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.