastp. But the real problem is cleaning out the plunger afterwards - has to be dunked over the side and that's a bit fraught in this stuff.

wooo big dunking wave just broke across the boat.

Fiona - nah! Nothing so pansy. This one's the very latest Henri - lovely bit of kit, just wish

I'd bought a size larger. Must go check the horizon.

Bloggage Fri 23/05/2008 14:44

I wish I could capture for you the splendour and magnificence of all this. From a black, menacing night with a glorious dino show glowing and sparkling and pulsating in the surge as Berri surfs through her gerzillionth wave to a grey night with soft fluffy, cotton ball clouds in huge swathes across the sky - really just elevated mist patches but with their own presence and attitude when silhouetted by the moon. And the moon - almost directly astern, sometimes just an illusory glow, sometimes a brilliant reflection as its light comes through a hole in the fluff and becomes a silver plate on the water, sometimes a grey disc with a halo of subdued iridescence and sometimes the moon itself in our own gap - the horizon goes black, the sk silvery grey, there might be a star or two and suddenly its all lovely soft/hard texture and dappled sea. And then it's gone again.

I think what I'm describing is the developing centre of a small low we're crossing but I'm not sure. Wind now WNW and we're still on about 020, following cross sea, kevvo in charge and still stonking along, though a bit less enthusiastically as the wind has abated to about 20 kt. Improved by a cuppa and some dunking mcvities.

Speed has blipped the phone - must go gather your gems - excitingest part of the night.

Kimbra, I'll try to call Dave today or tomoz if conditions allow.

Love yez

Not having fun! Fri 23/05/2008 13:30

Too weary for long blog - possible change of plan - if more convenient wind and wx wise, we may try to go through Amchitka Pass at 180 deg W. Despite mcq's enthusiasm, it's not much fun out there just now. But the dinos put on a huge show for me earlier that helped too lift the spirits. Kimbra, could you please run Amchitka past Dave and Karl and Tom? Tks. Will see whether I can pull in Speedy's latest.

PS I think the GPS in the SatC has died - not really surprising in these conditions - so, for Karl, we're no longer trackable.

McQ: Cape Cheerful and Annoy Rock rock!!

We had spag bol for dinner tonight, it was really very good- the first spag bol we've had, would you believe?? So now it has surpassed beef and coconut curry with cashews (and a good dollop of SC) as my fave meal so far, and before we had a beef curry my previous fave was Oirish Stew and creamed corn and some of our many potato supplies. No beef curry left, some spag bol and lots of oirish stew to keep us going, if i remember rightloy from the recent stocktake.

Interesting chat, huh??!! But thats tinned food aboard boat life!!

Currently still stonking north, we had some big SEasters and huge following seas this afternoon- 32/33 knotters for ages- Big Whitters even bunged the exhaust (that phrase means just that!!!)- the wind's come round quite quick though and merely hours later we now have around 20 from the WNW, so it feels pretty feisty again!! Its amazing how chilled it all is going downwind, even with big ole seas!!

Did I mention Cape Cheerful ever??? Sorry if I have but it is fascinating me: approaching Dutch form the north we have to clear Cape Cheerful, which is just the most brillisnt name- I just keep wondering whether, with all the rocks and current and fog that appears to be the norm whether Cape C is perhaps ironic??? Will let you know when we are near!!!

I just had a look at some other names up north- Imagine naming your local rock Annoy Rock?? just bonkers really and hilarious but perfectly logical nonetheless!!! There is also Teapot Rock, i don't think we'll go near but I wonder if thats ironic too and it looks nothing like a teapot!!! Its so nutty, you could sit and look at the funny rock and place names on the chart and amuse yourself for hours (well I could, anyway!!!)

must be time to go get some sleep, perhaps!!

Lots of love everybody
Spag Bollinger McQueen

I just found another one- Bobrof Island, 'Hello, I am the King of Bobrof Island' hmmm no one's going to take you seriously now are they??
Also, I swear Egg Pt is next to Banger Pt and Salt Pt... was someone having breakfast when they discovered???

noon3710.10 17133.45 Fri 23/05/2008 04:45

This will probably morph into noon pos. (it did!) Now 0950. Berri is stomping along - hugely exhilarating, somewhat visceral, but a blast. Stbd tack, full main, right out till the head is touching the cap shroud, small furling jib, about half way between a #3 and #4 in old wardrobe terms, short steepish sea, 18 - 25 kts apparent over the stbd quarter, serial rain squalls and Kevvo in charge except when I was hand steering. Cracking 8's and 9's, occasional 10 off the waves, white surging water back past the cockpit - kevvo a bit erratic because he is essentially reactive, so smoother to hand steer and probably at least half a knot faster. We're tracking about 020M, the intention being to get as far north as possible while we can and worry about the east later. Due for more northerlies in a couple of days, some slack in between Just as I typed that, Mcq stuck her head around the rain screen and said it's time for a reef, so we've just put one in and rolled in the heady for balance. Still cracking 7's and 8,s but still bucking a knot of current.
Now 1030. 3702.40 17128.02

Post noon 3721 17142 put in the second, third reefs and then dropped the main, all together. unrolled about a third of the heady in 32 kt and now breaking following sea. Still honking at 6.5.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

3632.23 17109.20 Thu 22/05/2008 20:51

Moving satisfactorily NE towards the barn door. No predictions.

Lurking dangers - passed a white buoy about 10 metres to stbd. Looked as if it was supporting something so looked further and yep - 200 metes away, another one, with a flagpole. Cods and wallops - how deep is this stuff? Did we run over it? Has it escaped from somewhere else or is there a fishing boat around? Half an hour later, big white fishing boat hoons up over the horizon to the SW and towards the gear. At least one answer...
Then, during a very black night, I decided a smock was the way to go too keep warm, took a quick squizz around the horizon and nothing in sight, went down found smock and brought it to the cockpit where I sat to leeward and struggled into it (easier down below, standing rather than sitting)stuck my head out of the top and there off the stbd bow, about a mile away, a vessel's lights crossing from right to left - so we are the give way vessel. Very quick sort of sheets, Kevvo etc and we're heading east and behind him but a close shave - no idea whether he was trawling, long lining or what, but the odd thing was that I could see a red light all the way to the horizon, so might have been part of a fishing signal. Impossible to work out what the lights mean on some of these boats.
Then, next watch, lights on the horizon, port quarter. Constant bearing, 2 white, one green so we stand on. Watch him closely and about 2 miles away, a definite turn to starboard and he's headed behind us. Was a very big ship, bulk carrier of some sort, heading roughly east. My AIS black box has not worked since leaving Newcastle with it's hundreds of ships, so I don't know any more

Can someone please tell me how Scott is going on Everest?

noon @ 1130 3518.03 16959.22 Thu 22/05/2008 03:36

dtd 1509 dmg 59 GPS trip log 5540 (departed @ 342) end of our 6th week at sea actual dmg 4310 distance lost 1230. Well, those are the numbers but there may be different interpretations!

Now that conditions are reasonably benign, I have managed to disassemble my mp3 player and furbish its batteries and it seems to be charging again, though only holding a charge for perhaps half an hour. With luck, this will improve with every charge.
But I cranked up part 2 of 1000 years in a Day (inspired gift,H - thanks xx) and there's a burst of Shakespeare at the beginning - not acknowledged but I think it's a sonnet, in which the narrator, outcast and friendless and unhappy, remembers his love -'...when I think of thee...for then I scorn to change my state with kings'. Watching an albatross in full arrogant, subtle majesty spearing in at three inches above sea level, undulating with every wave, wings flexibly rigid, massive anhedral and sometimes the little out turn at the tip making a wide omega as the very last fibre of the outboard feather strokes the surface, completely casual, having a look at us as it flows past and a tiny almost supercilious lift of one leading edge up into a high, vertically banked climbing turn (the Stormy Petrels seem to do full Immelmanns right on the surface, not these guys- way outside the design envelope for the airframe)or - sometimes - fanning what tail it has, extending its feet as whopping airbrakes, it plonks itself on the surface a boat length away and contemplates us with its black shrouded eyes, its long hook tipped beak wagging gently at us - clumsy, clod footed humans in a daft contraption trying to cross my ocean!

..'for then I scorn to change my state with kings'.

McQ: woo-hoo, think I might have over caffeinated myself this morning!!

It feels like a monday morning, but in a good way, but i don't think it is! Thursday, apparently, according to my watch, though I've long since stopped registering days- they matter not one iota out here!! Maybe its the cwoffee i just had followed by museli and un-dried fruit for brekkie. Awesome!!

We have around 5knotters from the SE... woo hoo!!! So, I guess we watch this space and hopefully it will just build all day. At the mo we have the donk on and are pointing direct to Dutch... woo hoo!! The latest Grib I've seen is showing it build to 20knots SE by this evening and maybe up to 25/30ish through the night... should give us a wee boost anyway!! Calm-glassy sea at the moment too, be v nice if it takes its time to build too.

We are currently at 35 14N so we are more north than Sydney is South... woo hoo!!! And boy you can tell, woolly hat on at 1030 in the morning!! Water 18C!! I used to swim off our boat in Scotland (they'd tie a rope to me and I'd go swimming- I think it used to be fun but that may just be cause thats what they kept telling me!!) and I remember swimming, proper laps of the boat, in 11C... which seems very, very cold... 18C splashes send shivers!!

I remembered the sensible, interesting (perhaps) stuff I was going to say.
I was on deck yesterday, and suddenly it struck me as to just how small we are, not relative to the ocean/in the big scheme of things but actually physically, we are a tiny, tiny 33ft boat!!! I was standing in the cockpit- only room for 1 to stand!!(2 can sit, one either side.) and if you lose your balance over a big wave, your neck catches on the spray hood if you fall forward or the tiller pokes your kidneys if you fall back (which makes me sound like a very short and rotund michelin man, I guess!!) The bow, slicing through waves, felt barely arms length away.
It is the sort of boat that my mum and non sailor friends will see at our destination and say 'crikey, you came all the way here on that???' Actually, it might be my sailor friends who only ever go anywhere on huge big racing boats, who wonder that!! But Berri is a proper, proper boat, she may be small but she is just brilliant. She might not get polished to gleaming white in the harbour everyday, she might not get her rusty bits Y-10'd and hosed down in a water ban before the owner pops down but I know if I were a boat I would far, far, far prefer to be a proper boat that gets taken across oceans and shown the world!!

My random thought process then goes on to ramble in my head about the Dolphin 3 in Pittwater and the man who brought his mast down on the way in to Lymington- (how they connected I can't remember but they are the thoughts now floating around in my heid) I'll save those for tomorrow maybe!!

Lots of love
ps Anyone seen or heard from Carie?????

Just to confirm 3504.49 16946.16 @ 0700 sydney

Spoke to Carla - wonderful - made my day!
First time in weeks that conditions have allowed this - if you are being tossed bodily around a confined space, fiddling with very delicate sim gates and trying to keep everything from flying around and also dry is not really a goer. Anyway, I swapped sim cads between handsets. The xsat sim does work for data in both handsets, but not always first time, every time. Sometimes it is rejected before dialling, sometimes while verifying at the very end of the connection process, and sometimes it connects so I think it must be a problem between the sim card and the handsets. As my original C & W sim works fine in both handsets, perhaps the xsat sim may have slightly flaky contacts - I dont know. WD40 on a tissue perhaps? I have tried again to dial the xsat sim's own number - 00881631633526 - and the automated 'please do not hang up' voice tells me that the number is 'not in service please check the number' and I do not get as far as the voicemail prompt to enter a password. I can live with this, but it does indicate that something is wrong somewhere.

We're motoring - a couple of albatrosses with us all night and this morning - 6 ft wingspan. dark grey brown over wings, white body but black around eyes, light beige beak, grey brown under wings but with whiter dappled streak along the length mid chord. Remind me of the Falklands black browed version. Stunningly beautiful birds, sweeping majesty as they caress the water - you can sometimes see the downdraft on the surface when its mirrored. They fly out in front, always approach from behind or one side, and sometimes alight on the water a hundred metres or so ahead and watch us pass. Big birds, but nowhere as big as the southern wanderer.

And we have our own Stormy Petrel - opposite end of the scale - appears to flollop along diving, swerving, almost tumbling over the surface - requires enormous precision - I've seen them in huge winds blasted by spray just doing their thing - a real delight to watch.

And back to Cook's decisions - he'd be becalmed again, not even able to move in this. We can motor north - completely different attitude to time and the achievement of objectives.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

3449.40 16936.06 Wed 21/05/2008 17:46

Everyone knows - don't we? - that the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland is going to destroy the world by creating a mini black hole which will suck in the whole shebang and keep all those tax avoiders and thieving dictators just a bit closer to their funds. Whoopee - will be huge fun while it happens. Meantime, it will be creating wormholes in space so that future life forms can come and visit us in their shiny kevlar suits, sucking on their heated pan galactic gargle blasters as they observe our puny antics. I have to inform you that this has already happened. A future life form, a specially designed cow from the Restaurant at the End of the Universe has been detected by a secret CIA spy satellite at the wormhole periphery ellipse coefficient and sent to a place where it can be quarantined. It seems to have escaped and inadvertently found its way into an abattoir and thence to a soup maker. McQ drank some of it in her Hearty Beef Soup so I think quarantine for her once we get to Dutch. Meantime, a designer Beast in a wormhole? Caroline, doesn't that stoke the boggle reflex?

We're motoring north as the haze and grot closes in - wind change today sometime. Electric autopoilot at last gasp and may have to revert ot actually steering the boat ourselves as Kevvo doesn't do motoring.

PMcQ, the locals have recommended that we take bear spray...When someone convinces me I am wrong, I change my mind...we'll take some aboard. Should enhance the flavour of the canned stew at least. Would still like to hear from the errant 8%

Carla, thanks heaps. I'll try to call you in the next day or so - I want to wait till daylight and, if conditions permit, swap sims between handsets just in case that's the problem.

McQ: Wittering Whitters and other ramblings

Warm toasty layered up mcqueen wouldn't say no to a first plate of fettucine alfredo!! Which is probably why she resembles the michelin man!! methinks I don't have many more layers than Big Whitters, I just wear them more michelin man-like!!

I just got up for watch after falling asleep 3 minutes before... typical!!

And am trying to get my head round the fact that I am sure Whitters wittered something about the wind coming round before he went to sleep but he sounded way to chirpy about this for us to have been headed, but well, we have now. I think I'll keep that one to myself and fingers crossed the wind comes back round to where it was coming from to make him cheerful sooner rather than later!! Or maybe he didn't sound happy and it had headed us a bit for him too. Or maybe Kevvo's brain is as in gear as mine is!!! [After attending to deck] It's the wind, bit all over the place- 6knots then 16 from all over the place too- pretty much as expected tho'.

We had proper boat food for dinner tonight and discussed what constituted proper boat food- definitely has to be a concoction of whatever is to hand and needs ot be hot and probably a selection of things that you wouldn;t necessarily serve at home to a willing audience but that here need using up and accompanied by something cooked in a generally improvised way... so for example, tonight was onion (needed using) and bacon (likewise) and sweetcorn (variety) on top of naan bread,which we fried, one at a time, in the big pot to heat them up, worked though!! And, in my case a big dollop of sweet chilli sauce. Perfect!!! We did imagine that Alex might be my only guest on the evening I choose to recreate this delight when we get home!!

Its funny how on this keyboard you barely need to touch the o and you get ten oooooof them, or you brush past it by mistake!! quite annoying sometimes to have to go through blog and delete them all every time.

I think i was maybe going to add some wisdom about Cook or barometers to my last blog but since it was an intelligent thought It didn't remain in my brain for long and thus proobably the reason I can't quite remember said wisdom.

Time to pretend to be MM after forth FA and put on an extra layer and get some mid watch fresh air and chat to Kevvo for a bit- liven him up a bit. Oh look: We are trying, trying to push North, heading wise, so I guess that is what Whitters was wittering about after all.

A wittering Whitter would be a good name for a bird. I might decide to authoratatively name the little birds that are with us wittering whitters: As in, 'What are you wittering about Whitters, they're not Stormy Petrels, they are definitely that well known Northern Hemisphere bird species, the Wittering Whitter...'

Only one flaw in all this: that is, I definitely witter more that Whitters, but this has distracted me enough to stay awake without thinking about it for a whole hour of watch!!

Lots of love
Woittering McQueen